Monday 14 February 2022

An ACTUALLY life changing diagnosis...

Suddenly, and simply... I get it.

You know, I've spent the past 30 or so years feeling guilty? Guilty that I don't seem to care about the right things, can't complete simple tasks and forget to do regular things, like respond to your texts in a timely fashion...or show up when we've made plans. For every time I've disappointed you, I've let myself down more than I care to report. Why would I do that? Why do I keep doing that? Why can't I get my shit together for long enough to function like an adult for more than a few hours in a row? Why can't I be like you? 

I'm pretty sure we all feel like this from time to time, look around the room and feel like the least experienced and successful one here. To be clear, I am not referring to my career. I'm talking the ability to just function as a human. Just the basics.

When I first became aware that adults are diagnosed with ADHD, I was watching The Block with my family, and as Ronnie outlined his recent experience with his diagnosis of ADHD and subsequent treatment, and the symptoms he experienced, I laughed and said to Greg... maybe that's what's wrong with me. And then we both laughed, because i couldn't be further from Ronnie's endless ball of hardworking energy. There is no way in hell I'd have a comparable stamina or physical endurance to get through the Block, let alone a weekend of housecleaning. 

But, the thought kept bugging me. I began to research adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and I was incredulous that the symptoms I kept reading about didn't seem so out there or unusual. In fact, they were just normal everyday life things, which made me think - holy moly, we've all got ADHD! 

So eventually I raised it with my GP, who referred me to a Psychiatrist. Who undertook an assessment with me and diagnosed me with adult ADHD on the spot. ME! ADHD! Wait what!? 

As we went through the questions in the assessment, I was again struck with how frequent these diagnosis must be, considered how low the bar seemed to be to indicate your brain functions differently and you are experiencing symptoms that are negatively impacting your life. But turns out everyone doesn't relate...everyone doesn't exist in the same confused, busy, frustrated, creative, unfilled and motivated state all the time. Really? Everyone doesn't feel like this endlessly???

Before you turn your thoughts to kids bouncing off the walls, hear my experience. Hear how this impacts on my experience of life, on a daily basis. 

My distraction levels are high. My brain is constantly feeding me amazing ideas, all of which exhaust me at the thought of putting any of them into action... if I could remember any of them. I do remember some, they are the ones I really lock into...they are the trends and obsessions you'll see come out in my blogs, social media comments, and conversations in life. Sourdough crazes, blogging phases, mosaic pot decorating, cake decorating, book writing, etc, etc etc.

My distraction makes it seamless for me to commence a thousand tasks almost simultaneously, and complete none of them...ever. I frustrate myself and others by seemingly acting without care, consideration or intelligence. Like when I put a load of washing on and leave it to go mouldy in the machine. Sometimes, it's because I forgot about it. Sometimes, I know it's there, but getting that job done is genuinely difficult for me to complete. So I distract myself on purpose by watching the cuckatoos for an hour so I don't have to do that task, and I think that's a perfectly reasonable thing to do... all the while hating on myself for not walking to the laundry, opening that washing machine door, and pulling out the clothes to dry. I have waited weeks for online orders I didn't realise I didn't complete. I can't remember the things i need to, and conversely remember thousands of things for short bursts of time. Never the things I need to. 

My impulsivity leads me to make decisions that at times don't align with my goals. Like food. Each day, i rise knowing exactly what foods I need to eat to lose weight, a genuine goal I have had for the past 20 years. Suddenly, I'm driving 25mins to Sutton for a croissant, and since I'm there, best I grab an apple crumble cheesecake slice too please.

My hyperactivity drives incredible ideas, all the time. Which actually is really tiring. If i'm awake, my brain is pinging thoughts all over the shop, mostly unrelated to each other, or out of sequential order. I want things done yesterday and want to achieve a lot, but don't know where to start. Or finish. Or how to formulate the required process steps to achieve a purpose. I push for grand results, but can't deliver small, detailed outcomes. I feel endlessly restless... and frustrated. So frustrated. 

You might be reading this, and relating. We all go through moments like this, right? Right! But this is my reality every minute, of every hour, of everyday, of every get it. 

Some of the conversations I've had with my disbelieving loved ones has been centred around my success in life. I have a great career in an industry I love. How the hell did i achieve that if I am ADHD? How is it that sometimes I can function, and others I cannot? Don't know. I don't understand it all yet, and it's going to be big to unpack. But I will tell you this - as an intelligent human, I've developed a thousand methods to divert your attention from my failings, mask my symptoms, and manage my challenges as best I can. It's what we do to adapt. 

But I also need to give credit to my man, my team at work, my family and friends who forgive regularly, and a range of support measures I have implemented over the years. For example, had he been more concerned about the cleanliness of our house, or less amused by and tolerant of my hardcore yet temporary passions for many, MANY projects (mosiac pot, I'm looking at you), or how many times I've removed the lint from the drier only to leave it on the bench in the laundry...we may not still be here, laughing with each other today. It's been a joint unconscious experience for all of us, and I've been really lucky to have the love and support of these quirks to help me through.

So since my diagnosis, I've learnt a couple of important things. ADHD isn't just about also comes with creative and personality superpowers that I treasure in myself, such as enthusiastic engagement, swift and creative problem solving, and passionate expression. Those are such important aspects of me, my favourite parts. 

It's not a disability. In fact, there isn't anything wrong with me at all. My brain developed in a certain way, and as a result I am constantly searching for the next hit of joy. I find mundane tasks that don't bring me joy absolutely unacceptable. So unacceptable that I subconsciously or consciously disregard them. I also sometimes miss the parts of life that do bring me joy because my ability to plan, prioritise and achieve goals isn't well developed. It's not an excuse to not do the boring, tough bits. But it explains why those bits are so bloody hard for me.

In fact, it just explains so much of my life and the reasons why I do what i do. 

It explains why I don't want my mum to ask me if she can come and stay with us in two weeks time. That's a mental load of planning I can't carry. You are always welcome. Remind me the night before that you're coming so I can get enough food out of the freezer for dinner. We can make your bed when you show up. 

It explains why I put my credit card in my pocket three weeks ago and then lost it. Greg found it under the seat of my car tonight. I have no idea how or why it got there. 

It explains why a member of my team asks me to stick around after an online meeting, and two minutes later, I promptly hung up when everyone else does, and she had to dial me again.

It explains why I walk into a room several times and day and think, shit, why did I come here?

It explains why I work on the least important thing with absolutely uninterrupted focus, and can't pick up the phone to make one call to answer an important question.

It explains why our house often looks very 'lived in'. 

It explains why I can blog for hours with clear focus, but can't get the meat out of the freezer. 

It explains why I am overweight despite all my efforts to lose weight since I gained it. 

It explains why I feel so frustrated at myself all the time.

It explains why I find it too tedious to edit my blogs for grammar and spellos. 

It explains why some people think I'm lazy.

It explains why I feel guilty endlessly. 

It explains why I do what I do. 

It explains why I write letters and never send them.

It explains how I think. 

It explains how I create.

It explains how I function. 

It explains me. 

And it's an insight I'm incredibly grateful to have in my life. 

Ciao for now, 

LG - Lauren's Got (ADHD!)

Friday 4 February 2022

My choices, always my choices ... Part 3

Does it hurt...?  Yes it fucking hurts. 

I woke up to a silent flood of tears that started before I was even aware I was present in the moment. I nodded in groggy agreement with the nurse as she asked 'did it hurt?'. Oh yes, it hurt more than I thought it would. Oh my god. I was in the most amount of pain I think I'd ever experienced. It didn't just hurt, it was agony that ripped a cavern of emptiness from my uterus to my heart. Empty uterus. Empty hearted. The opposite feeling of having a full heart. My heart was void of... everything. Like my uterus now was. Void.

Before they let you proceed to a pregnancy termination (same thing, different terminology), there are some steps you need to take. Firstly, you need to make an appointment. You need to ring them and ask if you could please schedule in some time to lock in a permanent solution to your situation. I couldn't. I asked my mum if she could please take care of logistics. I just couldn't find the strength to follow through on my decision that had made in my heart the day I left his house by booking that appointment. 

What a dooms day it was that was looming over me. Tick tock, tick tock, hurry up - 1st trimester doesn't last forever. 28th March 2002... my friend's birthday. Great. Lock it in. Cry me more rivers. 

