Family

Therapy with Dr. Zena Burgess, commencing Monday 27th June, 2022

Are you sure you want to delete this entry?

No

My Profile

Name: Suman King

Address: 2A/6 Carnarvon Road, Caulfield North, 3161

Phone Number: 0422-787-940

Email: sumanking82@gmail.com

Next of Kin: Peter King

Relationship: Brother

Address: 109 Huntingdale Road, Ashwood, 3147

Email: peter3166@gmail.com

Profile:

Age: 39

Sex: Female

Nationality: Fijian Indian

Occupation: Digital Marketing

Children: 1

Name: Sebastion Wolkowski

Age: 14

Sex: Male

Nationality: Fijian Indian| Polish

My Background

I was born in Fiji and lived there until I was 6. My birth father died when I was 12 months old. Truthfully, I'm glad he did. He was a violent man. He was a sadistic man too. He tortured and abused my mother, awfully, inhumanely.

As soon as my father died, his wife and my half-sibling's family kicked out my Mum and my sister and me. My birth mother was unable to take care of me and my sister due to severe mental illness, and a lack of familial and economic support.

My mother was schizophrenic and violent too. She suffered so greatly at the hands of my father and her own disease. After my Mum survived my Father poured acid all over her and set her on fire, it was too many traumas to overcome. She was outcast by her own family by the shame all of this bought on them. She was literally stranded, wounded in every way, and abandoned with two small children to try to provide for, on her own. Consequently, my mother, my sister Kiran and myself were homeless for 6 months and lived on the streets before we were put into an orphanage, where we lived until I was 6.

My sister and I both suffered even more with sexual and physical abuse, and the kind of neglect and abuse the average person would thankfully never hear of. In a way, being put into an orphanage was worse than being on the streets with her. We traded a roof over our heads every night, for physical, sexual, emotional and mental abuse that was more frequent and far more brutal than my mother alone could ever have achieved. I thought I was lucky that I didn't remember all the horrifying things I barely managed to survive. I was wrong about that too. Lately, some horrifying memories have come up. Not even just in my dreams. Sometimes when I'm wide awake. I feel on edge all the time. Anxious, and really sad too. Depressed that it takes up so much, that it's even there. That it's still in my bones. I want freedom from myself and the burdens I've carried. It's heavy and exacted an enormous toll. One that I can't pay anymore. It's hard to hide all of this from my son, when it's everywhere, in my mind, in my body. It is hard to hide this from everyone. I just want a safe place to put this down. Any place.

Both my sister and I were adopted by an Australian family. We came to this country on the Queen's Birthday weekend 33 years ago. My birth mother died when I was approximately 10 years old. I never got to see her again from the time we were adopted until she died. It still haunts me to this day.

I lived here in Australia for a few years, adjusting to a completely different life in a completely different country.

I was abused in this country too, by my youngest brother Michael. I was abused by his biological sisters in the orphanage, and abused by him with my new family in a new country.

I've carried a lot over the years.

My Families background

My son is a beautiful, intelligent, kind, quirky, funny, deeply endearing and gentle soul. He's really insightful, can see and understand so much more than he speaks about. I was so young when I had him, raising him has been the only real joy I knew. Growing up, I never really dreamed of much about my future, but I always dreamed of having kids, I always knew I wanted to be a Mum, even as a very young girl, growing up in an environment so harsh I still wonder how I could want motherhood for myself. When I found out I was having him, I was scared, really scared of what was coming and what it meant, but I knew I wanted him, I knew his life deserved a chance, I knew I wanted to be his Mum, even though I wasn't ready. Being his Mum is the most meaningful thing I ever did. He's the love of my life and the most important, and the biggest part of my life. I've never met a person who didn't adore Sebby, it's impossible not to. My son lives with me full time and has almost all his life.

