This song has resonated so deeply with me – I wish I had never heard it.
It’s beauty, depth and pain reflects my life and where I find myself day after day. Battling to keep afloat and alive. Constantly searching for a reason to live, for lost family and I keep getting the same results. Nothing. No one.
Do you want me to die? Cease to exist? Am I so toxic and putrid that you would rather see me fall deeper into the darkness – shoved in the back by you?
I don’t understand how, or why, people wish to a inflict their own toxic, psychologically fucked up selves onto others.
Some days I feel like a butterfly – caught, trapped and pinned to the board – still breathing and alive. You have me where you want me – yet you hate me. You hate my ability to thrive with or without you. You hate that I still see the wounded child within your narcissistic, sociopathic crazy fucked up world.
You will keep trying to control me. To you it is a game. To me it could be the end of my life. Do you truly realise that the end result could be the death of me? That one day I may just shut down, stop avoiding your butterfly net.
How can people be so cruel to those they insist they care about?
Reading this at the moment. Am in no state to write my own.
Review by Kara Nicholson for Readings
Jessie Tu has worked as a classical violinist, teacher and journalist. This is her first work of fiction and it is an astonishing debut. The lonely girl at the heart of this novel is Jena Lin. Jena’s grandfather was a famous pianist and child prodigy in China. In Australia, Jena was also once considered a child prodigy. By the age of fourteen she had won seven international violin competitions and the chance to play a solo with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. During the performance she had a public meltdown and retreated from the limelight. Her grandfather always said that it was the destiny of the talented to suffer and to fulfill their excessive needs at any cost.
Now in her twenties, Jena lives in Sydney and has begun to play the violin again. She is auditioning along with her best friend for a permanent orchestral role in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Jena’s daily routine of practice and rehearsal is relentless, and she can be unpleasant and prickly. She also considers herself to be a sex addict. In the absence of the attention and acclaim given to a soloist musician she finds random sex with a variety of men almost as fulfilling. Her needs are excessive, but she will meet them at any cost.
Jena gets the job but loses her best friend in the process. She then meets Mark, who is in a long-term relationship with someone else. Mark is rich, middle aged, racist and sexist, but self-sabotaging Jena is drawn to him. She is lonely. There is such a disconnect between Jena Lin the gifted Australian violinist and Jena Lin the sex addict that the decisions she makes are heartbreaking. Jena then wins an internship with the New York Philharmonic and her life seems about to change for the better. She moves to New York just as Trump is elected and the experience is not quite what she expected.
This is a fascinating and intense debut that challenges systemic racism and misogyny, particularly in the progressive artistic world. It is confronting but it is also brilliant and original. Jessie Tu is an incredible new voice in Australian literature.
All I can do is keep moving, organising, dodging the bullets, avoiding reality, the knowledge erupting from the deepest core of my being.
Feeling nothing, feeling everything, feeling wrong, feeling bad, feeling sad, feeling completely and utterly alone and, yes, lonely. No drugs to dull the pain, to send me into blissful numbness – scared of losing a day, an hour, a minute. Yet I continue to lose track of days, reality and facts – leaving me more vulnerable to the black crows of death.
I was the secret keeper – so good at my job that I have even hidden them from me. But they are there, making their presence known, stirring themselves awake, slowly moving and growing bigger. They are tired of being bound to silence, to coffins full of dirt, to the very darkness that was once a safe place. The secrets threaten to destroy the very essence of this body, we are hanging on by the tips of our fingernails, slowly sliding down the cliff, nails ripped off, bleeding, unable to claw our way back up or to stop the fall.
Falling so silently – no one hears my screams, my cries of agony and loneliness. I’ve never been heard or saved – only pushed over the edge to be “caught” by the very person who pushed me to my limits.
I have nothing more to give. Nothing more to stop my world crumbling into the abyss. I yearn to curl up into a ball, screaming into my arms, crying until I have no more tears left until tomorrow. I need a safe place to fall apart – I’m not sure I’ll make it out alive.
