Trigger Warning!, Uncategorised, Uncategorized

Coersion and Creativity

Empathy is connecting with the parts of you that feel bad along side other people

My Dad and I had a difficult relationship. When I was 16 and I disobeyed him, he wheeled the garbage bin into my room and started putting my school work and clothes into it. This was a Sunday evening, I was doing homework, and I had an assignment due the next day.

 I hate confrontation and I was frightened. When he started to lose his temper, I left quickly. I think I might have gone to the local shopping centre and finished my homework, and not come back til late in the evening. Mum told me that my sister had gone to get her, and there’d been a tremendous argument. Dad threatened her, but he didn’t actually hit her that time. We were all terrified, but I was angry too.

My room was pretty messy, and it’s a parent’s prerogative to enforce cleanliness on teenager’s rooms. Most people want to live in nice houses; Dad included. Dad wanted to live in a clean and orderly space. He wanted me to show gratitude and respect for the area he had worked hard to provide for me, by keeping it tidy and harmonious. That’s fair enough.

However, this is an example of coercive control. The constant threat of violence, the unpredictability of the demands, the lack of empathy, the rigid hierarchical system enforced through authoritarianism: That’s coercive control. The reason it happened was because my Dad was unskilful, and unable to communicate or cope.

A better way of doing it would be instead of saying “I want this room tidied tonight” like a temperamental despot, saying “how can we work together to create a system that will help you to keep things tidy”. People thrive through connection. Chris Voss in ‘Never Split the Difference’ says that all negotiation begins with empathy, and that includes negotiation with teenagers.

I’ve got an example of coercive control where I’m the perpetrator, too. My husband and I went to a birthday party, and I kept an eye on the number of slices of cake he had, and when he got to five I said stop. There is an arrogance of me deciding what he should eat, when he should stop, and saying so in front of others. I shamed him.

Again, this is entirely wrong.

As an adult, it’s his prerogative to decide what he eats, and how much. If he specifically asks me to help him with food, it’s OK to say something in a non-shaming way. He had in-fact asked me to do that previously, and commented that we enable each other to eat unhealthy food. However, consent isn’t just about saying yes. True consent requires you to make sure that the other person is OK. And he wasn’t. And that was wrong.

 If you don’t have the skills to communicate without violence, or threat of violence, it’s very important that you get those skills. And the great thing is, not only will they be happier—you’ll be happier. Not only will they learn to have good relationships—you’ll have good relationships. You’ll be able to connect with people on a real level, because you’ll both feel safe. You’ll be able to listen. And listening and being listened to is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

It’s one of the things that makes life worth living.

Novels and Creative Writing, Trigger Warning!, Uncategorised

Conversations with my 13 year old Self

P!nk does the healing work
Her example creates, succeeds, motivates.
She started out bratty, different,
Let’s Get This Party Started! Bleargh.
But she’s worked through that, and ended up
Raw, honest, a wounded healer; more artist than merchandise;
A knitting together of dreams, effort, growth, joy and panic rather than plastic fantastic,
Her self-liberation liberates others.

Conversations with my 13 year old Self

When I was 13 I wanted to be a teacher and a missionary in Africa,
I wanted 10 kids
And to save the world.
I joined the school band, choir and debating team.
I babysat every afternoon.
At 13 I was bossy and arrogant,
Patronising and overly direct:
I couldn’t fit in with my peers.
I also had seeds of strength, creativity, and kindness,
Quietly rooting themselves into my personality.

And the others—those men
Both internal and external to me.
They haunted the edges of my consciousness
A snap of images from the past
Ashamed, I’d turn my head,
Or a shard of someone younger than me who lives inside
Ciphering out– her head dripping round the door of my consciousness
Internal him using my hands to cut the malleable bounce of my legs and stomach.
External him sending shocks of fear through my body
The smell of cigarettes, beer, and sex, the growl of male voices,
My shudder of horror when I hear those footsteps, those keys.
Pain and panic blinding me,
Blinding the parts of me that still remember, still experience.

At 13 I could read all day
Novels and stories—so many quick reader books written with simplicity in mind.
I had so much energy and time went on forever
Stretching into a future that would definitely be better than today.

