Thursday, 24 November 2011

Lesson 17: "If we do not advance .. we retrograde."

"A tight little world of Mummyland, symbolised by a mountain of unsorted clothes on the floor at the end of the bed. You can get the clothes into the washing machine. You can get them out. You can arrange them over the radiators to dry. But you cannot, cannot get the clothes back into the cupboards and drawers.

Until that pile at the end of the bed becomes a volcano of frustration and accusation and despair; ever growing, ever-depleting you. Until sometimes, alone, you are weeping and you barely know why, your hands clawed frozen at your cheeks. 'I can't do it.' Sometimes you even say it to your children, horribly it slips out - 'It's too hard, I can't do this' - bewildering them.
You weren't this woman, once. Despised this woman, once."

- Nikki Gemmell "With My Body."

Nikki Gemmell is much more than a story teller. She's a veil-lifter, a mood-catcher. A permission granter.

I spoke to her today about her new book, With My Body. She laughed and told me she'd never spoken to a blogger before. I was so nervous but she didn't mind when I stumbled over my words. I wanted to tell her who I was and what I thought ... where my own marriage was at and did she think we'll get through? I wanted to tell her that the young girl in her book was making me inwardly weep because she was me, with the aching for affection and the waiting for real life to begin. All those years ago.

(I didn't, because I also wanted her to think bloggers are smart and polished and professional.)

Nikki told me how she does not mind at all when she is used as a confessional, by other women. I suspect it happens a lot. "I've always been kind of on the outside, trying to connect with the truth of life, watching it as it all gets played out ... women tell me their secrets and I don't mind, don't mind at all. I'm interested."

A follow up to the hugely successful and somewhat controversial The Bride Stripped Bare, With My Body is Nikki's ninth book. She has four children, the youngest is four months old .. and has just moved back to Australia after 15 years of living in the UK.

She is a hugely talented writer. Gifted. With this book she has taken the pulse of married women with children, and delivered a stunning manifesto .. on how to unlock a woman, how trapped we can feel by the choices we make. It's an intensely personal look at a woman's sexual awakening, as well as a look at if we can ever really know another person.

Sentences keep taking my breath away. "You look at some of the school dads around you and just know they'll be 'dirt' - cheeky, playful, a bit of rough. But you'll never do anything about it. Don't need sex anymore. You wonder at the shine of those women who are man-free by choice: some widows and divorcees you've seen over the years, nuns, septuagenerians; those precious few who no longer seek out men and are strong with their decision and lit with it. You recognise that glow. Unencumbered."

I was reading the book last night, my two boys sleeping soundly in my big comfortable king-sized bed beside me. My engagement ring dug into my pinky and as I turned it around I remembered how desperately I wanted to be married. And how profoundly difficult this road can be.

I haven't finished it yet but I adore this book. It landed in my lap at *just* the right time. I can't wait to see what happens next.

I asked Nikki if she has always wanted to be a writer. "Oh yes .. since I was ten years old. My father gave me a copy of Jane Eyre and I gobbled it up. I remember being so taken by the protagonists journey, my heart in my mouth in terms of what she was going through. And it just connected with me, reached out and grabbed me by the throat. I wanted to be able to do that. I want to move people, if I can."

She can.

Sony have offered me a Sony Reader Wifi Touch to give away, pre-loaded with With My Body. It's the world’s lightest 6-inch reader, has a battery life of up to one month, and storage for up to 1,200 books. Worth $179 each, Sony are giving me one as well, which is very generous. (I told Nikki I would have jumped at this interview with her anyway.) After dissing e-readers for years I can finally make an informed decision on the future of real-live books you can hold in your hand.

I have some incredible international readers as well, and I was sad that you could only enter if you were an Australian resident. So I put a copy of With My Body on my overdrawn credit card at my local bookstore and as soon as I finish reading it (which won't be long) .. one of you get to win a real-live copy you can hold in your hand.

Nikki wondered if the overseas readers would be interested in a uniquely Australian protagonist and I said of COURSE ... the beauty in her writing is that she speaks the Truth. And Truth is universal. Then we got onto a tangent about how she has written the book in these beautiful vignettes and called them 'Lessons' .. some only a few pages long. She purposefully wrote them as snippets, morsels that are so easy to read in this information-laden world we live in. "It's almost like books these days are competing  .. with everything else that's readily available on the internet."

So, if you'd like to win a Sony Reader or the actual (dogeared) book - tell me a something. About your marriage, or motherhood. Fatherhood, singledom - anything. Tell me a Universal Truth that will make me feel connected today. I'm all out of sorts, and my head tells me you are all living wildly amazing and fulfilled lives while I worridly sit here on the couch eating Nutella.

I have problems saying goodbye to people on the phone .. it's so awkward. As I blurted out "Do you have an email address"  Nikki was trying to wrap it up and I could hear her baby squawk so I just quickly said goodbye instead. And that was that. Sad. But I get to look forward to every book Nikki Gemmell ever writes, ever.

(There will be two winners - an Australian who gets the Sony Reader, and an international person who gets the actual book. Winners chosen randomly in one week on Thursday 1st December. DECEMBER IS NEXT WEEK OH MY GOD.)



  1. I'm not married. I never wanted to be married until a few years ago. I thought I may have met the man I could get married to, but that changed recnetly when he broke up with me on the phone!

    I do things backwards. I have a 10 year old son I've raised by myself the whole time. After I had him I couldn't even contemplate having a man in my life for ages. Then I did, now I haven't. I'd still like one though! I'm an optimist. I'm resilient, I'm strong - blah blah blah.

    I'm not strong when I see people with young babies who can hand them over to its father while they have a break. I didn't get that. I'm not strong when I remember that my son has never known his father.

    I'm trying to find happiness and believe I can - I'm still an optimist.

  2. I'm sitting here eating chocolate with a glass of milk reading through my Reader while intentionally ignoring the growing pile of clean clothes in the laundry basket. That first quote? So me. Can wash them, dry them, easy... but fold them? I just can't.
    So to you, dear Eden, my chocolate and milk say cheers!

  3. Motherhood is like a double-edged sword. Sometimes the intensity of it is overwhelming... how is it possible to feel so many emotions in a mirco-second? How can I swing from loving my children so deeply and completely, to wanting to run away and pretend I'm someone else? It has created more questions for me then I can ever possibly have the answers for.

