Monday, August 31, 2015

How can I help?

I've been reading various reviews from The New York Times this morning. I've been listening to interviews on the radio. I've been trying to finish a novel All the Light We Cannot See. I've also spent a day at a Writer's Festival. It's quite fascinating to see the ideas contained in this stimuli merge, not necessarily forming one clear and complete idea, but rather reminding me what delicate creatures we are at the same time as how resilient we are; how capable we are of healing from past blows.

Richard Glover, a radio presenter here in Australia has written a memoir and as I listened to him being interviewed about the book he has written I am reminded that  without proper parenting we truly are at risk. Richard's mother clearly lived in a fantasy of her own making and his father became a hopeless alcoholic. They probably tried in their own way to be good parents but at age 15 his mother had run off with his English teacher and his father left for a time too leaving him in the house alone. As one of his friends remarked, 'Richard didn't run away from home but rather home ran away from him'. This instability in his life led to all sorts of issues, but I think writing it all down has helped him to be philosophical: If you can't get the love you need from those you'd assume would provide love, stop beating your head against a brick wall and find it elsewhere. He did.

An earlier radio interview related to Merryl Streep's most recent movie Ricki and the The Flash with a couple of local aging rock chicks remarking that they didn't feel the movie had much of a believable plot - why go work across the country leaving your family behind if it isn't creating a decent income?  Both women had managed to have their singing career and a family, though with the help of husbands and their own mothers to lighten the motherly burden.

I read a comment about motherly guilt made by Streep in an interview about the film and I have to admit I did wonder to myself, 'What if there was no motherly guilt about leaving your children? Is that an outcome we want? Does a lack of a sense of responsibility to the children we bear lead to good things?

Anne Enright writes:

When desire is in the air, motherhood becomes problematic. This despite the fact that sex causes motherhood. It is a fact worth stating sometimes that sex, in itself, cannot turn you into a whore, no matter what the nuns told you then or pornography tells you now, but it really can turn you into a mother. After which, of course, you are never allowed to have sex again.

And then a little later she writes:

And when the child grows up, and when the child becomes a writer — a male writer, ­usually — such sins will be endlessly rehearsed. Because, in the fantasized perfection (or the experienced perfection) of the ­mother-baby bond, each is entirely fulfilled by the other. There can be no one else.

It does give pause to wonder if Anne Summers was onto something when she wrote all those years ago that women could either be Damned Whores or God's Police. (I heard Summers in interview a few days ago since it is 40 years since she wrote that book, her doctorate in fact.)

Recently I was talking to a Russian psychiatrist, now retired, who shared his opinion with me after a lifetime of caring for troubled children that 'not all people are meant to be parents'. (He is a prone to making heartfelt understatements.)

To be a parent is to be prepared to sacrifice bits of yourself, at least for  a time. If you can't make some room in your life for the care and responsibility of another human being, then it's not the right time to be a parent. It may never be the right time in your life.

It's more profound than even that: You can aim to be the perfect parent but you won't ever be the perfect parent. Personally, I encourage the children to air their grievances. I heard a biographer talk yesterday who said that it was his job to reveal and that a secret was more toxic than a revelation. I found myself agreeing with him.

Rod Jones wrote The Mothers, a story in part about a young girl who was forced to give up her baby for adoption when she fell pregnant at a young age, and all the repercussion around that one decision. In his book, the adopted child never blended with his adopted parents despite their best efforts to love him and care for him. Of course, many people have very different experiences with their adopted parents.

I read recently of a woman writer who cared for her dying parents and nearly stopped reading altogether. She read a little of  many stories but could finish nothing, as if endings were too difficult for her. Nine months after their deaths when she did start reading again she read 'coming of age' stories, as if she had to somehow come to terms with beginnings again before she could go on with her life.

In an interview Lorri Moore talked about "creating ruptures" as a writer; interrogating ways people observe and talk to each other, "where unbearable and lovely humanity dribbles through".

Hugh Mackay says that a happy life is made up of selflessness; forgiveness.

All these people saying something similar in their own way, something that Clarie Underwood of all people used to say to Francis often:

How can I help?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I've watched The Godfather many times. Not only did I have a thing for Al Pacino but I was drawn to the story in a way that went well beyond the superficial story of the Corleone family and their Mafia control.

