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Pain + creativity = more depth in your art

Pain + creativity = more depth in your art

Many years ago, I went through a truly treacherous break-up. I gave my heart completely to someone who couldn’t sustain the love he said he felt, so he left. What followed for me was a rapid spiral into quite frankly, the darkest depths of hell with all the devastating pain, heartbreak and depression that accompanies such an experience.

A month or so after the end, I sent him a copy of my first ever manuscript. I don’t think I had shared it with another human soul at that point. For a writer, it is a deeply personal and vulnerable thing to do. It was posted a couple of days before Christmas Day, and I imagined him reading every page. Knowing him as I did, I doubted he would be able to stop himself.

He never acknowledged the receipt of that manuscript. In fact, he never acknowledged I existed from the day he ended things. From passionate love and planning a future to vapid emptiness and nothingness the next. These days, they call it ghosting.

That first manuscript was my first book, The Men I’ve Almost Dated, and the events in there occurred long before he entered my life. Yet still, I wanted desperately to have his acknowledgement of my work and a sign that I had mattered. The sign never came.

Interestingly, as a highly-sensitive psychic, I could feel that man long after he had physically departed my life and cut contact. Sometimes I had visions of what he was doing, other times I just felt it. The energetic connection was impossible for me to break for many months, and believe me I tried. When you read online about these types of connections, many describe them as twin flames. Considering I have variants of this ability whenever I am heart connected these days, I would dispute this broad brush and frequently overly-romanticised description. And for those of you out there, longing for a twin flame type connection, I would say strongly and clearly, be careful what you wish for because it’s not easy and it’s sure as heck isn’t fun. To be connected to another soul in this way and not have the understanding of what is going on or how to disconnect from it – as I didn’t have at the time – can drive you to the edge of madness.

Fast forward a few years, I’m now editing my next book. Surprisingly, it’s a collection of poetry based on that relationship, and some romantic connections that followed. It covers the energetics of that experience, the heart-wrenching devastation it delivered and how I made it through to the other side. So much of my memoir-writing seems to focus on the dysfunction and pain that can occur in relationships and this book is no different. However, the energetic overlay makes things much more complex to navigate. It’s been a journey.

Recently, I found myself thinking about sending him that first manuscript. I thought about the cruelty of his behaviour and how I seriously lost my way during that time. I also thought about how, through my poetry, I can see the gift his abandonment gave me. I could not write in this way if I hadn’t experienced what it truly felt like to be emotionally annihilated.

My poetry isn’t light-hearted. It’s more hit you in the chest realism than joy and light imaginings.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m still not sure about that one but there is something I know for sure, all that pain has made me a stronger writer.

You cannot survive the fire without scars but you can channel your pain into art that will hopefully help others to express their own, and then move on.

If you’re ready to share your story with the world, check out Storytellers Anonymous. There are people out there who need to hear what you have to say.

What does partnership mean to you?

What does partnership mean to you?

As someone who writes about love, sex and relationships, I’m a keen observer of how people connect romantically, sexually and intimately. Over the past decade alone, this landscape has transformed with new and evolving types of relationships, sexual experiences and connections being openly discussed, attempted, abandoned and pursued like never before.

I believe this type of exploration and boundary testing is a fundamental part of humanity’s evolution. If you are a consenting adult, go forth in whatever way feels right for you.

However, often it seems that when we are in an intimate connection with another, we respond to their needs and requirements rather than checking in with our own. Women in particular often fall into this trap but I have observed the same behaviour in some men too.

Many years ago, when I interviewed people of all ages about the concept of partnership, most had never sat down and asked themselves what it meant to them as an individual. What did they believe was important in an intimate partnership?

When given the space to contemplate this question with someone who had no interest or agenda in judging their response, it was amazing how quickly they could share this fundamental truth. Many surprised themselves with the clarity this realisation brought with it.

Those interviews are currently queued up and await the finessing required to become a book. It’s on my to-do list.

