Sometimes it’s a mistake. Sometimes it’s not. And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s both at once. I’m talking at the moment about people and how they come into and out of our lives and how it can be hard to know when they’re really gone. The past week or so has been a little like that for me – if there’s anyone who’s read through my archive here, they may recall my first entry of the year where I summed up 2010; it’s here if you want to read – that’s cool, I’ll wait for you to finish.

Done? Great!

A big part of 2010 was getting over a very serious relationship and as events of the past week have proven, that was a difficult thing, largely as I reconnected with said ex-partner which was overall a positive experience. It was good to talk and such, and although it may not have been a smart thing to do I’m glad it happened. What it has also taught me is that bonds are sometimes harder to break than we realise, but that they can be broken in ways you didn’t think they could be. It also reminded me of a lot of things about both her and myself that I missed – and a lot of things that, truth to tell, I don’t like to recall. I’m hopeful that we can move forward as friends and perhaps life will fold that back in without too much insane difficulty. There are of course issues there that may make it not smooth and easy, but life never is. At any rate – I feel, oddly, that I have a lot more closure on the past relationship now in multiple ways. What happens moving forward, well, let’s wait and see.

Touching, isn’t it?

For those following my travails, I’ll put a brief note in here that the lady formerly known as Miss Butterfly isn’t particularly so a few weeks later, but that’s okay in its own way – prepare for the fall, and believe in the shatterstorm potential. It’s odd how you can sometimes talk with someone more after an event has occurred than before or during. How’s that for cryptic, Jessie?

I spent a chunk of the past week at Global Health Conference (GHC) at UNSW in Sydney, which was both interesting and stimulating, while also being boring and uninspiring. Sadly, there was a lot of backslapping going on (self-administered) that seemed out of character, much of the workshop/skill material was not geared at someone with multiple years of medical knowledge and training, and there were quite a few agendas hanging out for the world to see, and being relatively blatantly misrepresented. Add in the fact that for the one social night I decided to attend I was trapped on a boat for four hours where I was feeling like curling up in a ball and hiding for a good two of them, and… well. I’ll give it an overall positive grade for a conference, but I probably enjoyed around 60% of the time.

The boat mentioned just then… I’ve never been on a harbour cruise before. That was fun. The fireworks on Darling Harbour were lovely until everyone rushed outside to watch them and took over my little hidey-space. There were a few people I adore on the boat that it was nice to chat with and spend time with. I met a very interesting young lady from Deakin who had the most insanely captivating accent (Denmark, moved to Australia ten years ago, a subtle blending) who had a former life in HR before med and was a stimulating conversationalist. So, I’d have to say that I did have fun… but let me share a message thread (via SMS) between myself and another GHC attendee who skipped out on the evening:

Me: I always forget how much being introverted sucks when trapped with crowds of people!
Them: And that’s why you should adopt my strategy of just avoiding places that would put you in said situations
Me: Well, the speech is entertaining enough, and there were fireworks. Still, I need to get away and am stuck for hours to come. Ah, life.

I’ve been called a social butterfly. I’ve been told I ‘act like I need people’. I’ve been told I ‘must be an extravert because you get on with people so well’. Maybe it comes across that way, but well, as the ‘extraverted introvert’, I can safely say that the past two days of no people have been entirely and absolutely crucial to my wellbeing.

Time off from people? I love you but please. Go away.

Otherwise, I started moving up to Bowral today, have my house key, have my room picked out, left a chunk of clothing and bedding there (to be fixed on Friday after the carpet cleaner comes tomorrow), had a delicious pie and coffee, and tried to visit my sister and niece only to find the roads were still cut off due to excessively speedy winds and fallen trees and suchlike. Tomorrow, I’m thinking of making a roast dinner and maybe reading some Stephen Donaldson. Perhaps.

Need to work on some fiction too, but that’s another story – pun fully intended.




I’m hoping this doesn’t descend into self-pity, as I suspect it may as I’m working without filters these days. Gasp and shock, I know – me, not filtering my thoughts and comments? The presses, they stop and the newspaper boy shouts from the rooftops!

