Having gone through so many plights and experiencing so much heartache, Douglas Robert Hawtin still lives his life like there is no tomorrow. Douglas Hawtin has fought battles for both his country and for himself, repeatedly taking two steps forward and two steps back at every corner – however, always picks himself back up. He is, beyond doubt, both a battler and a survivor. Rachel Ko writes about his arduous life.
By taking a diminutive glimpse at 63 years old Douglas Robert Hawtin’s strong, calm and content exterior, most would think that he has lived a long and prosperous life. However, for Hawtin, life was anything but this simple. If you peep deeper into his years, he has had to jump obstacles and overcome tragedies. In return, this has forged him into the person he is today.
Born March 1947 in Brisbane, Australia, Douglas Hawtin was later brought into this world by what he expressed as very intelligent and unperturbed parents. He grew up in Ashgrove, Brisbane, having been raised by both of his loving, compassionate parents and his four older sisters. Hawtin articulates that as he grew older, his childhood had a significant impact on how his personality developed because he loved being raised in such a relaxed household. “I felt sympathy for those people who haven’t had the opportunities I had. I think that’s the biggest colouring of my values and my childhood. I appreciate what I was given and feel sorry for the people who didn’t have what I had.” He avers that it fells ‘just like yesterday’ where he could scuttle out of the house to the bus stop around quarter to six to meet his mother after she came home from work. Though he was not wealthy, he states “whatever I needed was available, and it was a good influence.”
I felt sympathy for those who didn’t have the opportunities that I had.
Hawtin attended Brisbane State High School after he graduated from Ashgrove State School. Having dropped out in the tenth grade due to his mother falling ill, he lost all interest in school because pain and worry were the main feelings which cloistered his heart and mind. Afterwards, Hawtin acquired a few jobs, but it was a month after he turned seventeen in 1964 that he made the decisive decision to obtain papers to join the Australian Army. After much military training, he was deployed to Vietnam in 1967 where he worked in electronics throughout the War. When asked what influenced his decision in joining the army, he replies, “Well my dad was in the First War and the Second War, so I knew there was a pretty fair chance of getting into the army and there was no other work in Brisbane at the time.”
Joining the army brewed countless memorable moments for Hawtin, but only one seemed to engender a feeling of happiness within which brought out an enormous grin across his face. “There were lots and lots of memorable moments. But it was through a fellow soldier that I met my wife t be, Barbara.” Hawtin describes this most memorable moment in his life as life-changing. “I was scared stiff and for me it was an entry into a new world. I didn’t know what to expect and I hardly knew my wife. We’d only spent a couple of hundred hours together in the two years, we’d hardly known each other, but I knew that that was a moment that was gonna change my life.”
All those of us who’d served in Vietnam were treated as if we were the ones who caused the war in the first place.
After marrying Barbara, they “created” the two other favourite moments in Hawtin’s life – the birth of his two children. Although this may sound like Hawtin’s story has a happy ending to it, everything comes with a price and not everything turned out the way he expected it to. After returning to his home in Brisbane, Hawtin reveals that the war he played a part in unfortunately left him with a post traumatic stress disorder. This left him in a state where he was ‘very restless,’ leaving him with a strong feeling of guilt. Hawtin discloses that the reason for this guilt was due to the fact that he was only in Vietnam for twelve months, returning home before the war had ended. “It was a very strong feeling of guilt, with all of us that we’d left before the job had been done properly. Then eventually our government withdrew from it altogether and all of us who’d served in Vietnam were treated as if we were the ones who caused the war in the first place.” They were like ‘victims,’ he reflectively pronounces.
Regardless, every year Hawtin marches in the Anzac Parade held in Ashgrove because he feels a sense of pride and a sense of honour to march for those who have lost loved ones in battles. “Over the last two generations, there are very few families in Australia who have not had people killed or wounded in War. I’m talking about the families, the mothers; the sisters; the children. And it’s in honour of the service of their families that I march.”
And it’s in honour of their families, that I march...
