Sometimes it sticks like shit to a blanket and hurts like hell. The death of my fellow Kiwi, media personality, model, judge and most importantly online bullying advocate, Charlotte Dawson sent shivers down my spine 0n Saturday. I’d met her (but very briefly) years ago when I was still in the land of sheep n’ L & P and then editing a teenage magazine. Charlotte was working on a story with our sister mag and had come in for Friday night drinks with the girls. I didn’t know much about her past life in Oz – the scandals and all that had followed her home. I just thought she had nice hair, a big smile and one of those voices that instantly commands attention, husky sexy and loud. That was before the birth of my son. A lifetime ago. The next time I saw her was at a lunch here on the GC for the launch of her second book and biography Air Kiss & Tell. She was still gorgeous, glamorous and yep, pretty brash but I like that in a girl.
She signed my book to our book club (yes, we really do have one) and if I’m honest I read the first few pages and shelved it. On Saturday, I found that book and finished it. I felt I owed it to her. Don’t let the first chapter about some stupid blow up doll going missing put you off, this is actually a bloody good read. It’s an insight into the woman who not only battled demons later in life but why she became the woman she was.
Her biological parents were a couple of young teens from Hawera in the North Island who bumped uglies and ended up pregnant in the ’60s and if you’re watching Love Child, you’ll know it wasn’t a good time for unwanted pregnancies to unwed, young mothers. She was adopted into a lovely family who already had two daughters of their own. Her adopted father, an orthopeadic surgeon, died when she was one. In her book she doesn’t hold back. Nothing’s off limits. Not the sexual abuse she suffered as a young child at the hands of a neighbour from church. Not leaving one of Auckland’s most prestigious girls’ schools because it wasn’t for her. Not aborting the unborn baby to her husband Olympic swimmer Scott Miller because it clashed with his hopes for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Not the time she got caught up in a scandalous sex tape fiasco in NZ. Not the harrowing, constant and vindictive abuse she suffered in the media of her homeland where she’d returned to try and rebuild her life after the breakdown of her marriage. Not the public humiliation she suffered when her boyfriend at the time was arrested for white collar crime (and later acquitted) and then dumped her. In her memoir, there’s page after page of things that make your heart hurt. A woman who was constantly searching for something perhaps she didn’t even know what it was herself. Poignantly in one of the last chapters she says she had hoped to ‘feel cherished, loved and respected by just one more man’ before she died.
To blame the pathetic and vitriolic beasts who constantly berated and belittled her about her looks, her personality and her lovelife on an almost daily basis is to give them the credit they so clearly wanted. I refuse. Perhaps she shouldn’t have given in to those who loved to prey on her vulnerability calling her ugly, pathetic, evil. Telling her to go and hang herself. To take her life. How people – and it was mostly other women – can be so vitriolic so filthy and hurtful towards our own species is so utterly bewildering. Last weekend wasn’t the first time she had tried to take her life. It had happened before – she’d taken pills, mixed alcohol. But this time, she wanted to get back at those who had hurt her. The depression Charlotte suffered at the hands of those who attacked her, who had hurt her in the past was so deep felt that not even she was able to switch it off.
She never had children – partly because she never found a man she felt she wanted to procreate with and also because medically she wasn’t able to. Her mum suffered dementia and died some years ago and all she has left are her two sisters and their families who it appears from her book, she adored wholeheartedly.
When I was very young, we lost someone in our family to depression. They took their own life in a similar way to that in which Charlotte did. I guess it was a little bit of anger mixed in with a lot of confusion and mostly sadness that no one wanted them anymore. I never got to know that person but I believe they would have been an incredible influence in my life, with so much to give, share and pass on through a generation different from their own.
If you can get your hands on a copy, do yourself a favour and read her book. Understand the life she led. The pain she felt. The woman she really was.
Rest your weary heart, Ms D. I’m sorry you felt it was the only way out. Love n’hugs, LadyMamaG xox