I disliked his hands on me
Eyes assaulting through the peeky hole between the bathroom and kitchen.
Anyone could look– he let anyone look: his friends.
And I looked too.
In 1999 they chose that life

In 2022 they choose their lives.

In 2022 I’m basking in
That ephemeral substance of living past your past,
Growing through your past,
Embracing: intangible assets of compassion, language, and love of learning.

My parents?
How do you grow though a past that you can’t accept occurred?
Lost to resentment and denial, they bask in
Disappointment and regrets.

Poor things.

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By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching The Good Place for nerds or artists.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.

Trigger Warning!, Uncategorised

The appearance of truth

How do you know if your history is true?

Elizabeth Loftus says that there are studies that prove that between 30-90% of people can be hypnotised, primed, or coaxed into creating a false memory. She says that it’s possible to create false trauma memories, too. She says that those memories have the same emotional impact as real memories, only they never happened.

So, if 30-90% of people can create false memories, how can I know what’s real and what’s not? How can I know if the history I’m basing my life and my personality on actually occurred? What about things I’ve forgotten about for years and years that suddenly pop into my consciousness? What if there’s no corroborating evidence? What if no one else remembers what I do?

How do we interrogate or investigate our own minds, when our minds are naturally unreliable and mercurial?

My sister wet the bed until she was 10. Nobody else in my family remembers this except me. But I’m certain it happened. Every night at around the same time, she would wake up vomiting and peeing. Dad would come in, clean her up, take her to the toilet and put her back to bed. Quite often she would wake me up, too.

We had pink bunk beds and a bedroom that was absolutely full of crap (toys, books, paper-mess, junk we found on the side of the road, clothes, you name it). I slept on the top bunk, and when I learned to successfully climb up and down the ladder the family shared a Vienetto (Australian icecream shaped like a log) as a reward.

Dad built the bunk beds out of solid pine (from a kit). He installed a bed-side lamp for each of us so that we could read in bed. Mine was yellow, and my sister’s was red. We listened to classical music or audio-books or story tapes every night, and Mum would usually read to us before bed. They loved us so much. They took such good care of us.

My sister had a plastic sheet under her fitted sheet, and a green basin next to her bed. So all Dad had to do was change the fitted sheet and empty the basin, and she’d sleep the rest of the night. I heard Dad comforting her, telling her ‘It’s all right, It’s all right, there there, there there, you’ll be OK” etc. He called her a slut. There was also a rhythmic, wet sound. Slap, slap, slap. Skin on skin. And my sister whimpering ‘No’.

I’ve been firmly told this is imaginary. That it’s impossible for it to be true. There’s no corroborating evidence. But I remember it.

…………………………………………………………………

By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching The Good Place for nerds or artists.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.

Life Hacks, Novels and Creative Writing, politics, Trigger Warning!, Uncategorised, Unfinished Symphony

Unfinished Symphony, A Novel. Chapter Three: Flavours of God

God has a flavour, and everyone’s is different. The God I grew up with was a bitter and cruel taskmaster, who played favourites (of course he loved the Israelites best) and killed people on a whim (Sodom and Gomorah, anyone?). The God I live with now is an altogether different affair. 

My flavour of God likes women. It likes men too. It thinks that the true expression of our natures is the most important thing. The God I live with now thinks that it’s OK to want things, to set goals, and to socialise and share life with all sorts of other people.

And every-now-and-again I get the flavour of God so strongly in my body it’s like magic flowing through me; transformational moments; ecstasy.

My favourite religious word comes from East of Eden by John Steinbeck and it’s Timshel.

I’ll tell you Steinbeck’s story.

Some guys are sitting around drinking whiskey and reading Bible. Fair enough.

They read Cain and Abel:

Cain and Abel are brothers. Cain farms vegetables, and Abel farms sheep. Both brothers give God a share of their produce. God likes Abel’s gift and blesses his produce. But God spurns Cain’s gift.

Cain gets jealous of Abel, and they fight, and Cain kills Abel.

God is Mad.

