Part 1 - My life
My full name is Thalia Sylvena Skopellos. My father is Greek and my mother is Aboriginal, a Murri from North Queensland and we come from the Yindinji tribe and Mbarbarum People. I have always identified as Aboriginal throughout my life however I do ascend from a rich cultural lineage. As far as I am currently aware we have a bloodline of Chinese, Filipino and South Sea Islander as well. So my body got a little confused in the creation process, I was blessed with asian height, a whopping 4ft11 and half (cant forget the 'half'), big black fulla damper feet (size 8 womens), and very very hairy Greek arms, legs, stomach, back and facial hair but no not eyebrows, the hair went everywhere except the eyebrows (smile).
I am told by my mother that her and my father planned to have me and they both went to the doctors to get a fertility test nevertheless my Greek grandparents did not want to have anything to do with us. My father's parent's were not accepting of my mother because she wasn't Greek and also because they weren't married. This changed after I was born, I was born on the 13 May 1979 in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, the only baby born in the old Darwin hospital on Mother's Day and when they saw our picture on the front page of the NT newspaper they passed on a message to my mother inviting her over with me. From thereon I was a regular at their house and my mother tells me I even began to understand Greek as they would always speak to me in Greek. My Yaiyai and Papou grew very fond of me even to the point they asked if they could raise me but my mother fervently refused. I often wonder what my life would have turned out if I was raised the Greek way instead I was brought up black fulla ways in the bush with my mother (smile).
I am also told my father desperately wanted a boy, and when my head popped out of my mother's vagina he exclaimed in excitement 'Its a boy, its a boy!!!' only to be disappointed when the rest of my body came out (chuckle). My mother on the other hand really wanted to turn me into a little girl, she got my ears pierced before I could even walk and forced me into wearing pretty dresses that I hated. I remember my favourite piece of clothing when I was 3 was a pair of shorts and not much has changed now either. So growing up on the one hand I loved to play with barbie dolls equally as much as I loved to ride around on my bmx, play sports and skateboard just like my boy cousins. On a side note my dad mistaking me for a boy is a funny story but I do see the emotional damage that these projections from both parents have caused me and influenced the way I view masculinity and femininity and have been a big issue in my life which I will talk about further on.
From 5 years of age I was brought up in a small town in the Kimberley’s called Kununurra and then in Perth for my high school years. I guess I got exposed to the best of both worlds, both the country and city life, if you can call Perth a city that is . . . but compared to Kununurra it was a BIGGGGGG city for this little black bush duck. In Kununurra we lived on Greybox Cres in Hidden Valley and I was brought up by my mother where we lived with my grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins all in the one house . . . you know how blackfulla families are! I have fond memories of my childhood like being able to have the freedom as a very young child to roam free and play in the surrounding bushes, ride my bike everywhere, swim in waterholes, play in creek beds and walk around bare feet even on the hot bitumen! My uncles also loved to take us fishing, hunting and camping in swags under the stars in secluded and unknown spots in the scrub!
Family gatherings were fun as I had lots of cousins to play with growing up, we travelled a lot and spent a lot of time in an Aboriginal community called Bulla where my grandparents lived and ran a church. My grandad was a pastor in the Assembly of God church so I grew up going to Sunday school learning about Jesus, Noah's ark and Adam and Eve and that blaardy naughty serpent. My Grandad used to refer to Jesus as Nudgie which is the Aboriginal name for Jesus in the area that I grew up in (smile). He work a lot with the Aboriginal people of that area in teaching them about God and Jesus from a Christian point of view, baptising many in the creeks and having a lot of them be a part of his ministry. So I have a fond affection for that name and in the early stages of my childhood I became deeply fascinated about this Nudgie person. My grandparents would talk a lot about how Nudgie was going to return to earth and I was so fascinated and couldn't wait for Nudgie to come back. I remember when I was 5 I had a dream that Nudgie came to visit and was casually and peacefully hovering in the air around our block in a big chair in a red robe (or was it a red chair?) doing bog laps (smile). Love you Nudgie, I'm glad you came back and I found you!
