Trauma together is like travelling together

•November 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment


Luckily (for me) I’ve not experienced much trauma in my life, so far.

My grandfather suffered a heart attack while I was with him when I was about 6 or 7 but I truthfully don’t remember much about it. My mother slammed her finger in a car door (which I had unlock by climbing through the sliding rear window in a pickup…), but I never went to the hospital with her. In my teens, my father suffered a series of symptoms similar to a heart attack, however, it turned out he was simply having a panic attack (which of course only increased the panic attack…). Again, I wasn’t there with him at the hospital and so couldn’t really assess the traumatic experience…

I’m not a fan of hospitals. I don’t think anyone really is. They usually mean something is wrong, horribly wrong. They make me nervous. I think they generally look and feel dirty. I get anxious and feel like crying all the time. I hate being there.

I broke my ankle when I was about 19 years old. It wasn’t a traumatic break or situation, but I ended up in the ER to have a cast applied. It was uncomfortable and I was less than pleasant (according to my ex-husband-then-boyfriend and parents). However, it wasn’t anything too extraordinary.

I watched my aunt waste away in a hospital from Leukemia. It took years of fighting and struggling until it finally got her. I saw her in those final days. I’d never seen anyone gravely, deathly ill in a hospital before her. I visited her in the days before she finally lost her battle. Saw how the cancer had ravished her body, saw how she looked in the sterile hospital bed. I brought her cool cloths from her adjoining washroom. I sat on the sterile, uncomfortable chairs in the room and ate stale sushi in the hospital cafeteria with my mother.

My grandmother passed away in a hospital bed in an ICU ward. She’d contracted some cold or another, and at 90-something years old was unable to fight anymore. Dementia had set in and she refused to eat let alone fight the sickness taking over her frail, cold body. There were never enough blankets to keep her warm.

The day she passed away, I visited her with my mother. She didn’t always recognize who was there, was barely opening her eyes at that point. But that day, she grabbed my hand, desperate in her grip. Her words were garbled, slurring due to her mouth’s inability to move quite right from weakness and a fading mind. I managed to make out one word: “Owen.”

At the time he was about to turn 1 year old. He was pulling himself up on furniture and cruising around. I told her so. She smiled. It was the first time I’d seen her smile in weeks. It was a small smile, but it was there. And as she sunk further into her pillow, closing her eyes and releasing her tight grip on my hand she whispered, “That’s lovely.”

That night we received a call around 4am that she’d passed away in her sleep.

The only good thing to come out of a hospital in recent years has been Owen’s birth. And even that wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I’ll save the details of that one for another post, but it was just as anxiety-inducing and stressful as any other hospital visit. Full of uncertainties and questions, concerns and worries. Of course, the joy of a new baby takes most of it away, but as a mother birthing a child trust me the worry and nerves are there. Always. Here’s a little person you’ve carried around and nurtured for 9 months, and you’re about to evict them in a rather unceremonious way into a world that’s cold and cruel (sometimes) and harsh for anyone, let alone a newborn. It was a lot.

I hate hospitals.

They test relationships. They push boundaries.

During the inevitable breakdown of our marriage, my ex-husband and I spoke often about the fact that we never supported one another, were never really there for each other. It was, unfortunately true. Over the course of 13 years, rarely did we stand behind the other 100%. Until our son was born. In those hours we were a team. We were together. He supported me, he was there for me, and I wanted to support him and be there for him as a good mother a good wife in those moments when we birthed our child.

Of course, all that support when out the window almost as quickly as my desire to wear anything but jogging pants did after giving birth (don’t judge me).

Colin and I never really travelled well together, either. He was always nervous, I always chastised him for it. I always got annoyed with him losing his documents. I was nervous, I didn’t want things to go wrong. I desperately wanted us to have a good time. I forced too much. And he was indifferent.

Almost two years ago now my body decided the kidney stone it had been storing had to be evicted. As pain started in the middle of the night, I had to drive myself to the ER as Owen snoozed and Colin stayed home with him. However, once Owen was at daycare and I still had hours and hours of agonizing pain and hospital time ahead of me; Colin didn’t even offer to come and see me or sit with me while I waited for the pain and time to pass. My father did. He skipped work and spent the day with me. I’ll be forever grateful.

