Category Archives: Growth

Nightmare on Ardleigh Crescent

The manifestation of my childhood trauma?

The manifestation of my childhood trauma?

Ok, so Ardleigh Crescent may not have the same ring to it as Elm Street, but for me, the nightmare I had last night resonated just as soundly as the ones I used to have many years ago as a very troubled teenager living in a very troubled home environment. Just like back in that time, the villain in last night’s nightmare had the face and persona of our friend Freddy Kreuger, who had first appeared in pop culture in 1984, the year that my mother married my stepfather and things in my world took a sinister turn. I think back to that time, and realise now that by making the villain Freddy in my nightly replays of certain events, did in fact make it easier to survive day by day because ultimately Johnny Depp and Co prevailed and Freddy was eventually vanquished … although we never quite know do we?

Fast forward to my forty year old confident self who has worked hard to overcome childhood traumas. I make a point in my life of today to actively live in the now, which means by default not reliving the past. So, I was very surprised that old scar face showed himself in my dream last night. When I woke up this morning, I recalled large chunks of it vividly, and whilst I don’t feel the need to expand on the content this morning, the subject matter and storyline involved my youngest daughter and would scare any parent.

But something was very different about this dream. Even though the Freddy was there and loomed large and scary, I actually wasn’t scared at all. I recall feeling enraged, irate that he would have the audacity to show up and even try it on! Even though the dream sequence took some scary turns and there were some close calls, I was able to thwart him at every stage. Hell, at one point I even recall spinning around with my dress shooting out flames, which was hell cool! (I do think this bit was more to do with the fact that the girls and I went to see Catching Fire last night and I was channeling a bit of Katniss Everdeen – Hell Yeah!).

Every scene culminated in me shepherding my girl and her friends to safety, and the finale was when I kicked Freddy’s ass UFC style (thanks to my son I know a bit about this), and took the sucker down in a mighty straight arm bar triple attack! I remember it took place in the driveway of my old house at 31 Gregory Street in Toowoomba, and I yelled out “Citizen’s arrest Kreuger … you are going down for a long long time!” … Cheesy maybe … empowering more so!

I used to wake up from Freddy dreams literally feeling like I had done battle, and sometimes I would have scratches on my arms or face that at the time made me very very scared, as I truly thought the bastard was real. Now I know that I probably scratched myself but at the time it made more sense that he was there as back then I did truly feel like I was living in an inescapable nightmare.

I am telling this story not because I need to revisit that time, but because my nightmare of last night had such a different feeling. Even though like in my past it played out on and off throughout the night – even after I got up and had a drink of water – I went back to the same scene as if it were merely an intermission. The major difference in last night’s dream was that not only was I the lead actor but I was also the director, and man that is empowering. Despite the action in my dream, I still woke up feeling refreshed and ready to have a great day!

If dreams are indeed a manifestation of our subconscious (and I will throw over to my good friend Melanie for comment on this), I am taking this one as a sign that my life is truly in a great place. The past few years have certainly had their peaks and troughs, and this has left me a little battered at times. But as the year draws to a close I know just how much I do have to be grateful for and just how many demons I have vanquished. Through my choice to work with my mentors (the film crew) and friends (the supporting cast), I have made so many amazing changes in my life, which of course has put me in a place where I can not only stand firm and protect my little family from whatever might come their way and through making a choice to live firmly in the now, I am also teaching them to do the same, which means I have created generational change, and by crikey I am proud of that!

I have a feeling there won’t be any more installments in this series. Besides, “Nightmare on Ardleigh Crescent 2” has no kind of ring to it at all.




Hold on to your hats … it is going to be extraordinary! (AKA You like me)

I am loving life right now. Things are really coming together. I am achieving my dreams, and the momentum with which this is happening is crazy wonderful. I have clarity on this like never before. Within the next twelve months I will be a published author and a property entrepreneur. My corporate writing business is building at a pace that is manageable yet looks like being profitable. My health is on its way to being the best it has been in years. This detox is really working and I am not even hungry. I am not even struggling mentally with the fact that I won’t be eating cheese and crackers with smoked salmon accompanied by a chilled Marlborough SB tomorrow night, which is a bit of a Friday ritual (OK, that one pinches a little)! I caught up with a girlfriend the other afternoon after a stressful meeting and said “I need a herbal tea and an apple STAT!” … Admittedly, said GF nearly fell backwards in shock. Sorry Larsy I have not gone cray-cray, I am just getting real about what I would for the next decade – my fabulous forties.

