I think it is appropriate,
starting this post with a quote from Shakespeare. We are, after all, moving to
a town dedicated in part, to his honor. I’ll take a moment to confess that one
of my aims in moving home is to attend more theatre productions. I want to be
able to reference his works, and the works of others here, as comfortably as I
do other things. At this time, I appreciate his comedies, and always have; the
romances took a while, only because their slow pace… Well, it seemed like everybody
spent three scenes questioning the air; what, oh what in the world should they
do, while the object of their affection is… literally sitting right behind
As I’m heading for forty, I’d
like to get to know his tragedies, since I know I will probably never take in
the histories. I think I could probably gain perspective if I sat through
Coriolanus, or Titus. Hamlet probably deserves a revisit as well as Macbeth. I did
not take the opportunity to get to know Shakespeare during my younger years,
having needed time to live in fiction, fairytales, and fantasy. My mind was
just too… something, for Shakespeare.
Moving on, I would like to say
I am in complete agreement with him on the above statement. As you well know, I
like considering situations from every angle I can find; I often get into a
rant and then completely deflate myself with a solid opposing argument for the
other side. I have just found that this prepares me in ways I can’t even
It goes beyond boundary
establishment and maintenance. A longer quote I like to help highlight what I
“Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I’m a great optimist. but, when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst-case scenario. I call it ‘the eaten by wolves’ factor.’ If I do something, what’s the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves? One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about, because I have a plan in place if they do.” Randy Pausch
I like that Pausch states this
is his pattern, even though he is a great optimist. I just think that we
can be optimists living this way, because there’s a plan for what worries me. Even
if I don’t have a complete plan, acknowledging the potential removes the option
to be caught unaware.
There are minor and
unbelievably major motivations for this post. The minor ones are what I will
touch on today, as a way of organizing my brain.
I recently had the good fortune of line editing a novel,
soon to (hopefully!) be published in Canada called, The Minimalist: Who is Not
in Favor of Minimalism, and I was amazed to find out that I, too, am a
minimalist. I think my minimalistic creed came from three factors: a) I have
moved a lot, thus divesting myself naturally of things that would increase the
moving effort b) I have never really been financially secure and c) there is
less disappointment when ‘things’ don’t mean anything.
Touching on the third point for a moment, things do have
value to me. There are some material items that I would be truly upset over
loosing, but outside of my own ‘loses’ I have known two people to lose
everything to a fire, and far too many more who have nothing they want to begin
with. On those two extremes, the work I’ve watched the people do on the affect,
has left me with almost no choice but to get there before it happens to me.
My sis and I were robbed when we lived in Toronto. It was
within the first year of us living together on the main floor apartment of an
8-plex on a busy Toronto corner. They entered through our bathroom window (well
hidden in a very accessible, also well hidden, old school fire escape) creepily
organizing all our bathroom things outside on my smoking table in precise,
organized lines. Being on the poorer end of life, we literally had nothing to
give them except my sister’s tip-money she hoarded in her bedside table. They
found that, and nothing else, when they completely tossed our rooms. At the
time, I had material things I liked, and a lot of them were ruined, further
devaluing their worth (on top of not being stolen lol). The feeling that
incident left us with was… hollow. The violation so cerebral, and not… I don’t
know, like they came in and ransacked our place, but we were safe, and my
sister lost maybe $250. But opening the door for months afterwards involved
loudly banging before loudly working the key in the lock and shoving the door
open as I jumped back as far as possible (an astounding half-foot, I’m sure).
Anyway, taking life lessons to the extreme, if I were now
broken into (knocking on wood), I would be confident in knowing they received
no satisfaction. If they ruined my stuff, well, I have insurance! The violation
would still be felt, I am sure. But, having felt it before, I wouldn’t be
shocked and shock is the thing I hate most, I think.
Do you feel this? How old are you, and if you do feel this
way, how did you come by it? I recognize that my experiences have resulted in
me being a minimalist, and that makes organizing my life easier, for me. Moving,
(not to belabor the example) is another area where I am prepared. We move in a
month and a half and I’ve booked the movers, our place (I think) is rented, I
will be calling services next week which means… when moving day arrives, all I
will have to manage is my people and
the people moving us. Pretty cool, no?
The value of giving yourself the room to go deep, and like
Pausch says, explore the ‘eaten by wolves’ factor’ would probably surprise you
at how comfortable you ultimately, end up being.
Wanting to stay light-hearted and quick, I want to end this
on a linguistic note. Another means of being prepared is using language that
accurately relays what you want to say. Working through ‘zones’ lately, I have
reacquainted myself with the myriad of potential emotions a person could be
feeling in combination. Knowing the vast lexicon available to you can also help
pave your path of preparedness. I was once humiliated by a professor, but my
fault entirely. During my cocky, early-twenties I was in a philosophy class.
The prof asked, “what do you need to make fire?” Immediately I shouted out… “Wood!” Feeling pretty
fucking smug at my speed, my camping days rushing back and inflating me with
confidence. I can’t remember their exact response, but it was essentially,
preparing to go out in the rain with an umbrella is like just needing wood,”
turning away, thinking I would have learned my lesson at this point. I… a true
stubborn bull continued, “IRREGARDLESS, you said ‘what do you need to make
fire, and wood is needed.’” In sum, they turned around and asked me a series of
scenario-based questions in which a fire took place, without wood anywhere to
be seen; an oil spill catching fire on
water, a brick house burning to the ground, tar pits, plastic. It was one
of the most educational moments of my life folks.
Be prepared. Consider a few different things before charging
ahead. It will help you be more confident and believable in the end.
DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO, UNTIL YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. unknown.
again. Today I am reflecting on age, and how it is showing itself in new ways –
dare I say, giving me a moderately refined quality? Unfortunately, there is a
disjunct occurring; the situations I’ve grasped the changes in are ones that
are almost as old as me. Thus, what I have come to expect myself to do, is no
longer a guarantee. Which is interesting when your successful interactions are
based on knowing how to navigate ‘you’ in relation to others.
Side note: I would like to say again; my interactions are so overwhelming sometimes. I try to be my prepared normal for acquaintances, or friends and people who aren’t… all in. Because when I am balls to the walls, I can be a lot to handle. Teams, for instances, are hard. When planning to join one, I literally allocate the day we play, and a few hours on either side of the game for that event. I’ve experienced two instances in my life where that allocation grew, other things became included in the relationships, and overall it was OK. But if I don’t prepare for that potential, I don’t know what to do. Then, things change (season, schedule, location) and I adapt to those changes. But then sometimes, I find myself face-to-face with a misinterpretation so grand, and literally incomprehensible to me until hours later, that I inevitably mess up. I used to try and recover these moments; now I put them down.
Side note: I just had a realization talking with Aisha – I have described what
I am willing to do to move forward with people (friends, family, duder,
etc.), but I can finally, succinctly say what is required from ‘you’ for the success to be guaranteed; don’t
argue with me about a point, when I don’t argue with you. Do you know what I
mean? For instance, Aisha lived in a naturally cluttered environment when we
met. I had learned by now not to come at her, force her to change, berate her,
or ignore the fact that this is an absolute need. So, I explained my needs,
what would work as a ‘messy’ zone (there were several, actually) and that I
would appreciate her considering it. Being the amazing brain, she is, she didn’t
resist these requests, in her space no less. She thought about it. She considered,
essentially, if her messy habit overruling my need to be clean and organized, especially
when I was willing to take it upon myself to maintain it, was fair. Eventually,
by continuing to consider whether certain habits were beneficial to her
(because, ultimately, she could see why I needed things clean and organized: it
functions better) or not, her habits have changed, a lot.
Her, and my
changes are good. For my part, ones I have honestly worked towards. Signs I’ve
divested myself of my anger seem to be splaying all over the place. The anger that
consumed me for so long is almost non-existent. Situations that would have had
me bubblin’ and brewing, now inspire a tiger-like yawn; moderate interest, but the
‘it’s not my problem’ has become engrained in my very muscles. I will
acknowledge that this does not mean the feeling of disruption, of confusion, or
of indignation are not still present. I am not a monk – I still have work to
do. But that anger was dirty, vile and cruel.
My need to
be heard still surges and settles, in an invisible, tsunami-like way. This has
been a fun one to watch; raising and eight-year-old, with someone ten years
younger than me, who sometimes seems fifty years older than my friends’ (a year
younger than me) partner/co-parent (a year older than me), and hearing the
differences and similarities in the advice handed down by all our parents. These
voices are all at such different stages, asking for different things, though
all technically focused on the same subject. My voice feels like it has
patience now, like a wind that has changed its course. I used to feel it
billowing in my lungs, my throat to small, constricting the words and feelings,
causing an inward suffocation. Now, it stirs in my brain, having moved its
location so that it’s release is possible. When I can and do speak, I feel like
it carries more weight, like a strong west wind.
