Monday, February 20, 2017

Don't Feed the Fear

I'm nervous about my neuro consult tomorrow.  I know that there is nothing seriously wrong with me, that my condition is not fatal, it is however, affecting my quality of life.  We grew up being told not to waste the doctor's time.
Don't go to the doctor unless it is really bad.
Our parents wore the badge of suffering like it was the Purple Heart. They prided themselves on not being a drain on the system.  Time and time again, we hear the diagnoses of 3rd and 4th stage cancer, if only we caught it sooner...
But we don't learn.
Socialized healthcare seen as a free hand-out and it is rude to take advantage of something given freely.
It is wrong to accept help before you are damn near dead from trying to do it yourself.
We have such a diseased view of our "health" care system's role,
that the symptoms are killing us.
It's the night before my appointment
Those voices are trying to tell me that I'm taking up time that a sicker person could have.
Scenarios of my symptoms being brushed off as not serious enough to look into are circling like vultures.
Having to tell someone why I deserve a higher quality of life, not just a passable existence until my body develops something that could actually end said passable existence before we do anything about it, sucks.
(That was a super long sentence, I don't care. In the words of my friend Jacob Kriger: Deal with it.)
I'm not dying, I'm getting better.
I want help continuing to get better.
I deserve the chance to live a realitively normal life.
I want to be able to work more than 20 hours a week without getting migraines as a result,
or at least have a medication that will actually treat the migraines, and allow me to function at the same time.
I want to not have to leave work early because I can't speak, type or walk straight.
I want to be able to go to school to get a job that I could only work 20 hour weeks if necessary for my health and still not live under the poverty line.
What a line to draw in the sand it is simply to state:
Because I deserve to feel better.

Monday, February 13, 2017

It's Just a Dance

My daughter came to me the other day and told me she was excited because she asked one of her crushes (that's right, she's keeping her options open) to the Valentine's dance and he said "Sure, why not."

Granted the acceptance was a little lacklustre for my taste, but here's the thing: she approached him. My 11 year old, usually very shy, daughter mustered up the confidence to ask out a boy she liked.

Today, after discussing her outfit options for the dance, she mentioned she was going with her friend, not her crush.  "Oh, why aren't you going with him anymore." I enquired.
"He told me he wanted to go with someone he had a crush on." She said with a non chalant shrug.  I was like, "Oh, honey, I'm sorry." And I felt that familiar adolescent heart ache of the unrequited (not that that feeling is reserved for adolescents, but I digress).  Though watching her body language I could tell this was not a big deal to her.  She was perfectly fine and didn't seem to take it personally at all.
"It's okay, I'm going with so and so, she's my friend and she was going to be the third wheel, and now she's not."

I have succeeded in raising an adolescent girl who doesn't place her self-worth on wether or not a boy likes her back.  Holy shit.  That's the parenting mother-load right fucking there.

Sometimes it's important to pat yourself on the back.

Now, to help her maintain that self confidence and independence over the next 7 years.  I got this.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Surprise

One day you are going to be strolling down the street and your most nagging fear is going to walk towards you and you are going to realize you don't fear it anymore.  You sure as hell don't want it in your life, but it no longer knocks the wind out of you or buckles your knees.

One day, after 18 months of taking it one day at a time, you realized how strong you have become.  You went to group therapy, you meditated, you focussed on your art, you drew your friends close to you and let others go.  All of these things, they added up. You didn't even know how much, until that fear rounded the corner, looked right at you and headed in your direction...and you didn't duck into the nearest store.  You didn't turn around and run away.  Instead you breathed, focused on your priorities, kept your loved ones happily oblivious to the fear approaching.  You didn't even imagine the worst.  You simply stayed in the moment, one breath at a time, one step at a time, the words of your children filling your chest with purpose. Then the fear passed right by. You even turned to watch it go. "That's it?" You ask your body. "You're not going to give out on me in a few minutes are you legs?" But they stayed strong, unlike the last time you faced that fear. You wondered "when am I going to burst into tears?" But the urge to cry  didn't not come. Not right away.