Am I there yet? No … do I have a fair way to travel down the path to better health, wealth and fulfillment? Most definitely. Is it going to take as much hard work as say … doing a law degree or raising a couple of fantastic kids – you betcha. Am I going to need to keep getting tidier/more focused/on time/committed/organised … Yerp!

So what is different about things this time?

Many things … the pain of how I was living certain aspects of my life finally reached tipping point. The desire to have and hold certain other things grew too big to ignore. I had some honest conversations with my middle daughter, and we made a commitment to live healthier together. Plus recently I had yet another opportunity to learn a couple of somethings about myself – that it is OK (really OK) if people don’t like me, and that I don’t have to jump in/interrupt/rescue people in order to demonstrate that I am worthy/smart/likable/funny/attractive to men …

At the wedding that I attended recently, I met up with a woman who I knew back in high school. We were chatting about men, as single gals tend to eventually. She told me that all men are bastards. I told her I disagree. It really is about perspective isn’t it?

Grace under fire

Of late I seem to be finding myself surrounded by gracious people. I spent some time in Bali in July doing a self-mastery course, and was partnered up with the most gracious woman called Hayley, whose entrepreneurial graciousness really touched me. Actually, I hugged her a bit in the hope that some of grace would rub off on me. Quite simply, I wanted what she had. I am working hard to get there, and I think I am becoming more gracious in my own knockabout way.
I would like to think that as I actively develop this trait, I am noticing it more in others, and therefore more gracious people are finding me – like my friend Gael, who has graciously made it her mission to help me further my writing career.
I have always had friends who are gracious on a daily basis – and to be honest I have spent most of my life secretly being mad at them because they were. I would like to say thank you to those people for persisting with their efforts to bring grace into my life, I know at times it has been frustrating.
One of these friends posted on her blog about how she was feeling ungracious and needed to work harder on being gracious, and I was interested to read it and then chat with her about her idea of ungraciousness, as I was sure she didn’t really have any ungracious behaviour to report at all. It turns out that she did – I reckon walking into a gathering of people focused on being centred and graceful declaring “I need some fucking graciousness” is pretty ungracious. Kudos to her!
I think therefore I am, and I have decided that I AM gracious just like this gal …
It may not be the same graciousness as my friends, such as the long limbed elegant graciousness of Fleur, or the ethereal wood nymph graciousness of Renee, the quiet articulate graciousness of Lara, the French inspired elegant graciousness of Amanda, or even the quirky biker chick meets 50′s pinup girl graciousness of Kelbel. My mentor, a gorgeous Irish woman called Maree exudes a graciousness that combines a whole heap of stuff I want to channel … hers is a take-no-prisoners, I’ll kick your arse / take you down Judo style while my hair stays perfect sort of grace. My graciousness is a little bit more of an out-there extroverted, laugh-out-loud-and-occasionally-snort style of graciousness, and I am learning to be OK with that. If that graciousness manifests in ungainly tripping over my own feet, or occasionally having to remove said feet from my mouth then so be it. I can graciously roll with that.
Yesterday I tested this new found graciousness. I spent the afternoon in the company of a very lovely man. We went to a movie (Tim Winton – The Turning, very long but loved it), dinner and took a stroll with coffees down in Fremantle. I was doing well at channelling grace, and only tripped over the hem of my dress twice … but I think that is because his idea of the pace of a “stroll” is somewhat different to mine. I didn’t get run over by any cars, although there was one near miss; and I tried to be delicate when I munched on the popcorn and only dropped three bits down between my cleavage.
I noticed and said thankyou when he did stuff like pull my chair out at dinner, and held the door open for me. I did have two glasses of wine the course of the meal, but I didn’t scoff it back like it was last drinks at the local nightclub. Just enough to be chatty and amusing … because we all know what a shy wallflower I really am.
I thought I would dazzle said man with an interesting and graciously told fact about the difference between how men and women communicate. I told him that on average women use about 32,000 words per day, and men about 7,000. He pondered this for a second, and then asked me, quite seriously “Who else’s words have you taken then?” … I think I laughed so hard I snorted … graciously of course.

