Looking Back – 10 Years Until I Became An Orphan
A year can pass by in the blink of an eye and let me tell you that several years in the past ten have flown by without so much as a definitive tell-tale sign that it even really happened. However, when you slap them all together, ten individual years actually does take quite a while to pass!Author’s Note: The build-up to this post as been quite a journey, just over half a year. I’m so very thankful that you’ve shared it with me and I hope that you’ve found some entertainment or enlightenment in my words. There’re still some posts to go up over the coming weeks, so I’ll not disappear just yet and I’ve got some exciting ideas that I’ll be working on in future.
If you have any thoughts, ideas, questions or anything else that you want to share with / ask me, please feel free to comment on any of the blog posts that have got you thinking or contact me through the contact page.
Further Note: Long post is long.
Well, I’ve done it. 10 years since I got kicked out of home; 10 years living independently; 10 years until I became an orphan; 10 years until I finally got my life on track and started to look forwards instead of back.
A decade! A full decade, done – one of the almost-three decades of my life. Practically one-third of my life, independent Pretty good achievement for someone under the age of thirty, one thinks. Still, I don’t know if I should really call it an achievement when it was thrust upon me, but then who really cares because if I’m really honest, right from the start it was what I wanted.
Sure, I was scared as heck when I started out on my own and fucked a good bunch of things up along the way, but that’s called growing up, right? Seriously, I mean, they talk about “making mistakes” to learn and grow all the time, but many people live lives that are sheltered from experiences such as those I’ve had and while I don’t consider myself more worldly than anyone else, I believe that I’ve got a fairly unique point-of-view on the world for someone my age, especially when you take into account the seventeen years that preceded this story…but that is a different story…
So, firstly, I want to thank you properly for taking this journey with me in the 10 Years Project, it’s been frustratingly fun to get here. Now? Who knows what lies ahead. I’ve been living on “pause” for a while because of how much work this blog has been, so now I am actually hitting play again and moving forward with my story.
Let’s look back, shall we, at the ten years that have shaped my life most. (Click here to skip the summary if you’ve been following along with the blog…)
- Got kicked out of home
- Lived on the couch at two friends’ houses
- Got my first serious, non-high school girlfriend
- Got my first house at age 17 and moved in with my best friend
- Quit my job, school and my hobby/job all at the same time as part of a minor mental break with reality
- Became a hermit, hiding in my house from anything the world could throw at me (except food, of course…had to go shopping)
- Discovered the spiritual freedom that I’d been so craving and had ultimately led to my being kicked out
- Started my first “blog” at LiveJournal
- Saw my father for the first time since 1995
- Saw the beginning of the global phenomenon that is Harry Potter (the film franchise)
- Turned 18 … big deal
- Got my licence
- Got a reputation (Cloak Boy)
- Had my first Christmas out of home
- Saw the first Lord of the Rings movie at the cinemas…four times…
- Got my own public radio show
- Made a new friend – Johnno
- Attempted to repeat Year 11 at an Adult Education centre…dropped out before I lost even more brain cells
- Discovered how crap it is to socialise in a country town when you don’t drink
- Busted up the friendship with my best mate and fake younger sister
- Moved out of my first house and back down to Melbourne
- Discovered a different side of a good friend due to drugs
- Became a “goth” for a handful of months
- Joined Temple of the Winds, a youth group for kids that had been discriminated against because of their religious choices
- Made friends with a total stranger after talking for four hours about nothing
- Got a job with a company that disappeared over the Christmas break
- Left Melbourne to live with my parents again due to lack of options
- Year 11 version 3.0 – VCAL
- Discovered the prejudice at home had only gotten worse
- High IQ Test result from psychologist
- Got dumped by “The Ex”
- Left school for the third time and home for the second time
- Lived for a fortnight in the middle of nowhere with no car, no power and no food
- Moved back into Colac with best mate and other friends
- Scored a sword for my birthday while crashing with a mate in Melbourne
- Return to Temple of the Winds after a year – much has changed
- Move to Brunswick
- Move to Footscray after two months
- Bought a violin and didn’t pay rent – started out lease on the wrong foot
- Became a moderator of Temple of the Winds and joined WitchSchool.com
- Got caught shoplifting in Coles in Footscray, got banned and got a five year “good behaviour” warning from Victoria Police
- Engaged in Dungeons and Dragons with a bunch of friends
- Had a profound awakening after reading a book on Druidry
- Got Scarlet Fever
- Made up with my parents for the third time since leaving home
- Got roped into XanGo – a multi-level marketing company selling their patented “super food” juice
- Turned 21 (big deal x 2) met The Ex-Wife
- Joined and left a Druid Grove in Eastern Melbourne
- Left Footscray and moved to Eltham with Johnno
- Got a job at McDonald’s
- Left McDonald’s five weeks later
- Johnno moves out as The Ex-Wife moves in
- Got our first cat: MerLan
- Sera and I go to Great Keppel Island
- Got a job at Subway
- The Ex-Wife goes to University
- My father dies after six months of chemo, despite the doctors telling him he had two years “minimum” to live
- The Ex-Wife gets a new job and leaves her old one
- I start bugging the manager of EB Games for a job
- We attend our first Mind Body Spirit Festival
- Got the job at EB
- Renewed a lease for the first time – finally settling down?
