Stranger’s DV – When do we speak up?

I’ve just finished reading about MrDeadMoth aka Luke Munday. Apparently a 26 year old Telstra employee (possibly ex-employee), with a 21 year old partner and two children ages 3 and 20 months with a third on the way. That’s a handful!

Munday was playing an online game, Fortnite, when he was repeatedly asked to join the family, but in the footage I viewed (now living in the pile of things I wish I could unsee or unhear) it was he who sounded like the little child who didn’t want to do something. I’ve seen toddlers hold it together better.

Sadly it was fellow online gamers watching him disappear from view, hearing the slap of flesh on flesh and the screams of his pregnant partner who had to make the decision whether to get involved.

They did.

Thank you.

Munday is on conditional bail for common assault according to news reports, yet other gamers have come out in support of his actions, somehow throwing a flattened cardboard box at him or wanting him to help with the children he helped crate justified his reaction to physically assault this mother in front of her children. You can read about it here.

This made me think long and hard about my neighbours. Over six years I’ve been guilty, at times, to turning a blind eye by turning up the stereo or moving to a room further from the fence line.

Should I get involved?

Would you get involved?

I really want to know.

Over my back fence, there’s a property for young families in crisis and new tenants have just moved in ready for Christmas, but really they could be any of the other tenants we have shared this fence line with.

A young couple with kids. Quite, aside from the sounds of little children playing, squealing under the hose on a hot day, talking to themselves as they jump on a trampoline, the mother coming out to peg clothes on the line, excited screams of “watch me, watch me, watch me, Mummy” and she does, often with a mobile phone in hand.

My cat likes to watch from the bathroom window ledge, she meows until I open it. Once I opened it later in the evening, around 6pm, that’s when the males seem to return to the house. I was still sliding it when a man approached the fence, no sunglasses and his pupils were huge. He screamed “What the fuck do you want?” and before I had time to process that I’d automatically slammed the window shut. This had upset him and he was yelling twice as loud at the woman, the mother of his kids, and I heard the unmistakable sound of flesh hitting flesh.

I called the cops.

He yelled, one cop raised his voice and told the man to go back to his own house. Then it occurred to me the woman probably had the emergency house to escape the domestic violence she’d been raising the kids in that she’d been living in but here it was, it followed her like some foul odour.

I don’t know if the men over that fence work, or sell drugs, but they always seem angry and start yelling. This is when I usually close the window. I sneak into my bathroom, crouching down, think of the opening scenes of M*A*S*H* with the chopper, and I climb into the bathtub, reach up and slide the window shut. Because I’m scared. I’m scared for the woman over the fence but I’m also scared for me. This violence spewing creature is like a pebble in a pond and his intimidation ripples outwards from her home to my home, to the neighbours on the other two sides, presumably to their friends, and families, who knows how far, but for all of us feeling those ripples, he’s still in her house, and she’s still taking it even though the mere fact she’s in this temporary accommodation says she’s tried to separate herself.

I’m watching the clock. It’s 4pm. In another two hours the domestic will start up and the neighbours, some old and hard of hearing, and others jaded by seeing intervention go nowhere will all turn their TVs up a few notches and away it will fade. I’m scared that one day we’ll mill around as a body is removed saying things like, ‘she was so good to her kids, such a good young mum, those poor little mites, hope they don’t end up with him, shame she was involved with him’ and then we’ll get new tenants and start fresh.

But it doesn’t stop in the intimacy of our shared fence line, which offers some kind of privacy – just them and the neighbours. No. I see it out shopping too, full volume and as public as it gets.

The other day I was at the shopping plaza and this guy was laying into his girlfriend viciously, telling her how useless she was, how dumb, how she didn’t deserve him, how she was a useless bitch, how she could disappear and no one would miss her.

That was it for me, the veiled threat.

‘You don’t have to put up with that. I’d report him., I said loud enough to make sure they both heard me. He gave me the stink eye but she, who had been struggling to stop the tears rolling out and showing her hurt was instantly full of rage. ‘Mind ya own business ya dog.’