Meanwhile, I look around and am concerned about some of the contorted relationships people willingly enter and stay in, even when it’s clear they are designed to accommodate their partner’s needs, rather than their own. This is an unhealthy choice that will not deliver alignment with self.

If you have the time, I’d encourage you to sit down in a quiet spot with just you, a pen and some paper. Ask yourself, what does partnership mean to you? Then write down your answer. Once you’ve done this, read over your words and see if they line up with your current relationship dynamic. If not, there is clearly something you need to look at.

What is Corona showing us this week?

What is Corona showing us this week?

“If you look at our prime minister at the moment where he has $270 billion to invest in missiles to displace people, why doesn’t he have billions to house people with dignity and safety? Why isn’t that part of the Covid-19 stimulus package? … here’s your chance to do two things, put billions into social housing, keep Jobseeker at the rate it is now and don’t return people to poverty. Because if you’ve got no way out, if you’ve got no income security and no housing security, that’s how you get those high-rises. They shouldn’t even be there anymore, should they?” Kon Karapanagiotidis, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre commenting on the lockdown in Melbourne’s public housing high-rises on The Briefing podcast, Thursday, 9 July 2020.

If you’re in Australia right now, the Corona situation is starting to feel shaky again. With much of one state on lockdown, many of us are wondering, will it be our turn next? Certainly, in the global scheme of things, Australia has suffered very lightly indeed, so far. Can we continue to be the ‘lucky country’ when it comes to Corona?

At the moment, I sometimes find myself unconsciously holding my breath then unexpectedly sighing it out. It’s a reminder of the stress I’m carrying in my body – a stress I know is not exclusive to me during these unpredictable times.

Some in the spiritual community talk of this as a time of rebalancing the planet and we have a few more years to go yet. When my mind grapples with that concept I feel…challenged…despairing…resolute…hopeful? My feelings shift like the sands on a windy beach.

Then the Universe steps in and sends me a gentle reminder of where I should focus my attention. Today it came through the words of Kon Karapanagiotidis – he was interviewed on The Briefing podcast earlier this week about the public housing lockdown in Victoria. For those of you who don’t know about Kon, he is a community leader who supports and advocates for refugees in Australia. He founded and still runs a charitable, not-for-profit called the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre which is entirely community-funded and has never taken a cent of government money – this is a deliberate strategy to ensure their advocacy remains uncompromised.

I have no doubt that Kon makes many politicians shift uneasily in their well-padded seats. He and his team, along with supporters and partners within the refugee advocacy sector, successfully lobbied for the Medivac Bill which guaranteed people seeking asylum (human beings) transfer to the mainland for medical treatment when assessed and referred by doctors. I still find it gobsmacking that in our ‘lucky country’ we needed a bill to ensure sick people could receive the medical assistance they needed…as instructed by doctors. Equally appalling is the fact the government couldn’t wait to repeal the bill when they had a chance. But let’s face it, even a cursory look at how successive Australian governments (from both sides of the political spectrum) have treated refugees for decades is enough to show just how low politicians will stoop for easy votes and out of sight/out of mind expediency.

I’m sure many politicians would love to dismiss Kon as just another bleeding heart but they couldn’t sustain this argument for long because he is also a well-educated, articulate pragmatist. And that makes him difficult to dismiss or silence.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that he and the ASRC team had stepped in to provide food for the people on hard lockdown in Melbourne’s public housing high-rises. I also wasn’t surprised to hear him encourage people to donate to other local charities for this cause instead of than the ASRC. He feels that supporting the organisations who work with the affected communities in the long-term will have a greater impact. To hear the head of one charity diverting donations to another charity is highly unusual, even in a sector based on giving.

As someone who has long-worked with low socio-economic communities, Kon has used his platform this week to point out one of the issues that Corona has starkly unveiled – the inadequacy of public housing in Victoria. While I don’t live in that state, I don’t doubt the legitimacy of his statements because the evidence seems to indicate he is right.

