While in Tennessee visiting my family over the holidays, we went to the town of Oak Ridge. The only reference I have of Oak Ridge in my mind is of a country band named the Oak Ridge Boys, and I don’t even know what they sing. It’s a town that isn’t very far from Knoxville in the Eastern part of Tennessee with it’s beautiful rolling hills and deciduous trees. Oak Ridge was formed as a secret city during World War II to build the Atomic Bomb. It was kept off maps, and grew to a population of 70,000 people. It now houses the American Museum of Science and Energy to showcase it’s past. My uneasy feeling that a government can do major things in massive secrecy was only confirmed in this trip. How do we ever know anything is actually true unless we go there ourselves? It might be more transparent now than it was before because we have technology weaved into every part of our lives, but even then, how do we know.
We’ve just returned from a trip overseas, to my home country of America. This time we were situated near the nation’s capital of Washington, DC, and spent some time exploring through Virginia, and Tennessee as well. Virginia and Tennessee are considered the South, and although Washington borders Virginia, it isn’t considered the south, even though it has benefited greatly from slavery. I wasn’t expecting to have the experiences or to have the illumination of America’s past, but there it was in full glory, obviously something I needed to know about.
A trip to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello which is the plantation house on every nickel in the currency, proved to be very eye opening. Being from California, we have been removed quite a bit from the black slavery past in America’s beginnings. So heading into the Monticello was like stepping right into it. Thomas Jefferson was an early president of the USA and although he apparently had strong views about slavery being wrong, he inherited slaves like property, and only ended up freeing a small handful which historians now have put together that they were his illegitimate children with one of his slaves. Even for someone with wealth, power, and influence, he still wasn’t able to abolish slavery, could he have tried harder? Could he have changed it within his own plantation? The marketing material touched on how the slaves did have “good” lives all things considered, and had houses built that were as good, or better than the poor white people at the time. The houses were all aligned in a row so they were able to form a community within themselves. Over the course of Jefferson’s life he had a couple hundred slaves, and all I could think when I saw the bells down in the cellar area, was that they had been beaten into submission to spring up to a bell and ensure that the Jefferson household was always taken care of. The feels that swelled up in me when I read that they had better lives than most, made my stomach turn. These poor people who were captured and held against their will in order to serve their masters. They were separated from their families, they had not stability in that sense at all, and that makes me incredibly sad.
I was reading after that Sally Hemmings chose to return to Monticello after Jefferson had taken her to Paris as a slave nurse to his daughter, because in France slavery had already been abolished, because of the promise to free her children, children which she would bear later from Jefferson, and I find that to be a long stretch. I don’t know what it must have been like for Sally Hemmings but I can imagine that her will had been broken like so many other slaves, held against their will, and possibly her ideas of freedom had been distorted due to this. It’s all so sad to me.
After visiting the Monticello, with all it’s beauty and grandeur, I was left with the unmistakable grossness within me that realised all of it was possible because of the slaves, his status and wealth was only perpetuated because of that horrible system. I feel this in Washington as well after I became privy to the fact that the slaves were the ones who erected most of the monuments. They were forced to erect these monuments cherishing their oppressors. Gut wrenching.
White guilt came flooding into me, and I started to realise all of the broken families, all of the heaviness that the African Americans carry with them. Not knowing their origins, not knowing even which country in Africa they really came from, and having the pattern of slavery, even if just at a subconscious level that perpetuates from generation to generation.
What a glorious day it was. My very first day back at work since having my child. That’s not entirely true, I’ve been doing work for our own business, but this is the first time I’ve been back and working for someone else. I will actually get a paycheck too, and that feel really great.
It does feel like a very precarious situation. When the HR manager walked in, before she even sat down, she said she had received a call from the Director rethinking that the position needed to be on the weekends, rather than midweek. She said she told him that I wasn’t recruited for that and didn’t think I would go for the switch, which she is right and I told her I was not available to work on Saturday and Sunday. So starting the very opening of my first day back in the workforce, and first day in Real Estate this way, definitely felt uneasy. I made it clear that if that is what the business needs, then do that and let me know. The job sharing role that I have is to help out the other Admin who wants to transition into Sales, which requires her to work on the weekends anyway. I realise the company is growing at a massive pace, and this is part of that, and I am aware.
