Bucket Lists & moving on … 

 I had never made a bucket list before. Like New Years resolutions, I had always steered clear of them. Now I have one. I have not published it because I have been focused on actually living it. Doing it. Actions rather than words.  

It is a very slow process recovering from an abusive relationship. Escaping the relationship and then recovering from the damage done. I am going to continue to share my story in the hope that it creates a better understanding for other victims and that it may help someone recognise their own situation and to realise it is not hopeless. There is life afterwards. A better life. There is hope.

It is hard to explain to someone who has not been there but when you are in an abusive relationship you lose all sense of self and become someone that you no longer recognise. Trapped. Smaller. Less than who and what you were. Defeated. In order to recover you need to rebuild every aspect of your life. Like building a house, you start with the foundation and then build from there. Brick by brick, building to something bigger and stronger. The life which had been on hiatus restarted and allowing you to move on. Stronger for the lessons and the knowledge gained. Better for the appreciation of life as it can be. 

It has been a year of change, of rebuilding, of “doing”. It has been a great year! New job. New outlook. New opportunities. So, here are a few of the things I have done in my year of freedom … My Bucket List as I tick it off. 

… I can & I will – Just watch me! 

– Bluesfest Byron Bay –

Over the Easter long weekend I travelled to Byron Bay for the 27th annual Bluesfest. The music was fantastic, the experience itself was incredible. I also had my total “fan girl” moment when I got to meet Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi at the signing tent. That moment alone, after having just watched them kill it on the Crossroads stage, had me floating home. 

Bluesfest March 24th-28th 2016 

– Kayaking –

As part of my Byron Bay trip, I wanted to go out on the sea and see some dolphins in their natural habitat. I also just really love being out on the water. It was an unforgettable experience. So many Dolphins, dumped off the kayak by a rogue wave, climbing back on (now there is a strong metaphor for my last year) and loving the absolute beauty of Cape Byron, Watego’s, Byron Main Beach and the volcanic reef. An exhilarating experience I would definitely recommend. My next kayaking adventure will be the Melbourne Moonlight kayak tour. 

 Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay March 27th 2016  

– Inflatable Regatta on the Yarra –

600 inflatable boats slowly floating down the Yarra River. The hashtag for the day was #floatyourboat … well, it certainly did that. A wonderfully whimsical and relaxing journey in a part of my marvellous home town that not too many people get to appreciate. It was an absolute blast.

Inflatable Regatta February 27th 2016

– Fun Runs, Challenges and Climbs – 

Part of my goal this year was to get out and be more active and to take on physical challenges. I am fitter than ever and I want to take advantage of my new found energy and have fun. I have completed the Eureka Climb (November 2015) and Color Run (June 2015) and have Obsta Splash (April 2016), Mother’s Day Classic (May 2016), Stadium Stomp at the MCG (June 2016) and Miss Muddy (February 2017) ahead. I also climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge (July 2015) with my sister Robyn. That was an amazing experience!    

Color Run Melbourne November 22nd 2015 

Eureka Climb November 15th 2015 

Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb July 25th 2015  

– New Years Fireworks On Sydney Harbour – 

Sydney throws one of the worlds best New Years parties and seeing it not just by the harbour but on a boat on the harbour was an amazing experience. 

New Years Eve Sydney Harbour December 31st 2015  

– Travel –

Being a shift worker has its fair share of disadvantages. One of the advantages though is getting blocks of days off. I decided that I would take advantage of these and do some short getaways within my home state of Victoria and interstate. I have annual leave coming up later in the year and will be doing one of my bigger getaways then. 

Broome July 2015  

Daylesford July 2015   

Sydney July 2015  

Sydney September 2015   

Sydney December 2015   

Bright February 2016   

Byron Bay March 2016   

– Learn Ukulele –

This is a work in progress but I am getting there. With the help of my daughter who is showing immense patience I have started on the journey. Adding new skills and hobbies is high on my list … Next is juggling.   

Stay tuned … Life is good! There is so much more ahead.

– I can & I will … Just watch me!

I can & I will – Just watch me. 

One year on … 

It has been a really important 12 months. It has been a year in which I have focused on rebuilding my life and I have to say – life has never been better. I am living and loving every moment. I am getting out amongst the world and enjoying everything – work, activities, socialising and just being me. What a difference a year makes. What a difference being free makes.  I am healthier. I am fitter. I am mentally stronger. I am happier.  Above all else, I am comfortable with who I am and where I am in my life. Me.


Yesterday I floated down the Yarra River in an inflatable raft as part of the 2016 Inflatable Regatta. It was an absolute blast. Gorgeously scenic, tranquil, slightly ridiculous but loads of fun. Out on the water, enjoying the best of what Melbourne (and life) has to offer.

