Sunday, January 19, 2020

How It Should Be

The saying in the photo over there must bother me because I found myself purse lipped breathing as I read it.

I think it bothers me, other than what human being doesn't it bother, because I grew up watching adults do things that were harmful and wrong and not how it should be. That made it too painful to process life as it was. I coped by disassociating, shoving down feelings and abiding anywhere but in the here and now. Even typing that brings me back to when fear and breathing were the same thing.

I can spout out loud, "It is what it is" a gazillion times, while underneath that I am muttering, "damn it anyway."

It's such an old story line of mine. Will I ever shake it off? Learning to process life as it is feels like a trick that will end with someone thumping me a good one when I'm not looking. And shame on me for not seeing it coming.

And yet.
And yet.
Retraining my mind will continue.

Thursday, January 16, 2020


It's cold here. Bitterly cold. -53C with windchill last night. Windchill has kept us at highs in the -30s most of the week.

I'm not supposed to be typing right now because I injured my rotator cuff when I was in the airport 3 weeks ago. I stepped onto one of those moving walkways and failed miserably at trying to gauge how to walk off of it safely. Damn, that hurt.

I was off work last week in the hopes of getting better. Monday of this week was a fog of a day returning to work. Tuesday was better. Then I saw the physiotherapist yesterday and, after she put my shoulder joint back in place for the second time in less than a week plus my shoulder blade and a rib back where they should be, she suggested I take several days off to just sit and heal. Strict orders how to keep my shoulder aligned and such.

I better stop typing. I like to think I'm a compliant patient. Best not wreck that thought.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

For The Soul

I've been holed up in my office for several hours trying to make order out of (paper) chaos. Trying to decipher receipts from outdated notes to self. Coming across notes that make no sense and ones that I wish didn't. Notes with just numbers on them, for example, to the partially written timeline of someone's lies in preparation to give a required statement to the authorities. Sigh.

Am I a Luddite because I still use a paper, coil bound date book to record appointments and such? A bigger one for my desk and a purse size one to carry about? I have no desire to use my phone's calendar function to replace them.

In my cleaning I've come across memorial cards of those in our family who passed away last year.  I tucked those away in the box of things I deemed keep-able. Under my desk was a pile of snot rags and papers that built up into a tiny volcano-like hill after the small garbage can was full. It's been remarkably easy to throw things under my desk. Beside my desk is another pile of papers and books. If I spun my office chair around like one spins a globe I'd find things to clean no matter where I stopped. Does cleaning it mean I suddenly care?

The death of my sister in law a week ago has me swinging between who cares about anything anymore and it could happen to me tomorrow. It's prompted conversations with loved ones about wishes and important papers. The need to have those papers in one spot. Preferably not under my desk in a pile that makes it indistinguishable from the note to remember to pay a parking ticket or the Christmas letter to neighbours where I remind them that, although we can all see each others' lights on at night, we can't see what goes on in each others' lives. And ours has been particularly hard of late.

I type a bit here and then turn to tackle more rubbish.  I find an empty envelope that says Important information enclosed. On the back is an old grocery list. There's a sheaf of papers from a weekend Dearest One and I spent one on one with a psychotherapist. I find a list of appointments to book. Occasionally I find things that have me swearing under my breath.

Bit by bit I have tackled two volcanoes. My feet no longer kick bits of things out of the way when I type. I can look to the right and see the floor instead of a sea of books, papers and things to recycle.

One of the last bits that went into the keep-able box was a six month old sample pack of anti-aging skin care products.

Someone needs to invent one of those for the soul.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

The Other Side

We were up at 4 this morning to catch a plane. I crawled into bed shortly after we got home and woke up past suppertime. So ya. It's past midnight and now sleep is elusive.

Our house looks like we got up in the middle of a meal and left. Although honestly, it looks like that most everyday. Housekeeping is not my strong suit.

I'm not sure what my strong suit is. Maybe it is showing up. Not always in person, but in heart felt companionship, during hard times. I look over my texts and other forms of messaging and there's a lot of hurting people in my life right now. And I hurt along with them although my pain is not theirs. Theirs is the kind that cuts to the bone. Death and sickness has a way of dealing that card.

I was looking forward to what seemed like endless downtime for our Christmas holidays. I even took several extra days off so I could luxuriate in them to the fullest. I decided that I was not going to fill my days with must get done lists or I've failed as a human being kind of thinking. I would putter and read and relax. Who knew, maybe I'd even find time to write.

We had a death in the family mid December. A teenager. I just caught myself beginning to purse lip breathe as I typed that and remembered that my therapist suggested that I try to open my mouth and let my breath out instead. She said purse lip breathing was akin to trying to contain feelings. I've been doing that a lot lately. And now tears are pooling as I breathe out my feelings. I can't even go back and read that sentence without starting to purse lip breathe all over again.

A family wedding was scheduled for New Year's Eve and I found myself telling coworkers that I'm more of a funeral person than a wedding one. (Make of that what you will.) Even so, we booked tickets to fly to the nuptials. I had yet to book hotel rooms or car rentals with 4 days to go before we boarded our flight.

On Christmas Day we got a call telling us Dearest One's closest in age sister had suffered a brain aneurysm and was in ICU on life support. I don't know why a person gets surprised as if we are immune to tragedy. We'd already had 3 deaths in our family in 9 months. Surely that would tell us bad things happen to everyone.

The next morning we got up and made plans for our day. I wondered aloud if we should fly to be with family. This particular part of our family has isolated themselves from the rest, or at least it has felt that way, ever since they moved away three decades ago. In our early days of marriage we spent a lot of time together. Dearest One made a phone call and shortly after lunch we dropped what we were doing, packed our bags and were on a plane going in the opposite direction of the wedding.