Like my birthing story, the kidney stone story is one for another blog post. However, Colin’s unwillingness to support me in that moment of need, anxst and agony proved to me that our marriage really was over. If we’d been travelling, he’d have just abandoned me in the ghettos of Nairobi with nothing.

Hospitals are a bit like travelling when it comes to relationships. They test expectations, boundaries, limits, emotions. How does one handle the other; how does one respond to the other; is there trust; is there tenderness; is there hate; is there disdain?

This past weekend I spent more time than I wanted to in a hospital, sitting bedside. I was not the one being cared for, but someone I care deeply for was. As I watched him lay there, sedated and still bleeding, I could do nothing more than sob. Uncontrollably.

It was an accident: a missed stair, a tumble, and a skull that met an iron railing much too severely. Blood was everywhere almost immediately, and the anxiety and worry set in almost as quickly. I knew a trip to the hospital was in order, there was no way he was getting away without stitches.

An hour or so of arguing and general displeasure between the patient and various nurses and orderlies where I’d tried to calm the situation and him, and I was exhausted. When the nurse finally gave him something to stop him trying to take out his IV and remove his neck brace and keep him in bed, all I could do was collapse.

Emotionally I was spent. Physically I was sore. Mentally I was a wreck.

Sitting in the ER “room” being shared by a dozen or so other beds with patients in various states of disrepair and discomfort, I cried. Deep, heaving sobs. The woman sitting bedside next to me brought me a roll of toilet paper. I thanked her between breaths as best I could. In those moments we understood one another.

I could have gone to the washroom, and in fact at first I did. Standing there over the toilet holding myself up on the wall I heaved deep breaths trying to calm myself down. Trying to get a grip. Trying to be OK because I needed to be. I needed to be the OK one here because he wasn’t. I needed to be the one to answer questions in case he couldn’t.

When he finally woke up a few hours later, I’d not slept a wink. I was too wired, too anxious, and too aware of every movement, twitch and sound he made as he lay there, still bleeding from wounds that had not yet been stitched up.

He told me I should have left. Told me I didn’t need to be there. Told me countless times how sorry he was, but also how grateful he was that I was there.

No chains held me. I was not obliged to sit there for hours while he slept. In fact, I didn’t even have to get in the ambulance with him in the first place. I could have gone home. He’s a grown man, he didn’t need babysitting, despite an inability to walk down stairs properly…

Hospitals test relationships.

I’m still considering if the test was passed or not. There were good moments and not-so-good moments, but then I guess that’s what life is all about. Regardless, we walked out of the hospital hand-in-hand (and him still in the hospital gown… but I think that’s a story for another blog, too).

Traumatic experiences, like travelling, only exemplify those good and bad situations. It’s all in how you handle them, all in how you support one another, all in how you get through and come out the other side as a unit not opposing teams.

When we finally clambered into bed after close to eight hours at the hospital, despite being unbelievably sore and recently stitched up, he made every effort to roll on his side in all his discomfort.

“I just want to cuddle, I just want to have you near.”

Trauma is like travelling; and getting home is almost as important as being out on the adventure.


Good Luck and Don’t F*ck It Up

•November 8, 2015 • 1 Comment

Don't mess up

I don’t have an RBF. For those not in the know, RBF stands for Resting Bitch Face. I’ve been told this on multiple occasions. I’m open, I’m inviting. People talk to me, people talk at me. I engage in most conversations as I’m usually curious and give everyone the benefit of the doubt that they’ll be interesting, hopefully funny and that they might have something to offer me in life (at least, I do now … I wasn’t always as open or engaging).

So, when I’m out and about in the world I tend to talk to a lot of people. Some conversations are great and I get to learn about someone new, and learn a bit about myself in the process. Some great connections and friendships have emerged from my lack of an RBF, and I’m grateful for it.

Of course, there’s a downside to it as well as I seem unable to avoid the creeps and oddballs slurring derogatory comments and snide remarks thinking it’ll get me to drop my panties and head home with them… Guys, take a hint: That shit doesn’t work. Seriously.

Last night I went out for drinks with a few girlfriends. They chose a local wine bar lounge, and I showed up later in the evening. The place was packed, so we were squeezed in beside another table already occupied by two men and a woman. As we were already four and wanted to add two more, we were eyeing the table beside us in the hopes that they would leave. To clinch the deal, I said I’d ask the gentleman closest to me if we could steal their extra table in the meantime. I have no issues approaching strangers.

