School commenced in February. I remained with the same group of friends, so that was cool. I still felt isolated from them at times though. One of our friends had travelled to India in the holidays and she arrived a few days after school started. She had lost a little weight and I immediately saw green. I was afraid of losing my status as the skinny girl in the group. I noticed one day she only had an apple for lunch and showed a lot of concern. I explained the consequences of not eating, not even realising I was doing this to myself. My ultimate goal was to get her to eat again so she couldn’t get skinnier than me. That would mean she was better than I was and I couldn’t cope with that. In the end in turned out to be a phase lasting for about a week. Not many others noticed, and I was still the one getting the attention. At the swimming carnival I wore my swimmers that had very low back in them. People were shocked to see my back and commented on how they could the bumps in my spine. From that I only wanted to be skinnier.
Life appeared extremely dull and monotonous. I seemed quite cynical about most things, and had no enthusiasm. All days were the same and boring. I always longed for doing the things that other families did such as go on holidays or have family picnics. We rarely did that and it made me wonder whether we were a normal family or not. I had no real definition of a normal family, but I didn’t suppose it was a mother sleeping all day, and the children not doing much. The arguments we had with mum as a result of her “drunk” state were endless. At Easter time mum went on a holiday to Tasmania to visit friends. When mum went on holidays Mim and I had sudden urges to clean the house and make it look really nice for her. It was no surprise for us to find numerous empty wine cask hidden everywhere in cupboards, under beds, behind chairs and in drawers. They were even down in the back yard in our old cubby house. We threw them all out absolutely disgusted. Beer cans were a popular find as well. They were everywhere. It took more than two plastic bags to get rid of them all. It was more shameful than anything. When mum came back nothing was spoken about what we found. Mim and I were so aware of mum’s problem though so we were always watching mum. When mum was in bed we searched the house for hidden wine casks. When locating them we ether threw them away or hid them somewhere else leaving a note to say “I didn’t want you to drink me so I moved”. The first few times this happened mum never said a word, but we knew she was not impressed. She ended up finding other places for them which we didn’t know about. When this happened we knew that she’d have to get it out at some point in time to pour herself a drink. Mum waited until we got to bed before sneaking out her wine cask and pouring herself a drink. Mim and I were waiting for this to happen then sprung her in the act. Mum tried every excuse to defend herself but it didn’t pass. There was nothing really that we could do anyway, so we just spat out words such as “that is disgusting”. Mum was more in shock from being caught more than anything else. She called us sneaky little bitches. She tried to justify her secrecy and her alcohol by blaming it on us, saying she was sick of us running her life. We were worried about her life, not running it.
I had finally decided on the topic for my PIP. That kept me busy for the time being. I was doing it on my mother and her move from Germany to Australia in 1972. Only 4 years before I was born. I started this as soon as I thought about it because I was rather excited to learn more about my mother. I thought up a zillion questions to ask her, although not all were relevant to my project .it took many weeks to go through the questions with mum, in interview style. In a way it brought us closer together because we were actually talking a lot to each other. I was finding out many things about her and her life that I had not previously known. We ended up in long discussions about many things and I really got a lot out of it. After my final interview with mum she admitted how much she enjoyed talking about her life and her family. I then put a lot of time and effort into perfecting this on a friend’s computer, adding photos and other bits and pieces.
Doing my PIP, and music were were the only two subjects I put my whole heart in to. Society and Culture was the kind of subject where the class ended up in discussions. I enjoyed this class except for the fact that I was reasonably shy and quiet. I sat in class taking everything in but never really participating. Sometimes on the odd occasion I spoke. All of a sudden all eyes were gazing on me as if in awe that I had a voice. I suddenly became very anxious, aware of everyone listening to only me. My voice was the only sound in the room. I finished what I was saying in an extreme hurry so that I could climb back into my little hole where I didn’t need to speak and people couldn’t judge what I said.