- Left Subway
- Decided to further my “education” by learning Mandarin
- Enrol in a TAFE course in Mandarin
- We bought our first car
- Volunteered at our second Mind Body Spirit Festival – got to know Scott King, Lucy Cavendish and Maria Elita
- Broke our lease to move to a “better” place
- Went to Sydney to a pagan retreat weekend
- Left EB and my studies to work full time
- Joined the online Grey School of Wizardry
- Got summoned for Jury Duty and got out of it on account of the new job
- Celebrated two years with The Ex-Wife – longest relationship and finally breaking the shadow of the former, painful relationship
- Had a rumour spread about me cheating on The Ex-Wife
- Went to Cairns with The Ex-Wife to her uncle’s wedding
- Got our second cat: Maigus
- Am the foreman on a murder trial after being recalled
- Bought our own house & land package
- Was partially responsible for a co-worker being fired
- Break another lease to move into a garden shed
- Attempted to do a correspondence course in Anatomy & Physiology
- Got notified that I was receiving an “inheritance” from my father’s estate – totally unprepared for that news
- Volunteer at MBS Festival with Lucy Cavendish
- Proposed to The Ex-Wife
- Went to New Zealand for ten days
- Went to Taronga Zoo for Scott King’s inaugural Animal Dreaming Intensive weekend
- Legally changed my name
- Engagement party & The Ex-Wife turns 21
- Caught in a lie
- Registered my first domain – Sffarlenn.net
- Final colour choices for our house are made – it’s almost done!
- My younger brother gets kicked out of home
- We move into our new house
- I take up another correspondence course: Professional Book Editing, Proofreading and Publishing
- Lucy stays with us as while we all work at another MBD Festival, thus starting a new tradition and solidifying our friendship with her
- The Ex-Wife starts her new job after leaving Telstra and I celebrate two years in the one job – longest ever job held
- Group singing at the Crown Casino food court for my birthday
- Became the first Editor-In-Chief for the Grey School of Wizardry’s school paper
- My parents gave us their wedding present early and revealed the catch to it…
- Worked with author Caiseal Mór and artist Helen Wells at MBS Festival as Lucy didn’t come down
- Experienced the beginnings of a new global phenomenon: Twilight…
- Were betrayed by two friends that had become what we’d thought of as our closest friends
- Bought the material for our wedding clothes
- Register my ABN
- Discovered online tutorials and renewed my interest in web design and development
- Travelled to Sydney to volunteer at the MBS Festival, came home and did the Melbourne one straight after
- Rescued my best mate from certain death
- Got an iPhone
- Helped a friend with his website design
- Failed at helping another friend with her website design, thus learning that I couldn’t just “jump into the deep end”
- Had my fake younger sister move in with us
- Had my mother announce that her marriage to my step-father was “on the rocks”
- Attended The Ex-Wife’s dad’s wedding
- Had my own special kind of Buck’s Night
- Got married
- Went on a rather modest honeymoon and ruined it because of my laziness and poor attitude towards “doing things”
- Came home to help with the final touches in cleaning up our backyard, a gift from The Ex-Wife’s younger brother
- Dropped a few of the things I was involved in due to lack of time and stress
- Bought two brand new cars to replace the string of second-hand ones we’d bought over the years
- Announced that we wanted our house back
- Cut my mother off for the final time
- Fake younger sister moves out
- The Ex-Wife and I drive to Griffith in New South Wales over the Easter long weekend
- I investigate whether I’ve got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and end up seeing a psychologist instead
- Best mate moves out and restarts his life anew
- I start getting a bit more room to breathe at work with my ideas for utilising the internet and social media as an alternative to marketing getting noticed
- I attend my first solo social event and immediately make new friends
- We got a puppy: Truffles
- Five years after the first MBS Festival we attended with her, Amanda is back down in Melbourne and we all go (while I’m working with Lucy, whom is also staying with us)
- Mum is just not getting the hint and still tries to get in contact with me – I ignore her
- I get a raise at work – “not as much as the boss would have liked” but still appreciated
- Attend the first ProBlogger Training Day here in Melbourne where I make a LOT of friends and a lot of new decisions about my online interests
- Mum tries again to get in contact and I have to be harsh to drive the point home