Once the appointment was made, I shot him a courtesy text to let him know the situation was being taken care of... on the 28th March 2002. He asked me if I would like him to take me to the appointment, and if I wanted him to pay for it. No. You've done enough here (unfair, i know). But to be clear, he wasn't safe for me. I didn't and couldn't be vulnerable in front of him and I needed to be free to feel my feelings without being self-conscious or concerned about what he might think of me. I wish I had let him see it all. I'm not sure if it might have helped me, but it may have helped him understand me later. He had a right to be there, and I should have let him support in any way he was able to, I had a right to that. We got into this together. We should have clawed our way out together too. 

Instead, I asked my mum to come. A tall ask for any parent going through what must have felt like a hard day in parenting, by any stretch. Mum, can you please take me? Of course, she did. She sat by me as I filled in the paperwork, and sat by me as I waited anxiously for the psychological appointment that is mandated to come first. She waited whilst I confirmed that this was my decision, no one was making it for me, and I was not being pressured to take this step. And then she waited with her heart on her sleeve while they took me into the procedure area, gowned me up and got me to put my tracksuit pants, t-shirt, jumper and shoes into a basket. Lie here, are you comfortable? Do you understand what we will do today? Do you agree? 

Yes. Yes. Yes. 

And then you sleep. 

Then you wake. U2 crooning softly over the speakers 'I can't live, with or without you', followed by the other worldly sound of someone crying. Breathless sobs. I opened my eyes and looked over at mum who was holding my hand, comforting me. Oh! It was like in a book. I didn't realised this actually happened. All of this time I thought it was to add drama, but here i was experiencing it for myself, firsthand. I had realised, with a startle, that the sobs were mine. 

I was vaguely aware, as I spaced in and out, that the nurse was consulting my mum and trying to rouse me to my hell, when I had only just been able to close my eyes and fall asleep again, to dreamland, to a world in which I hadn't take that permanent step. To a world where I wasn't pregnant either. I was Lauren prior to the end of January. Footloose and fancy free... and neither pregnancy nor experiencing the keen loss of something I loved but never wanted. 

"Lauren, are you in pain? Is that why you are crying." 

"Can you turn off the radio please?" was my answer. She looked alarmed. I cried harder. I honestly was lost. I'm sure for some it didn't hurt at all, for some, all that was felt was relief. But for me, the pain I woke with that day, knowing I did the thing I knew I wanted to do came with so much aching that it took me by surprise. I was grieving the baby I couldn't accept into my world, and my choices. I was grieving my innocence, and the first genuine and very real heart break I would experience. And it pounded me relentlessly, with the tearing in my uterus a justified reminder of the permanence of my decision.

"Here, take this". Medication that would never quite hit the spot. I had the outcome I needed...but there was zero satisfaction in it. I didn't wake up with relief. I woke up feeling worse than I had felt when I went to sleep.

You know you are really unwell when your mum gives up her bed so you can sleep in the quietest room, and have some privacy in her ensuite when you need it. When we came home, Mum put me straight into her bed. It was the sweetest thing, really. I'm still touched by it now. Thanks Mum. Sometimes it's the little things. My brother and sister came and checked on me between drowsy sleeps, sitting on the end of their concern and my mums bed, hoping to bridge the gap that now existed between us. Them, young and innocent. Me, a grieving 'almost mother', more experienced than the lot of us now at 'big life things'. Not a trophy I wanted.

Flowers arrived from beautiful friends, and a text or two came from him, checking I'd made it through okay. Maybe it was to confirm I had gone through with it at all. Either way, I let him know it was done. We were done. That was that.

The depth of my despair was consuming, suffocating, enduring. I don't remember how long I zombied around the house for, days, weeks, months. But it didn't matter. There was no where else more important to be than feeling these feelings and trying to make sense of how I could possibly recover, move forward, and on with the life that was so important I needed to persevere it by not becoming a mother then.

Eventually, it was my sister who dragged me out of the house. It reminded me that people still loved me and welcomed me and appreciated my presence in their life, and her friends just embraced me and made me feel like it was all going to be okay. That eventually life would exist beyond this moment, beyond this pain, beyond this decision. 

And it did. Eventually. But it took a really long time. And tears, and hard work, and difficult conversations, and shame... all the shame.

I remember the conversations with so many people I've had over the years, sharing this story and trying to outline the extent of pain I went through at the time. So often, I felt unworthy. So often, selfish. More often, ashamed. Telling people this story ladened with layers of all of that for them to wade through, trying to justify my choices, my feelings. 

And now, after years of holding this story close to my heart and sharing it with a previous few, I've come to find that I want it off my chest. I want it gone from my secrets cupboard. I want to talk about it and I want to declare it as a part of my amazing life. A hard, grief stricken and impossible part. But a part, nonetheless. 

And more than that, I want to respect myself and my choices. Despite the degree of difficulty at the time, and for years to come, I own this as the only choice that was right for me at the time. I consider this choice pivotal in where I ended up. And I love me and I love my life. My life is worthy of celebrating and I give a nod to all of my journey, including this. 

Even your devastation breathes depth into your journey.

Ciao for now, 

LG - Life's Going (to be okay)

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Bold yes, brave…maybe not.

Is it brave when there's nothing to lose...

There was a time where my story of first pregnancy hung really heavily over me, draping me with its sticky shame, seeking to define me with its secrecy, grief and self-centred choices. I felt it's claws puncturing me, every moment of every day.

After it happened, I was a little (a lot) less the effervescent person I had been before, and felt a whole bunch 'less' of a person in general. I felt less than the people I hung out with. Less than the amazing people they were. They didn't have this baggage hanging over them, in them, under their skin, bruising their insides. They were amazing people. I thought I was less worthy. Of love, of attention, of kindness, didn't deserve any of it. 

I was still stuck in self-punishing mode when I met Greg. He wasn't my savour, not my knight in shining armour, didn't rescue me from myself and didn't seek to fix me. I didn’t need any of that. He started in my life simply as a great friend. He was a good egg. He was shy and sensible.

As we began spending more time together and one day I realised I liked him (incorrect, actually one day, just like that, I realised I was looking at my future husband). Over time, we grew closer, but my still fairly recent history had me hesitant to get too close, hesitant to believe I could be happy, and hesitant to be presenting Greg with ‘damaged goods’. My shame over my pregnancy termination held tight to my heart and failed to release. I wanted to move on, live my life, and go forth and be an adult with freedom, yet the shame lingered. 

So I bit the bullet. One night, on my bed, after weeks of anticipation and the almost eventual start of our relationship, we lay looking at each other and I told him the story i'm writing you now. I laid it out for him like an open wound, cutting through his basic understanding of my life with a machete, slicing out any misconceived expectations of winning the girl next door. I stepped him through what had occurred, how it splintered my heart, and how it continued to weigh me down even then, more than a year later.

Because it was important to me that he understood who I was and what I had been through before we make any decisions about kicking off a relationship. I wanted to be open and vulnerable to him. 

It took a while for me to say all the things. I cried and he listened. And eventually when I had said all the things I needed to offload, I stopped talking. And he took a moment. He took a fair few moments. During those moments, I wondered if this would be the end of us before we had even began, I wondered what abhorrent things he was thinking about me, and I wondered if I had been stupid to declare it, rather than packing it away forever. After what appeared to take forever, of him staring up at the ceiling, he looked at me and simply said...

"I'm sorry you went through all of that… but I’m just not sure if any of that impacts on us being together. It doesn’t change how I feel.”

And with that, we moved forward....with transparency, acceptance, understanding and mutual respect. At that stage, I felt that I needed to be brave to tell him...but at the same time, still it was a safe place. 

I'm telling you this because I think it's important for me to point out, whilst the telling of my story here is bold, it's emotional, it's being open and transparent...I don't think it's actually brave. My loved ones already know this story, and those who didn’t know it before now, they love me enough.  

Piece by piece, over the years, decades now, I’ve worked to recover me. Being real. Owning who I am. Appreciating it and standing tall in it. And sharing it as I wish to. 

I know for some, sharing this degree of personal and intimate details online with the world might terrifying, shocking or embarrassing. In fact, I’d suggest that Greg sits on that side of the fence. Often shocked and perhaps appalled by the level of detail I reveal to the world about myself, my life, my thoughts and feelings. But as I've worked through all of this and my life in general, I've come to realise that the more I share, the less I need to hold so close. And thankfully, he understands and appreciated that it’s my story and I get to tell it when I want, to who I want, and in whatever way I want to. 

More and more, I seek to be released from the chains of secrecy. I don't want to carry the weight of this on my shoulders anymore, and being able to tell my story is cleansing, freeing and liberating in itself. 

