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.