Sunday, 20 November 2011

The two wolves...

I am enjoying this blogging and I had started a blog about my passion for music. Something was niggling inside of me.

Since starting my blogging, I was often telling myself to try and not make it too gloomy - 'talk about happy stuff otherwise you might lose your readers', I would think to myself. The brutal fact is I am not happy (at the moment) & I feel compelled to write with honesty about what is going on in this head & heart of mine. I am not after sympathy. I am merely letting it out.

Whilst in therapy in Auckland, I was given this amazing story by my therapist.

I am very aware of the two wolves that live inside of me. The angry wolf is very strong, healthy & very much alive - he is grey & very big. He sits right at my heart. The happy wolf is small, slim, head bowed, eyes downcast but hanging in there & not giving up. He is white & the interesting thing is, he has a glow about him. He sits on my shoulder speaking to me ever so softly in tones of hope.

I am most certainly feeding the angry wolf but at the same time I am pleading with the happy wolf to not die on me. I am promising him that I am working on taming the angry wolf and wants to train him to stand side by side with the happy one... I don't want to completely kill off the angry wolf because he is a part of my make up. These emotions such as anger is a very important & powerful emotion to have if you know how to use it effectively.

I sometimes worry if I will ever actually make it. I guess in the world of winners & losers, I am a loser - now, I don't mean this in a 'putting myself down' kind of way. Instead of getting out there, facing my fears & just doing it anyway, I sit in the comfort of my room thinking of all the things I wish I was brave enough to do. I do however, have this timid little voice within telling me that I can do this. It's like the 'positive/negative' switch inside my soul is not working - I don't seem to know how to flick the switch to 'positive' - God, I want to but I won't allow myself to do it. I have a friend who blogged recently about putting down our worry bag. It was a great read & it did lift something inside of me & I was thinking 'yes, I can do this' - but a few minutes later, I find myself retreating back into my negative little world. I don't even know how to drop my worry bag.

It is frustrating to live like this as I know what I am capable of. I am now beginning to wonder why I bother writing this. I am starting to feel angry. I feel I am a pathetic, worthless waste of space. I go through stages like this. I will bounce back.

I am very fortunate & blessed to have some amazing people in my life who are always trying to assure me that I can do anything. They believe in me. I am afraid I will lose them if I don't shape the fuck up soon. My good friends can only bang their head against the wall with me for so long.

I am now aware of when I am negatively talking to myself & I find myself wrestling with my thoughts to change that self talk into a positive mode. It just doesn't happen...

I just need to know how to turn that switch to positive! I will not win that Academy Award if I don't believe in myself! I want to find something that I am really good at because I just want to work hard! I miss working hard. I want to work my ass off - I love that adrenalin of working to a tight deadline, it makes me feel alive.

If I make dark my countenance,
I shut my life from happier chance - ALFRED TENNYSON  The Two Voices

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dad.... the man I hardly knew...

This is one of the very, very few photos I have of just Dad & I (in fact, I believe there are only 2 photos).

Dad has been gone for over nine years now & I am finding myself in the last couple of months really missing him and I guess really wanting to connect with him.

Dad was never really a strong presence in my life growing up - he was always there but not in a nurturing way - I believe Dad wanted to nurture but just didn't know how. He went to work every day. He came home every night. He did the grocery shopping every Saturday morning. He always mowed the lawns. This is how I remember my Dad growing up.

I know Dad must have tried to be a good father because I see small fragments of this in my childhood - from bringing Kit Kats home for my sisters and I one night (yep, such a small thing, yet rare so this really sticks in my mind) to Dad taking me to the movies. I thought we would be seeing a Disney film or something for kids - um, no - it was 'Midway' a WW2 film... I can seriously laugh about it now.

I always remember Dad listening to Jazz music on the weekends and even he had his own 'mix tapes' for the car - the playlists were usually Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Glenn Miller's big bands, Tommy Dorsey's bands too  - anybody smooth from that era, I guess. He would play them in the car or we would listen to 2GB. I really enjoyed listening to Mike Carlton on 2GB, I don't doubt I missed out on a lot but must have caught the odd talk back to sit up, listen to & learn from.

I believe my love of music comes from Dad.

As a teenager, I also recall us sitting in the lounge room reading encyclopedias! We both loved reading random stuff.

