Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trigger Warning: Me Too

I thought I had this #MeToo thing down.  By that, I mean, I thought that it wouldn't get to me.  I thought, I have openly admitted to being sexually assaulted in the past on social media, what will be different about it this time?

For the first 24 hours, I was fine.  A bit saddened to see so many of my friends have also experienced this, but not surprised.  I was annoyed by the odd MRA douche canoe who tried to make it men vs women
...once again, not surprised.

However, at one point I did break down.  Someone I knew had the same abuser as me posted #MeToo.  I broke into tears, because it stopped being a social media awareness action. I had been emotionally detached because I had no idea how my friends were assaulted, just that they were and they were brave for sharing.

Shit got real.  Empathy, not the kind you strive for, but the kind that smacks you in the face and leaves you dumbstruck, that's what I felt.  Because I knew very much how she felt when it happened.
This, of course, opened the floodgates for more unintentional empathy.  I am usually quite good at keeping emotional distance in high stress situations, but not now. Not that the real truth of it came rushing in. Understanding someone's emotions is a whole other creature from feeling them.  I'm not sure how much time I am going to spend looking at my feed over the next few days.

To all the victims being triggered right now:
-You are not weak for feeling awful or triggered.
-You are brave wether you post #MeToo or not.
-Take care of yourselves in the way you see fit.

To those who aren't victims, but want to support your friends that are victims:
-If you want to comment: validate, don't question.
-avoid victim blaming, this includes posting you haven't been assaulted and why you think that is.
-Tell the MRA bastards that are trolling your vulnerable friends to "fuck off."

This is all I got right now.  I'm done for the evening.  I'm going to cuddle up with a book and live in another world for awhile.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

I Should Be Sleeping

I should be sleeping.  I got a cold from my... boyfriend.  So strange writing those words, stranger saying them.  Cuteness aside, this has been a very challenging time for me.

Some healing can't truly be done until you are back in the same situation, but with a positive outcome instead.  That doesn't mean that, that situation isn't going to feel scary as hell when it happens.  It also doesn't mean that magically you are going to heal afterwards either. You have to make the effort through the fear to listen to yourself, to communicate with your new partner and to see it to the end.

So that's what I've been doing. Communicating. When a triggering situation is foreseeable I warn him of how I may feel and act.  I give him ways to support me and things to avoid doing that will make it worse. He listens, he tries.  He restores my faith.

So even though I've got this happy I'm-in-a-new-relationship vibe going on, there's an underside of anxiety and it's more like skipping through an emotional minefield than a meadow.

Every once in a while, after a particularly triggering situation, when I need reassurance that I am worth all this stupid: can't breath, can't talk, shaking uncontrollably, bullshit.  He reassures me.  He makes me feel safe and cared for.

I am not broken beyond wanting.

Not only am I still desirable, I'm desired by a great guy.  One I wasn't even sure if I deserved and waited months before I got the guts to ask him out.

So here's to the next chapter of healing through experience. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I Have No Friends, and Other Heartbreaking Things You Never Want To Hear Your Child Say

I had a heart wrenching talk with my daughter, she was afraid to go back to school because she didn't think she had any friends there (insert that horrible feeling of not being able to save your kids from heart ache). She gathered this because the year books had a place to write down the names of your friends and no one wrote her name (not everyone filled it out). I'm also fuzzy on how she saw everyone's year books, but I digress.  She was in tears and ashamed.  She has been excluded by a bullying girl, there's no denying that.  However, she can also be terribly shy.