- The Ex-Wife books a trip to New York City to visit her best friend who is finishing her trip in the USA there
- Launch the 10 Years Project – this very blog – after watching Julie & Julia and getting inspiration to tell my story, on my 27th birthday (I was 17 when I got kicked out of home)
- The Ex-Wife and I start a “diet” regime and discover we had $6,000 on a credit card
- Step-father contacts me with very neutral, if not friendly text message
- Got my hopes up / crushed regarding a “dream job” and learned a harsh lesson
- Living the “single life” – two weeks without The Ex-Wife here…lonely
- Discovering that I can be somewhat tactless online and share a bit too much
- Got into an argument at work with a co-worker that thinks she knows everything about numerology … couldn’t believe her nerve!
- I cut my hair – after six years of growing it long
- Celebrate our one year anniversary by staying in the hotel we stayed at on our wedding night
- My mother’s 50th birthday came and went without her contacting me, against my expectations
- Getting more and more frustrated with the “fight for equality”
- Spent two weeks off over Christmas with The Ex-Wife for the first time since we got together
I’d also like to point out that there were some fucking epic times that almost had me in tears for the sheer incredibility of them; the generosity of people, places that took one’s breath away, the love you see when your puppy looks you in the eyes.
All-in-all, the last ten years have been amazing. Most definitely the greatest ten years of my life and certainly the richest in experiences. I’ve seen and done more things, been to more places and met more incredible people than I ever would or could have if I had never been kicked out of home.
Also, I would not have chosen to leave home (despite leaving for a week and being stubborn enough to have stuck it out had it come to it) at seventeen, but I’m so glad that the decision was taken from me. I sit and think about Lestat in Interview With A Vampire, delivering the line, “I’m going to give you the choice I never had…”
When I think of that, I wonder what I would have chosen if faced with the choice to leave home. Surely, the situation would have to have presented itself in such a way that I’d have somewhere to go when leaving, otherwise I would not have willingly chosen desolation – what sane person would?
But, ultimately, I am so glad that I did stick it out and hold my chin as high as I could through it all. I’ve come out the other end of the decade a person wholly different to the one who entered it.
Like the character Arithon s’Ffalenn, whose last name I modified and took as my own, from the Wars of Light and Shadow novel series, I entered my own “Kewar Tunnel” of sorts and emerged self-aware, healed and ready to face the world through changed eyes.
Things I’ve had to come to terms with in order to heal and let go of the past are:
Self-sacrificing or helping others beyond my capabilities or resources. – My father was a self-absorbed alcoholic and chronic gambler who neglected the needs of his family. My mother was a self-involved teenager who never grew up because of the ghosts of her past and her mental illness. My step-father was a man haunted by his own ghosts, feelings of inadequacy and fears that he was unprepared and unable to face.
In desperation to turn out anything unlike them, I often found myself volunteering my assistance and services in any way possible, even to people that I barely knew. I would sacrifice my own life to serve others, sometimes just to prove to myself that I wasn’t like my parents (and thus becoming more like them by making such a self-serving decision to sell myself short just to prove a point).
The magic in saying “no” and withdrawing from assumed responsibilities was healing beyond anything that I could imagine. I gained wisdom through this act of self-healing that speaks to the need to preserve one’s own needs in balance with that of those around you. An on-going lesson, my current belief is to give of oneself to others only as much as you are able to equally give to yourself – that is, you can help others but must make sure you leave the same amount of room and time to work on your own dreams.
Hate, pity and judge not those who’ve hurt you in the past. Even if reconciliation cannot be found, does not mean forgiveness cannot be granted or received. – My mother cycles continuously between being caring and being spiteful. My ex-girlfriend took on a lot of pain from our relationship and lashed out at me emotionally before eventually letting it go in her own time. Friends and family and others from my past have either simply ignored me or forgot me as if I never existed or mattered.
