57. Petty Behaviour – Journal Entry 13th Sep 1980

Extreme irritation seems to be the only indication or symptom I can identify over the past two weeks. I seem to have lost my girlish laughter and enthusiasm. Just about everything irritates me, the most irritating thing being me; Johnny and my mother next.

29th Sep 1980

Got over my irritation after talking to Johnny about it. Then this terrible evening where I was remorseful and then angry at Johnny. Must sort it out. Johnny says I must use my loaf, my excellent mind. I shocked myself at my angry response over a reasonable comment. I’m not working at the relationship. I’m self-absorbed, irrational and indulging in petty behaviour. Nor am I applying the same rules to myself as I apply to others. Johnny is afraid to say anything because of my unpredictable response and wants me to consider what it’s like to be Johnny having to live with Gita. He has to wait for the sun to shine again. What’s wrong between Johnny and Gita?

Let me list some of my recent petty behaviour:

I refused to use the stylus because Johnny had it when I needed it for my assignment. I was in the middle of writing, said he wouldn’t be long and then left it on his desk after using it to chat with one of the kids. I was furious but should have quietly pointed out what happened and carried on with the pen;

I was upset last night at Johnny shouting at Barbara over setting an extra place at the table;

I was angry and slightly bewildered at Johnny being nervous over my borrowing books on programming on his account. I gave him the book even though I needed it for my work. Then I made a mental note not to borrow books through Johnny. I will get my own ID on Monday so that I can borrow books on my own account.

Rather dangerous resolutions are taken thus, almost without thinking, which could cause further alienation: Not wanting to talk to Johnny about certain things because we seem to end up arguing or I clam up. Why do I clam up? Either because of a refusal to explore oneself, the topic is not important enough to bother arguing about or I don’t feel like standing up to Johnny; Not wanting to ask Johnny anything on study if I can help it. He is Head of Department and I am a mere student (a rather awkward position really) and also I don’t study very hard (then why don’t you pull your finger out) and might embarrass Johnny.

Surely it can’t be all my fault. I’ve listed most of what Johnny says about me, what can I say about Johnny that could contribute to bad relations between us? I couldn’t think of anything. He is good in most ways and also lets me know when I am triggering him. What about Johnny? Having taken the best years of his life and all of his money, what does he have? What about growing old together. Isn’t this another version of “I don’t want it anyway, keep the bloody thing?”

And having paid such a high price and involving so many people, can I just say, “Things are not working well, let’s call it off.” Especially as I’ve been told it’s mainly my fault. What can be done to make the relationship work all of the time?

When I try to explain, I’m told it is not time, I only think about myself or get a rude reply which means “Precious isn’t it?”

I said last night that I had a nasty habit of reacting badly when criticised. Johnny’s comment on being shocked at my selfishness over the book really threw me into despair.

I am such a shit, I feel a shit and occasionally I want to act like a shit. I feel so sorry for myself that I feel sick, yet if Johnny says I’m full of self-pity,  I get angry at him. Go on, really roll in the tears and snot…

To get back to our conversation, there I was confessing a nasty habit I had become aware of and Johnny mocks me with it the next morning! He repeated some of what I had said in a slightly mocking tone, saying I sounded almost proud that there was nothing I could do about it. He’s probably right. How was he to know it was an exposed nerve he was jumping on? Then he says, “Dramatic Gita, very dramatic. You said it, so why look surprised if it’s referred to again? You didn’t say it was a deadly secret, never before confessed to anyone, not even yourself and that it was not to be referred to again.”

All this is very well but we are far from a solution. As I see it there are three options:

  1. Give up the relationship
  2. Live together but live separate lives
  3. Make the relationship work excellently

I had thought of points 1 and 2 before July 1979, but not in detail. It was difficult to live with Johnny being critical of my behaviour. I find myself difficult to live with.

I thought of point 3 after Johnny rescued me from myself. Now it seems we’re back pre-July 1979. Johnny is critical of me so I don’t want to live with him. Terribly noble of me, no?

It would seem as though I’m doing the opposite of building a good relationship; trying to destroy it. But why? Is it classical psychology textbook behaviour? Having damaged the relationship, I am looking for ways to justify its destruction? Johnny, I’ve done this for you, can’t you behave better? Why must I always use my head for us, why can’t you?

