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.

If you like this work, want to download a prettier version, or you want to support writers and artists, or have a chance to write yourself, remember to donate to my patreon.

Note: the pretty version is available for free download on patreon.

Thank you! Even if you’re just reading it, thank you.

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”. 

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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 Big Bang Theory 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.

http://www.nuancedtruths.com

https://www.patreon.com/gillspracticalbookkeeping

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

Unfinished Symphony, A Novel Chapter One: Life on Mars

Well, Hi Everyone.

I finished Chapter One!

Download the pretty version if you’d like, or plain text version below.

If you like this work, and you want to support writers and artists, or have a chance to write yourself, remember to donate to my patreon.

Thank you! Even if you’re just reading it, thank you.

Gill.

Chapter One: Life on Mars

I am alive. This is one of the hardest and most beautiful things to be.

I spent so long trying to kill myself.

I still want to kill myself on a regular basis.

But right here, right now, I’m alive. And I am glad.

The will to live is like a pesky, persistent house plant. Some kind of creeper, that you bring home and think ‘I wonder if you’ll survive’ and low and behold, a year later it’s crept all along the mantelpiece and you’re thinking ‘Huh. I’m sharing my space with you; how can we manage this?’ And you know that neglect is not the answer. And you know that if you keep watering it and feeding it, you’ll be living in Little Shop of Horrors. So you prune it, and water it, and love it, and feed it a little. Then you hope that what you do is enough to bring out its beauty and purpose while you’re managing all the natural contradictions and tragedies of the world.

My memories are a mess of contradictions. I can remember my parents buying me a pair of glasses and a warm coat. This was evidence that they loved me and took good care of me; it was evidence that they prioritised my needs over their wants. The only price? My eternal loyalty, silence, gratitude, and servitude.

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

If I, by my own volition go to an aquarium and buy a fish, and I take it home and take care of it, and love it and feed it, and buy it medicine and change its water, and pay my electricity bill so the filter works on the tank—what does that fish owe me? Does it owe me its life? I buy pets so that I have the joy of observing them being perfectly themselves. Do they owe me anything, besides the true expressions of their natures?

Rachel Naomi Remen, says that all true love is unconditional—conditional love is merely approval. To be seen, accepted and loved, is a heady and intoxicating drug. I have been both a user and dealer of this drug for a long time. I feel the shame in me, and I see the shame and pain in others, and I think ‘So that’s you. Mmmm. Well, that’s me too.”

But I’m alive.

Strange as that may feel.

My body is fresh and quick and changeable.

My mind is slow and solid and confused.

And my soul? Hard to tell.

Because it’s not just people that I owe a debt to, and it’s not just society. I also owe a debt to life itself. And this pesky, spreading weed that is the will to live keeps reminding me and reminding me: ‘Whoa. Beauty. The amazing beauty of the things in the world. Whoa.’

The first time I tried to kill myself I was around 20. My sister had been suicidal at age 15 and had taken a paracetamol overdose. She was told this was lethal. So I took the same amount and waited to die.

Oh lord. The innocence of a 20-year-old who thinks they have no future.

From there, I tried various overdoses in various amounts, and everything from cutting, to burning, to strangulation, to injecting bleach, to god only knows what else.

I tried a lot of things, a lot of times.

And yet here I am.

Alive.

Why? Why am I still alive when I tried so hard to die? And why do I keep saving my own life? What could possibly make those two opposing forces, the will to live and the desire to die grapple so spectacularly? The Dalai Lama says that the meaning of life is to be happy and useful. I know how to be happy. But of what use am I? And to whom?

Every morning I get my husband out of bed. And while he’s away, I take care of some of the housework. And I often cook him dinner. And all of those things are useful. And all of those things make me happy. And my husband does good, important work. And he makes the world a better place and often saves, or at least improves people’s lives.

But as A.S. Byatt says, that’s not very much to hang a life on.

Let’s say Leonard and Penny bought adjoining farms. Then let’s say Leonard had a flourishing farm and Penny noticed how well Leonard’s farm was doing, and thought ‘I can help with that’; so she gave Leonard all her seed stock. The result would be Leonard would have a great farm, but Penny’s land would be lying fallow.