 I acknowledged that feeling of being left out is awful, and that it's hard to make new friends when everyone else already knows each other. I told her about my experience moving schools.
I'm a stop worrying about it and start fixing it kind of person, so together we went over the names of the girls she has talked about doing stuff with at school.
"What about so and so?  Don't you draw pictures together?"
"Yes."
"She's not your friend?" I asked.
My daughter shrugged. "She likes my art, she showed me how to draw a fox."
"That's her way of trying to find things in common to share with you, that's how friendships start."
"Oh." Honestly sounding surprised.
"That's how my friendship with Kyle, Kelden, and Beth started, but we weren't close right away. We shared music together and then found out we had other things in common and it built from there.  It took just over a year and we all put in effort. So enjoy art with her, ask her about other things she likes.  Some friendships take awhile to build, but that's okay because they usually end up being good ones."
She nodded and snuggled more into me, I could tell more reassurance was needed:
"What about that other girl, the one you email?"
"Oh, we lost touch this Summer."
"So why don't you email her tomorrow and ask how her Summer was?"
"Yeah, I guess I could do that." Her voice sounding a bit lighter.
"Do you have guys you hang out with at school?"
"Yeah, ______ and _______." She laughed. "They are trouble makers."
"Are they mean?"
"No, they just sometimes cause trouble for the teachers."
"Well as long as you don't join in, in the classroom, you could make friends with them. Sounds to me like there are people who want to be your friends, but maybe you aren't letting them in because you
are shy."
"Yeah, maybe."
(I have seen several kids approach my daughter on the street and say "Hi." My daughter quietly says it back then steps away.) I could tell that it wasn't from a lack of interest that she wasn't making close connections. She has a hard time interacting at first, she needs to ease into it.
"Truth be told," I started. "I've been the popular girl in a big group of friends, but many of us weren't really friends, we weren't always nice to one another and I kinda wished that I was in that smaller group of friends, because they seemed to care about and support one another.  Find people or who want to put time and energy into you, the ones who care about your feelings, and do the same for them. Those are the good friendships."
"Okay." She smiled.
"You think you can sleep now?"
"Yep."
"Good night, sweetie."

The kids in the homeschool community were always so inclusive. They were taught to be by their parents.  My daughter could be her shy self at first and still be invited to play in a game, sit in a group etc. Public school is such a culture shock, where many of the kids are guarded and clique. However, this will teach her how to make friends in new cities and workplaces.  I hope she will come talk to me some more about it, friendship is so important.  Luckily, she still has a really good friend from the homeschooling community that lives up the street. So she won't miss out on having girl talk.

Now, I've written that.  I need to compartmentalize and not take my daughter's feelings to bed with me.  Which is hard.  However, if I take on her feelings, she won't come to me anymore because she doesn't want to make me feel bad.  She is a very compassionate little girl, perhaps even empathetic to a fault.  She has such a kind, sensitive, heart, I'd like her to be able to keep it that way.



Friday, August 18, 2017

Run

It's okay to just fucking panic
and jump ship.
I can skip
The calming meditation that will help me make the clearer choice.
I can listen to that fear,
Like a loving voice
A fear built from the repercussions of meditating
For years
 ...And years
when I should have been running.
It's not a sign of weakness
It's an alarm system
Interjecting
Reminding me
That I am worth
Protecting.
It's two loving, strong hands
Gripping my shoulders
Two eyes staring into
Mind
Shaking me awake
Get out now...
Don't wait this time.












Wednesday, August 9, 2017

All The Posts I Do Not Write

This last month or so has been rough,
 Really rough.

It has also been enlightening.

I see now that I am still living under the threats of another person.
I'm not quite sure how I am going to deal with this person yet,
or shift my perspective to make them powerless over me...
But at least I am aware of it.

My child support has been cut in half so I'm fucking broke,
Which means I'm working way more hours,
Which has me spending less time with my kids,
Which makes me fear this threat even more.

Not to mention the mother guilt.

I started dating again, so naturally, the nightmares started again too.

I saw him. My knees buckled, my throat tightened and my hands shook.
I was a wreck for the next three days.

I'm brittle and cracking a little,
But a wise man once said,
That's how the light gets in

I looked in the mirror and I saw a beautiful woman.

I looked in the mirror and I saw my mother.

I miss my friends.
I have friends I love enough to miss.

There is light at the end of the financial tunnel.
5 more weeks.

I am learning that not all problems need to be faced head on.
That there are gentler ways.

Lying can be okay.
Black and white and grey.
It's all in the tone.

I almost cried at work,
Pricing books I read to my toddlers,
When the future looked so different
And I always thought I'd keep them safe.









Thursday, July 6, 2017

Small Things

When I moved to the shelter, I was petrified.  I couldn't believe what I was doing or where I would end up next. I was so full of adrenalin coffee was not an option.  But it was in the little graces, I found peace.

I picked up a book and read it at night, for as long as I wanted, with no interruptions and no comments from anyone about it.  I did this nightly and it reminded me how small freedoms added up.

