I wasn't working yet and was having the time of my life doing touristy things which I hadn't done the first time around. This time I knew my way around town, I started visiting parks, museums, beaches, moving around wherever public transport allowed. And walking lots and lots. I started attending adult education classes (breadmaking, cooking classes, Japanese language classes) and started making friends of all ages. Things were good.
But I was really having trouble falling asleep at night. Too many thoughts I guess. I could always hear voices or a buzz in my head.
Until one night I realised I was scared. I couldn't sleep because I was worried that someone might break in my auntie's house. I didn't realise then, but that was my first panic attack.
Then one day I made myself a hearty breakfast, and after eating it I started having strong palpitations. So strong that I told my auntie I needed to see a doctor. Who couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. It was then that I noticed that the buzzing was still there. Louder than ever.
Then one day I went to visit another cousin who worked in a CBD building. As I was going up the elevator to get to the 7th floor, I started getting dizzy. It was only when I sat down and started chatting to my cousin, that I realised the building was swaying and I was getting sea-sick (for lack of a better word). I don't recall if it was a very windy day, but it didn't seem right that I should be able to feel the swaying on such a low floor...
I started doing some research, and seeing various doctors, and discovered I had tinnitus. But Wikipedia didn't exist back in 1999... So there were a few trips back and forth to the library trying to figure out what the cause was.
I came to the conclusion that decrease in circulation (caused by cigarettes) was a very likely cause.
Now I know it could've also been a side effect of aspirin or nimesulide (which I used to take liberally for my many headaches), or also of head injury like whiplash (remember how in Part 1 I mentioned the drink driving? I did once have an accident, broke the whole axis of my car hitting a wall. In hindsight, I was very very lucky to get out of it unharmed) or depression/anxiety.
But I also noticed that some foods tended to make the buzzing worse... And this is where the fun journey into food sensitivities started. I'm not going to bore you with all the details, there's more to this story later..
So as I was getting these "attacks" of palpitations and dizzy spells and the constant buzzing in my ears that was driving me nuts, and I was talking to my boyfriend on a weekly basis and I did feel a bit lonely... And I guess I was still in love though quite disillusioned.
And he (the Big Mistake) started telling me he'd been clean because he really wanted to join me and start a drug-free happy life with me in Australia etc etc. You can probably join the dots...
So dumb me said "ok, come down here and we can start a life together, I'll get an apartment for rent and then we'll see what we need to do with Immigration". And that, my friends, was my biggest mistake.
He left his grandmother's house, and with my mum's help (visa, ticket, airport etc) he boarded a plane to come here. And while he was on that plane, I received a phone call from his grandmother... who wanted to ascertain that he'd have good work chances in Aus etc etc. You know, like a good parent figure would. And then the bombshell "I'm glad to hear Australia is so wholesome so he can get healthy and you can look after him, because, you know, he started using again while he was here with me".
I hated her. How about calling me and telling me before he's on the effing plane and there's no return? My world crumbled. Not so excited to see him as much as I had been, now I was just looking down the barrel of the prospect of more drugs, more withdrawals, more lies.
We were happy to see each other, and in my youthful naivety I had convinced myself that I could make it work, that in our beautiful country I'd be able to get him clean and build a wonderful life for us.
Bear in mind the guy spoke very little English when he arrived. Yet within 3 days of being here he'd already managed to find a dealer where he could score some heroin for $10.
So, after a couple of months of getting a flat, finding us both jobs, filling in methadone prescriptions and discussing visa options with the Department of Immigration, it was clear that the only way to make him stay would be getting married. Which we did. Nobody knew about it. The witnesses were a waiter from the pizzeria where Big Mistake was working and his wife. First time I saw them, haven't seen them since... We got married in the celebrant's sitting room, then had a delectable lunch at The Street Cafe in St Kilda with the witnesses.
After an idyllic 30 hours of married life, we had our first fight when he asked for money to go buy heroin. Please be nice to me, just 10 dollars, just one last time and then I'll stop... That's when I knew our marriage was over. We would never be on the same level, we would never be a couple building together towards a common goal. We'd always be the adult and the child if you will, where one is in charge of all the decision and the protection and looking after the other. He'd always be the sick one and I'd always be the one looking after him.
But now things were trickier, I couldn't just plonk him on a plane back to Italy. I'd have to stick it out until I found a way for him to stand on his own two feet.
To be continued...