The darkness within is unknown, yet felt deeply and painfully, with glimpses into the past horrors I cannot believe exist. The surreal feeling of being damaged, toxic goods, never good enough, easy to leave and being left constantly. My only consistent companions are the secret keepers and those that protect us – even when they hurt us.
We are screaming for help, yet requesting it quietly, with dignity, purpose and focus. As long as we continue to look like we are functioning we are ok. Yet the strength and energy required to keep up the facade has taken its toll – I am a husk, a shell of a person. Never been whole.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, a circus of merry-go-rounds that I don’t want to be on, rides I cannot get off, tunnels of pain, laughter, confusion and distorted mirrors. Is the light real? Or a kaleidoscope of images that lead nowhere except down the rabbit hole.
Twins with Isabella. Attitude. Fuck you cunt. But god she’s a blast. You always know HellKat is nearby – her distinctive gravelly voice and laugh sounds more like a phone sex worker. And she knows it.
When HellKat is let loose she lashes out with intent to maim.
Knives and forks in cheeks
C’mon cunt. Bring it on.
HellKat is the same age as Isabella – 15 or 17? It’s unclear – but does it matter? They are both wise beyond their years and street smart. Always have each other’s back even when they intentionally through each other under the bus.
Survival of the fittest.
One day recently HellKat had a major aggressive rant, smashing things, calling the cutter names (HellKat hates the cutter. It took three of us to calm her on the therapy pod but she still managed to kick out. Hit out. Spit and hiss. She’s been triggered. – but we can’t remember why – oh that’s tight a long text to “x” when none of us wanted to send it.
Finally settled down with pink cashmere blanket wrapped around her on the special bean bag. We are still watching and wary but we know that she’s lost her spirit and can’t be fucked anymore.
For this hour or day or week she has nothing left to do. Nothing left to fight for, to keep safe because we are safe.
She hates the littlies coz they make her too vulnerable and no ones going to see her soft side.
She’s twins with Isabella- but where is she?
We keep losing time and vision.
The past is being shoved into the light regardless I’d we are safe to deal with the memories. So to cope we shut out and down.
Isabella is not even allowed to write a lot in her diary.
Love in a strange place and time.
Surreal and real at the same time.
Holding on tight to the belief that I am worthy.
Worthy of your love.
Worthy of your soul.
It’s strange yet exhilarating.
I’m scared to let you in
Yet I yearn for your love
Seek out your touch and smell
I lean on you as never before
You sense my fear and stay still
Knowing me more than anyone ever before
You draw me closer
With warm tender words
Show me the real you
Trusting me with your beautiful soul
Begging me not to hurt you
I can’t promise that.
Please anything but that.
This cat has claws
Which swipe and scratch
When people venture too close
I hiss and scream and push away
Anyone who approaches my lair.
Yet you – Foxy – dared to enter
Into my space
One step at a time
You showed me what could be mine
If I dared to put the claws away
And turn to you fur standing on end
Back arched, hissing, yet moving closer
Despite my fear and almost against my will.
I find myself swept into your warm strong arms
Drawing me closer to you
Heart to heart
Eye to eye
Lips to lips
We kiss slowly and gently.
We hold each other carefully
Neither smothering or possessive
We hold our own space
Inviting each other into our world
With warmth, courage and trust.
Trusting that we will do no harm to each other
Trusting ourselves with each other’s heart and soul.
Your Grey stormy eyes see me.
The real me.
Never before have I felt so safe.
Your beautiful calm soul soothing my pain.
What have you got to gain?
What have I to offer other than pain?
When you turn to me,
Bedroom eyes drawing me in,
I want to hold you close,
Smother you In love and tenderness
Release your beautiful soul to be free
Knowing that you will come back to me.
This is a once off love.
Swept through our hearts and off our feet.
A love in strange times.
We fought it,
The timing was wrong,
Vulnerable and exposed
We had no choice but to give in.
When is love ever in the right time?
We whisper to each other
As we explore this precious treasure chest
Of laughter, hope, honesty and desire
We have no choice.
