“Maybe at the heart of all our traveling is the dream of someday, somehow, getting home.”

– Frederick Buechner

We made it. We are now settled in, mostly unpacked, and enjoying the quiet of our new town. Our WiFi was installed yesterday, we had friends over for dinner on Sunday and Jo is now tapping away at their latest batch of editing work, quickly slipping back into their pre-moving routine. We made Duder’s switch off yesterday, sending him for his two-week summer vacation with his dad, which is the first time he and I have been apart for longer than a few days, in all of his 8 years, and I think Jo and I are both silently trying to ignore the fact that he’s gone. 

Moving has been a rollercoaster of emotions for me, personally. I didn’t move a lot as a kid, only when it was reasonable and still exciting. I had a “home base” my entire life; regardless of the building itself changing, there wasn’t a house that we didn’t live in for less than 5 years. By the time it was time to move, we were usually ready to start anew. 

This move hasn’t been much different in that regard. Our home in Niagara was beautiful; I, arguably, was slightly more fond of it than both Jo and Duder, but it didn’t make sense to stay there. Not only did Duder have a really hard time being alone in a top-floor bedroom at night, we had two floors (upper and basement) that were only accessible by a flight of at least 8 stairs, which I can’t maneuver and it was, unfortunately, super expensive. Above all else, it wasn’t ours, so at some point we all knew we would have to leave. 

This is, of course, leaving out the fact that we didn’t have a community, we were inundated with a lot of negative people and had only just managed to start finding people to connect with after we had decided the Niagara region wasn’t interested in having us. 

The concept of “home” is an interesting one for me. Up until the house we just left, I hadn’t ever felt like anywhere I had lived was my home. I had a number of different houses I spent time at, but home wasn’t a feeling I recognized; whether that was due to my own emotional and mental wellness issues, or whatever other reason it may have been. I knew that the house I lived in was safe, but home was only used in reference to a place I was going, not to the feeling that comes with “being home”. I think I spent the majority of my life trying to make a home out of a person, without realizing that people were, obviously, more nomadic than the idea of home that I was looking for. 

Jo has figured out how to make any space comfortable, having moved over 20 times, and has been integral in making each of our new spaces feel like a home. Our new house already feels more like home to me than anywhere I’ve been, and we’ve lived here for a total of 3 days so far. That being said, Annika Martins makes a great point in her article about home being a place in yourself, when she writes:

“Geography is irrelevant. Your address means next to nothing. What matters is how open your heart is.”

In the article, Annika talks about how she was forever searching for her home; the place where she felt safe, powerful and rooted. She explains how she fixated and obsessed over seeing images of exactly where she was supposed to be; where her home was. She describes feeling “anxious about postal codes” and being in a constant struggle with herself and the universe about where she was meant to be, until she eventually realized that as long as she was open to love and open with love, she was home. This might sound cheesy to some, but the idea of being home, no matter where you are, as long as you are open and accepting to the opportunities and possibilities there, is one that I’m slowly coming around to, perhaps in a less froufrou way. 

We drove Duder a bit farther than the half-way point to meet his dad yesterday. I had to go to the hospital for a scheduled MRI anyway, and we had quite a bit of time to kill between the planned 2:00pm switch-off and my 3:45 appointment. As soon as the scenery became familiar to what I remember from my time growing up in the Hamilton and Niagara regions, the air got thick and humid, and my stomach started jumping in loops. Coming back to that area literally triggered something in me, even though we were only there briefly; and I wondered why I never felt at peace, or at home there, no matter where I went. By the time we had turned around and were making our way back to our new home and the cityscape I remembered faded away, all of my panic and anxiety did, too. 

This has all been jostling around in my brain since we bought our house, though there have been events and little things that have popped up that have exacerbated the feeling slowly, over time. My biological grandmother sent me an e-mail last week, with a photo from “happier times” with her, my mother, sister and I, wishing me all the best and essentially putting me on notice that they, too, were decidedly finished with their relationship with me. I expressed to Jo later that day that it feels strange to me that we are not even so much as a blip on people’s radar for them to be happy to see us go. But having to return to my “home”town and experiencing a physical reaction to even being in the area, being triggered by the names of streets and highway exits, having flashbacks to not-so-pleasant memories of my time in these places; in the end, I’m happy to see us leave, every time, and that’s becoming all that matters. 