I bought myself flowers, flowers I liked and for no other reason than they make me feel good.  Too often flowers and the like were given as apologies and served as reminders of unpleasant situations.  I wanted to break that pattern. So I did, they smelled wonderful, I brought them into every room I planned on spending time in. I put them on the night stand in the evening and while reading paused to smell them.

I brought my kids into bed with me.  We all needed a bit more love and security and the bed didn't seem empty and lonely anymore.  It was an interesting metaphor for how much more space and energy I would have in my life for them now that I was no longer trying to make it work with my ex.

I cleaned and organized things at my own pace in a manner that suited me.  I savoured the fact that I need not consult anyone else about where my possessions would be placed.  My space would be MINE.

I crocheted myself a beautiful skirt.  I deserved something beautiful, I also needed something to keep my hands busy.  It was a bit meditative which calmed my nerves, but it also served as something new, that my ex had never seen or touched.  My time and energy once again was focussed on something for me only.

I wrote. I wrote. I wrote. No one interrupted me because they understood how important writing was to me.  I wrote for up to a whole hour at a time.  It was bliss.

I ate cheesecake. Good cheesecake.  I savoured the silence of the evening in which I ate it, pure undemanding silence that no one was going to break.

I reduced my presence on social media, blocked my ex, unfollowed his family members and close mutual friends.  This was more for stress reduction, not necessarily because they had done anything wrong.  I just needed a break from all things him.

I'd like to say it was a clean break, but it wasn't.  We were on and off for 2 months after I moved to the shelter.  However, it was focussing on these small freedoms (and the realization that these basic acts had become luxuries to me over the last 4 years) that had me ending the relationship for the last and final time.

So, why blog about this now? It's been two years.  I tried having a relationship one year later, but it was too soon and I talked myself out of it.  I have blundered my way through a couple dates here and there.  Practised full abstinence (not even lustful thoughts allowed) for 3 months, mistook an awesome friendship for a possible relationship and have since happily realized we are way better together as friends than as romantic partners.  There's potential out there for something.  I'm not quite sure what, but something.  I want to be able to make decisions about relationships and not panic and bolt.  That said, I want to be cautious as well.  In order not to let your fears rule you, you must first know your fears.

I fear giving up my ability to read, write, create, clean and set up my space as I wish, when I wish.  I fear that I will allow another person to dictate what I can spend my time, energy and money on.

Reading those last two sentences, I can tell that it's not that I don't trust men, it's that I don't trust
myself.  I associated falling in love with giving up freedom.

However, after two years of living on my own and these luxuries becoming daily routines, I can't see myself giving them up easily for anyone or staying with anyone who would make these things
 inconvenient for me.

I have discovered that love can exist without any power or control, that neither person needs to possess the other or demand attention/time/energy  in order to feel love.

Love is a feeling that you have for another person, not the feeling of the other person loving you.

I think I finally understand this.  I can love someone without changing them or myself.  I can still feel love even without their  support and attention reaffirming their feelings for me.  I can enjoy the love for another even if the relationship doesn't suit me.  My feeling of love is non-dependant on the other person's actions,  as such, I can adjust my relationship with them according to my own level of comfort and independence.  Love is not defined by the relationship, or the degree of seriousness of said relationship.

Love doesn't hurt, the need to be loved by someone does.

I'm sitting in bed with my Harry Potter book beside me, my mister noodles mug on the floor.  My room is messy and no one is going to get on my case about it.  I've  been writing for over an hour and I'm going to sleep in tomorrow. I like living this way. I see now that my heart is not going to put any
of this in jepardy.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

I am not here to...

I have found that my whole life people have been giving me advice to be more lady-like, prettier, more attractive to the opposite sex.  I'd like to take a moment to thank my parents for never making that a priority in my upbringing.  In fact, they raised me to be proud of my intelligence and my tendency to be outspoken.  My mother would often brag about what a great lawyer I would make. My father taught me how and where to strike a man who doesn't respect my physical boundaries.  He taught self defence classes in our basement and I sat in the corner and soaked it in when I wasn't actually on the mats with him myself.  When I think back to it, it was never directly implied I would get married, have children or have any traditional role (except when I was giving my mother a hard time and she would say: Just wait until you have kids). It was not our family culture to assume any of these things. That is why as I got older I felt confused and annoyed by people who offered advice on these subjects.  As if for some reason my goals and aspirations would revolve around a male's attention.