When I feel
overwhelmed in a space that is not mine, I have found a new, quiet spot, where
I can cross my legs and invite the ‘angst’ to sit so we can find a way to keep
the ignition from occurring. That poise feels like the ghost of a ‘jo’ past, having
come to inhabit my subconscious and get us the rest of the way through this life.
these changes, I have arrived at a spot where I woke up and my mind was back in
that twenty-one-year-old headspace, a scary place, without my knowing. I hadn’t
earmarked the changes my maturation would cause in my guidebook. I felt so out
of sorts. I didn’t know me, and my guidebook seemed to have a water mark blurring
feel so distant from people, like I am floating away without this safety; like
if I don’t tether, I will disappear. Sometimes I can’t even feel my heart beat I
get so quiet. What’s happened is something changed, that is hard to describe
but a ‘for instance’ includes not realizing how really honest thoughts would come slamming into place with a
finality I am not ready for, no more pleadin’ the fifth.
people complain about x, I had already divested that thought and owned the
concept of y, but now… I feel like I am at z. Y was already a lonely place. I
do welcome the honesty, the solid understanding of where the players stand,
and… the benefits I can see coming. But sometimes realizing things about your
tribe, or community, or culture is hard, especially when you’ve committed to your
change is that regardless of what I am battling, whether I have had time to
process in my normal way or not, I am somehow, unassisted, already coming up.
call-to-human-connection has about two speed dials now, discluding my family. This
is a momentary pause I think, because of what is possible when we move – frankly,
the magnitude gloriously overwhelming. Not that the list ever really consisted
of more than eight or so, but the number’s decline has been such a natural
With this change
though, I no longer have the ability (or want?) to hyper-focus on friends, but
now I take in what feels like millions of strangers who are dealing with their
balance to understand a growing-duder, Abomb, and me and whoever else is all-in with us. I watch these strangers strive
for time, relationships, self-care, quiet time, ability to express themselves.
When my brain pans-out, my view can not help but consider how having to learn
to move away from what oppresses you is so counterintuitive to us, because our
oppressor wears the sneakiest mask yet. Not a sheep, or a granny; but people
who are ‘making this province great again’ by literally destroying it with such
speed, such thoroughness and planning that my paranoia is cranked to ten.
that means to you, seems so tenuous to me. What has helped me feel confident balance
exists, albeit in flux, even while my world is changing, is watching A-bomb
with duderonomy in the evenings. From the moment I joined their nightly routine.
While he and I have a thing, a connection with communication, what I watched
tonight was awesome. A mother’s ability to restore balance, to help lay the
groundwork for understanding our own balance is an incredible gift, and, an
comes from knowing you are good, just
as you are. But, knowing something innately hard. If you are neurotypical you may often feel like you are ‘a lot’ to
handle. If you are expressing a personhood others contest, you probably feel
like ‘a lot’ to handle. If you have emotions, you may honestly, feel like you
are ‘a lot’ to handle. If you just feel lonely, you too, probably feel like too
much. But we aren’t.
This is from an Instagram account I follow, ftm pride, and was a share
account. It has been a long time since these feelings have come up, but… I am
moving back home. I am interacting with family in significant ways.
Reconnecting with old friends. There is change, big change, looming. Things are
going to be different, new boundaries agreed upon, old boundaries reviewed.
For instance, my BSLF has been amazing during our ridiculously
non-stressful week of house hunting. Providing coffee, hosting us for dinner,
providing a space the child to run free for a minute. We can balance the old and
new realities, and I trust her to accept my baggage, as I do hers. She and I
had a conversation today where she really did an amazing job at using neutral
pronouns, or my name, in reference to me. I love her because she made sure to
pause the conversation in order to receive praise on her (one day) of amazing
effort. The struggle, the balance, is trying to reconcile having to deal with
the shared moment of joy being unable to withstand the weight of hearing my mum
and realtors call me she (x20 in a forty minute conversation), of getting in
the headspace of being a MOH (Maid of Honor to my butches who – like me – did
not know wtf that meant) who doesn’t wear a dress, of getting my period, or,
knowing that when I sat with her, at their table in the two hours we were there
on the weekend, she and her fiancé explicitly referred to me as she/her
sixty.seven.times. Essentially every 1.79 minutes.
Because of who I am, I put that back on the shelf, because I
am so proud of the effort made. And, I remember that this my choice, and has
been a quiet, private development. So, I celebrate that phone conversation, and
These things, while important, aren’t necessarily things I
understand. So, I find myself missing the conversations I used to have with someone. My ghost-of-past-me is
whispering patience, whispering they’re coming, but I feel like I went
through the wardrobe and lost the door to their side. I need the connection
with this someone, I don’t know how to get it.
I have a
calm relationship with responsibility, because I had to learn to like it. I
don’t love being a law or rule abiding, good Samaritan all the time. In fact,
there are days where I wish I could be a curmudgeon, walking around and just
being whatever I need to be, and excessively so. But that’s not me. I’d rather cover
my ass then get in trouble, but the lengths I seem to have gone to assure that
– for the most part – seem overprepared, even for me.
instance, since the last post, what, a week ago? We not only got over the loss
of ‘losing’ the house we wanted, but found the best, most amazing house
possible one week later. I accepted the responsibility for how this would flow,
when the idea was conceived. I prepared and now, signed, sealed, deposit down –
it’s ours. Very few bumps; emotional, mental, generational, or otherwise.
Literally, so smooth, and now all those celebrating, are doing so with quiet, confidence,
and gentle joy. It’s lovely.
simultaneously been dealing with serious dysphoria in the last three weeks. I
thought I could walk a line – people who ‘don’t need to know’ and people who
do. That sadly, does not seem possible. So, I have done something I never do –
I pushed the thought away. I am not in a place where I can take that time, to
prepare, coach, open, and be vulnerable to someone who is so… unaware of the
burgeoning situation that the anger, sadness and confusion I’d have to filter
for them, seems like too much, right now.
allowed that. It hurts a bit, being so good at calmly putting my needs aside.
And please know I am not saying this to sound like a martyr. I can be very needed. Many, many needs are still
being met, but I can rant, and need a trillion reassurances; I have been in
scary places because of my anger, need to be heard, need to be recognized. I am
thirty-six years old. I am trying to say; I am learning to appropriately
prioritize everyone’s issues as well as mine.
Age has smoothed
my edges, the process leaving me a bit weary. I heard this weariness in someone
else’s voice. On the CBC the other day, the reporter was speaking with someone
about the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. I can’t find the link,
although, I now know I can go through and read
everything that happened on the CBC in a day!! Which is besides the point –
the point is the guest was asked how they felt about seeing a burkini on the cover of S.I.
Their indignation was minimal, but the sentiment was, this is my fucking normal, how mind-blowing can it be. I should
tell you that this person was Muslim, highly educated, a part of the fashion
world, and Canadian. I completely understood why that was her reaction.
asked, ‘is your normal being portrayed in an appropriately mind-blowing way to
someone else’ is so immediately othering, it takes your breath away. I said to Aisha,
it would have been refreshing to hear what her thoughts on the socio-religious
and socio-political impacts of the issue could be.
to reconcile that your normal is mind-blowing to others is why phone calls to ancient
friends can be hard.
how insulting it is when you, in whatever space you take up, are being judged
by someone who… is just… I don’t know, notgood. I feel so insulted when I
realize I am worried when I am out with my family, that my son will have to see
the hate I receive because our life is mind-blowing
enough to cause someone to spout hate, or point, or stare. I used to feel
suffocated by the number of people, who for whatever reason, wouldn’t or couldn’t
accept me; my age, my weight, sexuality, gender, hair, clothing, job or friend
choice, everything has always felt… unbalanced and judged.
days where this is still a necessity. Less so, now that I have the body I
always saw in the mirror.
realized that the disjunct between my self-perceived confidence and intellectual
value, or, general social value and how others take me in is what I now need
age to soften. When these perceptions are off, it vibrates into my very
is like a net. Sturdy enough to hold me together, but well, when full some fish
escape. When I say this, I mean: defending my decision to move, my ability to chose
a house, know the important details (I am
a property manager…), figure out a mortgage estimate,
remember the routes and appointments, or groceries for that matter and continue
to be confident in summa, I can not also manage my gender, or other insecurities
that are routed in my normal being so different.
part of this reality is, when we stay ignorant, and allow others to also, the
level of insult people endure quietly because they are forced to see themselves
as ‘lesser,’ their normal obscene, results in abject worthlessness. From one
end, I suppose we could say that “what I do affects so few people, and they are
close friends.” That is true. But, on the other side, you really don’t know. You
don’t know the depths people are swimming in.