I was engaged to his father when I was 19. It was initially a beautiful relationship, he adored me, and he was the first man that did. I knew how much he cared about me, almost right away. He was kind, the smartest guy I knew, funny- he made me laugh so hard. My Mum approved of him- more than she's approved of anyone else, quite a feat in its own right I assure you. We shared mutual friends that loved him too. I was so young, and he was my first boyfriend. I wasn't ready for a relationship that serious for the rest of my life. I loved him, but somewhere deep down I just knew he wasn't the man I wanted to have a family with, he wasn't the one I wanted to share my life with. Every time he talked about the life he had planned out for us, I felt a pit of anxiety in my stomach. Never knowing if I was about to make the biggest mistake of my life, or if I was right, and saving us both from a lifetime of never quite having what we both needed and wanted. We lived together for a few years, separated for just over a year, and then reunited very briefly- a few months before I fell pregnant with our son at 24. Just before I fell pregnant, I wanted to end our relationship as I could see he had changed so much. He was no longer the man I once loved the changes weren't positive changes, these changes doomed us both in the end. I was no longer the woman he once knew and loved, I had changed forever too in the time we were separated, and I still didn't want the life he had planned out for us. The big wedding, 3 kids, the big house in Camberwell and 2 dogs. It's not the dream of having a family that I didn't want. I did want a family, I just finally knew for certain that I didn't want it with him. He was hurt and wouldn't believe that we weren't meant to be together. He believed at the time that we couldn't have found each other again for no reason. He believed it was a sign, some kind of divine sign that we were destined to be a family and spend our lives together. I offered that I could raise our son on my own if he didn't want to be part of our lives. He insisted he wanted to be around, he wanted to have a family with me, and that we would do it together. It didn't work out that way in the end. His father moved into my home in my spare bedroom when I was 4-5 months pregnant. He stayed in our home until my son was 1. He left our home after that. He would visit our son, for a few more years after that. He was incredibly controlling and abusive ever since my son was born. He was never the same man again. This was the first and only very serious relationship I've ever had. I had dreamed that one day in the future, I would meet someone really special, and be ready for a serious relationship because I'd had time to discover myself and my place in the world. I dreamed that somebody would love me too, and also be ready for a serious relationship with me.

He continued to visit our son, not consistently, but certainly a lot more than he has since my son was 7/8. He has virtually had no contact with my son since then. Sebby and his Dad suffered a huge rupture and major trauma when his father broke into our home one Friday night with his girlfriend. They were under the impression from apparently another parent at my son's school that Sebby was not home with me. Despite seeing with their own eyes that my son was in fact home with me and safe, they refused to leave. I called the police as I could not convince them to leave, and both my son and I were incredibly distressed at this stage. The police came, they arrested Seb's Dad, and took an intervention order out protecting Sebby and me. Seb's Dad went on to fight this protective order for a year in court. The court upheld the protective order. My son's relationship with his Dad never recovered after that. He remains deeply traumatised and hurt by this and the rest of his history with his Dad. His Dad has a hell of a temper, and he was pretty controlling with Seb. I'm still hearing about things that happened years ago, the Sebby was too scared to share with me. Sebby was getting bullied awfully at his primary school at the time, Malvern Central School. After this awful, awful thing happened with his Dad, and he hated his school, I took this an opportunity to have a fresh start. We kept the details of our new life really private to protect us from his Dad. We moved to a new neighbourhood. We moved from Armadale to Kew, I was always going to move to Kew when Sebby was ready to start High School as all the best schools are located in Kew| Balwyn. We made the transition a few years earlier.

Sebby goes to Kew High. He has a really lovely group of friends that all share his temperament and interests. I love this for him. He was bullied mercilessly when he was in primary school, so I am so happy and relieved that I found him a great school with great friends that are so important to him.

4 months ago we moved around the corner from Ash and his son to be closer. We thought at the time that the home Ash and I chose, would soon be a home we could all share together. The move was incredibly difficult for us both. Particularly for Seb as the commute to and from his school is very long. He has to leave at 7.30 in the morning and doesn't get home until 5-530pm, Monday to Friday. Sebby has struggled with this as well seeing me be quite unwell for the last 2 months and also seeing me and Ash separate for good.

I am getting Sebby into some therapy close to our home. I have been taking him to my Doctor and we have been discussing and implementing strategies to support and help Sebby.