I’m realizing that home is not a person, building or city. I have been lucky enough to have moments of home throughout my life; the smell of my grandmother’s cooking was home. The amount of love and connection I felt with friends, lovers, however short lived, was home. Making Duder laugh, every time, is home. Looking up from this screen and seeing Jo tapping away, either at their work or their latest game focus, is home. The places that trigger me now, do so because I experienced trauma, hurt and other terrible feelings there, but not because they weren’t my home at the time. I just looked for home in the wrong places and people, and those places and people hurt me. 

That being said, Stratford feels like home already. As much as a town can, I suppose. Perhaps it’s because I’m not familiar with the landscape, there are no real memories or moments to be reminded of when I step out the front door. The times we have spent in Stratford have been completely positive — and if they aren’t, Jo and I have had a much easier time coming together to figure it out. The geography of where you are might not matter, but the environment and atmosphere in which you place yourself does. The fact that everything in our new home is brand new — not the items, of course, but the experience and feeling of being here — even for Jo, who is seeing a new, developed side of the town they grew up in, means that there aren’t any moments or memories to hang onto, and the only thing for us to do now is to make new ones. 

“At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from. Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and have never been before.”

— Warsan Shire

Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.

I think thought contradictions are such a funny part of being a cognitive human. For instance, I wanted to start this off by saying, “I feel like I’ve always been such a quiet person, keeping my thoughts to myself,” and then realized that, that is, in fact, a bold-faced lie.

The correct statement would be, I was a loud, angry, and misguided person who was quiet about what I really needed to say. The way I had been representing myself was, and still is, a rather alien concept of who I am.

For instance. During my college years, which I attended from 28-30 years of age, I was the ‘friend’ who would show up to a house party with a 2-4 for myself (2-4 being Canadian speak for a case of beer with 24 bottles in it). I would immediately dive into the case and as a guarantee, would end up dominating the party with a rant that would make Shakespeare envious. I don’t even remember what I was so angry about. But holy fuck was I angry.

I had to address that part of me. It was terrible. I was hurting. Now I recognize the number of things I was trying to deal with along the way, with no one else acknowledging it along with me. How could they, lol. That would be a super ignorant retro-active wish. It was no one else’s responsibility to help me wade through my muck, and I am grateful for both the outcome of my self-work and the age at which I seem to be really settling in. I’m proud of myself. I did it by my own merit. I addressed a lot of this in my post You May Have to Fight if you want more explanation.

Qualifying something about this is important to me. What I had the privilege of having, were people who didn’t confront me on things I am woefully mulling over today but did give me the space to be the version of whatever me they were related to.

While I am struggling, have struggled, and will probably always struggle with my own perceived failure of not being sister enough, daughter enough, female friend enough, and am trying to reconcile what other’s feelings will/were/have/are/must have been (trying, actually, to stay away from that one) there is one thing I have always had.

I have had a lot of time to consider, with situations to observe and build ideas on, how privileged I am that I have people who just rolled with whatever I had to offer. A lot of the time, they probably wished I’d had more, or taken less, or whatever. I know that there were times, and situations that were scary for my family, that I was also scared, and could have changed things. But when you don’t know how to do something THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO HAVE IS PEOPLE THAT JUST STAND BY WHILE YOU FIGURE IT OUT.

Mine did.

I know people lost in their anger, lost in their jealousy, or negative self-talk, or judgments. I know people who are so deceptive and self-serving, but also work in care-based industries or purport to be a self-help guru. I am not putting them down. Without context, they are quite interesting to talk with, but in context, I only see a manipulating, two-faced, and unnerving person. Like, literally guys, I have watched one character in my recent personal story stalk three different people, hack accounts and do ‘swapped-car’ drive-by’s because they were hurting. I kind of judged, but just wanted them to get through their hurt. Now that I’m on the other side, I kind of wish I had called the cops or something then. I really don’t feel like I’m equipped to fight dirty, let alone as dirty as I’d need to get.

I am grateful to the point of feeling nauseous and worried that I didn’t have that person influencing younger me. I think I honestly would have died. Like, I literally wouldn’t have been mentally strong enough to deal with their level of… Ugh.

