How did I get here?
Where am I now?
I guess a good start is to begin with the statement that I have always known that I felt and am different, and I have always felt an amicable sense of separation from people around me. For example, I grew up the only Sagittarius in a house full of Gemini and growing up (even now, actually), I never really had a group. I believe the term is “social butterfly” although I don’t remember high school being as free and glorious as that term sounds. I sort of floated and hopped, coming into new friend groups (all of which knew each other from early ages etc.) and situations but never actually falling into a place that I myself was a part of from the beginning. I had a very “normal” upbringing and was lucky enough to have not only nurturing parents but also grew up basically living with my grandparents – just that little bit of extra love, there is no more special cuddle than an Oma (Grandma) cuddle!
I am half German and half Filipino. The Grandparents that were part of my upbringing, were from the German side. The first language I spoke was German, so I grew up bilingual. I have a memory of bike riding with my Opa Karl to the dairy – I would have been around 6 – and a man commented on Opa Karl’s bike (it was an ancient old thing) and little Lara stepped in explaining he could not speak English and stood there translating for the two men about a bike from English to German and back to English. It was so natural; however, in school I was very embarrassed that I was “other” to everyone else (very little to no English from my grandparents) when I would have to speak in German. I am ashamed and completely the opposite now! In fact, I would give anything to be able to sit across the table from them and chit chat in German, over Kaffee und Torte once more.
When I was little my interests consisted of: fairies, crystals, loving animals, playing with my Oma’s necklaces, eating Kartoffell und Butter (potato and butter) and, of course, putting on theatrical shows in my back garden. To be honest, I am pretty sure it was just me swinging around a tree like the little monkey I was, but hey, it was a show, okay! The people who attended my shows: my sister/co-performer, grandparents, parents and occasionally the neighbours referred to me as the “show off” or “chatter box”. My dad always talks about my first overseas trip to Fiji, where I would have been about seven years old. Walking through the resort with me, would be a “Hi Lara!” and my replying “Hey so and so” (even adults!) from people that I had met on my adventures; charismatically just being lil ol’ me cruising around my Kids Club and the resort just doing my thing.
One of my first run in’s with death was when our dog Gusti died. She got kicked by horse at the horse paddock at the end of our dead-end street and had a heart attack. We buried Gusti in the same garden where my hit performances were born and I remember walking back up our narrow footpath to the house by the light of the moon and felt a compelling need to kneel, throw my crystal up in the air (I had left it with Gusti’s body and dad gave it back to me before we put her in the ground) to the moon and bow my head. What the actual fuck, I hear you ask? Yeah, me too… but at the time it just came over me and I did it. I don’t even remember what I was thinking, just that I wanted to. My mum asked me what I was doing, kind of freaked out as anyone would be and told me to go inside. That was the first and only time I have ever impulsively done something where I did not know what came over me or why.
Deaths after that took more common grief journeys – no crystals to the moon included. The words “killed himself” came into the mix around Form 2 and then later, throughout high school the word “suicide” popped up indirectly, with people I knew, which was a strange and hard thing to comprehend. How could you be laughing immaturely through a drama class with someone and then discover they died and you didn’t notice something was wrong?
At the time, high school felt like the end of the world, but I finished it going through all the usual trials and tribulations of your typical teenager: “where do I fit in”, thinking I was fat (and now it’s like that meme, I wish I was as fat as the first time I thought I was fat), feeling like no one understands, thinking I am ugly, feeling alone, self mutilating, experimenting with booze and all the things, boys, discovering girls can be so MEAN, the list goes on. The fairies, love and theatrical shows dwindled out and turned into heavy metal, dragons (although I always had dragons they just went from colourful to slate and grey) and trying to hide in the background but simultaneously wanting to be different and be noticed.