I want to share something with you, my favorite IG account @creating_thomas. He posted this beautiful piece the other day, and it captures the heart of someone who’s normal to some may be mind-blowing, who most of the world may hate, if they new his ‘secrets.’ I love his words, and pictures – he is a daily source of beauty in my world. I hope you enjoy.
“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Oh, holiday Monday. I remember your yester-years, those
casual carefree days, hitting the snooze button and drinking an extra pot of
coffee. I remember you from our childhood days, those teens years, early
twenties – all the way up to last year, really. Fond memories for sure and, you
know, to be fair, I turned the table a bit and stopped working for someone
else, so you may be confused. An ordinary Monday sometimes feels like you’ve
made a drop-in visit, and then… work knocks on Easter. It’s strange, I know.
So, I am very grateful for the normalcy of boy-yo running
home on this beautiful, warm, sun-filled evening. He’s now ensconced in the
arms of his ma, who is perfectly portraying five or so characters from The World of Norm. I love watching them in
these moments. The good and tough evenings, the laughing, cuddling, even the frustrated
cries. I love watching the light move over their faces from the kitchen window.
Dude’s eyes are drooping, but he’s obviously reading along silently, word-for-word
but his resistance to sleep is not as strong today.
As you know from Aisha’s post, This
Morning’s Sunrise, we had an eventful weekend. My mum’s four-day foray
was a whirlwind. We had duderonomy all week AND weekend, which was amazing, and
in my mind, why I had 50% less stress than if he had been away. We may have found
a house while hunting. But I’m far too superstitious to share those details.
What I want to work through here pings close to what Aisha is
starting to poke at when she says,
“I’m constantly learning
about the many ways we, as people, function and relate to each other and how
quickly that unity can turn to disconnect, even if only caused by something as
subjective as our perception of the situation or the people involved.”
This concept of unity and disconnect, especially regarding family, is one I have grappled with for as long as I can remember. To save you the details, just know that this visit had a mature (I thought) and unique set of parameters I was curious to explore, after years of trying other style combinations. One of them being my more upfront approach to my daily life, as you may know. Specifically, my intention towards being a better and more honest person, ability to express needs, allowances, boundaries, and all that. But that means things have shifted in my relationships with people I don’t connect with daily, which in my exaggerated brain have now become something that I am convinced seems like a clandestine undertaking on my part.
A specific example of a shift is that I am on the autobahn of raising a tiny, intelligent human – so things move fast. In general, it means my ‘needs’ in interacting have massively shifted. Broadly, my life had always been about adults, in whatever stage they were at. Independent, usually intelligent, autonomous adults. Now my life is about both adults and kids who are all thinking, learning, growing, shifting, and expanding together until our time evolves to look like what our grandparents and parents are (maybe) now enjoying with each other. Translated, I mean that until duder is thirty or so, we three are strapped into this ride together until he decides to take the “I’m autonomous now” exit.
So, we (thankfully) now have adult-friends, kid-friends, friend-friends slowly stacking onto side a. On side b… well, let’s just say that my biannual family adventures are resulting in tectonic-like shifts because all our needs are now at completely different stages. My needs, while I don’t understand the breadth, have changed. I don’t know how to explain what they look like or where they begin and end. I don’t know if they are about me, outwards; or about outwards into me. I don’t know if they are permanent, or maybe, the ground will swell, and they will shift back. All I know is that for the most part things feel different.
Reflecting on this, and consequently the stress I experience when hosting visitors, these shifts seem fated, and in many instances potentially anticipated by others. Parents acknowledge when their children become parents, and roles shift, making space for the new people. Similarly, as friends age and begin to date ‘outsiders,’ the original group expands, bringing in a transient demographic. This is natural.
I would say, it’s not so natural for me. I don’t think it has occurred to my ma yet, either. So, I become a stress-bag. No, joke. In fact, in moments of insecurity I genuinely believe my mum will give up on visiting for a while. My discomfort during her visits used to be explosive (talk about mental health cues). I would cry the whole visit, looking for assurances and stability there was no way she could provide. I would hate leaving or have a meltdown if we started discussing something I wasn’t prepared for. What used to make it work though, was that we could sit and work through the conversation, she was patient about my ‘growth.’ We saw eye to eye enough that we could commiserate over how similar we perceived an issue and come up with grand plans for fixing it. We have amazing plans for educational reform, social services, medical, political overhauls – you name it, we got it. We just never looked at ourselves.
Then, my maturation and experience of divergent realities from most of my kin, piled on top of the pile and things got fuzzy. The generational, and time, gap finally made a mark on us. She said it enough this weekend, so I’ll say it here. My mum got old; my stress became ingrained and apparent.
I want to go back to the concept of responsibility versus predetermined outcomes or unity versus disconnect. My mother showing up, in grandma mode was awesome, but every other moment she excused something because she is now old, instigated a shift. Last night, we heard running around upstairs. I was exhausted, had to be up early again, for a drive, again, and smiled wearily at what I thought I may find on the last night my mum was here. Well, my eight-year-old was responsibly re-tucking himself in (night-light, sound-maker, stuffies in formation), while my mother was laying in bed confused about the alarm on her mobile phone and uncertain about waking up on time. I tucked two people in. Then went to bed.
I am solid with this transition. I have known my whole life mum would come to me in her geriatric years. I am grateful I can give back, a small token for the layers of (perceived or otherwise) failure and success on my part. One of the things I have had time to do in preparation, is learn how to make compromises, how to people manage – on my good days. I maybe don’t do it well, because honestly, I only ever have one or two other people close to me at any given time. But also, boundaries and compromises aren’t necessarily comfortable, and when I attempt to create them for everyone, so we all get some of what we need, it can get frazzled.
Compromise can be broadly defined so I’ll give some examples. One. Dude-magoog has trouble sleeping some nights. The reasons are between us but suffice to say we’ve had to do a lot of compromising on check-ins, time he goes to bed, pre-bed routine, and after weeks of trying to be firm, a lightbulb went off. I want to preface this by saying I am not a great bedtime parent. I am ready for him to go to bed, and don’t really get the multiple-check-in-after-the-first-one requests. But, because of where he’s at, he thinks they’re great. The problem is he stays up waiting and waiting and waiting and then is up all night. Me being the final-face before sleep was a situation that sprang up and surprised us all. So, his needs versus my, ‘just go to bed’ mentality, had to be quickly reconciled so the scale didn’t tip over. We finally stumbled on a great compromise – he gets a second check, before I go to sleep, on Sundays (or, Easter Monday). Sometimes, you just have to go to bed. But, sometimes, it really sucks when things are over and you feel overwhelmed or happy and excited, or whatever, and you just need an extra check.
I want to draw your attention to, is our willingness to compromise and continue
to find the best solution with our kids because they are learning to be their best self. We are instilling lessons
about self-respect, boundaries, and good decision-making practices. More than
that, self-care, and self-monitoring. We inherently understand what we need to
give up to successfully raise kids; time, sleep, privacy. We choose to have
kids because we are ready (for the most part) to do this, in one way or another
– no matter what that looks like to someone else.
does that stop? The willingness to continue seeing things from the others perspective
so you can stay on track. Does it stop for everyone? I know a mother who, to
this day, calls all four of her kids daily, visits monthly (so, is not home
often!), babysits, goes on vacations, and invests themselves in helping her kids
raise her seven (or eight) grandkids. Lovely, no? Don’t think that my mum is
not invested in family. She is very committed to her mother, being present in her
aged years, transitioning from home to nursing home. This is firmly where she
wants to be, and I am in no way judging that decision. It is what she needs,
and I had to come to terms with that eleven years ago. She is available to me via
phone, text, letter, and travel. This was a lesson that was carved into my brain
with a corner chisel. Deep, slow, and measured… a distancing that was forced to
be accepted; like breaking up with someone you still love, because they want to
be with your best friend. My mum will (in the kindest meaning possible) ‘get around
to us’ when she is ready to spend more time in Ontario.
