Learn how to beat Adversity, Trauma and Sadness... "I Won't Back Down" Tom Petty

approximately 16 minutes reading time


“For an idea that does not at first seem insane, there is no hope”, one of my favourite Albert Einstein quotes.

Believing this, one needs valour, courage, conviction, determination and commitment to create this reality. This is what allows people to make a difference in this world and make it better for us all. Such people have a pioneering, adventurous, fighting spirit. This is the same notion and sentiment, as well as the qualities necessary to beat trauma of any kind, no matter how terrible.This is one of my mantra’s, something which I remind myself when I feel that I begin to falter, like now writing this blog and sharing everything with you in the hope that it might help someone, somewhere.

So here goes….

This is not a Tale of Woe

354 days until I am scheduled to leave Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport for my life-long dream of going to Antarctica via Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia, South America, a second life-long dream. I cannot believe it at all. I cannot believe that I forgot until my beautiful sister reminded me only weeks ago. We booked it about eighteen months ago.

5th January 2020 is a day burned into my memory, my heart, my soul, my life, both literally and metaphorically. 398 days ago my life was shattered and stolen by the Black Summer Bushfire in country NSW, Australia. This was the day that I awoke to learn that my home had burned down in the Morton Bushfire during that most horrendous and cruel natural disaster in New South Wales and Australia.  This has been possibly the worst Natural Disaster in the history of Australia. May it never happen anywhere ever again. 

I am an independent woman tree-changer from Bondi Beach, North Bondi.

As it happens, my house burning down was the best thing to happen to me all year.

Remarkably, I have survived the horrors of last year. The traumas actually started during the beginning of the bushfires in my home region. In October 2019 we were on high alert and ready to evacuate our home for the first time. The week before my car had been involved in a freak accident. Our second almost evacuation was upon us a week later and we were on constant high alert. I was left worrying about everybody else we knew and didn’t know, in our community. The preceding Wednesday after our second almost evacuation Schrodie, suffering from trauma, did something completely out of character and sustained a critical injury requiring major emergency surgery. I was without a car at what was then the worst possible time. I had my car back in a week. As I was driving home from work on the Highway the next and scorching Thursday afternoon an enormous Semi-Trailer almost side-swiped me off the road into the gully separating the two directions of the Highway. I swerved to get out of his way and he smashed into the back of my car. If I wasn’t quick-witted the semi-trailer would have rolled over my car and I would have ended up a headline on the evening news. I had just slipped into my default state and took everything in my stride, incredibly difficult and terrifying as it was for me. There was too much work to do at this busiest time of year. There seemed to be a dark cloud hanging over me.

This is a story of Humanity, dare I say, the best of Humanity in the most terrible of times.

These are my Chronicles, a brutal, raw and honest account of everything, in summary, that passed through my life during this time and since. Everything that happened to me marked me more deeply than I could have ever believed; these are scars upon my soul. This is all such a sadness that has seeped into my soul and settled. I do not believe in living with regret or in misery and make the best decisions that I can to make this my reality. The details and more will be in my Memoir. It will be very different even though the facts mentioned here will overlap. 

Before this, I never understood how people remembered dates so clearly. Now I do. I lost everything, in a moment, or so I had thought and as it was at the time. The Bushfire took all my worldly possessions; both tangible and intangible. It wasn’t all that was taken from me that day, my financial and future security and most importantly and worst of all my independence were also engulfed by those flames. All this had been hard won by me, alone, over thirty years of sweat and toil and battles, wars even, against adversity. Yet here I was, with nothing but loss, ruin and devastation.

Smoke-inhalation from weeks of living through the fires meant that for six months I had to fight the most severe and terrible, critical double pneumonia; very rare. Two collapsed lungs, two lung drains, with fluid on both lungs. It almost killed me so many times, nobody expected me to survive. This Pneumonia was developed by staying to live and work in my Bushfire ravaged region to support my employer, meeting my contractual employment obligations and my community for the months preceding my devastation. As if I didn’t have enough to deal with, Covid-19 heightened my suffering. 

