Being your best neurotic self

Lately I’ve started to feel settled with my life and with who am as a person, which I would like to consider a sign of maturity. Since the big 40 is not that far away, I can say it’s about freaking time. I have always been the responsible type, and responsibility is often mistaken for maturity, but I have come to understand that being an adult means rather to be at peace with yourself and to accept that it is time to stop dreaming that one day you’ll change – or others for that matter.

I will never be a social butterfly, and I’ve learned to spare myself of the dread of spending time with people I don’t like and to keep at bay high maintenance relationships – even the pleasant ones. I love how I only get to speak with my (very few) friends once in a blue moon, but each time we pick up where we left off. I have many flaws, I am a grouch at heart and I am probably, most than anything else, the fucked up product of a very troubled upbringing, which left me with a deeply seated anger which shapes my view of the world and at the same time, rather counter intuitively, a lack of compassion for myself.

Most of my life, I’ve signed up for social things and invested time and energy in relationships because I was distraught at the thought of “being abnormal” or showing my true antisocial colours. However, after finding out accidentally that there is a thing called Complex PTSD, I’ve come to understand that becoming a social butterfly is not a matter of faking it until you make it. You’ll just never make it, and the effort put into faking it is worthy of a better cause.

CPTSD is a complex disorder, a learned set of responses to various circumstances, often caused by growing up in a severely abusive and neglectful family and it is considered “a failure to complete important developmental tasks”. It is not an inborn disability. Its cause is not nature, but nurture – or indeed the lack of it, through abandonment and abuse (physical, verbal, emotional, spiritual).

The mechanism of CPTSD is very simple: when a child’s natural need for bonding and acceptance is met with rage and abuse all the time, eventually he will give up on seeking help and human connection. Avoidance becomes the defensive response of choice and the traumatised child becomes an aloof adult. The perpetual bullying coming from the family induces feelings of humiliation and helplessness, which later in life come back as emotional flashbacks, triggered even by benign events. Also, some of the key features of a healthy adult are missing, since they have never developed during childhood: self-compassion, self-esteem, the capacity for self-expression, the ability to relax.

Some of the traumatised children become perfectionists, subconsciously thinking that our flaws make us unworthy of love, and maybe one day, when we become smart and pretty and flawless enough, our parents will love us. Sadly, that day never comes. In the meantime, we apply self criticism on everything we do or say or think, in order to avoid mistakes which not only would make us unlovable, but would also bring further punishments, abuse and hate upon us.

But enough with the whingeing. The purpose of the post is not to explain myself, but to shed some light on the Complex PTSD topic which is a rather “new” affliction and therefore many have never heard of it. Below, some thoughts from other survivors of childhood trauma. I am sure many of us can relate.

25 Things You Do as an Adult When You’ve Experienced Childhood Emotional Abuse

Ibisul australian

Asa cum in multe orase europene porumbeii s-au adaptat si au devenit pasari urbane, in Sydney avem ibisi. Cu ciocul lung si coroiat, ibisi solitari umbla demni, cu pasi masurati, fara teama, in cautare de mancare scapata sau aruncata pe jos de oameni. Deunazi in Gradina Botanica, un ibis adult umbla in sus si in jos, sacait de progenitura flamanda pe care se oprea sa o hraneasca din cand in cand:

Possible explanation for poor marketing

I’ve recently come across this article published on the most important website dedicated to the Australian media & marketing industry: “Australia is lacking in commercial creativity because ‘most marketers are crap’“.  Actually both my husband and I have been quite shocked with the general blandness / cringe-worthiness of TV adverts when we moved here.

In the light of my recent encounter with an organisation with a rather large number of executive leaders and managers, whilst not generalising, I reckon the insight detailed in the article can be easily extended to other industries as well. I found many employees, but especially those in management positions, not necessarily in the marketing department, to be rather “scared” of taking risks (also, sadly, not only playing it very safe at all times, but also going as far as to support controversial and even offensive actions on behalf of their ranking superiors, if it comes to that, but this might be the topic of a separate story).

This risk aversion can be a symptom of a toxic culture, where the competition for power, influence and promotions is based on subjective and hidden criteria, rather than performance. From my experience, this is most often the case in large, prosperous and well established organisations, that enjoyed a stable economic environment throughout several decades. The large organisations tend to have an inherent organic growth which can easily hide the lack of push for performance.