We have no chance
To put on hold our love and desire
So we enter the churning sea.
Staring deep into each other’s eyes
We jump off the cliff together.
Trusting we will land in wonderland
Made up of two – me and you.
I love you Foxy.
I love your smile,
Your shy approach
Hiding a strength that is deceiving
Your deep still waters calm my chaos
Your pure soul deserves love and passion
All that I have to give is yours.
I promise to try to not hurt us both.
I withdraw my claws,
Silence the hissing
Turn to you with arms held wide
Drawing you closer to me and my warm cocoon of love.
I will do my best to love you deeply, without restraint.
Rose coloured glasses removed to see you clearly and always.
Foxy – I love you no matter where we end up after this crazy, surreal and fucked up time is over. You deserve the sun, the moon, the stars – my world is a better place for having you in it.
You make me want to be a better woman
A better me
But mainly and importantly – for me.
Funny for the day to try to shake off the doom and gloom which is the reality for a lot of people at the moment.
Did you know that Bees sometimes sleep inside flowers, also like to sleep with other bees and hold each other’s feet.
That’s glorious love or an orgy 🧐❤️😇😂❣️❣️❣️
Story of my life – hiding away face first thinking I can’t be seen!
Are they married?
In many ways, once again, I feel fortunate and blessed during this time of world of confusion and fear. Social isolation has been my go to when I’m feeling scared, alone (not lonely), invisible, forgotten and unable to cope with life.
From a very young age, being alone, unseen and hidden has proven to be a strong safety response that I carried into adulthood. Today, to feel safe and calm, I need a quiet sanctuary of peace and security – physically yes, however emotionally more so.
As a child I used to sleep with my eyes half open – so I could watch the door or window and be prepared to run. I’ve always had an emergency exit plan, what I need to grab, which ways to run, where I could hide and what I could do to block entry to my house or room.
When I was about 8 years of age, I vividly remember having to block the wooden flimsy front door with an ironing board wedged against it and a cupboard opposite. In housing commission flats that’s as good as it got. It didn’t stop my dad from calling mum and I from the local pub – the “Collo” in the middle of the night. Waking us up, yelling that he had his kicking boots on and would be there soon. To kick the door in, then to kick mum around. The door always had a hole in it – anyone could get in.
I hate open windows to the night without blinds – you can’t see out but people can see in. I have alarms and cameras now as an adult, when I was young I had nothing. Except the time I was told to sleep with a knife under my pillow in case someone kicked in the back room windows and flimsy door right beside my isolated back of the house bedroom.
So why do I feel blessed and safe today during this virus pandemic? Because I already have the skills, knowledge and experience of being completely alone in the world.
I’ve learnt to be self sufficient, to self soothe and calm myself, to accept what I cannot change.
To love my small group of carefully curated friends even when they don’t have time for me.
To accept that, yes, I am loved as a friend, however I am no-ones priority or first, second or third thought. That I’m an afterthought even in “non-COVID19” times, that an hour catch every few months is all they can spare. Which is sometimes cancelled by me due to not feeling well enough to leave the house and be vulnerable with friends. When I do force myself to go, it’s always wonderful to see them – however some days (ok most) I deflect artfully any personal questions and focus on my friend. I have realised that this has created a barrier that stops people from feeling like that can help me. Therefore I, in my fierce determination to be independent, create a circle of distance and isolation. That’s ok – we feel safe.
Being with yourself 24/7 forces you to either live well to the best of your ability, or swan dive into depression, anxiety and thoughts of ending the desolate desert you call life.
I keep timidly choosing to live well and this gives me the skills to manage in this self isolation.
Keep strong my beautiful friends. Try to find the positive in your situation.
Gratitude may be too much to strive for some days – and that’s ok.
Take this surreal life one day at a time.
One hour if that’s what it takes to get through the day.
One minute if you feel like you can’t breathe or possibly continue in this new strange and scary time.
Call your friends and family – don’t message them. They need you more than you realise – you need them more than you have realised. Hearing your voice and laughter can change sombody’s day totally around.