Court Cases & Coitis.

“empezar de nuevo desde el principio.”

(To begin again from the begining…)

I’ve been putting off the writing of this particular tale for some time now.

And for a particular set of circumstances.

Firstly, I’ve been reluctant to write this story as I was advised by the ruling constable for my case to remain schtum until the winds had changed. I now believe they have.

And secondly because I believe there is but a fine line between writing what you know and spilling your guts.

I’ve umm-ed and arr-ed for months now as to when an appropriate time to write this story might be. I’ve also considered writing the thing and then keeping it within the safe confines of my desktop until a later date.

But I’ve also buried a few people in my time and have consequently learned that life is in fact as short as it is long. And that life is more about bravery and patience than impatience and fear. That if I were to be hit by a bus tomorrow this story would be greater served as a published blog, than in my dead head.

And so with that in mind, I begin, again, from the beginning…

I met a man on a plane in January of last year. He seemed interesting and sexy and wore a leather jacket. Earlier that same evening I had stood on the balcony of an apartment overlooking the Perth city skyline as a shooting star scooted across the bay. Upon which I made a wish. And the wish was simple. I wished to meet someone, as soon as possible, whom would take me up and out of the big, fat, fucking funk I’d found myself in and drag me in to that version of adulthood I’d always hoped for myself. The next stage. A better place. A new chapter.

I noticed him as soon as I boarded the plane.

And was delighted to learn we were seated next to one another, divided only by my mother…

My mother and father had discussed as we boarded that while I was technically seated next to mum, they’d both prefer if I swapped seats after  the plane took off.

I agreed initially. Then, due to the sexiness of this particular individual, reneged.

Mum popped off to the loo shortly in to the flight, providing me with an opportunity to encourage this man to remove his headphones and cease watching the ridiculous film that was screening and you know… talk to me instead.

Which he did.

We talked and talked and talked until the plane landed and we both lost our way in the shuffle of disembarking.

We’d exchanged cards throughout the course of the flight and so I figured that would be that.

He was a writer. I was a writer. He had my number. He knew where to find me.

Though it was at the luggage carousel that we were to meet again. Standing this time. He was taller than I’d thought which made me nervous and not quite sure what to say. With a suitcase in one hand and a guitar in the other, he invited me outside for a cigarette.

We talked about everything and I could tell he wanted to fuck me.

This pleased me as much as the cigarette did, as I was broke as a joke at the time and not really smoking as a result. Plus it’d been a long flight.

I wished I’d been living in Sydney at the time as I would’ve invited him over, but instead my father pulled up in our hire car, he met my entire family, some extended relatives included, and we all piled in to make the journey “home” up the F3 to Newcastle.

I texted him later that day to say how much I’d enjoyed meeting him and made mention of the fact I had a Publisher Proposal Package for my book which I’d like to email him for further inspection.

He responded promptly and that was that.

I phoned him the following evening and we spoke for seven hours.

He phoned me the night after that and again, we spoke for seven hours.

At the end of the phone conversation he said,

“Look Alex… I don’t do this. I don’t meet girls on planes and then talk to them on the phone for seven hours. What should we do about this?”

To which I proposed we hang out.

He caught the train up to Newcastle for the following Australia Day long weekend. I made humus and a picnic for us to embibe of by the sea. We drank and talked and talked and talked till the sun came up.

We became lovers that weekend and all was well with the world. Just as the shooting star had promised.

To back-peddle some, my life had turned to pulpy, floppy, rather heinous abject shit the year prior. I’d deferred my studies and relocated my life from Melbourne to my native Newcastle to undergo surgery and extensive chemotherapy (Zoladex for the pendantics.)

I’d spent a month in Tokyo and New York prior to finding myself in Perth for a wedding.

Life was hard.

Dark.

Ugly.

And I was desperate.

And he was really, really fucking cool.

At the end of the long weekend I packed all of my belongings in to a van and drove back to Sydney with him to begin a new life, though not quite sure how or for how long.

His apartment was a mess which scared me.

A messy space = a messy mind, I reminded myself. Though I turned a lot of my intuition off at the time due largely to the stakes, my trajectory up to that point, and again, this version of adulthood I had fantasised for myself.