Nonetheless, I jumped right in, took notes, learned how to open and close, met everyone, and got oriented in my, potentially, new role. I still won’t know for another week or two if I even get to keep it. Since I’m a casual employee I can be let go at anytime, so there’s also a lack of security there too. I just need to roll with it.
It’s hard for me sometimes to roll with it though. I know I’ve signed up for a job that is two days a week, but sure enough all last night my mind was swirling with the day. I couldn’t even get back to sleep for hours in the middle of the night with ideas based on the meeting we’d had earlier in the day about the business. It’s also hard for me not to give my all, I am naturally a disruptor I’ve come to realise, and i don’t necessarily mean to be, but it’s so hard for me not to share my insight or opinion when asked, so I do.
Now, will I keep this job? Will I be let go? Shaking my head. I’d love a bit more stability please.
At Costco in the line to return something that happened to be the wrong size, I was marvelling at all of the different heritage around me. There were so many shades of skin colour and accents it was truly a moment capturing the beautiful multiculturalism in Australia. It was totally awkward, but I couldn’t help but compliment the woman who had been partially helping the woman who was helping me as her skin colour was this incredibly rich shade very different from my pale freckled skin, and she had such a great complexion too. Anyway, I smiled to myself during the whole encounter because it really made me feel that Australia is a country that has so many immigrants and in places where we all converge all just flows.
As it usually goes in just about every shopping experience, there’s a signal to everyone that it’s now time for every single shopper to make their way to the counters to pay. This happens everywhere, we as humans must all feel the urgency of timing all at once and all in unison turn around and make a b line for the closest checkout. I was in one of the lines and moved back so other people could pass in front of me to get to the other side. In this, some people got a little confused about where the line started, but I hadn’t thought it was going to be a problem because there were clearly people already waiting behind me, specifically this woman and her baby who my son and I had talked about during our shopping trip. We heard the baby talking and talking, and then by checkout time, bub was not happy and needed to be held. My toddler noted all of this as we’ve been talking about feelings a lot lately so he narrated the scene when we saw them. Apparently an older woman didn’t realise the line was much longer and put her cart behind mine, and I politely told her that I thought the woman with the baby was next in line, and the line was curving a bit making a hand motion in the direction of the curve. I could tell that English wasn’t her first language, but she understood, and moved her cart to the end of the line. All was fine, just helping create some order. Then all of a sudden I hear the two guys who are with the woman and baby, say “Yeah, we need to take care of our own” and I made eye contact with him, and at first the thought was just that I have child and I assumed that was probably his child. The mother now holding the baby didn’t say a word, and I loaded up my items on the conveyor belt and the comment swirled around in my head. Why I can’t just let things roll over me and be done with it, I’m not sure… but I thought about it and I was the only other fair skinned person with my son in our line besides them. I hadn’t even considered that the remark would have been racial in nature. So I purposely talked in my very American accent to the checkout helpers and talked about the wagon I had in my trolley and how it was going to be great this summer, especially with the extra drink holders. As I left, I distinctly noticed a big Southern Cross tattoo on the man’s neck who made the remark. And I quickly pieced together an episode of Triple J’s Hack where the Southern Cross had been coopted and now was representing something more like white nationalist pride, or something of the like. My stomach turned.
I enjoy the richness that comes with multiculturalism. I enjoy the opportunity to learn and grow with the people around me. I know I am an immigrant, and I cannot help but feel the same amount of slightedness that might be aimed at people who are more obviously not from here based on their accents, or their skin colour, or the way they dress. I am one of them, I am one of the Australians too. We are all one.
Maybe I misconstrued what that comment meant and probably I am overthinking and overanalysing it, but maybe not.
Finally I got some face to face help. Two sessions today after calling around yesterday to see if I could talk to someone. I felt the dark wave of grief and despair rolling over me yesterday. I know this feeling. I know it very well since having my child. It was a very traumatic experience for me and I haven’t felt confident to seek a qualified professional as I didn’t have Permanent Residency and didn’t want to jeopardise my chances of getting to stay with my family here in Australia. Now I do have PR and I am working through this now.