Sunday Breakfast as a Metaphor for Life

Sunday Brekky @ Beaufort Street

Sunday Breaky @ Beaufort Street

This morning I went for a leisurely Sunday Breakfast with my good friend Gael, who I met at a property investment seminar I attended some weeks ago. From the moment that I sat down next to Gael we connected, it was one of those organic friendships that sometimes just are from the moment you meet. Anyway, Gael and I were to join some other wonderful women for a discussion on where we are at with our investment strategy preparation. It is to be a regular thing, an empowering way to learn from and support each other in our journey towards replacing our incomes and then some through property. I have so much to learn, and for the first time ever I have put myself directly in the path of the people who want to share their knowledge with me. For the first time ever, I have said to myself “I deserve it”.

But that is not the topic of this post. This post is about an observation my friend Gael made about me and my tendency to wander off the true path and check out the shiny thing over to the side before I am fully done with the shiny thing right in front of me. I am something of a bowerbird in that regard, always looking for something to distract me. It is a recurrent pattern. This is not the first time a wise friend has observed this, however I am really ready to do something about it.

Gael is a coach – professional development, stress management, life … you name it, she can coach it. Gael offered to give me coaching around my writing as a career, and in a few short weeks together we have identified a pathway, and begun to implement strategies to keep me firmly on that path. I have a pressing deadline with respect to my manuscript (I can’t let the cat out of the bag yet), but if I can achieve it, it will be very worthwhile indeed. Every time Gael and I speak, one of the first things she says to me is “tell me about your book, where are you at with it”. Because writing and editing a work of fiction are such foreign things to me, I feel very unsure of where I am really “at”, and my fear of not being where I “should” be has tended to keep me going precisely where I shouldn’t be … and that is procrastinating, dabbling, tweeting, Facebooking, over-researching, reading, watching documentaries (occasionally even Big Brother?) … anything but writing and editing.

Gael used the breakfast I ordered to demonstrate her point. I ordered the breakfast bruschetta, which in itself is plentiful and satisfying. But then the cute Italian waitress asked if I would like a poached egg with that. I am sure I ordered it just to hear her speak her accent some more. But then I thought, what if I don’t want the bruschetta and what if it would be better with some sides, so I ordered a side of potatoes and a side of mushrooms. It was nothing at all to do with gluttony, as whilst I gave it a good go, I knew I could never get through the whole lot. It was about wanting to try as much as I could from the menu, as I wasn’t sure that I would be satisfied with just the wonderful bruschetta, with gorgeous fresh avocado, tomato and shaved cured ham slices … no way could anyone be satisfied with that surely …

It was then I understood perfectly what Gael meant about my use of distractions to avoid being unsatisfied. My pattern is to do that, get off track, and then when I am totally lost in the forest I use the drama of that to forget what my original quest was. Not this time damn it, I have a Gael to help me, I have the support of my children, and many friends, and most of all, this time I want this so badly that I am determined to just keep chewing (writing) one bite at a time, until I am finished. And satisfied.



We smarty-pants creative types, especially those of us with troubled pasts or inherited family patterns of alcoholism and addiction generally master the not so gentle art of self sabotage by our early teens.  We become so “good” at it, it is almost a mercurial part of us.  We are just “those” people, who even though we are generally well liked or even admired by many, we always … and I mean eye-rollingly-jaw-droppingly ALWAYS manage to be that person that stuff happens to!  We attract drama and mayhem into our lives like Miley Cyrus attracts WRECKING BALL parodies, which you can see one of here:

We are the ones at the parties (when we aren’t being poured into taxis early for over indulging), hilariously holding court with tales of our latest mad misadventure. Don’t get me wrong, a little drama is GOOD! Drama can be sexy and empowering and downright gorgeous,  a bit like this picture of the delectable Christina Hendricks:

For both the doer and the viewer, drama of the type I speak can be very compelling.  But it can be oh-so-self-destructive.  In response to my previous post about being a functional alcoholic, one of my longest-serving (you get less for murder – boom boom :-)) friends said ” … sometimes, just sometimes, being your friend means being a little too close to the fire. I have been burned by your brilliance sometimes, but I have never once doubted you.”