It's later, when you realized the enormity of where you came from to where you are now that you cried.  When you knew that from now on you will not feel the need to check the grocery store parking lot, or do a scan of the pub when you walk in. You see now how your life is going to change. You are no longer a victim and this fear holds no more power over you.

You also realized that DAMN you were looking fine, in your swooping scarf, long Stylin jacket, new 'do, a ukulele in one hand and a briefcase in the other.  You were a walking powerhouse of an artistic business woman, with a side of nurturer...and you were 100% your independent self.  You dressed that way for you and you only, you did not wake up that morning and ask yourself what would "so and so" (in the past, a romantic interest) think of this outfit?  You have become whole again.  You just needed an old fear to round the corner to realize it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Taking Down the Tree

My mother showed her love through holidays.  By this I mean she spent countless hours making Christmas crafts with me and  baking with me.  I gave up the cookbook with all those recipes to leave my ex sooner, I wish I had the strength to go back one last time and grab it.  Regret has never been a dominant emotion in my life, probably due to my impulsiveness.  Having both impulsivity and a penchant for regret would tear me apart.  So I chose impulsiveness.  I love my impulsivity, it's why I have done some of the most amazing things in my life.  It's why I travel across the country with my kids, it's why I've slept beside Niagara Falls.  I guess what I am trying to do here is forgive myself.

I couldn't show my love through the holidays as I have for many years. I worked too many hours for my body to handle.  I did not have the energy to bake or do many crafts.  I baked frozen pizzas, chopped cucumbers and fed them baby carrots.  I made hotdogs and frozen lasagna.  Then I climbed into bed exhausted and sore.  I would call them to my room to cuddle before bed.  I tucked them into bed on either side of me and we'd watch an episode of  something silly on Netflix then I send them to sleep.  Weekends were a bit better, we built a Christmas puzzle while listening to Stewart McLean, we made our hand angel wing ornaments, I did take them to see a movie.

You see what I am doing?  I am listing all the things that made me a good loving mother over the holidays.  I'm doing it for me infront of you all, looking for you to reassure me.  I know I should be able to do this for myself.  Today, as I put away the mini tree I had set up in my room days before Solstice, I'm in tears, because I have taken on the responsibility of making every holiday joyful for my kids.  My worth as a parent is deeply rooted in this, and when circumstances beyond my control (or that I thought were beyond my control as pertaining to my unhealthy relationship) create stress around the holidays, I feel like I've failed to provide them with a quintessential childhood experience and the guilt is overwhelming.  Every year, they get older and I think this might be my last chance to give them a great loving holiday.

Fuck you holidays.  Fuck you in your stupid glittery ass.

Okay, so apparently I moved to the blame stage...

Really though, I have put too much relevance on these particular dates and it has created a lot of negative emotions within me.  I have many great ways that I show my kids I love them on a daily basis.  I don't need a fabulous magical holiday for them to know I love them.  This is where I list them to reassure myself:

When we make dinner together and clean up together.  When we cuddle on the couch.  When we draw on each other's backs.  When I ask them what favourite foods they would like me to buy for groceries.  When I make sure that they are representing all four food groups in their lunches.  When I teach them to do laundry, how to scramble eggs, how to tell if meat is fully cooked. When I validate their feelings, when I tell them "I'm sorry." . When I teach them their bodies are their own.  This is how I show my love.

None the less, I miss that cookbook, but I love our new life as our little 3 person family.  Trading that cookbook for a feeling of safety and security as well as my mother's forgiveness for leaving it behind... That is love.  That is love that no amount of cookies and hand painted ornaments could ever equal.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

So Good

I want to write about the marches, but everything has been said in the best possible way they could be by the many speakers and posters at the rallies.  I'll share with you that I broke into tears several times  looking at overhead shots of the crowds.  I shared these images with my children and explained as best I could, why the marches took place and why I too, participated in our small town's sister march. We happened to be watching Bed Knobs and Broomsticks which took place during WW2 and so a timely discussion evolved.  We reviewed Hitler's political tactics and how Trump's tactics are very similar.  I told them these marches gave me hope.  Later tonight as we spent the last half hour before bed together, I wanted them to sleep easy, to not carry the weight of world issues on their shoulders. I pulled them close.

