solo in sydney

August 29, 2013, 12:22 am
Filed under: dear diary


Someone on Twitter kindly asked if I was okay, as I’d been packing for over a week.

That was February 2011, and this is my very belated response.

The truth is, I barely remember this time period. I couldn’t tell you how many weeks I was “packing” for, but I can tell you that it involved buying boxes in a burst of then-uncharacteristic strength and determination, assembling them with the greatest of care, making sure every piece of packing tape was perfectly aligned and cut perfectly square, and then delicately taking the tape off and flattening the boxes again. Over and over.

At some stage, I managed to take down all my artwork off the walls, my posters and prints and photographs. I hesitated at “our” wall clock, then added it to my small box of possessions. The walls were as blank and soulless as I felt.

There was a lot of standing, empty and confused. A lot of distant stares. The occasional dose of sitting, aimless and lost, with no sense of relaxation.

Just paralysis.

I’m not sure if I slept.

I was completely numb.

I was overwhelmed, and my response was to stand perfectly still, possibly hoping it would sort itself out around me.

To some extent, this is eventually what happened. I can’t say if it was days or weeks, or possibly even months, but J had put his foot down and he wanted me out. I didn’t blame him for it then and I can’t blame him for it now. I can’t imagine I was much more than a poorly dressed impersonation of the painted white statue performers who frequent Circular Quay, their blank facades completely impervious to the ebb and flow of life around them. Just with more cardboard boxes.

In a rare spark of intuition, the one person who had any notion of what was going on finally realised that I couldn’t leave J on my own. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it was that I was physically and mentally incapable.

Reinforcements were called in. My mother flew from interstate and packed up my belongings for days on end. I can’t remember what I did, or what I said. Apparently staring was my forte; sometimes I’d sit, occasionally I’d stand. That was as much as I was capable of at the time, I guess. Everything I know from this time is a second-hand account, as my mother has retold it, only once and with tears in her eyes. I can’t bear to ask her again.

J wasn’t there. I’m not sure where he went, but as soon as the “reinforcements” arrived, he was gone. It was better that way for everyone, and I’m grateful to him for that.

Memories of my mother arriving, packing my belongings, and coaxing me to the airport are as if I was watching the scene from the bottom of the ocean. In the dark.

Roughly 2.5 years later, I can look back, however vaguely, and be grateful that I left. I got on the plane and I haven’t been back.

The fact that I couldn’t do it own my own, likely wouldn’t have done it on my own, still provides me with a sizable dose of pain and shame.

There are two distinct memories I have from that time, however. In a time period that is so murky, I can’t distinguish between days and months, there are two crystal clear memories that remind me now that I was still in there at the time. Somewhere, unfathomably deep below the surface, struggling for air and sunlight and blue skies.

They’re not dramatic or world-changing, but they hurt to remember, let alone put into words.

I hope I can do them justice soon.

Lastly, I can’t finish this update without a sincere, bottom-of-the-ocean heartfelt debt of gratitude to the VF members who have emailed, commented and Tweeted their messages of support, strength and hope over the last few years.

Thank you. It means more to me than you can know.