Today is my birthday.
This has little to no significance for me except that it lets me reflect on where I was this time last year. If you had asked me last year where I expected myself to be in 365-days time I would have sincerely chosen one of two options; 1. I would be married to a gorgeous man from the other side of the world, whom I didn’t know but was about to spend an entire month with in Italy. Or…which was looking like the more plausible option; 2. In a psych ward, rocking back and forth in a windowless room and occasionally alternating with banging my head into the wall. Shockingly neither of these illusions came to fruition! However, I am currently writing this from my new home in Italy but thankfully not within the confines of a padded cell! Well done me.
One year ago today I was mere days away from completing the nutrition degree that had stolen every healthy bone in my body just to scrape by on passes. I was the girl in first year making vegan treats to take to lectures and getting a buzz off green tea. Flash forward 5 of the most gruelling years of my life and suddenly I am the brat chain-smoking out the back of the student clinic and surviving on 2-for-1 Red-bulls, and anything sugary I could get my hands on from the 7-11 across the street. Life had given me several jarringly painful kicks to my lady junk and I was spiralling faster than Ramona Singer on a down day (Real Housewives of New York reference, get caught up people)! Add to this a hideous break-up, watching my best friend slowly and painfully die, dad go “missing” and subsequently be found dead, chronic physical pain, my final semester of my degree (treating actual human patients…wot!), a predisposition for mental illness and a propensity for instant gratification; it was unsurprising I quickly developed a dangerous drug habit. In fact, anything that might present a speck of hope at taking away a piece of the misery would get a look in.
A “normal” day might include a diet of caffeine, sugar and cigarettes, copious amounts of prescribed yet severely abused oxycontin or “hillbilly heroin” as the kids call it, cheap alcohol, anything I was already being prescribed for my mental illness(es) and if I was really lucky, sex, more drugs and rock ‘n’ roll (okay, not so much rock ‘n’ roll as crying hysterically on the train listening to Sia…but you get the picture). The aim of the game was distraction. The more dangerous, risky or self-destructive, the better the distraction. The problem is once you’ve lost all reason to live, you look forward to behaviours that challenge death. They are the only thing that help you feel alive. Enter ‘Him’, AKA a co-dependent/suicidal/addicts reason to live. Pressure much? Yeah… just a touch…
I have a theory that loneliness kills and I was on my last legs. I was tired of chasing men that I didn’t even like, and certainly didn’t like me, just to feel like I existed*. In a moment of intense loneliness, I reached out to the last man I had felt a genuine connection with prior to my long-term ex. This brought me to Him, half-way across the world, in Canada (I don’t make life easy on myself do I?). We had known of each other for my entire life, which was markedly shorter than his, however only really spent one evening together. It was 5 years earlier, during a short trip to Toronto.
As a 22-year-old Aussie girl, I felt pretty special being wined and dined at a fancy restaurant and charmed off my feet by this charismatic, older man… even if his girlfriend at the time happened to join us. How inconvenient! Honestly, I spent the evening with her and can barely remember her face, yet his was etched into my memory forever. The electricity between us was undeniable. However, I left the next day and life did that thing it does…went on.
By the time I wrote that first infamous message we had each been single from our previous long-term relationships for about a year. This was just long enough to still be emotionally scarred but also ready enough to fall into a distraction that lasted longer than one night. As soon as we made contact again it was on. With a 12-hour time difference and half a world between us we still found a way to talk all day, every day. Within a week, we had booked a month-long trip to Tuscany with an additional week for me to stay at his house in Toronto to “test” what our life would be like together (because obviously we were going to get married and spend the rest of our lives living happily ever after! Right….)? Yeah…somehow things didn’t quite end up like that. I suspect it had something to do with the fact we were both living in a complete fantasy land, had never spent any quality time together, were now together every waking second and I was a drug addict, quite literally on the verge of death, and rapidly slipping into withdrawal. But who’s to say!
As you may have guessed there are stories, some I remember and some that have since been recounted to me by a very cautious, kind and patient man, who for some unknown reason, still talks to me. And I will share them, but this time last year they hadn’t happened yet. We were still in our safe, exciting, hopeful, love bubble, that promised a future of happiness for years to come and told us that all the traumas we had individually experienced up until this point were for this reward of love in front of us! Hmm… we were idiots.
My intention with this blog is to tell my stories from the insanity of the last few years, my life since rehab and what it’s like trying to work on my addictions, live with chronic pain/illness and how the fuck I ended up living here in a tiny village in Italy! It’s not about how you can heal and improve your own life because WTF do I know, I’m just some chick who’s been through a lot of weird shit and is narcissistic enough to write about it! Some of my stories are funny, many are tragic, but most are so profoundly unbelievable they almost come back around to funny again!
So strap yourself in kiddos, it’s about to get wild!
* There is a lot in that statement and a lot that needs to be said about the damage caused by co-dependency, love and sex addiction but I’ll unpack that more in another blog to give it the attention it needs.