  4. Motherhood: You eventually do get yourself back. One day when your smallest child is taller than you You find yourself again and realise that you weren't really missing at all. You had just been hidden by the needs of all the small people clutching at you.
    And when you wake up that day and realise that you are back, that you finally have the time to do some things for yourself, that is when you kick those unsorted clothes into the back of the wardrobe and shut the door on the fuckers.

    With this truth, my truth, I offer you hope.

  5. Being married and having children WILL make you sit on the couch eating nutella out of jar worridly. FACT.

  6. Oh I so get that paragraph at the top. It just sums up everything I feel at the moment. I loved the Bride stripped bare and look forward to reading her new one. Hope things improve for you soon Eden.

  7. Kids can break a perfect day in less than five minutes. You can do loads of wonderful things, enjoy each others company and then at 4.35pm they can have an epic meltdown and it's really hard to focus on those lovely events that happened earlier that day, you can't see past the crying, the yelling, the shitty arse attitude, and all that.

  8. At first, while I was reading the first few paragraphs of this post, I thought, "Man, Eden is struggling with some of the same s#$% I am." And then I realized it was actually taken from the book, and I was like, "Wow - TWO people are putting words to exactly to some of my struggles".

    I am coming out on the other side of a struggle. I'm in the midst of an identity crisis (at 33), and am on stress leave. Because I can now THINK about myself again, I am learning to just 'be' in order to recharge. I'm taking some risks that will, hopefully, open up some new opportunities for me. I applied for an MFA in Creative Writing, and am purposefully engaging in activities that bring me joy, and doing so GUILT-FREE in order to fully be myself, fully alive. Women need to do this more often, I think. We tend to put ourselves last, thinking we have to put everyone else before us, and then before we know it, we're dead inside.

    I'm reading a book right now, inspired by Oprah. It's called 'A Year By The Sea' by Joan Anderson. I recommend it Eden (once you're done 'With My Body'). I would love to read 'With My Body'.

    Deep breaths.

    Thanks for reading. xoxo

  9. My truth is that I'm a broken woman spiralling into a vortex of exhaustion and sadness every second of the day. I'm not sure how I got to be this way. This is was not the plan. Motherhood was meant to be fulfilling and energetic and fun. I dread the nights. But I dread the mornings even more.

    Thanks for introducing this writer to my world. I have a feeling I need her in my life right now.

  10. I hope in time to be one of those "shiny" women she describes, that are "unencumbered" by men. Right now I am working at getting that shinyness back through the process of blogging and exploring what it is to be a single mother of two boys. It has been 3 months since I left my husband because he didn't know how to treat a woman with kindness, tenderness and basic respect.

    I wrote a blog entry only the other day about motherhood, and how it is our choice as to whether the experience will make you expand or contract. I choose to expand.

  11. Ok here goes, I'm 29 and I have four children, the youngest being 11 weeks. I don't know where to start, my life is chaos, my son has had issues with anxiety and suspected ADD for the past 5 years but it's taken me this long to come to terms with it and actually try and do *something* about it. Sometimes I think it will destroy my marriage, trying to be my son's advocate against his sometimes cranky and impatient step father. I'm filled with anxiety over the smallest tasks lately, just making a few phone calls can put me on edge. I feel like I'm *just* a mum sometimes, like I'm not a real person, that my husband especially doesn't know who I am or who I was, I have dreams and desires but I feel so uncertain and lost. Who am I? I'm shit scared about turning 30 next year, maybe I'm set for a meltdown. I need to do something, I guess I'm waiting for my life to begin too. I hope things pan out alright for you Eden :)

  12. I can't believe next week is December - I haven't even started Christmas Shopping yet.

    Today my daughter is switching between raging psychotic to cute snuggly bunny... both involve tears and tantrums and both involve a very snotty nose. I'm counting down the seconds to 7pm.

    I wish I had more time. A contradiction, I know, as I sit here counting time. I still wish I had more time.

  13. My universal truth is be gentle to yourself and gentle on those closest to you on the hard days. xx This year has been shit, next year will be better.

  14. That sounds like a truly fabulous book. I'd love to read it.

    My universal truth is that marriage and kids prove that there are simply not enough hours in the day. There is always one more thing to do, one more lunch to pack, one more load of laundry to do before you go to bed at the end of the day. It is all too easy to run yourself into the ground.

  15. I'm on marriage number two. This marriage is so different from my first. I wanted to marry this person, wanted to spend my life with him. But it's hard and sometimes I want to quit because I tend to do that. I am reclusive and fine being alone, he is not so much. We are almost complete opposites in everyway except the ones that really count. Blending a family is hard. Harder than I ever thought it would be. My husband is a saint for putting up with me all the time. I'm so ridiculous and he just takes most of it so in stride. HOnestly he deserves to win some great prize.

  16. We are not the mistakes of our past!

    I've done some pretty shitty things in my life, some before I met my husband and some whilst we've been married but you have to remember and I got it from you on this blog that you know what? ......
    YOU ARE ENOUGH! Broken bits and frazzled bits the whole package! Don't listen to the white noise in your brain - you're living someones dream!


  17. I, i know, more than ever this week, is everyone needs to feel love, and feel acceptance particularly when they are going through something horrible to them, they need to know it is okay where they are at, and that they will be okay again. And when part of that breaks, people react in the most craziest of ways and earthquakes and tremor lines appear all over the place.

    i am not super articulate right now, we have just had an earthquake of sorts in our office and I was the recipient... which happens from time to time. But knowing you aren't alone.. that keeps you sane.

  18. I think I perhaps take my marriage for granted. I come from happily married parents, as does my husband. The danger in expecting that we'll always be together is we don't do enough work to ensure that is the case.

    I'm not saying my marriage is bad, I guess I'm saying it could be better.

    So thanks Eden, for giving me something to think about. Well actually you always give me lots to think about. Your writing is great, and you are great. I've been lurking for a while.

    I have a dear friend battling addiction and I know what she goes through, what goes through her head. I always tell her she's too hard on herself. I often think the same thing about you when I read your posts. I do hope the year ends on a higher note for you, and that next year is even better still. All the best.

  19. Best book review ever, simply because I want to go and read the book.

    My grocery shopping is like the washing pile for many. I hate it. Tonight I am again old mother hubbard and wondering what pantry offerings I can offer my children. I even get fruit delivered weekly, but it runs low in 4 days and there I am again, having to get to another supermarket.