I appreciate developing quirky interests from my Dad such as jazz music, general stuff from encyclopedias - there was also U.S.A & of course, beer! - I guess what saddens me is that I didn't really see how much I  had in common with Dad while he was still alive. I resented my Dad growing up because of his alcoholism. This is where I have been stuck for a few days. I was afraid from this point that my readers might start to think that this is turning into a 'Christina Crawford gets the last say'

Where I wish to go from here is completely the opposite direction.

I am struggling with this blog - I am questioning myself, 'Why do I want to write about my Dad's alcoholism'?

I believe I am trying to separate the disease from the person. Today, I was talking with someone & I was telling them that growing up, all I saw was a man that was my Dad that was always drunk.I was told that this is all a kid sees, one sober parent & one that is not. This is the reason why I resented my father so much.

Growing up, Dad could be emotionally abusive – quite a few comments thrown at me about my weight. He called me ‘Gunner’ – ‘you’re gonna do this, ya gonna do that – but you never do’ or would simply ‘not be there’. Drinking excessively every day was something that he had to do.

When Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in the late 90’s a side of him came to the surface for the first time, I was able to see a very kind, big hearted, beautiful man. It was then that we started to get to know each other & we got along. He spoke open & honestly about his drinking & he also talked about fragments of his childhood, some of it obviously quite painful for him to talk about. He told me that he knew he had a drinking problem but he couldn’t see himself getting help because he just needed the drink so badly. 

There is still so, so, so much about Dad that I do not know about. 

It was also at this time that I began to see why we never got along as I grew up. Well, this is how I see it. Dad saw too much of himself in me & he didn’t like it because he was unhappy within himself. He had two passions – jazz music and drawing. I know Dad would have loved to have been a jazz musician or a cartoonist. I doubt very much he would have got encouragement from his parents to follow these passions. He would not have had the inner strength & confidence to say ‘bugger it – I’m gonna do it anyway’. I too went down that same path.

I am at a point in my life where I believe that I am capable of doing something worthwhile. I have this whirlwind kind of a feeling flying around in my stomach. I was told that I have talent that I so want to be recognised (who am I to argue with that?). I am going to work on this & I am going to finish off what my Dad felt he couldn’t do & that is to fulfil our dream. I have a couple of dreams and I intend on having at least one of them turn into a reality. I have a long way to go & a lot of soul searching to do and a lot of work to do.

I am going to try my damn best to make something of myself for me & for you, Dad. I love you.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

At the Movies...

Today, I read the sad news that Sarah Watt had passed away after a battle with cancer. R.I.P

This had me thinking throughout much of today about movies. I love movies. I love the escapism from everyday living for a few hours at a time.

I get really into the film - I have to confess, I love tear jerkers & dramas. Animal movies, I do not cope with at all! I refuse to watch 'Water for Elephants'. I was absolutely inconsolable in movies such as 'Two Brothers', 'Eight Below' and well, don't get me started on 'Born Free!!!

I love a good musical!

I very rarely take a disliking to a film - I do not analyse it, I very rarely criticise an actor's performance. I think it's because I get so, so involved in each of the characters that I don't have time to have a look at how bad the actor may be. I often find myself taking in the background and immersing myself into the scenery. Oh, to be a Cinematographer! I will always remember our very own Dean Semler getting the Oscar for Best Cinematography at the 1991 Academy Awards for 'Dances with Wolves' - I truly believe this was the start of my dream of one day winning an Oscar myself. I am still hanging onto that dream... It can happen.

My favorite films? I have many! I sat down today to again think about my top 10 favorite films (I also did this a couple of weeks ago)... My top 10 does change from time to time. My No. 1 favorite film has stood firm in it's place for many years now.

10. Whalerider
 9. Twelve Angry Men
8. Jaws
7. Schindler's List
6. Lorenzo's Oil
5. Freedom Writers
4. The Color Purple
3. In The Name of the Father
2. To Kill A Mockingbird
1. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

These films really got me at the heart - had me thinking about the story for days on end, okay, Jaws in an exception - I fell in love with the soundtrack and how certain scenes were filmed, especially the scene where Sheriff Brody is sitting on the beach getting a neck massage from his wife. A scream is heard in the background & the 'Dolly in & Zoom out' technique is used - love it! So effective. I believe Alfred Hitchcock was the first to use this technique for 'Vertigo'.