What a beautiful and honest compliment, and one that I have only just grown up to accept without going on the defensive.  You may not have doubted me, but I did.  And do.  But I am working on that.

The struggle I have had is that drama very quickly became a retreat from the darker forces in my world growing up, and I developed a self-deprecating boisterous melodramatic flair that I wore as protective armour, a wall to shield me from the chaos and uncertainty of my young life.   The problem with walls or whatever structures our Egos build around our fragile hearts to keep us safe, is that they become such an ingrained part of who we are that we become unable to function without them.  Like any addict, I enjoyed the chaos and drama I created in my life.  I found certainty and security in a life that was never stable.  I attracted people who were more dysfunctional than me, and I tried to fix them.  It was easier and far less scary than fixing me.

I have been very blessed in my life to have had friends of the less dramatic bent, who have willingly and lovingly been my safety net when I have leaped, dove, tumbled, fallen, staggered off the edges of many a cliff.  Don’t get me wrong, I also give myself kudos and credit here, I care too enough about my loved ones to crawl back up said cliff, dragging Ms Ego sulking behind me.  I am learning to care about me.  I have an inner resilience, which when all is said and done, has allowed me to turn the blackest of clouds inside out to reveal some sort of silver lining…


What motivates an individual to purposely put an invisible, destructive gun to their head, and pull the trigger time and time again?   Over the past few years I have really looked at this in my own life.

I have been on a journey of at times quiet introspection, and at other times, loud painful realisation (anyone reading this who went to Bali with me  this year and watched me burn the crap out of my feet crossing a bed of hot coals, when nobody and I mean NOBODY else in the group did can vouch for me here).

I am at a point in my life where I am owning my drama, and taming Ms Ego.  She can come out to play when I say, but not so much that she protects me by keeping me lonely.  Sure, I have a few messes of my own making to clean up yet, but I am OK with that.  I can own them and stand in my truth.  Up until recently, I truly honestly did not believe I deserved love, happiness, wealth … all of the good stuff.  I chose men who treated me horribly because those choices reinforced my own self-image.   I also treated some good men horribly but that is for a whole different post.

I did not feel that I deserved to be successful, especially as a writer, so therefore I didn’t stretch myself beyond witty Facebook banter and half written novels shoved in the back of drawers, or on computers which crashed because I did not have the temerity to maintain them or back them up … oh the drama!  It was all self-sabotage and no matter how many times people told me they didn’t doubt me, or that I was really good at something, or deserved something, I was happier reinforcing old beliefs and staying slave to drama.

I now realise how good life can be and that the companionship of self-sabotage is truly no companionship at all.  I am bravely carving a new path for myself, and if you want to tag along, I promise not to go too close to the cliff … just enough to see the birds wheeling on the nests below 🙂

A drinker with a writing problem …

A Behan much more famous than I am (although I am alive and working on it)  … the late great Irish Playwright and social commentator Brendan Behan once described himself as “a drinker with a writing problem“.


Brendan Behan was such a talented man, a first class writer with a finely honed ability to commentate on matters social and political with a raw and razor-sharp wit.  For anyone unfamiliar with the great man, you can wikipedia him here –  In his short 41 years on Earth, Brendan wrote prolifically – short stories, plays, poetry, novels … in both English and his native Irish tongue.  

The statement was an apt one, sadly Brendan died prematurely from disease brought on by his primary disease – alcoholism.  He developed diabetes and towards the end of his life, suffered from horrible seizures, eventually collapsing at the Harbour Lights bar, where he was transferred to the Meath Hospital in central Dublin, where he died.  The world lost a great literary talent on that day.

