Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum



… or something like that.

My thesis topic is melding into something a bit different. I chose the original topic, because I was a little afraid. Afraid of carving too deep, too close to my own bone. I thought if I could keep it about a ‘different’ set of circumstances to my own – albeit that I did experience cheating by a gay dad (now identifying as bi – not quite sure of the reasons for the change in his own labelling system 30 years on, but not my place to police another’s sexuality) on my straight mum – so had a degree of separation. Now the title is this:

‘Home is where the heart is broken’: examining the impact of infidelity-prompted relationship disruption on home and sexual subjectivities.

Hmmm. Now, the main reason I was afraid wasn’t really too much about exposure. I have been exposed, and I am over it. There was nowhere to hide when the affair was announced from the town square to all and sundry! I did try to keep my personal situation away from my academic life, but that didn’t work either. So, here I am. Embarking on an academic examination of home, and challenging dominant discourses (yet again) about ‘home’ as a safe, loving, nurturing environment. Nothing is new here. We have known forever that the pretty picture is often a facade, and not something that occurs in reality for a lot of people. Homes are also where abuse happens, where mistrust, anger, hidden sexual desires and sexualities, etc, etc, etc, lurk. Where the very image of home is turned on its head.



When I briefly mentioned that I was a bit concerned at this being “too” personal, my supervisors were quick to reassure me that they want to keep me safe. Both emotionally, and of course, physically. And they have been very sure to keep me focused on the GEOGRAPHIES of this topic. This is a GEOGRAPHY thesis. NOT a psych one. It is my experience that my homes and my whole sense of place – including every part of my environment, indoors and outdoors – has been severely disrupted. Home has fluid and contrasting meanings to me now. Where it was once a place of sanctuary, a bit of pride, and definitely of love, nurturing and warmth, it teeters away from that towards an abject place of loathing, and place that was desecrated, etc, to back again. My sense of all spaces is now exceptionally fluid. I don’t have a love for or loathing of certain places, they all swing wildly about on the scale, and I can never predict what my reaction will be at any given time. I still have (far less, thankfully) moments in the car when I weep, torn by the betrayal, still. This is the same in my holiday home, local town, in our nation’s largest city, at racecourses around the country, on my farm – you starting to get the picture? To explore and give voice to a group who are so often ignored, or are made to feel that their perceptions of space and place are wrong. To get over it and ‘be normal’. Okay?

It helps. Oh lord, does it help!

So, I am still in the ethics phase of this, and doing well, justification, objectives, research methods, potential risk to participants, conflicts of interest, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, check. Until I got to the design of a semi-structured interview schedule. When I realised I was asking ‘the wrong’ questions, in ‘the wrong’ context and with ‘the wrong’ perspective. NOT PSYCHOLOGY, PAULA!!! I am re-working this, and sweet baby cheeses, it is HARD. Predominantly open questions, with the right focus, and avoiding ridiculous ‘how does it feel’ as a leading and psych kind of leaning. Also, the recruitment of local participants <shiver>! Designing a poster to whip up interest, without pushing any ‘agenda’ aaaaargh.

Along with all of this going on, I am also an assistant to one of my supervisors with her current research. I am really enjoying it. It is an interesting topic, but one we are really struggling to recruit participants for, having spoken to about half the number she originally hoped for. I am at the leading edge of this, as the target group is one I am close to, and feeling a little pressure to produce these people. My supervisor is not putting this pressure on me, it is all myself. Dumbass that I am! Work has also ramped up, with the breeding season upon us. I interviewed seven people yesterday from a shortlist I compiled to share my job – from an inundation of applicants that we did not anticipate – while my boss was overseas last month. The worst part about that was that she came in early in the day, and let me know that a former colleague of hers, a terribly capable person, has let her know that she is interested in the job, that part time works for her. So, the time I spent with these candidates (and there were some great ones) was wasted. My time, and theirs. And I still haven’t got the August accounts out to clients. Luckily, the job applicants do not know this. But, yeah, I hope my boss’s old colleague works out!

Not quite sure why I shared that last paragraph. Maybe I am just doing my usual drainage of the brain. And the tears that still fall at times are related to protecting my heart, letting off that pressure valve. I never used to cry much. I was a tough farm girl. Yeah, I felt stuff, and there were times when the tears fell, but not like this. I think of this blog more and more as that space – the pressure valve. And I know that I have made progress in recent times, because I use it far less than I once did. Or I manage the pain levels far better than I once did. I think it is a little of both.



Whatever the reason, I am glad I made this space, even if it was probably far too late to save what was once a beautiful life, with a beautiful man, that I was beautifully happy with.

And that pretty inane wisdom folks, is all for now.


20 thoughts on “Metamorphmagus

  1. First of all, it ain’t over till it’s over… And it’s NOT over.
    Second I think it’s extremely brave to make your thesis so personal. It is the subjects closest to our hearts that we can discuss and dissect the best. I would say that it will be your art. I know you will make it into something beautiful, just like u.
    Keep telling yourself every day, “just one more step” keep going, and one day you will look behind you and see that you have walked miles. Don’t forget who you are ❤️💪🏻

    • Oh caroline! Holy schamoly! You. Yes. Yes. Yes. I have been told many times that this is where the best work emerges. And MY best work has come from some of these spaces. I don’t feel brave, as such. More just mining what I feel works. And building on a previous (2010) PhD student from my department’s work on spaces of young heterosexual love. It makes sense to do a kind of ‘longitudinal’ study on ‘what sometimes happens next’. And challenge what society thinks happens. That people ‘get over it’ just like that.