  20. My truth is I was raised with a very abusive father,,I rather have been raised with out a dad to have the dad I have..Today he lives a lonely life.Today I fight with my choices I have made,I almost Over Dosed at 14,,I have had enough of being hit in front of my friends while my mother turned her head and pretend to not to notice,,after I got older I have been fighting addiction and depression,,to the point I almost succeeded,,I am a married woman of 26 yr's and 4 children,,when I read your post you take me back into the time when I didn't think I could go on,,you make me Laugh and you have made me cry but the best of all is you make me Dance,,and live in the moments Thank you!!!

  21. I was 36 before I had a boyfriend (although I had had sex). That boyfriend turned into my husband, and in 5 years we've had five pregnancies, but only one live baby. I still think I am the luckiest woman in the world, because I was 36 and single and so full of love and promise, and then magically I FINALLY found someone to share that love and help me see how I can fulfill my promise. I don't think women living their lives without men are as shiny as you think they are. The grass is always, ALWAYS greener.

  22. it's interesting because this book, for me, wasn't about women who are mothers, it was about women who have forgotten who they are, emotionally and sexually.

    i am not a mother and because of that i have forgotten who i am both emotionally and sexually. so long my very being has been tied up in becoming a mother, wanting to become a mother to the point where i have forgotten who I AM.

    i have forgotten that being sexual ISN'T just about procreating and that engaging in sex doesn't always mean you will get pregnant and then go on to lose that pregnancy.

    this book connected so many dots for me, it made me realise that i AM important, that i am more than my failure of a body and that i deserve to remember that and i deserve to reconnect those dots of my life and find pleasure in myself and being me.

    being a mother may strip you of your identity as you take on the role of parent and bringing up another human being but not being able to have children robs you of your identity as a woman and makes you question your body and yourself.

    it's time to take back some of that.

    great post, thanks for sharing.


  23. OMG - I have just finished reading that and it is now doing the rounds of kinder mum friends! We cant believe how much it is resonating with us all!!!!

    Those e-readers sounds ace - although how do you 'loan' books to friends??? Acutally that's probably a good thing you cant because I never seem to get mine back!

  24. Nikki sounds like my sort of author and Eden you did a fabulous review here!

    My lesson in life today came after being a tired cranky mega bitch Mummy to my son, who I was shouty with for AGAIN giving me a sleepless night and 5.20am start. Then I was shopping and saw a boy his age with a trademark bald head... and I could just guess what was the culprit... I vowed to hug my son tight if he woke again at that ungodly hour and just be grateful I wasn't dealing with worse issues in my world...

  25. I loved the bride stripped bare so much! cannot wait to read this.

    i can really relate to that quote regarding the unpartnered women. the best looking vital women in their 50's i know have both never been partnered. in darker days i know it is because mothering and wifing sucks your life essence out lol but i also know that the journey from maiden to mother to crone is the one i want to take. i am gonna rock crone out like a bad arse mother trucker.

  26. I love my husband, a lot, but I do sometimes wonder if I hadn't decided he was the one, if I hadn't given up my career and my financial freedom and moved halfway across the world to raise our family. What would have happened instead? Who would I be? What would I want in life? There are times when I look at my children in disbelief that they are actually MINE, seriously. I feel like a child myself and yet I am emotionally responsible for their well being? But the telling thing for me is that deep down, I know this is the life for me, the one I would have chosen and the life I would have somehow gravitated to even if I had made it difficult for myself along the way!

  27. Not entering
    Just speaking

    I read Nikki's book last week. On my e reader. In 24 hours.
    Her work resonates in such a visceral manner. Like she was reading my thoughts. I ate up her words. In those first Lessons, she was detailing my life.

    Kind of like your words Eden. You are not so dissimilar.

    If its all shit now, it will be roses soon enough. Ebb and flow baby. Ebb and flow.

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  29. I love the way you write......the post is over before I know it because you've drawn me in to lap up every word. I haven't read a book in ages but you've inspired me to look up both books.

    As to universal truth, I'm not really sure I've got anything. Everyday, I power on in mostly the same bland routine but since I just had a teary moment, I realise that routine may well mask other deeper under currents.

    So far, I love Kim's (frogpondsrock) comment the best, "not missing....but hidden". Yeah, I feel a bit lost/hidden, and often too tired to bother but ultimately, simmering underneath, I trust it will end up all right.

    As I write and ponder this, I have left my wriggling 8 1/2 month old on the floor and she's exploring her world, babbling, waving toys round, and looking back at me to smile and check in. How can it all not be okay in the end? She needs me and I need her too. I could not imagine her away, and my role as a mother removed. Just as I am in her life to teach her and guide her, she is as much in my life to teach and change me too. We are both on this journey of life together.

  30. Eden, sometimes your writing affects me like that.


  31. Motherhood is the hardest most rewarding thing that I have ever done. There are a lot of days that I just want to throw in the towel and say that this is just too fucking hard. I don't though. Why? Because my gorgeous boy is my reason for being, he is my everything and without him I shudder to think what I would be. Before I fell pregnant I was on a path of self destruction and was in and out of hospital constantly. I also spent time in jail for something I had done in an effort to destroy myself. Now it's been 3 years since my last hospitalisation, over 2 years since the last time I harmed myself and 12 months since I finished my 2 year probation. Things are 100% but I'm a completely different person and I am forever thankful to my little crazy head for giving me the opportunity to realise that life is in fact worth living.

  32. Being a mother is totally awesome. I love it and I love my kids more than I can express, as I'm sure you do. The only problem is that I'm still me. I still exist as an individual (who knew) and I'll tell ya, I'm bloody high maintenance.

  33. I wish all of my babies were alive.
    That is all.

  34. I was sitting in the school cafeteria with a child by my side, we were waiting for 3 other children to finish their "activities" so we could then drive them home for an evening filled with afternoon snacks, homework and dinner preparation. I was bored and sitting in a freaking high school cafeteria. Without thinking the words "lucky I feel good about myself otherwise this soul destroying existence could really get the better of me" came out of my mouth.

    That was me earlier this week.

    There's a different me today - later in the week. I'm happy that I had the choice of motherhood. I'm happy that I gave up working full-time, I'm happy that I'm writing.