The first session was a woo woo style practitioner. She let me ramble and ramble, and that’s what I did. I cried a bit, told my story, described how I felt in creative ways, and at the end did some sand play where I just created what was circling in me and brought it to the surface. That was fun, I always enjoy these kinds of ways of bringing out creativity and to help gain insight. I described what I thought about each piece I chose to add from her shelves of figurines. I chose a mini pot of flowers to add beauty and symbolise the circular path that life seems to be. I chose a native woman carrying a child on her back and a golly wog doll which is an inherently racist black doll that is very kitsch Australian, and I chose these because I feel empathy for them, and in my own plight I understand theirs better. I chose Merlin with a unicorn to help represent how magic is all around, I just have to ask and see it. I chose a happy smiling buddha because I want more of that in my life, but am not sure how to fully detach to get to that stage these days. In the middle I drew out two big eyes, like that Grateful Dead song that goes “wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world” as it’s been running through my head for days now. All in all, it was a good session and I appreciated having that kind of very soft space to talk about things.
The second session was just a few doors down, also upstairs in this downtown charming historic town. When I walked into the stairwell it smelt like beauty parlour that specialises in waxing, and it took me by surprise. I guess that smell went with how I felt when I was in the session, very similar to when you are going in for a wax, you know you need to do it, you know you’ll love the results, but for christ sakes the process is painful, but some areas are strangely very satisfying and almost enjoyable in their pain. The psychologist was an older woman who I can only guess has hair that reaches all the way down her back, she had it piled up high on her head into a bun, she’s of retirement age, but so youthful and full of energy as soon as she opened her mouth with a bright sparkle in her eyes. She wore older woman nice clothes, you know the kind that were popular ages ago and they’re still in fine knick but not necessarily up to date. She also wore a beautiful broach that coordinated with her maroon pantsuit which gave me a sense of comfort thinking about how my grandmother used to wear broaches.
We got down to business after I sat in her narrow office. I had already filled out the paperwork, which thankfully my husband’s work pays for these sessions so we don’t have to pay out the $175 per visit as the contract had read. I get five sessions with her under his program and I will use them all. She asked me to give her a summary of why I am there and what I’ve been up to. So I backtracked to 2010 and mentioned that after a head on collision that happened just months after arriving in Australia, that I received counselling which was very helpful. I mentioned that due to a Medical Treatment visa I was able to stay here, and that’s in the timeframe that I met my husband. I mentioned about going back to University and finishing my bachelors. I mentioned that although my husband and I both had chosen in our earlier lives to not have children, that together we changed our direction and intentionally created our son who was conceived on our wedding day out of love, and that he is all love. I then talked about how that pregnancy went haywire, and I ended up in hospital for nearly three weeks until an emergency caesar where he was extracted from my body, and put into the NICU in a plexiglass box and that a couple days later I was able to see him and all of it was very disorienting. I told her that before I was put under with the gas that I made peace with my life because I thought I was going to die, and how I had just left my husband’s hand in this stark white corridor on the way to the surgery area. I talked about how I had been so straight during my pregnancy with everything I was consuming and then all of a sudden I was taking major drugs to help me cope with the pain, and how that along with having to inject myself with a needle to help prevent dissolve the blood clot that had formed in my groin, was the worst kind of self harm I’ve ever known physically, and all of it took me so far from my natural clear headed state. I talked about the uncertainty when bringing home our child, and being all alone in Sydney with my husband working shifts of four days on and four days off, and not having any additional help and those first months were the darkest of my entire life. I shared how when I think of the newborn phase I think of the smell of Aquim hand sanitiser, chords, beeping, uncertainty, pain, hurt, and grief. I shared with her out loud things that I have never shared with anyone else that went on in my mind during that stage and I wept so loudly and it all came out. I completely lost it, and it may have only been in the first ten minutes of me walking in. Progress was being made.
She talked about the amygdala and how it stores all of our past experiences and how it’s like a volcano that has many layers and how when something gets triggered it then accesses every time I’ve ever had that feeling, and this made perfect sense to me. I had thought of it as wells of emotion within me, something I was holding, something I was internalising, something that was there always with me. She helped me to see that the release can happen by changing it to be a volcano versus a well, and to do whatever I need to in order to get the hell out of the fucking well. She didn’t say it quite like that but this was definitely how I heard it.