Aside from this, his return home in many ways was far worse. His disorder brought more adverse effects which were causing him great difficulty coping with relationships and also left him changing jobs very frequently. This caused him to become a meagre provider for his family which affected them al greatly. “I lost my wife and my children, they don’t wanna know me... they still don’t wanna know me. They felt as if I had abandoned them, when I hadn’t ever left them. Then one day, Barbara had taken them away from me forever.” Hawtin further discloses “I was pretty strongly affected when I came back from Vietnam.” In fact, he recalls: “One of the first things I heard Barbara say to me when I came back was ‘You’re a different person.” “So, we had difficulties communicating during our post-Vietnam marriage. So when she finally left in 1979 and I realised there was no hope for us; “in a sense... I died. I died and it’s only in the last few years I’ve started to come back to life again.”
and I realised there was no hope for us, in a sense... I died. I died and it’s only in the last few years I’ve started to come back to life again.
His disorder also triggered numbness in Hawtin’s heart which powerlessly prevented him to feel any form of sadness throughout his father’s death in 1978 from a heart attack, his mother’s peaceful death in 1983 and his second eldest sister’s death in 1993 after losing her battle against a growing brain tumour.
His ill-fated disorder also triggered numbness in Hawtin’s heart which powerlessly prevented him to feel any form of sadness after his father’s death in 1978 from a heart attack, his mother’s peaceful death in 1983 and his second eldest sister’s tragic death in 1993 after she lost her battle against a growing brain tumour. While he experienced serious forms of sadness during this rough period in his life, he also brings out the bright side of it all which makes him appreciate the actions he’s taken as he ‘wonders what it would’ve been like if things had turned out differently,’ however does not regret a thing.
Curiously questioned about what caused him to ‘come back to life’ over the past few years, he candidly expresses that this surprising turning point occurred after he had a brief relationship with a younger woman call Sabrina. He goes on to describe that while this defining moment in his life placed him in a complicated situation, it later went on to help him discover more about himself. “She brought my attention one day that I had frightened her. I got angry at something that was silly, very picky,” and she said, ‘Oh you frightened me.’ The penny dropped there and it was an eye opener for me. After I had gotten angry at her, I went into a clinic and told them I needed anger management counselling. So the psychologist took me in on that and I’ve changed my thinking completely and eliminated that senseless anger. Now I can get angry when it makes sense, but I no longer get angry when the toilet paper is on the roll back to front.” Through Sabrina Hawtin felt ‘reborn,’ but their relationship was cut short due to her battle with severe schizophrenia.
The penny dropped there and it was eye opening for me.
This was yet another setback in Hawtin’s life, but once again, unexpectedly, he was able to take another step forward into gaining what he wanted to achieve in his life. At this point, Hawtin was near reaching his swinging 60s, but age was never a barrier that separated him from his ambitions. He now passionately draws as a hobby which he states he ‘never expected to do.’ One of his greatest ambitions today is a hope to launch an exhibition in Shanghai for his art work.
Everything happens for a reason... I have no regrets.
Regardless of enduring a million struggles to progress through his life, his desire to achieve new goals and his pride in himself keeps him optimistic. He now readily wakes up every day for a new experience. Starting off as a genuinely blissful man, Hawtin jumped from experiencing happiness at one stage to traumas at another. He has courageously fought battles for his country, and just as courageously fought battles against his own demons.
Through it all, Hawtin holds his head up high, feeling more alive than ever, believing he has truly survived through lurid hurdles no one could imagine. In a final moment of clarification, when putting his whole life’s achievements into perspective, Douglas Robert Hawtin expresses that he has ‘no regrets,’ as he believes strongly that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ What is to be admired by this brave and audacious man is that, despite all the obstacles he faced to defeat, Hawtin stood strong and resilient – showing everyone that there is always hope just around the corner at the end of every nightmare. As horror from the war turned into heartache, this survivor struggled difficultly... but succeeded to continue with life amongst the painful, constant battles he was faced with – illustrating that no walls can impede this lively bloke – stopping at nothing to achieve his well deserved happiness and success.
