Category Archives: Things Familial

Disorganised, depressed and discombobulated and other dastardly D words!

My on again / off again relationship with my closely related nemeses depression and anxiety has been more on that off of late.  A bit like Prince Harry and Cressida… Oh hold on they are well and truly off it seems, which is great news for my daughter who has always fancied herself as a royal wife (not to self – must move to England STAT)…

Anyway, lame attempt at humour aside, I am starting to worry about it and of course this is unhelpful and extremely non productive. One of the unfortunate side-effects of my depression is that I become terribly disorganised to the point of complete discombobulation (according to the WordPress spell checker this is not a word), but there I go digressing again… even this post is disorganised.

My disorganisation is probably one of the things I hate most about being in this state.  It means I forget appointments, miss deadlines (so not great for self-employed struggling writer), get lost when driving (I am normally a cracker with directions), buy everything but the salt and pepper that I went to Coles for in the first place, which then makes me sadder still because what I was really craving was boiled eggs on toast with salt and pepper … you know the dippy egg kind that you have with little toast soldiers:

The happy making power of the dippy egg should never be underestimated as a cure for all manner of things.  Another thing in my life that makes me happy is going to writing events, where I get to meet and mingle and most of all learn from published authors in my bid to achieve my dream (I think goal sounds better – more achievable) of being a published and successful writer.  I was really counting on one such event scheduled (in my mind only) for this coming weekend, and I had sort of put it out to my universe that this event would be the much needed charm to pull me out of my funk!

Said event was


I had told myself that it would be my Mother’s Day present to me (and from the girls) and I was so SO looking forward to it.  Being with other writers in a learning environment was to be just the ticket out of Sadtown.  So imagine my distress (lots of D words going down here today!) when the very lovely Valerie Khoo, (you can follow her on Twitter here: who is the National Director and Founder of Australian Writers’ Centre and just happened to pick up the phone (yes, I had a slightly fan-girl reaction when she told me her name – Valerie as in “Valerie Khoo I squeaked) and returned a message I left, so gently and kindly, after I went into my babble and spiel about really wanting to do the course THIS weekend but could I pay on Thursday (I didn’t let her know I was broke until then because I am depressed and disorganised and forgot to submit some invoices) but could I PLEASE PLEASE secure a spot … Valerie informed me that this course, that I was pinning my hopes of happiness on was in fact as you can see dear reader (all two of you) …. LAST WEEKEND!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! This is not me, but as close a likeness as I want to show right now, as I have hair that is short-in-between-rock-chick-tuckshop-mum, seriously unkempt brows (read monobrow with serious bristles that show under my glasses on the bridge of my nose – Hot!)) and a blind pimple the size of Everest on my chin (oh depression how you do wonders for my looks with your inability to even make it to the beauty salon.

Actually, this is a much closer likeness to me right now:

I digress again… after I heard this news, I babbled on a further forever minutes, and Valerie still kindly and patiently listened (probably thinking God, how on Earth do I get rid of this nutter?) In the course of the conversation, Valerie divulged that the next online course Image

is beginning next Monday 12 May, and as such I could pay for this on Thursday!  Now don’t get me wrong, the online course is being delivered by the awesome Allison Tait who kindly awarded me a copy of her book as a prize for something I wrote (my first and only prize so far, and whilst it is not the Man Booker prize but a Facebook comp prize, I felt like it was … ) “Get Paid to Write: The Secrets of Freelancing Success” which got me started with this crazy notion that I could actually make money out of being a freelance writer.  You can get your copy here: …

The next Perth course is not until August and the next writing event that I am going to is Natasha Lester’s Scrivener course:


Of course this is not until the end of June and if I stay depressed and discombobulated until the then my head will probably fall off. I just noticed that this course is not at the venue where Natasha has held her previous awesome courses, which is a good thing as I would have disorganisedly driven there and then got lost trying to find the correct venue, and turn up late which is never cool.  You can find out more about Natasha, an awesome Perth based writer here:

My success rate with online learning is not great – and has at times been a costly waste of time (3 x attempts at completing my legal practice course and a HECS debt to rival the GDP of China are evidence of this).  However, it is writing and I know I love writing, I loved writing when I was lawyering.  I never loved lawyering the way I love writing.  So can this disorganised, depressed, discombobulated wannabe be writer get her dishevelled shit together and succeed in some on-line learning … well I bloody well hope so, as I just put the cost of the course on my Mastercard … and at least this way I will be able to spend some quality time dragging my daughters around Bunnings for an alternative Mother’s Day present, as this one doesn’t really count does it?

I might even buy some worms for that worm farm I bought my daughter as a much loved gift a Bunnings Trip or ten ago!