Many years after seeing it for the first time I listened to Ted Stanton talk about how he wrote Toy Story and I finally realized why The Godfather pulled me in. Ted explained that every movie has a message (It might be 'love is complicated' or it might be 'love is not complicated', for example) and every protoganist wants something. The film is built around that message and those wants. So, Michael, long after his father died, wanted to please him. Break down the whole movie and that's what you've got; a son's desire for his father to be proud and content.

I don't personally particularly relate to that message since it isn't an issue that has confronted me. I was, if not the favoured child, the good child. I didn't feel that I needed to make anyone proud. It's not really a concept that entered my mind much. I was too busy trying to accept myself, if that makes sense; that parcel of characteristics and eccentricities that make up who I am, to be too worried about what other people thought, even my parents. I was sometimes plagued by seeing my father unhappy and probably that's what made me 'good' and silent; a desire not to cause him any more unhappiness or anxiety than he already felt.

I can see that many people do have Michael Corleone's issue. My husband was not first born. He didn't get the attention that is so naturally thrust on the first born child. Instead, I would say that as a middle child he was almost neglected; considered unimportant; not privy to high expectations. He felt this and railed against it. He, of all the children, wanted to be a big success; to travel; to get away from poverty and distress. Against the odds, he achieved well in the academic arena and rose high in his profession of choice. That he did so well for a period of time probably made it even harder on him when the tide turned against him, and being born with tenacity, I feel sure that as long as he is breathing, he'll never give up trying to achieve success as it is defined in his mind.

I think there are two reasons why he'll never give up. Certainly, he takes his responsibilities to his family seriously. He wants the best for me and the children. But, I think the real reason he won't ever give up is that he is plagued with a similar obsession to Michael Corleone.

It's odd this complete commitment to a cause that is unwinnable. I understand it and I don't understand it at the same time. If a man was a delight to be with; if he was generous with his time and made that shared time pleasant, if he was affectionate or had a positive effect on his children's state of mind; I'd understand. However, my father-in-law cannot be described in this way at all. He's extraordinarily moody, cantankerous; difficult; not prone to praise people. He has zero awareness of the upset he causes amongst the family, it is thought, although I have strongly suspected for decades that he revels in this upset.

He has good qualities, of course. He is a family man and can be pleasant on occasion. He means well. But, his control issues and need to stay Top Dog supersede the goodness. He's manipulative, controlling, demanding and overbearing. You won't find anyone who will call it another way.

From the outset my husband warned me not to get involved in the politics of his family. I am pleasant to all of them; shoot the breeze with all of them and leave it to him to make the decisions related to them, even when I have found the situation quite ludicrous. I realized even in the early days that there was an unspoken policy that the children were to succeed and not succeed at the same time. To succeed meant that they could also be subject to their father's wrath. How could they live in comfort, perhaps buy a new car or home, when he had wants of his own? I overheard a hundred of these comments and this kept my husband down on the farm through university holidays, giving whatever spare money he had and then giving big chunks of money when he had big chunks of money to give.

That's all fine if there was some sort of recognition that my husband (and I) had paid his dues. My husband has given back every cent he has ever cost many, many times over, gave of his time almost every night of our lives for some years listening to his father's complaints about life on the phone. (Had he planted a camera in our house, calling at the exact moment I put the dinner on the table??) But, nothing turned him into a happy man. My husband is still trying, bless him, but nothing can make my father-in-law happy. He chooses to be unhappy.

I was talking to my oldest son last night and at a certain point I found myself sharing my concerns about his father. It's something I hate to do, but last night, it just happened. I didn't know, I said, how to stop his father from working himself into an early grave. My son does everything he can to allay my fears but this is what he said to me last night:

"Yeah. I just can't seem to pull him out of his distress lately. He always seems so exhausted, so defeated, so negative. In the past I've been able to cajole him and get him talking about something else, but lately it feels that I just can't make him happy."


"Darling, who do you sound like?"


"Ohhhh, Dad talking about Grandpa."

"That's right. He'd hate to know that; that he was imposing on you in this way; that you feel responsible for his happiness in this way. It's not your responsibility to make him happy."