He banishes Cain from the land and sends him out to live amongst strangers. Then he puts a mark on Cain’s face to show that Cain’s done the wrong thing. Finally he says “sin lieth at thy door, and thou shalt rule over him”.

One of the guys drinking whiskey, thinks this is a strange thing to say. He thinks this is a story that sticks very close to human nature, and those words “thou shalt rule over sin” are lies. Because humans have never ruled over sin, or not enough.

So this guy, Lee, gets out another bible and reads the same story.

This time God says “sin lieth at thy door, and do thou rule over him”.

Well, Lee thinks this is a bit strange as well. Because why would God make human nature what it is, and then command us to change it? Those words, “do thou” are orders, instructions, not to be what we are.

So, being a learned man, he goes back to the original Aramaic.

The original Aramaic word (according to Steinbeck) is Timshel. Lee’s translation of this is “thou mayest”.

I like this.

I like it because God is saying it’s your job. It’s my job to work on myself. It’s my job to get better. It’s my job to do better. And, if I do that, and I’m lucky, I May just create a good life. If I put in effort, and I grow, and I live wholly and fully, I May just have a chance to experience goodness.

And this is truth.

A typical day with the God of my childhood: My Dad’s wearing his green jumper and nothing else. The green is almost exactly the colour that Mazdas were in 2009. The wool that it’s made of is softer than most acrylic. My Mum made it for him in the 1970’s. It’s beautiful; fair-isle.

I’ve got my small feet on his feet, and my hands are in his hands, and we’re walking across the lounge room. He’s singing a song that’s my name over-and-over again. I can see his balls level with my face. I like putting my mouth on them. They taste kind-of salty and kind-of strange. He’s not very good at washing them. They’re hairy and I like pulling the hair a little with my mouth.

Remembering is like the jolt of a sudden fall. Like walking over an uneven area and tripping and landing on my hands and knees. The dizzying terrifying chaos of the earth that seems so firm and stable abruptly disappearing. The reliable steps I’ve taken a million times before, my body that knows how to be upright, suddenly akimbo, askew.

What should we do with Gods such as this?

Isaiah Chapter 2 is God saying to the Israelites: if you’re nice to me and worship me, and treat me well, I’ll be nice to you. But if you’re mean to me, I’ll kill you. This is the bible’s brand of domestic violence.

What do we owe the people who love us? What do we owe the people who hurt us?

To whom do I owe my silence?

There’s a tiny ball of hurt in my heart. It aches. My jaw is tight. My teeth hurt. There’s a bitterness there. I’m ashamed of being cast in the role of slut, and I’m ashamed of embodying that role in my life. I’m ashamed of the parts of me that embody that role now. Also of the parts of me that torment my own body now, belittling, cutting, burning; killing me. 

And then there’s that life-force, yearning– yearning to create. As much as I want to die, I want to give, to appreciate, to nurture. To be acceptable as I am, where I am, whoever I am. To be accepted as human, and to be given the courtesy and respect that humans are given by virtue of their humanity alone.  

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Four

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By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching The Good Place for nerds or artists.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.

Life Hacks, Novels and Creative Writing, Trigger Warning!, Uncategorised, Unfinished Symphony

Unfinished Symphony, A Novel Chapter Two- My Life as a Dog

Well, Hi Everyone.

I finished Chapter Two!

This is the plain text version.

Gill.

Chapter Two: My Life as a Dog

My parents have given me a lot of words: terms for nature, for colours, for laughter, expressions for threats and anger, even words of reconciliation; my education has given me a lot of names for emotions, and power structures, for the art of living life as it’s meant to be lived. My parents gave me the ability to notice things that are things. And learning has given me the ability to critically analyse them.

What I lack is the ability to maintain hope and optimism throughout the darkest of judgements, voices and thoughts.

I want to live.

But how? How?

Meditation is my  lifeline. Every morning that I get up and I’m not in absolute suicidal despair I sit myself down quietly and lovingly and rehearse my day.

I start with my heart—I do it a little different every day, but I follow a similar structure. I open my heart in my imagination, and watch the green plants inside. There’s a light that swirls and streams, and I feel gratitude and kindness and happiness inside.

