Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Another Try

Yesterday felt like a write off of a day.  Last night when I crawled into bed I wondered why people ever got out of bed anyway. What was the point?

There's nothing much to do but ride those days (and thoughts) out and remind myself that, even though they feel permanent, my thoughts and feelings are temporary. I can say all that this morning but yesterday all I felt capable of was whining to Dearest One for the umpteenth time. Where is my motivation? Why aren't I better already?!

Today is the second anniversary of my dad's passing. No matter what the ageing process threw at him, he would get a wry grin on his face, lift his pointer finger in the air and proclaim, "It beats the alternative." He meant it with every fiber of his being.

I'm writing this at about the hour he passed away. Whew. Deep breath. I still can't write more about it than that.

This morning I cleaned the fridge out ahead of grocery shopping later on. As I took a jar of mostly pickle juice out of the fridge and dumped its contents, I was brought back to a time 25 years ago when the only thing in my fridge was a jar of pickle juice and a few potatoes. Meager pickings with three little ones to feed. We lived on home made bread and baked beans. At one point I went to the food bank and swallowed hard when I told the woman behind the desk that my kids hadn't had any fresh produce in so long. She didn't have any. That was a hard day.

Better days came even though it wasn't the last time we needed to use the food bank. The next time my kids were teenagers. The day the lady at the food bank offered me a 20 pound bag of flour someone had donated was a good one. Baked goods fill bellies. I love to bake.

My dad's favourite dessert was pie. Last summer I bought fresh picked berries and stuck them in the freezer in anticipation of making a pie for dessert tonight.

I'm glad the sun showed up again today. I'm grateful for another try.

Monday, January 28, 2019


Just putting that photo here as a reminder.
It's not a fucking race, sweetheart. 

For the record so far today I have had a shower (after a weekend spent in pjs and no showers) and did get dressed. I made the bed. I did my deep breathing exercises and my Centering Prayer.

And now I am writing.

In a few days it will be the 2nd anniversary of my dad's death. It feels like a shadow is following me, waiting to pounce. I have written next to nothing about the passing of my parents seven months apart in 2017 (plus the death of my father-in-law in there, too). The ache still runs so deep.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Teaching and Learning

Saturday morning. The sound of cartoons are wafting up the stairs from where oldest grandchild is watching TV with his Papa. Earlier, when I was giving out breakfast options and mentioned oatmeal, he leaned over and said, "Me and Papa call it porridge."

Papa taught him that old fashioned word. Other than being sticklers for manners we haven't gone out of our way to teach him much of anything. That's the privilege of being his grandparents. We do entertain his questions and sometimes offer answers. We let his curiousity lead the way and follow along. It can make for an interesting ride.

Who made all the people in the world? What if somebody breaks into the house while we're sleeping?  Hey, why is it still dark outside when it's morning?  

A few weeks ago we picked up the globe and, along with the help of a YouTube video, explained why it was still dark outside at 8:30 AM. This morning I was grateful for said darkness and used it to tell him it was still night time and so he needed to go back to sleep. That garnered an extra hour of shut eye for us both.

When he was two years old he would wake up and often ask to sort through my orange bamboo bowl full of rocks. We'd sit on my bed and he'd search until he found the lone rock that was shiny smooth and shaped like a bird's egg. He would hold it carefully in his palm and tell me in a hush that there was a baby inside. Sometimes he would carefully bring it to his lips and give it a kiss before placing it back on its nest full of rocks.

One of his Saturday cartoons has, as its theme song, the Beatles' Love Is All You Need. As he was eating oatmeal porridge for breakfast while he watched, he told me that love was not ALL you need. I listened as he listed other things he thought important, too. His typical for a 5 year old reaction and literal interpretation reminded me of someone.

When his dad was growing up and we'd go for a walk, I'd tell him he couldn't fill up his pockets with rocks because those rocks belonged to the government. I wish I had said that in jest, but life was SO black and white to me back then, and my rule following ways dominated my world. I wasn't going to leave any question hanging in case anyone came to a wrong conclusion. God forbid that happened.  There's no such thing as Santa Claus. That flower you just declared breathlessly as a beautiful French Rose is a Peony. Back then I might've said, "That's a rock, not an egg. There's no baby in it."  