As with most of this big-thought-instances in my life, I have a happy, carefree comparison to help my brain accept the magnitude of this.

At thirty-six years of age, I have started watching Pokémon. It’s true. The analogy’s flowing from this frigging show are amazing, deep, and I can’t believe I judged it for so long (actually, I’ve only known about it for six years). Granted, I still think that pretending you are a poke master is… Well. Not my place to judge! We all have our thing.

Anyway, the concept of good and bad, evil, and light, all the diametrically opposed relationships we must conquer are I think… Somewhat incomprehensible. Conquering them may make you stronger, but something does break open in your mind. It’s why we watch it play out in cartoons, but I hate to say… despite good usually winning the fucking fight, it starts to get a little too hard when it comes at you around every corner.

As you all know, many of these posts are fueled by a situation with duder. This is no exception. He is also the only reason I am now a fan of Ash Ketchum. Big surprise.

God, I honestly don’t even know where to take this. I want to write about it. To find that sense of clarity I always get after writing. I just can’t. Let’s segue.

Part of why I was going to start this post with, “I feel like I’ve always been so quiet,” is because when I am confronted with confusing, aggressive, scary people, I… do something unique. I think? Please do not start thinking that what I am about to say next is a pretty or mystical event. I don’t secretly transform into a paranormal being. No. This is literally a self-preservation tactic that needed to occur for a fast-brained Enby.

After years of some form of bullying (no pity please), now, when a bully presents themselves, like the cop-training-pop-up-figure-in-the-gun-range-or-creepy-empty-house in my life I know that I get messy if I try and react in a big, aggressive or instinctual way. It’s super messy, and I lose control and feel like a crap bag after. So instead it’s like the bully’s intent is a bullet… Splattering my brain in slow motion, out a hole in my head, into a…

Projected image? Yup, welcome back reader’s, Jo’s brain at its finest.

Before I figured out how to deal with how overwhelming my emotional-cognitive functioning can be, this was a weird thing to experience. Like, people may call theirs, dissociation, or something, but it’s literally like a cartoon movie for me. Not scary, I’m present, I remember, and I am usually talking with someone at the time. My emotions slow, like an animal’s heartbeat in hibernation, or like this-

Thank god for that because before coming up with this self-monitoring, the typical result was like tomato sauce on a ceiling when the jar explodes, otherwise. The pop of the jar-top, the lick of wet you feel, on your nose or chin, but your eyes are closed so you don’t know what it is, the smell- exploding throughout the room. Opening your eyes, all you see is a hard to reach, stain-leaving mess. Now, my situations fold out in an old-timer white board of facts. Also, helpful since otherwise my brain is like a Rolodex on hyper-speed. It’s almost like something in me shrugged and realized it had to slow-speak like an adult to a confused child to my brain in these moments. “You okay there lil’baby? Hmm… You okay? Ready to move to the next thought?”

There is one thing I wish would figure itself out. That little whisper that is terrified of mean people. Of the ‘Scar’ and ‘Voldemort’ and ‘White Witch’ characters.

I was so scared about what’s happening, I called my mum and told her I was scared. Which made me realize, I am not often scared… Worried, anxious, not thinking straight, overwhelmed, or whatever. Not only am I not often scared, but when I am… I have a sinking feeling I don’t often share with others. To be fair, I don’t think I have been as scared of anything since my dad died. I only say this, because the way she responded helped me recognize the magnitude of me calling and saying, “I’m scared.”

I hadn’t wanted to call, because this is not a monster who is my imagination, or a shadow under my bed. This isn’t being afraid to walk down the stairs, thinking Freddy Kruger is there. No. This is the adult realization that rapists, narcissists, bullies, controlling people are in my backyard and are the type of people who are willing to hurt a kid, to put him at risk anyway… Just to get what they want. This is a type of scary my mum can’t protect me from by wrapping me up in a hug. These bad guys pop out of nowhere and yell “BOOGA-BOOGA-I’M-TAKING-THE-KID” even though… Well, they had their chance.

I feel naïve and ignorant. Stupid even that I continued giving them the benefit of the doubt. But I love this kid. Whether they consider me a parent to him or not (Not A-bomb) – linking to my last article Never Explain – I would hope that everyone was genuinely considering his best-life options.

