The Bowels of Hell (Part II of “The Dark Side of Change”)


The bowels of hell, 2001 to August 2002

My life is an unrecognisable shell of it’s former glory, and I am but a shadow of who I used to be. Everything I thought I knew, everything that I ever held to be true is gone. Like a wisp of smoke carried on the breeze, dispersed to the edge of reality. Dangling precariously over an abyss of nothingness.

And yet I know I am not dead. For if I was dead, I would no longer hold this pain in my heart. I now understand true heartbreak. I’d once read that emotional pain can actually register in your body as physical pain – I’d never realised the truth of that statement until now. The agony that shadows my existence – this pain is physical. I can actually feel my broken heart with every painful beat a struggle for survival. With every stabbing thump I find myself wondering – to what end? I would give anything for this agony to be gone.

I have very nearly given my life in return for the absence of this ache that shrouds my heart like a dense fog. And then I thought of the chain reaction that would have throughout my family.
The despair of losing one is this painful. Losing two -unbearable.
I thought of the impact me leaving Earth would have on my mother, on my grandmother, the blood of the sacred feminine that unites us and ties us more than I’d ever known.

In my darkest hour of despair, it was this power of the sacred feminine that kept me from ending it all. Somehow I have to face this pain, this about more than just my survival. This is about the survival of my family.
My Mum, Gran, Jacob, Nana, Opa, Uncle Sam. Not for me, it would be too easy for me to end my pain and increase their suffering. For my family, I will survive.

This perdition is not solely because I’ve lost my father, but because I’ve also lost my faith. My faith in the fact that the Universe is watching and guiding every step that I take, is it really? If it is, why would it choose to do something so callous as to take my Dad in the prime of his life, someone as inspiring and jubilant as my Dad?


Why would the Universe take my Dad if it loved me so much?


Why didn’t I get any warning? I’ve had warnings about other things, why wasn’t I warned? Why wasn’t I prepared? Why?
So many questions. No answers. And I won’t even start with the ‘what if’s?’

All these questions are taking a toll on my ability to do even the simplest things, I don’t remember very much since the funeral, the days have passed me by as I stand motionless with my heart bleeding in my hands.

Unable to return to the past, unable to think about the future, hanging by a thread to the present.

I am aware of the events that have led me to this desolate landscape of despair, it all started with Dad dying.

Then when we were up at the property packing up some things to take to our new home, Eddie, our daschund, Dad’s dog and best mate started to walk towards the place where Dad’s life had ended. Eddie walking anywhere was always a surprise, he was fat and lazy and only walked on a “have to” basis, and even then it was an effort. “Eddie, where are you going?” Mum asked, he paused and gave us an odd look of sorrow and peace, he hadn’t been the same since Dad died eight days ago. We watched him walk down the steep slope assuming he was going to the place where Dad died and we’d pick him up on our way out.

The thing is, he disappeared. We never saw him again, we knew he was going to ‘the spot’ but we didn’t know he was planning on leaving us too. Eddie was 17 years old, and I think he just wanted to be wherever his best mate was. Man’s best friend in life and in death.

The next series of events is hard to fathom, we had a memorial at the property for Dad three days before Christmas, our first Christmas without Dad. We saved some of his ashes, stuck a Santa hat and Dad’s sunglasses on the urn and cracked a beer for him. We each read out a tribute to Dad and then buried our tributes along with the rest of Dad’s ashes, we then planted a lemon tree over the ashes and tributes.

On Christmas day the escarpment caught fire.

From the house that Mum, Jacob and I had relocated to we had a view of the property sitting near the top of the escarpment. We watched for days as the flames grew closer and closer to the property. It was eerie at night to watch the escarpment glow red, but we’d already lost so much it was like some cruel joke, the Universe just kept throwing the worst at us – and we no longer really cared.
Actually I lie, the only thing we really cared about was the lemon tree, under which sat our tributes and the rest of Dad’s ashes. Most of his ashes we’d scattered to the ocean, in one of Dad’s favourite local diving spots.

There was only a vague fear for the house, after what we’ve lost, material possessions have little meaning.

We sat for nights on end, drinking vodka and watching the flames grow ever closer. Until early one morning Mum couldn’t handle it anymore and we were sent on a mission to get as much as we could out of the house, Mum and Uncle John were going to get the gas bottles out from under the house. Small flames started to lick the bottoms of the trees at the top of mountain, “Mum, get everyone out of there – NOW! The flames are here, get out, get out!!” I watched breathless, relaying to Mum via phone from the bottom of the property where I waited.