My way of living now is pretty simple. Enjoy the now for there may be no tomorrow. I can and I will – just watch me!

One step at a time … 


This is the way I am now living my life. It is amazing how life can change. From living under a huge weight and shadow, to once again being free of that burden and actually living rather than just existing. Enjoying life. Finding peace within. Healing my mind, my body and my spirit.

My belief in myself was tested by an abuser. Being in an abusive relationship is the single most destructive thing that can happen to you as it effects every single aspect of your life. I was broken over a period of years by a narcissistic abuser. Narcissists are a special kind of abuser. They play the victim, they gaslight, they project their own inadequacies and bad behaviours on to their victim to feed their need for emotional supply. They will weave a tale in which they are the victim of crazy exes and they sell it like the best snake oil salesman on the planet. They are emotional vampires. Their victims are left feeling like an empty shell and any sense of self and worth is whittled away, any confidence destroyed in the process. Then they move seamlessly on to their next supply leaving yet another victim to pick up the shattered pieces. 

It was not until I reached rock bottom and finally decided to not let this empty person destroy me, that I could truly begin to recover. It took a while. I stumbled. I allowed contact and the manipulation and control began again – worse than before as the boundaries I had failed to set had shown they could push even further, making their disdain, abuse and treatment even worse. I fell. Then, one day, I climbed back up and started moving on. No contact. A complete cutting of all ties. It was not easy, but eventually I understood at the lowest ebb that only I could extricate myself from the codependency, the control and from the misery this person was bringing to my life. The choice was made. That person would no longer diminish me or have power over me. I have not looked back. My healing continues.

Yesterday I took another step in my own personal journey. Another step in my recovery. It was actually 1624 steps. 88 floors. All forward. All onwards and upwards. As part of my recovery I set myself small goals, as well as making a “Bucket List” and yesterday I completed the Eureka Climb which was on that list. I want to run, climb and ride. I have reclaimed my life and am revelling in the experience. I still have a long way to go, but I am on a path that is healthy for me … Mind. Body. Spirit. 

I can & I will.


It gets better …

This one is written for my fellow survivors…

I was once in that bleak place. A place where sense of self was gradually whittled away and where self confidence was eroded to a point where simply functioning was a chore. That pit of despair where an existence took the place of a life. Where eggshells were underfoot and fear was a constant companion. I know my fellow survivors understand that feeling and that they know that place too well. They can understand that climbing out of that dark place seemed impossible when the light was constantly blanketed … The flame constantly doused by an abuser. That awful parasitic being who tried to fill their own emptiness by sucking the joy, happiness and life from you – you were their supply. They were a hollow shell masquerading as a human being – the term for their own brand of mess is NPD. No chance of changing. No conscience. No empathy. An actor imitating other people’s emotions. They wreak their own special kind of destruction then move on to their next supply … All the time blaming their last victim for the havoc that they wrought. Telling the world about the injustices they have suffered and conveniently leaving out their abuse. Selling the same lies over and over again. Coming to terms with that can be hard. Not responding. Not acknowledging. No chance of closure. Moving on without it because that is the only way to get healthy again. There is no closure with a narcissist. Responding would only bring on a new round of bullshit. It is not worth it.

Even after you are free, the weight of that abuse can hold you down and be an anchor around your very soul. The numbness and hollow feeling after being drained by that emotional vampire is hard to recover from. The damage may seem permanent – irreparable. I can tell you … It isn’t. Hang in there. It does get better. Please believe me. Do not allow that person who did their best to destroy you succeed. As hard as they tried, you are stronger. You are braver. Their emptiness is not yours. You have what they can never have, what was impossible while living in that hell – A chance at being happy. A life. You can take away their power over you by moving forward and living YOUR life well. One day at a time at first, and on some days, it may seem like one breath at a time … but some time in the future you will again feel what a precious gift life is. That you are free of the shackles and to make the most of the short time we have, as there may be no tomorrow.  Anger has a place. Tears have a place. Sorrow has a place. Healing has a place too. I am no longer angry. Why? I decided one day, when that fog had lifted enough for me to see a tomorrow, that if I were to die that day that I did not want anger to be the last thing I feel. I did not want it to be sorrow, resentment, hurt or hate either. I did not want those negative emotions to own me. I felt all of those things. They were necessary. The important thing for me was that I did not want those things to be ALL that I felt. I wanted joy, I wanted hope, I wanted happiness. I wanted to feel happy in my own skin again. To let those wounds heal rather than fester.

