Melbourne: Processing

And so I’m home again.  Enjoying life, loving Melbourne, yet I’ve been unable to write. I have a document of false starts and half written pieces.

 

Writing

My writing process is practical and cathartic –

– I detach myself from events

– Frame experiences into words

– Process and recognise emotions

– Force myself to reflect.

 

There is satisfaction from watching a partial thought form up on a page.

 

And then I publish the words right here, as I want to share little bits of my life, my experiences.  I’m less isolated when I can take you with me.

 

Then there’s that story of mine published in the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/29/secret-aid-worker-as-a-woman-im-seen-as-a-piece-of-meat

 

There are still things in my head, so bear with me as I start to thrash it out.  I have a feeling that this is going to be a long one, and that it’s going to get personal…

 

Avocados

I’m fine, but sometimes I surprise myself.

 

There was a moment in the supermarket soon after I came home.

I’m looking at an incredible sea of perfect fruit and vegetables.  Four different types of apples, proper yellow lemons, lettuce, avocados.  So much, and so very beautiful.

 

Look!  Proper lemons! Can’t you see how wonderful this is?  Yellow lemons!

Why aren’t people getting excited about this?

 

I take refuge in an aisle and stare blankly at packets of pasta as the tears well up -overwhelmed by all the perfect, clean, formaldehyde-free food.

 

Just breathe, it’s ok.  It’s only Coles.

 

I’m getting those two avocados for $4 – oh yes I am.  Hell, I may even get four.

 

Debrief

Resettling requires medical checks. No one called me afterward, so I assume that means I don’t have tuberculosis or HIV.  I had no desire to go back for the results.  Whatever – I’m fine.

 

Then the debrief

 

Sitting on a tram, happily drinking my tea – I’m fine, totally cool.  It’s a remarkably beautiful Melbourne morning.

 

‘Draw your experience, from mobilisation to return.’

 

A black scribbly rickshaw with a big red blast underneath materialises on the butcher’s paper.

 

‘Now try to be linear, put it into the context of a journey.’

 

Pause.

 

‘I don’t think I can.’

 

I go outside to sit in the gutter, smoke, and message Dhaka housemate, Viv.

 

‘Luke from Response Psychological is here. We think it would be a good idea if you talk to him.  He’s expecting you.’

 

I’m crying, I didn’t expect this.  An hour ago I was a happy little bean, drinking tea on a tram.

 

L: Talk to me about the trauma.  All of it.

C: Ok then.

 

And out it all comes.

 

L: Now tell me about the positive things

C: Ok then.

 

– Sex workers teaching me Bangla

– Friends and housemates

– Local colleges

– Big professional achievements

– Creative alcohol smuggling

 

L:  The difficult experiences are substantial, and you acknowledge that, now acknowledge the positive experiences.  Put up partitions between them.  Don’t let the hard stuff overshadow the good.  You don’t want the dark things to take over your memories.

C: I see what you are saying.

 

In need of some introspective time, I walk in the gentle sunshine to the National Gallery to think of other things.

 

Afterwards, I sit next to the NGV fountain and call home.

I talk to Dad about the weather and bicycles.

 

This is ok. I can do this.  Just need to recalibrate a little.

And give myself time.

 

Yoga

Practicing yoga gives me time to breathe, to be settled and quiet, and to submit.  As with this process of writing, yoga gives me space to deal with things.

 

Occasionally emotions surface during my yoga practice, I let them. I watch them, and I don’t get swept up by them.  Often I’m surprised by them, and how precise they can be.

 

Whoa – where did all that just come from?  Heavy.

 

Sometimes unexpected memories and associated feelings will appear out of nowhere, and I feel them with the intensity I originally experienced.  When this happens while I’m on the yoga mat, they blow straight through me – Dealt with. Acknowledged.  Sorted. Processed.

 

Yoga teacher:  Think of your feelings as children, and you’re on a road trip.

Now, you don’t want them driving the car, but you also don’t want them locked in the boot.

 

So here I am, writing for the first time in over a month, feeling stronger –

I’m practicing reflecting on the good things whilst acknowledging the hard things that have happened, and respecting both.

 

Both types of experiences can be equally powerful, and both deserve space in my head.

 

Thanks Luke.  Thanks yoga mat and teachers. Thanks Melbourne.  I needed that.

 

I’m feeling better now. Life is good.

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