I've come a long ways (baby.)

I honestly believed there was merit in teaching his dad that picking up a rock from a gravel road would be stealing. As if a child picking up rocks on the road would lead to a life of thievery. Don't you wish you'd been my kid? It's not for nothing that I've seriously suggested to Dearest One that we leave our kids money for extensive therapy.

These days I have bowls of rocks here and there in the house. There's more in the yard.

A few have the word Hope chiseled into their surface.

Some of them belong to the government.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Carry On

It feels like it should be Friday today. It's been a full week. Too full. Saying yes to things I should have said no to. Not having the presence of mind to check in with myself before I opened my mouth and made commitments that have been energy suckers.

Next week I have nothing on my calendar except an appointment with my therapist. It's ridiculous how relieved I feel about so many days in a row full of no plans.

I don't remember daydreaming as a child about what I hoped my life might look like when I grew up. I know I lived in the future, daily looking towards the next thing that could brighten my life, if even momentarily. Simple things. Getting an exam mark back. Days of the week when the mail carrier came (Dearest One and I were pen pals through some of our teen years. We married when I was still a teenager.) Having tea with my grandparents. Whatever it was that warranted a mental note of possibility, I was on the lookout for those things. I spent little time being present in the here and now as it was unpredictable and often scary.

I could easier list the things I knew I didn't want in my adult life. A few of the worst of those things came into it anyway. Some of them were temporary (I'm grateful to be sober nearly 31 years now.) Some of them are still works in progress.

I am working on accepting life on life's terms. On not being able to think my way out of  the trauma that continues to impact my daily life. I can see that there are many things to be grateful for in the midst of the healing. In the midst of the hard work it takes to learn how to let go and simply be in the here and now. That is progress.

At my first appointment with my therapist I told her that my goal was to be able to sit in a restaurant with my back to the door. To no longer be unconsciously surveying my surroundings for safety and an escape plan. Maybe that's another way of saying, I want to be present to the life waiting for me.

Often I take stock of where I am in this journey and tell myself, "Carry on."

*Artwork by Lucy Campbell

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


The words on the photo are ones I keep returning to again and again. I have days when it is easier to trust and moments when I beat myself up, thinking that I'm not trying hard enough to get better.

But I am getting there. I'm better than I was. Making progress.

I have a daily checklist to remind me to do things like shower and get dressed. Make the bed. Stay hydrated.

There was a time when I rocked at completing lists. Gave myself a little gold star in my head for being able to get shit done. I was in competition with myself and damn, I was going to win.

I wish I cared about my daily to do list, but I don't. I'm up to having eight little boxes to check off. Two of them I don't care about at all but my doctor and therapist do. I added those for their benefit. I added one for my benefit and that is writing. It is a soul satisfying activity for me.

I told my doctor a week ago that the hardest thing to accept is that I can't think my way out of this space I find myself in. I doubt I can write my way out of it either, but I'd like to think that it helps.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Baby Steps

I've been oblivious to my body's communication my whole life. I imagine that has its roots in my premature birth and the next to no physical contact for the first three months of my life. Interoception is a new term to me but I've done some reading on it and can see how my premature birth coupled with physical and later, sexual abuse, and it makes sense that I'm not skilled at hearing my body's communication. My default is to freeze. There's whole whack of stuff frozen in my body.  The therapy I am doing is helping shift the trauma and loosen it up so that it no longer rules my life. It leaves me feeling hope filled.

When I had cancer, and was given all my options for treatment, my body shouted "NO" at me. Every time I pictured sitting in a chair for chemo that "NO" was so insistent that I asked for a second opinion about my choices. That opinion (after many tests) confirmed that the "NO" I'd heard was in line with the test results. I have no idea if I would choose differently today.

I had therapy yesterday. Progress is in small, baby steps. Which is fitting considering that my trauma started at birth.

Yesterday, instead of swallowing my tears and tamping them down I let them roll down my face and flow freely.