Upon asking the Random Stranger if we could steal his table, he smiled and said of course or we could join all our tables together and hang out. Of course, the latter happened.

As I was seated next to the Random Stranger I originally questioned about the table, we started chatting.

I wasn’t always open about myself, hell, I wasn’t ever really myself at all until recently. However, now, I’m an open book. I’ll tell you how I feel, what I’m thinking, and if you ask me a legitimate question I will give you a straight, true answer. So, Random Stranger and I start chatting.

He immediately spots my wrist where I’ve got Owen’s name tattooed. This is often the start of bar conversations. Men gravitate towards easy targets and topics of conversation like tattoos (plus, I’m fairly certain they want to ensure “Owen” isn’t my partner’s name).

I explain the significance and his eyebrows go up (as men’s usually do when I say I have a child). I openly discuss his age and what a good (most of the time) kid he is. And his next question is: Where is he tonight? And at first, I was a bit weirded out by the question, then I realized it was a clever way of asking if I was a single mother or not. My response: “He’s at home with his father, my ex.”

Look of relief on Random Stranger’s face.

“So, you’re single then?”

A smile, a laugh.

“Um, no, I’m not married, but I’m not single.”

From there the conversation circled around what I do for a living, which inevitably lead to talk about cars. And when Random Stranger and his group eventually got up to leave and he said goodbye to me, he leant over and said:

“You look really happy. Good luck with the new guy, and don’t fuck it up.”

As he said it, I laughed and jokingly said I’m trying not to. I mean, what else was I supposed to do? But inside somewhere a part of me was inhaling sharply with a look of panic and worry.

Don’t fuck it up, Miranda.


I’m bound to fuck it up.

It’s what I do.

How did this Random Stranger tap into that? I know it’s just a turn of phrase like “break a leg” or “everything happens for a reason,” but it hit too close to home for me not to think about it a bit more after the fact. Here’s someone I’ve known for barely a few hours and he’s already made an observation about my demeanor and commented on my life. Perhaps it says more about him than me, but I was still thrown off a bit by it all.

Don’t fuck it up.

I don’t want to. I desperately want to make it work or rather to continue to make it work. However, I’m fumbling along in this whole relationship thing like a blind cat trying to scrounge food in an alley, while simultaneously trying not to get hit by oncoming traffic. I have no idea what I’m doing. At all. I’m just trying to keep it all alive and well and on track.

No, trying is the wrong word. That makes it sound like work. What I’m experiencing now is not work, not at all. But it is something I have to work on internally.

I announced early on that I had no idea how to be a girlfriend. He seemed OK with that, and I was open and honest enough to reveal that I really had no idea (and still don’t, really) what I was doing.

I’m comfortable. I’m happy. I’m myself. I feel appreciated and cared for. And all of that makes me wonder when it will eventually all go wrong. Because how is it that I’ve come to deserve all that good? All that happiness? Am I bound to fuck it up in a self-sabotage kind of way?

Random Stranger hit a nerve, a nerve I’ve been nursing and covering for the better part of a few months now.

“Good luck and don’t fuck it up.”

I seriously need to work on my Resting Bitch Face, and pronto.

Beyond the walls

•October 15, 2015 • 3 Comments

We all put up a means of protection

We all put up walls. We have to. It’s part of what gets us through the day, what helps us succeed at work, what lets us thrive in society. Without walls, that protection that keeps our most inner selves from emerging, we’re vulnerable; we’re exposed; we’re weak. So we build walls.

It’s natural.

I built walls. I spent years building walls. Hell, I built walls in my marriage, which is a huge reason why it failed. I built a veritable Fort Knox around myself, my feelings, my heart, and my mind. I kept it all to me. I kept it all hidden. I was afraid. I was embarrassed. The real me was behind those walls. The real Miranda I’d never really let anyone see was there. And I didn’t dare let her out.

Then I did. I let her out to someone I probably shouldn’t have. I let her out in a way that wasn’t exactly intelligent. I let down my walls for a man I wasn’t sworn to. I opened myself up to someone I shouldn’t have. I have no regrets in doing so (besides the hurt I caused), but it did make me build up thicker protections after everything.