Connecting the dead


Dear Dad

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have not been my normal happy self in recent weeks.  The melancholy really crept up on me and has sat squarely in my solar plexus for the entire time.  The melancholy of being the one who now connects the dead in my family has been like a suffocating veil draped over my “me-ness”, and as result I am only feeling like a smothered, shadowy version of myself.

The year of firsts that I was ill-prepared for has come and gone, its beginning and ending marked with my birthday, a day that signifies joy and the celebration of another age milestone and whatever achievements come with that.  You know Dad, I am not sure if it even counts as Irish humour, you kicking the bucket on a really big deal of a birthday – the big 40.  The birthday that was supposed to be one of those really significant milestones where like many women I could look back at my four decades past and reflect with joy (and relief) that I was entering a calmer, more secure phase of my life.  Wouldn’t take much for that to be true, after all you did often say to me that I “lurched from crisis to crisis”, especially in my twenties and early thirties.  Even though you were always very proud of me as I juggled kids, work, study and various “bleeding heart” activities, I know you always worried.  Dad I was really excited to being able to show you in my fortieth year that I had finally managed to have a steady hand controlling the HMAS Kaili …

Dad, you know how you used to say to me was that I was “the toughest bloke you know”.  Right now I don’t feel very tough at all.  I feel bereft in how much I miss you.  It seems like more now, a year on, I think my grief has settled on my shoulders like a well-worn but questionably fashionable coat.

But if I am still Dad (and you know how that challenges me), I can close my eyes and hear you speak those words in your strong Scouse accent.  I can, if I am still enough, feel your arms pull me in for a cuddle and the roughness of your five o’clock shadow rub my cheek as you would let me cry on your shoulder.  Of course, you would then say “enough of that, stop ya bawling … come and have a rum”… For better or worse, we Behan’s have always sought solace in a good stiff drink.

Do you remember that time when I turned up on your doorstep crying after having an awful time at work and that is exactly what you did.  Me in my suit, trying to play at being corporate and together knocking back a stiff Bundy with you while you were waiting for Normie Rich to pick you up for your weekly “Wednesday comp” game of golf, with Mal Moriati and Big Jock Payet… Dad, I can’t tell how much it broke my heart to see Normie, the last of the “awesome foursome” at your funeral.  He looked so lost, now that all three of his mates aren’t here to share a round or two at the end of the game.  Not that I want Normie to join you anytime soon, but just saying Dad – he misses you and you might want to check in with him.  Don’t do anything silly like appear as a ghost in his hallway when he gets up with his tricky prostrate in the middle of the night … that would be just something you would do.  That bloody Irish sense of humour of yours.  Harley, the girls and I – we all miss it, but we are grateful to you for passing it on.  I have needed it lately.

A lot.  I often see something on the news or read it in the paper and think “Dad would have something funny or opinionated (usually both) to say about this”.  The kids and I still “laugh like shit” when we talk about when Jock Payet nearly drove his golf ball into an unsuspecting egret on the golf course … and you starting singing “We have no Egrets” … corny Dad joke that one.

You know Dad, this year has been really tough.  It broke my heart losing you, as I had just realised that we had finally both really found each other.  I think it took me making my epic trip to Western Australia to make us both realise the depth of our love for each other.  During one of our last conversations – I knew you were sick Dad and I was trying to probe a little bit without letting you know I was worried.  When you told me that Dr Jimmy Shepherd put you in hospital because you turned yellow, I think I knew in my head then that I wouldn’t be seeing you for your surprise 70th birthday that we had planned.  My heart still has trouble with the knowing that I am not going to see you again.

You will be pleased to know that your mates at The Royal sprang for the food and drink for a great wake instead of the birthday surprise we had planned.  Bloody hell Dad, I drank some serious Rums with Janelle Walker that afternoon.  And … yes Janelle and her Charlie (you were right when you said what a top bloke he is), and I “laughed like shit” talking about you and your antics over the years.  It was a little bit healing.

By the way Dad, did I mention how much I really am grateful for you deciding to kick the bucket on my birthday … I was feeling like I had just started to feel normal again after Mum (a whole different kind of sadness there … if you see her up there, and you are on talking terms, give her a glass of Fruity Lexia for me and tell her to go easy on the Oxycontin … it makes her dribble x), and you had to go and die ON MY BIRTHDAY!  Shit Dad, do you know how crappy that was – I know you didn’t mean it but it really really sucked.

Dad, can you tell my darling brother Adam that I see his compassion and sense of fairness reflected in each of my children?  He really would have been a great Uncle, I always pictured me taking care of him like I did as a child.  Please tell my beautiful StepMum Valita how much her love and guidance and “never let the sun go down on a quarrel philosophy” has stayed with me – I was young and selfish back then and sometimes didn’t let her love me as much as she wanted.