She talked about how this kind of trauma creates spikes in my cortisol levels and with that comes fight, flight or freeze. This was also an ah-ha moment to me. I know that my cortisol levels have been spiked from childhood due to having a very traumatic upbringing, and over the years it was clear to me what I was doing I was definitely fighting or fleeing the situation. This time around I have been full on in freeze mode. I hadn’t even considered that freeze was an option, and that’s exactly where I’ve been for the past three years. Adding on the waiting for Permanent Residency and that just created a stronger freeze feeling for me. So I’ve been on edge pretty much my whole life and in this last stretch, it has become freeze and now I get to fucking work it out so I can move forward. No more internalising. I see it, I understand, I have ways to move past this, and now that is what I am doing.
She talked about the importance of getting my levels checked to make sure all of my vitamins, thyroid and all other blood markers are normal in case that needed attention. Thankfully I’ve had those earlier this year due to the endometriosis. Oh speaking of endometriosis, she also said that by keeping all of this in my “well” rather that in a volcano, it would create disease in my body, and then I told her about the endometriosis, which completely makes sense. It came on strong and seemingly all of a sudden, and lasted about ten months. After using the Mirena IUD and getting PR, it’s amazing how it’s settled down, but not at all surprising as I’m not as on edge about everything.
She talked about the importance of deep breathing. 3 count in, hold for 3 and release for 5. She said that if I’m in freeze mode and I’m shallow breathing all of my cells think that they are also in survival mode. She gave an extra oomph to it by talking about Taming the Tiger, and with the breathing to clench my fists in the in breath, and release my hands completely in the out breath to signal to my body physically as well that it’s time for this to go. I loved this. I love that this is actionable and we did it in her office, and I could feel the difference. I will continue to do this.
Overall I feel completely drained from today. My eyes are so tired and dry from all of the crying I’ve done, by far more than I’ve cried anytime in the past couple years, probably not since my father died two years ago. Interesting that it’s also his birthday today, feels very auspicious. I don’t want to be that kind of parent and it almost feels like I’m honouring that by getting help now.
I see her next week and I really look forward to it. I am writing it out. I am moving past this. Thank fucking god. I’m so ready.
When I create words as my art by stringing them together in some kind of poetic way, they come out in a very emotional way of sharing. For those words to flow as they do when I am alone, it is usually because I am tapping into the deep well of emotion within me. Generally those emotions are darker and with more depth than if I am having a regular conversation.
When I am creating visual art, in the form of a painting, it is light, it is easy and it feels so free. A distinct difference of creating art with colour versus in black and white.
With social media, I found that originally my “art” was in sharing openly in black and white. Over the years, that became so limiting, and places like Facebook became entirely too emotional for me, so I had to step away for a while. Fb added the news feed along side my home area and although I normally choose to avoid the news in the paper, on the web, on the radio, and obviously on the tv as we don’t even own one, to find it where I logged in to be social became incredibly confronting. That space that used to be full of inspiration to me became toxic as i would end up diving into emotions that I didn’t log in with, that I picked up as I scrolled along.
Now with Instagram, I find it to be light, and to be easy, as it’s a visual art social media space, at least that is how I use it. There aren’t long winded messages, there aren’t tons of entrepreneurs and life coaches filling up my newsfeed alongside the news like on Fb, and it feels refreshing. I don’t even care about the comments really, but I do want the attention, which I find interesting to think about. I want the attention for my art. I appreciate my visual art and I want others to also appreciate it, in the form of attention.
Seeing how much I am outwardly creating is a positive gauge on how I am feeling. If I am producing a lot of visual art, I am living in the realm of more positive feelings. If I am posting deeper poems or writing in that fashion, then I am diving in. It’s nice to have at least these two very obvious art forms that I use to create.
Yay for creating. Yay for looking in. I’m ordering new canvases this week to keep on painting. Colourful, bold, large, and feeling good.