My own battles with alcohol over-consumption (I am not quite ready to use the word “alcoholic” with the words “I am an” in front of it) have been waged for longer than most wars.  I had my first “proper” alcoholic drink when I was in grade 7 and by the time I was in year 9 was taking vodka and orange juice to school with my lunch and binge drinking most weekends if I could. Alcohol became a way to numb the pain of life, which at that stage was lived with an abusive step-father (who drank Jack Daniel’s with a mean look in his eye which got meaner just before he was about to hit you), a mother who although still functioning then, was starting to drink in the morning before work to cope with the pain of choosing to subject herself and us to such abuse. <a
I have wanted to write about this subject for a long time, but as it is personal and painful I have been reluctant to, for fear that my friends will discover something dark and shameful about me and not like me anymore.  Let alone what potential employers might think – especially in the legal world, which up until recently I was trying to carve out a career (and that is a whole story in itself – don't get me wrong, I love the law, and am grateful for the skills I have acquired, but not actually "being" a lawyer, but lacked the courage until now to change that).

Anyway, I am digressing, dodging the issue, dawdling … fighting the urge to trash this post before I get to the dark and dirty nitty gritty.  My alcoholic tendencies (yes, that I will accept), were inherited from both of my parents.  As I sat down to write this tonight, as another way of avoiding writing this post, I flicked over to Mamamia and read this amazing piece by Alice Nicholls:  By the time I read it, and then re-read I had tears streaming down my face.   the characters and setting were different, but the experiences and patterns that were set up by Alice’s alcoholic parents were the same as mine.  Sadly, both of my parents died from their addictions – after my brother was killed at age 22, my Mum spent the last twenty plus years of her life as a virtual recluse in a haze of drugs and alcohol. As such, she missed out on a life with me, and my children, and they missed out on having an active engaged Grandma. Instead, she would call up at all hours of the day and night, in a rambling slurring mess saying all sorts of crazy shit.  It made it very hard for me to love her, but I did.  She chose to overdose in July last year on a toxic combination of goon wine, morphine and other pills.  For those of you who don’t know “goon” is wine that comes in 5 litre boxes or casks, and it is truly terrible stuff.  Mum would harangue her carers to bring it for her, or have it delivered.  On the morning she was found dead in her bed, surrounded by empty pill bottles, by a carer, the house was littered with mugs (wine glasses were not ever big enough) of half drunk wine – there was even one on the toilet cistern.  My heart broke some on that day, but I had long ago come to terms with the fact I could not save my Mum.  For her, and me if I am truthful, her death was a release.

My beloved father was a high functioning alcoholic.  He served over thirty years in the army, where he was regarded as a leader of men and women.  It was only at his funeral that I actually found out just how well-regarded he was by his veteran colleagues.  When he got out, him and my Step-mum bought a pub … and he was a very good publican.  My Dad was a beer and rum man.  I have had many blacked out nights drinking good old Bundaberg rum.

From both of my parents I got other gifts – from my Mum the love of reading (although sadly Mum’s brain atrophied to the point where she could not read novels as her short-term memory would not allow her to remember what she had read the night before)  I have some lovely memories of lying in bed beside Mum, both of us reading our latest treasures from the library.  I have loved libraries ever since I used to go to the old Toowoomba library and meander through the dark wooded shelves.  For me, in the chaos that was my childhood, with a gravely ill with a kidney condition Autistic brother who was often hospitalised or attending medical appointments, my books were my sanity savers.  

From my Dad, I received the gift of communication.  My Dad was always MC-ing at functions and dining in nights while in the army, and in any social occasion, my Dad could command the floor with his wit, humour and knowledge about an enormous variety of topics.  Nobody knew history and geography better than my Dad.  That love he passed to me, and I have passed that gift onto all of my children.  It is only recently that I am starting to really own that gift.  I was always the girl who wanted to be a better singer, or dancer, or taller, or thinner or a better painter.  I never realised what an amazing gift being able to communicate is.  It is an amazing thing to be able to move people with words.

It was in March this year, on my 40th birthday of all days, my Dad passed away.  He had been sick for a while, but as I had moved interstate a few years ago, I had not realised how sick he was as although we talked regularly on the phone, I had not seen him for a while.  I had actually organised to take my kids back home in May to surprise him on his birthday.  Instead, he surprised me on mine by dying.  “Cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol abuse” was what the coroner put on his death certificate.  On Mum’s it was “asphyxiation due to mixed drug toxicity”.  Not nice things to read about your parents.   