Statistics show that courts often feel that Mothers are the ones best suited to care for their child (74% of children duder’s age in split families are in their mother’s sole care) and only 6.6% are with their fathers. Why? I have a ton of sociological theories, but I’m no expert.

Since I am experiencing some stress symptoms (rashes, so good guys, but at least it no longer manifests in stomach issues. I’m also sweating, and you know… getting choked up, hot and can’t breathe, so let’s wrap up).

Right now, I feel like a character who is no where near as ready as Ash but must battle this fucker unexpectedly:

Just so you know, in the episode I am thinking of, we find out he leaves his Charmander out in the rain, alone. He literally leaves him (apparently Pokémon are so loyal they won’t fucking move unless the trainer comes back!!!!) in the rain, for so long, his flame almost goes out, his heart breaking because he’s been abandoned. Duder has never seen me cry, but this frigging episode almost did it.

I can’t wrap my head around it. I’m trying. I keep touching it like I would a hot surface, testing the air around it to see if it’s safe. But they’ve come in and done the unthinkable, with no consideration of timeliness, communication, respect, or most importantly consideration of duderonomy’s desires. Which he’s communicated. To all of us.

I don’t know how to not feel fear right now.

I try and think that maybe we made them feel this way, feel threatened. And yet, all I know is that our original plan would have literally seen everyone having the same amount of access. So. How could they be afraid?

I’ll leave you with this short clip of Ash finding Ho-Oh because right now rainbows are in much needed supply.

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”  ― Michael J. Fox

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.

Frederick Douglass

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.”

Aisha
AQFTO

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.

What 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.

When 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?

I 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.

Change 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.

Considering 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.

My 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.

For 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.

What do I mean? Ok, here are random statements and my internalized response:

I 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

You 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.

I 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.

So, 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.

I 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.

I 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.

We 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

The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.

– Japanese Proverb

My chest feels like the cosmos today. Wide, unknown in its expanse.

This isn’t the first time my chest cavity has felt like this.

It is just especially interesting, because this week featured my typical ‘springtime intense’ dreamscapes. In one particular dream, Aisha’s doctor motioned me over to the table. He wanted me to see how the surgery was going. In the dream I was as hesitant as I’d expect myself to be in real life but I moved towards the surgery light, past the mint green sheets that created a barrier around the surgical staff, closer still to the metal table, her form laying there. Finally, bending over to peer at the incision and seeing… the galaxy.

What the heck right?

I have serious issues when considering ‘things under my skin’, for instance: a fear that bugs or germs are subdermal but waiting to come out (like spider egg under skin that burst a million babies, *barf). Aisha’s entire back experience has tiptoed along this fear agilely. Sometimes the fact that she had hands or instruments in the middle of her back, where nothing ever goes, is so overwhelming. Because she’s still here, normal, in pain but not an alien. I make myself look at her scar (it is cute actually) because the scar is fine, her skin is fine – it is the fact that she is still not ok, but they were in there, is what is not fine. How do you put that down folks? Fixing her is still a mystery.  

How does this weird dream, my subdermal issues and my chest-feeling have any connection? Their connection lies in how I feel or process fears that are not present.     

I have a heightened, though subconscious, state of fear. It brings to mind Trevor Noah’s standup bit about being in Bali and why he chose not to sit in the front row. Survivalist mentality? I don’t know, because I can recognize that I am for the most part, safe. But there have been lesson-worthy moments that have taught me that unless it is just me, in my space, anything could happen. It is self-preserving, I suppose, an over balancing of safe enough vs…?

The problem with feeling this way is that it means my fears have shuffled me into a vulnerable corner, it is many (situations) against one (me) at this point, and I can’t rage my way out because there is no ‘enemy.’ These situations are things I am looking forward to but haven’t ‘prepared enough’ for, in the event they pan out the way they have previously. Ultimately, this means that big ticket deals are on the horizon that in history haven’t played out so well. What’s on the list? Well…

My mum is coming up in two weeks for a visit. That visit is going to be busy, with a lot of things that are out of the norm. My sister is meeting duderroo for (technically the second, but) first time over a quick lunch in the midst of a packed day. Budmuffin’s birthday party is this weekend, and while I am loathed to admit it, I am generally having problems step-parenting right now, so a celebration event feels weird. I will not affect tomorrow, but I miss the easy flow we used to have. Aisha has been magnificent at bonding duder and I. She folded me into the two of them like the gifted baker she is, yet we are a complicated unit of five, sometimes six adults, plus duderonomy. So, our true ‘us-three-moments’ seem brief but I cling to them andselfishly recognize, that I now need that easiness in order to be on point. (Obviously this is my next self-undertaking) Otherwise, I falter and while Aisha is gracious about it, it’s not pretty folks.