If I’d built a barrier before the affair, afterwards my walls were 20ft thicker, 100m taller, and covered in fire-breathing dragons. No one was getting in. And I was happy with that.

I never let anyone past the surface. Never let them really see me, understand me, feel the real me. I was content with surface interactions. Physical satisfaction and inconsequential interactions. A flirt, a snide comment, a kiss on the cheek and poof; we’ll never see one another again. It worked. I was protected. I stayed safe. I stayed within my walls.

Then suddenly it all changed.

I let someone in. They found a crack, an opening I didn’t realize was there. Somehow, I let my guard down. The dragons must have been sleeping (bastards), but he got in. He got inside. To me. To the real me. And I let him stay there.

It’s fucking scary.

Here I’d spent all these years completely alone in this isolated place with me (the real me), watching these interactions from afar, knowing I couldn’t get hurt, knowing I was safe from the BS of relationships and partners and all the emotional crap that came with it. Knowing I could observe from a distance, never having to participate (but of course offering advice to those who are, because that’s what friends do!). And over the past year I’ve isolated my heart, mind and soul even more.

For protection.

Or was that fear?

No one likes to be hurt. Why would we? We know the result, the outcome. Why would we subject ourselves to that process, those emotions? Which is precisely the reason my walls came up. Why the hell would I want to be hurt again? Why put myself through that nonsense?

I find it amazing and refreshing how easily Owen throws around “I love you.” And also, how I know he means it every single time. Often, we’ll be driving somewhere, and in the middle of a conversation about something random he’ll throw out a; “Mummy, I just love you.” And it melts my heart. It’s so pure. So whole. He has no walls. He has no boundaries. And as happy as it makes me, it also makes me sad to think that as he gets older, he’ll become so much more guarded with each hurt, with each bad experience.

I’ve not told anyone (besides my child of course) that I love them (truly love them) in well over a year.

How important is it really to say the words, though? When someone is let past our walls, do we need to shout it out loud? Are actions enough? I don’t know… on the one hand I crave those three little words, yet they simultaneously scare the shit out of me.

I remember when I was about 12 years old, I attended a summer school program to help improve my French. There was also an English-language program happening at the same time. I met a boy. He liked me. I liked him. His name was Angel (I shit you not). He was from Mexico, so was there for the English not the French. We started “dating,” which basically meant hanging out and holding hands and sharing a scared, timid kiss every now and then. About 2 weeks into our “relationship,” Angel said, “I love you.” I panicked. I said, “Thanks,” and removed myself from the situation.

It’s not that I didn’t care for him. I cared for him a great deal. But to hear those words, something in me just panicked, recoiled, and wanted to get away. To protect.

Feeling it is one thing; voicing it entirely another.

So, it got me thinking: If we let someone beyond our walls, do we really need to say those three words? Is it necessary? Doesn’t it eventually lose its meaning and its significance?

I distinctly remember a time in my past marriage where I’d often (very often) throw out “I love you” and simply get a, “me too” or “uh huh” in response … it no longer had meaning. It no longer mattered. It was dried out.

So, how am I supposed to use it again? I tell my son I love him every day, multiple times. And I mean it every single time. I love him with every ounce of my being. Telling him I love him makes me feel whole, makes me feel complete and it makes him smile and I cherish those moments.

But what about someone else? What about someone who’s penetrated my walls? Someone I’ve let in. It terrifies me. Three simple words terrify me. For their meaning, for their significance, for what they mean to the other person (or not). Rarely do we make connections in life, but when we do we want to express them. But is it necessary to say those words?

I’m learning every day, every moment. This is all new territory to me. This is all the unknown. I don’t know how to proceed. I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. I know what my heart and head are saying though, and they are usually at odds with one another … so which one do I listen to?

We put up walls for a reason; so what happens when someone gets beyond them?

A Somewhat Organized Chaos

•September 1, 2015 • 1 Comment

A functional disaster

Organization scares me. No, that’s the wrong word. Organization intimidates me. In the way a math final might intimidate someone who really didn’t study or a foreign language would someone visiting the origin country for the first time. Organization is a ticking time bomb of frustration and failure for me. And I’ve accepted that.