Alongside the Pneumonia and unbeknown to me was a rare auto-immune condition, ANCA Vasculitis; the rarest type of the rare Vasculitis, that was triggered by the pneumonia and the additional trauma of losing everything, especially my health and well-being. My Type 1 Diabetes was another complication. The treatments for these illnesses wreaked havoc and destroyed my body in their own way. First it was several industrial strength antibiotics for the Pneumonia, various Opioids for the pain, then more antibiotics, incredibly dangerous industrial strength Chemotherapy and Steroids, along with even more Opioids and high doses of Lyrica for the nerve pain, then Methotrexate plus a host of other drugs. For eight months I was severely malnourished and emaciated. I almost did not survive this several times. I still have considerable chest pain when deep breathing; it is a combination of pain in my Pleura, rib joints and pain from my shattered heart and my crushed soul. Side-effects from the many drugs created new problems and kept my life hanging in the balance. The cycle seemed endless. I lived mostly in pyjamas for about eleven months, not anymore.

Love is what connects us. Love appears unexpectedly in the most unforeseeable times. Heartbreak is love’s counter balance and somehow this was also a part of my life during this time, as I nursed my broken heart.

At the time of the fire I believed that I had lost everything; not limited to my worldly possessions, my health and well-being.  I learned that this was in fact not the case. I lost everything when I needed to let go of the most special love and lost the use of my body. I was trapped in my head, trapped in my body, trapped in my bed, trapped in hospital and then trapped at home for over twelve whole months of my life, not knowing if I would survive.

The worst and final trauma for me, was losing the most special love, which left me completely disabled at the end of June 2020. I could no longer do anything for myself. I completely ‘…depended upon the kindness of strangers…” like Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’.  It had taken three months for this lost love to destroy my body. The Pneumonia cleared just in time. Heartbreak and heartache literally crippled me. Loving a wonderful man who came into my life at the worst possible time to make the most real and important difference to me and my life and needing to let him go was one of the hardest of so many impossible decisions and paths that I have had to take throughout my life. He is and always will be My Hero. The price for him to stay in my life at this time was too high for me. Living with and enduring, the harrowing aftermath of my choice has been the highest price for the experience and surprise of the joy of him and his love. I believe that perhaps he is not only my Kindred Spirit but my Twin Flame, my Mirror Soul, as described by Plato, the Ancient Greek Philosopher in his play Symposium. Whether we are destined for each other in this life or another, I do not know. I do not say this lightly or easily. I surrendered this to the Universe and The Fates as I cannot control what happens or the future or anyone else.

Surrendering or letting go is no mean feat ever but something I learned to do long ago and always a struggle. As Doris Day sang and my mother taught me as a little girl, “…Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, Que Sera Sera”. The pun on the song words was not intended. What is saddest to me is to let go of a mutual, deep, pure, true and real love that is so incredibly special and rare. Needs must. It found me. He found me. He saw me. He reached into my soul. He surprised me constantly. Most especially he chose to care and love me. He became my Hero throughout the worst part of these harrowing months. He helped me survive with his care, affection and support and most especially love, choosing to keep me happy and safe; in which he succeeded. He gave me some of the greatest gifts of my life and more than I could have ever believed possible. For this I will always treasure and cherish him. I never saw him coming. Until he decided to choose to sabotage our relationship, to stop honouring his word to me, when he had volunteered and offered it, making empty promises, with false and empty words. The hurt and heartbreak of this was too much for me to bear. I don't know why he chose to do this to me. I never doubted his love for me. I did not deserve to be treated this way. He also chose not to honour the beautiful rare and special love between us, that to me made it meaningless. Alas, sometimes love is not enough, life gets in the way. When I told him he ran away and abandoned me. This all could have been easily resolved if that's what he wanted. I lost him, as a consequence whilst I tried to lose a false, jealous, person with malevolent energy towards me, his follower, who had insinuated themselves into my life, trying to manipulate me and my relationship with him. Getting her, out of my life was a priority and my life is better for this decision. I also couldn't bear to hurt him by letting him watch me die again, but this time a more slow and agonizing death. I lost him to get rid of her. I am very careful about who I let into my life. My mistake, in my compromised state, was not telling her to Fuck Off. My mistake was not telling him about her inappropriate, jealous, appalling behaviour, in case he didn't know.  My mistake was not being completely open and honest with him. I was vulnerable and compromised. Covid-19 was an additional complication. For this poor communication, I overcompensated and exaggerated certain truths to avoid hurting him but pushing him away. He will probably never know the real truth. C’est la vie and I do not say this flippantly. We shared our respective truths and parted ways. I wish it had been different.