Johnny appears to have given up all topics of conversation except what I want to talk about. It is quite ridiculous because I don’t have much to talk about. This complete dependence on me to keep the talk going, simply because I know very little and it is easier for Johnny to talk about what interests me, is not fruitful.

I don’t know what to do. I love him, I want him, I need him. I think he needs me. Then why do I think I don’t love him? Because if I did, I would look after him better than I do.

PoemToJohnny
By Gita

29th Sep 1980

Why do I feel so glad to see him when he returned early from the island yesterday afternoon? He had caught the hydrofoil back. We had coffee together and then I cut his hair. He cooked the evening meal, a simple meal of mashed potatoes with chives, a lettuce salad and veal marsala. He looked good with his face sunburnt and his hair short.

Later, after discussion, we reached the conclusion it was not a question of whether I loved him or not, but rather whether I was in a loving mood or not!

Quotes to remember:

“Mother, nothing can mask the taste of liver,” says Karen in reply to something I had said.

“Mr Fraser has finally made it to the family noticeboard,” says Gareth. Part of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s picture was on the back of the latest tide tables.

3rd Oct 1980

Last night the family had a discussion over dinner on whether we ought to give up Christmas presents to buy lino for the kitchen floor. Everyone decided against it.

15th Oct 1980

Solved the floor problem by removing the lino, scrubbing and oiling the floorboards. Looks very nice…

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series and based on the journals of my mother.
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. Refer to Archived on the Home page and scroll through to the bottom.

46. Day of the Cyclone – Journal Entry 24th Feb 1980

It’s Sunday and the time is 4:50 pm. Destructive Cyclone Simon, also called Small Destructive Cyclone Simon, is 40 km away NNE and travelling toward us at 10 km/h. The wind in the centre is said to be over 200 km/h, and right now there are gusts at about 50 km/h. Six or eight roofs in Yeppoon have been damaged.

28th Mar 1980

Dear Joan,

What a wonderful surprise your letter was. It had very bad effect really because it arrived just as I was making a ‘fair copy’ of an Algebra assignment. After reading your letter, I found I was making too many mistakes and wasting sheets of paper. So, I decided to stop and write to you instead! If there are mistakes in this letter, you were the cause of them.

It’s nearly three months since you left. I saw Fr. Meade once when Johnny and I were at the airport leaving for Canberra. I met Nadine at the supermarket and she gave me news of you.

Speaking of mores and depression, I fully agree with you. When we left Manila to come back to Emu Park, I hurt for over a year. Actually, that was because we had left my mother and sister behind in rather uncertain conditions and circumstances. It took two years before we were reunited. I used to have nightmares. My sister had a bad nervous breakdown.

It does get harder as the years go by and we begin to appreciate people a lot more than we did when we were inexperienced. Let us not talk of age; right now I think life has never been so good for me and that a whole new world and perspective is before me. I have the privilege to participate, if I make an effort. I feel you also are very privileged and can do many more things in Brisbane than Rocky. So go to it my dear, use your time well, very well; you have no right to do otherwise. But also remember, being a delightful companion to your family is the number one priority, they need you, especially now when they are hurting too.

Your Australorp rooster is in full glory, he has the run of the yard and thirty hens besides. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to enjoy the chooks, there’s always study or family to attend to.

Marcello has a fine lot of Rouen ducks and they quack in unison when anyone calls out to them, especially at feeding time. Marcello works now, deciding that higher studies were not for him. I’m hoping quietly that he will do so someday because he has a good brain and should use it. But then I suppose most mothers feel that way. Monika has had a boy-child. Naturally, his grandmother in Emu Park thinks he is the most beautiful baby in the world! His hair, a dramatic black when he was born, is now a light brown colour which threatens to turn golden. Marcel Nathaniel has lovely brown skin. We’ve accused Monika of sun-tanning him on the quiet.

Lynne is also taking Computer Science I, so I see her at lectures when I attend them. Computing is fun but a hard art to master. Someone can write a program, however, an elegant one is a different matter. Intelligibility is the keyword, my Johnny tells me.

Johnny is as gorgeous as ever but overworked as usual. I look forward to the time he has less to do and can write poetry and novels and play the flute. He writes beautifully and I have a whole case of love letters to prove it.

Talking about books, Johnny bought me a crop of D. H. Lawrence books which I raced through; I should say I read voraciously. Also D. Ireland books and a very interesting study by Dr Kamien on community medicine among the Bourke Aboriginals. At the moment I am reading Manning Clark’s A History of Australia and am up to the age of Macquarie.