But it’s important for me to be clear… There is no cost here for me. I am not at risk of losing anything, and I am not concerned for my safety, your judgement, or social scathing. 

I am loved. I am worthy. I am a kind, generous, giving and trustworthy person. I love myself. I appreciate the full extent of my journey, because it's brought me to the day we breathe today, and for that and all of the experiences that eventuated, I am grateful. Even the hard ones. 

And because I feel confident in myself and know the acceptance of my loved ones, there is nothing here at risk for me. No parents will disown me, no husband will mistreat me, no friends will judge me, and no family will be ashamed of me. There is no real risk here. Zero really. 

In fact, as I expected, and appreciate so much, I have been absolutely love-bombed as a result of this story. I have had an overwhelming response to this story, with friends reaching out to offer support and love now, and being reminded of how it felt back then for them too. I have been absolutely wrapped in acceptance, comfort, and unconditional support. Because that's my village. That's you! And I appreciate and am incredibly grateful to be in such a position. 

Call it what you will, but don't appreciate my 'courage' too much.  I tell it because I want to own it and I want to tell it to you. I am even so privilege as to be able to choose when, how and how much I want to share. It's simply me, stepping out into the light. Because I want to say it. Speaking freely, as I choose to, finally. Think of me as confident, well supported, free and healing…and maybe still a little broken. But when you think of bravery, don't think of me. 

Think of the women who go through a lot worse than I have and speak in the absence of unwavering support and love. Think of the women who speak knowing their voice may result in persecution, discrimination and harm. Think of the mere fact that I can share with you without any of those fears, and feel disarmed by how unbalanced the world is. Consider for a moment how differently we judge women, compared how we encourage men to 'sow their seed'. 

I’m not brave. I tell this story from a platform of incredible privilege and safety.

Not everyone has that freedom... 

Ciao for now, 
LG - Lauren Granger

Saturday 29 January 2022

My choices, always my choices... Part 2

"We need to talk. Can I come around?" 

I felt ill. All the time. Common sense would suggest it was the first trimester making me feel like hurling every morning, but I tended to think it was my sense of dread, of doom impending, and the stress of the decision that was yet to be made. It was late in the trimester, and I was running out of time to take control. Waiting too long would be an eventual child in my arms, with inaction not necessarily meaning I wanted it. I was in limbo land. And I was alone. 

Yet not at all. My mum and sister were amazing, sitting with me, crying with me, listening to me talk through all my options, and sitting nearby whilst my distress would have me raging.

I just remember the endless moments where I would be shocked into remembering 'the situation'. Each time, slapped by the state of my body, betraying me by welcoming a foreign host without my permission. The injustice, always the injustice, terrorised me. How I had been lumped with a situation I had to deal with in MY BODY, whilst he was happily ignorant to any of this going on. 

Oh god, I needed to tell him. Vomit again. 

Without much fuss, I arranged to come to his place again, and this time I sat on his bed. Not in his bed, but on it. Just sat that next to him in the most uncomfortable and awkward silence for a time that might have been comical in any other situation. We weren't really big talkers, and we weren't in a relationship. So at that moment, if I was not there for a hook up, it was pretty confusing at to why I had needed to swing by. 

Eventually i broke the silence with words I'm sure no 19yr old would like to head from a recent sexual partner. "I'm pregnant". 

He looked at me, and held it together relatively well, considering the hot mess I was in when I found out several weeks ago. I suppose it's not relative. It wasn't his body. Not really his choice. Yet, it was his child. Do we call it a child at this point? It was all quite acceptable until he smacked with his offensive question of "'s mine?". OH MY EFFING GOD! YES! 

I clearly must have pulled off the appearance of being totally cool and liberated if he thought I'd be having sex here there and everywhere. But at that moment, when I've just confessed that he put a baby in me, and now I'm stuck in a 'situation', the absolute last thing I need to hear is 'Is it mine!?" 

I can only imagine the absolute venom I shot him. Asshole. (But I do see now it's a fair and maybe complimentary, if not stupid and insensitive question). 

What I wanted in that moment was compassion. Partnership (not for life, but together In that moment) Support. Comfort. Questions. Care. Buy in. Understanding. Help! We weren’t in a relationship, but we had been friends and on again/off again make out buddies for the last several years. We weren’t strangers at all. So it wasn’t altogether strange for me to expect care at the very least.  

Instead, I sat there for another eternity whilst we both just stared at the wall, together in this mess, yet I was more alone than ever. Moments stretched into long minutes. Of nothing. No comfort. No concern. No 'how are you feeling?'. Just minutes of empty inadequacies that gave my pain all the ammunition to start directing my hurt towards the ultimate scape goat. Him. 

I had had weeks to begin to accept the status quo. It was possibly unfair of me to expect anything of him at all, he too was in shock. But i expected at least a little more than what I got. 

Eventually I got sick of tolerating my unmet expectations, so I gathered my broken and newly maternal body and stood up. As I walked out of his room, I turned around and paused, barely holding up the doorway with my teetering resolve and said "what would you do? If you were me? What do you want me to do?" 

And I will never forget the next moment for as long as I lived. It is chiseled into my heart as one of the hardest things I've heard. But it felt as though it was easy for him to say.

"I don't want you to have it." 

I blinked.Selfish dick! Just like that, with no more than 30mins had he locked into a side of the fence When I, after weeks of agonising, was still painfully straddling. The pain in my heart loved its new target. I hated him so much in that moment. I put all of my heart ache and trauma and injustice and I sent all of my rage towards him. He had not even considered this for two seconds (not true, it had been many awkward and very quite minutes) and here he was making statements like that. Absolutely ass. 

There was no recovery for us. Not when he reached out to ask if I'd made a decision and added that he would be involved as a parent if I chose to keep it. Not when he offered to pay for the procedure. Not even when he asked me if I wanted him to come. I was so full of resentment for his unaffected ability to just not even be present in this that I pushed him further away. 

A regret to this day actually. I did him and me a massive disservice. One of my life’s big regrets. Even Still. I had perpetuated the exact scenario I was raging about. He WAS able to walk away easily and be almost unaffected by it all…because I just let him. I didn't give him access to me so he could see the damage we had created. I didn't let him an opportunity to even take a breath of my consuming grief. I stonewalled him at every step. In fact, I gave him PERMISSION to just step out of it, like he wasn't welcome in this shit of a situation we both created. And as a result of MY choices there, we had really different experiences of what was for me one of the hardest and most heart wrenching times in my life. 

Harshly, I denied him every opportunity to be supportive once he tried. And as a result, we still have really different experiences when we see each other. Massive difference.

I was so broken in his bedroom that night. And it wasn't until 18 years after this moment that I could see that those 7 words sealed the deal for me, and gave me the safety net to make a choice i didn't want to make, and send so much of the blame his way. His (fair and reasonable) lack of enthusiasm for a child he didn't plan, or want, was all I needed to blame him. He was my ultimate scapegoat. 

Because, in absolute honesty, I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to live with myself if I chose an abortion. But also in truth, and here it is folks, an abortion is what I wanted… what I needed. I didn't want to be a single mother. I didn't want to face that reality of parenting alone. I wanted to partner, and live, and decide when to try for a family, not have this life forced upon me. That truth was explosive, and self-centred, and everything it needed to be, and I couldn't acknowledge that for a really long time. 

Sometimes, not often, I feel for him. I showed up, I wanted him, I took him, and then I came back pregnant. He didn't ask for that either. I never asked him how he was, never checked in on him. Didn’t have the strength to. He has tried to check in on me over the years, and I've shared some of my story with him over time, and he understands that our experiences are vastly different. It took me so much longer to arrive at an acceptance that we'd made the best choice at the time, and he, annoyingly and sadly, seemed to know that in an instant. 

That’s the difference, right? Between men and women. He knew his direction and desires for life, unapologetically. He didn’t know there was another way to be. Because he had, his whole life, been told by society that he was important, the most important.   

And I felt the weight of stress, expectations, and social pressure because whilst I knew my direction and desires, unlike him I didn’t feel comfortable to claim them for myself and put myself first, because innately I didn’t think I deserved them. Because I had been told, my whole life, that I was made to nurture children and be selfless and sacrifice so much for the greater good. My needs weren’t on the table at all.   

I should have been central to my decision making all along. Do I want this? Is this is alignment with my life and my goals? Would I prefer it later? I felt unworthy in my own life to make decision that focused on me. He didn’t feel unworthy, and nor should he have. He had his chance to say his piece so he did. And I resented him for it. I resented the world for it. 