Being subject to enforced separation is not new to me. My mother is notorious for her 1-3 pm nap schedule (worthy of its own blog post), my sister left home without a way to contact her when I was ten, ma moved to Nova Scotia, blah-blah-blah, the list will be on paper eventually, I’m sure. In hindsight, I suppose I took exceptionally well to the, “you wait here until I get back” conditioning. In the “non-absence-absence” I feel with my family I think I tried to stay 23-year-old me: agreeable, quiet, unassuming (also banshee wailing with confused emotional needs). I did this so that they’d… I don’t know, recognize me?
can see now that that was, well… uh… bad and am thankful for being on this side
of that lesson now. But, as I said to my Madre, I don’t think she realized that
this whole time she was encouraging me to change, the change wouldn’t be
controllable, or reversible. So, I was stuck trying to figure out how to
explain our speed bumps (too many to list, but consider every geographical,
generational, genre-based, interest based difference and you’ll have begun to
cover it) to her, but had to pin that to tackle the interrupting that was
taking place during the conversation. We literally had to institute an “is it
my turn?” policy before speaking our point. But, I’m willing to do that,
instead of just ignoring things.
is hard and when, like a parent bird, you push your babies out of the nest, you
need to be ready for them to come back looking different. In time, they may
come back stronger than you – or still dependent. They may not come back for days;
they may build a nest next to yours. Who knows? I haven’t pushed yet. I am not
getting this from actual experience. I am getting it from thinking about what
people need and what they want, and whether those things can coexist. What mine
looked like, and obviously, what duder’s will look like when it comes.
others when you are trying to take time for yourself (grief, growth, whatever) is
not easy. Considering others when you have had to forge a lonely path, is not
easy. Working through the things that tie us up, is not easy. Making boundaries
and expressing real needs, is not easy.
I distance myself most often from people based on one principle. I get confused why my perceived list of expectations is seemingly much more exhaustive than others. Knowing it is partially self-created, I am not looking to point fingers. I am trying to figure out what the heck I’ve been doing. Remembering a longer list of details than the nuances that are recalled about my life, being one example, and further, being forced to hear their details repeated. I don’t forget, and even if I were to forget, they would upset – tables turned, if you knew as much about me and forgot a tidbit, I’d get over it. Genuinely. The grey zone of gatherings and commitments is a different expectation I haven’t quite grasped. Having important plans cancelled is confusing, and forces you to wonder if the repairs you’ve attempted to make to the disappointments you’ve caused, haven’t worked. But then again, you know it isn’t about you, per se, so the cancellation request is granted, and you put your hope on the shelf. Because how could you ask, when it costs them more?
So, unity and disconnect, perceived expectations. This is starting to take shape. Let’s add a final detail. I don’t know when an appropriate time frame is for getting over it or having to get on board. When to modify or raise the expectation to get on track. I am only learning to ask for things, or refuse requests, in a calm, logical, considerate way. One that is respectful of the recipient’s time and space, and includes what I honestly (bare minimum) need to make the compromise worthwhile.
requests or admissions may seem out of the blue, I supposed. But I keep
considering ‘you’ after you’re gone. I allow myself time to consider and
process, which means I had to get comfortable revisiting something in a conclusive
way and am now here to approach you with it.
instance, I finally asked my mum to stop being “HELPFUL” when negatively
commenting about my hair, weight, look, clothing, because well, she is not a
potential partner so her input isn’t helpful
if it’s counter to what feels good and attracts my partner to me. It is
contradictory and negative. I have had to move out a notch on my ‘belt’ with my
sis, hoping its enough space for her, finally.
do I mean? Ok, here are random statements and my internalized response:
worry you are overwhelmed, that you aren’t ok, and I don’t know how to help you I either overly defend, get angry, cry,
lie, fall apart, or… manage a good conversation about how I am doing, and we
can look at my new reality
are always saying you’re unhappy, you don’t get enough, you can’t do x, y, z I get confused hearing this, feeling like
I don’t talk about my stresses unless we are together, which is usually for
eleven to fourteen days a year. And the odd phone conversation where I can mask
the heart palpitations.
just don’t feel like I belong here But I have waited for my family to piece
back together in an archipelago of sorts, made up of grandkids and partners,
evolved from the small islands that drifted.
guys, unity and disconnect; in or out of the cart.
I am now an adult with a big brain who is working hard on integrating my care-taker personality with my hard-line-boundary marking, compromise making, parent-self, who had to build and scrap a few (many, who am I kidding) models of what a ‘unit’ was to me. So, I inevitably changed, didn’t stay the way I was thirteen years ago, so now she worries I am experiencing foundation issues, that I am not ok. I am ok, though. I just don’t look or sound like I did. Because there are important things we aren’t addressing, things that changed.
Speed is a theme here, but I mean the speed that is determined by what stage your relationship is at – in time. This abstract relationship has a serious impact on physical relationships. It can take over connections between people. We don’t have patience, because we are moving fast and don’t have time to fill ‘you’ in. Ma comes in for four nights (I go to bed at 9:30…) and three days, so I am JACKED on trying to come across as ok. Why? Probably because my major concern is convincing everyone I am ok, now that I am honestly ok because I want to make room for that elusive quality time.
am seriously contemplating writing a manual for how to navigate my family
depending on your proximity to the players (obviously for secret, internal
consumption only). Namely, because in my own head I get ridiculously caught up
in the nuances of the private, important secrets that I try and navigate with
and for people I have a long history with. To answer part of the original question,
it isn’t only subjective factors that affect unity and discord. Having too much
information can be detrimental.
made a few big decisions this weekend and set hard lines down. I’ve shared some,
other’s I just can’t (here, or otherwise). Some of them make me sad, seeing the
immediate ripple cascading down the corresponding timeline, shaking the foundation
just a bit. Others are freeing, and empowering, and may lead to some cool honesty.
I don’t know who in the world is not vulnerable when sensitive to, aware of, and trying to facilitate the needs of any other, without also being sensitive to subjective mistakes. Unless there is an ‘is it my turn’ policy, interpretation can be difficult. That, friends, is when we need the storm. We need things to tumble and shake loose so that fresh buds can sprout.
My ending question then, is this: what, if any, relationships have you stopped working at being tied to that surprised you. Was it gradual; did you resist? Is it final? I am working through a lot, obviously, but mostly because I like to feel resolve. My present state is not affected, majorly, by the ruminations so why not clear the ol’conscience, right? As Aisha said, why not challenge ourselves to reflect more?
Since starting this piece, we found out the hopeful-home is now off the market, the owner feeling everything was going to quickly.
are on a fast train baby, so if you’re on it, buckle up.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. Steve Jobs
Ah, Sunday. Good morning to you, you overcast, chilly day.
Sundays have become a favourite day of the week for me. Duder is usually away with his dad until the early afternoon, so Jo and I occasionally get the chance to sleep in a little bit and the normally bustling, busy street that our house sits on is actually… quiet?
This is an unusual occurrence in a typical week for our family; somebody usually has something on-the-go, somewhere to be, something to do… So we’ll sometimes try and pack a few things into our Sunday afternoon, considering it’s the only real “free” day we have to do anything fun with Broski. Most of the time though, he’s pretty wiped from his weekend away, Jo and I are feeling like we, too, need a break after a busy week — so Sundays usually result in a quiet, relaxed afternoon and evening at home.
This weekend has obviously been a bit different. As Jo mentioned briefly in Go back?, we had their mother staying with us for a couple of days so we could make the day trip to Stratford to house-hunt. Overall, I suppose it went well; Duder was great, as patient as an eight year old can be, and tackled what would normally be a “hang out with dad day” turned “5 hours of driving and boring meetings day” with the maturity of a teenager — still having blips of boredom but, in the end, being a relatively respectful, polite and well-behaved kid. For that alone, I am eternally grateful.
I think that the adults that were involved in the day, believe it or not, had more of a struggle than the bored kid. I have had a hard time all weekend; the driving, walking, getting up and sitting down, attempting to tackle stairs in potential homes to see whether or not I can realistically manage them — and, as much as I hate to admit it, it takes me a longtime to adjust my living to newcomers. It’s a fault of mine that isn’t often an issue; Jo and I don’t have people stay with us much and I’ve had nearly the last two years to adjust my habits to mesh with theirs, and truthfully, when I have to stay with other people, I have no problem doing things “their way”. When it’s my home, however, and my routine — sometimes I can get a little sticky about it. It’s not even that I’m unwilling to adjust! I just need longer than four days to do so.
So, in recognizing this as a major flaw of mine, as well as taking the time to reflect on the weekend; I was kind of a miserable cow. I got short with Duder on more than one occasion, my patience was practically non-existent, and I ended up doing some things I probably shouldn’t have (ie: climb a 14-step staircase, twice) out of the desire for some space. I’m really not entirely sure what the issue even was, guys — I usually try to be far more agreeable than I was this weekend, but something about it was just… hard. I am the first to admit that, frankly, I have a bit of a short fuse. Not in regards to my temper — I’m usually pretty even keeled and don’t get angry at much, but to put it in layman’s terms: I have a shit ton more pet peeves than most. It makes me think of the recent surge of people admitting to their utter disgust and aggravation at the sound of people chewing (also a pet peeve of mine); but I have the same reaction to a lot of things; actions, habits and behaviours, that even I’m unaware of until I’m almost vibrating I’m so annoyed.