Now is not the right time for me to sit my husband down and explain what he is doing to his beloved son; the son he absolutely adores; the son of which he is so rightfully immensely proud.

To any father reading this, please drop the denial and listen to my words. Don't let this be your legacy. Take responsibility for your own happiness and leave your children in peace. Wear a smile. Teach them that life is good by enjoying your life. That's the best gift you can give your children. Life is to be lived, not endured.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I feel sure that growing up as I did in the 50s and 60s when corporal punishment was still very much the done thing, I was fascinated and fearful of what happened to some children. Since it didn't happen to me, but supposedly happened all about me, I think I grew up with a feeling that whatever it was, it was to be feared, and avoided. Then, the fear became eroticized and the next thing you know there is a middle-aged woman writing over 900 entries in an e-journal about her thoughts and feelings around that!

Many of my fantasies include fear as their base. I never launch into a spanking in my thoughts. Never. I'm told I'm going to get a spanking. It's a waiting sort of experience first. I'm put up against a wall to wait or told to report on Sunday at 3 pm, maybe five or so days away. Perhaps I have to report to the Master at the end of the school day. They seem to know that inducing my fear of the spanking is the real correction; reminding me minute by minute that they are the ones in control. They are the ones who will administer pain in order to make their point.

It seems so close to an impossibility that I could ask for a spanking, it practically is an impossibility. Yes, I once asked to be spanked, but just that once, when my craving overwhelmed my fear. Late 40s and having thought this stuff for decades I simply had to know what it felt like to be spanked. I'm fortunate that my husband didn't make it a 'Claytons' sort of spanking. It was the real deal. It hurt, it stung, it had me flailing around and screaming my head off. And afterwards, man, was I relieved and happppppy. I flew.

I often walk the dog late. She gets nervous around most other dogs and if I walk her late she doesn't need to feel fearful. There are overhead lights one way, just little lights along the path the other way,  and when I look left it is quite, quite dark. I imagine it is the woods and I test myself with the thought, 'Do you have the courage, little girl, to walk into the dark woods where there might be wolves?' I am seriously terrified at the thought, and I just can't do it, but I like to play with the fear. I look left, but I walk right.

I'm still the little girl in the red cloak, frightened of the big, bad Wolf, but so incredibly entranced by him at the same time. I suppose it won't change now. I have no reason to imagine it ever could.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The effect of the erect nipple

Good times aren't necessarily shared in journals. I think a journal keeper can be too busy being content to necessarily take the time to record that state. This absence of content skews the reader's perception, naturally enough. It's probably a mistake to read the diary of someone long dead and conclude that they had a miserable life. Who of us rushes in from a day at the beach to record that the sun was shining, the waves were perfect for surfing and we felt radiantly happy as we walked by the shore with the hard, wet sand providing the perfect comfort for our feet?

I feel this way. It's a bit of an effort to sit and record that I am feeling so much better than I have for some time, but in the interests of balanced representation I shall try to explain. I'd mentioned to my husband a week ago an art exhibition in the country that I'd like to see, and as this weekend took hold I mentioned it again. Did he think he could fit it in? On Saturday morning he informed me that we were going shortly and to get ready.  I love this; his deciding.

We both enjoyed the exhibition of Australian painters of the past 50 years set in a stunning contemporary building on a gorgeous property. When we'd seen it all we headed into the nearby town for a vegan lunch; that is to say we chose to go to a sort of hippie place rather than a upmarket restaurant because, well, that's us. We love those sort of environments. It would have been better if the singer recognized that he was not giving a concert but rather providing background music for a cafe, but, hey, that's just my opinion.

Anyways, the interesting thing about the experience is that I was wearing some stretchy jeans and suede boots, and I had put on a lace see through  bra under a creme cashmere jumper. There was an open leather jacket over that and a scarf around my neck. Now, when I sat down at the vegan cafe, and the air was quite cold, my nipples were evident, apparently. I smile to write that after 40 years of being together this little circumstance aroused my husband profoundly.

When we got home he wanted to make love. He came hard inside me for the first time in a rather long time. As he showered, for we had precious little time to get to a birthday dinner, I wondered, could it really have been a nipple evident through my sweater that flipped his switch?