And in loads of ways, we fit.

He had been working on a novel for years. He had loads of interesting ideas and challenged the fuck out of me. Literally.

There were signs.

There were indicators.

But again, as I said. I switched them off. I ignored them. Dismissed them. Deemed them quirks or fallibilitiess, of which, at the time, I had plenty.

Our life together was far superior to the set of circumstances I’d found myself experiencing, living in Newcastle. I was back in a major city. Doing major things. Rebuilding a life. Starting again. And… I had someone to share it with.

Then the cracks began to appear.

Odd little outbursts of rage on his part. Unqualified vents of jealousy and anger. Long-winded rants about my promiscuity and all matter of other fictions.

It took me a long, long, long fucking time to work out what was happening. And by that stage I was completely and utterly in love. So… you know… dumb and stuff.

I’ve always had a bit of a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy when it comes to romance. And thankfully I afforded myself the same kind of grace in this instance.

The first was an ugly occasion.

It was the Easter long weekend and I he woke up in a rage about one thing or another. An old friend phoned me and proposed an afternoon picnic which resulted in he, my lover, banging on for hour, at high volume about my flirting and my pathetic need to be adored by all.

Odd really, considering the majority of my friends have always been male, and always been friends, not lovers. Past or present. Just mates.

I spent the weekend in my pajamas sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. Wondering how the fuck I’d managed to find myself in this rather precarious and rejecting scenario. Again. I’d fallen for someone who didn’t want me. Or so I figured at the time.

He grabbed me at one stage and throttled me. Insisting I stop crying. I did. Out of survival rather than inclination.

Then came the part where he’d never leave.

We’d have these gawd-awful fights and I’d say “Just go. Just please go home. Go to your home. Leave my home. Go.

But he’d stay.

And he’d rant.

And this would last for hours.

The second occasion was following an invite to dinner from a friend. Again, a male.

He said he had no money to dine and I suggested he just meet us later for a drink as I’d grown long-tired of bank rolling his suppers.

He flipped.

I left.

Only to return home some hours later whereby he somehow found it reasonable to chase me around the apartment and threaten me with all number of violations.

I was scared.

Really fucking scared.

And again, he wouldn’t leave.

By this stage my friends and family had all expressed their concern for my welfare and had also mentioned on more than the odd occasion that they were confused as to why I stayed with the man.

To be honest, even a year ago I would’ve judged and promptly dismissed someone in this sort of a situation.

I would’ve rendered them weak and edited them from my life as quickly and swiftly as I deemed appropriate.

But that’s the thing about knowing and not knowing. You don’t know what you don’t know, and prior to this particular relationship I had no fucking idea how people found themselves in these sorts of predicaments, let alone why they stayed.

Now I do.

And here’s what I know.

Mental illness comes in all shapes and forms.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is terribly hard to define, and nearly impossible for a therapist to diagnose. It ebbs and flows. They go up and down. I was learning, slowly but surely, his personality would take the shape of a rather overt 10 day cycle.

He’d be great. Fun. Witty. Intelligent. Poignant. Inspired. Esoteric. Brave. Interesting. And then he’d be fucking nuts.

He’d rant. He’d rave. He’d get violent. He’d talk and talk and talk. Finding himself convinced of all number of odds– For example, I was a prostitute in Japan, not a writer. I’d slept with everyone I knew, ironic as I’d tried… but… well… and my interests in health and psychology and philosophy were born of him. They were HIS doing. Not the result of a lifetime spent traveling the world, my head in books, my heart on my sleeve. Curious about everything.

The cycle then repeats itself.

Just as you begin to feel as though you deserve better, and can’t bare to take any more… the shift takes place. He morphs. He becomes an overzealous darling. A best friend. A great fuck. A listening ear. A real sense of support.

And around and around and around we go.

All the while everyone else gets cut out.

Your support network are a threat so they’re abolished. Great fictions are planted and plots schemed to turn all matter of folk against you. You’re overweight. You can’t write. You can’t sing. You’re crap at the guitar. You’re insecure. You flirt too much. You’re dyslexic. You’re clumsy. You cook with too much oil. You’re not very good with money. You’re not particularly experimental in bed. And you bleed like a fiend… Your “OPSM” is a fucking headache, no man could ever manage. And you. You as a person. You are null-and-void.