I waited to hear the cars, and yes, here they all are, everyone accounted for. Meanwhile we almost got arrested on our way onto the road. Oops! We didn’t see the road closed sign on our way in. We went back to our new house, after a stop off at the bottle shop, and drank as we watched the fire ravage the mountain.
“At least we got the gas bottles out” was all Mum could say. All I cared about was the lemon tree. Jacob just looked beyond caring at all, tears chasing each other down his cheeks.
The flames engulfing my soul were now consuming the escarpment, I watched the fire leap down the mountain and consume our last place with Dad. Everything going, leaving us, ripped away without any of us getting a say. An unrelenting loss of the familiar, I stare as the flames lick the house, raising my glass, I toasted the Universe for it’s twisted sense of humour. I was also, I suppose, toasting the fact that I could handle no more. I would surrender myself to the flames just like the house has.
No sooner was I finishing that thought than a huge helicopter came up from the lake. It was Elvis – the firefighting helicopter. We all looked at each other, the Firies had told us Elvis was a couple of hours away at least – and yet – here he is.

What does it mean?

I couldn’t breathe.

I watched as Elvis kept going up the escarpment, up, up, he is! He’s positioning himself over the house! Oh my God, OH MY GOD! This is really happening, does this mean, what, that our house may not be ash? Yes – I think that’s exactly what it means! A cheer rings out through our family and friends as Elvis releases his watery load, on top of our house. Wow, maybe the Universe does a have a heart, a small twisted one maybe, but – there it is. Maybe our lemon tree will be ok…

Two days later we were allowed to return to the property to assess the damage, we were preparing ourselves for devastation, and that’s exactly what we saw. The ash was over a foot deep, over 4 feet in some places, none of the trees had any leaves, all their trunks covered with a thick black crust. Rounding the corner I prepared myself for the fact that, considering the bush around us, the lemon tree would most likely be gone.

I raised my eyes – looking to the place where I knew the lemon tree should be.

And there it was.

A miracle just for us.

It’s leaves still green – with blossoms all over it. There stood our lemon tree, Dad’s lemon tree, proud and green, covered in blossoms!
A ray of hope hand delivered by the Universe.

Sometime in 2002

Death, loss, fires and thefts have become a common occurrence in our lives. Dad’s death seemed to have marked a turning point in which everything bad that could happen, did happen.

And yet, here I am, still breathing, one breath at a time. I feel like I’m sitting in a tiny row boat while a ferocious storm beats down upon me, no moon to see by, no stars to guide me, just me and the 100 metre waves crashing into my little boat.

Everywhere I look, everywhere I go, everything I think – I am haunted by the ghost of Dad’s absence. There are gaping holes in my life that I just can’t fill. It’s in all the ‘firsts’, the first Christmas, the first birthday, the first time I go to his favourite restaurant, the first time I watch a movie without him when last time I watched it he was sitting there, eating in that annoying way – like a badger, gnawing at his food. I can’t play my bass without knowing that dad should be playing the lead and pulling the same facials as David Gilmour. When I hear a good joke I reach for my phone automatically, to share it with Dad. The big things hurt, the little things hurt more because you’re not prepared for them. The agony is worse when it takes you by surprise.

My mind has been stuck on repeat, constantly replaying the day everything changed in my head. Over and over again, will this torment ever end?

I’ve turned into a recluse. I hardly see anyone anymore, I just can’t handle it, pretending to feel happy when I’m not, making idle chit chat about things I really couldn’t really give a shit about. When something this big happens in your life everything else just seems miniscule – I just don’t care anymore, I’m suffering so much that I’m numb to life, I’ve forgotten laughter, loud music makes me want to curl into a ball, sirens whizzing past make me have to block my ears as I burst into tears.
My dreams taunt me with visions of dad, I dream that he’s back with us and wake every morning to a freshly broken heart.