If he decides to win me back who knows? He is more than capable. A Quest would need to be completed first for him to prove himself. I know that he is capable of slaying any and all Dragons if he wants to do so and win my favour once again. We should be so lucky. I hope so. Lancelot won back Guinevere after destroying Camelot. No regrets for me but possibly the greatest sadness of my life. This single trauma was too much to bear and compounded with all the others was my ruin. Remarkable thing is that I never had any interest in him or talking to him at all. I never invited him into my life or asked him for anything. I didn't want anything from him. I'm glad he made his way into my life. I gave him all I had, a blanket of love. He was enough, so was his love. I didn't seem to be enough for him. Perhaps after all my loss and all that had happened to me, he discarded me as he thought me a dead weight that would be a burden to him and his life. Anyone who truly knows me knows that this is never a possibility with me. I would sooner die. Anyway, he must be a Magician. Perhaps he is a Wizard. I like Magic and Magicians. I have seen some fantastic Magicians over the years. I am a Physicist so I know that Magic can be explained and is all illusions. I don't care. I choose to believe in the wonders of Magic. I love Magic. It thrills me. He must be a Magician, it's the only thing that makes sense. What is life without Magic?! I don't want to live in a world without Magic. Strangely, I trust him, implicitly but never understood his intentions or motives with me. I guess I will never know. This will all remain an unsolved mystery and how I hate those most of all.

Luckily I was not alone, my support system was vast and stable with people who love me, some have been in my life for most of it and some wonderful new people. These amazing and wonderful individuals who love me and took care of me, each in their own special way got me through the worst, last year. I was surrounded with love, generosity, care, affection, kindness and all things wonderful. I was okay.

Amidst all the terrible news and headlines we are forced to live with on a daily basis, we need to know and remember that the World is a wonderful place to live because it is filled with amazing human beings who bring joy, light and most especially love with them into the world, even if they're hiding it. We need to stay open and receptive to people and to life, most especially when it is hardest to do so.

I could have survived these unbelievably horrific, terrors on my own, as I had done every time before but every day I'm grateful that I haven't needed to endure this unimaginable suffering on my own.

I have survived to this point only with the help and loving care of the most wonderful people. Remarkably, in my complete helplessness, these people enabled me to keep my dignity intact as well as get better, enough to fend for myself, with much disability and even more struggle. These people buoyed me and kept my light burning as I struggled and fought my way through this hell to regain my health and life after I stole away from Hades; Death, who wanted me badly. There have also been uncaring, horrible, terrible, cruel people that I have encountered throughout this journey but only in the minority. Life needs balance so this is always a given and to be expected.

I do not care what people do, I only care about why they do what they do, it is their drivers only that matter to me.

Surprisingly these experiences, as terrible, harrowing and horrific as they have been, also gave me much. Most importantly it has been the kindness, generosity, care, love and support of people; some of whom were strangers. Is there anything more beautiful and precious in life? I think not.

What I realized over the long months while I was almost completely immobilized was that I did not lose the other things that I cherished most in this life, Schrodie, my family and friends. The relationships we share with others are what really matter in life. Most especially when the people are genuine, true and good as these people are not easy to find in life, just like real love. When you find it, value it and be grateful for how truly lucky you are to be so blessed. Too often it seems that people overlook relationships with others, often taking them for granted. Now it seems to me that with the rise of social media, real friendship has been devalued. Not by me, to me, friendship is a sacred bond. Followers and fans are not friends. The memories and gifts of people and their love stay with me. Not all possessions are tangible. I have been fortunate enough to know that I have to date had four songs written about me, for me, at different times, in different music genres, three by individuals and one by a band. These are not something I think about but are a blanket of love that stay with me, always and have been a glowing light in my life that appears when needed. 