Once more I was reminded that victims often defend their abuser and left to ponder why ‘dog’ was always the go to insult, even Luke Munday used it.

I quite like dogs.


Is 45 too late for a career?

I had a dream, back in high school.
I would graduate.
I would get a job.
I would study.
I would buy a car.
I would leave home.
I would have a career.

I woke up at 45 and realised
I’ve graduated more times than I like to admit.
I’ve been on disability since I graduated high school.
I have a twenty-year-old Lancer in my driveway and P platers drive newer cars than me.
I’m still waiting on that career.
It might be too late for a career.


It’s hard to get ahead in this world when you’ve been on welfare so long that the salary included in a job advertisement reads like a foreign language to you.

And you think over all the casual and part time jobs you’ve had and none of them required any of the study or skills you’ve collected along the way, the shells on beach walks.

You need someone to give you that big break.

That crack of an open door where you can use you skills.

You also need them to give you space to dip your toe in and make sure the anxiety monster isn’t going to do a Jaws on you and leap out of the water to chew you up. You need to get used the tides, the breaking of the waves and the calms.

Forty-five can’t be too old.
You have to believe this is true. To hold this truth like a sick bird in your hands, cupped so gently, with every good intention.
You need to know you’ll learn to swim in life, because if you can’t believe in that, you might as well drown.

Being Vulnerable & Wearing Masks

I’ve become hyper aware that my writing life and real day-to-day life have hit a impasse that has never been apparent to me before. I love learning more about myself though writing and learning more about the world I inhabit.

In wiring memoir, the author, through her character self, is required to come across as a reliable narrator in the telling of her/his life. Of course, it’s a life the author picked apart so as to choose the parts that make for an interesting tale, yet still rings true for the reader. The narrative needs to both bare the soul to the reader and to tell a story that somehow shows the character changing in some significant way.

As Miss Mona, my pin-up name, I take on a whole other persona. When the winged eyeliner, the red lipstick, the tight sweater or swing dress go on, and the wet set gets brushed out of my temporary red hair I lose a large part of my daily anxiety, and a confidence pops up as soon as I catch a glimpse of the mask in the mirror.

As a teenager I was heavily into make up but it wasn’t until I started working after school and could afford the likes of hair dye and eyeliner that I found myself at home on a stage. Who would believe a periodic agoraphobic could suddenly perform in vaudeville shows, sing, dance, and generally become a person I have never known before. Now I wonder, where did she go? Perhaps she will only ever be seen on the papers of a memoir. For some reason I don’t want to write about that period in my life. It’s like if I pick it to pieces for a story I will kill the fairytale. What if I could find a way back to that place though? A place void of pills and panic attacks, a place where leaving the house was not a decision each day to worry about but rather a given, no thought to it whatsoever.

My mistake was in who I chose to associate with after school’s summer break over 1989/90. Teenagers can be caught up in dramas so much so that they don’t realise the impact they’re having on their friends. In this friendship I lost my identity and conformed to the standards of the group, which were set by the alpha-girl. I put the mask down and gave up on the me that felt good for the sake of acceptance. I put on a new mask, one to hide the pain, to blend in. I started writing. That was the only place it was safe to be me. Of course, no one read any of what I wrote.

To be vulnerable on the page do I have to take off all the masks, or to be vulnerable on the page do I need to find the mask that fits best for what I want to write?


Once upon a time, a young woman use to stand up for herself. Unfortunately she would do so even when the threat was only a perceived one.

Eventually she worked out this only escalated her anxiety levels.

Now she sits with that dodgy purchase she made, and contemplates ways to justify wasting the money, to write it off as just one of those things that happen to people.

Back to her writing project she wonders why she chose to write in memoir when she gets to one of those key scenes that she cannot work her way around, they have to be in the narrative for the story she’s telling to work.


Her heart rate advances.

Her blood pressure drops, leaving her light headed, vision a little hazy as she writes.