My Australian family consist of my Dad and Mum, my oldest brother Jamie, my middle brother Peter, my youngest brother Michael, and my sister Kiran and me. My parents adopted Jamie from Vietnam, had Peter, adopted my sister and me at the same time, and then went on to adopt our brother Michael also from the same orphanage as me and my sister, but Michael is of no blood relation to either Kiran or myself.

I am the closest to my brother Peter. Growing up, he was my best friend. He has always been my greatest support, no matter what happened within my family virtually my whole life. He continues to be my greatest support, and I adore his wife Oxana, my niece Ani, and my nephew Max. My son and Max who is only 3 months older than my son have always been close. Lately, that's changed, but they grew up together, and this will always be special for me. Max was the only sibling-like relationship my son got to have, and my brother was the only father-like role model my baby got.

I have raised my son alone his whole life, and my brother and his family and my Godmother Rosemary have consistently been a support to both my son and me. Rosemary has been like another mother to me. She was friends with my mother for almost 30 years before their relationship deteriorated to a point of no return. Rosemary has been one of the most loving and consistent members of my family, my childhood and my life in this country.

I love my Mum and Dad, but we have had very difficult patches historically. Right now, we are having a difficult patch. We have mostly had a difficult relationship, and we love each other obviously, but not a lot of repair work has been done, and trust still remains difficult.

My sister decided to have nothing to do with the rest of our family in 2018. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and their son. My sister is the only person I've known my whole life. I haven't seen or spoken to her since she issued me with her final ultimatum. I could no longer keep up. After years of trying my best, I realised I couldn't help her. The kind of help she needed was the sort of help I'm now trying to get. My sister's mental health has terribly impacted us all, not just her. In my final days with my sister, I could see the almost identical patterns she shared with our birth mother. It broke my heart, but she was always throwing me away unless I did exactly as she said and pleased. This time, I just let her throw me away. With her final abandonment of me, she was the last of my own bloodline to do so. I sit ripped right open, that I can't seem to be enough as I am for anyone to stay. That I'm only of value if I attend to everyone's needs, at all times. The moment I need a rest or need something for myself, people leave.

My oldest brother Jamie is blind, disabled and schizophrenic, he lives in an assisted care facility near Heidelburg.

My youngest brother Michael lives in Adelaide. He has 3 children. His daughter Amalia, and his son Jaydon from his previous marriage. I don't know anything about his third child as my Mother and Father won't acknowledge this child as one of their grandchildren, because Michael's third child was conceived in a relationship outside of his marriage that ultimately led to the failure of his marriage. Our parents don't recognise this child because of the decisions of his or her parents. This has been incredibly painful to witness my own parents reject an innocent child, a human being who is as entitled to be part of our family as much as anyone, based on the poor judgement of his or her parents. Worse, we are all children of parents who demonstrated a total lack of moral or ethical capabilities. What does this mean about how they think about us? No life is diminished or of lower value based on our parentage. I don't even know the gender of his third child. My parents won't even speak about his baby.

What's happening for me right now

What have I struggled with in the past

What do I need to work on

Where would I like to be

My Medications- Current and background

My Personal Documents- Referral letter from Dr. Sue Cherian for my Better Access Plan

Session Receipts, and my payment receipts

Dr Burgess session 1 receipt:

Suman King payment receipt. Session 1:

Text confirmation of payment receipt from Suman King to Dr. Burgess for first session. Monday 27th June, 2022, 2pm at Hennessy Clinic in St Kilda:

Notes from session de-brief. First appointment, Monday 27th June, 2022

I was really nervous about my first appointment with Dr Burgess today. This is the first time I was entering therapy for myself. I wasn't being shoved into it as a requirement for my adoption. I wasn't being pushed into it after going through domestic violence with Seb's Dad. I wasn't being told by my parents that I needed to go. I wasn't going because Ash gave me an ultimatum that he couldn't be in a relationship with me until I got some help for me, for us.

This was the first time in my life I was choosing for myself. Not so I could be more amiable to those around me. I was choosing me just so I could heal the hurt and move into a life more congruent with who I really am. The woman I've kept hidden so well, all my life. I'm ready to come out of hiding. To show me. To show up, despite the fear of abandonment, to come forward and show me as I am, not as I think others want me to be.