"You would be even prettier if you grew out your hair."
"Don't play in the dirt with the boys, you'll ruin your clothes."
"You shouldn't talk so much, boys don't like that."

I often answered "So?"

As a grown woman the assumption is still the same:
You obviously want to be attractive to men.

Dating sites are offering up suggestions for me to be "successful". Which actually means having many suitors.  As in the more you attract the better chance you have of finding a match.  I don't have the fucking (swearing, how unlady-like) time to sort through a huge group of men, many of which may not be attracted to me when I decide it's okay to show more of who I am.

It's not only dating sites that participate in this this women-want-to-be-attractive-to-men, paradigm:

I deal with men who feel like they need to reaffirm that they find me physically attractive after I have stated something political. There are men on social networks trying to let me know I have to stop being so forward with men, that is why I'm not continuing onto third and fourth dates. Why would I want to put more energy into a romantic partner who doesn't find this portion of my personality attractive?


Turning guys off is a fantastic way to save my time and energy.

Why do people want so badly for me not to be rejected?
Oh wait...
Because I am suppose to feel bad when someone doesn't want to make me their mate.
They don't understand that I don't base my self worth on whether or not someone wants to be with me.  Sure, it can be disappointing if I thought there was a connection, but if someone doesn't want a romantic relationship with me, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with me.

It means that they know that I'm not a good fit for them.

Just like I know when someone is not a good fit for me.

It's not personal.

I appreciate not being lead on and thus wasting my time on a relationship that will never work.

It has been suggested that my forwardness is actually just a front to protect myself.  My personality is naturally forward, so it's not a front, but HELL YES I'm protecting myself.  I protect everything I love. Why this is brought up as a flaw and something that should be remedied is beyond me.  Like stating and enforcing one's boundaries is to be discouraged.  No way, it took a lot of crappy relationships and a couple of stalkers to learn how to set and stand behind healthy boundaries.

I get that people are looking for soul mates.  Through many relationships I have found mine; Me.
I am picky about my romantic companions, because my time, my body, and my heart are precious.

I am not here to be attractive to men.
I am here to improve my planet through actions of kindness, bravery and love.
A companion would be nice, but is by no means necessary for me to fulfill my life goals.





Monday, June 19, 2017

Acceptable Behaviour and Other Things I Suck At.

Sometimes I lack inhibition. I think some of this is obvious through the extremely personal things I work through publicly on this blog.  I do choose to keep some secrets secret, if they will hurt others.  I try not to embarrass my kids.  However, I love the freedom of doing spontaneous things without worrying too much about what others will think of me.

Life is short, blah, blah, blah.
Actually, life is what it is.
Death, those last moments of looking back and wondering why the hell you didn't just: tell that person you had a crush on them? Go for that swim? Wear that fabulous dress? Be silly? That is what concerns me.  I've faced the prospect of death a few times now,  and every time it just goes to remind me that nothing lasts forever.  It also reminds me of how ridiculously heavy the chains of what others might think really are.  When I'm dying, I'm not going to pat myself on the back for everything I avoided out of fear.  There's no angel on the other side of the tunnel waiting to give me an extra fluffy cloud because I never did anything spontaneous.  Also, I believe in reincarnation, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't give every life a good go of it, right?

In fact, I want my life to flash before my eyes in a spectrum of colour, laughter, and skin (like one of those foreign artsy movies on Netflix that may actually be considered pornographic, but it's pretty and has subtitles...).  I don't hesitate to strip down to my underwear and dive into lakes, I actually forget that this is not normal behaviour until I review it later and realize that to me, anything that covers the jiggly bits is an acceptable bathing suit.  But that new guy I just started hanging out with may not see it that way.  I also don't hold back on telling people my ridiculous theories, taking a joke too far, making fun of myself and wearing an outrageous outfit for the sake of art.

I talk about sex as casually as I would talk about a recent walk I went on.  I'm blunt. I break out into song and dance, randomly. I like to imagine I am in a novel and that at any moment something extraordinary is about to happen, then I ask people to imagine it did happen...

