This news episode is mostly about STRAYA DAY! #GETITINDAYA
Please watch to the end .. the other day I was at my friend Naomi's house eating cake and suddenly her daughter Aimee appeared and busted out "Don't Rain On My Parade" JUST FOR ME and I got goosebumps and cried. We had Funny Girl on laser disc when I was a kid and I watched it so, so many times.
Aimee debuts at the end of the video - so you can say you knew her before she became famous. Isn't she incredible!
Oh and PS I hope I don't offend anyone. Or do I? Maybe some people need to be offended?
I had the utter privilege of spending Christmas with a family who have lost one of their people to suicide. My friend Megan invited me and my two boys over to her parents house in Brisbane and even though I felt like a TOTAL ring-in, they all opened their hearts and coffee machine and presents and presence with me. I felt so at home, so grateful, and a really, really strong sense of kinship. I am completely in love with Megan and all of her family, especially her parents. Her dad Geoff - just wow. Much more on him later but one of the first things I ever said to him was, "Hey I've never had a stepdad called Geoff before!" He is a Professor - so smart, so kind, so obliging, SO BEAUTIFUL. And Megans mum. We had a big chat, on the couch, about a lot of big things straight up.
You know when you find people and you can just cut straight through the bullshit? That. Megan contacted me almost three years ago after her beautiful, strong, naughty, gorgeous brother Simon died. She googled "suicide" "death" "grief" and other certain dark keywords and BAM! Up came my blog! She told me she read it for hours and hours, that awful night when she found out. I'll never forget reading her first email to me - it was about 10.30pm and I was having a really bad day (what a surprise!) and I keeled over and cried, I felt so much pain for this woman and the hell her family were going through right then. My bad day slipped away. They were having the worst day of their lives.
We always have bad days - as well as good - but some days, we call them the worst days of our lives. I've had many. I could probably stage my own Bad Day Olympics and win a lot of medals in a lot of the events. So Megan and I kept in contact and then, well .... my brother took himself away too. And Megan told me later her heart broke into tiny, teeny pieces for me. And she emailed me so many times and often I didn't respond because it was so hard to just get out of bed and stay upright for my boys. BUT SHE KEPT EMAILING. And then, we met in the flesh at Problogger and the very first time we met? I was CRYING because the guy at the front desk at the hotel reception was being mean to me and I was surrounded by bloggers and I was so overwhelmed and I asked Megan to come up to my hotel room and I was just LOSING IT crying and I do not do that in front of people, I just do not.
But I did with her. And I didn't care about the whole conference I just text and talked and talked with her. And I went through every email she ever sent me and replied back to them all, one night at the conference and she called me crazy and I said, of course I am! And thanked her for continuing to email me, even when it was too hard for me to reply.
Christmas day ... coffees lovingly made by my new stepdad Geoff. Megan has a pink strip in her hair. She's head librarian at an exclusive girls school. She's all colours of awesome and contradictions and humanness and pain.
We send video messages to each other almost every day. Sometimes funny. Sometimes sad. Sometimes I've CRIED in them. We both are not into making new friends - at all. It's hilarious. We went shopping one day and there was ten minutes left of this pop-up shop sale in this amazing Moroccan place that was owned by a brother and sister. As soon as we found this out, Megan and I just both looked at them and sighed.
"Ohhhh, that's so nice. Both of our brothers are dead. Suicide."
(I'm pretty sure I said that.) But Megan piped in with "It's just so nice to see - a brother and sister working together." And the people behind the counter were shocked, a little horrified, and stumbled their words out and I apologised and as we walked out of the shop we just started laughing SO HARD.
"WE ARE SUCH WEIRDOS."
Because who tells people that, right? You're supposed to make sure your mask doesn't slip, out there in society. Megan and I have some of the most dark, awful, beautiful, hopeful, mad conversations.
She's going to kill me for posting this but I just love it so much. She was in the middle of sending me a video message but her beautiful Pud wanted her mango cut IMMEDIATELY so Megan had to stop talking about heavy stuff and held the mango to her temple for a while until she said goodbye.
Anyway this post isn't about all of that - well it kind of is. This post is about the brand new baby I got to hold on Christmas day - my biggest gift. All you need to know about the baby is that he's a boy. And that he belongs in the very close-knit circle of Megans family. He was just seven days old, and brand new in the world. And I got to hold him close and tight and pretend he was baby Jesus. For a few seconds I walked into the other room and closed my eyes and pretended he was my baby brother Cam but you know what? He wasn't. He is his own person, all little and beautiful and WISE. I asked his beautiful mum if I could Instagram him and she said "You want to what?"