I know that Valita sent me a little sign with Chris Isaak singing your wedding song “Can’t help falling in love” when I was dropped off at the festival by those two lovely police officers.  I felt so lost, and I kept saying “Oh my goodness” … honestly I must have been in shock, when have you ever known me to say “oh my goodness”?  Bloody Bollocks to that.  I know you were looking down on me Dad, when Dave found me in the dusty crowd and the first thing he gave me was a rum.  He literally stood there and hugged me in the middle of the Fremantle grounds while I sobbed my guts out.  I reckon you and Dave would have had some great yarns about army life Dad, while Kel and I rolled our eyes.

These past few nights I have played enough Elvis and Tom Jones songs to make me cry for a year, and the sentimentality of it all does make me roll my eyes a little.  I have sobbed my heart out to my friends a bit because I feel like you are all up there, and I am down here … connecting the dead.  I miss you – my family.  And it bloody well is not fair as it takes my focus away from my little family here – and my role to connect with the living.

Your little Boogsie has been really sad at times Dad, and there was that terrifying moment I thought she wasn’t going to be here.  I won’t go into it here because I know you know, and I believe you sent her back – probably gave her an earful too.  Thank you for that Dad, I think you know I could not have survived losing my girl.  She is such a beautiful girl, she has one third of my heart.  You would have been so proud of her at her Formal.  She always wanted to dance with you on that special night.  Her eyes matched her dress – the most beautiful of blue.  I remember how you used to say to both the girls “when I grow up I am going to marry a girl just like you”.  They fell in love with you a little bit more every time you told them that … no wonder they miss you.  Well Dad, the only thing I can say is that I hope my girls choose life partners who have half the integrity, intellect and courage that you had.  They will do more than OK if they do.

The “Big Fella” … well Dad, Harley is about to make his debut as a professional fighter.  Can you believe it?  April 29 – do they get Foxtel up there Dad?  Do you remember how I used to get so mad at you teaching him to box – back when I was all tofu eating, tie dye wearing hippie like?  But hey Dad, he went to Japan and has worked so hard to achieve this goal.  I know when he goes into that cage he is going to be looking up at you for some sort of sign.  I totally give you permission to coach him from the clouds, and please make sure he does not come out with Cauliflower ears because he is just so handsome. I am so bloody proud of him and miss him so much … Can you believe he is 21 Dad?  Seriously.  Remember my 21st?  It was not long after Valita passed away and you were in a world of hurt – having lost your only son and then your wife, but you still put a hell of a party on for me.  Of course it helps when your Dad owns a pub!  I know you and Amanda made a big effort and I did not appreciate it at the time – it was just that I missed my brother so much.  You know Harley has always looked like Adam, but holy moly – how much does Eden look like her amazing Uncle Adam?  I know you don’t “do Facebook” but did you see the picture I put up with Eden holding up a picture of Adam at 12 … look at their beautiful sleepy green eyes!  And of course, how much do they both have an affinity with nature and animals?  And just so you know – Harley, Lily and I are not letting Eden date until she is like twenty-two hundred!  Your little Clogsy is on the verge of being a beautiful young woman Dad, all legs and arms, blonde hair and green eyes.  PLUS some serious attitude – just ask Lily – they fight like shit!  But when they fall asleep together they hold hands (I have photographic evidence).

I so wish you, Valita and Adam were here to see how great these kids of mine are turning out.  You know that I have always had to be tough Dad, as you know things were not easy for me growing up.  I know in hindsight you would have done more and it was not like the army of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s was family friendly, let alone to a single Dad with an autistic son and a precocious daughter.  But some of those foster “families” we ended up with when Mum when off the rails / off with a man / got married / went to rehab … really were a bit awful.  But we made our peace with all of that Dad, and as parent I learned to forgive both you and Mum – as I have learned that you can only do the best you can with what you have.  My wise friend reminds me often – you can’t know what you don’t know.

Raising three children largely as a single parent has imbued me with a certain ability to pick myself up when the going gets tough.  Yet, the morning before my birthday I woke up having slept in my ugly melancholy coat, that was so heavy on my shoulders that I actually went back to bed for the whole day.  I have not done that in a very long time.  I realise now that for the past few weeks, during a family crisis, I have been on autopilot trying to steer our little family ship through some pretty stormy seas.  In doing that, I had neglected to prepare myself for this day and I simply ran out of steam.  I do not feel tough at all.  I felt lost and sad and jealous of others who have family when I don’t.

At the end of this year of firsts, I had planned for it to be so different. I had “planned” to be ok and to simply celebrate my life as it is now.  Instead, I found myself unable to plan for more than getting up to make a sandwich.