I’m also just a little bit tired, so I hope this makes sense.

I promised an entry a while back that a) made sense and b) was continuous. This is hopefully that, as I’m getting into a place where I’m actually communicative in a sensible fashion. I’ve been told that I’m still making sense to others, but for me, well, I can see the cracks.

I was chatting with a friend yesterday and she asked how life was going – having known of my recent emotional fun and games. I gave her an interesting analogy for life at the moment, using the old saw “wallpapering over the cracks”, or what I assume to be an old saw. Basically, if my life is a wall or a house, it’s falling apart, the paint is stripping, there are cracks that are growing and the whole thing is threatening to fall to pieces. All I can do about it at the moment is to lay wallpaper over the cracks, sometimes layers of wallpaper, to help hold it together and keep it looking okay, until there’s time to get the builders in and maybe try to actually fix it.

A bit dramatic, yes? Looking at my post from a few weeks ago, where I put in the line about being very scarred – I’m feeling the scars particularly the moment. It’s amazing how we can seem to continue forwards with life and just ignore the things that still matter.

In the past week, two people have read a piece of work I promised myself would never be read by others until I was significantly over the events it depicts – namely, the rise and fall of a relationship during my writing degree that had a similar effect upon my mental state that being fired out of a cannon would on me physically. The piece is called flawless, and I wrote it as a form of catharsis around a year or so ago. The issue? I read it as well.

Memory: opened. Emotions: changed. Bitterness: gone. Regret? Lord no. Affirmation: absolutely.

Sometimes we just can’t break connections, and that’s not the only one, it’s just one that reverberates more than most.

The last week has been difficult from the outset, but only when I catch myself with time to think. I miss that, actually, as spending time with my own thoughts is a joy, but not so much these days. Exam stress, definitely. Emotional stress, indeed. Life stress, well.

It all began to crash down a week ago – I was at a Clinical Mixer, a cocktail party for grownups I suppose. Not drinking cocktails naturally, no, just hanging out and about with a generally lovely group of people – some gems more than others, naturally, and some delightful conversation, but overall a lovely evening. I was frocked up in a three-piece suit with a silver pocket watch and a mindful of diamond conversation… and I walked out after a few hours feeling like I’d been emotionally vampired to death.

Let me explain. I can only spend so long with a group of people before I need to escape. Even in the three hours I was there, I focussed on small groups, and had to take two breaks where I went outside onto the balcony and just stood by myself in the chill air for ten minutes to kind of self-renew.

Driving home afterwards I just felt… drained. Normally I can bounce back with a bit of alone time, but it didn’t seem to help. I feel almost like I’m at the end of my reservoir of being myself. I put online the comment that I was a bit sick of being ‘Ben’ – which is true at times; there’s a fair amount of self-loathing in the background at times, and it does spill forth when I’m particularly exhausted. Being the emotional guardian for the world is an amazing thing, and I really do feel whole when I am being the shoulder, the rock, the hand held outstretched, but I’m feeling stretched ever thinner and I’m afraid light is going to shine through.

In a true-to-form sense, of course, what worries me most about that is that I will be less helpful to others and that they will suffer because of it.

Yeah. I’m aware of what’s wrong with the above sentences.

Sigh. Psychiatry is affecting me more than it should. I don’t want to hug everyone now, which is a small blessing, but I want to be there for people like these, maybe for the people I know more but… this week I was told I’d be a superb clinician and that I’d be a wonderful doctor, one by a consultant specialist, the other by a patient’s family member. That was nice, and as I tried to joke to a med friend, “it’s all in the smiling eyes” (which by the way – how do people not get smiling eyes? How can you not smile with your eyes?) – but yeah. Like I’ve said before – clowns, you just need to be laughing on the outside.

I have an exam in three and a bit weeks. After that, I will no doubt be social for a few days as we do the “yay finished” dance in company, and then after that, I think I might go write a few essays or something to let my brain vent and calm. I might go for a drive for a few hundred kilometres. I might take up music again. I might go and see a play. Whatever I do – maybe I’ll be able to salvage these walls.

Sure as hell it’d be difficult to build a new house at this stage.