Work-wise, I have hopefully secured two more contracts, which means I will be even busier, but we’ll be more secure, and finally, well… there’s a big announcement (Big A) I can’t make at this time (not pregnant, and overall positive) except to those who know, but there’s a lot of road work yet to do.

Breaking it down…

I am so excited to see my mother. We have a unique and special relationship; she is an amazing memory, a constant source of reassurance. She’s always just there, as she is. Problemo is, well, we do not talk about my gender. Trans issues are huge for her, because my being her daughter is what has made our connection, not that I’m an awesome person. When my cousins asked that Aiden’s earlier name not be used or referred to, my mother was in shock – “How are we all supposed to forget how cute and pretty [dead name] was, of course they are Aiden now, but also [dead name] then.” I understand this with cis people, especially mothers. I hate when people change who they are, but trans issues aren’t like turning out to be a backstabbing wahoo. Observing the community more, following more non binary Instagram accounts, etc. has really emphasized what I already knew, which is: it is the most important thing to value someone because they are a person, a human. But we attach meanings to the details; parents raise their kids biologically, friends used to be made based on biological gender. It is crazy to break away from someone’s pattern if you didn’t realize you relied on it. Example. If your mum was soft, kind, gentle, patient, plush … was that picturesque figure of motherhood who never betrays us, well, how would you feel if they were secretly in a fight club or killed puppies on Tuesdays. It is a shock to find out a side of someone you hadn’t considered, but you not acknowledging or considering it isn’t necessarily *their* problem.

Acknowledging the shock of ‘the other side’ is what people do in the apologizing part of coming out as anything. I haven’t heard one story where, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier” wasn’t uttered, but rarely can the conversation immediately include the, “imagine my shock too, ten years ago when this came to me,” because well, “I knew ten years ago,” is what hurts. The battle is always hard. Expressing a sentiment like “I’m trans” or “I’m gay/bi/poly” too early into your discovery can drum up harsh criticism. So, we learn to wait until we are sure enough, but total confidence and certainty seems to be the last brick in the pathway, so years slip past and the ‘secret’ grows.

This conversation requires a lot from my mum. I don’t feel shame in not forcing it on her. It means the pings will be pinging around over the long weekend. But those pings hold nothing to the look in her eye when she feels… shocked. Spending her sexagenarian years in a super small town made her comfortable with small town things. I’ve always been a shock, a bit of a burden, so why push her septuagenarian boundaries? She is kind, an ally to the LGBT+ community and ultimately, she is so proud and accepting of me. The moments are when she tries to not comment on my hairstyle. She has always been an advocate of me in male clothing, but my hair is always too edgy, provocative, and pointedly making a statement. Finally, I have lost a lot of weight, and that will be a thing (potentially). A thing because I’ve probably lost 25lbs (11kg) since she saw me last, and it doesn’t look all that healthy, and my hair went gray. Weight is her personal demon, and… my general stress and lack of success are probably her greatest fears. A lot to wade through, no? Well, let’s end it with the fact that, through all of this duo-shit, we as a foursome have to team up and undertake a BIG DAY. Aisha and duder aren’t my concern, and explaining what my concern is, is a whole other story.

All of that makes me feel vulnerable and can’t see a way over, under, or around it.

My sister – as you all know – is my [insert proper level of idolatry with independence and respect] but my brain is going all kinds of places, preemptively checking, on how this Big A is going to affect her. The funny part is, I know this is just a gathering of my neurosis because it’s like this: if the Big A were that we were going vegan, my ‘concern’ is how our veganism may impact the social shit she has to deal with as a butcher (she isn’t, btw). I can feel her justified stress and considerations of what her life is going to look like in three to six months with SO MANY OTHER FACTORS involved, that this Big A, well – it is SO. NOT. IMPORTANT. But she is to me, so my brain just goes there.