I am so thankful I had a progressive mother, who understood all of this and empowered me to see what I wanted in life and choose that. Who understood how difficult a decision it was for me and who supported me unconditionally either way  

Occasionally over the years, we have attended the same functions and sometimes he has made an effort to say hi. I've generally not been able to engage. Because it STILL hurts me to see him. It breaks me all over again. He’s like a painful magnet. Drawing my attention and  Every time, flooding me anew with the pain that seeks to destroy. Of a baby who wasn't wanted. Of a decision that nearly destroyed me. Of a guilt that has taken a good two decades to shake. STILL. It ruins me and saddens me, and angers me afresh. God, I hated him for so long...

But actually, it wasn't him I was hating. 

Note to reader: I check my privilege at the door here on many levels. My ability to fall pregnant. My family who accepted me and would support me in any direction I chose. A professional heath care provider who undertook the procedure safely and hygienically. My family's financial situation that allowed us to access a professional abortion. His offers of support that I denied. My husband who knew this story in full before we even started dating, who accepts my life and loves me completely and unconditionally. I know there are so many things here that worked in my favour to make this the easiest road I could have travelled and I am grateful for that.  

Ciao for now, 

LG - Life's Grim (some days)

P.S Telling this story takes the wind out of my sails. It's important to me that it is told, and important that people in similar situations understand they are not alone. But bloody hell, it's been a tough one to write. 

P.P.S I'm not done. Part 3 will follow when I am ready. It is even harder.

P.P.P.S I hope you read this one day. I hope you can empathise with me as I do with you. I hope you find understanding in my words and an apology in my heart. I’m sorry. For it all. 

Wednesday 26 January 2022

My choices, always my choices ... Part 1

Was that liberation worth it?

It was summer 2001/02. I had just graduated from year 12 and was living my best life...which looked like living at home and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with ALL that ambition and, all of those mediocre HSC scores. I should have paid more attention in school. But academia was not where I intended to focus, no sir! I was headed for the stage. Or the screen. Or WAAPA. Or somewhere. I just needed a little more time to ponder the best place to start. (Hint from future Lauren, just start somewhere...anywhere!). 

It was an advertisement in a local newspaper (a give away that this story is from the 'olden days' where people enjoyed an actual printed newspaper) that finally caught my eye. An audition for an Entertainment Team at a Club Med type resort on the south coast. Singing, dancing, entertaining guests, kids club, etc. And they would actually pay you! YES! I nervously decided I'd give it a shot and gave it my best. I'll cut this part short and let you know that I was selected as one of the team of 10 amazing young (read horny and hormonal) talents, which was incredible and had me move out of home for the first time and right into a dorm scenario with a bunch of teens/young adults who were a whole bunch wilder than I! One of whom was my best friend Ali, this is where we met! 

It was there that I started to explore the world a little more confidently, as a young woman, starting to test my confidence and understand that I could make my own rules in life. I was surrounded by other young women, who were teaching me some incredible lessons in how life could look if only I was bold and brave enough to make it happen. That I could initiate fun and games, and that I didn't really need to just sit back and wait for life to happen to me. 

It's sex. Just want to be clear...I'm talking about sex. You with me? 

So at the end of my 8 weeks working on the Entertainment Team over the summer holidays, I negotiated to stay a little while longer and accepted a contract to work until Easter time in a smaller group and I took a weekend of leave to collect a few more things from home. When some of the girls asked me if I'd be catching up with anyone special whilst back home, I shook my head, but an idea sprung to mind. 

Perhaps whilst I was at home, I could catch up (read hook up) with an on again/off again guy I had in my back pocket. He was between girlfriends and I was an adult. I had flown the coop and lived an amazing life (grand total of 8 weeks out of home) and was ready to take the bull by the horns and initiate a little lovin' on the side. So I, ever so casually, got in touch with my old mate and arranged to catch up with him when I came back to town. 

So we did. It. We did it. It is sex. We did sex. And I was SO incredibly liberated! I just went right out there and took what I wanted from the world, and why should all the boys have all the fun, and why can't girls just do that, right?! Right. It was brilliant! The liberation. The sex was good but the liberation was intoxicating. 

Don't get me wrong. It wasn't my first time, and he wasn't my first partner. But it was the first time and the only time with him. The guy. You may know him from yesterday's blog, aforementioned as 'my Trauma'. But today, we'll need to refer to him as my booty call. Because that's what it was. This was before tinder. Before dating apps. We barely had mobile phones. But we did have sex. Once. And then I went home. And then I went back to the coast. 

It wasn't an agonising wait for my period or anything of the sort. In fact, I forgot all about it and got back into work and then kind of just found myself in a prolonged stage (several weeks) of vaguely expecting my period any day now... before one day, suddenly and shockingly, I woke up and felt nauseous. Out of the blue, just like that, needed to vomit.

And just like that, I saw it for what it was. 

I quickly, frantically counted back the days, the weeks, the months since i had my last period. SHIT! I asked Ali to cover for me as I drove to the nearest town to buy a pregnancy test from the chemist. And then she anxiously waited outside the door whilst I took that test into the bathroom. I peed on that stick, and then sat there in prolonged, frozen, serious silence for a good 15 minutes or so before I came out, saying only that I needed to go home, grabbed my handbag and nothing more, and I left. I left my job. My best friend. My belongings. My life.

That was the last time I saw Ali for more than 12 months. 

I drove back up the Clyde at an unsafe speed, trying desperately to breathe through sobbing terror, unable to see clearly through my windscreen, or my eyes. I didn't drive to preserve my life, instead I drove recklessly to test the reality of my situation, willing an easier out to arrive instead of what I knew was ahead of me. But that didn't happen. I couldn't escape this moment.

I arrived home to an empty house, and I let myself in. Back into what my life looked like before I found out I was growing life in my belly. Back into a life that wasn't mine anymore, of innocence, of simplicity, of clear paths. This was what my life looked like before i liberated my sexuality that one time. Before I had sex with him that ONE TIME. 

Just breathe. 

I could not believe the injustice of this moment. That for ONCE I chose to be bold, and seek out what I wanted (it's sex, still talking about sex) in a complete casual and unattached way, THIS was the outcome. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!? 

Over the next few weeks, I was forced to work through my options. I knew my head was screaming a clear message to me and my heart was saying something entirely different. 

My head knew that i had about 3 weeks to save myself from being a young, single mother, forever yoked to a guy I had no intention to keep around through shared child arrangements. That this moment would define me and it would be life altering regardless of which way I chose. That I could handle anything that was thrown my way, including this, but that in all truth, I didn't want to. I wanted to choose the path that was all about me and what I wanted in life. 

But my heart was already, automatically, and appalling, falling in love with my child that already existed.  My heart was dreaming of baby girls, of the endless and overwhelming love i had to give. Of the miracle that is each and every life, and the possibilities that could unveil themselves over the years. Agreed, this was not what i wanted or had planned for, but wasn't this an incredible gift that should be respected and appreciated? 

All of the thoughts were valid. All of the options could have been successful. It was an impossible choice because I would either be turning to motherhood alone and earlier than anticipated and struggle through life uneducated, trying to make ends meet, OR I would be able to forge my own path in life, with the burden of knowing I had made a self-centred, selfish and perhaps murderous decision instead. 

That's right. That was my thought process at the time. The amount of times I considered the word murderer during that period of time was exhausting. And damaging. I resented the fact that I had to make the decision at all. I hated it so much, that one night of fun I had created had turned into such a life altering, absolutely defining moment for me. 

And it occurred to me that I wasn't to be the only one impacted takes two to tango (sex, it's sex). 

It was time to tell him what was going on...

NOTE: Life didn't look the same, socially, 20 years ago. Nowadays, there is so much more understanding about a woman's right to make choices that impact her body, her life and her career with her best interests at heart. 

But back then, those messages weren't loud or clear. There was no facebook stories about strong and courageous women who chose abortions because that was right for that at that time. On the flip side, there were protestors at abortion clinics, holding picket signs and yelling abuse at women already hurting themselves. It was an incredibly scary time to be in the situation. 

There is so much more to say here but I'm spent for now. Find me in the thick of it in Part 2, once I can muster the energy to write it.

Ciao for now, 
LG - Life's Going (to be okay)

When Trauma arrives, and he takes his jacket off...

When you can't shake your past, no matter how many different ways you try...

