About 5 years ago, I made a huge decision. I was finally going to run away from home. I’d lived in Geelong for 46 years and absolutely loved the place. It, to me, was the ideal place to live, surrounded by water, cities, mountains and home to the best football club in the Australian Football League (Go Cats). It was, in short, my home. My home, however, had been tainted by an overwhelming sadness.
You see, I separated around 1991 and my ex husband had a total breakdown and began stalking me. It was a difficult time. There were numerous intervention orders and breaches of said orders, firearms charges, telecommunication charges… the list went on and on. He was out to make me pay for leaving him and made it clear he wouldn’t stop until he had broken me. Our divorce and subsequent matters became public knowledge as the local newspaper reported on all the court hearings. Geelong is the second biggest city in Victoria, Australia but it still had a small town feel, so we always felt like the whole town knew what was happening in our lives.
About 4 years after the divorce, in May 1995, my ex husband took the 3 children on an access visit after not wanting them for 6 months.. Only 2 came home. My precious daughter Aimee, aged only 10, was killed instantly in a highly suspicious car crash. My boys, Lachlan and Stuart, then 8 and 6 respectively, spent a week in hospital with head injuries. While physical injuries may heal, the emotional ones leave gaping wounds. Our lives would never be the same.
3 years later in 1998, my beautiful mum who lived with us, died from cancer. It is my honest opinion that she died from a broken heart. She never really recovered from having lost Aimee. The boys and I struggled through our grief and clung tighter to each other as a result of our losses.. My children were and are to this day, my greatest loves, my greatest achievements and the greatest gift I have ever been blessed with.
So you can see that, as much as I loved Geelong, I was surrounded by sadness. Everyone knew our story, everyone saw us as damaged, which of course we were. It becomes too easy to remain in victim mode when that’s how you are seen and treated. People really can damage you with kindness without realising it. So, I decided that the boys had grown up and it was time to make a new life somewhere, I had no idea where.. just somewhere, away from the grief.
I had heard the Southern Highlands was a nice place to live, so decided that would be my first port of call to see what I thought. Stuart decided that he, too, would make the break from Geelong and begin again, and as anyone who knows Stu will testify, he has only two speeds, flat out and stop.. so once he made the decision, he beat me to the punch, got a job in Bowral and shifted. Lachlan was living in Melbourne at the time, so I began the arduous job of packing up all our belongings either, into storage, to be sold, to be donated or coming with me.
In February 2008, with my little old Maltese Terrier Bobby, as my travel companion, the Apollo station wagon packed to the roof, I headed on up the highway. I had no real set target still, as Stuart had moved on from the Highlands and headed up to his cousins in Sydney. I spent some time with my sister and brother in law in Forster Tuncurry area first, then started house sitting around NSW.
House sitting is a great way to decide where you’d like to live. It gives you the freedom to find what area suits you. I spent a while in the Hunter Valley and some time around Nelson Bay. I house sat for a while in Man From Snowy River country back in Victoria, while my cousin and his wife went overseas and just generally drifted for a while. That freedom was unbelievable. But so was the loneliness.
I had grown up in a loud, crowded family of 12 kids.. When I was married, we were essentially a family of 7 as Mum and Dad had a granny flat in our backyard. There were always visitors. I had gone from having a family of 7 at home to just me and my dog. It took me a long time to start to like my own company and to get to know me again. I had always hated being alone and here I was with only Bobby to talk to most of the time. It was the hardest and best thing I’d done in a long time. I actually found out that I liked my own company. That was a point I didn’t think I’d ever come to.
Lachlan then decided to shift to NSW as well, so he and Stuart found a house in Penrith and I shifted back to be with them. Lachlan eventually shifted into Sydney itself as that’s where he worked and Stuart and I decided to look further afield when they were going to tear our rental house down. We decided on the Blue Mountains.
Now I’d been visiting the Blue Mountains for years as I had met a lovely couple online years before and used to come visit often. (those road trips are a story for another day) I didn’t ever imagine I would be living there. We found a place and settled in. Lachlan eventually shifted back up the mountains and Stuart renewed a friendship with Sarah, a girl he had known for years and I’m thrilled to say he is now engaged to be married to her and living back in Geelong.
When we first got the to the mountains, I was told by a lady that the Blue Mountains had a female energy and if she wanted you to stay, she will open her arms to you. She also told me that the Blue Mountains were an ancient healing ground of our indigenous people. I don’t know if what she told me has any factual merit, but I believe what she said wholeheartedly.
For the first time in years, I started to relax and feel calm. I was finally beginning to heal from the trauma and heartache that had become so ingrained in my life. I will never get over my daughter’s death, but I have started to heal. There is a peace and serenity up here that is almost a tangible presence. It is a softer, kinder way of life. Yes, bad stuff happens here, of course, but it feels peaceful. The Blue Mountains not only opened her arms to me, but has woven a special kind of magic around my heart. I feel this is home now (although I don’t know what the future holds and am open to whatever it brings).
The scenery up here is breathtaking and I don’t think I will ever become blase about it. Photos don’t do it justice. The mountains and trees just go on and on, seemingly without end. There are towns which look like quaint little English villages and then you drive out 5 minutes and you are in rugged Australian Bush. Steep rock cliffs look like an artist has chiseled them out of a mountain. The greenery soothes the most overwhelmed souls. I would urge anyone who has never been here to put it on your “must do” list.
For now, I am very settled. I am living in one of the most beautiful places on God’s earth. I have found peace and happiness from deep within. My life is largely calm and stress free. I have found the urge to create again. I am creating a garden, full of plants, mosaics and other pieces of artwork that I have been inspired to make. I am able to lose myself in a world of old photos when I make slideshows for people, in itself an art form. And most importantly, I have rediscovered my love of language. I am writing and reading again, something I had stopped doing a long time ago. I sing when i walk around the house.. I talk to my plants (yes I have become my mother) and most of all, I have a new found joy in living.
I hope if you haven’t found your inner joy yet, that you will, sooner rather than later. If you need to run away from home to do that, I highly recommend it.
Happy Running .. Livvy 🙂