I don’t know if I told you that I joined a group known as the CIAE Search Group which helps people identify their problems and suggest solutions. At the moment we are working with the Aboriginal community groups as well as a group of Aboriginal delegates from central Queensland. We held our first 1980 workshop recently (the first for me) which was very exciting. A further weekend workshop with the delegates is scheduled for Rocky and Gladstone. Hervey Bay and a few others will be making requests soon I think. Reg is in charge and these workshops come under community development. If you are interested I could tell you more in some future letter.

I hear much laughter from the kitchen. It’s my mother who enjoys seeing the baby smile, laugh or make noises. She makes more noises than the baby! The kids won’t agree with the last statement. They will tell you I am much more noisy with the baby, but don’t believe it, it’s not true.

The weather is so beautiful, especially as we’re heading fast towards winter. The sunshine, butterflies, the egg-laying-cackle of the chooks and even the chatter of the builders below make me feel so good to be alive. What does it matter if there are a few mosquitoes around, the lawn needs to be done again and Gran’s garden has more weeds than veggies in it? We’ll get around to them sometime, but in the meantime, everything smells good, the sea is calm and I’m writing to you. At least I was writing to you, but now I’ve come to the end of my letter.

Look after yourself and give my regards to the family.

Love,
Gita
PS: Do practice your letter writing on me!

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. Refer to Archived on the Home page.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.
  • Added Nathaniel to the Emu Park Family Tree.

40. The Aftermath – Journal Entry 30th Oct 1979

Today I have to take a firm stand. Johnny is destroying himself and suffering inordinately. Last night was the worst ever, he says. My rejection, that is my disinclination for lovemaking, is taken as a deep rejection and hurts him very much. I don’t know what to do. Actually, I know what to do – put all thoughts of D from my mind. My relationship with Johnny is the most important thing in the world. It grew over the past fifteen years and we paid for it very dearly. The present family is very precious. There should have been no question of prolonging the agony and indecision for so long. I can’t think clearly. I don’t want to think clearly.

It is nice sitting at the desk and writing. The wind is very strong, parts of the house rattle and the pine trees are singing. The little sunbird has started sitting on her eggs. She seems unafraid, her curved beak is visible, looking like a witch’s nose.

The cramps in my leg are annoying, still, such wonderful news on my health. Will telephone Dr Russ in the middle of November.

Let’s build on strengths, rather than dwell on weaknesses:

Simplicity
Excellence
Hospitality
Warmth
Contributing
Care

Discussion on the above list ended rather disastrously, mainly my fault for side-tracking this year, very poor performance, most anti- intelligence, care, etc. I saw it in Johnny’s attack on me personally. Practically reduced to tears.

Never mind, let’s dwell on weaknesses:

  • I want to be treated differently, to be given privileges which others don’t get;
  • I stay in bed trying to sleep with a full bladder;
  • I go on unreasonable tracks (1) cafe and catering business (2) wanting to stop drinking on the grounds that alcohol destroys brain cells (3) work at the hotel (4) affair with D;
  • Most important: very short-term thinker and lose sight of objective or direction very easily.

What are my strengths?
What do I want to do now, in the next year, in five years from now?

31st Oct 1979

Johnny wrote this after I noticed a wry smile on his face this morning and asked what he was thinking:

“I woke up and lay happily absorbed with her, absorbed in the beauty of her skin; and then recalled with a slow shock, the monster thing.

Wondered how I would go in the same position, but I knew that.

Recalled the times a little tempted by the possibility of liaison and each time had thought of her and our love and ruled it out. Even in recent months, frustrated beyond endurance, with fantasies of beautiful girls, I said to myself each time, you know bloody well you wouldn’t do it Johnny. Something strange is happening but you could not betray Gita. Sex could never be so good as you and she have known it.

Recalled how last night, all the time, she avoided saying, ‘I love you.’ But these moments together are true, pure, good and wonderful.

Will she chase the monster thing away?
We’ll see tonight perhaps.

I believe that Gita goes my way too, but she is not far-sighted and occasionally cultivates strange obsessions. I wonder too whether the monster thing is her first infatuation after meeting me (and that young Frenchman, years before). Perhaps she doesn’t recognise it or think of handling it.