  2. Oh, that is a very phenomenal topic for a doctoral thesis.

    I think that you will find it incredibly hard to keep your head straight on this, and if you are trying to do it, then kudos to you.

    • I hate to say welcome, but welcome, St. Elsewhere.

      Masters! Only a Masters thesis, lol 😂. And yes. This has been my worry. To keep it from being yet another roller coaster. But to have enough empathy to do some really good work. Thank you SO much x.

      • Oh….But I am happy to see it being studied academically, and hopefully there will be better insight than the dime a dozen fancy articles on the same topic.

        I hope you do well.

      • Thanks. Honestly? Whilst I do feel passionate about this topic, I know it will make no difference. But I still think it needs to be written. To say this stuff out loud. And it is gratifying that my senior supervisor, who is a world leader in the field, thinks it is worthy and an important perspective to highlight.

  3. Was so glad to read this and catch up with where you are. Your thesis topic sounds interesting but, more importantly, is such an important topic to discuss.

    • Thanks, LPA. I feel it is important. But I am a realist. It won’t make much of a ripple. There is a gap in the literature about this. So that is good. I am addressing something from a fresh perspective. I knew you would understand about the ‘geographies’ – with your AZ town a huge trigger. I stayed and it added another layer to the pain and recovery process. The beautiful holiday home we designed, built, loved, and loved in is one of my key geographical triggers. I love it and I loathe it in equal measures. I also hate being in the maimai (hunting lodge) at the back of the farm. This despite us spending a lot of time and effort trying to cleanse and reclaim the space. Hope you are happily settled back from your holiday home and to Europe xxx.

  4. All I could think as I read this was how incredible you are! Your intelligence, self awareness, honesty, strength, fortitude and grace are just some of the characteristics that are intrinsic to you and come across as I read this!

    It’s crazy that it being a geography based thesis rather than a psychology based one doesn’t make it much easier. When your home and other places that you valued and considered safe are violated it changes things forever. If I lost my home – it would be bad, but more from a comfort perspective. I no longer have the emotional connection to it. And I don’t think I’ll ever have that to any place again- because I’ve seen how quickly that can be taken away.

    Good luck my friend on your paper and all the other thinks you are juggling simultaneously- you’re amazing. An absolute force of a woman!!

    • Blushing, kaye. Thank you for the compliments! I don’t think I am a lot different to most women who have had the privilege of a middle class background, a reasonable education, and being past the midway point in most lifetimes.

      You have the idea right, the change to how infidelity can make you feel about certain spaces, and also your own body (as mutually constituted) is something that most people just. Don’t. Get. I hope I can get this right!

      I feel that the women I have ‘met’ online in the aftermath of an affair that ripped my world apart have all shown an enormous amount of all of the wonderful qualities you speak of here – and you are certainly included in this. There have been a lot of times when I have doubted I would survive the pain. I am incredibly thankful for this space, and these women.

  5. Keep us updated as it progresses! Fascinating.

  6. Oh Paula I just don’t think you’re doing enough 😂 Lady, you busy!! Don’t burn out now, *clicks tongue…end of mothering*
    My final exhibition was hung, other students started to look, I finally got to take a step back and what did I see? Sexual betrayal in all its glory, consciously it had not really registered, but there was my subconcious hung in great big swathes for all and sundry to see. Pah, whatevs though right? If you’re going to immerse yourself in something you may as well do it completely.
    I hope by writing your thesis it will help you unpick some of the feelings you have towards your home, and husband.
    You better hop back too it wonderwoman 😍 X

    • Dear wise owl. Was your final exhibition one with a floral focus? I just adore your work and WILL buy one (or five) one day. I see it being a treat for myself when I find my own space one day. A celebration of finishing!

      Says you. Work, art, fam, nursie … life is a busy fucker! I am better busy. Keeps the crazy at bay.

      I am fascinated by your exhibition. And I wish I was proper artistic. Think it is a superb way of processing the dirty, messy, ripping chaos of betrayal. Love that 💜📸

      • I dunno how I missed this!! You always make me smile Paula. And yes funnily enough my exhibition did have a floral focus – large hangings, 2 metres in length, 1 in width, these were abstract, light prints, which you could walk between and when you came through the other side I printed some very dark, sexual flowers and just pinned them to the wall. Barely scratched the surface of whats going on in this head of mine 😀

      • Ethics application submitted today, owlie. Now I really AM scared. 😲

      • Eeeep!!! It’ll be fine. Just y’know shit getting real!!

      • Ooooo, wish I had seen it, I’m sure with this post-apocalyptic lens I now shoot life through, I would also have read sexual betrayal all over and through it. Bet it was stunning! Even reading this takes my breath away.

  7. If home is where you’re heart is, but your heart is broken… is your home broken? Or do you change your physical determination of home? Like my home is now work because it’s my safe space and my actual home is a mine field of sad…

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