Experiences are also treasures that can never be lost. Thank Heavens. Labels do not matter, it is mutual joy, care, affection, support, respect and love that matter. I don’t need to see the important people in my life every day because what matters to me is that they are there if and when I need them in our committed, reciprocal relationships. These are people of good, honourable, strong character, loyal, fun, funny, intelligent and interesting, secure, mature people of integrity and conviction. Most of all they are people who are true to their word. None of us are half in, disinterested or not curious about each other. We always know what is happening in each other’s lives.  I don’t want people in my life who don’t want to be in my life one hundred percent. I choose to show others the same respect. I believe that we each need to earn our place in the lives of one another and constantly show each other that we deserve our place. I refuse to be anyone’s default anything. I am an all or nothing person, no grey area or middle ground, if I need to think about it, I am out.

On my darkest days, I absorb, too much, my terrible reality and the inescapable fate facing me each day. Over thirty years of toil, dedication, fight and hard work, gone, never to be recovered, in its lost state, is more than I can bear at times. I lost everything in a moment. In truth, it was all irreplaceable to me, yet I will, materially, replace what I can, as I'm able to do so. The worst part was not becoming homeless and losing all my worldly possessions, beyond devastating as this was and will always be for me. The worst part was losing my long fought for and hard won, independence, safety and security. My belief, until the fifth January 2020, was that I would be safe from financial ruin, need, lack of security, depending on others and especially homelessness because I had secured my future and was without want or need. Yet here I was and am, finding myself in a position where instead of being able to relax and enjoy the rewards of my life's hard toil that I needed to start again. This time in a compromised state and as yet unable to return to work and fill my coffers as I have always done whenever needed; this is an unprecedented challenge for me. I am grateful that I do not worship money. To me money is only important because it affords security and provides options in life. I like to have options in life as they afford an extra level of protection and opportunity for joy as one never knows what’s coming for them, ever. Options come to you by making choices and taking decisions.

My foundation for a new start and new life was secure because I had previously made difficult but wise decisions that would sustain me in my most vulnerable times and helpless state. I could never in my wildest imaginings expect to encounter such a horrific reality. For some reason this was my fate. The Universe deemed that I needed these experiences and associated lessons for the next and I believe, the greatest part of my life, my present and future. The Phoenix has risen from the molten, charred remnants of my life. My equilibrium and that of the Universe will once again be restored as per the laws of physics. My gratitude each day is that I still have the capacity to smile and laugh, to love, and most especially, have joy in my heart and soul. I have not lost my zest and lust for life and living, trying as life has been for me since this happened. I have not lost my power. I refused to give away my power, I refuse to be a victim, this has not been easy to maintain but it has been my conscious choice.

All I can do is trust that I will always be okay, regardless of what I will need to face, as I ultimately always am okay, as I complete the work needed to make this happen, notwithstanding the cost to me, in every way. I have no fear of Death as I lost this long ago. My equilibrium state is one of peace, comfort and joy. I choose happiness, always as my daily reality, challenging as this is much of the time.

Schrodie too, has suffered these and other traumas over this time, he is a truly bright, brave and precious soul; My Greatest Hero. In the midst of these tragedies, and ongoing terrible complications, I also have to recover from heartbreak and build a house, so that we, like Dorothy and Toto, can go home.  The irony is that throughout this time I could not even put on a pair of shoes so that I could click my heels together to magically go home. I have to do it the hard way. My journey continues and I don’t know what’s coming for me. I have paid The Fates the highest price for the untold joys and the wonderful adventures ahead….I cannot wait.

I will never fully recover from what has happened to me. Most of my life I've been a lone Warrior but through this experience I needed to let people into my life to help me when I was left helpless, exposed, vulnerable and broken beyond imagining. It took a special kind of courage that I am glad that I found within myself to learn this lesson. Not without the guiding hands, friendship and loving care of others.