As the stronger partner, my betrayal of her would be worse than hers of me.”

1st Nov 1979

At 12 noon yesterday, I reached a decision. Go home Gita and stay there. There was really no choice. The affair with D was all fantasy and escapism. All the pain and hurt was one-sided and my beautiful, kind, sensitive, intelligent, innocent Johnny was hurt the most.

So I cooked a carefully chosen Indian meal for Johnny. Made coffee for his early return and was happy to make tentative steps out of limbo.

How soon will we heal, what should I do to make up, to compensate for the days of terror that Johnny lived through? His terror has not gone away completely. Will it ever?

A very happy evening with wonderful lovemaking. God, how tame the phrase is. The alternative is to fill several pages with a detailed description of what took place, but I won’t. Best ever?

The rain lilies were white and crowded on the lawn in the moonlight. Johnny and I stepped carefully between them to avoid damage, while taking quiet pleasure in their beauty. Strange and hardy things these rain lilies. This lot was very short-stalked. Their leaves had not had a chance to grow because of the long dry weather, so only the buds pushed through the parched ground. Watering them does not produce the flowers. They only seem to respond to rain and their bulbs keep underground for years. Tova barbecued and ate some of the bulbs. She said they tasted delicious, but they made her and Bob sick for two days.

Happiness was waiting for mum to come back on the bus from a bowling match in Rocky. Tired from our long evening of sex and booze, we sat in the bus stop shivering a little in the cool midnight air. When the bus did come, mum hadn’t noticed our car and got off to a smart trot up the hill. We frightened her, as she thought we might have been soldiers. We slept well, except for Johnny who woke up at 2 am with a bad intestinal pain.

He gave me a good idea of how to get out of this latest self-absorption – concentrate on Johnny!

So many good things to be getting on with, but also a great deal of rebuilding:

  • Study Algebra
  • Study Computer Science I (a skill if needed)
  • French or Chinese (French first, I think)
  • Lots of reading and writing
  • Teach self to read faster
  • House and family
  • Johnny of course

A nine o’clock rule has been in force since last Saturday. No work after 9 pm and meet in the study.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. It can be found in Archived on the Home page.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.

39. Relationship Breakdown – Journal Entry 10th Oct 1979

Johnny is a civilised bastard. He makes me feel secure. I see hair and I want to singe it, a habit I acquired from singeing the scraggy ends of my hair.

13th Oct 1979

Johnny sees no hope in his job and in his home. He has hardly seen me for the past few weeks. Says he is even lower on my list of priorities than P-maths and that I appear to be systematically destroying our relationship. He has to hang around most of the time waiting for me, occasionally we have a good evening together. Johnny’s in a bad way; says I have reduced him to a blubbering mess.

My God, this is terrible – a wonderful guy, thoroughly trapped through his love and kindness. What have we given him in return? He is destroying himself in his work because he has all of us to support and cannot just walk out to part-time teaching. He would use his spare time so well.

He calls my suggestions to free him, crazy. I suppose they are. He is to go wherever he wishes. We get support from the Government or work. It is crazy because while mum and Barb could get money, they will be seriously disadvantaged if they don’t have family support. Sure, we can make it on our own but how much warmer and richer our lives are through living together and cooperating. So where’s the problem?

Well, the big problem is me.

A look around the home and a quick scan into my past, gives me a very gloomy opinion of myself. There is a serious air of neglect in the house. I’m always caught up in things, no time to keep the house reasonably tidy and always getting side-tracked. Worse still, the children are infected by my bad habits, slack thinking and behaviour. Are there any good points?

Most of what I am interested in, Johnny possesses, and more besides for his knowledge is years ahead of most people. He is so good-looking, experienced in so many good things and yet, yet I cannot seem to respond steadily.

A couple of nights a week, and then nothing.

What hope is there?

If I love Johnny and help him, then he is not a mess. We have debts and a tight budget for a few more years. He is in a mess if I don’t love him. Then he has nothing and the burden he carries will be unbearable.

14th Oct 1979

The Fiesta captain to trawler in front, over the address system: “Okay guys, give us about ten feet of slack please.” Laughter from the guys in the trawler and dinghies.

It’s good to be sitting in the harbour. The sun is low and warm, the wind not very strong, so it’s pleasant walking about. The second boat has come in full of day-trippers to Keppel Island. I want to watch the people getting off.

