36 années

I’m nervous to write. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Either the flood gates will open and I will be overwhelmed by all that I need to say or… nothing… blank stare, blank page, and I will have to face the fact that I actually have no thoughts, no story to tell, nothing to write.

Yesterday was my birthday. 36 years old. Feels different this time. I feel like I am coming into myself. Becoming a person that I can be proud of, a woman with integrity and ability.

But when did I get so fat? don’t answer that.
And why did I check out of my own life and myself for so long? don’t answer that either.

This year’s birthday validated the sense that I am becoming a person deserving of belonging and acceptance. My colleagues celebrated with fancy donuts yesterday for all of us with September birthdays- I was neither the star of the show nor ignored. I got some really thoughtful cards that were very personal. People “got” me. My kids bought me flowers and cake and an actual birthday gift to support my newest hobby. It was really nice.

I’m not sure what else to write about. Looks like I was right- I have nothing to say. That’s not true. I have things to say, but maybe I just don’t want to jinx anything… things are pretty good right now. Maybe I’ll write more tomorrow.

Charlie Brown and Snoopy comic

35 years

September is almost over. My husband called out my “September Blues” as soon as the first leaf (and tear) fell. He stayed on my team all month and helped keep my shame at bay. With one day left in the month, I feel confident saying that I survived September 2017. (note: The confidence to say that I will survive tomorrow was not something I’ve ever had.)

I survived my birthday too. I made myself the gymnastics birthday party I’ve wanted for a while. Friends came with all their kids and we all did gymnastics together. I was probably the only adult looking forward to it but most of my friends showed up and I think everyone had fun. I don’t have many friends but the ones I have are gold.

So, all in all, September was totally okay. I think. My memory is really shot. There might have been lots of crying and dissociating… But I survived without noticeable scars, so that’s what counts.

Since this is my birthday post (annual)… I should probably reflect and analyze my life maybe.

On my birthdays, I typically look backward with shame and regret. But this year, I don’t want to. If I allowed myself to actually admit it, I would probably say the positive version of, “this year wasn’t a shit show of me screwing everything up”. But I can’t actually say that. I might jinx it.

I wish that I wrote more often. But there aren’t words and ideas in my head anymore. I just think about today and the logistics of the coming week.  This is probably typical of my phase in life. (and maybe the meds and all the pot don’t help with the motivation.)

I don’t really have much… I’m struggling to find the word of what I am missing… optimism? ambition? hope for the larger world? activism? Maybe this is also typical of my phase in life, but I don’t want to stay this apathetic about the world.

I feel like I did all the big things already. I finished university, got a job, got married, had (awesome) kids, got diagnosed with mental illness… But now what? I don’t have any grand ideas about what I want to tackle next.

I don’t see myself going to feed children in starving countries when I can barely feed my own kids. I used to feel like I could volunteer my time to help others but my time is all accounted for now. I don’t have any to offer.

Maybe it’s my time of life, maybe it’s my mental illness, maybe it’s my meds, but either way, I will sit here and drink my tea and try to remember when pizza day is for the grade 3’s and not be sure what the next adventure is.

And maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

xoxo

birthday quote

House of shattered dreams

I went to my parents’ cottage recently. They were out of town and left me a key. I wasn’t quite sure if they were going to say yes when I asked if I could go. I wasn’t sure if they would trust me… but they did.

Opening the door, it was like I had stepped back in time. Everything was the same, but I was different. The furniture, the books, the dishes, and even the magazines in the bathroom drawers, were all just where I had left them. It was as if nothing had changed in 6 years… but so much has.

Back in the day, I was a really good aunt at the cottage. It’s where I learned how to be a mom. I took care of my nephews, fed and bathed them, did special things with them and hugged them at night when they/I felt scared. I spent a lot of time as a young aunt learning and practising to be a mom. I envisioned parenting my kids in that same cottage, washing my kids’ hair in the same lake all summer and taking them on the same quiet boat rides early in the morning when the lake is calm…but I never did that. My kids didn’t know that my parents’ have a cottage until this summer.

I used to watch my husband (boyfriend) playing with my nephews at the cottage and daydream about the amazing father he would be.  When we got there last week, I looked out the window to see my husband and son playing catch in the yard. It looked just like my daydream…

Being at the cottage felt nice – but it was also terribly sad. My parents’ cottage is huge. They built a big bedroom for each of their 4 children and extra space for all of the grandchildren that they were expecting.

It’s like walking through a house of broken dreams. Every bedroom and extra washroom and baby gate and bunk bed shows the thought that they put into building a home for their entire family. But now it’s empty. Like, dustballs rolling around empty.

There are photos all around, photos of the entire family having dinner outside on the lawn, photos of my parents with (some of) their grandchildren, playing in the lake, eating popsicles, doing cottage things.  It’s like that was a different life with different people.