I don’t need to tell you that this obviously causes problems in my interactions and relationships with people. I am particularly sympathetic towards Jo in this regard; the amount of patience I have for them and their habits, tics, quirks, etc. is infinite. Additionally, they hold the unique position of seeing me in a parenting role and observing the areas where I struggle with Duderroo, but also the instances where I can dig deep and find an immeasurable capacity for tolerance towards him, regardless of how many times he and I have had to have the exact same conversation (pet peeve two). I realize that, from the outside, this ability to self-evaluate can look relatively effortless, and I concede to the bias that I have towards the two most important people in my life. Why can’t I find even a portion of that for people outside of my immediate familial unit?
I ask myself this question a lot, especially on days when I’m feeling particularly snappy. My irritation and annoyance are emotions that I find very difficult to disguise and this disadvantage has a propensity to manifest in the tone of my voice — I, admittedly, have a proclivity for sarcasm. Jo approached me with this earlier in the week, having noticed a change in my demeanour and attitude and I have since recalled that I had to address the same issue when I was last prescribed medication for my ADHD (as covered in my last blog). Jo mentioned that they think I have just become more assertive, which, in my opinion, is entirely uncharacteristic of me, and that it was just going to be a matter of them adjusting to the shift in my personality. While this may be true — I don’t suspect that the things I’ve had to accomplish and the list of potentially uncomfortable situations I’ve had to put myself in to do so would have been as successful had I not found this… “tenacity”, if you will — I tend to forget that sarcasm is a life-long defence mechanism that I have been tirelessly perfecting for twenty-six years.
When I’m feeling insecure, my normally light-hearted, playful, humorous, though sometimes backhanded satire can quickly become caustic and hostile. Though I never have the intention of offending anyone or legitimately hurting their feelings, I notice the blatant similarities between my behaviour and that of the quintessential bully of my childhood. I have vivid memories of my mother sitting me down, quickly mopping up the puddle of tears I’d turned into; quieted my uncontrollable sobbing after the mean kid that lived across the street had angrily bulldozed me into a rose bush. “People who bully others; people who put others down are only doing it to boost themselves up”, she’d said; and I think she was right. I mean, it’s been proven time and time again that the majority of people who pick on others suffer from low self-esteem, or have negative feelings about themselves for one reason or another.
I don’t consider myself a bully and I know that my sarcasm and the defences I put up are not malicious. I used to be the type of person that would insult my “friends” as a means of “showing my affection”… I know this practice seems to be today’s norm, with a new “Roast Of…” premiering on a regular basis, inflicting physical pain on others being a recurring theme even in “kid’s shows”, and, one that really grinds my gears: prank videos — and the terrifyingly high number of adults creating said videos who are now involved in child abuse/neglect/exploitation lawsuits, all for the “enjoyment” of their subscribers.
[ side note / random facts: apparently, over five million youtube videos are watched each day. I’ll save you the math and just throw out this number: one trillion eight hundred twenty-five billion — which is a very loose estimate, but is the rough number of views youtube receives in a single year. In 2015, prank videos alone accounted for 17.7 billion of those views. ]
I think the normalization of abusive language, obscene and abrasive behaviour as a show of friendship and/or endearment as well as our desensitization to it, and acceptance of it as appropriate interaction within our society overflows into countless other areas — the doofus that is in charge of running our province, and the other doofus in charge of our neighbouring country are both perfect examples of what happens when we, as a society, laugh off offensive and inappropriate behaviour. In saying that; on a smaller scale, I realize that I have also been desensitized to the level and intensity of sarcasm that I use when I’m feeling threatened, overlooked, unheard, etc. and that those feelings lead me to behave in a way that doesn’t necessarily speak for who I am otherwise. And I have to admit, moments are coming up more and more often that make me wish I could find some way to teach this capacity for self-reflection on a broad scale. Imagine what the world would be like if we could eradicate the concept of ego and, instead, people weren’t as resistant to acknowledging their flaws. When we aren’t feeling self-conscious and defensive of traits that we perceive to be “less appealing”, we are less likely to project that onto the people we interact with — and when the feeling of being “lesser than” no longer exists; the covetous emotions like jealousy, envy, greed, etc. are also quickly disqualified. In my case, I get my knickers in a knot when I believe that someone else is perceiving me as less than. Whether this means not including me in discussion, interrupting me (pet peeve three), brushing off my input, etc, etc.
It’s ridiculous, right? I get antagonistic because I’m not feeling confident in my position, opinion, physicality, whatever… Then project that onto the people I think are most likely to feel the same way; this weekend, for instance, that included Jo’s mother, the realtor we worked with and even Duderroo, at times. It’s a lot easier to be sharp and terse with others, blanketed under this predetermined (though inaccurate) belief that those people are opposed to you for some reason, than to take a moment to sit back and recognize that the only person responsible for your feelings of inadequacy is you. It takes some serious mindfulness to be able to notice these things in the moment, but I’m trying to at least recognize my trip ups after the fact — like having negative feelings towards Jo’s mom, literally with no cause other than that she gets nearly all of Jo’s focus when she visits and we spend the majority of our days together; so I was jealous. Still had nothing to do with her, but I twisted it around in my mind to look like she was being too demanding, or whatever. Or, when we spent the entire day walking around, getting in and out of cars, etc. and the only person who checked in specifically on my back was the realtor so, irrationally perceiving that my pain levels just “weren’t a priority”, I proceeded to trek up and down as many flights of stairs as possible, it seemed. I wish you could see me rolling my eyes at myself right now. What a cry baby, hey?
(I also want to add in here that this previous statement is more than likely false; I guarantee that Jo checked in on how I was doing physically on more than one occasion, but there was a lot going on and when I fall back into old tendencies — specifically, dissociating when I sense tension, get overwhelmed, feel anxious, etc. — I almost “black out”, per se, and my memory and awareness of what is happening in the moment gets convoluted. So; I wanted to express what I was feeling at the time to give you an accurate and honest image of my perception of the situation, but also nip any criticism in the bud.)
There was a lot of tension swirled into the super-exciting-but-overwhelming combo of flavours we had going on. Having had a schedule mapped out a couple of weeks in advance (Jo’s doing; no surprise there), we felt reasonably prepared. This plan was kind of unexpectedly kiboshed at the last minute when an exciting part of our day was axed, which was disappointing, to say the least. I’m still trying to figure out how to sum up my thoughts on the delivery of that particular information, but it’s bubbling around in my brain the way an idea does just before the proverbial light bulb illuminates. The elusive Eureka! moment is coming, friends, I can feel it — when it does, you’ll be the first to know.
The new plan supposedly meant that we were going to be able to zip through some houses quickly, break for lunch and be home hours before we’d originally expected, but also meant we were starting the day sooner and, therefore, needed to hit the road a bit earlier. Waking up at six thirty in the morning is really only ideal for one person in our house — me — and even then, I have to be the one choosing to wake up at that time. I used to have a habit of throwing alarm clocks; hence why I no longer have one. The house we had set our sights on ended up accepting an offer a few days before we were due to drive up, which was a bit of a downer, we were quite ahead of our new schedule nearly the entire day, so there was a lot of idle, sit-around-and-wait-for-the-next-one time (though I will say, our realtor took us out for coffee and lunch, which was very generous and left the four of us feeling well taken care of). The first house we walked through was adorable (and, based on photos, our number two pick), but tiny for the four of us; the second house we saw, Jo and I had to walk through alone because the smell of smoke was so overwhelming we didn’t feel comfortable having the young or elderly members of our unit in the house at all.
The third house, however… Guys. Just wow. The owner is an incredibly talented artist, so her design style, though a bit old-fashioned for my taste, was so warm and welcoming — we walked in and it immediately felt like home. There’s some work to be done; we’ll have to renovate the basement a little bit to add in an extra bedroom, but I’m looking forward to doing that work possibly more than I am to move, period. After some awkward and snippy banter back and forth, a(n adult) tantrum or two, a bit of visualizing and then some carefully strategized persuasion, the four of us came to the conclusion that this little home was a near-perfect fit for us. Jo and I are moderately superstitious, so that’s all of the details I’ll reveal for now as I don’t want to jinx it for us, but my fingers and toes are so crossed for this to have a positive outcome that I’m worried I may not be able to uncross them again.
In conclusion, the last few days have made me reevaluate my ideas and interpretations of family, if I’m to be honest. Familial relations are these ambiguous concepts that I can no longer comprehend and I don’t know how to build a place for myself within them. I have now been left out of more than one family get together without explanation, the people I had perceived as my “unit”, however spaced out they were, no longer take me into consideration unless they need me to facilitate their contact with Duder, Jo’s family is threatening to evaporate — but, on the other side of the coin, our little unit of three has been steadily fortifying and toughening, the progress in making this relocation happen has helped Duderroo and Jo reestablish their awesome step-parent/kid relationship and overall, the three of us inherently know that our lives are about to get so much better.