So mostly I have fond memories growing up, I was a very enthusiastic, energetic and fun loving child. But like most of our lives these beautiful memories are often littered with painful ones too. I was sexually abused from the age of 5-9 by an older male cousin but never told anyone. I have a lot of fond memories of my mother taking care of me as a child physically, moments of kindness and warmth from her but I was also the recipient and witness to many unloving experiences involving her. In the very early stages of my childhood I witnessed my mother being beaten and strangled by my sisters father (when she briefly went back to him after I was born), I witnessed my mother going out to the 'disco' getting wasted and high and her sexual encounters with strange men that she would bring home. She has also even proudly joked that she used to smoke 'winnie reds' (a cigarette brand here in Australia of the highest milligrams of nicotine) when she was pregnant with me. My sister was often left to look after me when she was only 15 and she would also be getting stoned with me in her care. She even got me stoned when I was 4 or 5! I will never forget that, one minute she was blowing smoke into my face and the next minute I was laughing uncontrollably jumping up and down on the bed, that I remember - but she tells me further that I also got the munchies and then fell dead asleep and she could not wake me.
Getting back to my mother, as much as she showered me with physical affection I was also the recipient to her physical abuse towards me including beatings with the kettle chord, thongs(flip flops) or hands. I remember many mornings being in rebellion to her angry and controlling demands that I wear her pretty dresses even to the point of her belting me and forcing me to wear these nightmarish dresses to school. I witnessed a lot of violence and substance abuse growing up and as a result became full of rage and anger myself and physically violent towards other children growing up, in my relationships with women and towards myself.
By the time I hit 13, my little bubbly adventurous self began to fade. We moved to Perth, I was in a new city, starting high school and exposed to a whole new world that felt so uncomfortable. I was no longer recognised or accepted by my Aboriginal peers as Aboriginal and for the first time in my life I was exposed to racial slurs that I had not even heard of before. On top of all of that I was also now becoming consciously aware in my heart of the sexual abuse that happened to me and how what happened to me wasn’t or shouldn't have been a part of normal life, that it was wrong. Going through puberty was also a very difficult time for me, one that I really struggled with. I was uncomfortable and very ashamed with the changes that were happening in my body, I was born with a moustache and lots of facial hair that was quite prominent by the time I hit puberty and on top of that I was not liking the new hair in foreign places and breasts I was acquiring. I broke out severely with pimples everywhere that everyone including my cousin who abused me used to tease me about. It seemed everyone liked to point out the obvious to me about my pimples and I grew to hate myself even further.
During this time I began to shut out the world including my family, I didnt want to associate or be around my mother anymore which intensified her already angry and controlling demands towards me. She became increasingly frustrated at me because I would shut myself in my room and not want to be around her or my stepfather. The secret inside of me about what happened to me as a child began to slowly eat away at me, I became withdrawn and began to feel a deep sense of sadness within me that I had never felt before and did not understand. My mother eventually found out about my abuse when I was 14, I came home one day and she sat me on my bed and told me that she had read my diary. She was crying and told me how something sexually happened to her as child too, and that she had spoken to my sister about me and my sister opened up to her for the first time too about how she was raped when she was 5 and never told anyone. Sad.
When my mother spoke to my whole family including the mother of my cousin (my aunty) and grandparents about what happened to me, they did not want to acknowledge the truth and wanted to sweep it under the carpet and carry on and pretend nothing happened. They did not want to confront my cousin or bring up the subject. My aunty even accused me of lying about it and making it up. This began to destroy my trust and respect for my family, I felt very early on that my family did not really care or love me which completely devastated my view of them especially my Grandparents who were such a big part of my life. I even began to hate and blame Nudgie and God and came to the conclusion they must not exist. My mother asked me if I wanted to press charges or get counselling but I felt very scared, ashamed and did not want to talk about it. I wanted to bury it deep within me but I wish I could turn back time and have chosen differently to deal with it. Instead I turned to substances at a very young age and it is no surprise that I turned first to the cigarette at 14, then marijuana at 15.
At that time in my head it was just all fun and games, smoking marijuana made the world seem more hilarious. I also dabbled in trips but by the time I was 17 I was a fully blown marijuana addict, smoking whenever I could and wherever I could. This intensified when I turned 18 and even progressed further to narcotics such as ectasy and amphetamines. By this point tho things were no longer fun and games and what was once funny turned to paranoia. I was using substances for darker reasons, to escape, to feel happiness, to fill the void and the big empty hole of nothingness. I was depressed and wanted to suppress all of my emotions and not feel but deep down and most of all I didnt want to live.
On top of that I was also beginning to have an awakening to my sexuality, I began to feel sexually attracted to women which also freaked me out even more. The thought of being gay was just way too much too handle on top of everything else. My first real crush on a woman was when I was 18, she was my neighbour and 13 years older than me. I had known her since I was 13 as she used to get me to babysit her three boys, we grew a really close bond and she helped me through my most toughest times. My feelings became so intense for her that she picked up on it and gently told me that it would never happen and that she felt I was just going through a phase. So just like the sexual abuse, I denied it and tried to push it way way down and away, out of sight out of mind, I was embarrassed, ashamed, its just a phase is what I believed! Just a phase they say (smile).
