life, relationships, Soul

The One Quality About Michael Hutchence that Magnetized the World

“You know sometimes I just want to curl up on stage and lie there for a while — it’s weird.” — Michael Hutchence

Calling All Nations

Sydney: November 12th, 1988, and I could barely keep myself in check while riding the Illawarra line with some good friends, crooning INXS classics like Need You Tonight and Burn for You. Spirits were high. The air was charged with magic energy. I was en route to spending my first evening with the man Billy Zane described as “the frontman for a nation” — Michael Hutchence and his rocking soulful band INXS.

A friend named Paris organized the tickets and was almost as exotic as the man himself for various reasons:

I. He was older than me and looked like Benicio del Toro in his heyday.

II. He was strangely well-connected for an 18-year-old.

III. I had personally never known any guy before or since named after the European City of Lights.

Bonjour sensualité!

Paris knew someone who knew someone who …. err …. knew another someone who could score us some prime seats for the event held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. After a Kick-ass world tour, INXS was coming home to celebrate their worldwide success complete with a well-deserved side of glorious top-dog swagger.

I wasn’t missing that experience for all the money in China.

Now, Paris delivered on his promise in producing choice seats for the show. I was there, ready to experience my first taste of in-person Hutchence gold, and barely able to wait out the time for the supporting band to wrap it up. But when the homegrown Sydney boys eventually gave it up to the tune of What You Need, oddly enough, I gave it up too.

No, I didn’t rip off my dainty black bra and toss it on stage. Nor did I flash my breasts at the utterly delish. Truth. I’m not that extreme. Besides, by no means were those guys shy of nipples, lips, hips and flesh at that particular moment in life.

Lining the hotel halls 24/7 like junk-lump wallpaper in cities all over the world.

Speaking of 24/7, you know those old black and white clips of crazy fan-girls screaming and crying like idiots after famous artists like The Beatles or Elvis Presley?

Say no more.

(Except that it was the first and only time that ever happened.)

Of course, I blame Michael Hutchence (and maybe teenage hormones) for the unexpected emotional outburst. There was just so much pent-up energy within that by the time the cool-cat rocker strutted onto the stage, the floodgates deemed too much to control.

What? The man was as sexy as sin, boasted an unmistakable voice and a stunningly unique presence — there was no question that his irreplaceable talent could make a girl weak at the knees, among other things….

But Michael was more than just an attractive rock star with an impressive head of hair who sang like honey, collected “famous” friends and swooned women everywhere — there was something special about him that made him stand out among his peers — the one quality unique to him that magnetized the world.

Michael Jackson had a chimp called Bubbles. Mick Jagger had those famous “rubber” lips and a bad boy image, and Angus Young had his disturbing version of a schoolboy uniform. Aside from possessing a super sensual hip-grind, Michael Hutchence had a unique vulnerability about him.

A trait which proved to be the special sauce that was the foundation for his ability to take in all of life and exude a rare authentic presence while living in the fast-lane.

I’m Just a Man

“I know who I am and what I do.” — Michael Hutchence

Those who kept a keen eye on Michael Hutchence know that his nature was very introverted, shy and sensitive. Not only were those qualities well-documented by the people who were close to him, but it was those characteristics that influenced and presented through his body of creative work.

In Richard Lowenstein’s documentary, The Last (True) Rock Star, Tina Hutchence recounts the first time she saw her brother Michael perform: “We went into this dingy place … there was lots of beer flowing… I was kind of worried because it looked like a tough crowd out there and Michael is kind of quiet. I didn’t know what was going to happen and I was kind of concerned. He came on and there was this metamorphosis. My quiet spoken brother became this person on stage that just blew me away.”

So. Awesome.

American professor Brené Brown, who is well-known for teaching us the value in vulnerability and the personal benefits we gain from choosing to explore our emotions rather than bottling them up, says that the path to self-awareness and true connection is through our willingness to get vulnerable with the people who are important to us.


“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.”

Hutchence was clearly in touch with himself and his masculinity enough to be true to who he was. He was a free-spirit who didn’t lack the courage to express, explore and open himself to his vulnerability — the creation of connectedness that rippled from the inside out and into his music to unite nations.

Bono, who is the frontman of the legendary rock band, U2, was said to be impressed with his friend’s (Michael Hutchence) take on music: “I remember asking Michael what his definition of rock & roll was — he said, ‘Liberation.’”

Liberation on a personal level is self-exploration to achieve freedom from self-limiting thoughts. It is daring to realize your pure spirit and understanding freedom in its truest form, and that requires a certain dose of vulnerability.

Freedom is knowing who you are and believing in that person enough to then liberate and uplift others through the important work you offer the world. Freedom is in your essence.

Michael’s father, Kelland Hutchence: “Michael was a shy, lovely kid…. He was warm, tender. A gentle boy who loved writing poetry.”

I believe Michael’s vulnerability radiated like a rare star brighter than any rock. His presence was a sensually creative interpretation of quiet yet open, intelligently fun…. a grounded futurist — he managed to strike a balance with his Rock God alter-ego, enjoying the perks and trappings of superstardom while still possessing an understanding of life and humanity.

Essentially, it was Michael’s vulnerability that we fans’ picked up and homed in on; it made him feel reachable, relatable and connected; and that’s the overarching quality that contributed to his uniqueness and made Michael Hutchence so damn special.


“He was something like tomorrow.” — Billy Zane

But with all of his reserved and introspective qualities, Michael had to find a way to cope with the attention of being a rock star — he had to compartmentalize himself to manage fame.

Michael said: “I get pretty terrified, to be honest, when I’m on tour. You really have to muster a lot of ego to go out there, which I find draining.”

So how did the rock star deal with it?

He had to insulate his gentler characteristics to protect himself. Kory Grow from Rolling Stone Magazine:

“When the band’s Kick album became a sextuple-platinum megahit, Hutchence had to get over his innate shyness quickly and figure out a way to navigate all the attention — “From the fantasy to the reality of, ‘Oh, this is actually happening,’ that would be really tricky because I wasn’t that comfortable with it,” Hutchence says of fame. “So, I sort of invented that [big] persona with the necessity of getting through it. I enjoyed it but I had to create something that kept me inside as well.”

Michael may have wavered from time to time. We know that he struggled with his inner-demons and like the rest of us, made his fair share of mistakes along the way. But through it all, he never truly lost sight of who he was, where he was going and his deepest truths; and he cared enough to cherish that part of himself.

Honestly, having an insight like that is like knowing a secret. It’s an intangible quality in a person’s soul that you can just sense.

Some years later, I sensed it in Michael the night that I met him (minus the hormone-induced emotional eruption). It was drizzling wet and late, and I was waiting for him at the backstage door after a concert. Michael had a broken leg (from falling off the stage at another gig) and he was accompanied by a throng of hangers-on, some of them quite beautiful.

I said nothing to call on his attention. He could have easily dismissed me and climbed into the waiting car but he didn’t. Instead, he flashed a grin before hobbling down the stairs on his crutches over to where I was standing, stopping next to me to give me his time.

Time is a gift we lend of ourselves to others.

Shine Like it Does

So, what’s the biggest takeaway that we can learn from a guy like Michael Hutchence?

This was a rock star who didn’t think it beneath him to find the time to talk and laugh on the phone with a gushing Sydney teenage girl one Saturday morning sometime during the late 80’s.

Michael’s ability to stay real, spirited and humble through mighty fame and fortune is the one thing I always admired the most about him.

I don’t know about you, but of all the qualities for a person to possess and demonstrate in this life, I believe that keeping our spirit humble has to be among the most important.

That’s where lies the key to real success and fueled the underlying qualities shining below the surface of Michael’s vulnerability — the story since time began.

Michael had success nailed long before fame found him; and it was in him all along — the magic of vulnerability.

Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium

Creativity, life, Love and Connection, relationships, writing

When You Ask Me Why I Love You?

What is your forever answer?

Every now and then, we might wonder what that special person in our lives sees in us, or ponder why it is that they love us.

“I love you.”

Love isn’t a word to be taken lightly, though, at the same it is one of those “habit” words that we so often get used to saying without always putting in the feeling behind the phrase.

Doesn’t mean that we not sincere. Not all at. I think it’s more that by saying those three special words, it somehow helps to keep our faith in each other, even when said mechanically.

Make sense?

I know it works that way for my children, who utter those three words to me countless times on any given day. Yes, I am blessed — there are people in this big wide-world who love me and who I love back with all my heart and then some.

Romantic love?

The last few weeks, love has been a running theme here at Living Out Loud. We have had the pleasure of welcoming and publishing some new writers, and we are excited about creating a loving community where readers and writers can connect and share their experiences and perspectives under one little nook of the web — a space that we share with anyone who wants to join us.

#lovingoutloud #lovebig

Thank you to our wonderful writers who have shared a snippet of themselves; their hearts and souls — the stuff that makes them real. In case you’ve missed out on the latest stories, I’ve bundled them together for you below.

But first…

Lexi’s Wants to Know Your Forever Answer:

Why do you love me?

I love you because….

  • You know everything about me and you’re still around.
  • You piss me off and laugh when I call you an asshole.
  • You instinctively know when I need a hug.
  • You let me be who I am and love me even more for it.
  • You still try to make me laugh.
  • When things get tough, you love me even harder.

What’s your forever answer?

Latest Stories:


Kim Petersen16 Facts About Love That Might Surprise You

Kim PetersenIs it Love Obsession or Dark Obsession?

Wistful writerTouch More, Love More

Kim PetersenThe Power of Polarity Between Men and Women

Kim PetersenIs There Ever a Time to Deny Real Love?

Kim Petersen: The Seven Sweet Sins of Love


Jennifer M. Wilson: How to be Effortlessly Cool

Kaia Tingley 🌀 We Cannot Force Change

#Technology #Creativity

Kate MackayWhy Education Needs Virtual Reality During COVID-19

Kate MackayDoes Virtual Reality Have a Place in eLearning?

Kate MackayA Virtual Reality Classroom Adventure

Kate MackayHow Can Virtual Reality Boost Confidence in Children?

Kate Mackay: Can Virtual Reality Save Special Need Education During COVID-19?

#Spirituality #Creativity

Kim PetersenThe Creative Secrets of Shamanic Drumming


Harley Christensen: Please — Stop the Madness!

Thanks to all our gorgeous writers —what’s your “forever (or un-forever) answer”? — Julia E Hubbel Jennifer M. Wilson Wistful writer Genius Turner Kate Mackay Harley Christensen David Gerken Kevin Horton Kevin Ervin Kelley, AIA Kate Conradie Cynthia Webb Elna Cain Deeksha Agrawal Rosie Wylor-Owen Christopher Wills Clarrisa Lee George Frey Matt Lillywhite Kaia Tingley 🌀 Beth Prentice

That’s all from us for now — until next time, keep #loving & #smiling #writing & #reading!

— The LOL Editorial Team

Kim, Harley and Lexi 🙂

Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium


Go ahead, be offended. You have that right by Xavier Eastenbrick.

Being a man often means I must accept the fact that men have (arrogantly) made all kinds of decisions affecting women. Many of which were designed and intended as a means of control. Generally speaking, they were designed and intended to forbid women from exercising equal rights and privileges men enjoy because of a deeply flawed sense of paternalism. This decisional oddity is reflective of the culture at the time. I accept this as an historic reality – a reality that was ripe for change.

We live in an age where the situation appears to be improving, but unfortunately isn’t equal. The dynamics of the abortion debate are often difficult and messy because we make it so. It is even difficult for both sides of the discussion to use the same language when talking about their positions. Unfortunately, the law and decisions surrounding the issues often further complicates the matter.

Separate and apart from the respective sides of the discussion, the sub-debate on abortion is whether men should have any say in the matter because it’s not their body.

The history surrounding the issue of abortion has been dominated by the voices of men in the United States until the Supreme Court determined that it is the woman’s right to choose. That is settled law and regardless of political movements to change the law, it is highly doubtful such attempts would survive constitutional scrutiny, at least in the United States.

At the same time and putting aside principles of constitutional law, if a couple is considered as one in the eyes of God (using a religious view) and the government (the legal view which is reflective of the religious view), shouldn’t a decision about a life created by two people within that union be a matter of qualified agreement to some degree during the pregnancy?  After all, the law recognizes rights of fit biological parents once the child is born.

I’m going to say something which may seem controversial, only because of the ongoing societal debate. Life begins at conception. That should be an accepted scientific fact. Life even exists prior to the sperm fertilizing the egg, but upon conception, mitosis follows and the process of the human embryo begins. If it is left alone and assuming no other factors, natural or otherwise interrupt it, that embryo will turn into a human fetus and be born a baby.

All of those words describe a part of the process and development of human life. However, it is all still human life – a separate life and distinct from its mother, regardless of whether it could survive on its own.

The argument that it isn’t a life unless it can survive on its own is a rather dangerous and slippery slope. If you put a baby on a hill and left it alone, it will likely die because it cannot survive in its own. Is a life any less alive in utero than outside the womb, if neither could survive on their own?

Here’s something that may shock you; the fact that it is a life is not the end of the discussion for me. So, you understand this isn’t some kind of academic debate. Allow me to discuss my personal experiences involving my ex-wife that occurred within our eleven-year marriage.

Early on, my wife and I became pregnant. Of course, she was the one carrying but the life inside her was ours. That isn’t some antiquated notion of paternalism or latent misogyny. She didn’t become pregnant by way of a visit from an archangel. Having said that, it turned out that my swimmers were way too eager and fertilized the egg in her fallopian tube, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy.

The doctors told us that there was no chance that the fetus would develop or be born, and that if we did not abort, my wife could go into shock and die.

No brainer, right?

After two shots of methotrexate, the HGC (Human Growth Hormone) levels in my wife’s system remained elevated, posing a danger to my wife. It had to be surgically removed. What entailed was a traumatic experience. My wife bore the brunt of the pregnancy and the burden it brought – complications, medication and surgical procedures. I was essentially a supportive and passive bystander who paced a waiting room and did what I could to attend to her needs.

About a year later, we found out that we were pregnant again with our son. He is now 9 years-old. Success, from conception to delivery. There wasn’t a decision to be made about whether he would be born. He was a life with whom we interacted before he was born. Legally speaking, she could have terminated him and there would be nothing I could have done to stop her.

About a year later, we were pregnant again. When we went for the ultrasound, we were thrilled when we found out that she was carrying twin girls. We saw them on the monitor and heard their heartbeats. They were no less alive than our son.

Later, the doctor needed to talk with us because there was a potentially serious complication. The girls were monoamniotic monozygotic twins. That’s a complicated way of saying that they were identical twins, and instead of two occupying separate amniotic sacs inside my wife’s womb, they were developing in one sac together.

This is a dangerous situation because of the risks of cord strangulation. The doctor explained the risks – explaining that we (she) could choose to terminate the pregnancy. We discussed the matter, agreeing that our twins deserved a chance at life.

We didn’t debate what these two lives were or whether my wife had a right to choose or whose bodies they were growing in. We wanted to afford our daughters their fair chance to live. Their fate was initially in our hands, but no more than the fate of our infant son. In our son’s case, his birth means that he is protected by the law as a free human life and we, as his fit parents are both legally responsible for him.

June 3rd, 2011 and twenty-six weeks into the pregnancy, a routine ultrasound revealed that our twins had died. I’ll never forget that day. I was working in NYC and received a call from my wife with the devastating news. Right away, I grabbed my things with no desire to talk to anyone, leaving the most brutal email I have ever composed and sent to my supervisor; “My twins died. I left to be with my wife.” The train ride home was a blur, and not once had I debated whether those girls were a “life”.  We had lost our daughters. We didn’t lose feti.