Birthday party. Ideally, I think we would all hope that split families can celebrate together. I think if everyone is on board and cool with it, it is incredible and worth aspiring to. I am grateful for learning about how this could look by joining this family (Aisha navigates a lot of people). I just also believe that if two years have gone by, then maybe the fusion needs to start smaller and on and mutual terms. Budmuff’s (how do you like the new name?) grandma is nice to me and has been from the beginning in a distant, but cool way; we commiserate, she and my mum like each other. Aisha’s multiple parents are all welcoming to me, authentically. But I do not know any other member of duder’s bio-D’s family and yet, they’ve decided to join our party. As a queer, nonbinary person, meeting new people is never an easy thing. Especially when I recognize I am in an area where most people just aren’t comfortable with my type of spice.

We are already going to be in a big, noisy, child-filled space (overwhelming, no?) with other adults to navigate, public washrooms, misgendering by duderonomy’s friends (not wanting it to affect him at ALL because he corrects people the most) and general socializing. Every fiber of me wants to break a bone instead of going. But I will go, with a smile, confidence, and a rocking ballcap. I just need my chest cavity to empty out, so I don’t have a panic attack and turn into raging-giganto-bullitch. I want to trust that D-fam will be welcoming and above board – but the problem is, I can’t trust that. Am I going to assume they won’t? No – fuck no. But I can’t implicitly trust them. Even if they do show up, try to get to know me, or whatever, they are still coming to the one event we had ‘alone’ with him. Thursday last week, he was out, Friday-Saturday-Sunday morning at grandma’s, Sunday is party day (we invited both grand-sets) but he’s gone Monday, Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday morning next week too. So, there are just a lot of emotions I need to be super adult about, but my brain is getting in the way.

And work. Things are turning out slowly but surely in this department. These new contracts may be exactly what we need to be secure, they are engaging and interesting and add diversity. I guess the question is, how much ability do I have? Yesterday was the first day I’ve had off in weeks. Can one balance 3-5 remote positions and still, be human? Aisha has meal-planned the sh*t out of this house. She is in charge of figuring out duder’s stuff, healthy meals, allergy news, growth needs and his schedule. But ultimately, it has to be on healing, on figure out what to be next. Her focus and drive are amazing to watch grow and evolve; she is carving hill after hill down so we can move forward but is beating herself up over them not being mountains.

Sometimes perspective is hard to gain. I feel like all I do is work (on my computer) and she feels like all she does is cook (alone in the kitchen). This back surgery and ensuing decisions have me feeling like while we are as solid as ever, there is less time to check in. Or trust that what we are supplying is sufficient. This is a vulnerable space.

Finally, its springtime. Are you affected by the seasons?

There is no time I feel more Taurean than in spring. I feel restless, and huffy, my seasonal drive-to-hibernate shuts off and well, I feel invigorated.  

From spring cleaning and seasonal transitions (car, house, clothing, chores) to more day light to take advantage of there is just more once winter fades. Yet, constant allergies, tiredness (those springtime dreams I was telling you about) and general hiccoughs of change are like speed bumps to the ‘more.’ And Hope. Spring brings hope.

I am not really comfortable with hope as a feeling or concept. It seems baseless. It seems like such a passive, directionless, dependent emotion. Cruel, I know. Sometimes I feel like I sound like a monster when I write this stuff down. But here are the feelings, related to hope, I always embrace: Anticipation, curiosity, forward motion. Hope makes me feel like a child, waiting for something innocent and lovely to happen, but then its crushed without an explanation of why. Hope is fragile, especially for me, in April.

I recognized my relationship with spring is strange, a long time ago. This month holds a lot of memories, sadness, new and old dates. There is the excitement of wearing a vest or sneakers, only to realize a coat and possibly a scarf, were still necessary. Going to bed with the windows open, a gentle breeze brushing your face, only to wake up to snow on your windowsill. In many ways, I love the giant F-YOU April brings.

I don’t have any grand summary for any of this. I believe I have reached the cosmos space required for this weekend. I feel calm, vast, and aware. So here goes.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”

– Meg Cabot