I created a file for myself here, mostly so I could create a framework for myself. I also created this file because I've spent my life hiding. I'm good at it. I know the shadows and how to stay hidden better than most. I decided to get some of this out of me. If it was here, and I had sent it to Dr Burgess then we would have a reference point for some of the things I was dealing with. It wouldn't be something that slipped out years down the track. I wanted to be upfront about who I am, and the roads I've travelled. I sent it to Dr Burgess via text and email the day before our first appointment on Sunday the 26th of June, 2022. Dr Burgess replied to my email 2 hours later.

Dr Burgess email:

Thank you Suman, I can see there are several complex issues in your life. Please print your summaries and bring with you tomorrow and we can commence from there.
The first thing is for you to decide if i am the right therapist for you as that is an important decision.
Let’s meet and plan from there
Best wishes
Zena

I was initially scared that her response was already indicating she didn't want to work with me after seeing some of my backgrounds. I have spent my life fearing that I'll be rejected for the family I come from and the things that happened to me. Just before my sister and I were adopted, the Nuns that raised us drummed into us not to speak about what happened to us in Fiji. People told us if we spoke about it, we would be sent back. I spent the rest of my childhood and adulthood hiding it.

I called my best friend Marina to ask her if Dr Burgess' email was an early indication of her rejection of me and not wanting to work with me. She told me "no, she's not rejecting you. It's like dating, she wants to make sure you are a good fit for each other". She also reassure me that this is my abandonment fear kicking in, that I had nothing to worry about. We talked some more about what therapy with Dr Burgess meant for me. I shared with her that I'm never sure who to trust with this. That it is heavy and I want to set it down, but I don't know who to set it down with. I'm always worried that it's so awful people will run away once they hear it. I couldn't find the words, so Mim jumped in to help. She said as only she could surmise so perfectly, "You want a custodian for your truth". I cried. I felt understood. I'm crying now recalling this. It's hard for me to share. It's hard to be vulnerable. To trust that I'll be heard. To trust that I'll be understood.

I got off the phone, but I still felt scared that my fear that Dr Burgess didn't want to work with me was actually true. There was only one other person I wanted to talk to about this without any fear or shame that he would think any less of me, that I'm actually so much more sensitive than I let on. I called Ash. I called him for my own comfort, but I also called him because he is a therapist and if anyone could answer my question it was him. He was already in bed. He was really sick. He has a really bad cold. He's always a comfort. Even seeing his lovely face. He's my home. I felt comforted by his response. He asked if I'd been to therapy before. I have actually done a lot of therapy, but for some reason, I just couldn't remember the initial process of working with a therapist. He walked me through what usually happens in a first session. He then told me about his weekend. He had seen his friend Mick. Mick came over from his place up the foot of the mountains, he came over to Ash's house. They went out for dinner and then for drinks. They then both went back to Ash's place and Mick stayed over until Midday Sunday. Ash then went to Ikea to replace the lamps in his office that Lou was taking now that he was taking over the lease of the office, and he went to buy cushion inserts for the decorative pillows he bought from Lindy one of the Mums from his son's school. The man never ever slows down. Even when he's sick. Even if I was sick. This was one of my pain points in our relationship. I raised this issue a couple of times, to no avail in the end. I worry that this is one of his coping strategies to avoid his own pain. If he keeps himself constantly on the go and fills every minute of every day then there would be no time for the pain to sink in. I got off the phone so he could get an early night's sleep. He was quite ill and concerned that he might have to do telehealth from home the next day. I felt comforted that everything was going to be okay for tomorrow's appointment, but concerned at how sick he sounded and that he hadn't given himself the things he needed to recover properly.