    I float constantly between the ups and the downs. I'm either loving it or hating it or just getting on with it. I don't think there is eternal contentment.

    At this very moment, on my street there is a Filipino woman outside washing her employers car, she will walk their dog, wash their clothes and take their child to the park. Her own children are back in the Filipines, she see's them maybe every 2 years, she sends money every month. She watches me drop my children to school nearly every morning and waves and smiles as I drive past.

    Today, I'm happy. Tomorrow I may stab my husband in the eye with a fork over breakfast.

  35. Universal truth - all parents have messy, complicated, joyful, amazing, godawful lives. Sometimes we see our life with joy and sometimes absolute shame. The kids fill our hearts to bursting point, and in the very next second make our heads explode with rage. Hubby is a king, and yet frequently a bastard. Sometimes we move through life with grace and patience and intelligence; other times we bad-temperedly bush-bash through it with a sledgehammer. The only difference between one mum's life and another's is how honest we are able to be about the reality of our own lives - not just to others, but also to ourselves. You, my dear, are one of those people with the courage of honesty.

  36. PS: We cannot be the best parents we can be if our own lives are suffocating us. Time and headspace are not luxuries - they are essential.

  37. I visit here every day but rarely do I leave a comment,I figure you normally have enough comments from others, but the chance of a new book to read for a booklover is an incentive.

    My husband and I have four grey hair makers between us. I have a son, he has son and we have two sons together. (There is a serious overload of testosterone in my house)

    I love them all dearly but some days I wish they'd all just leave me the hell alone.

  38. My universal truth is that I will never get over not being able to carry both of my twins to term. I'm still deep in mourning for what might have been.

  39. Somedays Eden, I am like the ostrich with it's head buried in the sand, except mines buried at the bottom of that washing pile.

    Wishing for something, but not knowing what that something is.

    Hating what the world has become, But knowing that loving it will make it better.

    The god damn truth is hard Eden!

    My words escape me, I wanted to write so much , but man I am tired.

    I am going to buy this book, and I don't want a Sony reader thingy cause my eyes are tired of looking at screens, I want the real thing, I just wanted to share a little of my truth with you,


  40. Today for me is a really great day of housewiferizing and motherhood- my house is clean, my son is tucked into bed with fresh sheets and a tidy, vacuumed room. My husband is fed and enjoying a scotch while watching the tv and the pets are fed and quiet. I feel on top of the world!

    But then I remember that this is one day out of the week where I've had an unscheduled day off from work paired with unusually high energy levels. This never happens, I wish I could take a snapshot of this moment to show future me. In a week's time (maybe a day?) when my kid is chucking a tantrum and the dogs are scratching at fleas and the freezer offers to meat to defrost and the husband is asking where his clean work shirts are, I will try and remember this moment.

    This - marriage, parenthood, juggling work and home.. toughest gig ever man.

  41. I have not read the other that generally intimidates me into not commenting...I have to say that.. I don't think that I can recite any universal truths..but I have been married for ten years and I NEVER dreamed about being married or having a child. But the man who is snoring next to me as I type is a wonderful father and I am so grateful that I have a child because honestly, I did not think I'd ever have one....I guess my point is I think everything happens for a have been through so much with's all for a reason. And those kids..they teach you something every day, do they not? Hug 'em now ..hug 'em tight.
    Thanks for all that you share.

  42. I have that washing pile. And it's that washing pile that stops me from putting the clothes back in the cupboard. It's blocking the damn door!
    My house is full of those piles, piles of stuff. So much so, that I'm paralysed by it all. Where do I even begin? Instead, like an ostrich I bury my head and pretend it's not there.
    I think I could be desribed as an ostrich, I'm ignoring my wonderful husband and beautiful daughter, just waiting for each day to end. Sleep is my refuge. Not to mention my big fat thighs and wild plumage!

  43. My truth today? I'm struggling. I don't know why. But I'm constantly filled with anxiety, guilt, doubt and an overwhelming feeling of... Emptiness.
    I will get over it but for the moment... It sucks.

  44. Everyone beats themselves up for never being quite good enough, everyone thinks they should be achieving more with their lives.....then when you achieve anything of any significance you worry that someone will realise you have no idea what you are doing and come and take it all away.

    WORRY and Striving for a perfection I will never realise, this is my universal truth

    Love from England xx

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  46. Lovely Eden, I'm a long time reader (from England) of your fabulous blog but have not commented until today. Apart from wanting to be in the running to get my sticky mitts on a Sony Reader (can't believe I'm admitting to that as I love proper books made out of paper) I also wanted to share my universal truth ... and that is I'm mostly not bothered what others are doing around me which makes me realise no-one is really interested in what I am doing. Makes life so much easier thinking that the only person who is judging me is me - and I'm pretty tolerant :)

  47. OMG - those thoughts sound like they have been taken from my brain! Sometimes I just can't be bothered to do stuff around the house. Like folding. I quite enjoy the washing but hate the folding. And housework. I also enjoy it when I am doing it but long for the days I can do it with no kids trying to "help" me. I run around being a fulltime mum during the day & back it up by working til midnight 4 nights a week. I wish hubby would realise that parenting is a fulltime job on its own & that I just can't do this anymore. Something's got to give. With family of 6, I can't keep going at this pace.

  48. Great review - you've grabbed bits that speak to the universal exhaustion of motherhood and wifeliness (is that even a word?) Why do you think we all spend so much time in the cyber world? It's pure escapism, no pressure to be or do anything for anyone else, just be ourselves in whatever grotty unwashed state we may be in. I'd sit all day in bed and read if I had one of those babies (in my dreams...)

  49. I am itching to read this book now! My dear Eden, I too have this strange thought that the world is living an incredibly exciting life, and I wish i was today too. But in truth, I woke this morning to an email, which I ignored until I had finished my coffee, whilst I perused my huge ironing pile. Hubby opened the email, and came and asked me how I had managed to max out the credit card, all $6000 worth, and where I was planning on flying to with the tickets I had bought. Umm... what are you talking about? Flights? I wish! Shopping spree? Hardly.

    I went into our bank account, and hello, we have been hacked/scammed/ripped off/ overdrawn/maxxed out. All of it. GONE!

    Not only is this just a general bitch. But more so because its almost xmas. Because we have house payments to come out.

