Within These Walls: A Memoir

Hola all!

No, I have not become Spanish, I’m simply stepping out of my comfort zone for this post and opening up a little more than I previously have.

Not many of you will know this but over the last twenty-four months I’ve been writing a story. Not for Life, Love & Lube, but my life story, in-depth. A book of some sorts – a memoir. I’m over 270 pages in and the first draft is now complete and it’s time to follow my Editors advice and approach the second draft with some important changes, revisions and further dialogue. It’s where I will continue to spread my wings and delve deeper into the experiences that have helped shape the person that I am today and rediscover those memories I have purposefully shelved at the back of my mind. It’s a scary and confronting process but I feel like I’m now at a stage where I can share a basic outline with you all. Soo be nice.

But first of all, I feel like I need to point out that I am only thirty-four years of age and I’m in no way stating that I’ve lived some incredible life, above and beyond anyone else’s. I’m not, and I wouldn’t say my life is, or has been, incredible or unimaginable. I certainly consider myself lucky and plenty have had it harder than I have, I realize that. But getting to this point in my life, a point I wasn’t even sure I wanted to reach, is an achievement in itself and sometimes interesting things do happen to us along the way, as they have me. It’s time for me to share those adventures, mishaps and troubles in the hope they could positively change the course of someone else’s life. I’m the first one to admit that I’ve been selfish, I’ve only ever had to think about myself, my happiness and my needs but at thirty-four I now want to start giving back. I don’t mind if it means becoming more vulnerable in putting my story out there if it helps others to push through their own struggles and see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but to also help people see another side to mental illness, as hard as it is to comprehend if you’ve never been experienced it.


Within These Walls
Basic Outline
(Blog Format)

A lot of what has been written I have never told a soul. I’ve sat in my thoughts for far too long and I’ve been drowning in that deep dark abyss that is depression for most of my life. It’s now time to come up for that much needed air and share my journey of rediscovering my darkest secrets and reliving some of life’s harshest moments in order for me to finally process my shit and finally disconnect that cord.

Within These Walls is a tale of self discovery from growing up in a small-minded country town and battling my own demons while unable to fit the Australian male stereotype and the persecution that comes with that from inside a small country community. I touch on my relationship with my mother and my three sisters as well as the discovery of my biological father through a best-selling book based on one of Australia’s largest media storms and then my brief, but memorable, contact with the man I never knew, and then ultimately discovering who he was in life after his sudden death.

I share my journey into adulthood from becoming an adult at sixteen after escaping country life and relocating to the city of Adelaide where I was to explore my sexual desires and ultimately continue my downward spiral. Then came Sydney at nineteen and by the time I had hit my thirties I had traveled the world, calling both Canada and the UK home before returning to Sydney where I would settle until my much needed escape to Melbourne at thirty-one. But it was Sydney, Australia’s largest city, where I was to discover my sexuality and get the true taste of a homosexual lifestyle, yet still hidden in shame. Not always positive, the seedy undertones of gay life, mixed with a continued negative outlook, began to take it’s toll.

I outline my never ending battle with mental illness, my obsession with my own death which began in primary school, and several of my suicide attempts. I take you inside my sometimes fragile, but dream-like, and over-thinking mind and I let you stand beside me during some of my harshest realities. Mixed with an ongoing daily battle with body dysphoria, my issues with alcohol which prove to be hereditary, my inability to find and sustain male relationships due to the walls I constantly build and my long association with self-sabotaging. I also go into graphic details about my obsession with sex and the consequences that comes with that at such an early age and my inability to trust and ultimately find love, the one thing I soo desperately want. I take you on my adventures in-and-out of the bedroom, my travels around the world, an insight into my first and only gay relationship, gut-wrenching heartache that makes life seem unbearable and finish where I stand today; at thirty-four, single and only just beginning to discover who I truly am and only just coming to terms with the traumas of my past. But now happy in my own skin.

Within These Walls is a story of despair, truth, hope and ultimately coming out the other side of difficult situations and surviving the odds in a world where you’re unsure you belong. It’s a coming out story in a coming of age way where the road to finding ones self-worth can be never ending and the realization that perfection will never be achieved. It’s a story of triumph through struggles and ultimately owning our mistakes in life is sometimes the only way we’re able to move forward. I let you witness my harsh realities of gay life, while again not fitting a stereotype and my experimentation with illicit substances. It’s simply a no-holds barred, funny and not funny, account of life as some of us know it.

We all have our own story to tell. This is simply mine.

“There was a period of about five years while growing up that every single room I’d venture into, no matter where it was, I would map out how it could accommodate my death. I needed to know I had a way out if things got too much. I needed to know where that noose I constantly carried around my neck was going to hang.”

“Discovering who my biological father was by reading that book, unaware of the personal connection of the man in the photograph all those years ago, and then making contact was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Then walking through his home and touching his things after his death was a feeling like no other. I don’t wish that upon anybody.”


Writing is my therapy. I’ve seen psychologists throughout my years which has helped me see things differently but nothing has come close to me being able to express my inner thoughts and feelings than on a screen. It’s simply my escapism. It’s where I’m able to tell my truth, explain my feelings and scream my frustrations without fear of judgement. Simply because I no longer fear judgement.

It’s simply time for me to open up those doors and give back to those who might find themselves in similar situations or feel they have nowhere to turn. Mental illness can be a silent, isolating, torture and the pain can sometimes be soo severe that we consider the extreme. I’ve been there far too many times and I no longer wish to go back.
This book, in some way or another, will finally allow me to deal with the issues I’ve hidden inside and hopefully conquer some of my fears. If I can touch just one soul or change the course of someones life from telling my story then it’s worth pursing. The pain of revisiting old, but still open, wounds will be worth doing.

In a world where teen suicide is soo prevalent I hopefully provide you with a perspective of the other side, where sometimes we feel there is no place to turn, nobody to talk to and no other way out. We must continue the discussion for change and each and everyone of us plays a critical part in ensuring that statistical change.

During June and July I’ll be taking a month off work and heading somewhere in South East Asia to isolate myself in a condo or an Airbnb to complete my second draft and hopefully get it to a stage where I’m able to share it with a publisher. Whether or not this manuscript is ever published I don’t mind, I will make it available somewhere, somehow so it’s within reach to everyone.

You can now also check out my new personal website below where you can stay up-to-date on my manuscript and everything outside of Life, Love & Lube. Would love to hear your thoughts and don’t forget to sign up to my newsletters!

www.shanecunningham.com.au

Cheers,
Shane


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