I've realized I'm a bit of a handful for those who are used to self-restraint.  I think about if the thing I am going to do will hurt myself/someone else, or if will have negative financial effects.  Would I be able to tell someone I did it without feeling guilt or shame?  If all of the questions are answered properly, I do it.

I used to believe as a child that I was writing a story with my life and that one day I would die (wake up) and the higher beings would download the story from my brain and read it like a book.  Actually, I believed this so much that I began to describe everything that happened to me and my feelings about it in PRINT in my mind... all the time. However, I learned about the subconscious mind taking in everything and soon I began just speaking a loud in my head as a way easier way to record my experiences. The point is, I believe and have always believed that life is a series of stories and that I can choose what kinds of people, places, things, and experiences I can make this book up of.

Every once in a while someone rejects my personality as too strong or unpredictable.  Just for a minute or two I ask myself if I should tone it down a little... Am I getting too old to be behaving this way? Then I see myself trapped in the last moments of death and I imagine the type of people who have chosen to have me in their lives and to even celebrate our mutual weirdness.

 I'm not tempering myself.

I am having way too much fun.  Maybe someone else writing their own life story would like a character like me in theirs.





Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wonder Woman

I watched Wonder Woman and something crumbled in me.  I realized that I couldn't love the people closest to me.  My children the exception. However, to people who are physically close and people who are blood related, anyone I feel there is any obligation to love them,  I have become so cold, so hard.  I only saw them for the emotional energy they would need, I saw them as points for potential conflict and heartache.

See, I wasn't broken by my last love, I was built.  I am so built, that the more scared I am, the calmer I look on the outside.  I can look a friend in the eye and say to him calmly:

I'm totally triggered right now, I need to know that we are cool.

Then as my chest feels like it is imploding, I can stride to the washroom, take 3 deep breaths, tell myself I'm safe and carry on.

I literally lose the use of my legs and the ability to speak while out at a pub and I smile, and write notes about it with emoji faces.

It's so easy to hold it together, when you are too scared to fall apart.
Show no negative emotion.
You are safer when you look calm.
Don't relax and don't feel loved.
Love is the illusion that keeps you where you get hurt
Don't let your guard down.
Love the people who are too far away to hurt you.
Love the people you owe nothing to.

I can very calmly describe horrific things that have happened to me.  My vocabulary increases exponentially,  my posture pristine.  I cross my legs, fold my hands in my lap and use proper terminology:

trauma, triggers, adrenalin, fight or flight,

disassociation.

My body tells one story while my insides scream another.
I desperately need to break down in front of someone who loves me.
I need to crumble into their arms and
I need for them to not get angry at me for it.

I know some people who think that I am invincible,

I used to want to be invincible,

Now I want to be strong instead.





Sunday, April 30, 2017

Subconscious

Everytime I start dating I get nightmares.  Not even serious dating, even just me putting myself out there saying "I'm ready to meet someone I'll really like." then going on a dating app, kind of thing.

In these dreams everything starts out great, I'm with a significant other (I usually don't know them in real life, they just feel like my significant other) then they slowly morph into my ex, until I'm staring at them thinking, "No, I didn't go back... Did I?  Why did I do this? How did this happen? How do I get out now?" Then I wake up deeply disturbed. Part of me knows that this is just left over fear, but another part of me wonders if this is really my intuition telling me that the latest guy I met for drinks actually has some of the same traits as my ex and I'm going to end up in another unhealthy relationship.

So I read into everything, and even when the person "clicks" so well, just the slightest thing reminds me of my last unhealthy relationship and I'm done.  That said, I try to honour myself as much as possible,  my reasons are good ones to be cautious, but do I have to react by cutting it off completely?

Apparently.

I want to be able to relax, watch things play out... not panic and run for the hills.

I want someone I like to make it past the second date.

I want to be healed.

I suppose I'm not as ready as I thought I was.

You know what? Fuck that shit. It was ignoring my intuition that got me into such a bad place to begin with.  I trust it now.  As much as I've been taught almost my entire life that hunches and intuitive feelings are bullshit, it almost always turns out that my intuition was right and that something was "off".

Part of my healing is learning to fully embrace my intuition.

