I want to write about relationships. I am currently staying with my lovely parents in Beechworth. I am extremely close with my parents and love spending time with them. People often remark that I am lucky to have such a good relationship with them but luck isn’t really the reason.
Anyone who has read my autobiography will know that my teen and early adult years were, to put it bluntly, hellish. I was a very rebellious teen, joining the socialists at 15 and arguing constantly with my parents until I moved interstate at the very young age of 17. When I was 20 I met a very dangerous man and ended up committing crimes with him and going to prison. I spent the next five years in and out of institutions, I acquired a serious drug problem and a serious mental illness diagnosis. The upshot of this was that my family relationships were very strained.
When I was released from prison for the last time in 2000 I set about making a better life for myself. I wanted to have a professional job, an education, a mortgage and a suit. I left behind my difficult past – or I tried to at least. My relationship with family was very problematic but I wanted it to be better. My mum would talk to her friends about my past and it made me very embarrassed and quite angry but I was determined to make my relationship with my family better. I was particularly concerned that my parents would pass away before we made our peace with one another.
The improvement in our relationship was not entirely my doing but I think I shouldered a fair amount of the work. The lovely thing was that our efforts to repair family relationships has worked. It definitely didn’t happen quickly but it happened. I now reflect on how my parents supported me when many parents would have given up. I had a visit every month from them when I was a prisoner. Apparently when I first went to jail an elderly and rather conservative relative told my parents if it was her that she would move to Peru! To my parents great credit there was no thought of moving to Peru and they were determined to stick around. They reflected that the other middle class prisoners’ families stopped visiting or didn’t visit at all and they didn’t want to do that to me. When I understood the depth for their love I could forgive them any more minor issues and reflect on the power of that love.
I have gone from thinking my parents were the enemy when I was a teen, to thinking they were the root of all my issues when I was in my twenties to being annoyed by them but loving them a lot in my thirties to where we are at now which I like to think is a place of grea love and appreciation.
My mum is like my best friend. This is what people see but beneath any strong relationship is a difficult journey. Relationships often take work and there is pain and anger and challenges a lot of the way. I am so glad to have worked on my relationship with my family. It was a difficult thing but it has yielded the most precious thing. Thank you to my family and thank you to me. I know that without thew support I had from my parents I probably would have never made it out of the world of drugs and crime. I will be grateful to this for the rest of my life.