I've waited a long time to do this work. I didn't want anything to go wrong. This was too important to me. I woke up early. Packed up the living room from last night when my son stayed up late watching a movie. I made myself a coffee. Cleaned the kitchen from the weekend. It was a huge mess. I just wanted some order and cleanliness and tidiness in my home before I went to my session, primarily so it would ease my nerves and so I would have a clean home to come back to. I had explained to my son the day before what the plan was for him for the following day. We discussed that he would get up at the same time he gets up to go to school. He would shower, and get dressed, including doing his hair and brushing his teeth. Go for a long walk. Come back home, make himself lunch, and then do 45 minutes of practice for English, Maths, Science, and French practise online. After he does all of that, I told him he had the rest of the afternoon and night to himself. He woke up late and didn't bother getting dressed. Had no idea what was going on. Didn't seem to care that I wanted to get some work done before I went to my appointment. I taught him 6 times in a row how to tie up his own hair into a ponytail. He kept making the same mistake in a row. I was losing patience faster than normal. I can't seem to teach him anything that sticks, including how to get dressed in clean clothes on, wake up on his own, or make his own breakfast! He came down to eat breakfast in a filthy hoodie from yesterday. I had him change before he left for his walk. He finally left home at 11.45 am. I was so anxious and worked up at this point. Today was really important to me, and as usual, nobody could be bothered tending to their own needs so I could make it to the one thing that mattered to me for 50 minutes in a whole week.

As I showered to get ready for my appointment, Ash sent me a message saying he hoped my first session went well. I felt really emotional that he remembered. That he knew how important today was for me. I told him it wasn't until 2 and thanked him for remembering me. It turns out that he cancelled all his appointments for the day. I couldn't believe how considerate and thoughtful he was to remember it was my first appointment and text me, especially because he was home really sick, and he still remembered my appointment. I guess I was particularly moved because I've seen him forget a lot of things. He often forgets conversations, and sometimes special events, plans we've made, including plans he's made with my son just recently.

Sebby was running late to make it back home in time so I could go to my appointment. I felt so frantic that my caretaking duties would once again consume any tiny light I had in myself in hope that I could finally take care of myself. I called him to come home immediately so I could go out. He came home around 1 pm. I rushed out the door. As I was leaving I saw Mosul coming back towards my home. He said he forgot his key. I told him Seb was upstairs. He shouted for me to call Seb for him. He has his own phone, and he has my son's phone number. I felt enraged again at the absolute incompetence all around me, and how I was always expected to be there to make everybody else's life easier. I was so resentful. It was raining, and I was struggling with my bag to find my phone so I could call Seb for Mosul to let him in. I'm so sick of cleaning up everybody else's mess and always having to over-function for them both.

I got to my appointment almost 35 minutes early. I felt much better knowing nothing else could go wrong. I had time to sit with myself and hold some space for myself before I started with Dr Burgess. I held myself knowing I had finally made it here. I could sit in silence before we met.

It was finally 2 pm!! In my brief interaction with Dr Burgess, I've observed that she's attentive and super responsive. As I had expected, she was bang on time. She called out my name, and I followed her into her room. I was nervous about meeting her and seeing the room. I peeked around the corner and saw big light honey-coloured armchairs with a rose pattern through them. They looked like the kind of chairs you would see in your grandmother's home. I felt a sense of comfort and familiarity with her room, and strangely with her. She had gentle energy but was sure and confident.

Feeling someone's energy, observing their cadence and how it sits with me. It either feels okay instantly or instantly it feels wrong or not safe. I felt safe and as relaxed as I could be given that this was my first time meeting Zena. I felt comfortable enough to share with Zena that I was nervous about coming in and feeling insecure that maybe she didn't want to work with me. I felt better hearing about Zena's process and that she wants the people she works with to be able to make the decision with her if they are both the right fit for each other. Being able to make my own considered decisions with all the information given up front is really important to me. Not just being able to decide for me and not for others, but equally important is to know as much as I can so I can make a considered choice about what's best for me. I've felt stripped of that right in the past with other relationships in my life. This was a really nice change for me. Someone being upfront with me about what they do, what they can help me with, and what they can't help me with, and then giving me not only the freedom to make that choice but the sufficient time I would need to make a choice this important.