This lack of “prosperity heritage” can be an explanation for why Romanian commercials, as I remember them, were spunkier and more original than the ones in Australia.

Tourist in my own city

Four and a half years ago I took a life-changing journey to the faraway lands. Getting caught in the nitty gritty of the everyday life I never really had the time to get to know Sydney properly, but I’ve decided to change this – just wandering around, eyes wide open and really taking in the parks, the architecture and the charm of places outside of the hustle and bustle of the CBD.



Australia fata in fata cu nationalismul

Valul de nationalism care ravaseste momentan lumea, preponderent tarile asa zis “bogate” (vezi Brexit, America First a lui Trump, ascensiunea unor lideri ca Marine Le Pen sau Geert Wilders) nu pare sa fi ocolit nici Australia. Noi, veniti aici acum mai putin de cinci ani, nu putem totusi spune daca lucrurile nu au stat cumva in felul asta de mai demult – poate de abia acum ne dezmeticim mai bine pentru ca avem mai mult timp sa digeram niste chestiuni care inainte se pierdeau in zgomotul de fond, dat fiind ca acomodarea in Australia ne ocupa tot timpul la inceput 🙂

Ultima intamplare care m-a starnit sa scriu acum s-a petrecut de ANZAC day. ANZAC day este 25 aprilie, o sarbatoare nationala foarte importanta ce marcheaza aniversarea primei actiuni militare a Australiei in primul razboi mondial – debarcarea in Gallipoli in 1915 de partea aliatilor. Australia si-a unit atunci fortele militare cu Noua Zeelanda, celalalt stat proaspat format in emisfera sudica ca parte din British Commonwealth, de aici numele ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps). Campania a fost un esec total, insa asta nu are relevanta. De ANZAC se sarbatoreste spiritul de sacrificiu si legitimitatea Australiei ca tara independenta de Anglia, un fel de majorat la 15 ani – Australia se nascuse oficial ca tara pe 1 Ianuarie 1901 cand parlamentul britanic a aprobat Australiei libera guvernare ca stat federal.

ANZAC day se serbeaza asadar in zilele noastre cu mare fast, cu ceremonii care incep la 5 dimineata si continua cu parade militare pana dupa pranz. Exista voci firave care contesta sarbatoarea asta, dat fiind ca intr-un fel glorifica ideea de razboi.

A contesta ANZAC este o uriasa blasfemie dat fiind ca limita acceptabilitatii deja se depaseste daca cineva indrazneste sa adauge orice alta idee, alta decat lauda sacrificiului etc, in conversatia pe subiectul ANZAC. Daca acel cineva e australian alb anglo-celt true blue nascut aici, gradul de ultraj e oarecum moderat. Daca in schimb personajul este imigrant, sau si mai rau, musulman, iese haos. Vigilentii de internet ies din toate colturile sa isi exprime ofensa, care pare sa fi devenit deja parte din ritualul zilelor de ANZAC – in fiecare an se intampla sa existe cate un personaj cat de cat celebru care agita ultragiatii de serviciu.

Anul acesta a fost randul unei musulmane, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, o tanara jurnalista care colaboreaza cu ABC, postul public de televiziune, sa provoace scandalul, si banuiesc ca nici prin minte nu i-a trecut ca trezeste monstrul din nationalisti. Motto-ul oficial al zilei de ANZAC este “Lest we forget” (sa nu uitam niciodata), si nefericita a avut proasta inspiratie sa scrie pe contul personal de facebook: ‘LEST WE FORGET (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine)’.

Atat i-a trebuit. Zeci de articole furibunde publicate in ziare, sute de comentarii pe facebook, majoritatea pe ideea piss off where you came from, isterie nationala in toata regula. In aceeasi zi, in mai putin de 24 de ore peste 1 000 de semnaturi s-au strans pe o petitie care cere postului public de televiziune sa o concedieze. La ora la care scriu postul asta, la trei zile de la infamie, petitia are 38 596 de semnaturi. Politicienii populisti au sarit si ei sa ii ceara capul, sa fie concediata, ba unul chiar i-a cerut sa se deporteze singura (femeia s-a nascut in Sudan dar a crescut in Australia). Faptul ca ea si-a sters paranteza rapid cerandu-si scuze (It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly) nu pare sa conteze.