    So, at the moment, unless our bank comes to a speedy decision and gives us all our money back, my kids and getting a $2 plastic diablo each for xmas. And everyone will be getting nothing.
    Oh, and we will dining on ethiopian. YAY!

    There is my truth my dear. Not exciting. Not in the slightest rock star like. But truth all the same, and a story none the less. I'm sure one day I will laugh at it. But for now I might just keep crying. And swearing. Really really loud.

  50. I've followed Nikki since she was on Triple J reading the news. Incredible writer. You guys are like soul sisters.

  51. I wanted to be married so badly - it was the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life. Get married and have babies.

    Now that I am, and have been for 5 years...sometimes I wonder what all the fuss was about. Sometimes I just want ME back, I want to do my own things at my own pace in my own way, and not have to worry about another person.

    Sometimes I wonder how much of that is because of Professor's Asperger's, as if he is the sole reason for our marriage problems and my anxiety. I've teared up at the thought actually - everything is so much more difficult, requires so much more forethought to accommodate his 'quirks'.

    I used to spend so much time and energy fighting to be myself when we got married - and now I feel like I'm just an extension of him, the person that walks in front to smooth the road.

    Sometimes I can feel the scream building up inside me; the pent up rage and frustration at always having to think of someone else. Particularly someone who, due to his condition, by definition CANNOT think the same way I do.

    And then other times, I'm so blissfully happy and unbelievably grateful to have found him, Aspergers and all.

    Until I was married, I didn't understand that you could both love and hate one person at the same time.

  52. This book would be very interesting to read. We are women and deserve to be treated as such. A great giveaway, thanks for a chance!! :)

  53. Eden this review is brilliant, I want to go out & buy the book immediately but I can't as I live in the back of the boon-docks in the middle of nowhere.
    My universal truth- well I'm 29, have just had my first baby, I often feel that I want to run away & never come back, although now know I would probably miss her.
    I love my blog but I do censor what I write now as my family have found it. So I now share my deepest darkest secrets via other peoples blogs. I feel like I'm a fraud, living someone elses life, I wonder what my life is actually about, what I am missing living someone else's life.
    Anyway Eden I love reading your writing you write so beautifully xx

  54. Whoops- you can contact me via twitter @sar_wah to arrange delivery of my reader :)

  55. Oh sounds like a fabulous book.

    As a mum I have to remind myself that sometimes good enough is in fact good enough.

  56. I love Nikki Gemmell. I hope that i'd get to meet her one day! Go you good thing :D xx

  57. I have that pile of laundry. It's clean, all folded, but I can't seem to get it put away.

    That's my universal truth. I do so many things at once, but never complete the job. I yearn to be able to do one task and finish it without my brain holding the thought, 'Oh, you could also do this and save time'.

    My man can only do one thing at a time and it pisses me off. How does he get the luxury to concentrate on one thing and I have to think of/do all these other things that need doing - constantly reprioritising and ticking myself off for not doing BETTER.

    Not being a better wife, mother and self. All the Bloody Time.

    If I could concentrate on one thing at a time, would I be a better me? Who could I have been?

  58. I have no answers.

    Having left my partner of 19 years and our 2 children, I now live alone playing *chatrandom* until 4am.

    I seek hope, courage and self love.


  59. Motherhood/relationship/life - I am at a place I have longed for during years of loneliness. Have relationship, have child, have lifestyle that is easy. Only now I wish I had my old life back, where I could do what I wanted when I wanted without thinking of the consequences for anyone else. The grass is always greener.

    So I try to find the beauty in each day and do a random-act-of-kindness to keep karma at bay.

    Today I loaned by breastfeeding support pillow to a woman struggling to continue feeding her child for as long as she needs. And even though it's raining constantly, I know I have a warm soft bed to sleep in and for that I am grateful.

    What an all over the place comment!

  60. 12 o'clock. Two plates. Four slices of bread. Vegemite sandwiches. No crusts for the little one, cut it into 9 little squares. Quarters for the older one. I dare not cut it in half. Or offer anything but vegemite on white bread. He would not take kindly to it.

    “Here you go guys,” I say cheerily and wonder if they can tell that I'm not feeling the cheeriness my voice projects.

    I leave them to their sandwiches and listen to Crazy Clown Time for the first time. I close my eyes. I would prefer to by listening to this accompanied by a glass of scotch and a cigarette and the luxury of just losing myself in it. I'd just like to drown inside David Lynch's crazy mind for a while (instead of my own.)

    But we all know that is not going to happen.

    Instead it competes for volume with Woody and Buzz, and the murmurings of a one year old who is refusing to nap today. Again.

    It competes for headspace with the thousand things I should be doing, around the house, with my children.

    My son knocks on the table to get my attention. I open my eyes and look at him “I love you mummy” he says.

    Sometimes I don't know why.

  61. My universal truth is we analyse life to death. No-one and no-thing is responsible for my happiness but me. I am married and have a child. Some days are great and others aren't worth geting out of bed for, BUT I have to take the best the day has to offer and run with it. Otherwise I will end up curled up in a corner contemplating my bellybutton and missing all the good bits life has to offer. Find a little bit of good in all the shitty bad stuff and fly it overhead like a kite.

  62. Pressed for time, been trying to write this comment since this morning. Keep getting interrupted. But thankfully some interruptions are sanity saving and soulful. My son's graduation ceremony from Yr 12 was today. Considering the frustrating ex-husband who is his father, my son is a fine, good man. He's a sensitive, thoughtful young man who makes my heart sing.

    At the other end of the scale is my father. A kind & gentle, loving man who is like a father to my beautiful boy. I'm blessed with their presence in my life & really, that is enough. So now you know why I need a Sony e-reader. For me! xx

  63. I'm 44 years old. I have a 9 year old son, by my own choice, with the help of medical intervention, whom I have raised by myself for these past years. 2 weeks ago my boyfriend proposed to me - I love him - we now live with him - I'm happy to have him in my life - I know I am supposed to be "over the moon" that finally I am going to be getting married. But really..... Whist you sit on your couch eating Nutella thinking that we are all having "wildly amazing fulfilled lives" I am sitting in my classroom working my way through my never ending marking pile thinking of all the people "sitting on their couch, eating Nutella having wildly amazing fulfilling lives".