Over the years I’ve come to terms with my organized chaos, accepted it even. I am a disaster. A disaster who manages to survive, pay her bills, keep her condo from being infested by God knows what, keep clean clothes, keep all important documents in order and where they should be, and ensure my child is always prepared and well-equipped for day care.

But brush my hair in the morning? Well now, that’s asking a bit too much.

I am chaotic. I know this. It’s taken me many years to accept it, but now I’ve full embraced it. I’m a tornado of a girl. Emotionally, physically, mentally. I will bowl you over in all aspects. If you can accept that, then perhaps we can be friends. If not, batten down the hatches as I pass through and you’ll be just fine.

My mess makes me who I am.

My fashion sense only goes as far as a mannequin tells me (or friends via frantic iPhone photos of myself in the mirror with various outfit combos that usually get rejected as quickly as I’ve sent them). Accessories are foreign objects, and while I own a few they are repeated often as venturing beyond them would surely result in an epic disaster of crisis proportions.

My emotions are as wild as my unbrushed hair. That’s a major part of my chaos, my disaster.

I can’t control them. I think I used to be able to. Let me put this into perspective for you.

In my marriage, and subsequent relationship, I spent years (probably a good decade) tying my hair back in a ponytail when it wasn’t brushed out accordingly and “fixed.” If I didn’t have time to make it look “normal” I tied it back. My ex at the time used to complain when I wore my hair in a ponytail, stating I was taking the easy way out to make it look OK, that I should take more time to make myself look good, to make myself look decent.

Truth was, I was tying back the real me.

Ask anyone who sees me on a regular basis now: I rarely tie my hair back. Rats nest or not, it’s out. It’s me. It’s my chaos. It’s a representation of me accepting who I am and how I am instead of trying to tie it back and keep it hidden and proper. Sure, I’ll tie it back occasionally, but that’s more to keep it from my eyes or because it’s too hot or I’m running … I’m no longer ashamed of the chaos, the disaster. In fact, I love it.

Just as I let my hair be wild and free now, so too are my emotions. Saying how I feel and when I feel it is a huge part of me now. Why should I try and brush my emotions straight and proper if that’s not what they were meant to be in the first place? That might seem a bit “deep,” but you get what I mean.

I’m a somewhat organized chaos. I’ve accepted that. Finding someone else who accepts that is going to be the challenge. My condo is a liveable mess. A comfortable collision of random piles and clean surfaces. Laundry is always in various stages of “being done,” the kitchen is always half clean, and one day (I swear, one day) I will take out my recycling. I will.

Life isn’t meant to be straight-lace and proper. Where’s the fun in that? I’m not saying to go the complete opposite, but what I am saying is to be comfortable in your imperfections. Be comfortable in your chaos.

I am.

Allowing Myself to be Happy

•August 20, 2015 • 3 Comments
Finally, a rainbow...

Finally, a rainbow…

When you’ve been unhappy for a certain amount of time, being happy feels rather foreign. And the interesting thing is that you don’t really realize you’ve been so unhappy until the idea and prospect of happiness is presented. It’s kind of like a slap in the face, a kick to the groin, a real wake up call.

That sudden moment where you think, “Shit. I’m happy.”

Then realize, “Shit, I’ve been really unhappy for quite a while.”

And when you embrace that happiness everything kind of melts away, but only for a second (at least for me), because then I question the happiness. Is it real? Is it going to last? What happens when the feeling goes away? But do I deserve to feel this way? Am I just drunk?

Honestly, all those thoughts flew through my brain recently. And fairly simultaneously, too. Being in my brain is hectic, I tell ya.

I’d forgotten so completely what it was to feel happy, relaxed, calm, and in the moment that when it finally happened I wasn’t even sure what to do with myself or even that I was reacting correctly. Was that a smile on my face or a grimace? Why did I feel twitchy? Why did I feel like I needed to get away, and yet at the same time I never wanted to leave. It was all very schizophrenic.

See, I think I’d gotten to this point where I’d accepted I just wasn’t going to be THAT happy. I wasn’t worthy of it. I wasn’t deserving of it. That over the years things I’d done and said had lead me to where I am now and that life simply had the rest of my functional and OK (but not happy) future planned out. And I was alright with that. Because I was learning to just be OK all over again, after all.