Orice ai adauga despre ANZAC in afara de omagii cauzeaza ofensa, justificata prin ideea de “hijacking”, de impingere a unei agende personale cu ocazia evenimentului – cum ar veni de ANZAC nu ai voie sa ai doua idei in cap pe care sa le exprimi liber. Trebuie doar sa te gandesti la anzaci, sa oftezi si sa iti para rau. Punct. Daca faci greseala sa fii si femeie, neagra si musulmana cand iti vine in cap al doilea gand si alegi sa il exprimi, ai pus-o.

Yassmin asta nu e vreo persoana admirabila – e genul de personaj care in orice imprejurare vrea sa iasa ca paduchele in frunte. Una din prostiile emise care i-au adus ceva celebritate e aceea ca Islamul este cea mai feminista religie – vezi mai jos circul:

Vanatoarea de vrajitoare pe care a starnit-o insa este total nejustificata si arata fata urata a Australiei, aceea cu narcisisti plini de self entitlement, ultragiati de serviciu, patrioti de hartie, bigoti si ignoranti, pe care nu am avut pana acum neplacerea sa o cunosc personal. Devin insa constienta ca exista si probabil de abia asteapta sa se catere in caruta ultra nationalista si sa traga tara pe aratura dupa modelul american.

Dupa patru ani de Australia

Pe 8 Martie am aniversat patru ani de Australia. In acest rastimp am cunoscut (prea) multi oameni, m-am convertit la veganism, am citit si calatorit prea putin, am descoperit niste locuri magnifice, am schimbat doua joburi, iar cel mai remarcabil moment a fost reintalnirea recenta cu (no safety or surprise) the end. Next milestone: cetatenia australiana.

Spiritual schimbarea emisferei m-a afectat prea putin. Mai putini nervi cotidieni, un mediu mai aseptic, un peisaj cu mult mai frumos indeed dar overall aceeasi proportie de prozaic. Omenirea mi-a ramas la fel de putin draga – si am cunoscut destula lume pe aici, din toate neamurile, straturile sociale, religiile, orientarile sexuale si ce mai vreti.

Mizantropii care viseaza la emigrare in ideea ca schimbarea aerului cu unul mai occidental ii va duce la schimbari de paradigme s-ar putea sa aiba suprize neplacute. Diferentele notabile ar fi pe de o parte pojghita mai consistenta de politete si frica de lege care fac convietuirea mai suportabila, pe de alta parte mai putina “autenticitate” plus o doza enorma de self indulgence pe cap de locuitor. Tragand linie, totusi inca da cu plus la speranta de viata.

Woe is me

It’s bizarre how taking a big decision renders me unable of taking any other, however small and insignificant. All things but one seem now meagre, meaningless. Time is slowly crawling and I can’t even make up my mind if I want it to pass faster or not.

Numbed by morphine, he’s now deep into his twilight sleep. Later this afternoon, with a little help from his humans, my buddy of more than 18 years will make the leap into the great unknown on the other side.

Met him on a chilly autumn day. No older than a month, a tiny but fearless black kitten, smaller than a sparrow, following passersby up and down the sidewalk, begging attention. He started purring as soon as I lifted him and I instantly knew we’ll be together for the long run. I love him dearly, however that’s not my merit. He’s well worthy of love.

Not quite an adult himself, he slipped without hesitation into the role of the Mother Cat, playing, guiding and grooming the orphan kittens we brought in.

Never selfish of greedy, he would yield his comfy spot or bowl of food to whomever manifested the smallest interest in it.

He loved music. The more strident and silly, like the most basic music box songs or the monophonic ringtones, the better.

He hated me having arguments, always rushing to climb to my lap and cause distraction to dissipate tense moments.

He loved the forbidden outdoors and secretly wished he was a dog. He would have been the greatest dog ever.

Surely we had our ups and downs, but we loved each other nevertheless. Clever enough to put two and two together and find me guilty of abandonment, he made it clear to me that the ordeal he had to endure in order to be able to join us here at the bottom of the Earth was the lowest point in our relationship. But we kissed and make up and all was forgiven the moment I brought him into our new home down under. I love him dearly. So hard to let go. Sad times ahead.