  64. You want my universal truth Eden? That is a blog post in itself.

    But what I will say is that despite all of the abuse, the pain, the depression, the suffering, the blame, the guilt, the anger, the sadness, the late nights wondering why the fuck am I even here, all of it - I am happy.
    I know my blessings and even though some days I wish my children away and I just want to be alone, I know that I'm here because they want me.
    They need me, and I need them.


  65. Marriage and motherhood are the hardest things I have ever done.

    You know why?

    Because there are so many times you just want to walk away, but you can't. And knowing that is tough.

    And then there are the times when you feel totally whole and complete.

    I find I drift constantly back and forwards between both.

    Even if I don't win, I will be buying this book. I feel compelled to so thank you for sharing x

  66. Marriage and motherhood are the hardest things I have ever done.

    You know why?

    Because there are so many times you just want to walk away, but you can't. And knowing that is tough.

    And then there are the times when you feel totally whole and complete.

    I find I drift constantly back and forwards between both.

    Even if I don't win, I will be buying this book. I feel compelled to so thank you for sharing x

  67. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not suffered. I am learning not to suffer...

  68. My Universal Truth: I do want to get married and have kids, before its too late. But I just can't do it for the sake of it. Listening to family go on and on about it, made me move to whole new country.

  69. I have already read 'With my body' and loved it. Nikki Gemmell is a wonderful writer who is able to articulate all the frustrations and joys of relationships, families and motherhood in her work.
    I have two children and I am STILL getting used to the idea of being a mum. I feel the need to escape occasionally from being 'mummy', but I love nothing more than coming home from work and have my son and daughter run to greet me at the door.

  70. Why oh why is it so hard to get that clean washing put away? and how do other mothers make it look so easy? Surely there is something that I am missing?? Think I need to read this book and make myself feel slightly common ;)

  71. Isn't it funny...I never though about how other people did chores and made decisions before I was a Mum, perhaps back then I had a life! lol

  72. I have no universal truth. I just wanted to tell you that I love the way you write Eden.

  73. They smile and ask so easily, "Hi, how are you?"

    I freeze.

    The inside runs at a million miles an hour, wondering how best to answer. Will they be jealous if I tell them of the quiet joy at watching my kids play together (coating each other in drool and peanut butter and bruises)? Do they want to know about the sour voice at the back of my head telling me every day I'm not good enough? Do they need to know how disgusted I am in myself that my son eats yesterday's toast off the floor because that's where he threw it at the time and I haven't found the energy to sweep, mop, clean and tidy it up since then? Do they know about the heavy black stone in the bottom of my heart that is the effort required to keep a marriage going?

    My lips twitch: the closest thing to a smile I can manage. I answer, "Oh, fine."

    I see the tension ease about their eyes and watch their own smile relax and grow. I respond in kind. We share an understanding, there, in the space where things aren't said. And that's enough.

  74. I am a doofus. See my comment ^ up there about judging myself. Well I’m doing it right now and saying what an idiot I am. I got a bit carried away and have just realised that you will send your copy of the ACTUAL BOOK to an overseas reader. So, um yeah, I would still totally love to be included in the draw (if I’m still allowed!).

  75. Wow.

    I'm just so humbled by these comments. I'm so, so blessed to have such intelligent, amazing, varied and insightful people who come to this blog. And leave your thoughts and your experiences. I'm so lucky - you make this space. You. You make me want to write big. So I do. Cannot thank you enough.


  76. Now I'm gonna win my own goddamn giveaway RIGGED!

  77. Everyone deserves to be happy - that is the universal truth that made me leave my now ex-husband. I was miserable and doing everything for my family and nothing for me. I had definitely lost ME in all of that.
    It's been a rocky road and I still get lost sometimes but blogs like yours inspire me and make me feel again - sometimes laughing, sometimes crying. Thank you Eden for sharing this story with us. If I don't win I'll be tracking down copy to read. xx

  78. That which looks perfect and enviable from the outside never ever is. You only see what people choose to show you and you can only ever find peace in your own soul, not by virtue of anyone else's.

  79. I need to read more.
    I need to read this.

  80. I am not married, probably because my parter and I don't love each other enough despite having two children together and a mortgage. How fucking sad is that?

    I am so buying both of Nikki's books. I have been thinking about it for a while.

  81. Love what frogpondsrock said. You know, I'm starting to find myself again. Starting to feel shiny. I feel confident with who I am as mother. I have all of a sudden found that im still here... And I Don't feel the need to have a million people in my life. One of the hardest things about motherhood for me is the responsibility. Alway. There. Never. Leaves. It's my privilege. And it's my burden to bear. xxx

  82. Nuttella - once you start it is impossible to stop.
    The washing basket - it is always never bloody ending and I HATE putting it away.
    Marriage - I sometimes wonder what happened to the me I was before I got married.
    Would I still be thin if I was single...
    In Marriage men hate anything that could remotely be described as critism and they flourish with anything that sounds remotely like praise.

  83. That first excerpt ahd me saying "I must buy this book". Why is it so easy to get it washed and dried but so goddamn difficult to get it put away? Quite the pointless task anyway, it'll all be back in the laundry within days and round and round it goes.

    I was another who yearned for marriage. Why? What's so wonderful about it? Sure there are a lot of wonderful moments being a part of a family, but why the need for the contract? For the legal tie? I'm not overly sure myself..

  84. Can I come to your house and put away your washing? I'm all over washing... there's never a pile in this house. Nor dishes nor piles of paper shit. I hate em so much I'm on top of it all. It's just a system, doesn't take any longer than dealing with a mess. Where I am not on top of anything is in being of any value to this world. I grew up in a violent and vicious environment and the scars still ripple through my world and I realise they may be there all my life. But as the transition person, I spend a lot of energy guarding my son from my past, from habits and repeating bad decisions. The truth is some of us have had words stripped from us and we need bright beacons in the darkness... writers who find our own hearts & illuminate the night. Much strength Eden, your road is rockier than some but that doesn't make it less glorious. And yeah, I'd love an e-reader, I so totally would, especially with Nikki's new book.

  85. My universal truth - Life never goes as planned, but that shouldn't stop you making goals and reaching for the stars.

    I planned on travelling the world solo, getting married at 26, kids at 30ish and settling down then. Instead I married at 19, kids and house before 22, I did get to travel some with my husband.

    I planned on being a sahm, cooking, looking after my kids, just like my mum had. Instead I do not enjoy it as much as I expected and my life is taking a different path.