Awesome.

By the time I’d learned of this, of course, it was much, much too late.

We would break up every 10 days without fail.

I’d say something to the tune of;

I desire to be alone.

I’d rather write than manage your moods.

I wasn’t with him, I was at yoga.

Please. Please. Please fuck off.

But he’d appear. Always. Wherever I was.

At Bikram. At the grocery store. Outside of work. Outside of my apartment. On the street. At my local cafe. At the library. Anywhere. He’d just appear.

And he’d set out to sabotage things. My trajectory mainly.

If I had an important meeting he’d steal my house keys so I couldn’t get changed in time to make the appointment.

Or if I’d secured an important gig he’d send a rather explicit email to my superior, detailing the specifics of my mental illness.

If I wanted something he’d tell me “You have to be brilliant to have a brilliant life.”

And if I met someone new, or found someone interesting he’d criticise them for whatever it was he could find to pick at.

I went away to Vipassana at the end of my ‘He & I’ tether to see what was really lurking behind my own psychology, and to figure out why I loved this man so much and to define, if only to myself, what was ultimately, the most important thing I needed to achieve with my next 12 months.

The first few days of 10 spent in ‘noble silence’ I found myself in a state of absolute rage. I hated him.

I hated him for hitting me. I hated him for threatening me. I hated him for accusing me and my friends of infidelity (interestingly, something I’ve NEVER done) and ultimately, I hated him for clipping my wings.

I’d been seeing a quack for most of the time we’d been together. Not because of him but because of the time I’d spent in Newcastle. The experiences I’d had undergoing chemo and the relationship I’d developed, or rather, let fester with my family.

My therapist had taken her sweet time, as therapists do, in suggesting that what I had described to her as my relationship was a text book domestic violence case.

“When did you last write a song?” She asked me just before I left for Vipassana.

I couldn’t answer her.

Because I couldn’t remember.

“How do you respond to the violence?” She’d ask. “Do you fight back?”

No.

My answer to most things by this stage was simply, and purely, no.

The third occasion was an afternoon where again, I’d mentioned some big idea I had and he, true to form, flicked the switch and turned in to a demon.

He pinned me up against my bathroom door, grabbed my throat and clenched my own hand in to a fist and punched me full in the face with it.

I looked around the room for tools of survival.

A knife.

A rolling pin.

A fry pan.

A strong angle by which I could sequester his balls.

Anything.

But as I mentioned earlier, this kind of behavior has become normalised by now. You survive. You get out. Things get better. He stalks you for a bit, manages to seduce you, and the cycle repeats itself.

It’s also not quite that simple.

Love never is.

Whatever that means.

There is ultimately, I have come to understand, an underling, really deep, thorough desire to understand the others psychology. To help them. To nurture them. To grow them on their way. Tis a bit of a female thing, I have come to learn. Though many men too find themselves lost in the same great big, dark abyss. In fact, since sharing this story with close friends I’ve learned how truly un-unique my experience has been. Which is a shame. Because this is a sad story.

I’d discussed with my therapist my concern for my writing. And my absolute revolt at many of comments and criticisms he had made of my art, my body, my being.

She suggested I file an AVO.

It took me many, many, MANY months to work up the courage.

This is part of their magic.

They clip your wings.

And even the bravest of caged birds continue to long for flight.

It’s actually pretty fucking common I’ve come to learn.

Being squashed happens in all matter of ways.

At work. Socially. Sexually. Familiarly.

You grow smaller and smaller and smaller till you can hardly breath and don’t dare to remember what kind of a life you’d fantasised for yourself prior to that shooting star and the flight from Perth to Sydney.

On the last evening of the last day of Vipassana we were handed back our phones and I deliberated some… and then phoned him.

I’d missed him terribly.

All the good bits anyway.

I told him as much. And expressed my desire for him to be that person he was 50% of the time, all of the time.

He was charming and romantic and seemed moved by my soliloquy, which he let me have this time, given I hadn’t spoken in nearly a fortnight.

A made a few great girlfriends that weekend, of which to whom I expressed my particular set of circumstances to one, true to form, leaving out most of the bad bits.