I embrace you, guts, in all your viscous glory.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dear daughter,

I always want you to feel like, in general, the human race is good and our drive is to become better. However, I would be doing you a great disservice if I did not point out where we need improvement. At this time in your life, when your body is in metamorphosis you are vulnerable to the persuasion of companies who profit off  your insecurities about your body.  They do it  by creating a feeling that you are not good enough and more recently, by using advertising campaigns whose purpose is to give some of the empowerment you will crave after believing you are not good enough.

You are my beautiful, smart, joyful girl, who is capable of amazing things, but unfortunately,
to corporations you are not a multidimensional human being with feelings, you are a consumer. Essentially, you are someone they can target and make money from. I give to you the commercial that had a very young me pinching my sides and being dissatisfied with my appearance, wishing I could just cut into my hips take out inches of skin and sew the sides back together.  This is Kellogg's "Can't pinch an inch" marketing scheme:


Now 30 years later, after profiting off of the idea that women should be slim, effectively teaching young women that their "inches" were undesirable, Kellogg's has decided to jump on the positive body image band wagon.







Kellogg's literally contributed to the very body issues that they are describing in this video. They made money putting women down, now they are making money building us back up.  At least they are bringing us back up right?  This is where social responsibility comes in.  Has Kellogg's formally taken responsibility for it's contribution to body image issues? I went to investigate their website myself. Though they discussed accountability and integrity under the heading of "Our Values", I searched the website and did not see an official statement, apologetic or otherwise about their "Can't Pinch an Inch" campaign.  If the company can't admit to their responsibility for harm done, they lack both integrity and accountability and really are just in it for your money.

Dove's Real Beauty campaign:



 Did you notice the women burning their bras?  This was a demonstration done by feminists, is has actually become iconic of feminism. In fact a slang term for the word feminist is "bra burner."Dove literally used feminism to sell their product and market themselves to feminists. However, the advertisement calling for models for this campaign had unrealistic expectations for women in their
commercials and photo shoots.  Flawless skin was just one of the perfections the models were
expected to have, nymag.com reported during the peak of the campaign in 2010. http://nymag.com/thecut/2010/06/dove_seeks_women_with_flawless.html   

So how can you be sure that you are purchasing from companies who aren't trying to profit from your insecurities?  You could buy as local as possible from small companies who don't run large advertising campaigns...  But more importantly, before you buy these products you could ask yourself: Am I buying this because I feel like I am not good enough with out it? Or am I buying it because it helps me celebrate the things I love about myself?  If your answer is the first one, you don't need it, take time before buying it to realize that you are whole and beautiful without it. If it's the second answer, then go ahead, but ask yourself first: is there an amazing experience I'd rather be spending this money on?

If you ever do find yourself in front of a mirror critiquing your body, please remember, that these negative voices in your head telling you that you are not good enough, were put there by thousands of images made by companies that need you to buy your beauty. I give you full permission to tell  those voices and the companies responsible for them to go f$ck themselves.

Love,
Mom




Monday, March 20, 2017

Porcelain

It's 4:30 am.  I have awoken from a dream.  My eyes opened with a sinking sadness. A feeling of deep loss.  In my dream, I was packing my little girl's dolls into a bin and thinking about which one's she would like to keep to rediscover when she was an adult.  Would it be the flashy porcelain ones, or the ones she played with til they were worn?  All the while, the room around me morphed into my childhood bedroom.

This day of packing away dolls is not so far away.  The knowledge that I have been taking our time together for granted is sharp in the pre-dawn darkness.  I have a little girl who writes me emails telling me that she misses me, thanking me for hanging out with her and trying to make plans.  Here I am spending hours talking online with people, who I don't doubt love me, but will never love me like she does.  They don't need me like she does.

I'm not one to sit in these discoveries of sadness and guilt.  I am not one who believes that feeling bad about something is a good for motivation. I used to, but then I spent too much time feeling guilty and not enough time fixing things to move on.

As mentioned, we email eachother, I will set aside time to do that more often. The warm weather is coming and I'd like to go hiking with her again.  I used to read to them... But now I wonder is she too old for this?  Has something else slipped through my fingers without me noticing?

Perhaps I should just ask her what she would like to do (what a novel idea).

