Tomorrow, touch wood, I reach the ripe old/young age of 67. Except for my family and friends that doesn’t necessarily mean all that much to anyone else, but it sure means an awful lot to me. I never thought I’d make it.
If matters such as Suicide or Childhood Sexual Abuse raise concerns for you then it is only fair to inform you that I do not intend to skate past them lightly in this article. Too much light-skating has been done with such matters, by too many, for too long.
As any of us grow older it is quite normal to reflect back upon a life either lived well, or badly, or neutrally, or desperately, or happily, or quietly, or dronishly, or distractedly. In my case all of those things have applied at one stage or another. To be more exact, perhaps they have all applied all of the time. Whatever the truth of that, life is still good.
When I reflect back on my own life I do so with the understanding that there are many people out there who have lived a far harder life than I have, and that helps me keep truth and perspective up front and centre as I write this. And it also explains why somebody like me abhors the thought of sympathy received at my end, but who is quite happy to extend same to others.
But why write this? Well, why not? I can’t always write about Artificial Intelligence, or Space, and I can always write about the weather tomorrow.
As a scribe I have had many articles published in the ‘citizens’ voice’ sphere. Articles on welfare, social justice, politics, the nature of time, and sometimes just simple quirky fun stuff. But who is the person who does the writing? Why do I think the way I do, and why do I pursue the social justice causes that I am so passionate about?
To answer all that would take a book-length scribble, so I’ll go for the short version instead.
People now talk quite openly about matters such as Childhood Sexual Abuse and Suicide. Over the course of my life such matters were not openly discussed, they were under-carpeted, and most people in my experience, except for an exceptional few, ran a million miles rather than listen to whatever I may have had to say. So be it, that’s the way it was. But now is different.
When I think about reaching the age of 67 I think about the people who did not reach that age, and the reasons why they did not reach that age, and I think about how for me the truth of the possibility of not reaching a point of happy old crustiness was such a close run thing.
At the moment I’m working on an article about the contemporary ALP, my usual take on the ludicrous nature of Australian politics, but in the background I’m also assisting another Survivor to get the story of the life he has lived into a coherent written form. Providing that assistance, though I am very determined to do so, is proving to be more difficult than I had imagined. It’s called the mirror effect. You see yourself reflected back.
Why have I lived my entire life with Suicide Ideation bubbling away just below the surface?
If you have read my articles on Childhood Sexual Abuse on AIMN you’ll have done the dot-joining thing ages ago, so I don’t need to reprise the details. Suffice it to say that there have been so many times throughout my life where I thought it would simply be easier, and less painful, to no longer be here, to no longer endure the painful feelings. Quite frankly, I’m bloody amazed, and thankful, that I am still here.
The other day I remarked to the other Survivor that if I had to describe my life it would be like this … My life was snuffed out and shut down at 5 years old and I didn’t start to wake up until I reached the age of 60 years. That’s a literal truth. No wonder I thought that not being around was better than being around.
I’d love to say that there was some sort of miraculous experience that made me dump the thought of suicide out the window, but there wasn’t. Such thoughts, and the affects of my childhood experiences, are permanent. They’ll be with me always. The reality of all that used to gut me out, and I fought against it with all of my energy, which simply left me permanently exhausted and seriously considering self-termination.
Yet I am still here. And why is that?
A good Psychiatrist simply made me realise that I was involving myself in a battle that I could never win. He made me realise that I was fighting against something that would never, despite herculean efforts, ever go away. Your condition is permanent old bod, so get used to it, work out a way to live with it, run with your intelligence (ha …. such as it is) and your strengths, and live on. It was a truth I needed to hear, and it sure as shit made me think about things.
There was I hoping for a release that would never come. There was I thinking of killing myself because the weight of depression and PTSD, despite all my efforts, was not getting any lighter at all. So it took a change of perspective from me. I had to change my view of everything.
My afflictions are permanent. They cannot be undone. They cannot be fixed. It has taken my whole life to come to an acceptance of those facts. Thank the stars or whatever that acceptance has come.
I have given up the fight. There is no battle to be fought. I now see the permanent nature of the injuries to my psyche and my being as stubbed bent toes that are simply solidly and permanently attached to me. They are part of me, they are a permanent part of my body, and they have shaped how I think, and what I think about.
When I write about social injustice in our society I write from a very solid, solid, base. I know what unfairness feels like, I know what demonisation feels like, I know what to be the recipient of rape and abuse feels like, I know what to be the recipient of violence feels like, I know what cruelty feels like, I know what to be the target of others’ warped anger feels like, I know what to be impoverished feels like, I know what to be disadvantaged feels like. That’s why I’m an experiential, and not a bookish or an academic style of writer.
I don’t always write about the Australian Welfare System, but when I do I am consciously scathing of it, and of those who designed it and of those who administer it. Reform of our system of welfare is a cause that I am passionate about. Welfare Recipients are human beings and deserve to be treated that way.
Refugees, who are legal seekers of asylum, and who are fleeing the warfare, and the bombs, that we have inflicted upon them because of our involvement in all of the Coalitions of the Willing, do not deserve to be treated inhumanely, nor do they deserve to be incarcerated.
I mention those last two matters to simply example how my own experiences have formed my thinking. My experiences inform my thinking in all such matters and causes.
As I finish off now my thinking runs to you, the reader, and I wonder what sort of life you have had. I wonder what obstacles you have had to surmount. I wonder where your joys come from. And I wonder what experiences inform your thinking. I certainly hope that your life is a happily lived one.
So tomorrow. 67 years of age. I’ll be celebrating it with bells on I assure you. A glass of Shiraz, maybe even a pie.
No matter what, life is good. I’m glad to be here.