If you think that you have just one life, think again. There's the life you think you have, the life others think you have and the life you really have- three lives!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I can, I can, I can, I can't

I can graduate with high honors
I can survive a massive haemmorage after an illegal backyard abortion in a seedy looking Cairo back street (will tell that story one day)
I can withstand the pain of child birth (for 10 hours followed by 2 hours of pain relief)
I can do the midnight dash to the emergency ward with a 6 year old who is turning blue
I can stare into the face of a violent husband, hold a knife to his throat, threaten to kill him if he hits me again, then walk away and never look back (will tell this story too)
I can let the past go and help him to reconnect with his children
I can change a tyre, fix a leaking tap, hang a picture, paint a house, sew curtains, lay tiles, put together Ikea furniture, use a jigsaw, dig a pond, plant a garden and install a shelf
I can also burn out a car engine because I forgot to put oil in it
I can raise two children on very little money
I can earn six figures
I can complete a 50 page report on domestic violence among Muslim communities in 2 (very long) days and have it launched by a senior politician a month later
I can jog for 40 minutes
I can dine and chat comfortably with diplomats, academics and homeless people alike
I can complete a Masters degree in 9 months
I can complete a PhD in 2.5 years
I can tutor my son in highschool physics even though I've never studied it
I can read Foucault and get him and then I can explain him to my students
I can stand up in a room of 100 or so men, know they are probably more interested in checking out my breasts, and within one minute, have them hanging on my every word as I talk about terrorism and fear
I can stand up to a group of armed bikies taunting a Chinese student and get the group to disperse
I can write about the dark days of my teenage years and be OK about it
I can MC an event, appear on TV, sit on a panel and go live on radio without breaking into a nervous sweat
I can forgive my sister, my parents and myself
I can perform CPR

I read an article today in which this woman talks about how she was always gunning for an A+ in her marraige and I realised that's me.
Always trying to be the best at everything- the best wife, the best lover, the best mother, the best daughter, the best sister, the best student, the best teacher, the best stepmum, the best friend, the best worker.
Most of the time I think I'm probably just scraping in with a C even though I put this incredible pressure on myself. It's not enough for me to be average, or even good. No, I have to be perfect!

I can't just finish my Phd in the alotted 3 years, like everyone else- no I have to finish it in 2.5 eventhough my generous scholarship is for 3 years.
I can't just clean the kitchen like normal people- no I have to take apart the stove, scrub the little knobs till they glisten, I have to scrub the pots, I have to polish the kettle, rearrange the bloody sugar and tea cannisters for crying out loud and clean the oven 3 times in one day.
I can't just mark my students essays with ticks or crosses- no I have to write each one of them an essay back- commenting on virtually every line they have written. Then I have to take 20 hours to speak to each one of them individually about their essays (trust me- there is no university lecturer who does this!)

The worst part is that I don't want to be like this! I don't want to be bloody perfect and I don't want to exhaust myself trying anymore. Perfection is highly over rated.
I don't want to be that little girl who waits eagerly for her husband to come home, look at the gleaming kitchen with its shiny kettle and glistening nobs- praying that he nods his approval- just so that she can give herself an A+

I don't want to do it anymore.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I reckon that there are people in this world who just don't know how to find their own happiness. They look to others to make them happy, relying on those around them to take responsibility for their lives.

Then there are people in this world who measure their self worth by the happiness of those around them. They take it on themselves to be responsible for others' lives. They live for it, infact, measuring their successes and failures in life on the basis of those around them.

What happens when these two people get together?

In some ways it's the perfect union-symbiotic almost- one needs the other to be happy and one needs the other to make happy- but it's not. It's far from perfect.

I reckon I'm a pretty happy kind of person. Sure I've faced trials, heartache, sadness and hard times in my life. So what? Who hasn't? Everybody has a story- everybody.

I've been on the verge of death and back.
I've been forced to make choices that I didn't want to make, that I wasn't prepared to make that I did not have the capacity to make.
I've had days when I could only afford to feed my children and would go without (we were poor but we we had a roof over our heads and warm beds at night)
I've sat by my son's hospital bed in the middle of the night, alone, with noone to talk to, no shoulder to cry on and no hand to reassure me- wodering if he would make it through the night.
I've had days when I felt so alone, so lonely and so lost that I thought I would never make it out of the shadows.

But hasn't everybody? Compared to some people- my life has been a party and at the end of it all- I realise it wasn't half bad after all.

I do not for one minute regret any path that I've taken, any path that I've been forced to take and where I've ended up- it's all good. So, yeah- I'm happy.

But there is one thing that plagues me- a constant niggling, yearning, desire to make everyone else happy.
You might think it comes from a natural urge to nurture and love but I'm not so sure it's all that noble.
Perhaps it's a bit of arrogance- a bit of self adulation that makes me think that I have the capacity to bring happiness where there is misery; hope where there is despair and laughter where there are tears.
Perhaps it is my overblown sense of my own "sun shinyness" that defines failure for me. Failure being when I cannot make someone else happy- when, despite everything that I do, that I sacrifice, that I give- he still cannot find his happiness.

Why? Why do I do that? Why is it so important for me to do everything I possibly can, even if it means going out of my way and making myself 'unhappy', to make someone else happy? And why am I so hurt when it doesn't work?
Every common sense part of me tells me that I'm an idiot- ofcourse I can't make someone else happy- ofcourse happiness can only ever come from within- ofcourse the more I try the more I fail because it's not up to me.

So why do I do it?

Any answers out there?