Of course this is the part where I always imagine how nice it would be if I did this thing that I enjoy doing and people paid me handsomely for it. Oh that would be nice if it happened. Imagine sharing my love and my inspiration via visual art to help inspire love in others. Yes please.
What if 60 is the limit.
What if 60 is when the time is up.
What if I only have another 23 years left?
Another 20 years?
That isn’t much.
Patterns show me that most people don’t make it past 60.
If they do, then usually they seem to make it for a lot longer.
I want to be of healthy body and mind well into my 100s.
Is this a false belief? Is this overly optimistic? Is this based on any actual evidence?
I don’t want to die at 60. I don’t want to die at 70, I don’t want to die in another 20 or 30 years.
One of my biggest fears is that I won’t be able to experience and live all the different lives that I want to in my lifetime here on earth. It’s always scared me. I can detach from it and realise that death is such a natural part of the human existence, but it doesn’t stop me from deep down inside feeling terrified of it.
I’ve heard that’s what separates humans from other animals, is that we know we die. What if that in itself is a lie too, it’s only what we think we know. How do we know any of it? This is such a dangerous and exhausting spiral to go down, and I don’t want to.
I just have this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that I may only have another 20 years left and it is about to make me cry. I can focus on all the good things. In fact, this feeling emerged when I was thinking about all of the good things in my life last night. I was looking at my dear little son and feeling so much love for him, and I saw my husband and felt so much love, I thought about my incredible day with my mother’s group and my cup felt like it was overflowing, and I loved that feeling, I love that feeling. So why on earth is this dark shadow now creeping up, this shadow that makes me want to believe that I only have so many more years to live. I mean, I know it’s true. I know death is inevitable, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow, it’s not going to happen tonight. Honestly I really don’t know if any of that is true, I only know about right now.
Does it help writing it out? Do I feel like I’ve released some of the pressure? Yes. Can I take a deeper breath because I’ve let it out? Yes.
I want to live. I want to experience more life in my life. I have so much more to give, love, experience, absorb, learn, dance with. I need more time.
As I was finishing my final year doing my Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a focus on Marketing, I was asked by many of my professors if I would do the Honours Program, and then head into my PhD. They were so supportive, three different professors, all wanting me to be a part of what they were teaching and doing. Such an honour in itself. One of my professors even offered to have my teach Digital Marketing while I did my Honours Program, even allowing me to have full credit on my research projects, which isn’t the norm in academia. How incredible, a job that pays $100 an hour, the stepping stone program to PhD, and lots of support.
My husband had recently gotten a job in Sydney with a major global brand and was enjoying his work. I was soon to turn 34 and we had decided that having a child was on the horizon and it was in our sights to do that by 35 to reduce any risks. I personally could have waited, but having children wasn’t in my life vision so I hadn’t even heard about the 35 fertility myth or even thought much about it. Also I didn’t have Permanent Residency which was a nice bonus if doing the Honours Program because it would be subsidised greatly, and after paying International Fees to complete my Bachelor’s this seemed like a great idea. We were told by immigration that if we waited until after our 3 year anniversary, and then apply, it would only take six months and I’d have PR. Super. I could defer doing the Honours Program for one year, have a child, and then go back to it with PR and get the subsidised rate.
Within 4 months of graduation, I fell pregnant, literally on our wedding day, and things went full speed ahead. 10 months after graduating we applied for PR as we had met the 3 year requirement for de facto from the beginning of our relationship. I had to apply in between hospital stays, as the pregnancy was very difficult. I had too many things going on, I know it. We were trying to start up a couple of businesses, trying to settle between houses in Sydney and at the farm, and me trying to understand the flow of hormones in my body and to be at peace with the exhaustion and full time nausea. It was too much. I had no idea what I was doing, and truly hadn’t had conversations around the gestation process and thought my body would just do what it needed. Things went sideways, and eventually baby came very early due to complications via an emergency caesarian. We then went through the horrendous process of the NICU and the uncertainty and all of the emotional pain, along with the physical pain I was still dealing with. It was a crazy upheaval of a time. One year after graduation, we were able to take baby home for the first time, after he had been in care for five weeks and was strong enough to come home. Things were not going to return to normal, there wasn’t going to be an Honours Program and teaching at the University, it wasn’t going to be any time soon, that was absolutely for certain.