We found our family members in the waiting room of the ICU. The last time I had seen my husband's brother in law was in the 1990's. It was a joy to greet his children, most of whom I hadn't seen in decades. There was even a great grandchild to meet. We sat among them in the little quadrant of the waiting room that we took ownership of as ours.

Communities built in microcosms are one of my favourite fascinations. For many days there were several families gathered in our respective areas. We'd nod to each other, sometimes sharing the bare essentials of who was on the other side of the locked entry door of the ICU. I took notice of the matriarch across from us who made sure every member of her extended family was fed before she went in to see her husband. Foreign languages were spoken all around us and for a few minutes, with everyone in one family hugging and having a semi reunion in the waiting room, there was a celebratory feel.

But mostly faces were grim with a dash of hope. Or hopeful with a shadow of grimness. Progress came in minute improvements. Or was dashed in the same blink of an eye.

We spent nine days holding vigil from morning until night at the bedside of Dearest One's sister. She turned 61 years young while we did so. There were family meetings with her medical team. Holding out hope. Fearing the worst. Feeling guilty when we felt no hope. Putting on a brave face. Mostly shock that this was reality.

Yesterday we gathered with the medical team late in the afternoon. We knew it was time to cling to a different kind of hope. The forever kind.

Machines were turned off. Medications were halted. Tubes were withdrawn. The end came mercifully quick.

Seven hours to the minute later her great grandson entered the world. We'd like to think they passed each other on the way.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

And Still The Sun Rises

I'm still here. Haven't been able to gather my thoughts. Fighting fatigue that basically means I go to work and come home to spend the evening as a verifiable couch potato.

Doing hard work in therapy. Disassociated at work the day following a heavy duty appointment, after getting triggered by some coworkers vile joking conversation. I then accidentally slipped off the curb while walking to my car and banged into a vehicle with my hip and less than 15 minutes later got two of my fingers slammed in my car door. Still not sure if one of them is broken. With the help of my therapist I was able to ground myself enough to function for the rest of the day. Spent the weekend in my nightgown resting and giving myself permission to accomplish nothing of the get up and go variety of tasks. I need more of that.

Sunday, September 01, 2019


I had great plans for this long weekend.

Last week was my busiest week of work for the entire year. Getting through it without being wound up tight was a blessing. I am grateful to find that my mood is better than it's ever been. I wake up in the morning and the thought of going to work doesn't feel depressing.

My fatigue though. Oh boy. I told my doctor this week that it sucked driving to work and feeling like it's the end of the day and time for bed. So far this weekend I've mostly slept.  I wonder why we, or should I say, I, don't count sleeping as being productive. And why does productivity rate so high anyway?

It's too bad one can't get paid for reading and sleeping. I'd make a fortune.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Cry, Cry and Then Cry Some More

How can it be that I find less time to write here now that there isn't a baby in the house?

About ten days ago we helped our son gather his belongings and move back in with his wife. Sweet baby rode with us in our vehicle and I cherished every moment. He was asleep in his dad's arms when we went to leave and as much as I'd told myself I wasn't going to cry until we were in the car, the tears were falling before we even said goodbye. I continued to cry as we drove away and then for a distance down the road.

After we left sweet baby we drove another three hours to see our two granddaughters. It was good to be among giggles and playing and the reading of books. They are dancing sparks of joy in my mind and in person and I can't help but smile when I think of them. I so often wish they lived closer.

The next morning Dearest One and I and a psychotherapist spent that day and the next one exploring and making connections between deep childhood wounds and current relationship patterns of behaviour. If there was a hare in the picture up there I would have to say we made progress somewhere in between the speed of a turtle and a hare.

I must have felt safe because I have never cried so much in two days in my life. Nor had anyone heard before what I call my 'keening cry'; the one that combines the ugly cry with primal pain.

I had told my regular therapist I wouldn't text her while on the weekend but she reassured me it was okay. I tried not to swear in the psychotherapist's office but I found myself whispering, fuck when the following three statements were made. I texted the first one to my therapist followed by the words 'fucking yay.'

Protection and connection are incompatible.
Requests and expectations are incompatible.
Reactivity and curiousity cannot coexist.

Because of the hard and exhausting work we did over that weekend, the emotional charge I've had in one of my most challenging familial relationships lessened to the point that I can't find it. I don't know if that person senses it or not but Dearest One thinks they do. Understanding why, where and how that relationship felt like such a threat and the ensuing conversation and tears was healing. I've done work in therapy here to help lessen the charge, and was on my way, but the work I did and the insight gained melted away so much displaced energy.

Normally I an super wary of things like that happening. Worried that I have instead stuffed my feelings because I found them so unacceptable on some level. But the change feels authentic and I am now able to set boundaries without the accompanying underlying smoldering anger. It was time and money well spent with the kind of changes that happened despite ourselves. Don't get me wrong. We did deep preparatory work and we couldn't have prepared for the insight and ensuing changes that took place.

We drove 8 hours home to an empty house. We had to put the last of our two pugs down a few months ago and so for the first time in 30 continuous years of having dogs, there was no dog to greet our return. Combine that with months of having a baby in the house and the initial quiet was jarring. We are grateful to be just the two of us again and we miss the baby. There really is nothing better than a baby recognizing you first thing in the morning and smiling all the way up to his eyes at you, bedhead and all.

I was cleaning up the living room on Saturday and came across two tiny squeaky toys that belong to sweet baby. Then a soother and a tiny pair of socks. I put them on the table and took a photo of all things baby then sent it to his parents. Then I sat there and cried.

Thankfully sweet baby and his parents are coming for a visit this week. I'm sure there will be tears all over again but some of them will be the happy kind.