My words to my fellow survivors are simple. Let yourself heal. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself really feel again. Not just the awful stuff they left behind, but all of the other wonderful things you are capable of. Those good feelings are there inside you. They may be tamped down and hidden. The fire that once was, may now just be a tiny single ember. You may be scared to give that ember air and fuel – to feel anything  – because the pain you have suffered has made you believe that is all there is. It isn’t. Please do not let your abuser have that power over you. Do not let the damage they did own you. Do not let them own you.

– To let you know it is possible I will share my story –

I have come so far in the last five months. In the beginning I felt the hurt, the numbness, the betrayal, the anger, the complete despair, and worse, the loss of identity. I had no desire to do anything, to engage with the world in any way. I felt broken beyond repair. Each day was a blur and I was simply going through the motions. I was co-dependent and my addiction to an unhealthy relationship had nearly killed me. Even after I finally walked away from it the damage seemed like it had destroyed the living me and left behind a walking corpse. I pushed on each day. Barely. My daughter. My family. Good friends. Willpower. Stubbornness. A good therapist … A sliver of hope. Those were the things kept me going. Slowly. Gradually. Things improved. I forced myself to believe that they would keep improving. I marked the days off – days I survived, I focused on doing one good thing for me each day. If I reached 7 days I celebrated. As I did that, each morning it became easier to believe that good things would continue – those daily reminders, that focus on life and the good things broke me out of the emotional prison I had been living in. At 30 days I looked at the list (written in sharpie on my mirror) and realised that now I didn’t have to remind myself – life is good. Not always easy – but good. That horrible less than half life of living with an abuser was not for me and was not going to be my story. I adhered to “No Contact” (which was also written on my mirror) and took back MY life. It felt powerful then … It still does now.  

Four months ago I relocated in my job. To make a new start. To move so that I could not run into the abuser. To start on that road to recovery. A good opportunity. A change. It helped. My confidence increased. The fog of day to day “going through the motions” began to lift ever so slowly. I missed my old work mates but loved the new environment and met a whole new group who I enjoyed working with. Enjoying work again was a huge step in my recovery. One small step that felt like a giant leap – not a moon landing, but my own personal significant event. At the same time I also set my sights on getting a new job. I applied for a few roles and went through interviews. That was also a confidence building exercise. To look at what I had achieved, adjust my sights on what I could achieve and to aim for a better role. I landed a job I really wanted. That felt pretty good. One with a challenge. One with a future. Before I started in the new job I embarked on something else – I travelled with my sisters.

My family have suffered losses in the last five years – death has robbed us in a cruel way and left a raw wound for all of us. These days – I hug my daughter tighter. I treasure my remaining siblings more. I am so grateful for my friends. Our differences are not as great as the things we share. A trip to Broome with two of my sisters, and then visiting my other sister in Sydney was just the beginning. In Western Australia my sister Wendy etched these words in the sand: “Ohana is forever”   Ohana is Family – The quote is a reference from “Lilo & Stitch”. Forever … Nothing actually is forever, as we have learned, but our bonds and love we share is as close to forever as we get in the finite time we have. More trips, more shared experiences – that is the future.

The present – I started my new job a month ago and I absolutely love it. The challenge, instead of tiring me, has me energised and wanting to learn. Wanting to grow. To have that aspect of my life be as fulfilling as I know it can be. It is right now. The other aspects of my life are recovering too. I am happy with my life.  That desire to get out and do things is back and my enthusiasm has returned. I am happy with myself – in my own skin. I don’t need to write on my mirror each day, but I will still take time each morning and each night to be thankful for my life now that I am free. I have plans. I have a bucket list. I have set myself new goals. The dead eyed look of a year ago is gone. My smile is real – from my soul – it shows in the eyes. Not the sad eyes and half smile that was hiding the pain and misery of what my life behind closed doors was. I have four days off coming up and my daughter and I are going away together. A mini break. I have the freedom to do that now and I will. We will. At Easter I have Bluesfest. Some time at the end of next year it will be a trip on The Ghan. Another Sister trip. A full family trip is on the horizon too. Then the little getaways in between. New job. New freedom. It feels like a new life. It is. I now understand the powerful symbolism of the Phoenix. Reborn from the ashes of destruction. Not just a survivor – a powerful and beautiful new beginning. I am sure I will stumble and fall on occasion. I am sure I will have bad days. I have had plenty of those. We all have. I am also sure there are those better days. Ones that would not have been possible whilst being a human emotion donor to an empty pit. It is never too late to close one chapter or one whole book and start writing your own story over again. My fellow survivors. I made a promise to me and I promise you … It does get better