在历经风风雨雨的人生之后， 何道格的生活像是没有明天似的。他曾经为了他的国家作战过，也为了自己的生活作战过，辗转几番之后，总是替自己留下后路。何道格毫无疑问的，他自己既是一个战斗者，也是一个生存者。 高瑞秋写下他精彩丰富的人生。
何道格1947年3月诞生于澳大利亚的布里斯本，有着非常优秀及开明的双亲。他们居住在布里斯本的Ashgrove 区， 双亲赋予满满的爱给予他及四个年纪稍长的姊妹。何道格明白指出他童年的生活大大的影响了他人格的成长。他所生长的环境非常的惬意 。他非常同情那些没有获得跟他一样有相同机会的人们。他今日的价值观是来自他童年的成长记忆。我非常感谢童年时我父母所给予我的，『对于没有获得相同机会的人们我深感抱歉。 』何道格说道：眼前光景就像昨天一样。我在五点三刻时跑出家门，到巴士站接我工作下班回家的母亲。虽然那时我们家并不富有，但是该有的都有了。这对我影响甚深。
加入陆军给何道格带来不少记忆。唯有一样可从他脸上看出无数的欢乐。那就是透过他军中的同侪认识到他现在的太太─ 芭芭拉。何道格描述到这是改变他一生中的重大事件。我是一个严肃又呆板的人，这件事帮我开了一扇窗，我不知道要期待什么， 带我进入另一个世界。我不太认识我的太太，两年间我们俩只相处几百个小时而已。我们俩个都不太认识彼此，但是我知道这是要改变我一生的重要时刻。
跟芭芭拉结婚以后，两个孩子的出生带来另两个美好时光。这样说起来，何道格应有快乐的结局。但是每件事都是有代价的 。并不是每件事都顺从人意，从战场回来之后，何道格发现他患上了战后恐慌忧郁症。他总是感到不安及罪恶感， 他透露道：他只在越南待了十二个月，在战争结束前就回来了。这就是罪恶感的来源。事情还没完全做好以前，我们就回来了。然后我们的政府就决定撤军。何道格若有所思的说着， 我们这些在越南打过仗的人，别人对待我们就好像我们就是引起战争的人似的。
无论如何，每年何道格都会参加在Ashgrove 举行的澳纽军团纪念日的游行， 对于那些在战争中失掉所爱的人来说，游行代表着这些人的骄傲与光荣。在这最近的两个世代，在澳大利亚很少有家庭没有人在战争中死亡或受伤的。我所说的就是家人、母亲、 姊妹、以及小孩们。对于他们家人对国家的付出， 我的游行是光荣他们逝去的家人。
除此之外，何道格从战场上的归来， 在许多方面来说是糟透了。他的疾病对他的人际关系带来负面的影响，他并经常更换工作，使他无法养家活口。最后我失去我的妻子和我的孩子。他们不想认识我， 他们一直不想认识我。他们让我感觉到好像是我抛弃他们似的。事实上，我没有。然后有一天，芭芭拉就永远带着孩子离开了我。何道格表示，我从越战回来之后，大大的改变。他回想：有一天芭芭拉跟他说，他自战场回来之后就完全变了一个人了。所以自我从战场回来之后，我们的婚姻就无法维系。芭芭拉于1979年离开了我，我了解到我们的婚姻没有希望了。 『在某种意义上，我死了，我已经死了。就在这几年之间，我又活过来了。 』
他的战后恐慌症让他变得麻木不仁，他的父亲1978年死于心脏病， 母亲于1983年平静的去世， 他的二姐于1993年死于脑瘤。何道格丝毫感受不到些许的悲伤。当这些悲伤经验来临时，也带来正面的力量。他开始珍惜这些过程。如果事情变的不一样， 也不要有些许的悔恨。
当问到为了何事又重新活过来时，他坦白的表示是跟一个年轻的女孩莎琳娜短暂的爱恋。何道格表示这段恋情让他处在复杂的环境中，但是后来更让他了解自己。我注意到她，是因为我吓到她。我因为一些鸡毛蒜皮小事而生起气来，莎琳娜说你吓到我了。 『那一分钱掉到地上时，我开了眼界。』 在我对莎琳娜发脾气之后，我赶紧跑去看医生，跟医生说我要接受情绪管理和咨商。我的精神科医生治疗了我的疾病，并改变了我的思考模式，也解决了我的情绪问题。透过与莎琳娜的交往，何道格感到重生。但是由于莎琳娜的精神分裂症，他们的短暂恋情就此告终。