As I had created a file with some provisional information about my background, we discussed some of this. Zena had already read this before I came to our session. We got to explore and expand a little more about me, and where I'm at right now with the important pillars in my life. Namely my son, my health, the end of my relationship with Ash, and some of the work ahead of me to heal and get to the place I want to be. We also talked about how I want to start taking care of myself again, with my physical appearance, and most importantly not feeling guilty for investing in myself. Zena asked me if I understood the reasons Ash left. I stumbled on this. I said I understood why he felt he needed to abandon our relationship, but truth is, I don't, maybe because I'm still sitting with the grief that our relationship is over. Zena asked me if there was a chance for reconciliation. At the time she asked, Ash had only recently shared that it was definitely over for good for him when he left, but there was a very slight crack that perhaps somewhere in the future if we both did the work we needed to do individually there might be a slightly remote possibility.

Zena asked me about the last time I felt I was at my healthiest and taking care of Seb and taking care of myself well. It was 10 years ago before I started working at News Corp. I stayed single after my son's father left so I could completely focus on being there for my son, especially because he now only had a sole caregiver and parent. As I didn't have to split my time across a new relationship and being a sole parent, I was able to give my son all my time and attention and resources. I was at home full time with Sebby, he was a really active child so we spent a lot of our time at parks and playgrounds running around and exploring. I don't drive, so I took Sebby everywhere in his pram. I was physically my fittest before I was pregnant with my son. I was happy with my life as a mum since I was able to spend all of my time raising my son. I had time to look after myself and see friends and have some balance. I didn't feel guilty about the lack of time I spent with my son as we were together all the time. Because we spent so much quality time together, I also didn't feel guilty about looking after myself and spending time with friends. We talked about how the impact on my mental stability and emotional health were majorly disrupted by moving house. How losing my previous home and destabilising that was for me and my son, and in the end my personal relationship with Ash too. How difficult I found it to unpack. How the house I moved into holds painful associations for me and doesn't feel like my home, but rather a painful reminder of my relationship with Ash and the future I thought we were going to have completely falling apart and failing. Not just that this home represents the failure of my relationship with Ash, and the dream of one day having a fuller family, but it also represented the failure to give my son the childhood and future I had dreamed of my whole life. I wanted him to have a secure and loving and stable childhood with a home we both loved and great schooling and beautiful friends and family and network. Being kicked out of our home in the traumatising way our landlord and agent treated us, was a terrible blow to the dream I had worked so hard to secure for my son. His childhood home and his schooling are now being compromised. Zena bought up that I could look at this home in a different way. I could see it for what it is. Our home. The home I will make a family home for me and my son. The place we will be until Sebby finishes his schooling. That unpacking, making it beautiful, organised and functional will help us feel grounded and settled, and have a secure base.

Zena and I have discussed and agreed to work on these three areas in my life. Every day I will do something for my physical health, something for my home, something for myself to take care of my physical appearance, and something for my healing work including journalling. My work also includes buying or making something special that is just for this home, our home.

We also discussed what 2023 would look like. What did I want to work on? What did I want to achieve? To be honest, this one threw me a little, okay- shook me a lot. I have lived in service to everyone else's needs, and when I wasn't doing that I have lived in pure survival mode for so long now. In particular the last 3 months. My son will be 15 in August, in 3 years' time he will be off to uni. From this point, I'm finally entering the window in my life where I can start to think about my own happiness. What would that even look like? Could it be possible that I've finally earned that privilege to think about myself and work toward my own goals and dreams and aspirations? I have not even dared to allow myself even a moment to daydream about this. I didn't want to torture myself with this. I knew the road ahead of me as a sole parent was so long, that dreaming about a future that was so far away would only feel like a burden of something I wanted but may never get. I have struggled with this in the time I spent with Ash too.

