Purple Death

Distraction… that’s all I’m about lately.  Distract from the reality of my experience, and the emotions it generates.  One simple example of this, is that after I wrote the title of this post, I immediately started looking at the prices of slow cookers… To put that into context, I don’t cook.  So yes, distraction has become a way of life…  But, to distract from what?  That’s the million dollar question…

I’ve started to get hints as to what the distraction is about… Early last year, I experienced a long period of intense suicidal ideation and intent.  While feeling a constant level of ideation is not unusual for me, there were significant changes in how it was addressed… When I reached out for help, there were consequences in the form of being placed in the Police holding cells as part of suicide assessment procedures; in a separate incident, I was subjected to a rather traumatic psychiatric assessment; and there was also the ACC privacy breach.  These incidents had a profound effect on me… the most dramatic being that I stopped seeking help.

This may seem counter-intuitive; but, my trust was shaken, and all I could see were the negative consequences of asking for help.  As I struggle with asking for help anyway, these incidents were fodder to that old belief system that no one is to be trusted, and that I have to do this alone.  Practically, this has been shown by the less frequent posts here, less frequent communication with Allison via email, withdrawing from friends and family, etc…

This withdrawal becomes a habit that snowballs so easily… it’s fed by my anxieties and my already isolated existence.  Also, if I’m withdrawing from everyone, then I don’t need to talk about things… I don’t need to face them… I can hide… I can focus on my lack of connection, rather than the reason for the lack of connection… It’s something tangible that I can hold up as a problem to those that I do try to connect with… it’s also easy to explain away when someone asks me why I’ve been more distant…  The line “I’m sorry, it’s nothing personal, I’ve been withdrawing from everything…” has become a bit of a mantra.

But, a distraction from what?

The first hints came a few weeks ago, when I was showing a friend around my house, and showed them an old bottle of Purple Death…  I’ve carried this bottle of alcohol with me for nearly 30 years.  I’ve never had any intention of drinking it; but instead have said that I’m carrying it around because of the funny label…  But, when I look at the origins of that bottle, I doubt that reasoning.  I was given this bottle by one of the sisters boyfriends… a boyfriend whom I idolised, and abused me.

I remember him being charismatic… he seemed so mature to my 10-year-old self.  Looking back, I can see that he was very good at paying just the right amount of attention to me… that is, just the right amount to manipulate the dysfunctional relationship between the sister and I.  He alternated between tolerating me, and showering me with attention.  As I was starved for attention, I lapped it up…

Looking back, I can see his actions fairly clearly… What does me in, is that the mother suspected something was happening between the sister’s boyfriend and I; but, her focus remained on the sister.  The mother knew he was bad for her, and tried to stop the relationship… but, it was all focused on dealing with the sister’s increasing levels of acting out.  Any concern for me was a very distant afterthought… I was the “good one” after all…

It is this dynamic that I often return to when I look at the past… all concern for me was swept aside by the worries for the more dysfunctional members of the family.  When I look at the sisters behaviour, I can understand that intellectually… she was quick to adopt a sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll existence.  But, it also generates a “what about me” feeling… I feel so pathetic and attention seeking writing that sentence… Like I’m whining, and just need to get over it already…  But, I also know that the feelings generated by that dynamic and message, have major impacts on my life now.  It taught me that others are more important than me; that people can, and should hurt me without consequence; and that I am worthless… the ultimate mistake at the end.

The shame associated with this dynamic are immense… But, there’s also anger… How can someone chose one child over another?  What drives that decision?  The sister was already acting out, so what would the consequences have been if the mother had chosen to protect me?  Just… WHY???

I said that there was shame and anger… well, there’s also sadness.  Sadness for that little girl who was so starved for positive attention, that she willingly went to an abuser…  Describes both the sister and I, doesn’t it?


As for the bottle of Purple Death… I threw it into the trash on Monday.  If only the emotions and memories were as easily discarded…

Now playing: Powderfinger – My Happiness


2 thoughts on “Purple Death

  1. You are a great writer you know that?

    I love how you draw a distance with your family: “the mother” and “the sister”. Is that one of your coping measures? Whatever it is, it’s smart. I like it. 🙂

    Just wanted to stop by and say hello. The last time I crossed your blog was about a year ago. So good luck on your journey and if you need anything you can always reach out.

    “As for the bottle of Purple Death… I threw it into the trash on Monday. If only the emotions and memories were as easily discarded…” Wow, that is strong… Love it.

    All the best,


    • Hi Daan,

      Thanks for stopping by… 🙂

      I use the language of “the sister”, “the mother”, etc to create a little more distance; but also because I have such a disconnect with the concept of family. It’s not meant as an insult; but rather a sign of my internal struggles to understand the role the family played in my life, and what that meant. I find it all very confusing, especially when viewed through certain lens’.

      I wish it felt strong to throw away the bottle… it was “just done”… no emotion, or fanfare 🙂

      How are you doing?

      Please take care,

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