Coupled with my natural optimism and Warrior’s Spirit, the harsh lessons, delivered in childhood, were my weapons during my Journeys to Hell. I was devoured and destroyed, in the pits of Hell, to be spat out because I made it impossible for Hades to keep me with him. I was singed, charred and a shadow of who I'd been, but I always manage to land on my feet, ready for the next round of Life.

Since January, I have fought with more than I have to survive and become independent again. When I recently realized that it was heartache and heartbreak that had destroyed my body I was overcome by a tsunami of emotions which are within themselves overwhelming and traumatic to say the least. 

I live within the bounds of my reality. I fight constantly to change my reality and I succeed. I will not be bound by the limiting and negative beliefs and expectations of others. I will not give away my power. This is my choice, Always. I have no expectations of anyone but myself. I fight even when I do not believe it possible as my strength and will to live have waned. I win, Always. I have defied all expectations and beaten all the odds to recover and restore my broken body and reclaim my life to my current position, continuing this fight.

My heart bleeds. My soul weeps. I am so very battle weary. I am okay. I am stronger every day. Throughout these horrors I have miraculously maintained my sense of humour, my dignity, my self-respect, my self-esteem, my power and my optimism, mostly. 

I've been fighting so hard to survive that I forgot, until my sister reminded me a few weeks ago that, we had booked our life-long dream journey to Antarctica. Initially I told her to take someone else. My request was refused, for which I am grateful as this would have been my life’s regret. Not undertaking this Antarctica adventure is not in fact an option for me so my challenge is in place with a live countdown. We were due to leave in December 2020 but Covid-19 changed everything.

Since August I have been fighting to rebuild my body one unbelievably hard day at a time. I am beating all the odds and expectations of Medical Specialists and Rehabilitation teams. I am also amazing Therapists. I have achieved so much but the daily challenges continue as I constantly struggle and fight to do things that I used to take for granted. I take every win that I get and beat every single loss, of which there are countless. Needs must, each loss must turn into a win.

It sucks being Special.  Special, I say with my tongue firmly in my cheek. There is, however, as always, a silver lining.

Every day I manage to do at least one new thing for the first time since my complete disability in June.

This is my journey rebuilding my broken body, my broken psyche, my broken heart and my weary soul; right now I struggle to do so many things that previously came naturally to me. My win is that I somehow manage to do them, one at a time. I work tirelessly on my rehabilitation and physiotherapy, fighting with more than I have in me, to restore my broken body and my health as I work towards reclaiming my life one step at a time. Miraculously I have managed to keep living independently and the way I want, do what needs to be done, mostly and with help. This fight continues and the details will be included in the blog and what is not will be in my book. This part of my blog is about getting to Antarctica from my current physical state.

This blog will be updated to include my traumas in more detail, challenges, exercises and commitment to full recovery, including the frustrations and mundane, tedious undertakings that I must constantly complete to win this war. It will also most importantly include the incredible joys and important wins that I make along my journey.

People ask me how I feel and surprisingly, I feel lucky, strange as it seems, even to me, at times.

Before this happened to me I was fit, strong, healthy, muscular and toned. My life was as I wanted it and worked hard for it to be at this time. I was working towards achieving new goals and although my hard work had been destroyed, I will resume these as soon as I am able. This journey of recovery that I share with you now is my return trip to myself, the one I choose to be in life. Even if I am weaker and left with scars or injuries, it is a part of who I am and where I have been in this life. They are a part of my body and a part of my story and have shaped me in my current form. This is fine with me, even if not my preference. What is the alternative? Nothing that is acceptable to me. I choose happiness.

I am not and will never be defined by any of these traumas, medical conditions or tragedies that I have lived and survived in triumph. These are unnecessary and unimportant labels that will not impact the quality of my life. This is my decision and my choice.

My next post will be on Sunday 14th February, notwithstanding life getting in the way. My intention at the moment is to post every Sunday. Sunday’s post will be a list of approximately 77 steps that I undertake to deal with adversity, trauma and sadness. May these help you as they help me.

Stay tuned…









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