Her concentration moves away from the scene she’s writing, and she forgets that even though this is memoir, these people can’t harm her anymore, they are just characters, and she forgets to take a fresh look at the events and remember that she can write this in anyway she wants. She’s not a magician and can’t change the facts, but she can put in her reflection, a magic that time passing allows her.





Confrontation doesn’t always have to raise anxiety. (As for that dodgy purchase, she’ll have to work on that.)

Re-remembering the Past

Do you ever have one of those days where you focus on the past too much? I know the saying that anxiety is living in the future and depression is living in the past, but here in the present I’m writing about the past and there’s some really intense feelings coming up.

To set the mood I’ve also been going through photographs from that time in my life and listening to the music that I was hearing back then. Not just the stuff I liked, but stuff I hated too, because it all has feelings attached to it and if I do my job right I can get that layered into the text.

The part that is getting me down is seeing that I had no voice back then. There was some unspoken rule in my family that this anxious teenager couldn’t be trusted to make the right decisions for herself and so they were made for me.
I don’t think suffering panic attacks, or having generalised anxiety disorder should preclude anyone from choosing their life path, who they spend it with or what they do with their time.

I’m trying to rewrite this narrative so I have some kind of a voice in the end, even if it’s two decades too late. I’d love to have a do-over and go back in time, but I’m sure everyone has at least one of those moments they’d like to change, anxiety or no anxiety.

So I’m taking all the ‘no you can’t’ statements that were given to me as my story and I’m looking for the ways I responded by showing them ‘yes I can’ and bringing those to the front of the stage, and hopefully when I finish this what I’m left with won’t be a source of memory that causes depression, but will be a memory I can be happy to sit with. I know I can’t change the facts, but I can shift the focus, put the spotlight on the good things, and I get to choose how, in light of the years I’ve lived since, I remember things. I’m not going to be held hostage to the way other people want me to remember my past. Not anymore.

Journal for a healthy mind

Writing was something I did late at night in high school, sometimes all night, until my parents had me medicated and I lost those creative thoughts in the fog.

I remember my high school made us keep journals from the first week until we graduated, and I was disappointed they’d discontinued this practice by the time my daughter hit high school.

Sometimes, especially in the first year, it was hard to think of things to write about, but as time went on I found those journals to be very beneficial.

Once I was at university I read ‘Freedom Writers’ and saw the movie by the same name, and it brought back memories of high school journals.

I’ve heard about schools introducing meditation to help calm students, make them more focused etc. I also see a lot of parents are unhappy as they feel it has a religious aspect to it. This has not been my experience with meditation but what if students were to have some time at the beginning of the day to journal, dump the chatter running riot in the background of their minds, before the school work begins?

I’m middle aged and I still need to do a ‘brain dump’ of all the useless stuff bogging my thoughts down on an almost daily basis.

Finding Meaning in Experiences

Earlier this week I read about a study that showed people who wrote about traumatic or intensely positive experiences were able to find meaning in those experiences easier than those in the control group who didn’t write. For me, as someone with anxiety and panic disorder, I believe this to be true, and I’ll tell you why.

Several years ago I wrote a creative thesis and I chose an event in my life that I thought was significant due to its traumatic aspects, but the more I wrote about it the more my supervisor told me to look for the meaning behind the events I was putting on the page. It turned out that when I got right into it I was able to find a source of phobias and anxiety stemming from an incident when I was three. Not bad considering no therapist has ever made that happen!

And now here I am writing about coming-of-age, and finally I’m able to see meaning in experiences that continue to impact me to this day. It’s quite an educational and emotional experience.

As a side note, I strongly recommend reading Vivian Gornick’s ‘The Situation and the Story’ as it explains the difference between writing pure reportage scenes and finding the story in great detail.

Once you can put down enough of these kinds of experiences the writing becomes much like a quilt with patches that form a pattern and ultimately tell a much larger story, which hopefully deep dives the meaning of each experience to find the big one, the arc of a memoir for example.