I nursed my own Post Partum Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress, I nursed the baby, and he became my focus, completely. I was still trying to figure out how to be a mum, and my husband was away four long days at a time for work, which then followed by four days at home, but those four days away were long, and isolating. I lost myself in it. I had the darkest days I’ve known. Permanent Residency didn’t come, and then it kept not coming, and everything seemed to be in this state of grey.
It took me a while to get through it, I formed a Mother’s Group based on a community education program for new mums that I went to, and they became the guiding light that I so desperately needed. A group of women who had children all the same age as my son, all of them new, and all of us going through the same thing at the same time, and everyone living nearby. We don’t have any family here, so I had to create one myself.
So time continued to pass, my son got stronger, I got stronger, and life started to normalise. I continued to think we were going to be moving back to the farm area, but alas it didn’t happen. I didn’t choose to become a single parent, and it has been on purpose that we’ve stayed together and I know it’s been the right choice versus having my husband fly back and forth to the farm. In this time, I’ve also looked briefly at taking courses, but without having PR or citizenship, the costs are quite high, like astronomically high. I even for a moment thought that when PR was coming, which again it hadn’t, that I could do the medical program that was highly subsidised and become a doctor. What was I thinking. It would have been a great route when i was younger and didn’t have children, but now it’s not a practical choice, although i did get caught up in the fantasy and forecasting of it all.
Honestly I do want a source of income that doesn’t tie me down to one spot, and that doesn’t require me to do a 9-5, Monday through Friday job. I don’t see how that fits in with being the kind of hands on mother that I am, and I don’t see how that allows me the flexibility for us to go to the farm, or make a trip, or the like when my husband has time off. I want the flexibility and the freedom of location and time, plus money. A career in academia sounded great before having children, maybe it would be great when he is older, but we may very well have another child and I don’t want to put my children right into daycare, I want to be that guiding influence for them when they are young, and then when they get old enough and want some diversity, then offer the option for them to go to daycare or other play programs.
Australia is very much a country that requires qualifications and certifications for everything. My husband says its because they are risk averse, and I get it, it’s easier to make sure everyone is doing what they should be doing if they all are on the same page as to what exactly that is. So when looking back at reskilling, looking for courses that offer a qualification at the end makes the most sense. Also when looking for practical courses, it would make sense to learn about something in the direction that we are heading. So I looked into Financial Planning, and then into Real Estate. I had looked into Real Estate before I had PR, but again due to costs, and lack of time with having a very young child, it was shelved. Now, I’ve found a course to get a Real Estate license that I’ll have by completed within four months or less, which sounds very appealing. We now live in a high growth sector of Sydney and my thought is that if I wanted to pick up something casual in a Real Estate office or do something else in that field over here, then this would be a high demand area. Also, more specifically, i want to learn the ins and outs of Real Estate as I do want to start investing in that sector. Soon we’ll be buying our own home, and I want to understand the process, and better yet, if I can help us maximise our money, and save money, that would be amazing. So this is the direction I am heading.
I wonder how many other women who have children completely change their career paths because they have children and need the flexibility of time. Thankfully I do like to study and learn, so this will be an enriching experience for me. Ideally one where I can help others and myself along the way.
10 days ago I got the email casually in my inbox that I had finally been approved to stay in Australia. The glorious electronic communication that will forever change the course of my life. Now I know that I am able to stay here with my family, in the home, in the reality that I’ve purposely crafted. There isn’t the fear that was looming before that I would be asked to leave. I guess it’s still there until I get citizenship, which I will apply for when I have met the new requirements, which are 4 additional years of waiting after gaining PR to apply to take the citizenship test. This citizenship test is apparently so difficult that when Media people have taken it, they have even failed despite living and growing up in Australia and working here their whole lives. I’ll worry about that later.