I spent many of my Saturday nights whilst growing up watching 'Bill Collins Golden Years of Hollywood' - I loved watching all these old Classics! 'Johnny Belinda', 'Dark Victory' & 'Gaslight' are some that always stuck with me after watching them for the first time on all those Saturday Nights.

Although, none are in the top 10 - I absolutely love watching Australian films. The very first one I recall watching was 'The Devil's Playground' - I just loved the rawness of it. 'Storm Boy', well I was a mess! 'The Man From Snowy River' is breathtaking, I actually get all choked up in a few scenes - it is so beautifully shot and the soundtrack is amazing! So many of them are so enjoyable and some are so confronting, 'Strictly Ballroom', 'Muriel's Wedding', 'Animal Kingdom', 'The Boys', 'Cosi' 'Looking for Alibrandi', 'Caddie', 'Careful, He Might Hear You', 'Gallipolli', 'The Sum of Us', 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' - oh, I could go on!

I seriously could write FOREVER on films and all it's different aspects but I shan't! 

I will never become a film critic - I don't feel that's what films are for. For me, it's escapism, it's to allow you to laugh, cry, get angry, dance! Yep, I am a simple kinda gal...

It's not in my top 10, but it's up there, a bit of 'Wizard of Oz' - I have been in love with Judy Garland for as long as I can remember!!!!...

'The movies we love and admire are to some extent a function of who we are when we see them' - Mary Schmich.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

War & Peace. Battle scars & hope

My first blog
‘Welcome to my blog! 

It will be a reflection of my mind. Scattered! Funny bits, insightful bits, deep bits, sometimes sad bits  -  Ali-isms!

However, I wish to start my first blog with coming out of yet another closet. The closet of self injury. I feel compelled to share this with you all as it’s very visible and confronting. I don’t want to shock and upset any of you when I see you next.  (Summer is here & I can no longer cover up to hide my scars).

As most of you know this last year was my worst year ever. I moved home from New Zealand leaving behind a partner who really is the most beautiful, loving, caring & selfless person.  I was embarking on the darkest ride of my heart & mind. 

I took to cutting the inside of my arms to take away the emotional pain that I was so tired of bearing. I found a quote by Karl Marx that pretty much summed up my drastic actions ‘Physical pain is the only antitode for mental suffering’.  I can’t explain why I haven’t found my way out of this funk that I have endured for the last 20 years (it just gradually worse & worse as the years went by). 

I can imagine for so many of you reading this that you would just be somewhat frustrated and saying ‘Just get over it & get on with it, Conlon’ – I say this to myself every day. I know I am capable of so much but I am mentally crippled by fear. Fear of failure, fear of being an outcast. I am not living at the moment, I am merely existing. 

What I am about to reveal next will anger some of you who have experienced life threatening illnesses. Everyday, I think about death constantly. I just want to escape the pain. I experience two main feelings or emotions or whatever they are called. Tiredness & being scared. Tired of living, yet too scared to do anything to end it. Such strong & trying emotions. yet I still manage to get out of bed, have a shower, ensure I am dressed properly before leaving for work, this comes under HOPE. For as long as I keep doing this, then I know HOPE is by my side. 
I only learned this last week. I sat in my therapy session with tears rolling down my cheeks & my chest was so heavy when I was talking about the pain of living. My therapist was explaining that she could see how tiring it must be for me, how heart wrenching some of my writing is but there is something very unique about how I write. Almost at the end of each heartwrenching statement, there is a small bit of writing that offers hope. An example was talking about my life as a dusty, dirty, brown tumbleweed rolling aimlessly through the streets of life. During my tumbling, I gather a beautiful bright pink rose petal that is lying on the street. So as I tumble along aimslessly, I always remember the little beautiful bright pink rose petal that is stuck within me – the petal is hope.
I have the most amazing images inside my head that I would just love to get down on canvas – the problem is, I suck at drawing & painting. It is so frustrating! I will now need to try to convert those images into word.
I don’t know if I will get out of this funk. I am lost. I seriously think I will live out the rest of my years in this troubled state but I still see the little four letter word that keeps me going every day – HOPE.
I believe I had to be someone else all my life, be compliant. Always do what is expected from authority. I actually think I am slightly kooky & I am ready to embrace that.....