Being there makes me yearn for those times, it makes me want to blow that horn from Narnia that makes everyone gather. But then… there’s a reason we scattered. Even though it’s sometimes hard for me to remember.

nostalgia_is_a_seductive_liar_by_ashleydoesstuff

When the wind starts getting colder

With the fall wind blowing, my mind is getting tossed around. My husband told me that it’s just the seasonal change and that this is a pattern for me. I didn’t believe him so he told me to read through my old blog posts. Reading my blog was like reaching in and re-living my own past. It was surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) painful.

I want to cry with pity for myself. I want to give that scared hurting me a big hug. But she would probably cringe and push me away because she hadn’t learned yet that hugs could be comforting. I want to tell her that she’s not alone, that I’m here for her. But it’s not true. She is terribly alone, lost in her mind and alone with herself. Even I couldn’t really help.

Today, I find comfort in hugs. And I feel less alone- most of the time. But no matter how hard they try and how tightly they hug, I will eventually, (and I’m scared this time) be completely alone with the enemies inside my head. I know that it’s coming. But I don’t know when or how hard it will hit. I’m scared of sliding down.

I’ve changed so much, and also not at all.  I’m very grateful (dead) that I wrote. Especially since I have a really hard time remembering my feelings once they have passed. Also, my hair is turning grey and falling out – but that’s not exactly relevant right now.

My husband tells me that I should write more often. But sometimes it just…seeems…so…pointless. I don’t want to annoy all of my blog followers and friends with more narcisstistic musings. I should wait until I have something really interesting to say. But nothing I can think of seems terribly original or interesting.

I had a thought recently that the goal of art is to let/make us see Ourselves. My writing forces me to accept that I felt that, thought that, did that and survived. My writing shows me myself.

So…I guess I am not really writing for others to understand me, I’m writing to understand myself. So that I can read my words and finally be able to see myself.

I am writing so that my words can be own my memories.

Keep on truckin’

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I wanna be big and let go of this grudge

Don’t you just hate it when you spend years helping someone you love escape an abusive relationship (and protect her, and care for her kids, and scoop her off the floor and dry her tears) and just when she starts to feel whole again, she reconnects with her abuser? I would hate that too…if it wasn’t me who did it.

In the fall, I dropped by my parents’ apartment one day while I was driving by. I hadn’t seen them in 3 years. I was in a deep depression, feeling very alone and really needed someone to be really happy to see me. They were.

Since then, I’ve met my mom for coffee, introduced her to my kids, and started talking to her on the phone once in a while. At first, I was able to set and maintain very clear boundaries with her. I just ignored the potentially hurtful things that she said and focused on the positives. But I feel that my boundaryis beginning to slip. I feel I am being pushed too close to her spider’s web.

The borderline witch persona inside my mother peaked her head out last week. I shouldn’t have been surprised… but it really gets me every time.

I was hurting and asked her to help me in a way that I needed, rather than the way that she wanted to be seen helping. This triggered her rejection sensors. From there, she went into survival mode and (as always) kicked me when I was down. #storyofmylife.

I desperatly want to repair my relationship with my mom. I want to help her feel less alone, less lost. But she hasn’t changed. The behaviours that pushed me away (and tore me apart) are still engrained in her. I know now that it’s not her fault, that she has a serious mental illness and that her motivation is self-protection and not directly intent to hurt, but that doesn’t make the slaps sting less.

By going back to my mom, letting her into my new life and into my head, I think that I may have hurt the people who have really been there for me throughout these impossible years. I imagine that they feel frustrated, used and see me as ungrateful. They all worked hard with love to help me escape my abuser just to have me turn around and jump back into the lion’s den.

The people who were there for me- I can count you on one hand and I don’t thank you enough. IJ, HB, SA, SJ and (of course) OA, you kept my life together while I fell apart. You all became a team with a mission to save my kids and protect me from myself. You made sure that I had a life to come back to. For that I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

I didn’t mean to choose between hurting you and trying to heal my mother. But at first, it felt so good to see her. It felt good to be kind to her. It helped me see that there were good things that I learned from her and could share with my kids (reading, academia, traditions, cooking badly). Her superficial good lured me in and I forgot why I had pushed away.

I began to feel guilty for abandoning her. I began to feel responsibility to help her heal, to teach her to be the person she thought she was. I felt a need (an urgent, pressured need) to ‘fix’ our family and bring all of my siblings back together with her. I thought that they were all just waiting for me to come around (they weren’t).

I see now that the strength and empathy that I felt towards her was actually only possible because I had cut her out of my life and my head for so long. Her absence made me forget that she is a dangerous and manipulative person to be around.

I want so badly to be a good person who can be kind to her old, sad mother. But she just won’t let me – she can’t keep the witch at bay.

As always, Alanis Morisette articulates my deep feelings:
“I want to be big and let go of this grudge that’s grown old. All this time I’ve not known how to rest this bygone. I want to be soft and resolved, clean of slate and released. I want to forgive the both of us.”

maleficent makeup