I have had a lot of time to reflect in my melancholy about how I am here and you are all … not.  I think perhaps it is time for me to stop focussing on connecting the dead.  The thing is Dad, could give me a little sign this week (like I don’t know a Liverpool FC sticker on the car in front of me or something), that it is OK for me to do that?  I can’t seem to do it by myself.

Love Kaili

PS – Hey Dad, do you like my tattoos?  I know you don’t, but it is long way to reach to clip around me the ear, and it was my way of both celebrating you and getting back at your for daring to die on my birthday! x

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.




Home is where the heart is (and family is where you find them)

I started this post sitting at the Perth airport after an epic journey to Queensland and back to see my oldest and dearest friend Caroline marry the love of her life, the gorgeous (and patient) Keleigh. I couldn’t wait to be picked up so I can give the two children of mine who remain at home a big squeeze. It won’t be long until MD (middle daughter) Lily, like her big bro Harley before her leaves the nest, and then it will be Eden and I, and our aging menagerie left at home … here … in Perth…. which so far from some of those I love dearly.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so very grateful for the life I have carved out for myself here in the wild windy west, and I have many who I love (and who love me) over here, but it is when there are celebrations like these you realise that you may as well live on the moon (well not quite … let’s curb my inner drama queen now). But it is a long way to go to see loved ones. To re-frame that, this past weekend I realised that I am truly blessed to have loved ones in the West and East of this lovely land, and quite frankly I am chuffed. I had been feeling quite sad about anything “over East” since my Mum and Dad both passed away in recent months, and at times I have felt I have “nothing to come back home for”. The last time I left Queensland was after my Dad’s funeral in March, and I remember sitting at the Brissy airport with tired and sad children thinking that my heart would perhaps fall out of the bottom of the plane and be left behind in pieces on the tarmac.

This weekend I was proven wrong on so many levels. Not only was it just awesome to see Caro’s family, including her cousins Sam, Cassie and Jason with whom I share many hilarious childhood memories, but I also got totally embraced by her wonderful husband’s huge and friendly family, who “got” my jokes, didn’t mind my sentimentality and allowed me to share in their unique blend of casual and hilarious affection for each other. I reckon I have made some life long friends and the standing joke was that I had now added the “Davey” last name to that of Behan-O’Connor … which would make me K-Bod, which befits my celebrity status as a superstar crime novelist…


So, K-Bod may have left the building, and indeed the state, but in the words of the Gubinator “I’ll be back”!

Youthful Exuberance

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American writer 1803–1882

When my daughter Eden’s little friends came knocking on our door at half past eight this morning, being Sunday, my first reaction as I was still feigning sleep was to tell her to tell them it was too early, and to come back at a decent hour.  I quickly changed my mind and said to her that yes she could go off with them and play in the park.  I concede that I did this perhaps a little selfishly to give myself a chance to enjoy the coffee that she had brought me in relative peace before we head out to pick up supplies for our latest room decorating project, but it did get me thinking about children, play and the way we adults are responsible for stifling the joyous abandonment of unstructured play in the neighbourhood for our children.

Do we live in more dangerous times?  Possibly, or is it that we are because of the media exposure, more aware of the dangers that were always there?  We are lucky to live in a neighbourhood that is safe, with an abundance of parks and cul-de-sacs making it a little haven for the local children who live and go to school here.  It is lovely to hear and see the kids zoom past on their scooters and bikes, or playing chasey through the park.

As Eden is nearly twelve, I know that her years as a child, free to climb trees, shoot Nerf guns and play in the sand will soon draw to a close.  I know this as I have seen it start, the experimenting with makeup, my high heels and a general interest in things that her older sister is interested in.  I feel sad but blessed at the same time as Eden is still happy to play with the neighbourhood kids, some younger than her, and I love hearing her call out goodbye in the street, see you tomorrow … when the sun is setting and it is time to come inside.  I love hearing her chatter about what they did and who they saw … like when they helped a lost dog be reunited with its owner.  I have to trust that together they will stay safe in the park just around the corner and not get caught up in reasons to stop her having the joyous experience of free unstructured play.  

When I was a child, in among all of the dysfunction there were lots of times of joyous free play.  Running through Mrs Grayson’s yard, past lavender and pink and blue hydrangeas and squeezing under the wire fence where Mr Lawton grew his chokoes and scrambling over the big tree (like the magic tree in Enid Blyton’s Folk of the Far-Away Tree) into my best friend Caroline’s yard to bang on her door too early for her parents on a Sunday morning. There was a permanent path that marked this sacred trail.  Caroline and I are still friends now and often reminisce about those crazy fun times.  

So to my Eden, and all of the other children out there – keep playing and don’t let us adults tell you that it is too early, ever!