Some carry their baggage life a baby Bjorn, out the front for all to see, a figurative blocker and huggable item to be conscious of at all times. Some carry their baggage as a backpack, hidden behind them, putting pressure on their spine at all times. Some leave their baggage at home, or bury it and try and forget it altogether. I carry mine around like a snow boarding bag, it's got wheels so it drags easily around with me, and only gets heavy occasionally when my arms feel more tired than normal. Most of the time, it's comes along nicely with me, never forgotten but not weighing me down. But sometimes, just occasionally, it feels like I am trying to lift the world with jelly arms. On those days, it is too heavy for even me to carry. And I've been working out. 

On the night in question, I was ready. Ready for anything! I had a buzz of anticipation, for it had been the first time in a long time that I had been to a social event, let alone seen many of my friends, and I was R.E.A.D.Y, ready. Ready for a big night, whatever that looked like. My hair was a crazy fun mess of curls and makeup was on point, I felt a million bucks as I madly found the right outfit for the night - a casual but dressy enough jeans and a pop of bright red in my top. 

As I circled the room, catching up with long lost friends and laughing as I saw my kids slipping in and out of the crowd to roam between the food table and the kids table, I would be naive to suggest I hadn't relaxed into a specific kind of comfort. The kind of comfort that existed when the room was mine to enjoy... because he hadn't shown up. Or maybe he wasn't invited. Either way, the night was mine. 

The night also had a different feel to it, as I was not the parent in charge tonight, I was the parent drinking. And thanks to my friends, the wines came thick and fast. My husband gave me a smiling gentle caution 'take it easy, princess, no need to go hard' and he was right. I paced myself for fun. 

It was mid-conversation with an old friend when my gut plummeted as my periphery caught a glimpse of a familiar build, a familiar movement, and noticed that familiar feeling of being observed again. Out of the blue, it was there and it changed everything. My body reacted like I was being confronted by an enemy. My sense of carefree joy and confidence shrivelled into a tense stand off with a long lost and ever present adversary. I knew it. He knew it. My husband knew a bit of it. And some friends knew some things. But really, only I knew it Trauma just walked into the room and took his jacket off.  

It isn't until moments like this that I realise he is trauma for me. It isn't until I can't breathe properly, and my body stiffens and needs to be reminded to move, and I feel hyper alert and I endlessly know where he is standing and who he is speaking with and if he is near or far from me. I cannot have fun, although i pretend to. My husband walks past and gives me his comfort in a single look, and all I can do in return I nod in the direction of my Trauma, indicating to my chosen man that 'the other' is in the room and its causing me discomfort. 

But it's still early, so I drink wine. Glass after glass, it soothes me, then bolsters me into a brave force of demure nature so much so, that for the first time in 20 years, I decide to stop dancing the same dance. In my head, I'm thinking that if I can doing the same things the same way, the same result will occur. So instead of the same, I take the bull by the horns and decide to address the situation like the mature, successful, confident adult I am. And so, for the first time in 20 years, I take 10 steps from my husband's side towards my Trauma and I stop at his side and I nudge him a little with my arm to announce my arrival. A mistake. It's already too informal and familiar. 

"Hi" I say. 

The moment I look up at his face, I realise it's a big mistake. One big fat fucking mistake! For he is looking at me, thrilled I've approached, as though he's been waiting for me to do so for 20 years (which is fair after literally 2 decades of me pretending he doesn't exist at this social events) and i'm here, cluelessly drunk, standing beside him, facing the world together and with my back towards my husband, who I can only imagine is thinking holy hell, this will be interesting and is bound to cause trouble. 

"Hi!" he says. 

And then there's an incredibly awkward silence I hadn't planned as he smiled at me, and I reviewed the familiar yet unbelievably unknown face with all the indifference I could muster. It struck me clear as day in really quick succession, I neither recognised his voice, nor knew the cadence with which he spoke. He was a stranger. Not a person I knew. When he spoke, his age made him sound entirely different than he had as a 19 year old. 

Yet, we did know each other. A long time ago, we knew each other even better. 

We knew each other every morning in roll call class for 5 years of high school. We knew each other from sitting in cars together. We knew each other from practical jokes. We knew each other from asshole behaviour. We knew each other from rescues from dead parties. We knew each other from birthday cards. We knew each other from first kisses. We knew each other from parties. We knew each other from phone calls to landlines, and pop ins at each others houses.

And last but above all, we knew each other from an unplanned teen pregnancy, and impossible navigations involved in trying to work through all of that at young but only just.

And since then, we've known each other only through my avoidance of him. Steering clear, protecting myself, breathing through my memories each and every time I saw him at shared events...for the past 20 years. Ruined for days afterwards, dragging my legs through thick conversations, memories, our choices and all the grief that followed. 

And tonight, propped up on wine and with my makeup absolutely on point, I thought I could resolve it all so we (I) could move on with my life like an adult and not be quite so broken.

I looked up, boldly and confidently, almost brashly, and straight into his eyes, considering my next play. How should I resolve this, how can I change the dance? I weighed up my options and before I can come up with a plan (I really hadn’t thought this through), he is talking, in this stranger's voice, taking away my moment of rewriting history, just like that. 

And with every word he spoke, I realised with increasing reality that there was no saving this. There was no recovery available. No easy out. No release. No mature way out. This was not AT ALL what I was prepared for. 

I won't give it to you word for word, because despite it all, it's still kind of private, but what followed was fairly uncomfortable conversation that left me feeling not better but WORSE than if I had just tensely ignored him all night instead. (I'll give you a hint... it wasn’t at all what I was prepared for...)

Why the hell did I think that would have worked? Why did I think I could just pack neatly pack all of that away with one conversation? Because you can not just delete trauma from your life. Not that easily. Not when conversations don't go the way you planned. I suppose it was the wine that spoke for me, taking charge for once and landing me in some relatively unexpected waters. 

Don't get me wrong. He's not a horrible person. None of it was abuse. He offered to support. I didn't want that. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that it’s not really him that is the trauma... it's everything he reminds me of. I didn't want that choice. I didn't want that heaviness. I wanted to take it all back. 

So I looked up at him, understanding in that moment that he was again, not enough and not helping me at all. I understood I would remain unsatisfied and unresolved. I was reminded, ever so clearly, why he was not my choice. So instead, I returned to the side of the man I did choose, grateful for him and satisfied by him.

That night, my snowboard bag of personal baggage was well overweight. Filled with concrete, of my hardening soul and tears. Of the injustice and disappointment. Of my choices, always of my choices. Too heavy for me to carry. 

I was too tipsy. Too bold. Too confident.

Or maybe I was just enough of all of those to expose him, me and our shared bag of history we continue to drag around. For the eventual event that needed to occur to move forward. Perhaps it was progress? 

Maybe one day, there will be no thoughts on this. Or maybe those thoughts will be less powerful, less overwhelming, less painful, less confusing. Or maybe they won't. 

Because while ever Trauma keeps rocking up at things I go to, I'm stuck in groundhog day, reliving, reviewing and renewing it all, again. And again. And again. 

I can deal with it. I just don't want to. 

Note to reader: It may be news to you that Lucy was not my first pregnancy. Only now, literally 20 years later, do I feel empowered and supported by society to claim this story as mine, and decline the option to hide in a shame cupboard any longer. I will be sharing more about this in time, because I’m ready for my truth to be told. By me. Because it’s mine to tell.   Watch this space. 

Ciao for now, 

LG - Life's Good! 

P.S I know this post is self-indulgent and there is some work I need to do here to unload some of the imbalance around this trauma. I know in time, with work, I can take responsibility for my own healing.

P.P.S Hey Trauma, if you're reading this one day, I hope you know I take responsibility for my parts here too. I'm not just blaming it all on you. I know what I've done. I know the choices I made. I live with them everyday. I hope, one day, seeing you at things doesn't cause me stress. 

Tuesday 25 January 2022

The hearts I broke when I gave up alcohol...

I had an inkling that alcohol consumption was a key part of my social interactions...but only when I ditched it did I realise how regularly my social life included wine...

It was the second week of camping and the third week of Christmas holidays, and I hadn't had an alcohol free day in more than 18 days. Well, okay, I might say nights. 18 nights. Mostly the drinking happened in the night. Does that sound a little better? Probably not. It's the longest endurance activity I've even completed on alcohol, and to be clear, I hadn't intended it. 

Yet here I was, smashing G&T's every night, beer, wine, shot buckets, anything I could get my hands on. But not in huge amounts, just ever so regularly. And it raised a question for me...if I'm not drinking enough to feel the effects of it, why bother? If I wasn't specifically aiming to get drunk, why have any at all? Such an Australian binge drinker's attitude, right?