Somewhere in the course of lovemaking he had asked if I'd like to wear my corset that night and after my shower I asked him if he would help to lace me. The truth is that although I have had my corset for a few years I've never worn it to dinner.

I loved how it felt. I immediately loved the contained feeling. Of course, it could have been tighter but there seemed no need to push the point the first time I wore it out. It was a very happy night and what I remember about it is that I was very 'in the moment' all night. I've come to understand that at this point in my life I need to be touched in various ways. The corset was like a hug. My body embraced the firm, uncompromising embrace.

I've had some experiences recently which remind me with new found clarity that everything I have ever wanted to experience via BDSM relates to experiencing more love, never less. If a SM experience or bondage situation or a D/s situation doesn't provide closer connection or deeper love or affection, I question its worth. Again, that is my perception; how I want to experience it. I can't remove myself from my truth that my husband and I both have an independent streak and that interdependency is our ideal scenario.

At some point when we were on the bed on Saturday afternoon I made comments along the lines of the above paragraph. I asked him if he'd be prepared to entertain the notion that we are, in fact, two independent people who do enjoy playing power exchange games; take on roles for the course of the play time. So, he might ask me to wear my corset out to dinner, or he may take on the dominant role and lead in sexual experiences, but it was understood that I would behave and live out my life as an independent entity at other times. Yes, he liked that idea very much. In other words, I was removing from him any expectation on my part that he behave in a way other than what came naturally to him but also asking that we engage in practices that brought me (and us) joy.

But, let's not get carried away here. I won't be calling the builder to come and do the renovations according to my timetable and budget. He calls the shots. He makes the decisions. I convince, persuade, encourage, entice. Come hell or high water, nothing will change on that account.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Doll strategies

As time has gone by and I've experimented a little with what turns me on, and doesn't turn me on, it has become clear that my arousal is tied to the whole concept of 'the doll'. Years ago, I would say that I was only interested in the 'mind' aspect of the doll, but once that's all established and simply part of the psyche, of course one wants more.

I determined that I needed to slim down and although my whole heart wasn't in it, in that I would fall off the wagon repeatedly every so often, I did lose weight and continue to work towards losing a few more kilos. Those kilos are important but so too is defining my figure and toning up. Now that I am starting to see results, I'm really excited about getting back to my best body, because, in my head at least, being in my doll space means being the most attractive, fit and supple doll that I can. It's important to my self-confidence because I know all too well that when I don't feel my best, it can weigh heavily on my mind.

Of course, the added bonus is that getting out each day and exercising makes me feel better. Nothing works better on any inclination towards depression or low mood than consistent exercise, and since I've never really been into competitive sport it's exciting to me that I'm getting fit. My Moroccan deli man is about my age and he has taken up running half Marathons just in the past few months. I spoke to him about how to become a runner and he gave me a few tips. (Basically, it's all in my head that I can't run...) I don't anticipate running a half Marathon ever, but if I could run every day around the park, gosh, I'd love that. This is my goal.

Then, there is the matter of underwear and lingerie. To feel my best what I wear against my skin is important and I'm going to do a bit of an upgrade there; more colour. How we present to the public is, of course, important, but it's all too easy to not give the same attention to undergarments, and this is another 'doll' goal of mine.

I'm incredibly, incredibly aroused by photographs of dolls being contained in any number of ways. I worship men who build contraptions for their dolls and buy paraphernalia that puts a doll deep in her dolly space. I wish I could explain this more, but the simple fact is that such images quite simply and instinctively thrill me to the core.  I happened to see some absolutely magnificent photographs yesterday and I'm not sure I got much real sleep last night at all. They were photographs of a doll maker interacting with his doll and, oh boy, did that do it for me!

If I was forced to explain it more I'd say that I think the arousal comes from the fact that a man who wants to create a doll, otherwise known as a 'doll maker', is so aroused by the whole process himself. Although, that isn't really an explanation because at this stage of the game if a man wanted to pee all over me, for example, I doubt I'd feel the same way about it. I don't get aroused by images like that at all, or the thought. So, it's about creating the doll, mutual pleasure; feelings of containment and connection...but mostly, my own very ardent desire to want to be turned into a doll. There is a place for  'service' of course, but service of mutual pleasure is what arouses me.