The 4am wake up call of despair, ugh.  It happens to the most resilient of us.

It's times like this that I am tempted to take her from her bed and lie her down next to me and hold her little hand (now almost the same size as mine) as she dozes off.  Perhaps I will.

Every step begins with now.




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Think Again and Again

So I thought I was good, but apparently passing someone on the street is not the same as being in an enclosed space with them, where they are between you and the door.

When I recognized him, I tried to shrug it off. But my insides began to shake.  I focused on my homework, but nothing would stick.  I was sweating profusely.  I felt incredibly alone, I got dizzy my hand tremors were making my writing illegible.

I want to make something VERY clear. I don't think he will talk to me.  Not only because of legal repercussions, but because I'm pretty sure he'd just rather move on. Logically, I know I am in not in any danger.  But when your body is used to acting a certain way around someone, it doesn't listen to logic.

It took me 20 minutes to realize that I don't have to feel this way alone. I messaged a good friend, just to share my feelings.  She asked me if I knew anyone there.  I knew one girl and one of the servers.  So I got up on my shakey legs walked over and asked if I could sit with her.
"My ex is here, and I'm scared of him. He won't do anything."
"Yes, of course you can sit with us."

I went back and clumsily packed up my school stuff.  I left my tea dishes behind. Then sat with her and her friends.  I attempted to make conversation, but it was obvious my mind was elsewhere, none the less, I felt safer and I am grateful for that.
The server I knew approached me.
"Sorry I left my tea stuff there... I just wanted to get out of the vicinity."
He looked at me and nodded slowly: "I know."  There was a lot of compassion in his voice. I nearly cried.

(Why do I cry when someone is nice to me in a stressful situation?)

Anyways, he left and I walked home on two fairly strong legs, which means I composed myself.  All the while I tried to take my power back. My thought process went like this:

You were disabled and unemployed with two children and you still left him.
He is aware that you chose to face the risk of poverty and homelessness rather than to continue living with him.
You left even though you still loved him.
You stated healthy boundaries and when he didn't respect them, you created more and when he pushed those ones, you enforced them legally.
Your children thanked you for leaving.  They thanked you for ending contact. This alone proves you did the right thing.

You are not a victim.  You are a fuckng powerhouse of a woman who can come back from anything.

It is him that should feel uncomfortable in your presence, not the other way around.  (Not that I would wish what I felt on anyone else) but really, looking at it this way:

Why am I scared of him?




Sunday, March 12, 2017

Focus/unfocus

I got my high school records today in the mail... It's bad.  I totally forgot how much I slacked.  That said it had been a rough two years physically and emotionally.  I may need to change my plans for going to school in September. I only need 2 electives for my OSSD, no big deal, I could have those by the end of May.  But, my maths... Yikes.  My last English class was alright, but the one before it I skimmed by.  I may need to do some upgrading.  I'll be calling Georgian to ask them what they think. That said, there is a certificate offered by The Beryl Institute for Patient Advocacy that I'm interested in getting and it is necessary for my profession.  There's also several online communication courses I think I would benefit from, such as dealing with difficult people and group dynamics.  I could be doing these while upgrading my English and math.

A couple of years ago, I would be panicking right now.  I would be so focussed on only one way of doing things that I would feel like I failed if it didn't turn out the way I wanted.  Whereas now I see it as an opportunity to explore options. Which I'm pretty excited about.  I've wanted to volunteer at hospice for awhile. I also wanted to get my CPR and First Aid certification and I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea of trying to fit in these courses while attending full time school.  I might be able to spend the next year and a half fully exploring online edication as well as getting hands on experience, then deciding a different college program may better suit my needs.

I have realized that with a simple shift of perspective, road blocks become an opportunity to do some off-road exploring, rather than a reason to turn around and go back.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Single or Satisfied?

I like being single.  I don't even really think about the fact I'm single anymore, despite what my Facebook  #reasonsImsingle diatribe may have given the impression of.  Though it was really just a celebration of my oddness, but I digress.

