What to do when your emotional past finds you…


Up until 3 weeks ago, I was a 39 year old smug, confident and self-congraulatory woman. I had eaten all my vegetables before desert thank you, spending my 20’s doing all the necessary inner homework on how to deal with my greatest love  ending up with my best friend.

While all my peers escaped to the local bars and nightlife of Sydney’s Oxford Street, where sorrows could be solved with absinth, chemical cabinet therapy or an anonymous pash, i was looking up my spiritual rectum reading every “ism” known to men (‘cos men just love to structure the infinite, the feminine) trying to find a way of making suffering have meaning….

…I’d written a few books on it myself AND publicly aired my entire relationship history on ABC1 in 2011 in a highly personal autobiography about being emotionally dead called The Gradual Demise of Phillipa Finch.

Such a cathartic, long-winded process…i was cured of not only my own personal Bluebeard- the chief cartographer of my emotional no mans land, but a smorgasbord of subsequent love cowboys. Public airing of one’s emotional dross is like a heart enema…it just gets rid of it…to a point.

Secret chambers in the heart.

No one tells you about those. They sneak up on you when you’re celebrating the clever methods you’ve invented for out smarting tricky foxes and telling other unfortunate believers-now jaded, how it “is”.

It happens when you are twirling around writing sonnets about out-dated love-gone-bad just to keep your hand in the pool of memory when you once gave a shit.

It most definitely happens when you’re so complacent about how no one can ever destroy you again, that you begin to flirt willy nilly with emotional danger again, just to get that Disney ride feeling that has been seriously lacking since you could sniff a love twit within a 180km radius.

There it was. The hidden chamber.

I stumbled on it casually one day a few weeks ago. It’s a very secret chamber tucked away from the smartest self. It belongs to the part of you that can’t do anything, but feel. The part that has no funny quips, witty comebacks or scathing putdowns to deal with pain. It’s the part that just wants to love and be loved in return, the part that still has Bluebeard’s picture up on her cell wall and can only see the gold moments together.

I stumbled upon this chamber by the character trait that always undoes me: seeking answers beyond what i should know. I asked questions and got answers…answers that undid me.

I’m 39, that was 16 years ago…i can handle it.

I guess not.

But just hearing anything about that time again…I was back there: 23, still in love with someone who didn’t know how to stop me leaving and deeply vulnerable. I had no idea i had tears in my skull with his name on them still. How sad. Maybe i SHOULD have had absinth in my 20’s and a few more anonymous party pashes…

Tears shed, dinner cooked for my two kids and TRUE love (the love you find when you give up caring if he has great shoes and care about what his heart is doing)…i sat down at my computer and took a breath.

There, tucked away on my new Macbook Pro, was a secret chamber as well. I opened it.

The secret emails chamber.

The emails you hold onto with a kind of  secret longing when those moments in an ongoing relationship with a great man and your two kids hits the occasional pot hole.

So i looked at these emails, a mirror for the secret chamber i had hidden in my heart from myself that housed a hope somewhere for us, no matter how inane…even in theory. Holding the grief up as a talisman that i DIDN’T suffer…here it is all along…US, golden again.


Why do guys always want you again when you’re at your strongest and unavailable?

They love the challenge of breaking you again, to see you surrender to their words, their promises of some kind of Greek Island moment that will keeping on giving between you…

The fact that they didn’t break you the first time makes you seem incredibly interesting. Their ego needs to give form to the infinite mystery of the feminine…own it. spit it out, have it as a story to tell their next lover, to lay the foundation of insecurity in her heart.

I pressed delete.

Delete emails, delete email address(es), delete phone numbers, delete photos.


Went out to the lounge room and saw the man who knows me best AND still loves me in spite of being kind of crazy, the man who doesn’t mind me painting on a moustache and slipping into a male alter-ego to chop the evening vegetables, the man who wooed me with kindness, generosity and great kissing, the man who is loyal and funny, the man who liked it AT THE TIME and put a ring on it…

and i took all that energy hidden away in secret chambers that had been feeding a ghost, a heartbreaker…

and pulled it back into myself, ready to share the lost treasure with the one who deserves it, the one who did walk through the darkness with me and emerged with me, stronger for it.


16 thoughts on “What to do when your emotional past finds you…

  1. Emma, only you know how to
    tell my story. There are a few things here and there that need twisting, move this forward, toss that part out, put this in, bla blah blah. but it is always my story. Your heart knows mine. Yours speaks in a song that my heart knows. I wonder is it just me, and you, or is it every woman on earth that knows this song?

  2. Hey Emma,
    Holy cow, such a great person and writer has subscribed to my poor blog, thanks by the way 😀 Looks like you have quite a oevre already – I’m exactly the same age and haven’t even published anything yet… Really enjoy your positivity here.
    Greetings to you and that wonderful town of sydney (love oxford street) from exactly the other side of the world,

  3. darling emm, i can’t believe it took me 2 years to see this and some time to kill on a computer in bolivia! you are not only an amazing writer but an exquisite friend and i can’t wait to see you again and drink tea in dainty cups in your new house in the mountains! i love you sister….estrella

  4. Amazing. Inspiring. Strangely wonderful. What more can I say? We shared a chairlift, and you shared your inspiration. Wow.

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