Well, before you become too concerned, Greg will tell you drinking isn't a problem for us. And it's not. Not really. We are routine weekend drinkers, consuming one or two beverages each Friday and Saturday night. Unless we're up for a good time, which can be either planned or completed out of the blue, and on those occasions, we can hit it HARD! One night, (and this was rare) we cracked a bottle of red which led to 3 bottles of red... we felt it the next day! More often, we enjoy it in relative moderation and only on weekends.

So in some ways I completed and wholeheartedly agree with him. Drinking is not a problem for us. 

But actually it kind of is for me... because alcohol actually physically hurts me most of the time I consume it. I don't mean in a hippy, earth mother kind of way, like it hurts my heart to not be nourishing my temple. I mean in an aching joints, inflammation and stiffness kind of way. The morning after alcohol has begun, over the past 5 or so years, to magically transform me into an 80 year old; unfit, sore and stiff. And despite the quantity of beverages consumed, this is my new constant. I'm also likely to be physically weary as it feels like my body just has to work so much harder to function the next day. 

Yes, I suppose you could call it a hangover, but it's really not like it used to be. Hangovers used to be punishing an excellent night's partying with hard results... vomitting, headaches, etc. Now, I just feel an endless oldness that is really unpleasant. 

But it's not just that geriatric physicality that prompted me to change my partying ways. There are so many other things at play here. Big things. Like my butt. My actual butt. 

It is the fact that I have spent the past LIFETIME trying to lose the extra weight I lug around endlessly, and in spite of myself and my efforts, I have not put a real dent in that goal for the past 6 years, and some of that relates to alcohol. 

In times I have focused on my health and deleted alcohol from my lifestyle, I have experienced real success in my body behaving as it should and i remember feeling amazing at those times. Not just good. AMAZING! I felt on top of the world, full of energy and ready to face the world everyday. So it kind of makes sense, yes? 

To be honest, it is something I've considered for at least three years off and on, and just haven't been ready to call it. Because it's a big step. My family drinks. My friends drink. Not huge amounts all the time, but it's part of our ethos as a group. To break the bread and share the wine... it's sacred and special and I have felt that I will be missing out on so much if I made this choice. 

But it just got to that point where I was wondering if I was poisoning myself for the sake of fitting in. I was taking my old ladies meds regularly, so I can sip from a wine glass and enjoy the moment. There's just something so disjointed about all of that. 

So when my sister mentioned she might give the alcohol free life a go, it was all I needed, the push and encouragement I had been subconsciously waiting for before taking the plummet myself. So I just jumped. Without thought, consideration, or hesitation. In the blink of an eye I changed my lifestyle decisions like a boss...or a complete follower, depending on your view I suppose. (It wasn't really in the blink of an eye, I'd been considering it for years). 

I was so ready that I ditched it before I finished the 12 little advent calendar gins I got from my sister for Christmas! Those 4 little bottles that glint and chink together each time I open the fridge remind me of how prepared I've been for this for such a long time, and how I just needed that little push into the other land of 'Alcohol Free'. 

So I committed. And announced my new plan to my friends and family via the only way how i know how to get the message out loud and clear...Facebook. 

And when the comments rolled in hard and fast, many supportive, several grieving, and a couple absolutely devastated for our lost shared love of wine, i understood why I had hesitated for so long.

If anything, it confirmed for me that alcohol has been such a pivotal part of many of my social patterns, for such a long period of time, that I'm not concerned people don't know how to interact with me, without wine. There's nothing quite like sharing a bottle, or sitting on the deck enjoying a beer that really locks you into a deep conversation. 

So much so that I've endeavoured to fill that gap by supplement my wine with wine...AF wine I'll have you know. Not As Fuck (the other AF) wine (sorry Nana), but Alcohol Free wine. I've also purchased some AF beer, Gin and who knows what else I threw in my online trolley. There are so many options out there, I'm excited to try them. 

Because I won't have that awkwardness of them drinking wine and me holding nothing. I don't yearn for alcohol, and I'm not missing it too much at this point (it's been a whole 16 days now - lol) but I miss the sitting around sipping something. 

It's been a tough one to announce as well, as some of my friends feel as though they are now unable to enjoy drinking around me, and I hope they come to understand I'm not giving this up due to addiction, it's to feel better, and explore how life looks without it. Please, continue to drink with me, I'll just sip from another bottle. 

I'm even more excited to prove to my grieving friends that I come the same: awesome and bringing my 'A-game' every time. I don't need alcohol for that, and it's not alcohol that shows up when I do. It's me. My most authentic version. 

Dry your eyes and mark me - I will cast away any and all inhibitions that I may carry when sober to bring my absolute best to all situations I arrive at without alcohol. I will be bold, unafraid and confident as hell anyway. Because, that's just who I am anyway.

And lastly, I set you the challenge. To make your own decisions and be comfortable to drink with me, anyway. Because my decision doesn't need to impact on your choices or fun, and I certainly won't be judging anyone. So your job is to just show up too. 

"So I hope I learn to get over myself, stop trying to be somebody else..." Adele

Ciao for now, 

LG - Life's good! 

#idrinkwine #alcoholfreebaby #lifestylechanges #staywithme #Agame 

Monday 24 January 2022

Premature Empty Nesting…

I’ve commenced empty nesting… and my children are only 8 and 10.


My mum collected the girls on Sunday to whisk them away for the school holiday fun at her house. Think blueberry picking, beach going, imagination exploring, democratic votes for activities and dinner options, and an entire zoo in her backyard. Alright, the zoo is make-believe, but to the girls, its as real as Grandma is, and she eggs them on without hesitation. Lord, sometimes she even calls them to provide updates on recent escapes, births and illness of the animals…that aren’t really is. It’s quite sweet, really. I didn’t have that relationship with any of my grandparents, and it’s so special the girls have such an indulgent, caring and fun-loving Grandma. Actually, she’s also lucky to have them to call upon for kiddie fun and doting opportunities.


It will be a total of 2 days until I see them again, and it’s been long enough already (30hrs at the time I write this) for me. Not because I need to always be present in their lives, and trust me, they don’t need me right now, they need time with Grandma in her house, living large in her special ways. It’s because my life feels weirdly empty without them interrupting my conversations, getting shirty at me for asking them to complete their chores, and my personal favourite when they become small human transformers, changing from a lanky frame to a pliable ball of cuddles in no time.


It’s not the first time that I’ve felt a sense of aimlessness rom my world since they came along. In fairness, it existed well before them. Before I was a mother, I was also ‘Looking For Something To Do Lauren’. Not quite locked into a hobby fulltime, and not quite sure where to send my energy and attention elsewhere.


It’s where I’m at today. In fact, this morning, after the most peaceful coffee I’ve had in the past 11 years, shared with my main man from our deck, taking in the view on a quite country morning, I looked across at him and thought “Jeez”! How the heck are we going to handle it when they just don’t bug us at all. How will we handle this peace and quiet if it is here all the time!?


Out of nowhere, but somewhere post caffeine, it occurred to me how tough that transition of parenting child into adulthood must be. That as parents we go from the endless backchat our kids offer, to the rude silence that sits on the other side once they are gone… with merely an occasional phone call (hopefully) to fill the gap.


As I wondered out loud whether we would be satisfied with the not frequent enough contact from them as young adults, the situation smacked me right in the face. Proper wet fish smacking, not gentle theatre fake slaps. My happiness cannot be so heavily harnessed to them. It can’t be. They will leave. They will up and go and live amazing lives in towns and countries afar if they so desire, and I want them to.


But at what cost? What happens when your purpose as a parent walks out the door? And all that time and effort you needed to apply, all that stamina you built up over the past 18+ years just exists with no direction for output?


I know what you’re all saying as you read this…parenting doesn’t stop when they leave. I know that. I’m talking about the mental load we carry on their behalf, the taxiing around, the organising, the feeding, the cuddles, the talks, and the everything else. 


It’s actually exhausting me just to think about it. 


But it’s the same old, right? Read my first ever blog. It’s the same story from a different angle. Endlessly reminding the mum in the picture you are more than your role as a mother, so what are you going to do with your life? What do you care about? What do you want? What will do you? Circle back 11 years after this blog started, to that age old lesson of needing to find myself. Sigh. God, it’s bloody exhausting. I’m right here… but where am I? Ugh.


I tell you what has changed in that time? Me! (Obvs). More than ever before, I bring my unapologetic, authentic self as often as I can. I know my worth. I don’t apologise for my presence and I use my time to learn and be increasingly kind, respectful and careful to check my privilege. I know when to speak, when to stop, when to take control and when to be the passenger. I know how to build people and support my loved ones and I am not ashamed to let them know when I’m lost. I know how to bake a bloody brilliant sourdough and how to cook from the heart to nourish those I care deeply for. I don’t know myself some days, but I embrace those days as learning opportunities and am often surprised with what I can do when I strip away my own restrictions. I dance like no one is watching, even when my whole family are. I laugh with my friends and even more at myself. I am, most of the time, a great person to have in your back pocket, and I will have your back fiercely. I like, perhaps even love, myself.


And there’s many more things I’d like to try, explore, focus on and achieve in life, so I suppose I should use this reflective state to start dreaming big. I’m going to pretend like there are no restrictions and no limits, no holds and nothing off limits. I’ll use this time to start planning my life – both for the current day and for ten years’ time when the girls start flying out of the nest and I’m looking for things to turn my attention to and spend energy on.


And if I’ve learnt anything over the past 11 year since I started this blog… when I set myself a challenge and name it out loud, I achieve it in big and bold ways. And my children sit up and notice. They see a mum who sets outrageous goals and challenges, and gives it her all. They see a mum who knows her strengths and plays to them, but also takes on the near impossible to prove it can be done. I hope one day, they remember all of these moments, and my failures, and know that more than anything, their mum shows up and goes hard and is brave, even when she’s afraid. 


Because even as I focus more on me right now, I’m still endlessly thinking of them.

Ciao for now, 

LG - Life’s good! 

Monday 5 November 2018

Your superpower is words, so choose carefully...

Take care with the words you choose...they matter more than you know. 

Over the past few weeks, I've had a LOT to say about self-belief and standing up for one's passion in life. I've endlessly promoted my beloved Godspell not merely because I'd like to perform to an audience, but because this is something I want people to see for themselves. It's a clever piece of theatre that is the mastermind of Emma White, our fearless Director and we all commit to it with our entire being each and every time we perform it.

I have stated many times before today, but she is actually the very thing that made me decide to audition for Godspell. I knew of Emma, had seen some of her performances, and wanted to work with her. I knew, from the moment I heard she was directing this show, that it would not be 'just another Godspell', and THAT is the thing that got me through the door. That tiny detail is the very turning point that made me rise from my chest infection, shower and get out of my pjs for the first time in days, and put my best foot (voice) forward in the hope she would see a place for me. 

And thank God she did. Because this whole process has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done (bar finding Greg, marrying him, and having our amazing children). It isn't just another show. It's been a complete 'trust fall' the whole time. 

I'll be honest with you. There have been so many times where I have considered if I would be able to move past my personal levels of discomfort to be everything she needed me to be. But with her clarity of purpose and I have followed her; hook, line and sinker. 

And where Emma has taken me has been absolutely amazing. I have moved so many insecurities out of the way, so I could convincingly deliver the roles she has me playing throughout the various parables. I have had her absolute, unwavering, and unquestionable faith in my ability to booster my confidence, and I have had her ear of understanding and consideration when I haven't understood. 

And I am only one of ten she has fostered in this lovely but firm manner has. She has harnessed a mixture of experienced actors, and newbies, of those who've had many roles and some who are debuting their voices for the first time. No matter our level of experience, she has shared her vision, explained her reasoning and directed us to behaved certain ways that reflect integrity in our scenes during Godspell. 

What we have created, without being cheesy, is a legitimate community of love. These friends I have shared this precious show with are now life-long friends. I have developed a real love and respect for each and everyone of them, and on stage our (initial) acting as a pack of friends who are catching up for a gathering is now real. The affection you see and the friendship we emanate is as real as it can be. And it is so special. 

So you can imagine my distress when we had to weather some really strongly worded reviews that were not only unnecessarily scathing, but also nastily singled out individuals and claimed their opinion as truth. These words were full of contempt. They provided no support for new talent rising, no development opportunities, no grace for a different way of presenting Godspell. Just a blatant attack on everything we have worked so tirelessly and professionally to provide for your viewing pleasure. 

Harsh feedback for individuals who have had to put aside their own insecurities to developed self-belief enough to stand under the lights, with microphones on, singing their hearts out, a moment they have trained the past 3 months to complete. Individuals who in my mind, are so well matched to their parts that I couldn't imagine anyone else completing them. 

As I pondered how to respond to such a rough punch, I realised all I could do was use my words the way they should be used. To build people. To encourage further growth. To urge progression and nourish passion. 

So my beloved cast and crew of Godspell 2018, my #communityoflove, hear this. YOU were chosen. As Director, as Musical Director, as Choreographer, as the Onstage Ensemble and as the Choir. YOU. This was not by chance. It was because you have the skills and passion to complete the task. 

The joy you have experienced throughout the rehearsal period and now the shows must not be impacted by negativity, some people won't like what we've done and that's okay. I know I am not the only one who has experienced the happiness, love and belief. You are all well-matched, excellent at your role, as am I. Do not let one person's rant become your lasting memory of this most incredible time in our lives. Instead, remember why you are doing this. Because you were believed in, and in turn, you believed in Emma. 

What she has created here is a tight, fast-paced show that flows jaggedly yet perfectly from one crazy parable to the next. She has seen a reality that exists in 2018, of friends leaving their technology at home and having conversations, sitting around the fire sharing food and drinks, and an integrity in a communion scene, that yes, includes gluten free biscuits as his body and Coke as his blood, simply because that is what is on our table at that moment. A scene that has been misinterpreted as disrespectful is missing the point. It is actually HIGHLY respectful of Jesus at OUR picnic table, in OUR life at 2018. 

Show me a criticism in which I can grow and change and be better any day and I will use it to rise further. Until then, maybe use your power to support upcoming talent, both on stage and off with productive criticism. Something we can use to improve. Something we can take away and consider, and work on next time, in the next show. Advice that spurs development and growth, and encourages people to continue following their passion, despite the personal cost. 

Godspell 2018 clearly isn't for everyone. See it for yourself!

Tickets at - Last 7 performances between Wed 7 - Sun 11 November 2018.

Ciao for now, LG - Life's Great!

Picture courtesy of Michael Moore Photography. 

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Overcoming my internal be AMAZING!

When you are the biggest on the stage...and not by way of star ranking, but your butt size.

When I was cast in Godspell as one of five women, and of only ten actors on stage, I went through several significant emotional shifts. The first was absolute elation! I was dying to see who the rest of the cast was, and I was thrilled to be gifted my very first singing role in a show! I not only had got into a show after such a long time away from the stage, but I had landed a part! I was one of the leads! I bought 2 bottles of champagne on my way home in my enthusiasm to celebrate!!!

I repeated the words of the Director in my head, over and over again. "We would like you to play the part of Uzo, though you will be known as Lauren, and we would like you to sing By My Side. We think you will be amazing."

A few days later, the full cast was announced and I found out the other members of my group of ten who I would be embarking on this journey with. At that point in time, I became a little dumbstruck. Several of these people I seen perform in leading roles around town in the past few years... and they were bloody AMAZING! I became a little unhinged at the thought of how I would compare, they all had such incredible voices, acting ability and dance experience. They, each and everyone of them, were triple threats!

I was, by far, the least experienced of this cast. I was, by far, the least known in the cast. And I was, by far, the largest in the cast.

For everyone who sees my confidence, I need you to know I work diligently and thoroughly to maintain it. I had to consciously cast my insecurities aside as they tried to sneak in and intimidate me. They wanted a token fat chick. They didn't have anyone else audition for this role. Everyone else auditioned for We Will Rock You so they scraped the barrel. You won't be able to keep up. You will be embarrassed. You are not in their league. And so on.

I got sick of hearing all that crap, and chose instead to bolster my bravado with the belief in my selection by the production team. I was selected because they wanted me. That is it. I didn't need to know anymore than that, only that for WHATEVER reason, they saw the role of Uzo (now Lauren) in me and my audition performance, and I have brought my A game to the table during rehearsals and promotion.

It is a wonderful thing being celebrated for being yourself. We are constantly nourishing the endless pushing of perceived inadequacies to the top of our-self awareness list. We are expected to be fixing ourselves, improving ourselves, being better than you are. How refreshing that my role came with no provisos, no 'but's, and no 'should's. Just purely, me fitting into the role as they saw I would.