And I said - "Oh I just want to circumcise him." And we laughed until I said - Instagram - I just want to take a photo and upload it to my Instagram account because he is SO BEAUTIFUL. And she said sure.
Here's the picture I Instagrammed:
I MEAN SERIOUSLY
I showed his mum and she was all, WOW! How did you get such a beautiful photo? And I laughed and said oh I've been taking selfies probably since the eighties. Since way before the word selfie even existed. I snap and snap and snap until I get that perfect one - and showed her my phone photo roll. Twenty-two photos it had taken, to get that perfect shot. And then I zoomed in, filtered it all pretty like and BAM.
Edenland = Mother Mary.
So here's some take-outs of the baby photo shoot. He holds a LOT of secrets, this gorgeous wee bairn. Told me all of them via osmosis. So I told him a few back.
"Who the hell are you, lady?"
"I'm a friend of your mums. It's nice to meet you. Welcome to earth."
"Yeah well .... mums tummy was much more chill than this place."
"Hey it's cool - you got born into a decent family in a privileged country. You're lucky. Life is hard, though. You gotta keep your cool."
"Life? Is that what it's called? What's the meaning of it? Like, why am I even here?"
"Ahhh, see straight away you've hit on THE very question that none of us know. We just have to live it, help others, endure the hard stuff, and find pockets of joy when we can."
"Ok cool so .... you got any milk in there?"
"Oh god no. I ran out of milk feeding my own babies and had to start them on formula when they were tiny. I failed at breastfeeding. But I always, always strive to be a good mum. I only just met your mum today but she seems like she's a really, really good one. You got lucky, dude. Not everyone gets born into such love."
"You seem like a pretty cool chick. I sense you've been through some stuff, in this "life" business. Is this how you do a peace sign? And then I turn it around the other way for the rude sign?"
"It is. I'm proud of you already. Now - give your mumma lots of sleep. Grow big and tall and strong like one of those huge trees your uncle used to climb. I think you might have met him before you arrived on earth. He would have dug you, like he loves his own kids forever. Sometimes people make choices we can't understand and sometimes life is full of much pain. You stay strong, little buddy. Make sure you cry when you need to - boys need to cry just as much as girls. We're all human. It's ok. I promise you, whatever happens in your life, everything is going to be ok."
"Ok strange lady well, glad we had this chat. You take care of yourself too. You do know I have all of the secrets of the universe inside of me right now but by the time I can articulate them I'll forget but they'll always be in there. The last place us humans look for the answers to things is inside ourselves. Can I have my mum now? You're wearing a skull necklace and you have tattoos. It's freaking me out a little."
"Ok sure little guyo just remember - life is too important to be taken seriously. Laugh often. Laugh loud. Let it all go."
So the next few weeks are a bit rough for Megans family (understatement) with certain painful, sorrow-filled dates. The lead-up is always the worst and I'm thinking of them heaps .... maybe you can keep them all in your thoughts. I'm so grateful to have met them - we've been burnt by the same fire and they're a little bit ahead of me on the grief path but it's a path that that never ends. Because love never ends. Never ever. Ever.
At 5am this morning I sat up in bed to take my hoodie off and WHACKED my head on the top of Roccos bunk so hard it woke me up good and proper. He's sick and a bit clingy and wanted me to have a "sleepover" in his room.
So I padded out to the kitchen and skipped the tea, straight for the coffee. In one of my favourite mugs - I call it my recovery mug. I sat there with warm socks on covered with the blanket Megans nanna specially crocheted just for me because it's freezing - summer seems to have gone flaccid.
And I thought about that mug.
About fifteen years ago I was in the most DUD rehab in Sydney where they wouldn't even let us out for recovery meetings, and took us on visits INSIDE PUBS to get used to our triggers. I'd been to good rehabs before so I knew it was bad but I did the stupid 28 days just to show my perseverance. The group therapy was SO BAD. A joke. It was sterile in there, like a hospital. And in the kitchen, every mug was beige - except this mug, this bright yellow mug with flowers. So I took it into my room and used it every day. It was the only bright thing in the stupid joint.
I remember the people in there - the guy who was obviously high EVERY DAY and scratched emo poetry on the outside table with his knife. The dude who was a fireworks expert and was in trouble with the law for trying to blow up his ex. And a woman with blonde hair whose name I won't say but she was in so much pain because the court had ordered her to go to rehab because of a custody battle with her VERY angry husband over their son. She loved her son, cried about him all the time. She was really gentle, softly-spoken woman who looked older than she was and she just couldn't stood drinking and her husband was threatening to take her son away from her, back to Germany.