Getting my shit together was the start. Getting my mental health under control allowed me to talk to my ex, inform the other members of my “family”, get myself semi-organized and manage a stressful weekend full of information, emotions, scheduling changes and the like, without having a full-blown meltdown. I’m proud of myself for that and grateful that I didn’t flare up while Jo was also experiencing the same, if not worse, agitation. But part of what I love about becoming more motivated to write for this project, and writing for this blog in general, is that I try to commit to authentically and honestly contemplating my behaviour and actions, because I feel like it helps me become a better person. I love that writing about our four day foray into the world of first-time (for me, anyway) house purchasing also brought my shortcomings into focus as far as my temperament and my approach to uncomfortable situations are concerned. Addressing these flaws and picking them apart, piece by piece, is what helps me identify my triggers retrospectively and recognize the moments when I’m at risk of going off the deep end. Maybe it’s years of therapy coming back to me in the moments I need it most, because this tactic doesn’t feel alien to me, but regardless, I appreciate having the insight, as well as the patience with myself to peel back the layers upon layers of learned self-preservation to just be comfortable with experiencing this life for what it has to offer.
Yowza; before I get caught up in getting philosophical, I’ll wrap this one up. I’m constantly learning about the many ways we, as people, function and relate to each other and how quickly that unity can turn to disconnect, even if only caused by something as subjective as our perception of the situation or the people involved. I, too, am guilty of this — obviously — but refuse to reject my potential for improvement. I think the excuse of “this is just who I am, deal with it” is a cop out; everyone has the capacity to be a good person, so rationalizing and excusing the fact that you’re an asshole only because you’re uninspired to do anything about it is no longer grounds for bad behaviour. The desire to stagnate needs to be made obsolete, not turned into an art form. We must strive to be better, whether or not the people we surround ourselves with are on board — because when you become better, the people who gravitate to you will be better; better friends, better lovers, better coworkers… Better people. End of story.
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
One of my favorite songs to sing to Duder in moments of ‘ok-frustration’ is the “Uh oh! Grass! Long wavy grass!! We can’t go over it-” remember that one? I think these two probably only ever hear the ‘can’t go over it’ sung in that weird, deeper-monotonous voice, reserved for that awkward key ‘catch-all’ community songs are written in (Happy Birthday, He’s A Jolly Good Fellow, any children’s song).
Anyway, I sing that song a lot
to myself – making me realize I am still a farmer, needing a song to keep pace
to. The ‘Can’t go over it’ song was the first lesson I learned of pushing past
something to just, get through it. Believe
me, I appreciate the motivation in this song far more than the “I’m being eaten by a boa-constrictor…”
(in swimming class…)
What is this about? Well, with
a Georgia-font flourish, I can unveil the grand plan; what all the secret,
heart-blossoming hype we’ve alluded to has been about. Moving. We, our lil’ family of three, are moving again.
When we moved from the apartment to this lovely home, I was
silent about what number this tallied for me. Because I am tired of feeling
like I jinx it by saying ‘Well, this is number X, so it has to be the last
time!’ but in this case, it is the last of something.
This will be my twenty-first
move, in my (soon to be) eighteen years of living ‘independently’ and I am moving
back home. Yup, we’re moving West (well… 166km and 2hrs West).
This decision is not new, it had
been thrown around in that weird, super uncommitted way you do early on in a
relationship. That sense of invincibility, the excitement and passion of our
blossoming relationship found kinship in the food, wine, arts, and general
cultural scene of Stratford. But, after our own set of challenges, a couple of
years, the whisper didn’t fade.
There is a very large queer
population, an especially prominent transient population in the summer, as it
is a theatre town. So realistically, there has always been that safety-appeal.
With everything else that has piled up, it seems like a natural choice to make
when we realized, we have to move.
I aspire to be a normal,
awesome citizen instead of cloistering myself away. I could comfortably see
myself volunteering at duderonomy’s school. We have friends, obviously
originally ‘mine’ but they have wholly welcomed Aisha, as an individual, who
just happens to also have captured my
heart. And duderonomy has friends, already.
My fabled sister lives there,
and while that is going to be a short-lived reality, it will be cool to run
into her, or call her up for a walk. My niece and her boyfriend will be there
for a while, which I am so excited for, also realizing it will probably be more
of a ‘run-into-ya’ thing. Maybe not!
We are purchasing a house with
Talk about setting roots. Family,
friends, a house, work is taken care of, we have support – so maybe Aisha will
begin to heal. Moving, once upon a time, was something I obsessed over. My mum
and I would troll open-houses, talk about moving, look at the paper and… dream. I don’t know why; we had an
amazing house. We were able to travel; we spent time in other homes.
But then I started my own
personal apartment-carousel. The obsession soon made way for exhausted
resignation. It all started when I turned eighteen, and my parent’s
conservativism (prudish and maybe semi-homophobic-in-the-parental-way mindset
*god I hate qualifiers*) and my requests were not harmonious. So, I, in a much-needed
break from what was going on, moved out with a friend from high school, and my
How do you decide if you are
ready to live independently? Looking back, though I recognize it would have
been detrimental to stay, I wish I had waited! I didn’t have it that bad – I
would have had more time with my dad. We could have compromised about my
request (no secret, I wanted my girlfriend to sleep over because she lived out
of town, they thought we would have crazy lesbian sex all over the house…). But
that’s not what happened. So, with my multiple jobs and being almost finished
high school, I moved out.
I needed to not be at home
helping with my dad (as terrible as that sounds), but I ended up feeling over
worked anyway. I finally graduated, the romance ended, my second and third
apartments were quickly experienced, and jobs started to ‘pile up.’ As did my bad
choices, mapped across cities and decades.
But the thing is,
I was not ready to live with my significant other. I was not ready for sharing
spaces with… strangers (not my family members). But I really kind of had no
choice. I learned a lot from this first space: boundaries, fragile lies for
gullible people (me), how to be cheated on and deal with it, and a host of
other things I don’t think I would have necessarily ever been prepared for. But
what followed… Well, I don’t know if you would have been either:
Here we go. From
home to Apartment 1 (move 1) and then two other apartments (move 2 & 3) in
two years. Then, new city: Toronto (apartment 4/move 4) – home (move 5) – Toronto
(apartment 5/move 6)– home (move 7) – Toronto (apartment 6 & 7/move 8 &
9). Then, my small trip to Nova Scotia (apartment 8/move 10) where changing drivers
licenses and addresses, getting insurance, etc., was not worth the hassle when
we moved back eighteen months later. Apartment 9 and move 11, I’m in St.
Catharines. Suffice to say the next few years were a fast-forward of homes 10-18
and moves 12-20.
The move to this
house, as I’ve said, felt like a break. Like we could get our bearings, be
on-top of parenting and get better in general. We did it too, which is the
funny part, and maybe why I feel less stress now. Aisha was successful with her
businesses. I was doing well and getting to where I am now. We were learning
great lessons, getting into a groove, and then… dun, dun, dun – the back thing.
What does your
derailment look like? Because, to be honest, all my moves, all of my changes have
made mine quite… elegant if I must say.
I’m kidding. ‘Twenty moves’ starts as a
frazzled-pull-out-the-boxes-you-didn’t-bother-unpacking, and eventually evolves
into just not having that much to pack anymore, because you’re tired of packing
so you ‘declutter’ every time you go. But the support and joy at our recent decision
(on the ending end) has affirmed what we knew: we’ve gotta go. Even duder, in a very mature
conversation, admitted he recognizes that he needs a little more schedule
consistency, which can best be obtained by removing the…
(what is proving a… thing… is not a thing but the tension of sleepovers elsewhere weekly, when the
child wants to, but does terribly when allowed to, is… well…).
My love, my ever-surprising gov’love, chomped it and slid the
last, hard, and oddly shaped piece into place this week and asked/told duder’s
dad about the move. Which meant it was/is official, everyone (for the most
part) knows. The meeting went well. Until there was a moment the next day, that
also, realistically, went well. But God, that heart pang. Not even just for me
– yes. I want and need to move home.
But also, for duderroo. For that brief moment where I forgot how reasonable
this is, and that we can go- I honestly thought we may have to stay.
What am I getting at? All of it. My magnetic
shift, the time-alignment and auspicious
reason/timing of it all, and well, y’know,
the stuff I deal with. And now, we get to go. All of this good and bad is pressing
at the lip of the volcano and our world is about to be washed anew again. This
time, I am feeling that feeling
I don’t like but in this scenario it is more like a comfortable sweater. The
hood falling perfectly, the arms just long enough.
I am excited to move home. To give duder and my girl what I
had, hoping I can find it for them; that we can make it together. I am sad to
leave certain things and what had felt like chances and optimistic opportunities,
but what is meant to continue, will.
