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Starting over at 51

Jafar the Barmecide
Community Member

Ok, this is take 2 of my first post, I was wisely advised to edit it as I probably gave too much detail and risked doxxing myself and went into triggering territory so here is the revised post-

Sometime ago (redacted to summarise) I had legal issues, and as a result I lost my job, my car, my license, the respect of my family, friends and colleagues, my dignity, my house and eventually, my freedom. I was in a dark place, that is allI can probably say

The journey from there to where I am now is why I am here. I have been through a hell of a lot more than 2500 characters can describe and there is still a long way to go. I am now homeless and unemployed with a conviction that is proving to be a barrier to progress. I have to start over, I have to find a reason to live, some spark that gets me up in the morning. If I can get myself through this, I will be well placed to help others who find themselves starting over, whether they have just been released from prison or newly sober and commited to remaining that way or need help navigating the courts and justice department, I now have experience to share in all these areas and if that can make a difference in even one person's life, then I have found my spark, my reason to live.

My goal is to get to a place where I am comfortable enough to turn around and reach out to people on the same path, learning how to use the systems and services put in place to help people in the most effective way possible by using those services. Beyond Blue is one of those services. I'm here to learn and share and try to stay focussed in the face of the daunting task of starting over at 51.

42 Replies 42

G’day Petal,

My son was only 11 months old when my third wife passed. I remember coming home to find her, and my son was screaming and smelly, so I changed, washed and fed him. I then found pain relief and sat in front of the telly for I don’t know how long. In that time people came and went. I remember it as one of those timelapse scenes you get in films where the camera is focussed on me not moving while all these people come and go, ambulance, police, her parents, friends with casseroles and lasagne, and then my second wife was there, I don’t know how she found out within a day and then drove for 500 k’s but she offered to take the boy so he could live with his brothers and sister. I agreed and so did my 3rd wife’s parents, they were elderly and ill equipped to care for a baby. So was I.

I sat in that same chair until people eventually stopped coming. But every holiday time I would get on the Harley and ride down to my family’s town to be with my kids, at least at the beginning but then grief turned into depression. My second wife is the one my son calls mum, he is 10 now, he doesn’t know about his real mum, neither of us know what a good time is to tell him, that causes us both a lot of anxiety. Her own son still at home is my 17-year-old boy who has just come out as gay to her.

My second wife is my best friend now, we had briefly got together again because we found ourselves locked down together at the beginning of the pandemic, we had 2 boys left at home and she was staying with us during her chemo/radio therapy because it was close by (all clear now, 2 mastectomies’ later). She has every reason to hate me, but she is just too forgiving for her own good. I was asked in therapy to picture someone I hold in high esteem, and it was her who came to mind straight away.

I have a relatively good relationship with him, his mother was French and so are his grandparents and he attends a French school because he is bilingual (grandparents have paid for his education). I am proud of him, but I can tell he’s wary of me, visiting me in prison was a frightening experience for him. He is not proud of his criminal dad; I’d be worried if he was. He wants to be a soldier just like his adult brothers. He watched YouTube videos to find out how to make his bed to military standard and sleeps under camouflage webbing/mosquito net. He asks me to assess his efforts to pass inspection, it warms my heart. Cutest thing I have ever seen.

Hi Jafar the Barmecide,

Im so so sorry for what happened to your wife that must have been so traumatic for you.

Have you ever been able to seek professional help for yourself through what happened and what you witnessed?

Your second wife sounds like an absolute angel….. what a beautiful lady to take care of your son so he can also be with his brothers and sisters…. It’s fantastic she is all clear now.

I understand why your son calls her mum and I also understand yourself and your second wife’s anxiety around telling your son……… you will both know when the time is wright…..

Its great that your 17year old son was able to tell his mum he was guy….. that’s a huge step for him I’m sure she was very accepting which is all anyone really wants in life is to be accepted as they are.

I understand why visiting you while you were in prison would have felt frightening for him…… it can be confronting….

Im sure in time he will be proud of you with all the positive changes you are making within yourself.

So cute that he asks you to asses his bed making…. So cute…

I understand he’s wary of you maybe you could both do some father son bonding when you are ready…… maybe go fishing together or bike riding….. something you both enjoy..😊

Jafar the Barmecide
Community Member

I feel selfish posting here because I really haven’t got the time to read through other people’s threads and contribute. I gotta limit my screen time for my mental health or I get carried away for hours and nothing gets done, then I feel bad. I must be looking for somewhere to live every spare minute, or I feel like I am overstaying my welcome couch surfing with friends and family.

I met a woman a couple of weeks ago, she was great to talk to and she made me feel good and I laughed a lot and really enjoyed spending time with her. Nothing happened. I really wanted to ask her out, but I couldn’t. She is 40 years old, separated with 2 teenage boys, a level 4 psychiatric nurse with a nice California bungalow. She is very small but has a big personality, a sharp but kindly sense of humour. It was so obvious that I was attracted to her, and my sister told me she wondered why I didn’t make a ‘move’.