Here are the things that I am thinking about instead: What do I want to do in life and how am I going to get there?  I'm taking online courses, going back to school and planning for full-time college in the Fall. My health has become a priority as well so daily exercise is taking up at least 30 minutes a day.  Creating healthy meals also fills my mind, so I'm focussing on the nutritional value of foods. I want to be able to handle the stress of school, so I'm meditating every night.
My kids are getting older, taking time to play cards games and go on walks with them is a priority. I enjoy creating, so I purchased a ukulele and I "jam" along to my tunes with it.  I jump on my son's mini drum set and practise basic rock beats to rebuild my motor skills after years of poor neuro function. I get together with good friends; we talk, we joke, we have deep philosophical discussions, we listen, we support, sometimes we play music. I believe in every voice counting, on social media and otherwise, so I read, post and comment on social justice issues.

Every two weeks or so, I go out and do something fun with someone I find attractive that I don't know very well.  Not dates per se, just enjoying their presence, getting to know them. These are potentially good friends and I don't mind riding that line until they (or I) decide otherwise.

I'm not really looking for a relationship.

I know, pretty cliche. I'm sure some singles are sick of hearing it.  However, in order for me to be willing to commit a specific amount of time and emotional energy, it has to feel GOOD.
I think it can be described in this way:
When I see them I genuinely feel a rush of happiness and warmth. Then as we are hanging out I feel a level of comfort comparable to when I take my bra off at the end of the day. When they touch me... Well this isn't my sex blog so I'll leave that part out.

This GOOD feeling doesn't happen overnight and I don't have large amounts of time/energy to build that with someone at the moment.  I do, however, enjoy a different types of relationships (when I say relationships, I'm referring to the way two people relate to one another, not the traditional romantic perspective).  The ones from afar, where the person is just as unable to commit as you are.  There's getting to know them, no pressure, no expectations, no intentions other than communicating to share because you both honestly enjoy it.  These are becoming my favourite.  When your visions of the future don't currently include a serious romantic partnership, it's nice to have others around you who are on the same wavelength.

When I was 13, someone asked me how I saw my future.  I told them I would be living in a small cabin on a lake, writing everyday. There was no husband or wife in that vision.  I see now that this was a unique mindset for an adolescent girl and I am happy for it, it means that I saw myself as completely content as a single adult.  Here I am, just that.

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?


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Cross Section of Worthiness

I watch Grey's Anatomy.  The drama part is whatever, but what I love is the medical part of medical dramas.  I love listening to what organs they are working on and looking them up in my anatomy study cards.  I love watching House and guessing the diagnosis.  I love being able to call out for more blood when the pressure is dropping, knowing what unresponsive pupils could be a sign of.   I love naming the tests they will be doing before they do.  I love scolding them when they don't wear masks in burn units.  sometimes there is a ridiculous obstetrical episode, in which they give birth to one baby while keeping the other inside for longer and I'm shaking my head at the risk of sepsis and the subsequent hemorrhage and I am proud of myself for knowing this.

Some of the most fulfilling times in my life were in hospital rooms.  Working alongside healthcare providers.  We'd just "click" and there's this dance, this silent dance where we knew exactly how to make space for each other to do our part in keeping the client and her baby physically and emotionally safe.  Nothing beats that feeling.  Not even writing.

So I look at these characters and I think to myself, "If only I wasn't sick.  I could be a healthcare provider.  I could work with a team and save lives."  Then a strange and (sadly) unusual thought comes to my mind. "What if I wasn't sick?  What if I could get better?  Completely better?"
This thought process may not seem unusual to you.  To me though, I haven't seriously considered the idea of being cured, in years.  Feeling better, yes.  But being completely free of this debilitating illness? No.  In fact, I stopped making appointments because I felt better, not cured, but better than before, I figured that I should just be grateful for the amount of good days out numbering the amount of bad.  I didn't like the stress the tests put me through (or that I was actually just having a hard time coping with).  I also didn't want to seem like I was complaining.

However, that spark of hope I felt when I asked myself: What if I really could get better?  The way my life opened up for me in my mind... I realized that as worthy as I thought I was of having strong emotional health, I obviously did not feel the same about my physical health.

So, as such, I will be making an appointment with my Nurse Practioner to talk about the struggles I am still facing despite my near miraculous turn around.  I deserve to be healthy enough to follow my dreams, or at least I deserve a chance to try to get healthy enough to follow my dreams.

I'm ready.