The story so far (in chronological order):
- Once upon a time
- Ground zero
- Those eyes – or – don’t step in the glass
- A day and a week later
- Light on the train
Flipping the kitchen calendar over with surprise, I discovered it was December. Still on automatic pilot, I was trying desperately to keep my public self from falling apart. Hopefully no one knew unless I wanted them to.
That was my goal. I mean – its just not socially acceptable conversation, is it? Hi, how are you? Me? Well, not so great, I was assaulted a couple of months ago and I’m still a fucking mess actually!
Yeah… that was just never gonna happen.
And as I mentioned, there’s a good dose of repression in my DNA. So all up, it just seemed like a better idea to keep a lid on it.
I was going to work, but other than that I spent most of my time holed up in my flat. As far away from other people as I could, because I never knew when I was going to lose it and just start bawling. Or suffer a panic attack. Or freak out and behave really weirdly.
Early December, I had a visit from N & B – close friends of mine visiting from ‘the country’. They live on a beautiful virgin bush property on a hill outside a tiny town on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. They’re a little older than I am by a decade and a half. I love spending time with them.
They were among the few friends I’d turned to for support and they were great. In fact, I had to be very restrained and not give Andre’s address to N who wanted to go and visit him with a very large weapon! B is a healer by trade – she works with color therapy and is highly intuitive. They are both deeply spiritual and salt of the earth people.
They came to stay for a couple of days as they had some business in town and also wanted to check how I was doing. N & B were the first people I told the whole story to, end to end. Tears rolling down my face, voice as soft as the colored silk B draped around my shoulders. I got it all out, and we three tried to make some sense of it all. They gave me some much needed affection and literal shoulders to cry on.
The next day, N starts talking about a friend of their friend LS, who he’d been chatting to recently. LS was saying her friend G – who my friend N had met a couple of times – was sick of being single and wanted to meet women with a spiritual bent.
I can’t explain why N thought it would be a good idea to suggest that G and I meet. I wasn’t exactly at my best; I wasn’t even interested in meeting men. Call it fate or whatever you like – but somehow I agreed that N could give G my contact details.
G lives a couple of hours drive from Melbourne, so it wasn’t like we could meet up straight away. But we swapped emails and pictures, talked on the phone and sorted out a time to meet up – just before New Year’s Eve.
This is when G suggested we should perhaps meet at William Rickett’s Sanctuary (where I recently visited three years later!).
Ofcourse, I hadn’t told G about my recent history. I was trying my best to sheild that part of my life. So when talking about how to get there, G mentioned perhaps we should just take one car there… I freaked.
There was just no way could I share a car ride with someone I hadn’t met, and to a relatively out of the way place. I needed an easy exit route “just in case”.
Although we’d been talking on the phone, I sent G an email as I simply couldn’t verbalise what I needed to say. After a little back and forth, I finally came out and told him what had happened and where my head was at.
It’s actually to do with personal safety and a sense of I don’t know… the ability to escape. You could just say I’ve got a few trust issues, based on needing to be sure of the people I’m around.
The funny thing was I didn’t even realise I felt that way until after you suggested traveling in the same car.
A little thing like that made me feel entirely claustrophobic and panicky with no logical reason. Except of course, I’ve had someone in my house that was seemingly one person and then showed me another very scary side to themself. I logically know that that situation was an aberration, not the ‘norm’ and I don’t imagine every guy is going to have that sort of hidden nature. But there’s a part of me that still doesn’t feel safe. And yet normally, I’m one of the most fearless people you would probably ever meet in your life…
G was really, really, really great about it. We put off meeting up. But he also suggested I go and see a kinesiologist to help shift the trauma I was still clearly going through. Which was an awesome wake up call, because I already knew how great kinesiology is but it was filed away at the back of my mind somewhere.
Through G, I got some referrals, and it’s because of that suggestion and the help I got from a fantastic kinesiologist friend of his that I was able to start leaving the house again. Start to breathe again. Start to feel like I was going to get to the other side. I’m endlessly grateful for the turn of events that led to G coming into my life!
Anyhow… now all my cards were on the table and I hadn’t scared G away with my horrid story, we were still trying to work out a time and place to meet.
The next proposed meeting place was sort of halfway between Melbourne and where G lived. A couple of locations were suggested before we agreed on Bendigo – a country town a couple of hours drive outside of the city.
Bendigo used to be an important town during the gold rush era in Australia, which attracted people from all over the world trying their luck, but especially from China. As a result, Bendigo has a large Chinese population, a very impressive Chinese Museum and the Yin Yuan Chinese Gardens (where the imagery for this site comes from).
So G and I met in Bendigo. I must have looked like a frightened rabbit, ready to bolt. The expression on his face when we met was so gentle and kind. I think he was probably trying to do whatever he could not to spook me given how very spook-able I was.
You might be asking yourself why I went to a strange town to meet a strange man? The answer is because fate had handed me a gift via my friends N & B. And G had given me a key to move forward a few more steps, so I was no longer entirely crippled by what had been. And most of all because I was furious that I was still so affected. I’m not used to being so scared, and I very much wanted not to be. G had also earned some degree of my trust, which was saying a lot.
In that delicate state of being, G and I enjoyed what was a supremely stinking hot day. To quote myself: “This day was really hot. Severely hot in the shade kind of hot. The sort of hot where your bare feet could easily burn on the concrete.”
First up, we visited the Sun Loong Gallery museum which was as brilliant for its fine air-conditioning as much as the rare artifacts and antiquities. Apparently Bendigo is the home to the longest Chinese Dragon in Australia.
Then we braved the heat to visit the Chinese Gardens which seem somewhat out of place in Bendigo. Whilst inside the garden walls, you’re transported to somewhere in Asia but if you peep over the fences, you’re surrounded by concrete and bitumen.
For everything that G was attempting to do to make me feel comfortable, the gardens were the answer. Incredibly detailed paintings and tile work, gardens with feng shui up the yin yang, ponds with fish, sculptures, bamboo and pagodas. All designed so you could enjoy a walking meditation through the meandering pathways.
It was a wonderful day. I enjoyed G’s company and we stayed in touch, but the spark of “something more” wasn’t there. Ofcourse. How could it be given where I was at?
But then, as I’ve pondered since, how would I even know the difference? Am I not interested because that’s how things would have been anyway, or is it the shadow of what has been that sways me? We stayed in touch, and even caught up a few more times. But ultimately, I don’t think our friendship was fated for more. G lives far away, and we are relatively different people. We’re now in touch by email only, every now and then.
Where G and I are not different is where an interest in spirituality and the upliftment of humanity. Oh, and a love of nature and animals, especially cats.
However, to be blatantly honest, I think there’s only been a couple of times in my life where another person has seen me so vulnerable and weak. Each time that’s happened, I tend to recoil just a little bit. As though, its somehow shameful for someone to see me in that condition. And I pull away. Not because I want to, but because I need to. It has nothing to do with the other person really…
So G, I thank you once again for coming into my life at such a crucial time. And for making a difference when I really needed it.
Next: Stereotypes & strategies