Well, it’s because I’m a homeless, unemployed ex-con who’s been married three times, not a good track record. I have nothing to offer her, I have no money to take her out, I have no place to take her home to, I have no car or motorbike to pick her up. I am inadequate as a man. I am no catch at all just now. I wish I could have met her a few years from now once I have my sh** together, an incredible woman like her won't be single for long.

Feeling like a loser.

Hey Jafar

I hear you loud and clear about reading posts (especially long ones) and contributing as it took me months to do so when I joined in 2016

You are strong by being a part of the forums even without participation Jafar

And you are not a 'loser' as I also would have little to offer a nice girl like that with my left over anxiety issues

please be gentle to yourself Jafar....you deserve it


Good morning Jafar 🙋‍♀️. You’re definitely not a loser!

It sounds like you’re on the right path.
When you’re at the bottom of the hill (or maybe even a gully next to a hill to be climbed) it can be heavy sledding but just put one foot in front of the other and it gets easier and easier and at the right time - you will be where you’re supposed to be.
The view will be that much sweeter to you after experiencing the contrast of difficulties to bring it out. And you will reach a better place than your previous highs. You will have achieved post traumatic growth, be more evolved and be on a different level qualitatively.

It sounds like you have a lot of wonderful people in your life supporting you. That is so wonderful. And of course you have people backing you on this forum too 🙂.

Re meeting someone you fancy but currently feel inadequate to asking out. Maybe you could make friends with her first. Maybe you could really get to know each other first instead of following the way you previously would have approached someone.
Also sometimes you know you’re not ready for a relationship even though you may get some conflicting feelings of damn! I wish the timing was right! I’m trying to figure out relationship stuff too so I’m sorry I can’t give you any solid advice here. I guess you really know what’s best for you right now anyway.

Btw Re answering threads- just do what you can only. Take care of you first. Only once you’ve taken care of yourself can you help others. It sounds like you have a lot on so focus on caring for yourself right now. You need it and deserve it.
I wouldn’t feel shy about jumping in on people’s threads though - input is the idea 🙂. As long as you’re posting in good faith people would want you to I think. And you have a lovely energy on here🙂.

Wishing you have a great day 🙂.

Hey mate,

I know exactly how you feel. I’m a single mum, on a disability pension, 48. My daughter is 18.
I also feel I have nothing to offer, or - who the hell would want me.

I relate to the feeling in your post. For me, everything I was, and was good at, is long gone. I have medical issues, I have weight on, cptsd, unbelievable anxiety blah blah

it’s been a long battle which most people had no idea was happening, and I was doing well, but a stroke kicked me in the guts and after trying with everything I have to get my daughter through, and try to get help for me, I’ve got nothing left to keep trying.

it doesn’t stop me feeling like crap though, alone etc

there is a lot to be said for how we choose to look at things, and I’ve been an advocate of that for as far back as I can remember, but for me it’s too late now. So I want to say to you this…

if you can still function, live. Live while you can. Jump in the deep end. Living in fear is a life half lived.

cliche cliche cliche lol

but honestly, the only thing I have is my memories of how I lived life before I couldn’t. I’m proud of who I was, and the adventures I’ve had, even if that person is long gone, at least she existed.

if you can walk and talk, then it’s not too late for you. Baby steps, connect with people. Learning how to do that comfortably can be a scary daunting prospect, so break down your fear to yourself. What is it your scared of? Then tackle the actual root of your fears. Sometimes dwelling can lead to permanent inaction, so if you feel your thoughts becoming circular, maybe you just need to jump. Even a little hop of action can be immensely self empowering.

being able to identify your feelings, then the cause and then articulating them is well over half the battle, and you have a cheer squad here xx

Jafar the Barmecide
Community Member

Gday Folks, it's been an up and down few weeks, but I found a bit of enthusiasm, it's always in the last place you look.

Last month I had an appointment with my Community Corrections Officer at 11:30 but I didn’t make it because I was sitting in the local Station Lock-Up. Police pulled up beside me at 10:45 or so and called me over by name in the main street. The sergeant made a big show for a rookie constable by making me empty my pockets and getting him to frisk me against the window of a supermarket while he stood there calling me a scumbag and explaining to the young cop that I was a dangerous and violent criminal. They even got me to take my boots off so they could check I wasn’t hiding anything in them. They found my meds in a bottle and arrested me until they could verify what they were and that I had a prescription. At the time my bus came I was sitting on the kerb handcuffed in unlaced boots, being laughed at by passers-by.