What has held me back from getting the pleasure and success of feeling more 'doll' is, quite simply, my own doubts about my attractiveness. I've had four pregnancies and they were big babies at birth. My tummy needs toning and slimming. I'm not huge by any means. I'm sure I have given the impression that I am, and I am not at all. But, I'm aware that I could be better, that's the thing, and I haven't been ready until now to admit it and to do something concrete and tangible about it myself.

In other words, I don't feel now, although it would be lovely, that I need direction on these body issue goals any more. I want to lose a little weight, to get fit; to live within my best body so that I can feel confident to move into my true doll self in a permanent and ever present way. This feels very empowering. For the first time in a long time, I'm feeling happy about my self as it exists in my body.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Awareness of the good stuff

These are the hallmark characteristics of a person who has OCPD, which stands for Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder:

1. A preoccupation with details, rules, and schedules to the point in which any joy in the activity is lost.
2. A sense of perfectionism that interferes with getting tasks accomplished.
3. Friends and family members play a second or tertiary role in life.
4. Excessive rigidity and stubbornness. 
5. Over-conscientiousness and inflexibility about his or her values.
6. He or she resembles a hoarder. 
7. The person often can't let others work for him or her because they often don't meet his or her standards.
8. An unhealthy use of money -- often excessively hoarding money or being miserly.

In one form or another my husband has hallmarks of all 8 indicators of this type of personality, which is why I have encouraged him to seek help for a mind that is working overtime.

Of course, he hasn't done that and he won't ever do that, but this morning, he did indicate to me that he has some personal awareness of what I am saying to him. Naturally, as expected, he felt there was good reason to determine that only he has the wherewithal to do most of life's tasks himself, but he did acknowledge that I perceived the situation as such that it appeared to me that I was being neglected.

I stayed completely calm. Truly. I don't expect different sorts of responses to the ones he gives me. I know that the condition is deeply entrenched, in some ways genetic and well established in childhood due to his upbringing and life's circumstances at the time. I was simply appreciative of the fact that we were talking about it in a civilized fashion.

Once again, I said it was unfortunate that he refused to seek help to deal with thoughts that were not serving him well. However, if I was forced into the role of healer (it's either that or watch him stew in his soup without hope of living with a happier partner) I said that I'd like to start with one simple strategy. Only one. Each day I would ask him to tell me one thing that had made him happy or joyful that day. Had he enjoyed the taste of a particular food, heard a bird singing on the walk through town; been lifted up by a conversation with someone; enjoyed a memory; felt gratitude?

I'm going to focus on tipping the scales in the direction of joy and happiness, of living life well, because although Malcolm Fraser brought into our everyday vernacular the phrase, 'Life wasn't meant to be easy', truly, there's no-one who ordained that it should be hard either.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Seize the day

You don’t have a life. You are life.

Eckhart Tolle

For inspiration in the early morning I often turn to I have no doubt that this man has lived other lives and seen much more than you and I have seen. He isn't 30 yet and he has the wisdom of a very old man.

Eckhard Tolle. Well, I'm a huge fan. Of course, he is quite right. So many people, so many relationships that come in all shapes and sizes, and together we make up the fabric of life on this day, in this world. We are life.

Of course, the closest relationship we have to anyone is the relationship we have with ourselves. It's that simple. A voice runs inside our head almost non-stop and only we can share a kind relationship with our inner self.

I'm not at all sure that life just happens. I think we provide the impetus for a good day. As you'd know by now I enjoy having expectations, a cheer leader, someone to whom I must report, if you will. But, I can report to myself, too. I can elect to make this a happy day. I can elect to get out there for part of the day, to boost the exercise today; to make it a productive writing day. These are my decisions and in large part based on that inner voice inside my head telling me that this day is not to be wasted.

A little secret: Today's the day, some 20+ years ago that my daughter came into the world. I'd been to the doctor about this time of the morning and she'd said that they couldn't wait any longer. An inducement was booked for the next day. Well, I wasn't having any of that, and so I went home and laid down after lunch. I decided to touch myself to see if anything would happen. A contraction happened immediately and then in short order, another contraction. I held on for as long as I could, to make sure it was the real deal. Then, I called my husband who raced home and drove me to the doctor. I was in labour for about an hour and out she came.