At these times, I know that the essence of me is just like the essence of every sentient being and the green and growing light in me is OK.

Next I do a few prana-yamas; then mindfulness for around 20mins-30mins.

After that I start to rehearse things I want to create: good health in my body, good things happening in my life, tiny moments of gladness and content. Things like holding a baby, cooking healthy food, improving at work or my university results getting better, social situations. I rehearse being in a garden with other people and working together towards a common goal. I rehearse other people’s health and happiness—Peter Cundall, Bob Brown, members of my friends and family, Julia Gillard, the Greek lady in the fish-and-chip shop. Gratitude.

I rehearse my reasons to live.

I have to say, whenever I do this, I feel good.

The good feelings pour out of my body and into my life.

And, for a while, I’m OK.

Some meditations are like a bump to my mid-section. They take my breath away.

Some ideas become sensations.

I love the feeling of life-force flowing through me with the force of a river and the will of a being that loves me intensely and wants good things for me… that feeling is like someone putting a finger on my solar-plexus and making my whole body convulse into bliss.

It may only be a thought—but it causes deep joy.

Strange, isn’t it?

Then suddenly the shames are back again. Mythical dark beings who come to my wire door to be fed but won’t let me trim their hair or de-louse them, or pet them or make friends with them. And if I get too close—their jaws clamp into my mid-section. And oh Lord do those bites hurt.

When I was growing up, we had a dog. We didn’t plan on getting a dog. A traumatised, thin, limping creature with brindled fur and soft silken ears turned up on our front step one day. My parents took him in. They paid for his food, they let my sister and I take him for walks, they even resentfully loved him. They got someone to mind him when we went away. He was microchipped according to council requirements. Occasionally he was bathed.

In summer, the flies would attack his ears. He would have 10 flies on each ear, and he’d flick his ears back, and flick them away, but the flies had learned he couldn’t do anything. In madness he’d rub his head in the dirt, but every summer he had open wounds on his ears.

I made my parents take him to the vet. I made my mother apply the cream. It didn’t help.

In winter, his fur started falling out. He had a rash on his body. His skin was red and raw and painful.

Again, I made my mother take him to the vet. He had an allergy to fleas. They gave us tablets, and frontline, and other things. It didn’t help.

He died an unhappy dog. 

To whom do I owe my silence?

What do we owe the people who love us? What do we owe the people who hurt us?

My husband’s family had a dog too. Siobhan. They bought Siobhan at a pet shop. She had an allergy to fleas, too. One day my husband and I were talking, and he enumerated the steps that his family had taken to get rid of Siobhan’s fleas. What I noticed was that someone in his family had a problem, and the whole family had gotten together and made sure that Siobhan wasn’t suffering. What I noticed was that they cared.

My husband’s family takes good care of their things. My husband’s family takes good care of their lives. My husband’s family takes good care of each other.

Who is in charge of making sure that the sentient beings we live with are healthy and protected and loved?

When I was nine or ten, I started harming myself. I’m not really sure exactly what year it was, though I remember the moments vividly. I remember my Mother finding out about it when I was around twelve. She was shocked. She was worried. She was dismayed. For three days there was distress in our house. Then she accepted it and moved on.

And twelve-year-old me was left with a razor blade and my Dad’s words ringing in my ears “let her get on with it”. 

Read Chapter One

Read Chapter Three

Read Chapter Four

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By reading this blog, you agree that you read it under your own risk, and Gill’s Practical Bookkeeping is in no way responsible for any harm or prejudice to yourself, your business, or any fictional examples above.

I am not a financial advisor. I do not have an AFSL. I am a chick who likes to read, think, write, and has access to google. You should treat this blog with the same seriousness that you would treat anyone whose main qualification is access to google. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. It’s a little like watching The Good Place for nerds or artists.

Anything you take from this blog is your responsibility. Nothing in this blog, even if you are mentioned by name, address, and telephone number, pertains to your personal situation. Anything you agree with, or disagree with, you are welcome to comment on, but your opinions belong to you. You are responsible for your comments. If they are offensive, I will remove them.