Am I excited to pack up again? Book the truck, get boxes,
tape, and then undo it again? No. Not at all. Am I excited for my mum to arrive
tonight and show her the listings? Did I love showing Joey, and every moment
Aisha and I debated and hand-picked each one? Absolutely.
I love that, even though I feel overwhelmed, a part of a lot more than I am used to, and
inundated by things I wouldn’t have been otherwise, I am feeling ok with it.
Like it is manageable. Something will blip, without a doubt, but I genuinely believe
this is why home became two people, until we needed more.
“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Zahir
I’ve been pondering the idea of bravery over the past few days. Consider me, an absent-minded, imaginative individual with what some would refer to as “a lot of free time”, when I tell you that my mental image of bravery involves a handsome knight, a gorgeous horse and maybe a gruesome battle of some sort. I’m not sure what triggers this imagery in my brain, because my definition of bravery extends far beyond myths and fables — don’t even get me started on “damsels in distress” (barf) — but the idea of a mythical quest, or a war of the worlds, or one valiant person (let’s be real — a man, duh; cue exasperated eye roll, in whatever level of severity you prefer), single-handedly preventing the human race from crumbling to ruin is, more often than not, at the forefront of my imagination when I think about being brave.
I recognize heroes every day, unassuming in their “ordinary” bravery. Primarily, and most importantly: I live with and am fortunate enough to love one. Watching Jo don their suit of armour every day is both mesmerizing and disheartening; hypnotizing in the fluidity of it all, like watching the creative process of a virtuosic artist, musician or craftsman. The way they prepare themselves to enter the world is evidently a process that has been practiced, reworked and refined over an extended period of time; to the point where they now use it as an almost impenetrable shield against any potential danger. The fact that this is a defence they have even had to consider perfecting obviously gives me mixed feelings, the most notable being a confusing combination of sadness and rage, but I admire them daily for their courage in simply stepping out the front door.
I’m sure anybody reading this can immediately come up with a list of every day heroes, whether or not that list includes someone close to them who has their own suit of armour to slip into every day. Fire fighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, veterans, teachers, social workers, police officers, customer service agents — the list goes on and on. And even on levels that may seem “insignificant”; the teenagers helping an elderly woman across the street, or the person who pays it forward in the drive thru line up, the animal service workers who reunite lost pets with their families. Guys, I could keep going for hours.
I’ve run into a few different situations in the last seven days or so that have required a little self-check, a pep talk or two, and a whole lot of stuffing my hesitation into a box and locking it away — while it snarls and scratches incessantly at the insides of its’ confinement like a wild animal. Meaning, there was a lot that had to happen this week that demanded I put my anxiety and non-confrontational nature aside in order to just get. shit. done. We usually have to find our courage in what appear to be the most harmless situations, it seems.
I’ve been pretty outspoken about my struggles with ADHD in a few of my past posts here, so it’s fair to say I’m an open book as far as my mental health goes. But, I was pushed to take a good look at how I was doing, and then to write about it all, by an awesome article written by a member of our regional council, Laura Ip, aptly named Mental Health Barriers. She speaks not only about her own struggles with mental illness, but about the struggles of those close to her — which also made me think about the effect mental illnesses have on relationships; specifically, mine and Jo’s. It’s honest, heartfelt, maybe a bit political but still worth the read.
I have a pretty long standing history with mental illness. I was a happy child, enthusiastic and friendly; I loved spending time with my grandmother, and I was especially passionate about horseback riding. My mother managed to catch onto my cues almost immediately, and I will be forever grateful for her instinct and willingness to listen to her gut. She picked me up from my grandmother’s one morning, to take me to my horseback riding lesson, and I told her I didn’t want to go; not for any particular reason, I just didn’t feel like it. I was seeing a child and youth worker within two weeks, at most.
I was referred to a counsellor, Dorian, through the Chedoke Child & Family Centre, and developed an incredible relationship with him over the span of two to three years. In that time I struggled with serious episodes of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and ideation, irrational and dangerously impulsive behaviour, etc. etc. as well as the chemical concoction that is depression (as well as undiagnosed ADHD and anxiety — because I wasn’t hyperactive, just terribly, terribly sad). I also saw a psychiatrist at some point and was officially diagnosed with clinical depression and medicated by the time I was ten. Young, maybe — but I was also threatening to kill myself, doing serious physical damage to my body and therapy was not enough to stop me.
There had been a series of months when I was essentially on suicide watch, and meeting with my therapist three or four days per week. My mother came into my bedroom multiple times each night to check on me and make sure I was still breathing. I was discharged from therapy when I was twelve, a year before we relocated from a big city to a tiny green-belt town. Dorian had unfortunately fallen ill unexpectedly, so I had switched to a new therapist by then, Kirsty, and we had made enough progress that she was confident I had the strategies to manage on my own. I suppose I sort of managed on my own, keeping my flirtations with self-harm to a minimum, but acting out and getting in shit in almost every other possible way. High school was a change of pace, I flourished in the music program and had a small group of friends, a job and a decent home life — then in the summer of grade twelve, I got pregnant and, well… That just changes everything.
I have been medicated pretty consistently since that fateful day when I was ten. Over the years I have done many psychological evaluations, had various therapists, been diagnosed, re-diagnosed, used medications that were incredibly helpful, and some that made me feel like I was “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” insane. I have a running list of red flags that I make sure to look out for, signals that I may be trying to grapple with some old monsters that have managed to claw their way to the surface. This doesn’t extend to depression alone; my anxiety has its’ own gauge that is separate from my panic attacks, and my ADHD is another beast entirely.
Moving on; in taking the time to reflect on the fallout of the last two and half months — potentially life changing surgical mistakes, dealing with a child who is struggling in school and then falling apart at home, an increase in anxiety and generally untriggered panic attacks, being coerced into making amends with people who did shitty things, yada yada yada — I realized that I’d kind of relegated my mental health to the proverbial back burner. I was spending hours hyper focused on things that were not productive, I was perpetually blue — not upset or sad about anything in particular, just “blah” (if you suffer from depression, you know exactly what I mean) and, more to the point — it was affecting Jo and Joey in ways that weren’t necessarily apparent on the surface. I try and see things from an outside perspective and can’t even imagine what it must be like for Jo to deal with me when my mental state is out of control.
So, I had to get brave, or more aptly put, I had to give myself a kick in the ass. Aside from the sheer inconvenience of my doctor being a 25 minute drive away, I don’t particularly enjoy going in and picking apart every detail of my mental and emotional well being, especially when I’m struggling. To skip through the boring bits, my latest psychological evaluation ended up gifting me with a compiled list of all the scary sounding conditions I already knew I had, but organized in a way that was a little overwhelming: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), ADHD, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder.
Would you believe I only went in there to get back on my ADHD medication?!
Anyway, to conclude that thought; I’m glad I reached out to my doctor and I’m currently one week into my new medication regimen. The first few nights were an absolute nightmare (if you’ve never heard of Serotonin Syndrome, I hadn’t either, but I’m pretty sure it’s what I experienced and I sincerely hope you never do), but my body seems to be adjusting to it all now and I’ve noticed a pretty significant difference in my productivity and mood. Moral of the story: You know if you need a kick in the ass, so just give it to yourself for f**’s sake. Ask for the help you need. Keep an eye on your mental and emotional well being. Medication may not be for everyone, but there’s no shame in using it if it helps you.
“When your past calls, don’t answer. It has nothing new to say.”
Jo gently reminds me on a semi-regular basis that I have an inclination toward revisiting and focusing on my past. They are a forward thinker, always planning for the future, not fixated on any negative aspect of the past other than the lessons they learned so they don’t have to do it all again — and even have their own list of warning signs to add an extra level of protection and avoid being blindsided. I glamourize my past in a lot of ways; I look back on even my most traumatic experiences with a sort of fondness that may seem a little sadistic from the outside. I am an open book about my many past ordeals with the genuine intention of providing insight and helping people, but can’t reject the possibility that I enjoy the opportunity to revisit them in a weird, maybe perverse, way. I suppose it should come as no surprise that I’ve been labelled as a masochist on more than one occasion.
That being said; there are some parts of my past that I, for various reasons, recognize are not worth the tenderness. The way the cookie has crumbled, though, means that I regularly find myself face-to-face with a past that comes back to “haunt” me; one of my “ghosts”, if you will. So, to quickly relate back to the theme of this post (before my aforementioned ADHD took off and ran with my brain, S.O.S), bravery; do you consider it brave when you have to face the things, people or events that have damaged you? Does it take courage to be in the same room as a person that indisputably changed you?
I had to have a meeting, of sorts, with my ex this week. I know most people who don’t have children would probably heave at the notion of being in the same room with any number of their exes, but, for the most part, Duder’s dad and I have managed to get along over the five or six years we’ve been separated. There have obviously been blips on the radar, but, to his credit, he has evolved from the manipulative, angry, aggressive person that I left, years too late, into a somewhat responsible, relatively impassive person that is beginning to really prioritize the wellbeing of his kid.