What celebration! What joy! We had a little baby girl!

My darling girl: a sweetheart. Loving, kind, caring, hugely creative, competent...yet still unsure of her talents...just beginning to feel confident enough in her own skin to paint what and how she wants to paint...still struggling a little with confidence around more assertive associates, but starting to understand her own personal power to effect positive change in her own way.

My goodness, I've been lucky to have her in my life. Life is good.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hitting the brick wall

This is the post that I never wanted to write, but I have been wondering for some time how to come to terms with my life and perhaps this is the way.

My husband is not the same man he used to be. After the chronic fatigue took its toll, there was some improvement for a time, but his condition seems to have now permanently come to rest in a state of what I call 'neutral sexuality'. He does not have any sexuality at all.

For the past month I have woken repeatedly in the middle of the night trying to figure out what has happened. Two nights ago, surprisingly, and I think because there was a certain sense of absolute despair that he read on my face, he shared with me that a medical test revealed that his testosterone is being turned into oestrogen. It's some block of the hormones and nobody seems to know what to do about it, although he talked of some extracts of plants available in the United States.

I took this opportunity to express comments that I had held in:

'I feel like I am living with a stranger.'
'I feel like I am in the wrong house.'

Then I asked, after we had talked a bit, 'Are you saying that there is absolutely nothing you can do? Are you saying that this is completely out of your control?'

'Yes', he said. 'It's what I have been saying all along. I'm not doing this to you.'

You see, it's not just that we don't make love. It's that when he holds me, it doesn't feel like he is holding me. A kiss doesn't feel like his kiss. It doesn't feel like a male/female experience. He doesn't comment when I get a new set of nails, something he knows I adore to do. He offers me nothing. He hasn't used any rope all year. Things that aren't necessarily sexual, and that don't require anything of him but a little time and effort, are not attempted. He has sunk into a world of his own making - work in one office or another.

I make an effort to keep our lives going if for no other reason than if I did not do that, I too would sink into some sort of depression. So, on Friday night I suggested we meet at our Club. It didn't take long for an old friend of his to sit down with us and lay out a plan. My husband could join his tennis group on Wednesday nights for a game of tennis and a drink later. He'd be home by 7 pm except once a month when they ate dinner together. It sounded perfect and I encouraged him to go. But, he would not give a commitment on the spot and he told me later he couldn't do it because he had hurt his shoulder carrying up groceries for me. They are excuses. He doesn't want to be around people he doesn't know. He just wants to do what he does; be with me and the family; work, eat and watch television.

It sounds like a very deep depression, doesn't it? Or, some sort of dymentia?? I know we all change as we age but I still remember the boy with all his abundant entheusiasm and rapture for life; his dreams and goals, and I just can't reconcile what has happened.

I believe, as I always have, that he has undiagnosed ADD and OCD and that the effort of life, everything being that bit harder to achieve, every decision being that more complicated to make, and every outcome he is involved with needing to be perfect, has taken a toll on him such that he has hit the brick wall and has nowhere to go. He has crashed. That's what my doctor says. His doctor suggested seeking mental health care, but my husband's angry response ensured he never suggested it again. He won't accept treatment because he remains in denial as to his conditions. Which is not to say that there aren't chemical/bodily issues here, just that he is ignoring the fact that his mind is involved in this malaise.

I feel an incredibly deep responsibility to this man. This situation is proving to be immensely painful to me, and I am at a point  where I fear that my mind's suffering is creating mayhem within my body. I have taken to walking every day and this helps me. My writing over the past few years has been therapeutic as I deal with the pain of my situation but I am ready to move onto subjects where I can escape into other characters' worlds. (I wrote a short script today, a comedy, and that's huge progress for me. I'm out of my head for those hours and into other people's heads and I think that's an incredibly healthy thing for me.) We'll travel, and I'm hoping that once my study is completed in a month's time I can provide the impetus for projects and new plans.

Of course, I am not alone in carrying the grief of a relationship that has unraveled. Millions of people are doing that. Oddly, some relationships, no matter how bruised and battered they become, endure. The love and sense of empathy remains. Hope has us holding on.