High school came and went and I just scraped through and graduated Year 12 in 1996. My initial memories was that I had no ambition to do much with my life but if I really think about it I did, I was interested in doing a fitness course and also had interests in something to do with the arts, but my mother and stepfather always said that I should get a job. So I did, I found this traineeship advertised and I knew from the moment I saw it that is was my job, that it was meant for me. So I rang up and the manager told me they had filled all the vacancies for interviews already and they had no more places. So me being determined to get what I wanted decided that I would drop in personally the next day and hand in my resume as I was going to be in the city anyway for another interview. So I dropped by and saw the manager and he told me that it just so happened that someone didn't show up and that he could interview me that moment.
He then went through my resume and saw that I had my neighbour on my resume as a reference and he looked at me and said, thats not such and such is it? It just so happened that he went to high school with my neighbour who was my reference! I couldnt believe it, I knew the job was mine when I saw it and this just reconfirmed it even more to me. So I ended getting the job I wanted and of all places ended up working for a youth organisation that provided support services to young people at risk of suicide, family abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse and so forth. Coincidence? I dont think so, I can see God has been influencing my life right from the start and working for this organisation was a massive and crucial turning point for me. The issues that I had faced growing up were now literally in my face everyday and I couldn't ignore it but still wanted to because I was so scared to face the truth of what was inside of me.
As time went on in my new job, I continued to resist the truth of my life and my addiction to marijuana intensified. I became increasingly unhappy and my workplace noticed it and one day my boss pulled me into the office and gently laid out some options for me, that I could continue to live the way that I was currently living or I could make a choice to get some help. So I chose to take him up on his offer and for the first time agreed to see and speak to a counsellor. I was very scared and ashamed to open up about what had happened to me but once I did I felt a heavy weight lift from me. It was a bit of relief for a moment in time and although it wasn't enough to completely heal me of the past and put me on the straight and narrow, it was a start and what I needed at that time.
To be cont . . .
Who is Thaylia?
To get this blog started I thought it would be appropriate to kick it off with an introduction to who I am and a bit about my life. At the recent 'Developing my Loving Self' Assistant Group I asked Jesus 'What are some examples of intrinsic qualities of someone's personality?' He answered and said well 'What are some things that you suspect are a part of your real nature that have generally been condemned or that you feel embarrassed about or that you feel you cant do because of your environment?'
I could only come up with one thing and that was that I thought I was a bit of a comedian, that being funny is a part of my nature but is something that I generally don't put on display unless I really trust and know you. It was a great exercise where he pointed out that its really hard to know one's true personality and nature because the real self has been suppressed and completely undeveloped. For most of us we don't know who we trully are and that the only way to discover our true self is to allow ourselves to be more emotional and connected to our will and work through breaking down our facade. He says, answering the question becomes an endeavour of own will in discovering and is something that I will need to decide to do for myself.
So in answer to the question about who I am, I am not 100% sure at this moment. I know I love music and spend most of my time developing this passion in this area but in terms of internal intrinsic qualities of my nature I so far don't really understand who I am because I have never truly lived a life as myself only what other people have expected or taught me to be. So what I have decided to do and since asking that question is to go on a journey and find out. I have pondered a lot about who I might be, and I have a memory of when I was 5 years old, I really wanted to learn how to ride a bike. No one put the idea into my head it was just something that I really wanted to do and so I told my mum and got her to drop me over to my cousins house so I could teach myself. I didn't ask my mum to teach me or for anyone to show me. I spent the whole day with my cousin doing bog laps around the house on her little bike, wobbling, falling off and getting back up. I wouldn't give up until finally by the end of the day I could ride a bike. Little 5 year old me taught myself how to ride a bike within one day!
So I feel that is another part of my true nature, I have a very strong and determined will and when I put my mind to something I wont quit until I learn it. Unfortunately this strong will has also been used in a very negative direction in my life and it was the same, I wouldn't quit until I learned the lesson's the hard way and boy did I learn some hard hard lessons. Although I may not know a lot more of who I truly am at the moment I can share a bit about my life experiences and it is my hope that as I do this I may begin to understand myself and the experiences I have been through. I hope to uncover hidden gems within my life that may give me an indication or glimpse into my real self and who I am and I hope that it may help me to remember things that I may have forgotten about myself.
It is impossible to share every single detail on ones life but I will attempt to do the best I can over a few chapters.