It didn't escape me as I went into the rehearsal period for this show that it is SUPER physical. When I say that, I am not just talking about the dancing. I am talking about acting out all the parables we share and story telling we do. We crawl, fall, clamber, run, skip, jump, kneel, roll, writhe and die on stage immeasurably. I have been harbouring a small and unwanted voice in the back of my head that whispers "are you sure you are able to do all of this? You're fatter than the rest, and quite unfit."

But you know what? Despite, or perhaps not despite but in addition to, my sizable 'attributes', I am doing it. I'm doing it, and I am practising hard at home, and I am going over and over and over the bits that are harder for me SO I CAN pull it off.

I'll be entirely honest with you. I haven't moved as much in the past few years as I have in the show. It's been exhilarating and liberating! And I feel great!

With so much focus in our society being pointed towards visual appeal, I am trying to teach my girls about capability and strength. And I am showing them, right in front of their very eyes, that capability is not solely focused on size.

I'm not as fit as I need to be. My arthritic knees are not the centre of my focus at the moment. And I have a full understanding that everything I have achieved in this show would have been so much easier if I wasn't carrying round as many 'bags of oranges' as I am. My feet hurt, my knees get stiff, and my body takes a hit every now and then as I collapse on the stage at various points throughout. But I am still doing it. I am capable. My body is working.

Depending on your life values, perhaps I may not be as pleasing to the eye as others on stage. Perhaps I don't move as quick and dance as snappy. But I give a bloody good performance and I take great pride in bringing you my best each time you see it. You will see me for me.

Because, even if I am bigger than everyone else, even if I am inexperienced, even if I am feeling a little overwhelmed at times, you will not find me feeling ashamed to be the biggest on stage. When you come along, you will see so many of my faces throughout the show. So many emotions, characters, positions, dances, songs and smiles. You will find me in all my glory, tanned from Vietnam and happy as hell. I am beautiful. And I am talented. And I belong in this amazing group of actors and singers who all bring their amazing identities and individuality to this show to make it a whole.

That is my true purpose here. To be a Lauren-sized part of the community we create in this show. To just be me.

How absolutely inspiring.

Ciao for now,

LG - Life's Godspell for tickets!

Monday 22 October 2018

Will my husband leave if I follow my dreams?

How do you balance it all? They asked no man ever...

That balance between time, passion, and everything else that missed out when you're a female trying to fulfil your dreams.

I think back to all the stories I’ve heard about people following their dreams, both in fiction and reality, and am reminded that every success has been heralded with a sacrifice. There is always a cost to the success. Time. Financial. Health. Relationships. Whatever the achievement, something else will give. In doing Godspell this year, there has been a significant investment/sacrifice of time involved. Time into the rehearsals and promotion of the show, and time away from my family. 

When I married Greg at the ripe old age of 22 (spring chickens!), a piece of advice was gifted and stuck with me to this day. Time is love. Invest time into your relationships and you will build a strong foundation to weather the storms that are bound to blow your way. It is absolutely sound advice and came from someone I love who I respect. But my interpretation of this advice veered towards extremism. I cast aside my hobbies and morphed myself into my husband’s own personal groupie. 

I watched him wakeboard, fish and snowboard. I sat for hours in ski resorts just to be there for him to say hi at lunch time. I was available to his every need with a capital A. And not once, did I ever expect him to return that favour. In fact, I would have been mortified to ask him to spend as many hours as I did watching me do my thing. He would’ve if I’d asked him. I felt guilty for years that I wasn’t partaking in the above-mentioned activities with him…but in truth, I had neither the physical conditioning required nor the desire to participate. I gave it a go here and there, with varying results, and when I had success, I enjoyed my achievement or trying something and getting it done rather than the activity itself. His loves are not my loves. 

No. My love is singing. My love is performing. We share minimal common interests and actually, it was always like that, even when we fell in love! And I chose to forgo my love for the greater good of our relationship. Because time equals love. But as maturity has grown and wisdom has increased, I’ve come to realise that the time I have deliberately put aside for ‘us’, has been filled with other hobbies and interests for Greg. Like indoor cricket and working later hours. Because, ironically, my ever-present state in our home has given my darling husband his wings to fly. Let me make it clear to you all before you start resenting him, Greg is actually an awesome guy. His endlessly commendable work ethic and hobbies I have no interest in are balanced with many more hours spent together on our lounge and in my arms than I care to admit (when we should have been folding washing and doing dishes). 

It occurred to me the time required to build and nourish our relationship isn’t quite as much as I initially thought was required. I then realised some of that spare time we were spending apart could actually be utilised by ME to do what I would like to do again. I had been giving and giving and giving and forgot that I needed to pay attention to my hopes and dreams too. But there are two other people who would be affected by this choice. When I chose to do another musical after 12 years, it took a bit for my family to adjust. Initially it was two nights a week I would be out, then we added in Sundays, then some Saturdays, and next week it will be every night as we work towards Opening Night. That’s a lot of time spent away from my girls, as well as Greg. 

As mothers, I think we pride ourselves on how much time we can spend with our children. And before I go on, I fully appreciate and understand the critical need for children to spend time with their parents, and how much actions speak louder than words and ALL of that. I am fully across that and believe in it thoroughly. I get it. But I also think we pride ourselves on it. Like somehow I hold a smug satisfaction in the fact that I sat in the same room as my children and was available to them...just in case. And just for the record, I don’t believe fathers do the same. Not to say they don’t enjoy the time with their families. But in my experience, time spent away is not fraught with guilt and conscious justifications. It just is. 

But what I failed to give attention in all my time spent with them, was showing my girls how to follow their dreams. How to set your sights on something amazing, and relentlessly pursue it. Not just through hard work, but through self-belief, resilience and faith. My girls watched me prep for my audition whilst I was struggling with a chest infection, they came to my audition and joined in the dance section. They watched me walk into a room full of strangers and be confident, brave and determined. And since winning that role, they’ve seen me a whole lot less. But what they have seen is me rehearse, make friends, try on costumes, practise my dances and tirelessly drill my songs and basically fulfil a massive dream to have a lead in a musical, all whilst bringing them along for the ride. 

I’ve had to deliberately quieten the guilt I feel leaving them, that I feel I am both expected to feel as a mother, and don’t want to feel as I chase my own dreams for the first time in a long time. I have to literally shake off my feelings of selfishness and self-centredness that I am solidly sure my husband doesn’t feel when he leaves the house to enjoy his hobbies. Because, God forbid the mum wants to follow her love and passion too. 

But it isn’t just me that feels this way. My community have also confirmed this expectation of mothers being expected to manage life as a whole. It hasn’t skipped my awareness that the men in show biz are asked about their roles, their experience, their skills and talents. Women in show biz are asked how they manage to balance their involvement with their children’s needs. Do men EVER get asked how they are managing their family’s needs with their own, and how they balance life, household, family and work, or is it assumed they don’t? That either someone else magically manages the logistics of their lives, or is it simply implied that women struggle more to find the balance? And is that because woman ARE responsible for more, or unnecessarily pride ourselves on agonising about things we don’t need to? Why is it that men don’t get asked how they are managing the balance in their lives? 

I recently proposed a collaboration of a written piece focusing on women kicking goals and balancing their load to achieve goals to a friend. And reflecting on this today, I’ve realised in doing so, perhaps I have perpetuated this very imbalance of equality. Because the women in this cast are not the only parents. There are five out of ten cast members who are parents, all dealing with time spent away from their kids whilst following their dreams...and two of those are dads. And recognising this balancing act as a magnificent feat by only the women in the cast both downplays the male experience of this, and further enhances the gender expectations of women to be home bodies. 

I have never felt resentful towards Greg for doing the things he loves, I have always chosen to support him in his choices and I made my own choices with our relationship’s best interests at heart. But I didn’t have my needs at heart. I didn’t have my joy in mind. I had everyone else’s needs placed well above mine. 

And while I can say truly that I have taken the time for me, I feels it’s been a harder and more guilt-ridden decision than any of Greg’s choice to enjoy his hobbies. And despite the internal struggle…everyone has benefitted from me being fulfilled mentally, emotionally and physically than I have been in many years. 

So come and see the Queanbeyan Player’s production of Godspell to see what I’ve been spending my time on lately. Come and see me in my element for the first time in 12 years. And be proud that this woman put her own sense of guilt and selfishness aside to enjoy her own interests. 

Image by Michael Moore 
Ciao for now, 
LG - Life's Glorious!