The Point of Me

My teenage tormentor had me pinned up against the red brick wall near the quadrangle. So close to me, I felt his spit hit my face, as he demanded to know what the point of me was. I was fat, he said. Ugly. Stupid. Invisible, yet taking up too much space.

As he walked away, and I wiped the stain of his hate from my face, I saw the self-satisfied smirk that showed that taking something from me built something in him. I never defended myself, never said a word, after all I didn’t have the answers for him. I’d often wondered myself, as I had learned years before that people like me didn’t inherit the earth. That was the domain of the smart, the funny, the attractive, the powerful – even if that power was “earned” from taking from the weak. It was the domain of the jocks, the artistic, the ones whose mums were active on the parents committee, or whose dads coached the local football team. It wasn’t for people that had nothing to set them apart but awkwardness. Someone who didn’t wear the latest fashions or listen to the latest music. Someone who definitely didn’t chase the boys. How could they understand that I wasn’t a teenager aching to stumble through my first awkward sexual experience, because I had already known the intimate touch of a predator at the age of 6. If there was a point of me, I didn’t know what it was either.

Years later, I was still wondering. I’d put four children on this earth, and I knew the love of a good man. I’d had a successful career, travelled the world, and counted a few lovely people as friends. I no longer spent a lot of time questioning my worth, the voices were quieter, but I was soon to know that these things stay with you, until some giant fuck up, or some cosmic twist of fate brings them screaming back from where you think you’ve buried them.

They’d never screamed louder than the interminable days and weeks after the doctors told me that my days on this earth were not going to number many. I surveyed all that was before me, and I wondered what the fuck I was thinking, what on earth possessed me to think that I would be able to have anything good, anything beautiful, and get to keep it. Selfishly, I couldn’t think that they would be glad that I had gave them life, that Gaz would always be glad he loved me, and I loved him. Instead, I wished them all into non-existence. I thought only of the carnage I would leave behind me. Four children who would grow up without the love of a mother. A broken man who had no love to hold his hand at the end of his days. All because, in a moment of madness, I entertained the possibility that there might be a point to me.

I can’t exactly put my finger on when the shift started. It might have been witnessing the raw grief of those in my circle. The ones that said they would fight for me, stand beside me, hold me up when I knew I was falling, never let me go. Maybe if I could move people that much, there was a point to me after all.

And what of those four children? Dakota is 12, and blessed with a self-possession that I have never known. Everything is effortless for her, or so it seems. Making friends, excelling at school and sport. She does it all with a humility that draws people to her, as they know that she never thinks she is better than they are. Indi is 11. She is FUNNY, she has us in stitches constantly with her quick wit. She is also incredibly fair. Once she was helping me clean out the car and she found two dodgy squares of chocolate on the back floor of the car. I brushed them off, declared them safe to consume, and told her to eat them and not tell the others. She battled with her conscience for a short time, then snapped them in half and took them in to the others. They got a piece each and she didn’t get any at all. What an absolutely magnificent human being. Tana is 9, and she is the most like me. She’s always struggled to make friends, she hunted desperately for a besty in prep, but they were all taken. This made her sad for years, and all I could do was hold her and tell her that it was like that for me, too, but look at all the friends I had now. She struggles a bit to know what makes her special, what sets her apart, but she is gaining confidence as she grows. A couple of years ago, a new girl came to school, an opportunity she seized, to have someone of her very own. She loves that friend with a singular devotion and enriches both of their lives. Georgia is 7. The great gift that came with her Down syndrome is a simple and pure heart that never wonders about her place in the world. She simply exists at the heart of our family and knows she is loved for exactly who she is.

I tell them I love them all the time, and I tell them they are beautiful. Yes, their bodies are beautiful, in whatever form they come, but what really makes them beautiful is the things that set them apart. I tell them that we all have something that makes us amazing, sometimes it is something obvious, sometimes it is something that we have to look a little harder for, but it’s there. I tell them they were born into a world that values difference and quirkiness in a way that the world that I was born into never did.

Maybe the point of me is so that they never have to wonder what the point of them is.

And what of my beautiful man. I can honestly say he has never questioned my worth, but to my mind the biggest point of me to him was on a cold September night in 2003, when he rang his sister Robbie and sobbed into the phone “I’m a father Rob. I’m a FATHER”.

Perhaps the biggest shift came the day that I was literally on my knees. Cancer had broken me open, laid me bare, exposed me emotionally in a way that I had never been before. Normally I would have kept that part of myself hidden – something that it becomes easy to do when your scars are worn on the inside, not the outside. But in one split second, I decided not to do that, I was going to let the box stay open. I was going to write about all of it, the pain the fear, the brokenness.

I often wonder if fate already knew what was in store for me the day I was held up against that red brick wall. Never could I imagine that one day 10’s of thousands of people would read those words. That the number of messages that I received about them now literally numbers in the 1,000’s. That people would say that the broken part of me had touched the broken part of them and made it…better. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the fact that I never wonder now about the point of me.

We all create ripples….we all make the world a different place with our existence in it. If you ever wondered what the point of you is – don’t. Just as I tell my girls, I want you all to know that you all have something special, and you have all changed the lives of someone, for the better. Don’t wonder for as long as I did, what your ripples are. Think about it, even for a short time, and you will find them – I promise.

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Me and my quirky, beautiful people :)

7 Comments on “The Point of Me

  1. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and your strength in this story of your life. Bless you heaps, still!

  2. Hi Julia, you have me in tears yet again with your pure honesty, l still wander what my worth is, even at sixty years of age, like you i had a tough childhood and low self esteem but after today, after reading your post I’m going to change. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou……..

  3. Love your blogs. Have just finished reading your book. What an inspiration you are. I myself was diagnosed with breast cancer in November. One of the lucky ones I guess, stage 1 non aggressive. Had operation to remove the tumor but no mascetomy needed. Two more treatments of the dreaded chemo, then radiation. Lucky the got all of the dreaded “jimmy dancer”.
    All the best to you as you ride this roller coaster.

  4. Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

    It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary – and toward this point our development will move, little by little – that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun’s motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, but we move in infinite space.

    http://www.carrothers.com/rilke_main.htm

    Some inspirations for a great writer…
    Hugs, Christine

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