And that’s not true, either.

Because I get a Lot from my relationship with my husband. He gives me plenty of seed stock back again *wink*.

Sometimes I wonder what I’m capable of cultivating, and how I’m going to go about doing that. And how I’m going to prevent myself from destroying mine and my husband’s farms like I destroy everything else in my life.

I’m learning; slowly but surely, my brain is learning, and my heart is learning, and my soul has always been learning.

Education for me is like standing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and wondering which date palm to climb first for the sweetest, most flavoursome fruit. Which one has the dates which explode in your brain, with the juice running out of your mouth? Learning is like laughter—it fizzes.

I’m doing a bad job of cultivating my body. Lord.

The scars.  So many scars.

They criss-cross my arms and legs and torso like fuchsia, cream, white, and silver chopsticks.

That’s if you’re not looking at the burn scars. You see the same patterns on the bottom of saucepans; mottled, by turns pitted and raised. Or in Aluminium trays that haven’t been washed properly– the layers of brown on layers of silver.

Once you’ve given your life over to cultivating that sort of mischief, what’s the point of cultivating health?

It’s a bit like growing opium poppies in the backyard, and vegetables in the front. Would you like some spinach with your heroin, Sir?

So there’s the first problem. Once I’ve worked out that my life force is around, how can I get to the point where I can actually live?

The constant back and forth– going from reasonably competent to barely able to have a conversation or get out of bed. How can I create a life worth living with that going on?

Yesterday I got up in the morning in absolute despair. I spent most of the day despising myself, wishing I were dead, and taking various actions to make that happen.

At some point in the afternoon I had a change of heart, a small bloom in my soul, or a small gift from my voices, and I spent the rest of the day acting in ways that help me to live. And now I’m alive. Despite whatever damage drinking bleach has done to me.

I’m here.

But how do I live? How does the voice in me that wants to stay alive prevent the voice in me that wants to die from taking over?

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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 Big Bang Theory for finance nerds.

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.

http://www.nuancedtruths.com

https://www.patreon.com/gillspracticalbookkeeping

Review

How to be Happy (Yes, even you).

I have lots of great relationships. I have good friends. I have good relationships with my family. I keep in touch with people. I give Christmas presents. My life is full of great relationships.

And my sister doesn’t talk to me.

In his book, Hardwiring Happiness, Rick Hanson argues that negative experiences are like Velcro, but positive experiences are like Teflon. That one negative experience will stick more, and take up more of our mental space than all of the positive experiences. That one difficult relationship will bother me more, than all the good from all the good relationships I have. Luckily, Rick Hanson provides an antidote to this.

He argues that whatever you don’t want to feel you need to spend 12 seconds to one minute feeling the opposite, as often as you catch yourself feeling that feeling you don’t want to feel. So, if you often feel afraid, you could spend 12 seconds feeling safe and secure several times per day. You could spend time remembering when you’ve been safe in the past, or imagining when you’ll be safe in the future. The aim is to deeply experience safety and security.

Neuro-plasticity is a new buzz word, but this is an excellent example of the mind and body’s ability to change itself and grow. You can literally change your brain’s defaults; your emotional reality, just by working on it for 12 seconds several times per day. So what’s the opposite of your regular emotions? Do you feel anxious and afraid all the time? Practise feeling safe and secure. Do you feel alone or like a failure? Practise feeling a sense of achievement or a sense of connection. Do you feel unloved or unappreciated? Practise feeling like other people adore you, or you’re fine just the way you are.

The point is not to ignore reality—reality might be that you need to be afraid of something real. This is for people who have “Velcro” negative experiences and want to get out of their innate negativity.

I’ve tried it, and I definitely felt better. Rick Hanson, Hardwiring Happiness: Highly recommended.

…………………………………………………………………

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 Big Bang Theory for finance nerds.

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.

http://www.nuancedtruths.com

https://www.patreon.com/gillspracticalbookkeeping