Unlike a lot of people, I actually had a pretty good year. 2016 was working out life in the wake of my return to NIDA and the wake of my acceptance of my mental disorders, and as the world seemingly collapsed in on itself I swapped between taking a bitter sort of control of my future and my self, and shrinking into nothingness. It was the year I took full control of the wheel – pretty appropriate, at age 27, you’d hope – and also intermittently remembered I don’t have a license and couldn’t drive. It was also the year I coordinated a university-level playwriting subject – as tends to happen, you sort your shit out when there’s not just yourself to disappoint. It was a year of friendships new and old – of deciding who I wanted to take into the future, and of relearning how to cultivate and enjoy new friends. As seems to happen every year, I’m genuinely amazed at how much happened over the last twelve months – hence my attempts to chronicle it, or at last mark it in time and statistics. My memory is, as always, temporal and intermittently forgetful, and this helps me take stock.
Number of places I’ve lived: 2.
Number of states I’ve visited: 4.
Number of blogs I’ve blogged: 13, this one included.
Number of plays I’ve written: 1.
Number of plays I’ve dramatically altered or dramaturgically restructured after the welcome advice of others: 4.
Number of times I made money from writing: 3.
Number of times I was emotionally or mentally fulfilled by writing: countless.
Anxiety attacks I’ve had: 9. (One down from last year. Score.)
Therapy sessions I’ve had: 32.
Friends from the Internet I finally met in person: 1.
Number of times I drank: 0.
Number of times I smoked marijuana: 3.
Number of times that smoking marijuana made me want to do more or harder drugs: 0.
Number of PhD supervisory meetings had: 5.
Number of times I realised I was the adult in charge of the situation: 3.
Number of times this realisation freaked me out a little: 2.
Number of trips to Sydney: 5.
Number of trips to Sydney that were for theatre-related stuff: 3.
Number of new tattoos: 5.
Number of shows I’ve written that were produced: 2.
Number I was proud of: 2.
Number of family members I severed ties with: 1.
Number of years of abuse proceeding this severing: 27.
Number of times I clapped out of something because of fear: 2.
Number of times I regret doing so: 2.
Favourites – not all produced this year, but intrinsically linked to my path through the year:
“So Sad Today” by Melissa Broder
“Funemployed” by Justin Heazlewood
“Does Not Love” by James Tadd Adcox
“The Queer Art of Failure” by Jack Halberstam.
Television shows: “Fleabag”, “Transparent”, “Stranger Things”.
“Nocturnal Animals” by Tom Ford
“The Greasy Strangler” by Jim Hosking
“Girl Asleep” by Rosemary Myers.
“Bloom” by Beach House
“Puberty 2” by Mitski
“Hit Reset” by The Julie Ruin
“Seth Bogart” by Seth Bogart
“Post Pop Depression” by Iggy Pop
“A Moon Shaped Pool” by Radiohead
“Strange Little Birds” by Garbage
“The Bride” by Bat For Lashes
“Not the Actual Events” by Nine Inch Nails.
(There was a lot, this year).
“Picnic at Hanging Rock” by Tom Wright (Malthouse)
“Wit” by Margaret Edison (45downstairs)
“Blaque Showgirls” by Nakkiah Lui (Malthouse)
“186,000” by Kerith Manderson-Galvin & cast (Richmond Theatrette)
The “Rub” Tour by Peaches (170 Russell).
The rush of ultimate relief as my psych, Daniel, looked at me and warmly said: “I’m really glad you came here, there’s a lot to work through.”
Sitting in stunned & amazed silence after “The Greasy Strangler” at Dark MOFO in Hobart, and the following interaction of a middle-aged couple sat behind us:
HIM: Oh my god I’m so sorry, I didn’t know what this film was about.
HER: Hah! Are you kidding? That was AMAZING.
The next day being lost in a seemingly endless mirror maze with Joel and Jeremy, alternating between hysterical laughter and intense fear as we each staggered around like toddlers, hands held out in front of us, attempting to find another human, not a mirage.
Sitting with Lewis in a cinema and laughing uncontrollably, to the point I genuinely thought I might be high. (I wasn’t.)
Sitting with Jonathan in a pub as the votes for the US election trickled in and a cloud of fear descended over us all.
Dancing ridiculously on the stage with Amy and Ryan to Marina and the Diamonds pre-show at Intoxication and feeling free: excited for what the future might bring, and the future of the show itself.
Intoxication in general: getting to speak those words and feel as if, even in some small way, I was finally exorcising a lot of my near-death experience.
My speech introducing the public showing of my SLV work, The Other Place: a speech of ultimate fear and anxiety. Afterwards, realising I couldn’t trust myself: I thought I’d majorly fucked up. I hated myself. Everyone else thought I’d done brilliantly.
A moment, at 8am on an airplane from Melbourne to the Gold Coast, where everything clicked into place and I realised I’d ‘solved’ the final piece of the puzzle for something I’d been working on.
Xanthe and Jesse’s beautiful wedding in a Gold Cost avocado grove (!) surrounded by their beautiful friends and family: the evidence of the love they share for each other; the love their friends share for them.
Sitting in a tiny café in Newcastle my last morning there for the NYWF, reading and drinking coffee and feeling at peace and as though my mind had been expanded.
Drinks and emotional, intellectual engagement with Emma and Jana; tussling with ideas and experiences and learning about myself as I learned more about both of them.
Finding the strength within me to speak candidly about my abuse and my feelings: realising they’re valid, justified, and that maybe I’d be better off if I owned them. Adjusting my life accordingly.
The times I pushed past my fear to ask someone for something, and the positive responses I received.
The moments in general and in specificity where I felt a genuine connection with someone (someone who I’d just met, or someone I’d known for ages). Feeling that maybe people weren’t so bad after all; maybe I just overcomplicate things.
Being happy and content and just being with people, ‘shooting the shit’ and just existing in each others’ space, and that being enough.
There’s a theme running through my 2016 of “the Other” and “connection”: realising and embracing my Otherness as something that’s run through my life for years, and something that I’ve ran away from pretty consistently. The funny thing about sobriety is it forces you to confront things about yourself and your life – the things you don’t like, and the things you do. As afraid as I have been of people, friends, decisions, failure, I simultaneously sought out the people I’ve felt connections with and attempted to build something stronger. And that’s okay. If I’ve realised anything, it’s that that’s allowed. But simultaneously that I’m allowed to step out of lives and situations that I recognise aren’t doing me any good. 2016 was a year of normalisation – normalisation after my 2014/2015 double-whammy, but also the normalisation I would’ve had to navigate had I simply just gone to NIDA and not nearly died. Working out where my life, my talent and my ambition all sit in the grander scheme of things, and how to keep shooting for things that I want to achieve, but how to not find achievements all-consuming. It’s been a year of taking stock: looking at my past and seeing what I can learn for my future, and working out what the fuck I stand for as a human being.
It’s been a year of being alone, and then not being alone. Getting used to being alone, and being okay with being alone, but more importantly, being okay not being alone. Realising: I can’t do it alone – I shouldn’t have to, and neither should you.
And that’s not shameful.