"Last time there was a world leader like this, their wasn't much of an uprising until it was too late.  This time, look at all the people standing up, saying "this isn't right".  We are learning from our past, we're going to be okay."

We are going to be okay.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Secret of Being Fearless In Love

I realized with a bit of surprise that I have become realitively fearless in love. Why am I perfectly fine with the idea of getting attached and it not working out?  Here's why:

I've had many different types of relationships; open and committed. I've had ones that lasted a few months, ones that lasted just over a year, a 6 year marriage, I've lived 5 years common law.  It's always the same: when it ends I just get on with life, I keep doing what I love and one day I wake up and realize I don't miss them anymore.

So I guess the secret is to have a lot of relationships that don't work out then you will have all of them to look back on and realize that a break up never killed you and you are still capable of happiness.

Good luck with that.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Sometimes I tell myself a story.  When I'm tired, sick and cuddled into bed.  When I get a little too caught up in the idea that how I'm feeling now is how I will feel forever.   I tell myself a story of a young woman who had her own apartment and a full time job at 17. She became addicted to crystal meth, kicked the habit, got great grades then quit high school 2 elective credits short of a diploma to work at a bong shop in downtown Hamilton. A city she had only visited a few times before.  She made friends quickly, slept on the couch of the store, the couch of a friend and occasionally the mattress on a crack house basement floor with a tattooed punk and his pit bull.  She met hippies, drug dealers, drug addicts, prostitutes... even a murderer. She showed them compassion and kindness.  One day she met a rapist, he became obsessed with her, so she moved to a city she had never been to before and continued on.  She met a man, married him, became ill with anxiety.  She quit smoking, learned to knit, and started two new jobs, leaving her old one behind.  She changed her diet and did what she had been told was impossible: She got pregnant. She took her boss to the labour board for discrimination when she fired her, and got a severance pkg. She once again packed up her stuff and moved to a little town where people were not shot in the backyard across from her.  She planned a home birth, got a cesarean.  She decided through her experience that no woman should ever be treated by hospital staff the way she was. She studied, she had supportive mentors and while raising two babies and workng part time she became a doula and Childbirth Educator. She was betrayed by her husband,  she asked for a divorce. She met another man, fell deeply in love and when she could not afford to live in her home on a single income with no child support she moved in with her lover.  She created a family radio show, co-produced a charity CD. However her romantic relationship deteriorated, it was unhealthy, so she became unhealthy. She often needed assistive devices to remain mobile, and spent many days in bed.  She went to appointment after appointment and got vague diagnoses. One day, after a particularly troubling event, she decided to leave her relationship. She had no job, no family in the area and she was too disabled to work.  She left anyways.  She moved to a women's shelter, she moved to a farm then she moved to a house in town.  She made some hard decisions for her children and lost some friends.  She learned that her family's happiness would always be paramount to her reputation.  She took very good care of herself, and no longer needed a cane or wheelchair to do daily tasks.  She took a trip she had been putting off for years, a train ride across Canada with her children. She decided she could work again and got a job 3 weeks after. Since then she has travelled to the East coast and writes two blogs.  One, to support other people through sharing experiences and the other, a sex blog.  She never gave up and she thrived on change. She was a fighter.

As I wait for my new online course to confirm registry.  I'm in bed with a migraine and I (just for a second) begin to wonder, can I do this?  Can I change my life again? Can I reinvent myself?

Tell yourself the story of that young girl, my heart whispers.

I did.

Now tell yourself the story of the single mom who recovered from her illness and went to school and followed her dreams of becoming a healthcare professional, then moved to the coast and travelled the world with her skills and wrote a book about it.

I did.

The stories we tell ourselves are the most important stories of all.  What story are you telling yourself?  What story could you be telling yourself instead of the one you are telling now?