I still have flashbacks of explosive fights with this person, of the gaslighting and the manipulation. He’s not the same person now, but that doesn’t mean the trauma he caused doesn’t flare up on occasion. This is why I ask about bravery. Is is brave for someone who has undergone trauma to face their triggers head on, or is it just stupid to put themselves in that situation? I don’t really have a choice, and I find a strange sense of comfort in that. That doesn’t mean I look forward to sitting my ex down, looking him in eye and telling him something that I know has a startlingly high chance of pissing him the f** off. Is there a clothing store that sells big girl pants? Because I’d like a back up pair.
To keep it succinct, it went surprisingly well. We talked like adults, I got what I went for, and finally got a sense of what confidence feels like. Maybe it’s my new medication and the fact that I’m taking an honest look at my demons; maybe it’s because we can finally make our announcement and the tension of taking the steps to get to this point has finally disappeared; it could be that Duder is starting to talk to us, he and Jo are finding their footing with each other again, slowly, and our life is starting to feel normal — maybe it was normal this whole time and I just haven’t seen it. Regardless, change is coming and it feels good. I’ve never been one to be scared of change, I love that it gives my brain something new to chew over, but I know that the process of things evolving into something new can be daunting, despite even a guarantee of a positive outcome.
I think bravery, courage… it’s all subjective. What is scary to some may not be to others, and acknowledging the effort it takes someone to overcome their obstacles, regardless of how straightforward it may seem to you, could be motivation, at least, to continue overcoming, continue persevering, growing, evolving — and to keep pushing the limits of what can and cannot be done. This will look different for everyone and the levels of what our fears and reservations are will vary. This doesn’t make the little victories we achieve, every single day, any less significant. It could just be meeting your ex for coffee and signing a parenting plan — if it scared you and you did it anyway, it deserves to be celebrated.
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”
We’re tired for the usual, multitude of (parental, adult, millennial, equinoctial shifts) reasons, but with spring in the air, defeat never possible and sleep not an option (kidding, I got like 6 hours) I went on a bit of a rant today. It was one of those rants where I kept looking at Aisha – to be fair, it’s been 24-hrs of excited ranting – and telling myself, “Dude, she gets it.”
know when you follow through on something, and the breadth and immediacy of the
results are so amazing you just can’t handle it? That is what happened. During
my “AH HOW DO I CONVEY THIS” Google search today to help direct what I am
trying to say, I found a LOT on Feng Shui. I have never really studied the art,
but the philosophy appeals to me, though it doesn’t wholly capture what I mean.
It feels more like a… magnet realigns in me, making me so frigging solid, and
things just start crashing down in beautiful, perfect order. The effect of this
is something I have referred to as my ‘bubble.’
is something I am grateful for, because it is like an emotional, plastic
hamster ball for me to roll around in. Sometimes, there are a few tough weeks,
and then suddenly there are five untypical and unbelievably gorgeous days in a
row; the cardinal, or hawk or some amazing bird will come to catch my eye. I
will feel… listless and then BAM! Songs that lift me from cloud to cloud to
cloud come floating into my world until I break through them into the clear,
blue sky, basking in the sunshine of happiness. I have always hoped to figure
out how to maintain this bubble. If we were to sit and intimately talk about
it, you would see how superstitious, or spiritualistic, I can be. Which is why
I suppose, it took this weird moment of moving my bed, exactly when I did, with
all the other factors lined up, to see that it’s me (I totally just knocked on wood, by the way).
originally put the bed together, I had placed it where it is now. I don’t know
if it was the destabilizing bigness of a stress vs. relief vortex of our
October move, or just the multitude of differences from 7th floor
stink hole to this amazing home, but it didn’t seem right then. I ended up putting
our room together in what seemed like the most logical/functional layout.
few weeks though, I have dreamt about it, low level obsessed over it, talked
about it and honestly have organized so many other places, instead of just
trying it out, that I feel kind of basic not having just done it.
the excitement I felt all day yesterday (a day literally full of so much stress
and worry that I alluded to in the last post, The Bamboo that bends) had me worried I had somehow
managed to like, forget that the stress was imminent. Like, completely,
forget. If I were the person to do this, this is where I would say, “I feel
soooooo ADD,” except I’m not ADD.
I obviously hadn’t forgotten but the positivity and confidence I was able to wrap myself in was dreamlike. Thankfully, I had a mental adjustment in a hyper-clear moment, and realized, no. I had practiced self care in two way: Aisha is learning and becoming a very talented Reiki student practitioner (I know… are there no ends to the levels we keep revealing about our spiritual side) who gave me the “super-pamper-special” on Saturday, and our bed is now in the “Right Place”.
of what I am talking about – Which
way should your bed face – to touch on the idea of considering how a room
layout effects things. I looked over the Queen
of Sleep’s thoughts on Feng
Shui and, while surprised at her interpretation of directional meanings (my
miracle occurred because of a 18°N orientation with our heads and feet away
from the door and window), she did make me chuckle.
And then I found this, the Feng Shui
Tips.Org page that really does what I need it to do. Why? It is malleable
in my brain. Everything I bring into my
thought cycles has to be flexible in its use as an interpretation guide (side
note: always wondered if I had been a monk in a past life). I need this because
I like to have a complete lens to see through; different ideologies influence
me based on the situation, and having more than one viewpoint makes the
decision… More complete.
Anyway, kua numbers… what the… and tell me more. What is my
Kua number? (It’s 7 – I used biological sex because, well, that’s the fact. If
you look into this though, the only time gender matters in the application is
in Group 5).
I am a West Group which provides me with the following
information on the significance of direction:
NW: money and success
SW: health and vitality
NE: Love and Marriage
W: Personal Growth
Our new bed
(Additional side note: Aisha is an 8, also West group)
your head is supposed to be in a lucky direction, balance the sides of your
bed, don’t face a mirror, remove sharp edges (my favorite tip), etc. Do these
factors matter to most people? I am not social enough to say. Do they matter to
me? Well, if you could see my vigor and the shit that’s slid in to place in a 24-hour
time space, you may allow me the mysticism.
When I say,
all is grist that comes to the mill,
I mean that I do not shy away from anything that helps me keep my head clear
and helps me work on myself. Reiki feels good. Bad energy effects me, whether
of my own or others influence. When I allow myself to be open to it, I feel ‘higher’,
or clearer. Yet, I can be so practical and analytical I laugh at my attempt to be
both. At the end of the day, trying can only make me more aware, no? So, it is
all processed, ground down, sifted into my mixin’ bowl and baked into what is
turning out to be quite a competent, sensitive and thoughtful person.
I feel like
I have always been like this, I just wasn’t big enough at the time to hold it
all together, so it came out looking weird. Now it’s like I’ve reached a calm
or, a perspective? Or… steadiness? I just haven’t managed to fuse all three
together, so they alternate, like a pendulum swing. Thankfully, it is slowing,
which means more often they line up and I am afforded (what I assume) really
cool adult moments of knowing.
The point, peeps, is that when I trust me, life is something else. Not easy, but, fun. For instance: I got two new jobs today with one more contract getting close to closing. One of the jobs feels like it is what I have been waiting forever for, what every other messed up employment had been leading towards (gah, no pressure). I have written two blog posts in two days. I gardened. Duder is communicating and our connection was one of those things that came back, crashing down in beautiful, perfect order. All I did was (literally) open the door. Aisha is ploughing through the tough stuff. I don’t want to go into it, but suffice to say, she dealt with about ten piles of stinking _ _ _ _ yesterday without having a major panic attack, without a painful pattern emerging at all. She was so present, and amazing, Duder was so grounded by her. She was also subjected to receiving inappropriately delivered bad news today, that was just dropped like a stool stack on our doorstep, yet she sits over there now, somewhat calmly, plugging away. She is literally ski-dooing through those ‘hills’ but this shift seems to have changed the mud and stones to water-spray and sun beams (she maybe doesn’t feel this way, but she’ll have to write a reply 😉).
something. I needed forward, a break, a breath. I need Spring and to harness my
strength because this is my moment. This is my season and I am bursting with
will harness this feeling. I will figure out how to loop it around my waist and
keep it with me always. Sometimes I have high hopes for forty, other times I
see an eighty-year-old staring back at me, confident finally.
Regardless, I know that my learning is so good. And I am proud to be able to say that. My adjustments are like over-coats now; I can feel and welcome situations, because I trust the time, efficiency and accuracy I have cultivated in my responses. The things I allow in, have allowed me to trust myself. And I am just feelin’ grateful.
I wish I could paint, so this was easier to express. Alas,
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”