It had almost been a full three years since we applied. The application was submitted after my husband and I had reached our three year anniversary as being an exclusive couple. The immigration representatives that we spoke to on the phone before applying all said it would be faster if we just waited until the 3 year mark, then it would only take six months and I’d have PR. We qualified after one year of being in an exclusive relationship, 5 years ago I could have applied, but listened to the authority and went along with what they suggested, after all, they know best, right? The political winds changed, immigration became a very sore subject for Australia with tons of refugees trying to come to the country, and immigration around the world due to wars, had created a big division amongst the people in western countries. England closed it’s borders and left the European Union over it, Trump was elected president in the United States with his claim that he’d build a wall to keep the Mexicans out, and Australia elected one of the most right wing, anti-immigration ministers Pauline Hanson, lengthened and delayed their processing times. Australia also has kept refugees essentially prisoners on some islands outside of the country in order to send message. I’m not sure where and how common decency and the humanity left these western countries, but it’s a sad sight, and horrible to be caught in the system, even when I’m doing it willingly.
After the six month mark came and went from after applying, then a year later, they requested more information, then more time passed, and a year later more information was requested, and finally one last time, again a year later, more information being asked, and I was approved. The information was always the same information. It was always about references from people we know, it was how our relationship began, what we do together and how we are building our lives. It was always about character and police reports, and official documents. I get it, I understand all of it. When we didn’t get the approval straight away, we were scratching our heads, it didn’t make sense. Tony Abbott had recently become the Prime Minister in Australia and the Labour Party no longer had the majority. Liberals, strangely that they are called liberals, are pretty much anti-immigration, and seemingly anti-women, as we watched Tony Abbott become the Minister for Women, and for Aboriginals’s Indigenous Affairs while he was in office. The liberals have nearly completely undercut the government funded science branch CSIRO, nearly put out the Australian Broadcasting System which is truly the only for-Australia station on radio and television, and reduced funding in schools and universities. It was a crazy time, it still is. There’s a new PM, Malcolm Turnbull, but he’s just the same, he just presents better at face value.
Being an immigrant during this tumultuous time, has come with a lot of hardships. Honestly it’s nothing compared to the people who are kept at Manus Island. It is nothing compared to Syrian refugees searching for a new home. My hardship has been an emotional one. Not knowing that you have a base, being told one thing and then years going by before you actually know what’s going on, has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and in my husband’s as well. The first time when the application didn’t go through they basically said that we needed to have started a bank account or had some kind of authority confirmation like buying real estate together, from the day we started our exclusive relationship, in order to count as that being our “start” date. It would be so suspicious if when entering into a relationship, on the day you have the all important exclusive talk about being committed to one another, that you then say, “okay, now lets share a bank account”, who would do that? It’s so far from what is normal that we were appalled that this was the requirement. We had tons of support from multiple articles posted in the paper about us, to starting our own business, but apparently that wasn’t enough. Since we lived in a share house, there weren’t any actual receipts saying that we both lived there, and although we honestly could have forged them, we didn’t because it’s not the right thing to do, even though it was true, we both did live at the same address even in those early days.
I’m glad that I’ve been granted PR, and if anything it makes me want to, in the future, run for council or get involved in politics, specifically because of immigration, and to humanise the process again. The emotional toll is so big, and the rule makers obviously don’t understand this, or rather they don’t care. I am also certain that my health was impacted because of this. Having to carry that stress for so many years, with a newborn, impacted me, how could it not. Now I need to somehow brighten this thought, move forward in a new way, and start life again knowing I can be here. This includes taking some classes so I can reskill to create new opportunities for this new life. Six years after starting a life with my now husband, we get to start again.
If I were to do it again, and I know that this isn’t possible, but I would have applied straight away, as soon as we qualified for the visa, because looking at that old timeline, I would have already had citizenship. I can’t do anything about it now, but that is exactly what I would tell someone else now, don’t wait, just do it, do it now, you never know what the future holds, you never know how the political climate can change, and you have to think about you and your family first and foremost, and take the least risky way.
Time seems to slip with the water rolling down my body
Memories come up and wash away
If I close my eyes, I could be at any age, right now
If I close my eyes, I feel fear.
I stand with my body facing the door, always
Nothing has ever happened in the shower to me
Yet, I feel terribly vulnerable
Naked, Wet, Not being able to hear well over the water
I can only ever relax if I know someone I trust is at home
Short showers generally
Quick, and sometimes ice cold
I’m not in there for pleasure
it’s about purpose
Enclosed in Glass
Dare I dive in?