    Ultimately I have decided to aim high and make goals, but also strive to go with the flow more.

  86. Once you've done 'Campaign Motherhood' you're ready for an assault on Everest!

  87. Once you've done 'Campaign Motherhood' you're ready for an assault on Everest!

  88. Einstein said, "...three forces rule the world; stupidity, fear and greed". He didn't reckon with the force of love; the she-lion's fierce love for her young.

  89. I was never going to be married. I was never going to have kids. It took me years to work out how I arrived at the situation where I was married, had two stepkids and one of my own. I now know that these relationships are the only real and true presence and meaningful pursuit that grounds me into this life

  90. I am a French 28 years old, living in Australia. I have been with my Australian boyfriend for 5 years (our anniversary is in a couple of weeks). I wonder if he would ever propose. I'm getting older and want children.

  91. I have just discovered blogs, reading other peoples, finding peace in knowing my world is not so foreign... seems others are sharing the same experiences. My world has been turned upside down, all the broken pieces lay on the ground and I'm now slowly figuring out what serves me and leaving the rest behind. Hoping the glue sticks better this time. My universal truth... I am responsible for me and that is the best AND the worst news any 39 year old single mum of 3 can wish for xx

  92. I just finished the book yesterday. It really overwhelmed me for many different reasons
    One of the hardest paths travelled I adore, cherish, love my husband. He is the man of my dreams after 10 years there is still a look he can give me that makes me go weak at the knees. He gave me the greatest gift in the world my 2 children. We can look at each other and know what the other is feeling or thinking
    But some days I want to tear his hair out, kick him and
    punch him. Today is a perfect example I got the kids up at 6am kept them quite and left him to sleep I then dressed and breakfasted them, drove 40min to their grandparents dropped the kids there, drove nearly 2 hours to work ( hair for a wedding) worked 5 hours straight no break drove 2 hours back to grandparents picked kids up brought them home made them dinner to find a note .... Gone to work thanks for the sleep in, it's my day off tomorrow so could you just organize the house a little and take the recycling down and iron my chefs jackets so I can just relax tomorrow
    And it's moments like those ........... That kill me, that thoughts of walking away overwhelm me.
    But I don't because the flip side he loves me he cherishes me ( when he remembers I work hard too) I can make him go weak at the knees with a look, and I gave him the most amazing gift in life our 2 children
    Marriage is just plain hard sailing But you go into it for a reason and there will always be stumbling blocks along the way but the reason you chose to get married is the reason to keep going, keep trying and just keep keeping

  93. A friend once told me 'You judge other people by their intention and you judge yourself by results. Why do you beat yourself up when you try really hard and don't succeed but you give other people the credit for their effort? You should be as kind to yourself as you are to others'
    There's a lot of truth in that for you too my dear.
    xo linda

  94. I just survived 16 squealing 6 year olds at a birthday party yesterday. My brain is mush, my sugar high wavering, ears still ringing and there is not enough coffee in my cup. But here is some "real" stuff: I will never regret spending HOURS and HOURS on a birthday cake because the look of joy on her face at seeing the cake is always worth it. But I really really really wish I had some coffee.

  95. My universal truth:

    No one knows what they are doing.
    Everyone is faking.
    Everyone is sucking their stomach in.
    They all shove things in cupboards before visitors come over.
    If you know someone who is not a bit of a freak, you probably don't know them well enough yet.

    Love your work Eden xx

  96. I married the bad boy. Along with his cuteness, I got his raging and sometimes violent alcoholism, his adultery, and fiendish pill habit. At a rare sober time, we had a beautiful baby girl, followed by an angelic baby boy. Shortly before baby boy came, husband's habits came back with fury. Diaper money was stolen for pills and so on. I knew I could raise a girl on my own, but how do I raise a man? The camel's back was broken when I spent 3 days in NICU with baby boy for a surgery that basically disassembled his spine to remove a tumor and the husband stayed at home, drunk, with other women in my home. So, I took my life back and cut him out of it.

    I met, to use the cliche, the love of my life shortly after. He is my total opposite, and that is good. My life became the dream I'd always dreamed. So, what did I do? I broke down and then had lots and lots of therapy. I am not the woman he met and married, and I never will be again. That person is gone forever. I'd like to think this one is better. At my lowest, I laid in bed with that sweet baby boy, by then six, and thought how much better it would be if it was over. I counted the steps to the kitchen and thought about which knife was the sharpest. Then I thought about the arms wrapped around me, how sweet his still-damp hair smelled, how much I would miss him and his sister. So I vowed to stay there until it was better. And then it was...after a long time in the darkness.

    There is no perfect. I am at peace with the mom and wife I am. Some days I totally suck at it; Others, I'm the epitome of awesomeness. Hopefully in the end, there will be balance. There are days my husband and I hate each other, but we are always together. As we say, "I'm all in." There is no alternative to not working it out because that would mean living without each other, and that is unacceptable. Now I will go hide for exposing so much on this internet thingy.

  97. My universal truth - Life's hard!

    You are brought up with your parents' issues, which then become your own. You passionately try to be a different person, a better person but those issues just won't go away.

    You get stuck focussing on your weaknesses and willing that you won't pass them on to your children, which you will because there's so much emphasis on them.

    You marry a man you love
    passionately but who drives you nuts, but he married someone exactly the same.

    You have 2 beautiful children who you miss passionately when they've gone to stay with the grandparents. The minute they're back they're driving you up the wall and you're wishing they're gone again. So much guilt.

    But overall my life is fantastic. I'm looked after, I do a reasonable job of looking after and we're all healthy. How selfish am I to complain...

    Thanks for your post, it's the first one I've read and I'll be back.