During this time, I took my first dip into Personal Development and made the choice to see a counselor. At first it was a finding-myself-show-off attempt to skip class with a friend, pretend we were depressed (secretly I think we both were, in a teenage hormonal angst kind of way) but later found it was more than that. I continued to regularly show up (I think during a Mean Girls saga) discussing why people are the way they are, what is in it for them or for me and how to deal with issues that did not originate as mine, yet directly affected me. I believe I really discovered my sense of self early through this. I remember one morning, in the first class of the day rambling out some philosophical woowoo to a friend about life and she groaned rolling her eyes telling me it was too early to be so deep. I smile as I write it now, but at the time I felt so segregated, like some old lady in a 13 year old’s body. I am only just now coming to accept my sensitivity and empathy as a strength, where as then, I felt so weak and I took great comfort in discussing these issues with my counselor.
I would later be back in counselling, not for coping mechanisms to survive a Mean Girls saga, but again with the intention of other peoples issues and develop ways in which I could help them. August 2012 was the start of a pivotal shift in my life, where everything I ever knew in the months to come turned upside down. I don’t really know how to describe this shift in me, because it was neither positive, nor negative, but after over year (all of 2013 I actually cannot remember) in shock, I would call this change, something like waking up or coming into awareness. It was just noticing what was important, noticing that it wasn’t all about me and it was me discovering a type of strength I didn’t know I had. I had to learn, on my own, yet in a pack, how to survive being left behind. August 2012 was the first time I was directly affected by suicide and four months thereafter, in December 2012 the same yet different piece of my heart broke, a second time. Two of my very best friends were gone.
The conspiracy, the why, the others affected are not a part of this story, nor mine to tell, but what shaped me was how I kept on living. I didn’t tell myself little affirmations about how my dead friends would want me to be living or living in the name of; for a while there it was dark, black and it was all about me. I didn’t understand how the world kept going, when all you want is for it to stop. I was living in a somber cloud of nostalgia and I did not leave this space for a long time. There came a point however, where my internal differentness shone it’s little head inside my bubble of sleet where I started my philosophical internal observations and I decided, this shouldn’t be how things were anymore. I had to look after myself so that I could try and look after my circle. The people in my foresight needed something and I did not know how to help them. So I went back to counselling, discussing why people are they way they are, what is in it for them or for me and how to deal with issues that did not originate as mine, yet directly affected me.
Now, this all sounds very saintly but it was all a bit of an internal battle where all I wanted was to feel helpful. Later this actually led to years of people pleasing and a very empty cup (only something I have just recently got on top of). It was never for any kind of recognition or praise, I just have this innate need inside me to try and help. You will always see me trying to give advice, sometimes when it is not asked for… or trying to support a small business, I just can’t help it! Now I know it’s part of my Human Design (shout out to my 5/1s we can’t save everyone OK!?). Don’t get me wrong though, I have had my fair share of being a far-king biiiiiiiitccchh – a bully even!
Which leads me into my most recent awakening, or rather a big, stinking slap in the damn face. I woke up – oh man – I’m finding this hard to write, even though I know I don’t have to share this if I don’t want to. I hate myself. There I said it. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on things I have said and done over the years and… I don’t really like who I am. I feel ashamed, I feel uncomfortable, I feel mean and weak. I imagine who I used to be vs where I want to be and see confidence but here in the middle I just feel stuck and self conscious. This is what brought me here, discovering that some of these things are actually my strengths, like my empathy. I’m diving into why I am the way I am, what’s in it for me and everyone else and how to deal with issues that are 100% mine and have been affecting me silently for years. I am still the cheeky little monkey who performs theatrical masterpieces on a daily basis, I still love the high pitch squeal of Danny Filth and I most certainly still love potatoes AND butter.
One of my final conversations with my counselor was where I made the statement “I am just trying to find my place in the world” – so here I am, still trying. I have a loving family, an awesome long term relationship, a most wonderful collection of friends and I have so so much love to give, but it needs to start with me, Lara Marie Gieseke. I need to love myself first and I am so excited. Wish me luck!