My music class was a contrasting situation. There were only three of doing the class and I was beginning to feel confident with them. We had a lot of fun times in music, joking around but also getting to know each other. I let parts of my real self out, the
outgoing side of me that my school peers rarely saw. They did wonder out aloud what happened to the timid little girl who never said “boo” to anyone. Now I had an opinion, a sense of humour, and a voice. I enjoyed myself. Sadly mum opposed this change in me, saying they had turned me into a right little loud-mouthed bitch. She hated that I spent so much time with my music class having fun and especially resented the teacher for this. She assumed she was trying to take me away from her. The times I was supposed to go up to the school or to the teacher’s for a 3 unit music lesson, mum tried her hardest to prevent me from going. I managed to find my own ways up even if it meant walking up there. We fought often about this issue, and it never resolved it self in that time. It was only when year 12 was over that this was no longer an issue. I hated when mum was being so controlling like this, as she only made the situation worse. I desired more and more to get away from her. I remember one night when the class had a get together up at the teacher’s house. I gave mum no time of which I would come home, I just let her know that Pete would drop me off. When we pulled up at my house we sat outside in his car and just started talking. Time was slipping by then we noticed Dan(from our class) drive by. We wondered what on earth he was dong at such an hour driving around my street. He stopped alongside us and we asked him what he was doing. He told me that mum had rung him up frantically worrying about where I was. She also rung up the teacher, and Pete’s parents. If only she had looked out the window she would have seen Pete’s car. I was absolutely humiliated because I knew that mum would have been in one of her of the planet states from drinking. I dreaded to know what she really said to Dan. We fought about this and she called me an irresponsible selfish little slut. The issue was laughed over with the others but it didn’t help my situation in any way. It just proved how controlling mum was.
By now my low weight was becoming somewhat noticeable. Every second comment was on how skinny I was. Part of me loved this, but on the other hand it was annoying and difficult to believe. Mum began observing my eating habits and commenting on them, not trusting me if I told her I was eating. Mim and her had discussions about it and about what to do. One of their options turned out to be bribery. One Sunday I was studying before heading up to my music teacher‘s house. Mim entered my room with a sandwich and said I had to eat it before leaving otherwise I couldn’t go. It was a tomato sandwich, and all I wanted to do with it was throw it right at her face. I said I would eat it. She stood watching me waiting for me to eat this sandwich. I put it to her that I may not eat it, and then she stood in my doorway so I couldn’t get out. That gave me even more determination not to eat it for the simple fact that she could not rule my life like that. I told her she could shove her stupid sandwich because I wasn’t going to eat it. I then pushed past her to leave my room. Mim made some comment about how I couldn’t possibly think I was able to leave the house if I didn’t eat the sandwich. I told her to get lost in not such nice words. She then walked away. I got my things ready so I could leave and just wait outside. Mim had another thought in mind though. She grabbed my arm and told me I couldn’t go anywhere. I tried shaking her off but it was impossible. I managed t get free for a split second and bolted for the door. Unfortunately she beat me to it, slammed it shut then stood in front of it. I somehow pushed her aside and attempted opening the door but she pulled my hand back and stopped me. She held onto me saying I could only leave if I ate something. Eventually she realised I was not going to eat anything and let go of me. I ran outside and sat waiting for Pete. It was a relief to see him arrive. He was aware that something was wrong because I couldn’t stop crying. There was no way in the world I could tell him though, so we just drove in silence.
I continued to concentrate on my music and studies despite the tension at home as a result of me not eating. I built up a lot of confidence with my violin playing. Every second day or so I was rehearsing all of my HSC performance pieces to other grades in the school. I skipped a lot of classes doing this but it was heaps of fun. I developed the ability to play these pieces without the music which many thought was quite impressive. I was really enjoying playing for others and jumped at any opportunity to do this. My music class decided we should have a night to perform to anyone who wants to come. The thought of this made me unexpectedly anxious, yet I liked the idea. I was even able to play my new violin I had purchased only a few weeks before. I
had been saving for many months for nothing in particular. Mum suggested I buy a violin with it. She contributed an amount to help me out which I was grateful for. It was exciting to have my very own violin after so many years of borrowing one, so naturally I couldn’t wait to show it off. Mim and her friend Steve came to watch. I admit that it was one of my best performances ever. Even the teachers were amazed at how I had performed that night. I got such a buzz out of it and was on a high for the rest of the night. After the concert there was a little get together at Pete’s house. Everyone who was anyone was invited. Mim and Steve came along but wanted to have an early night. This I did not want because I was having too much fun, so I told them to leave without me. Mim wasn’t too impressed, but I wanted my own life and was sick of having it run by others. Mum went off her nut when she found out I stayed back at the party.
Just after the actual practical exam for music the class and the music teachers went out for a celebratory dinner. After dinner we went to one of the local pubs because Paul (one of the music teachers) was playing in his band that night. I ventured out a bit that night with having a bit to drink. Pete bought me drink after drink and I accepted. It wasn’t that I got drunk or anything, but I did get “happy”. The fact is that we had a lot of fun that night because a big stress was lifted off us. I arrived home to find mum still awake waiting up for me. I compose myself as best I could and greeted mum with a smile. She noticed I was a little glassy eyed, and showed her dissatisfaction by telling me I was drunk and to get to bed. There was nothing she could do about it anyway, and her comment didn’t phase me. It was actually refreshing not to feel obliged to study.