More broadly, I think Corona is exposing many of the social problems that have been unaddressed for far too long across Australia.

Up in my hometown of Brisbane, a friend says many children from a local school did no work during the last lockdown here – they had no internet at home and their parents either couldn’t get to or couldn’t be bothered to travel to the school to pick up the hard copy work sheets. Some children did no schoolwork for many weeks. This highlights existing socio-economic problems where teachers and schools provide a lifeline for kids who otherwise slip through the cracks. This is not a new problem and reminds me of when they added fluoride to the water here in Brisbane. The government told us it would help prevent rising levels of tooth decay in children and the community. Certainly, over the years, I’ve heard horrific anecdotal stories from dentists who practised in some of the areas most affected. But adding fluoride to the water felt like a bandaid measure. The government added another unnecessary chemical to our water supply instead of addressing the underlying issues of poverty, education and lack of community support.

All these thoughts and many others ran through my head as I listened to Kon’s words and I took away the following Universal message.

When we feel like things are darkest and we don’t know what is coming next, turning our attention to how we can help our communities is one of the most important things we can do. Doing this takes our anxiety and uncertainty and channels it into action to make the world a better place. Find the causes that you feel called to, then find a way to help – donate funds, give your time or increase awareness by talking about the issues on your social media channels. Do whatever you can.

We have a lot of social problems that need to be sorted out. They aren’t new and they aren’t very sexy. But they need to be addressed. Covid-19 and the lockdowns are simply exposing in sharp relief the problems that many were choosing to ignore for too long.

Whatever you are struggling with right now, there is always someone else who is struggling too. Perhaps this time of upheaval is showing us this more clearly so we reach out more often and live more in alignment with that saying, “We’re all in this together”. Our ability to pull together in this way, to make things better for everyone, is what makes us the lucky country.

We need to be feminists

We need to be feminists

When I was a teenage girl, I read almost every copy of my mother’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels. Set mostly in pre-1800 England, the romantic tales included balls, confused women with love in their hearts, and sometimes ruthless men who softened in the end. It depicted a fantastic world full of chivalry, silk and honour. It was light years away from my very ordinary 1980s life in Australia.

In a most contradictory fashion, my late teens saw me increasingly outspoken about feminist issues. I was and am still a woman who believes passionately in feminism. I believe in equality. Women would not have the rights we do, without feminism.

It has been 30+ years since I started reading Heyer and learning about feminism. In some ways, things have changed a lot during that time. In other ways, not so much.

As an adult, I realise that Heyer’s romantic stories veiled a time when women were usually nothing more than chattels with few, if any, rights of their own – if you’d like a horrifying look into that world, I recommend you watch The Duchess, a film about the life of Georgiana Spencer (let me know if you notice any similarities between Georgiana and the life of her later relative, Diana).  

My teenage self thought women would have equality by 2020. I imagine her beside me now – she has disappointment written all over her face.

There is still a long way to go before the scales are equally balanced. Women are still treated as property in many countries throughout the world. Too many women are still treated like that in Australia too – take a look at the domestic violence statistics for the evidence of this.

Women still don’t have equal representation at the top levels of industry or government – we are still greeted by a sea of mainly male faces leading major companies across the globe and dominating our parliaments. Why are women still such a minority? And don’t tell me it’s because women have to leave work to have babies because Jacinda Ardern has busted that myth wide open. In her case, instead of trying to conform to a way of doing things that was established to suit the needs of men, she’s adjusted things to equally suit the needs of a woman.

Despite the evidence that we have a long way to go, I often hear women say they do not identify as being a feminist. But if you want equality for women, by definition, you are a feminist – please visit a dictionary if you don’t believe me.

But the word ‘feminist’ feels too radical for some, it seems. It’s too disruptive. It conjures up…oh, I don’t know, images of screaming women, burning their bras. It also comes with images and stories of women being targeted and harangued by enraged men seeking to maintain the status quo through covert and even overt threats.

