I believe that my experience in life is most likely similar to many other people. I see myself as a “seeker” after meaning, purpose, a sense of fulfillment, a sense of peace and happiness.
My journey has found the goal seems to be elusive. In traveling to England and Ireland in 2008 I was hoping to have a sense of belonging – particularly in Ireland and especially in County Clare and Galway where my ancestors are from. There was a feeling at being at home there.
I realize that I have put a lot of energy into this pursuit. I guess that as a child I sought this type of ‘homecoming’ in my family and extended family. I don’t remember feeling that sense of having arrived at a safe and warm place. There are some warm memories of my time with Grandma when we lived next door.
My seeking became quite stressful in my teens as I sought after love, warmth and affection from the opposite sex. This was a fairly traumatic time for me with again, little success in finding what I was looking for.
There was a time as a teenager that I sought refuge in the Catholic Church. I really wanted the church to respond to my needs as I got involved in the Young Christian Students (YCS) group. I didn’t even realize at the time that I was searching. I left the Catholic Church at about 15-16 years of age after an embarrassing event that could have turned out so differently. I was nominated for a leadership role in the YCS. My fear took over and I couldn’t conceive of myself as having a leadership role in the church so I really messed up!
There were times at school where I felt “in the flow” when I was really enjoying my school work and getting good results. I think that perhaps “in the flow” and “homecoming” must be closely connected though I hadn’t thought so before. However, I experienced great emotional turmoil as a teenager and I abandoned my education without completing high school.
I sought my ‘homecoming’ in my relationship with my first husband and the hippie fringe we hung out with. We wanted ‘a revolution’ in this world we lived in which seemed so inhospitable. It wasn’t all that long before that illusion faded and life took hold.
I married at 18 and had my first child at 21 years – emotionally unstable and very naïve. At this time I sought my ‘homecoming’ through my ‘earth mother’ type existence and achieved a degree of contentment through my home making activities. I was still searching for more though. I revisited religion and found some comfort and sense of ‘home’ within the Anglican Church.
The strong sense of spirituality and God’s presence and guidance was a very uplifting experience for a time after our second son was born. It was really tested by going to Numbulwar, an Aboriginal Community in the Northern Territory. The flaws in our marriage also began to be very visible. At this time I had a period of depression (I was 26). I was very lost after those 12 months – it was a desert experience spiritually and I felt like I was losing my mind and my marriage – it was a scary space to be in.
We went back to Melbourne and back to the Anglican Church but it didn’t feel like ‘home’. We wanted to go back to a remote community and experience the outback and being with the Aboriginal people. I did feel a degree of being at ‘home’ with the Aboriginal people. We headed to Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. My youngest son was born while we were there.
I started to do some study and once again felt the joy of writing and getting good feedback on my abilities – I found something in me that had been lost – my intelligence and scope beyond the home and family. This was very unsettling to my already troubled marriage and seemed to put a wedge between us. My involvement in Karrayili Adult Education Centre (teaching literacy) seemed to open other possibilities for me and I was encouraged by others. When Bob left me and the kids I felt totally lost and didn’t know what to do.
This was the start of a very difficult phase in my life. After 18 months I moved with my three sons to Perth. There was some strength in me still in that I pursued a new life with some studies at University. There were just me and the lads – no other family in WA. I sought my ‘home’ this time through my studies and the Anglican Church once again. My studies were not completed though – it had a lot to do with the stress I was under and almost no respite from childcare.
I felt that I was living a life I didn’t want to live (being a single mum) and I just survived from day-to-day. I tried to make a place of ‘home’ for my lads and I am unsure about how well I did that. This was around 1985.
My involvement with the Church again was helpful. The friendships I made and the contribution I was able to make were really good for my self-esteem. During this time I was seeing a psychologist (and anyone else who would listen). I couldn’t clearly see the pressure I was under by my life circumstances and the impact of being depressed and anxious. I don’t recollect any real external sense of ‘home’ during this period except perhaps the friends I had made through church and the support they gave me.
This was a tough time for me. I didn’t feel that I had the courage to live and often prayed that I would die in my sleep as I didn’t want to face another day as it all seemed too hard. This was when I was close to rock bottom in my life.
It was around this time (1988) that I met my second husband – he seemed to offer me a sense of ‘home’ as well as the practical support of a home with him for me and the lads. I put all my faith in the big risk of marrying him and going to the Pilbara. I don’t see this as a mistake in retrospect as there were many positives in the move to the Pilbara and the work and life experience I gained while there. However I was still desperately unhappy.
We all moved to Geraldton in 1993 and this seemed to be a way out of the situation we were in at Newman with potential of a fresh start. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough and we separated in 1994 just after I had my fortieth birthday.
The lessons I learnt since that time are incredible (another story altogether) and enable me to live a good, healthy life as others do. It hasn’t stopped the occasional visit of depression. I am aware that there are times where even the best of personal circumstances can be hit with depression and anxiety.
My life now is so much better than it has ever been and I am puzzled why I still get down sometimes. I have come to believe that it is beyond my control – mostly. I acknowledge I have some control over what I think and do, friends I keep, interests etc. But I have come to believe that these episodes are genetic and I need to accept that I cannot change that I have periods of depression. They don’t play a big part in my life today.
I now believe that there is no magic solution; I can make it worse by my thinking habits or I can make it better by my thinking habits – which I can influence. No doubt my diet and exercise has an impact as well.
So this is where I am at now – I realize that my seeking for a place of homecoming where I am accepted for who I am and loved for who I am (24/7) is really an elusive dream. My goal now is to love others, have compassion for self, hope to live my life kindly and wisely to the best of my ability and be grateful for all the good in my life.