For the longest time I had and felt nothing but anger towards a huge number of people from my past. I resented the lack of effort on my families’ sides in not keeping in contact with me after I was kicked out of home.
I realised that all this was wrong: my family simply had their lives to live and I was a whole state away or simply wasn’t really their family to begin with. It was not their fault for carrying on in their routine through an event that didn’t even make a splash in their ponds – much like folks carrying on and returning to work days after a bombing or natural disaster; it’s what we do.
I hated myself for the emotional turmoil I’d put “The Ex” through while we were together and the for being the emotional wreck I was when she left me.
I could find no true fault or blame in any of the experiences between “The Ex” and I; we were still just kids, finding our way in the world and too young to really know what the hell we were doing. Our time together forced us through a lot of experiences that many people our age never go through and this was the silver lining – we are who we are today partly due to our time together. As hurtful as it was, it was also educational in many ways.
And my mother? I found that, right up until last year, I was still willing to just slip into the “caregiver” role that I’d been playing all my life and hated her for doing that to me.
She’s now off living the life that she’s been raised to know. I cannot fault her for being relationship-dependent or emotionally unstable and violent, or even for being as selfish as she is. She is clinging to the shreds of life lessons learned across her life that she feels are the positives, however truly positive or negative they turn out to be.
I cannot fault her, cannot hate her, but nor can I forgive her. The choices that she makes are entirely selfish and I chose self-preservation over involvement in her life, which plays out more like an elaborate board game than it does a real life.
So I chose a form of forgiveness and renewal in each case above and more unlisted, as best I knew how.
I’ve learned to see my potential through various acts and times, though I’ve yet learned to harness it. – There’ve been times where I’ve exploded in awesome, done things that are just great or simply been a really nice person despite my past and my personal demons along the way. I understand that I have great potential and ability, though still feel subdued by unresolved oppressions of my past.
Still, as they say in G.I. Joe – “Knowing is half the battle,” and The Ex-Wife has always said, “If you’re aware of something, you can change it.” I guess I never actually believed in myself, so was never fully aware of the truth in these words.
Laziness is a state of mind. – this is truer than one can imagine. It really is “mind over matter” when it comes to being lazy and laziness can creep into all facets of life, not limiting itself to physical laziness either. Mental laziness is rife in our society, as is what I call “habitual laziness” (which is kind of an oxymoron in the way that habits are extremely hard to form but laziness requires very little effort and forming a habit of being lazy is easy, despite how hard it is to form habits…or something like that).
Habitual laziness is the worst perpetrator, sneakily beguiling you into taking “short cuts” in our work, speeding each time we get behind the wheel, etc. It also is the foundation for some of the hardest habits to break: becoming more physically active is often blocked by our comfortable, lazy lifestyles, for example.
Becoming more aware of the areas and ways in which I am lazy is allowing me time to fully understand the root causes of the laziness and exactly how I can overcome them. It’s a lengthy process, but it is definitely a winning strategy. (Hey, guess I do have patience in me for some things!)
I could keep going, listing all the lessons I’ve learned in metaphorical allegory or by giving practical examples or by referring to posts I’ve written, but I think you get the general picture: I’ve grown, evolved, expanded, reached a higher plateau of understanding, you name it – I’ve become a better person through the ups-flats-and-downs that have been spread across the last ten years.
I’ve shared my life with some amazing people and are amazed at just how many are still in my life, mostly thanks to the internet. I’ve lost and regained several friends more times than I care to admit and have finally become a self-imposed orphan (though the decision was made pretty easy for me way back in 2001).
Originally, this blog was going to have an “exposé”-style theme to it, revealing all the rotten things that my parents did that drove me to choosing familial exile, however that fell under one of my lessons learned and I simply turned this into a semi-autobiographical look back at my life.
Again, I want to thank you dear reader, for journeying with me over the past six months as I revisited a whole decade of my life. It has been an incredible trip down memory lane as well as being one of the most cathartic experiences in my entire life. No amount of healing of any physical wound could ever hold up to this sort of healing…well, maybe there are some extreme things, but you know what I mean.
So, like I’ve said before, if you’ve got any questions or would like to know more, please comment or contact me through the contact page.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks for the last remaining twenty-odd posts (and congratulations for sticking with me over four thousand words in this post *wink*)
Ciao for now!