Ash didn't want to have children with me. He told me that he made this decision a long time ago. It's not just that he didn't want to have children with me, but wouldn't want any more children with anyone else, except for the son he has with his ex-wife. He never wanted to marry me or anyone else ever again either. Marriage and children were a one-off thing that he has already done with Amy. At the time, Ash vaguely talked about the future together. He talked about "one day merging our families". He was adamant that as part of his parenting order with his now ex-wife they were both required to live 5-10 minutes away from each other, so they could stay close to their son. Once they decided to separate, they had made a commitment to live close to the beach as they both wanted that lifestyle for themselves. During their marriage, they shared their family home in the foothold of Boronia. Ash settled on living in Caulfield North, and Amy moved around the corner from him. Ash's Mum is also part of their shared parenting. His Mum picks up Atlas from school every Thursday afternoon and looks after him until Ash comes home from work late on Thursday night. Because of this pre-existing co-parenting arrangement between all three of Atlas' caregivers, Ash said he was locked into living in certain areas. He said he had already made the commitment to his lifestyle by the beach. He needed to be close to Amy for Atla's sake, and he needed to be in a home that wasn't too difficult for his Mum to continue looking after Atlas every Thursday, he didn't want to add travel time for his mum as she already drives out from her home in Ferntree Gully to look after Atlas on Thursday. He felt it wasn't fair for her to have to add any more commute time.

More or less, he had a list of 6 suburbs around his existing location and needs. St Kilda, Balaclava, Caulfield North, Brighton, Armadale, Malvern. I moved years ago to Kew to get my son into the best schools in that zone. Ash and I met when my son was finishing primary school, and he knew that we had moved into the area 2 years earlier so I could secure my son's schooling by being in the zone for these schools. By the time Ash had started to talk about one day living together, my son had already finished year 7 and was halfway through year 8. I had already made huge financial sacrifices for my son's schooling and to be in Kew. He had already missed most of his time at high school with our lockdowns. I explained as best as I could that education meant a lot to me, and in particular to my son. He was bullied in primary school when he went to Malvern Central Primary school when he was younger. When I got my son into Kew primary school his life improved dramatically. He was at a school he chose, he made really great friends and he was no longer bullied. My son loved his high school too, several of his friends from Kew primary school also went to his high school, and he had continuity with great schooling and a group of solid friendships. I lived in a 4 bedroom home that had more than enough room for Ash to move into with Atlas and me and Seb. Kew is only a 25-minute drive from where he lives right now in Caulfield North, and even closer to South Yarra where he works. Apparently living 25 minutes away from Amy was too far away, and too far for his Mum to add to her Thursday babysitting commitment. I've wanted an equal relationship all my life, I'm yet to have one. After my relationship with Ash ended, I figured I may not ever be in an equally invested relationship. I asked if he would consider at least living halfway between where he lives now in Caulfield North, and where I lived in Kew. He didn't like any of the suburbs halfway between us and didn't want to give up on his commitment to his lifestyle choice of living by the beach, and he and Amy were definitely going to stay bayside. As my son was due to start year 9 the following year, I couldn't stomach interrupting his schooling and pulling him out of his school and away from his friends.

Ash's solution to him not moving halfway between us so Seb could keep some part of his life and that he could still be close to his family, he suggested I stay in Kew until Seb finishes school in another 3 and a half years. He suggested that after I've helped Sebby finish high school, I can then move over to the areas he's going to live in, and there will still be plenty of Atlas' childhood left that I could be involved in. He suggested this was best for all of us as Seb would be living independently, or only with me for a couple more years after he finishes high school, and he wouldn't need me as much as he needs me now. I was pretty unimpressed and honestly heartbroken by his inability to meet me halfway on anything, no less something as serious as sharing a home. Given that he already ruled out marriage and children with me, the only step left in our relationship was finally being able to be fully public with our relationship and maybe one day living together, and even living together came with the stipulation that his needs, his ex-wife's needs, his son's needs, his mother's needs, his work needs far outweighed anything my son might need, and there was no talk about what I might need. When I asked him what he was thinking I might feel if he had a chance to be part of my son's childhood by blending our families while both our kids were still kids, but he wanted to pass on that until I had finished raising him on my own, but he still wanted me to help raise his son for the rest of his childhood after I had spent 18 years raising my son on my own. I brought up that if nobody was interested in having a family with me and being involved in my child's life, then by the time he was an adult, I had well and truly earnt my right to make choices based on what I wanted. for my son's whole life I have lived moments away from where he went to childcare, pre-k, kinder, primary school, and high school. By the time he finished high school, I would finally be able to live in a place I would actually want to live in instead of making that sacrifice for my family. Ash thought this was pretty selfish of me. I lived in Prahran years ago before I had my son and for the first year of my son's life, and I always loved Prahran| and the South Yarra area. I also wanted to live in a warehouse conversion in either Collingwood or Fitzroy. Ash wasn't interested in any of those areas, particularly South Yarra as he doesn't want to live where he has his private practice as he doesn't want to bump into any of his clients when he's out of work. He theoretically agreed to Prahran as the only place he would consider as it's not too far away from Amy and the school their son goes to. He thinks I was selfish for not living in the places he wants to live after Seb has finished his schooling, as he thinks I can still get to work and see my friends from where he wants to live. Even if it is selfish to want a choice in where I live, I feel like I would have earned the right to make the selfish choice of finally living where I want to live after 24 years of prioritising everybody else's needs and schedules.