She would sit in the chair every day and silently weep, and weep. And the rehab was so dumb it wasn't doing her any good at all so I took it upon myself to counsel her, talk with her about her options - safe houses, halfways houses, DIFFERENT rehabs, drug and alcohol therapy, the immense value of meetings. Jeez I tried to help her.
"I just cannot stop drinking, Eden." In her thick accent.
And on the last day, the final day thank GOD my time was up and I proved something to myself by staying ... I was saying goodbye to my loveable gang of misfits and my beautiful blonde friend pressed something into my hands wrapped in newspaper.
"Hide it. Don't open it until you drive away."
I hugged her and drove away. Opened it and there was the cup, my yellow cup with flowers on it. I've had it all this time, fifteen years with a houseful of dysfunction and children and it has not ONE chip on it. It's so, so precious to me that I treat it like any other cup as if it's not different. Sometimes if you treat things all special they break anyway.
So. I thought about her today, wondered what became of her and if she ever found sobriety. It's a real hard path. Her son would be a man now. I wonder if she's even still alive. I hope so. Recovery is hard and when you get it you gotta treat it with the care and the respect it demands because if people like me don't have recovery? We don't have anything.
I haven't stayed sober since I was given that cup - but since my brother died I have not had one drop of alcohol or any drug. To use now would be deadly. I can't express how hard it's been, to feel such feelings and have no magic numbing potions. I can't drink like everybody else. And the people who pressure or question me the most about the "strangeness" of me not drinking are usually people who have drinking issues themselves. Somebody stood at the dancefloor watching Dave and I do our bridal waltz at our wedding and shook her head. "So she can never drink again."
Like it was the saddest, most awful news imaginable. Most people don't understand that the freedom and the riches that recovery gives to people like me. It's such a gift, if you work at it ... you can live your life beyond your wildest dreams like Willy Wonka says. I have relapsed a few times after ten years clean time up and it has not been pretty - no damage done to my boys or family, and very quick stupid one-nighters, but they have been disgusting and useless and left me feeling so incredibly beyond awful DON'T DO IT. I have done it for you. The party is over. It doesn't work anymore. You get a headful of recovery and a bodyful of poison? Fucks you up.
It's hard to come back. The other night I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic like I usually do and for some reason I had my car keys on my bedside table - I've gone old-school like the good old days and put my recovery keyring on it showing my time up. AND THE KEYTAG WAS GLOW-IN-THE-DARK. And I was panicking but suddenly realised the metaphor, like Obi Wan Kenobi was there.
"Use the keytag, Eden. It will light your way."
And I laughed out loud, in the middle of the night, chasing the bad away.
So after my coffee this morning I tiptoed into Roccos bedroom and tried to go back to sleep but Mr Hawk heard me, up like a rocket. We sat there together and I showed him the pilot episode of Mork and Mindy and his laugh tinkled around the room at Morks crazy antics. And while it was sad, watching Robin Williams perform so many years ago without knowing that one day he would end his life, there was joy there too. Because he is FUNNY.
I have never been so proud of my recovery as I am these days, these dark horrible days. But the clouds are lifting and I have things to do and see and a life to be lived and maybe, well, I think I'm going to be ok after all.
For a long time, people have been telling me to write a memoir.
"You NEED to write a memoir Eden!" "Why haven't you written a memoir yet?!"
Because I wasn't ready. I'd start, write a few bits and pieces here and there and I have files of chunks of jumbled words. I never knew where to start. I never knew I could write the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me god.
But I can. I'm ready now. The death of somebody you love so exquisitely blows you open in so many ways it's hard to explain it unless you've been through it. And facing that death - full-on, in the face, and being brought to my knees time and time again from the pain and the whys and the love and the desolation. Some people don't work through their grief. Some people don't work through much, in their lives. They just pay their bills and die.
Out with the old, in with the new. I'm going to tell the world everything that happened - because if I'd written a memoir a few years ago it would have been diluted.
My memoir will be shocking and full-on. Because that's the life I have lived. We've all got one story, our own story. So it's all coming out this year. All of it. And people may judge and talk and whisper but the only people whose opinion I value is my boys. I don't care what the world thinks of me anymore. I'm free.
Really free. The death of my brother has set me free. How does that happen? Life is a trip. I'm not off dulling my pain or not facing up to my stuff. Maybe you were right, Cam. Maybe I was the strongest one after all.
2015 - the year of the Edenland memoir. I'm not fucking around here I'm slamming this shit out like water from a tap it'll be that easy and quick.
Thank you my brother, for the very painful, very vital lessons you are teaching me. My life began when you were born. My life has not stopped because you are dead. I hope you get to feel my feelings - I hope you get to feel all my emotions and what it feels like to live life DEEPLY.
Step into this with me my Cam, my bro. I need you. I really, really need you.