It took them 3 hours to verify my prescription with the pharmacist and by that time my CCO had reported my no show and a warrant was issued for my arrest even though I was already sitting in a cell. The whole mess was cleared up 4pm and I walked out of there with black bruises on my wrists from the handcuffs I had on for 5 hours. The sergeant had a smug look on his face the whole time and it took a superhuman effort not to knock him out. He said ‘We’ll getcha again one day"

So the spark I need to get up in the morning comes and goes, but the good news is I got a place of my own through the Public Housing Authority and I get the keys and sign the lease tomorrow so I'm stoked about that. Finally have a place where my boys can come and stay. I mean it's pretty humble and basic and the building seems to be full of men like me, I recognise the prison tats and the hyper-vigilant awareness that we learn inside, but it's in a different suburb so maybe the cops will lay off a bit and let me get on with trying to keep my nose out of trouble.

Still waiting on my WWC card and my job network provider isn't so confident now that she's seen my record. As I have to stress, there's nothing related to kids on my form- it's just long.

I spent money I don't have for my second youngest son's 18th birthday, a pair of work-boots in the hope that one day he might need them when he decides to do something other than PlayStation 5 or when his mother has to pawn the PlayStation to pay the rent.

Still here, it's gonna be a good day tomorrow, G'night

Jafar the Barmecide
Community Member

Gday folks

I found somewhere of my own to live in a different suburb where I am more anonymous and can get on with life. My boys can come stay and I am happy about the future again.

My second youngest turned 18 yesterday and I took him shopping for a pair of work-boots with money I don't really have. He was a bit confused as to why but he's been playing video games since he finished school and his mum is threatening to pawn the Playstation to pay the rent. He wants to be a Ranger, he'll need work-boots. Whatever job a man has, he'll always needs a good pair of sturdy boots at some point in his life.

We still haven't talked about the gay thing, but I sense he's close to telling me, we have been spending a bit more time together and I have joined him on some of his video games (don't tell his Mum lol).

Anyway, still here, I will be living alone soon so I anticipate needing this forum more in the coming days.

G'night Folks

Hi Jafar the Barmecide,

I saw your post last night, but was too tired to post right then. I think it was a sensible move to find a place , on your own, in a different suburb.

😸Happy Birthday to your 2nd youngest! I read on your other thread, more about how he's gained useful skills & knowledge towards becoming a ranger. Mind, I don't know how playing video games can help towards that goal?!

I would caution about creating a 'secret' life , you & your son playing video games together, both of you knowing mum does not approve... it's like trying to win the young man over to 'your side', making mum the 'bad guy' & meanie. Wouldn't it be better for her to be onboard with how the relationship between you & your son is? Then she could express support & encouragement instead of seeming to be in opposition?

Given his goal, I wonder if going out hiking & bushwalking, fishing, (ever done fishing?) you know, doing more active things, getting the fitness right up, might work better in the long run.

There was a short film on tele about a ranger in the far north, who had spoken a lot of how the work was, of the many skills he had gained, including learning from indigenous people, about the land & traditional ways. I was very impressed. 😺 If I recall correctly, he talked of learning about bush foods, how to identify tracks in the dirt,, & therefore know what was in an area... ah, my memory! I wish I could remember it all.

I don't know how people begin working as aranger, how or where any training is done. It does seem to me, finding & working with experienced rangers, maybe one as a mentor to your son, while he is learning?

I know, doing things together will bring about a more comfortable relationship, which may give him a greater sense of safety , enough to have the deeper conversations. Oh, patience! You gotta have a lot of that. 😸I agree, he does have to take the lead when talking about his own personal life.

Wishing you & your family all the best,


Jafar the Barmecide
Community Member

Gday Folks,

I have finally got a place of my own and I've been here a few months now. It is great to be somewhere I am anonymous but it hasn't been easy peasy. I am lonely and while my boys have come to stay I don't really have enough to offerto keep them occupied or funds to spend on them. It's a top floor flat of a 3 storey building and it's a bit draughty so when the wind blows it sounds like wolves are howling which scares my ten year old.

I have been advised to lower my meds, so I have but it takes some adjustment. I have a lack of enthusiasm for everything I used to love. Gym time has gone down to once a week and I only drag myself there to feel as if I am not throwing money away but my heart's not in it. I don't have a shed or bike to work on my bike but I get the feeling even if I did I probably wouldn't. Well maybe that's not right, taking the bike out for a spin used to help a lot until the cops pulled me over.

It's good not having to take up other peoples space tho, but I do miss the company, I am so far away from my old stomping grounds that the thought of visiting friends and family via public transport turns me off. I can't even find something to watch on the streaming channels, everything bores me after about twenty minutes and I look for something else.

Things should fill me with joy like i remember, there was a time even walking through the park and breathing made me happy and grateful to be alive because the colour of the sky and the shape of the trees and clouds and the sound of children playing, the smile of a pretty woman walking by. I wish I could be as happy as the dogs in the park.

I also feel bad because it really isn't all that bad, I should be grateful for a roof over my head, I really should be happy. It's not through lack of trying...