If you are a woman and you want equality, smiling nicely and playing within the existing structures and according to the rules and structures that we didn’t create, is unlikely to get you there. It hasn’t got us there yet – why do we think doing things the same way will change anything?

I’m not anti-men and I’m not anti-romance either. I still love a good rom com film and highly value chivalry in a man.

But if you believe feminism isn’t needed, you’re not looking at the truth of the way things are. If you want equality for women, then you are a feminist. This means you also need the tools and support to allow you to speak up, stand out and be disruptive. Because, yes, you will need to disrupt the way things have always been to create a world where power is more evenly distributed. We need to create new ways of doing things that don’t just support the way things have always been done.

We need to be feminists.

I’m so sick of this sh!!

I’m so sick of this sh!!

TW: discusses sexual assault

World, we have a problem and I am sick to death of it. Sexual assault of women and girls is rife in our community and it’s got to stop.

Almost every woman I speak to has been sexually assaulted and/or physically abused by a boy or man. The incidents may have happened when they were a child or an adult but the stories are appallingly and insidiously common. Strangers at parties, boyfriends and husbands, older men when they were kids, on and on and on the stories go. They are everywhere and they are never-ending.

If you’re reading my words and thinking, “Lucretia is exaggerating, it’s not that common,” I want to invite you to do the following.

If you are a man reading this, put down your device and go talk to the women in your life – the women you care about. Ask them about their experiences of assault in the workplace, at home, on nights out. I dare you to ask and I dare you to listen and accept what you hear about their experiences. If a woman has escaped sexual assault and abuse, she is a lucky exception.

Then I suggest you take walk through the comments sections on posts by women like Clementine Ford who speak out about abusive male behaviour, feminism and women demanding better treatment. As you scroll, I want you do look out for the misogynistic commentary that some men still think is acceptable – comments like, “I’m going to rape you if you don’t shut your hole” or “No man will ever have sex with you because you’re an ugly pig.” This type of commentary is remarkably common and even more interestingly, when women shine a spotlight on these ugly comments that men send to their DMs, people (men and women) defend the abusive pricks who sent them in the first place. Women are still expected to play nicely and smile politely even in the face of abuse – we mustn’t cause waves or be disruptive.

Well, I am sick of this shi!

I’m sick of hearing of young women who are assaulted yet, when they tell adults, police and others, they are disbelieved and met with words like, “He comes across as a really genuine guy” or “Maybe he didn’t know that you weren’t into it.”

I’m sick of reading about how, even if a woman bravely and tenaciously, goes to court to tell her story, juries are still more likely to believe the man’s story even when evidence shows that women are unlikely to lie about this stuff. If you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend you read the words of Bri Lee in her book, Eggshell Skull.

I’m also completely devastated when I hear women and girls describe their assaults and in the next breath they doubt themselves and ask, “Was that wrong? Am I over-reacting? Was it my fault?”

If you are a girl or a woman and you feel like you have been sexually assaulted, then it’s highly, highly likely you have been. It wasn’t your fault.

If you said no and then he coerced you, didn’t listen, forced himself on you, you have been assaulted.

If he touched you sexually without your consent, then you have been assaulted.

If he pushed himself on you and you froze (which sadly, many women do in these situations because we are terrified), then you were assaulted.

If you have had any of these or related experiences, I want to say this directly to you:

“Sweetheart, none of that was your fault. When things happen and they feel wrong, they are wrong – trust yourself. It’s not your job to teach men and boys how to treat you respectfully – they know the difference between right and wrong.

“You are a courageous and beautiful person who deserves so much more than this. I believe you can find your way out – sometimes it’s just about finding the right person to help you.

“Don’t give up. I believe you.”

As for those of you who continue to say, “It’s not that common”, “She shouldn’t have worn that dress/gone to that place/been with that guy” or “He just misunderstood and thought she consented”, my response is “Do better”.