I smoke copious amounts of pot – never thought I’d become a pothead – but there you go. It makes it more of an ache than an acute pain. I can detach from it all a bit – I can breathe, I don’t have to think. I’ll just sit here and smoke pot, smoking the days, weeks, months away, whatever it takes, until… Until what?… What am I going to do – smoke pot for the rest of my life in an attempt to escape reality? Didn’t I always scowl at people like that? Didn’t I always judge them – who the fuck was I to judge anyone? From now on, I shall not pass judgement on anyone else but myself. So, what am I going to do? Smoke pot forever? Kill myself? Start living again? What?
In a moment of sparkling clarity, I realised, I was at a crossroads, but which way was I going to go? I mean, I’d been to more counsellors, psychiatrists, etc than I cared to think about – always in the hope that they were going to fix this mess that was now my life. Truth is – I was looking at all the wrong people, and I’ve only just realised, it’s me. I’m the only one who can bring myself out of this. No one else can help me, not Mum, not Jacob, not Sebastian, just me. Only me. So what am I going to do? Sitting on the edge of the bed I felt so torn, I really did want to take the pain away, making a decision to live would mean carrying around this pain, would I grow stronger? Would I eventually succumb, instead of trying to fight the pain like I have since it was inflicted upon me?

In that moment I realised there was really only one way to make that decision.

I had to release the oars on my little boat trying to fight it’s way through the storm, I had to surrender to the storm within me and let the chips fall where they may. If I survived the onslaught of emotion I may be able to live again. At this stage I was just exhausted from fighting it off that I didn’t care what the outcome was, it was a small release in itself just making the decision not to fight it anymore.

That thought was all that was needed, a damn broke within me and I was crushed to floor under the weight of my emotions, memories bled from my heart, my body convulsed with the pressure of the waves of despair. I cried like I never have before, I cried for my Dad who’d lost the rest of his life. I cried for my Mum, who’d been robbed of the love of her life. I cried for my brother, who’d lost his father just when they were starting to see each other as equals. I cried for my grandparents, who’d lost their eldest son. I cried for my family who were crying for us.
I cried for me, for my life that was, for what my life has become – I have no Dad, no protector, no saviour, no safety, no one in my corner as I take on the world, and I’ve lost my faith that things will get better – I’ve lost my Dad and I’ve lost my God. Desolate and broken on the floor, I sobbed for hours.
This was my darkest hour, the sorrow washed over me like a tsunami and I felt truly alone, suffocating in the depths of my heartbreak, it was just me and my demons.
Hollowed out I could take no more. Exhausted and with nothing left to give this world I raised my face to the ceiling and made an anguished plea for help from the Universe, I can’t do this anymore.

Through my tear blurred vision I watch as something white comes floating down, I stare uncomprehendingly as it lands in my cupped hands.
A feather of purest white and so silky to the touch it certainly hadn’t come from here. My tears started afresh, but this time, they were from a place in my heart that had a small seed of hope that maybe I’m not alone. Maybe the Universe does care about me after all.

And you know what, I’ve come to learn that it really does.

I’m not going to lie and tell you the rest of it was easy, but I’ll tell you one thing – after I surrendered myself to the storm nothing was ever harder. To make that leap within yourself, to face your own wall of emotions so deep it drowns you and come through the other side, it really is like that old truth “It’s always darkest before dawn”.
Looking back upon that dark time in my life I realise how valuable those lessons were. I learnt that the only person you can ever depend upon to fix your troubles is you. Only you, the problems and struggles in your head can’t be outsourced, besides, only you have the resources to fix them.

I traversed the bowels of hell, and met the devil himself, only to realise the devil was me. In the days, weeks and months that followed this initial breaking of the dam I had to face more about myself than just my grief over losing my Dad and my faith. As a child your parents are the foundations upon which you build your life, when one of your parents die, your whole world crumbles. My whole life had to be rebuilt from the bottom up. One little piece at a time I painstakingly rebuilt my world, and this time I was my foundation.

Slowly, steadily, I came out into the light once more, and I did find my faith again, renewed, strengthened and so much more powerful than before. I learned so much about myself that I never would have learned had I not had to face myself in my dark night of the soul.
There is so much more I could write about this period of my life, maybe one day I will, as it’s kind of like therapy for – it just feels good to get it out.

Love and Light to you my Friends


2 Responses to The Bowels of Hell (Part II of “The Dark Side of Change”)

  1. 8 years ago by Wendy

    Your strength and courage is enormous. Your writing amazes me every time. You have a beautiful soul. You made me realise something after reading this-something I never truly understood. Something very important to me and something you have told me before but it never really sunk in til now. You are brilliant keep up the good work….love and light my dear friend xxx

  2. 8 years ago by Akasha

    My beautiful Wend, Thank you so much xxx


Leave a Reply to Wendy Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *