I said yes to a job offshore of Dampier. The cook onboard got called into hospital for an operation, halfway through his swing. In this industry, when there’s work, the crewing officers are on your back like a rash… when there’s no work you do not hear a peep. There were plenty of phone calls and negating to get me up there quick smart.
I had no idea when I would be called for work. I had just started a Tyler Tolman four-day bowel cleanse and was at the end of my first day — an annoying situation as you can imagine! I had never completed a cleanse while working as a cook.
As a child and throughout my life I have used food to comfort myself to suppress my feelings. It started as a child in the orphanage. I didn’t want to feel my body. It wasn’t safe — the pain and grief — I just wanted to protect myself from abuse. I voiced a prayer to god for protection. My whole essence helped to create an illusion: “If I was big, he won’t touch me… I’d be safe.” Every cell in my body helped, by holding onto layers of fat.
I had to be so present and concise not to give into my mind and emotions to pick at food. The emotions seemed to come from depths of sad emptiness, like ripples on a pond. My father was a very generous man. He suppressed his emotions using alcohol but he expressed his love for me and my siblings with food. Cooking for six children and the size of meals he served, he got a lot of pleasure from seeing everyone eat. If we had visitors they would be expected to eat. And even if there was no money in the house a meal would still be served.
Also compacting on my system has been travelling through France drinking and eating excellent foods. A bowel cleanse was so needed to get balanced again. My body was detoxing… I couldn’t get over how tired I was. All I wanted to do was sleep — I slept every chance I got. I had some pain in my tummy until I relinquished a 20-centimetre worm. Freakin disgusting, sucking nutrients from me! How long its been living in my system, I do not know. What I do know is my dreams have been deep — waking up in pools of sweat around my heart. I felt amazing after I finished the detox, with more clarity and higher energy levels. I highly recommend it.
It was brilliant not getting thrown about in the galley, not like my previous job on the Bass Strait. It’s the tropics up here: still, sleepy, sweaty, stunning turquoise seas. There’s no visual separation of where the sea finishes and the sky starts. The colour is stunning, so much light, fractals of light — it’s amazing. It’s steaming hot. It feels like you’re just waiting for a cyclone.
When the weather’s like this, one of my favourite spots is sitting on a bollard port-side deck waiting for some fish or jellyfish action. I saw a whale blow in the distance. I so wanted the whale to breach and say “hello.” I’ve been writing and getting distracted by the sky’s changing colours from blues, greys and ribbons of orange streaking against the dusk light. So beautiful — there’s so much beauty out here, so much light, so much life — we are all connected. I want to pull my mattress out on deck and sleep under the stars.
Its so easy for me to notice the small things out here, such as a butterfly flying up to me and sitting on my writing book for at least 5 minutes. Oh hello… We are 180 nautical miles at sea! Where did you come from?
I call these little big love signs. They have a massive impact on my heart, reinforcing my love and connection to creation, that I’m not alone out here on the ocean. Connecting with nature also softens the harshness from some of the men on the boat. Creation is so gentle. For me, being on the sea is touching god, touching power.