18th Oct 1979

A few very dramatic days.

On Saturday, Johnny asked me if I had been unfaithful to him. I ducked the issue. The question was a result of my insistently questioning him on what his attitude to me would be if I were unfaithful. His question was precise, “Are you intending to be unfaithful or have you been unfaithful?”

What was talked over the weekend and early week seems blurred, so soon too. I think most of my talk was manoeuvring Johnny into agreeing to my going away for a weekend or a week. First I said a few months, then reduced it to a week or weekend.

To questions on what I intended to do while away I replied, “Think and just wander around.”

Now there seems no chance of going away. I mustn’t. Sunday night was terrible. I was jittery and my thoughts were far away. I will have to brutally sort them out. Will do so right away and then come back to writing about what took place between Johnny and I.

After fifteen years of being free and devoted to Johnny, I go into a relationship with another man.

“What is he like?”
“What do you mean?”
“As a person.”
“Oh, as a person.” I had to think carefully.

He is good with people, very easy to be with. At the first meeting there was instant recognition of male and female. There was some chat together. He was setting out on a boat with a crew of three or four. The men were packing food and dinghies into the car. He didn’t have to do anything; at the Hotel there are always people doing jobs for him, even taking his crushed shirt off him and ironing it.

The next meeting was when D returned – the weather wasn’t good, so they returned a few days later. We had a talk about four-wheel-drive camping spots on the coast. We always only snatched an exchange when he passed by on his way from some place to another. He also watched me from a distance. A very restless man. Even though he owned the place, to me he seemed not welcomed because of his position, almost alien. Old man T told me of D’s love life and the women involved. D is alleged to have said he likes women

Wild promises made to me by D. “I’ll give everything up for you. Come to Europe for three months. I’ll buy a house here so I get more privacy and not mess up accommodation arrangements at the hotel.”

When he realised the extent of my family commitments he knew all he could hope for was a little of my time. He wants to show me many things, take me to so many places. Alas, there is no future for us, nor a present. He wants an heir and time is running out for him, so he must get another woman.

How do I feel about that?
No right to feel anything. I’d be happy for him and the child. He is good with children. What have I gauged about D?
First his general appearance: he is a little taller than me, 50 years old, holds himself well because of army training and is overweight (but otherwise brown and fit). Has admitted he is restless, always on the move. D has blue eyes and short wiry brown hair. He has a lovely smile and a quiet sense of humour. D is relatively unspoilt in spite of his wealth, but all the same, makes remarks like, “What are the damages?” He pays with money, as if that would cover everything. He believes everyone has a price. I’ll admit he might have been in a tense mood when he said these things.

“I can’t get you out of my mind,” he said when I saw him next. “I had to wait two weeks to get your phone number. I’ve been thinking about you. You little devil, I wish I had never met you, I mean that, this is terrible. I want you with me all the time. I’d take you with me everywhere.” An achievement I think, because D likes moving around alone – more freedom for sexual opportunity?

I laughed and said, “I wished most heartily we had never met.”

“I’m alive when I’m with you,” he said while breathing deeply and leaning back in his seat. “I don’t want to meet your husband, it would spoil things.”

A cruel laugh from me and, “Good, it would solve our problem.”

He gave me a wry look. If I hadn’t seen him in dark blue shorts and shirt relaxed and cleaning the boat I don’t know if I’d have gone with him a second time because he looks very like a Gold Coast businessman – no, I don’t think that’s right.

Anyway, I’ve written him a letter that he will get sooner or later. It is written to end a love affair – let us forget each other – take someone else and be happy. Soulful stuff. I’m not free, so don’t hold yourself up, get on with producing a child as I cannot give you one.

A brutal remark to Johnny when I told him I thought I was in love with someone else: “I don’t want to be here. Do you realise that? That’s how I feel about things.

“It’s more serious than I thought,” Johnny muttered.

I want to go to D but I have a feeling I’d soon find him dull and deadening. I don’t know, it is very presumptuous of me to make this completely unfounded judgement. He is an exciting man and good to be with, but I know nothing about him and there isn’t the complete trust in him that I had, and still have in Johnny. A bit unfair really because I haven’t known D very long and he’s usually surrounded by people. He has to watch what he says for fear of compromising me.

He is free and has no need to hide his women.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. It can be found in Archived on the Home page.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.