The umbilical cords were irretrievably tangled around their necks. The potential danger became a horrible reality.  One died and then the other. On June 5th, 2011 they were officially “born” – if that’s the right word. I will spare you the gruesome details. But what I saw that day, I will never forget.

My wife went through the hell of the delivery. My hell was psychological; to see her going through the painful labor, and then watch my daughters born dead, strangled in an unholy mesh of once life-sustaining umbilical cords.

What you might not know is that after 24 weeks, the hospital does all of the normal things that occur during a birth, except instead of a birth certificate, they issue a death certificate.

If you are at a hospital and see a picture of a purple flower on the door of a delivery room, please say a silent prayer for the poor souls experiencing a quiet and unspeakable journey through a highly personal hell. I often wonder what kind of strange laws created this anomaly of having died, but also never having been born. I suspect it is the result of people not wanting to acknowledge a life in the womb is a life. Once you call it “life”, people who are not invested in that life assume they need to make decisions for the lives of all involved. 

To recap and to better understand my opinion; I have participated in pregnancies – the necessary termination of one, the birth of another and the death of our twin girls. My wife didn’t get pregnant alone, nor did she decide alone. It was her right to do so and I fully recognize that, but the decisions were made by us. If I had the ability to be pregnant and/or bear her pain, I would have, but that’s not how biology works. I am a man; she is a woman and no debate will change the process of procreation.

It is interesting how these experiences have molded my perspectives. Having grown up Roman Catholic, I was always taught to be rigidly prolife. It was a matter of religious dogma, not subject to debate. As I matured, life also guided me. As a younger man, I watched my grandmother who had showed me how to love unconditionally, suffer with Alzheimer’s. I could only watch her slow torture at the hands of that horrible disease. Until a stroke ushered her death, but not before paralyzing half of her body and stealing virtually all of her memories.

Later, my father would suffer the same fate, except mercifully be taken by pancreatic cancer. That’s how bad Alzheimer’s is; that cancer was a blessing.

What was the state of their “lives” in the end?

I’m not going to debate the issue of euthanasia or assisted suicide; however, my point is that they were not able to live without extraordinary medical intervention. No one would argue that my family had the right to terminate their lives, only because they were born.

However, in my father’s case, my mother was his healthcare representative. When my father, riddled with Alzheimer’s and cancer, and who also had a heart condition, the doctors recommended a pacemaker be installed. She discussed my father’s options with my brother, sister and me, and wisely decided not to prolong his journey with extraordinary means. She remembered my grandmother, who had a pacemaker installed 20 years prior, and who also went through the entire horrible journey of Alzheimer’s. She spared my father from that fate. My father wouldn’t have wanted to live that way.

Put aside the legal discussion surrounding the abortion issue for a moment because nothing I say will sway a court of competent jurisdiction, or even move the needle of society’s momentum in general to agree with my viewpoint.

That having been said, what if we were to fairly and equitably create a societal standard to guide the rights of those affected by a pregnancy, and instead of a purely liberty based standard, we introduced an element of responsibility?

The first thing introducing responsibility would accomplish is broadcast a message to society in general that unless it is your sperm or egg, go sit in the corner and shut the fuck up. Put your cape and collar away and stop reciting the fiction that it is society’s responsibility to protect that life. If society has a responsibility to protect life, it wouldn’t fail so miserably when that life is born. Just look around and tell me about the banged-up job society is doing with the lives of the born.

If you are advancing a religious agenda, realize this truth; God will decide things that God decides and your good intentions have no tangible merit in the discussion. Once the parish leaves the pews, they must use their God given free will in their lives.

And before you get your markers, poster boards and pink hats out for the pro-choice march you think I’m intending to join – let me put my purple hat on and upset you too. (Trigger warning) If the parents-to-be intend to care for the child once born, both of those parents-to-be should have near equal rights in the decision about that life. I say “near equal” because in fairness, a mother carries the child procreated by the couple and should be the driving force of the decision-making process while that child is within her.

Why not let the natural order of the universe guide the extent to which a mother and father-to-be should decide? Look at it like this, compare the size of the egg to the sperm and that proportion should be the weight of the decision-making input between the mother and father.

Before anyone asks the dumb question: “Well, then shouldn’t a rapist or an abuser be given rights?”

No. Just no. My view point assumes two consenting adults to the act of procreation. Neither a rapist, nor an abuser fall into this category. Likewise, where the mother’s life is in danger, it is her right of self-determination that is paramount.

What I’m talking about is the elective decision to end a pregnancy; whether or not there is a heartbeat. At a certain point in the pregnancy where the life is viable, I would add, the decision of the child should control.

That wasn’t a moment of insanity or a typo. I mean it. If the child has progressed in their journey to the point that medical science has determined it is viable and able to otherwise survive outside the womb, there should be a presumption that the child wants to live. At that point, I think parents should have made their decisions already, and unless there was a compelling reason to end that life, the baby should be given the opportunity to live.

Before everyone on both sides of the debate begin to sharpen their pitchforks and ready their torches to chase me out of the debate, I don’t have the ability to affect your decisions and wouldn’t want to affect them either. If you are pregnant, I would gladly take my own advice; wish you and yours well and sit in the corner, shutting the fuck up.

Go ahead, be offended. You have that right.

Xavier Eastenbrick is a soul on a journey of life, meeting souls along the way. He adds to the richness of the universe and is grateful for each moment.




Recognising abuse in all its forms – by Kai Calvi.

Through this post, I am sharing my story in the hopes of educating others. Not only in recognizing abuse, but to also shed light on the help and resources available for victims of abuse.

My name is Kai. I am a 41-year-old mother of three beautiful sons. All of my life I have fallen victim to one form of abuse or another. Until quite literally, it took my world falling apart and finding myself and my three boys homeless for almost a year to actually recognize what was happening to me.

Even before I was born, I was at a massive disadvantage.

My father was a paedophile who before my birth had already interfered with my elder half siblings.

My mother had been abused as a child before she was handed into an arranged marriage at such an early age, that she didn’t even know what it meant to be a wife, a mother or a woman.

She had endured nine years of severe abuse from her much older Italian husband until she eventually escaped that situation only to fall into the clutches of my father who destroyed her world on a whole new level. As you can imagine, her harsh experiences had a significant impact on her, spilling over into forming her own psyche – making her very controlling and overbearing, and setting the bar for what my sisters and I were to deem as “Normal” in a relationship setting.

My saving grace was that I got to live with my grandparents for the first four years of my life, due to my mother having a break down. My grandparents were loving, stable, and kind, and they adored me – which became a memory that I clung to and gave me hope for the oncoming days of my life. There was a time when I had known love without control or abuse. Not only did I know that that kind of love existed, but at one stage in my life it was given freely and without condition.

Within this post, it is my intention to not only demonstrate the signs that you should be looking for when dealing with a narcissist and abuser, but to also bring light on the fact that abuse is not only limited to partners. It can be delivered at the hands of parents and siblings, co-workers, bosses or friends, and sometimes, sadly even children.

You can break the cycle.

  • It is important to recognize that a lifetime of being subjugated to abuse, does not mean you have to continue to live that way – yes, abusers have a way a sniffing out the vulnerable. And that is all it is – vulnerability due to subjugation. There is nothing wrong with you.
  • There is nothing about you which makes you deserving of this treatment.
  • It is NOT your Fault!
  • It is a matter of readjusting your thinking patterns to view yourself and your circumstances in a new light – retraining your mind to not only recognize the early signs of abuse, but also, to act early on.
  • Self-empowerment and education are key to rejecting an abusive life and not tolerating this kind of treatment from anyone, or in any form.

Let me just clarify that not all abusers demonstrate abusive behavior from a point of hatred or even wanting to hurt others. They tend to do so as a result of their experiences and conditions – learning these toxic practices through the trauma they have endured throughout their own lives.

It is not uncommon for an abuser to use these trigger points to manipulate situations and the people around them. It is a tool to get what they want. The fact is, most of us have been through hard times during our lives and learn to work through our pain without transferring those demons onto others.

I find that there is such a selfishness around holding onto hurt and using that pain as an excuse to justify our behavior. Yet, those that abuse others will often use their past as a tool that conveniently blinds them to the truth of their actions. Many times, they do not actually recognize what they are doing, and they will deftly alter the reality of a situation to support their delusions. This is when the familiar phrases of an abuser will occur:

“I’ve done nothing wrong”, which generally follows with an accusation, “you caused it”, “it’s all your fault” or my personal favorite, “you made me do it”.

My mother was the first to use this kind of manipulation on me and it wasn’t until the “big breakdown” of 2011 that I even began to recognize this. She would manipulate myself and my siblings by claiming that she would not be a part of our lives if we didn’t bend to her will. Which was shortly followed with her expressing her regret of having ever having children at all. She had negated us with her words with constant reminders of her disappointment in us, and she blamed us for everything. To her, we were at the core of her every problem; her every hardship; her every pain endured throughout her lifetime.  

Can you guess how hearing those words from a mother impacts a child?

Guilty. Responsible. Worthlessness. 

To the point that we felt so utterly responsible for the “horrible” state of her life that we would do anything she asked to keep her happy – and all at the expense of our own happiness. Including leaving relationships and the people in our lives that we loved to appease her, or ditching important obligations and plans to cater to her needs and wants.

Years later, homeless and living with a friend in Katoomba, I received counselling. These sessions were like a pinnacle of light for me, shining clarity over the cycle of abuse and helping me to understand toxic behavior.

I learned about how people like this have the ability to make you feel responsible for their survival. When in reality, they are extremely resourceful and will manipulate others into doing their bidding – until you discover the power of the word “NO”.  

I was 32 years old before I used this for the first time.

My mother had turned myself and my three children out on the street when we had needed her the most – I had managed to escape an abusive relationship and we had nowhere to go. We’d been staying with a girlfriend temporarily, but had eventually overstayed our welcome – three young boys with a depressed mother doesn’t make for great house-guests. My mother was our last and only option, yet she turned us away to live on the street.

Her refusal to help me and my children cut to the bone; her words were like ice in my ears and a chisel through my heart.  

What was I going to do? I was depressed and penniless with three boys and a car packed full of the only possessions we had left in this world.

How could I subject my boys to a life in a refuge after all we had just been through? After all I had done to get us out of an unhealthy environment at my mothers’ behest, I now had to shame myself further by asking for the help of strangers. I mean, who would want to help me if my own family wouldn’t?

It was failure that encompassed every part of my being – how much more of a failure could I be as a woman and a mother to further subject my children to these situations?

So, I hopped in my car and looked for some place suitable to park and sleep for the night. I drove through my childhood town with the underlying urge to get as far away from where my ex-partner was as possible, finding myself in the parking lot of my high school.

Security turned up and moved us along, but not before asking if we were living in the car and if we needed help. Of course, my pride wouldn’t allow me to admit to our perilous circumstances and I denied such a horrible assumption before moving on. For three days we wandered – cold, hungry, hopeless and not knowing where or how to ask for help.

I had hit my lowest point; I had become a single mother with no home and no relationship, and had spent the majority of my life having every small failure pointed out in grand fashion. I didn’t know there was any kindness in this world outside of that warm embrace and kind smile shown to a small child by her grandparents.

It was during this time that my mother called me – not to check to see if we were okay or to offer help, but to ask for me to research pay grades for my eldest sister. My loud and resounding “NO” resulted in my first ever panic attack, as well as the cold silence that followed from my mother lasting for a solid 18 months. You see, for the first time ever, I had dared not yield to her desires.   

This “NO” felt as though it was the final blow to my already crumbling existence. What would I do without her help? How would I survive without my mother to tell me what to do next? And how on earth was I meant to make these decisions on my own? Clearly, I wasn’t any good at it – just looking at my current situation proved that point.

But there something else – that same singular “NO” started a snow ball reaction, and all from that one profound moment when I had chosen to put myself first instead of succumbing to my mother’s demands. Resisting her wishes changed me and the course of my future.

Left with no one to tell me what to do meant I had to find that inner-strength and make the hard decisions myself – for me and for my children. I dug deep and found a resilience I had not known existed; I got the help we needed in order to get us back on our feet and start again; I battled suicidal urges; feelings of worthlessness and my value as a mother… a woman … a human being.

It wasn’t easy. Each day I had to make the CHOICE to continue. And each day, I rang the life-line helpline to talk to people who kept me from slipping over the edge that loomed so dangerously close.

Those months were some of the scariest and challenging moments of my life, and it took every ounce of my inner-strength to get through – I found love, guidance and assurance in three very brave young men that stood by my side through the entire ordeal. They were my only reason for every step I took in the right direction, and they became my sole focus in striving to become a better person. My boys’ constant presence in my life drove me forward to eventually find a beacon of light at the end of the darkest of tunnels.  

It was through the wonderful support of the refuge that we got the help we so desperately needed:

  • We were given a roof over our heads.
  • They provided us counselling. 
  • They educated me on the cycle of abuse.
  • I learnt to trust and believe in myself again.
  • We were surrounded by supporting love.
  • We received financial help.  

I cannot express gratitude enough for those days, for without having been homeless I would have quite easily slipped back into God knows how many more years of abuse. It took a lot of hard work and self-love to convince myself that I was worthy of love; of happiness. But I got there in the end, and so did my beautiful boys. And it was that one small word that had been the catalyst in flipping my world upside-down until it was righted again. 

Nowadays, there are no more “red flags” in my life – there are only deal breakers, and with every beat of my heart I know without a doubt that:

  • I am worthy of being loved the way I love others.
  • I am worthy of happiness.
  • I am worthy of being treated with kindness.
  • I am worthy of acknowledgement.
  • I am worthy of respect.
  • I am worthy of honesty.
  • I am worthy of safety.
  • I am worthy of having a voice and expressing myself.
  • I am worthy of a drama-free life.
  • And asking for help does not make me weak.

I have learnt that no one has the right to:

  • Devalue me.
  • Make me question my sanity.
  • Put me down.
  • To project their behavior on me.
  • To be wary of those that feel the need to assure you they are good, genuine or kind.
  • To stand my ground against those who fabricate to win an argument.
  • That I will not be blamed for things that are not my fault.
  • That those who can’t take the time to listen, do not deserve to hear my voice.
  • That being mean “as a joke” is still being mean, despite the laughter.
  • That I will not tolerate threats or ultimatums.
  • That I will not be manipulated by using my friends, family, pets, lifestyle, or choices – I will not have someone triangulate a situation.
  • That I will not allow someone to put words in my mouth.
  • That if someone chooses to target my reputation as a means to control me that that is purely an opinion and those in my life that count should know better.
  • That no one has the right to break or damage my belongings.
  • All of the above are a form of ABUSE; above and beyond actual physical violence.

For the first time in my life, I am in a positive, loving and supportive relationship with a woman whom I am head over heels in love with. Who is deserving of my time, my love and every moment of my attention. Although the road to get here was broken and a lot of time was spent on paving the way, I realize that there are good people out there.

You are one of them.

I will continue to always show kindness and compassion to others, but I am now selective of who is worthy of the love I have to give. I hope my story has touched those who need it the most. Thank you for reading!

Helpful recourses in Australia:

1800 Respect Line 1800 737 732

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

About Kai Calvi…

Kai is a mother of three sons. Holds Diplomas of Business as well as Interior Design and Decorating. Runs her own small design business whilst managing a Dental Surgery in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Kai is an advocate of Mental Health awareness, Domestic Violence and Women’s rights, as well as being actively involved in the LGBTQI community.

~ Giving Voice to Real People.