  98. this is the first time i have read this blog. i follow you on twitter eden.
    i am really struggling today.
    my baby is sleeping and my 3 year old son is at creche. or 'crechens' as he calls it.
    i am trying not to feel like a failure but that is how i feel.
    for the following reasons:
    - i have 2 kids and i feel like my life is a continual procession of shopping for food, food preparation and cooking and serving. my son has started calling me 'cafe mummy'.
    - i dont understand how other mums find time to leave the house, i seem to be preparing meals or feeding them to children/husband/myself.
    - my son is 3 years old and he wants to either watch tv or play on the ipad. i feel like i have already formed his addiction to technology as he is 3. ok so it's not as bad at that little Thai kid smoking but it is bad. when i turn the tv off he asks for the iPad, when i say no he rants and screams and basically acts out a little squeally dance that i interpret as 'my mum is caring for me inadequately and one day i will possibly blame you for any mental health problems that shall arise'.
    - why cant i buy pipe cleaners and glue and sit around and build crafty stuff in a cubby house made out of an old sheet and ribbons on the loungeroom floor like other mums.
    - how do other mums find time to blog? when they have small children? by the time my kids are in bed asleep i have enough energy to feed myself and my husband, pack the dishwasher, brush my teeth and go to bed. when do they blog? do they take a break from the cubby house and say to the little ones 'mummy is going to use the computer, stay here and continue playing, i will be back soon'? when i use the laptop my son usually wants the iPad or throws a little tantrum or starts asking for food or use the potty or abc4kids.....

    i feel completely overwhelmed today.

  99. I'm bisexual.
    Sometimes I worry that if I get married to tattoodaddy, there is a whole other life I will never get the chance to live.

  100. I'm bisexual.
    Sometimes I worry that if I get married to tattoodaddy, there is a whole other life I will never get the chance to live.

  101. Boy that home with me, the laundry piled throughout the house, clean piles on the couches, waiting to be folded. Not sure if they make it into the closets, drawers, etc. Or just plucked off of the couches and worn. Also the SHOES. My goodness. And the floors, they need constant vacuuming and mopping. They yell at me, I ignore them. And I work full time, have a 4 y/o and hubby. Not sure if I can (want) to have a second child, well b/c one is SO tough. Not sure how Nikki does it with four and still share SO much. I am an avid reader and would love to have your copy!! Lisa

  102. oh how that washing comment relates to me. has someone set up surveillance cameras in my house?

    I think I am going to have to read this book...

  103. I've been reading for a long time but I never post comments, I'm abit shy like that. I just wanted to say that what you do is represent for me a woman with a voice who is being heard, and with an audience of people who want to listen. I know that must be hard sometimes when times are tough but everyone has had some shit dealt to them and what got me through my shit was the truth, and that is what will get you through yours. Thanks.

  104. Great review. I will look out for the book now. I loved how you described it being about women and where the choices they took have taken them, which is often light miles away from what we wanted. Odd how that happens.

    Glad to read that you seem to be doing better.

  105. Single with two daughters (15 and 11). Tough but worth it.

  106. My lesson: There is no such thing as a 'normal' family. It took me 35 years to learn (and accept) that, but it has calmed me. The realisation that the people around are all as dysfunctional as me.

  107. My lesson is to live life actively.

    To be pedestrian in one's decisions means missing out as life will pass on by without waiting.

    I've learnt that the hard way.

    I was 29 years old and pondering each morning in the bath how I could muster up the courage to end the relationship I was in, ideally before my 30th birthday.

    Now I'm 36 1/2 and still in the same relationship.

    I've known all along that I didn't want children with this man and, since I'm still with him, I'm guessing my time for children has past.

    And that is tragic.

    My lack of decision became my decision.

  108. My universal truth is that life is never perfect. There is always going to be someone working harder than you, or keeping a cleaner house or being more creative.

    Accept that, suck it up and get on with living life rather than trying to live up to some unrealistic expectation you set *yourself*.

    Now - I just need to remind myself of that every day. ;)

  109. My lesson: sometimes, life is shit. Often: marriage is shit. How we navigate this shit together is how we make it work, how we can still look at each other and laugh even though there is so much shit, makes the not shit times unbelievable. Not deep, but my truth...

  110. The best gift in life is the gift of reading x

  111. OK Eden, I know you have had a lot of responses to this.. 111 in fact. I'm 112, unless someone else beats me to the post.

    I have wanted to answer this for a few days but haven't been able to sit and spill my guts to you cos I'm a paranoid wreck and I know you but you don't know me so I will use a fb conversation I had with an old mate this evening about my marriage. here comes the copy and past ( better than me recounting the story... i tend to waffle on recounts!)
    I'm Simone and my fb friend is Stephanie, just so you know.

    Simone: lottie asleep, hank holding her arm for comfort as he tries to go to sleep. i'm contemplating divorce

    Steph: how come, what's happening? Or not happening?

    Simone: he's making his own dinner cos I'm not hungry and mumbling under his breath as he bangs pots n pans... so over it

    Steph: would you really seriously consider separating?

    Simone: yes. i would and I do. I don't think it'll happen while the kids are young but yes. 17 yrs anniversary tom, woohoo!

    Steph: I really hope you two can work yer shit out, divorce really sucks, although so does a fucked relationship... but does he realise you are that unhappy?

    Simone: i think he is sooooo unhappy, so much in denial, in so much grief and despair, dealing with many awful demons he can't give to himself, let alone anyone else. gotta get him to tricia! my mind won't switch off, hence back up awake in quiet household. keep thinking of ways i can change or do things differently to make him happy but the reality is.... IT has to come from within him..... he thinks I'm the problem and we both know his only problem is his issues and his blatant refusal to even acknowledge them, let alone even try and deal with them issues! Can't blame him. Can only try and encourage him... he needs to "come to the party" if we are going to move forward. Except it's catch 22 cos when I open my mouth he only hears criticism even if what I'm saying isn't meant to be and only comes from a loving heart... again HIS ISSUES. I reckon it's time he faced his emotions straight up, on the chin, in the heart, gut and gives them enough life to let them go.... if ya know what I mean?

    So Eden, after 17 years marriage with a 3 and 4 year old under our feet we have lost ourselves, our togetherness and have ended up in the tumble dryer of our own emotions and needs... this is what I have to say about marriage right now.
    sorry for taking up a lot of typing space.
    peace x

  112. ps i don't mean to be anonymous... it's

    I just don't have an account..x

  113. I've been where you've all been - I married at 21 and had my first child at 23. But now I'm out the other side. My children are grown up and I am once again free. Free to have time to myself, to read the paper while having a coffee. And the companionship and joy and love I get from my grown up children make all the hard times when bringing them up 100% worth it.

  114. I'm reading this book now. I've loved reading all the comments to this post. I came late to motherhood. I'm almost 40 and the thing I think over and over again is "no one gets it all" . loved the comment about the mum who puts her dirty plates in the cupboard when visitors arrive unexpectedly. I always use the fridge.


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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