After we got a notice to vacate from our previous landlord in our home in Kew, we couldn't find another rental home in Kew that we could move to that suited our needs and at the time we had to vacate. We had the extra pressure of finding a suitable home close to Seb's school in a tightening and worsening rental market. Ash bought up that maybe we were ready to share a home. Obviously all the stipulations of where he wanted to live and why remained. He found a home he loved in Caulfield North. It was an art deco building, Ash has always loved buildings from this era. It had floorboards which he loves and high ceilings, and it is much bigger than the apartment he moved into the week before we met, and most importantly on the other side of the park from where he lives now.
This home is only 400 meters away from his home.

It was a lot smaller than the home I had in Kew. It was a lot smaller and not cheaper. To be honest, I figured if he chose the home and he loved it, then that would be enough. My son liked the home too, not the location, but he liked the home itself. Ash spent a whole weekend looking at the listing for this home online and when he came to the inspection he loved it immediately. He was really insistent about making sure I put in an application immediately so I could secure the house as quick as possible, and he wanted to check over my application to make sure it was perfect and that I hadn't forgotten anything. I guess he figured that I would apply for it myself, pay the rent and bond and moving cost, which would then give him a few months to pack up his home before he moved in with us. At the very least we would live closer to him. I don't see why he would care about us living closer to him if he didn't want to live with us, especially because during our whole relationship he would not come to my house to stay over, so why would living within walking distance matter if coming over to our house was not something he was able to do much in the past because of his own family and his dog. He insisted that my son and I always go to his house and sleep over there because he has a dog and he doesn't like to leave his dog alone. He also thought Atlas was too young to be doing sleepovers that weren't in his own bed because he was already split over his home, Amy's home and Mrs White's home. My son had to sleep on his couch as he lives in a small 2-bedroom apartment. That didn't seem to bother or concern Ash enough to reconsider bringing his son and his dog to stay in our home where both of our children would have room to sleep in their own rooms and his dog would have plenty of space to roam around inside and outside. When Ash left our relationship 6 weeks after I signed the lease for the home he wanted, as you know, I fell apart. This sacrifice I made yet again to have a family and put everybody else's needs ahead of my own had all been for absolutely nothing. It was a hell of a way to tank what was left of my own life.

Even recently, I heard Ash say just a few days earlier that he still remembers me saying I would've earnt my freedom by the time Seb grows up. Given that he left our relationship when I had made yet another enormous sacrifice to give him the home he says he wants. So yes, I've done my time sacrificing myself, my money, my resources, my hopes, my dreams, my health, my happiness, my agency, my sense of self, and even my own existence to serve others. By the time my son finishes high school and is off to uni, I have absolutely earned my right to finally get a vote on where I would like to live, particularly as I took an absolute leap of faith to move to where Ash wanted to go, signed the contract on my own, financed the whole thing on my own and he still decided that what we had wasn't enough and he was so unappy he couldn't go on any longer in our relationship.

So when Zena asked about my future, and being on the cusp of my son's independence and what it meant for me? How I would like to design my life with me in mind for the choices I could finally make to take into account my own desires? It threw me. All of this surfaced. I don't know why, but it hurts to even consider, what do I want?