She said it sounded like love.

Like bravery.

Like there was still something to left to learn.

And so I returned to the city, to my bed, which I continued to share with him.

My sister sent me an email a week or so later which was rather blunt and beautiful in nature. She said simply, I’m torn between giving up on him or you. She said I was a beautiful rare wild flower, very much on the verge of becoming distinctly average. And that the choice was mine.

The following week I returned ‘home’ to Newcastle for a hens night.

It was over a glass of red wine, while painting my toe nails in the room that my mother and father share that mum asked me, just as blunty, if I was still sleeping with him.

I told her I wasn’t which was a week true but I failed to look at her in the way my mother insists I do when I am absolutely telling the truth.

She stared long and hard at me and said the following:

“Ally. It’s like this. He will kill you. I’ve known men like him before. And here’s what will happen next. I’ll cope. Your siblings might. You’re father won’t. And all the while, he’s more confused by this than any of us. He’s loved you and adored you your entire life and you continue to chose these sorts of angry, vile men. But mark my words. He’ll kill you. That’s what men like this do. And you have to fight back Ally. You can’t not fight back. Trust me. You can’t not fight back.”

I continued to drink my wine and paint my toes, knowing full well she was right.

I returned to Sydney the following day and phoned a friend.

I relayed to her the specifics of my weekend and the conversation with my mother.

She encouraged me to take a deep breath, pick up the phone, and call the police.

She suggested that, true to form, the idea of taking action was far more confronting than the reality of taking action.

She encouraged me not to think. Just phone.

And within an hour– it was done.

The police arrived. I invited them in. Nervous and frigid I offered them a pot of tea, which they refused. They asked me a great many questions which I answered to the best of my ability. They took a lot of notes. They highlighted the severity of the proceedings. And then asked me if I had any questions.

Which, of course I did. One of which was can I write about this?

The constable (that looked more like Richard Dreyfuss than the other constable that looked a lot like the brunette from Home & Away) asked me if I was serious.

To which I said I was serious about everything these days.

He suggested I not write anything of the sort until the hearing had gone ahead and I felt safe and sound in a new stage of life.

As the officers both left my apartment that afternoon they did a once over of my belongings and furnishings. Noticing the rather overt collection of Leonard Cohen paraphenalia the Constable (that looked more like Richard Dreyfuss than the other) said,

“Leonard Cohen, eh?”

“Yep. I really like Leonard Cohen.”

And that, dear ears, was two months ago now.

I no longer walk through the city with a hammer in my handbag, scared to leave my apartment, always looking over my shoulder.

My yoga instructor asked me today where my boyfriend was and why he’d not been to Bikram in a while.

I said it’s kind of a long story… I’ll tell you about it sometime.

x.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Court Cases & Coitis.”
  1. Hedley Galt says:

    That you offered the cops a pot of tea, my dear, and had the foresight to ask if you could write about it is why you must write.. and have so brilliantly. Write. Write. And write some more. Salute to you brave girl.

  2. Natasha says:

    Oh Alex … Thankyou for writing this down. Such an important story.

    Having experienced something similar (though not for as long, but I did have to run away overseas and spent the next 5 months looking over my shoulder…), I found the biggest challenge in retrospect was to keep believeing that ‘female’ instinct to try to nurture, to heal, to save them was NOT a bad thing, nor did it (and does it generally) weaken us, really. Perhaps the problem is one of priorities – saving them (because they ARE so wonderful much of the time and have so much potential etc etc) comes second to self preservation (I can hack this, I’m strong, it’s all part of the process etc etc). I so agree with one never knowing what it’s really like until one is in that situation, and I had also tended to be a bit harsh in judgements (‘just leave the prick, for heaven’s sake!!’). I can say now that I’m ultimately grateful for the experience that taught me how to fight for myself (literally) and that my safety and person should never be compromised; anything that did this was not love and would not be allowed to disguise itself as such and undermine any resolve. Wishing you much strength and gentle, nourishing things as you move through and past this. May the next love experience surprise you with its gentle and unassuming appearence as you discover the warmth and gold of being beautifully nourished and loved, as you absolutely deserve. xo

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