Anyway, the topic of this post is MY struggle with alcohol.  Like Alice, I too come from a long line of successful alcoholics.  Most of my friends who read this blog can tell a story about me being a drunky monkey at a party and having to be poured into a cab.  Like me Dad, I am generally a hilarious, social and entertaining drunk, but I can also get mean, bitter and violent like my Mum.  It is not something I am proud of, but in the enormous growing up I have done this past year, I also know that not owning it out of shame is not healthy either.  And, it is mostly under control – I do manage to keep myself nice on most social occasions, although when I am bad, I am diabolically so. Thanks to my inability to drink wisely, I have sabotaged relationships, made terrible choices, been sexually assaulted and caused injury to myself. I have battled with depression and used alcohol (and other substances in my younger days) as a selfish self medication. Which of course, perpetuates the cycle of remorse, and ego driven depression. I have a friend who says his ego is a dream stealer. Well, mine is a nasty drunken bitch. 

I did for many years, convince myself that I was not like my mother, because I would NEVER drink goon.  Instead my poison would be much classier, and I would drink it out of a glass, with a stem, not a mug.  But a drink is a drink and for some us, too many comes too often.

Some friends I don’t spend as much time with as they drink a lot, and even though I like them, I have learnt that I need to spend the majority of my time with people who have a healthy relationship with alcohol, or even no relationship at all.  I have a beautiful friend who writes a great blog on here who virtually does not drink, and I always have a blast hanging out with her. I have other friends with whom I love nothing more than to share a meal and a few glasses of nice wine. In wine glasses. With stems. From a bottle. In moderation.

In any event, the passing of both of my parents in the manner they did has without a doubt caused me to pause and reflect on the legacy they left me. And the legacy I will leave for my kids. I have raised three amazing kids – my son Harley is nearly 21 and lives in Japan following his dream of become a champion MMA fighter, my 17-year-old daughter Lily-Bliss has just about finished year 12 and is tossing up whether to be an electrician, graphic designer or anthropologist. She is smart enough to do all three if she wants, and she is only just starting to get that. My baby, the delightful forthright Miss Eden is 11 and already writes to politicians on issues which trouble her, like animal cruelty. Having raised them mostly as a single mother, with the help of the village of amazing friends I have, and certainly in the early years, my Dad – who was an awesome Granddad, I reckon I have given them gifts-a-plenty. They all have my courage, love of learning (ok perhaps sometimes not in the conventional school way), and they are all turning out to be kind and compassionate world citizens.

But I also need to acknowledge that I have, like my parents gave me, given them the darker gift of coming from to quote Alice Nicholls “a long line of successful alcoholics”. They have seen me in states, like I saw my parents in states. Thankfully, nowhere near as often, but still they have. They have forgiven me, and because we are open and honest in our family – we have a saying “We are the Behans”, which is kind of code for “we talk about things, we square up to them and own them” – they know that I am a work in progress and am still struggling to vanquish demons of my childhood. Thankfully, the older two are not drinkers, and my son has told me that this is because of what he has seen in our family. At 11, my youngest is yet to be exposed to it by peers, although I was only 12 when I had my first serious drink.

I guess by finally writing this piece, I am at a point where I am together enough and brave enough and willing enough to want to change a pre-ordained legacy. I have dealt with a lot of the grief and anger from my childhood, but each day I deal with just a little bit more. Every day, I learn to exercise more control over the nasty drunken bitch that is my ego. Every positive step I take towards self-belief and as such honouring myself by nurturing myself in more healthy ways is a brave step towards freedom. When I read Alice’s article, I got a little bit braver, and I had to tweet her to say thanks. Every day that I am braver with this struggle, I know that I create room in my world for other, better things, and opportunities to do what I am passionate about, which is communicate and write. I am creating a world where I am a writer … with a writing problem.


A quick post before I try to sleep. Huge day, first of a three day property investment seminar that I am going to … Part of my bigger journey of growth. Then took my girls to see Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters … A great Friday night flick. A bit of Facebook catch up to find I won a little competition by writing a quick tale about the pitfalls of public transport. Hoping to drift off to sleep reading Toni Jordan’s “Fall Girl”. I had the pleasure of meeting Toni at last week’s Big Sky Writers Festival in Geraldton … And am chuffed to have read what she wrote in my signed copy of her book … Inspiration 101!