And then suddenly I realized I was happy. I smiled so much recently I made myself cry. Dumb? Perhaps, but I’d not smiled like that in months. Months. I didn’t understand the feeling, the emotion, the physical change in my mind and my mood. It scared me, and yet I wanted more.

At the same time, I’m waiting for it to end. It’s a horrible thing to be happy and yet have this thought in the back of your mind that it’s sure to end soon. I wish I didn’t think like that. I wish I had the confidence to embrace it totally, to own it, to know that it’ll be mine. And mine for as long as I make it and keep it mine.

Yet, I’m waiting for it to be taken away.

I try to kick myself when I have these thoughts (my hamstrings are a bit tight though), because I know I should be happy. I can be happy. I deserve to be happy…. Even typing it I don’t fully believe it. I’m in shock still. Shocked at the situation that’s lead me to be happy, and waiting for it to all come crashing down.

I also question all my actions now. Will what I just said change everything? What if I do this? What if I act this way? Will it mean all the happiness will stop? Will I mess it all up? Am I doomed to do the wrong thing again, and again, and again.

It’s kind of a horrendous way to be happy.

Yet, I’m relishing in the moments I do have that are bringing a smile to my face (when I can silence all the questions and doubt in my mind and just exist in that moment). A genuine, real, from my toes smile. And I think it’s noticeable that the smile is real, that the emotion is wholehearted and sincere. I am finally able to let go, to enjoy, to be me. And it’s making me happy.

I need to focus on those moments and not concern myself with the future. I need to allow myself to be happy.

I don’t own a plunger

•July 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment
This is what I should have. I do not.

This is what I should have. I do not.

I’m an adult.

Let me correct that: I’m supposed to be an adult. By definition, and by the age indicated on my license, I’m an adult.

As I sit here just before midnight on a Monday night waiting for my sheets to dry — because maturity has clearly not taught me to put them in before 9pm — I know that just down the hall, my toilet is clogged. I do not own a plunger.

I’m a mother. By my birth date I am a full-fledged adult. I have a career, bills to pay, a mortgage. I buy groceries and plan meals. I chuckle at young girls in clubs that get stupid drunk by 10:30pm and have to be escorted out of the bar. I buy multivitamins, and make sure I have fresh water at all times. I make sure I have foods from all the food groups in my kitchen at all time.

But, I don’t own a plunger.

So, how adult am I, really?

Then I realize I’ll often eat cereal for dinner (after Owen’s gone to bed, of course). Those all-the-food-groups foods are for him, not me. I try my best to watch my nutrition (especially now as I’m trying to once again get myself back into shape and a body I’m happy with), but sometimes I succumb to the Miniwheat charm or perhaps the Tostitos with Boirson cheese spread… but I digress.

I look at my parents and I wonder: When do I get to be as mature as that?

Then I also remember my father still starts food fights to this day, and we laugh like teenagers at camp most weekends when we talk about God knows what topics and drink together on the deck … but that might be a topic for another entry.

Does maturity come when I finally purchase that plunger?

Adulthood means being prepared for anything and everything, right? This non-existent plunger has really made me stop and take stock of everything (plus I need a distraction from wanting to use the toilet I can’t use since Owen is asleep and I can’t exactly rush out to the local hardware store to purchase one at midnight…).

How adult am I really when I only take my garbage out once every few weeks?

Truth be told, I let it pile up on my balcony since I’m three flights of stairs up and I just can’t be bothered to drag it down with me until I’ve got about 5-6 big bags that I then have to trek up and down in one evening of hellish choring that leaves me breathless and cursing my inability to live like a real human being. Same goes for the recycling — but hey, I get brownie points for the actual recycling, right? I mean, it gets done eventually.

I don’t own a plunger.

It seems like such a simple, nondescript item to have in one’s home — yet I don’t. I checked: I have a fire extinguisher. I have a can opener, I even have a melon baller (who the fuck has a melon baller but not a plunger?). I own martini glasses I’ve only ever used ONCE and it was for a desert, not a drink. I own diamond-shaped wine stoppers. I have a miniature hammer. I even have a ton of those little furry sticker feet you put on furniture so they don’t scratch your floor. I have all the medicine and antihistamine you could ever hope to find in my bathroom cabinet, and I even have a cat de-fur thing.

Yet, I don’t own a plunger.

I can’t help feel this is a metaphor for something … unclogging the shit in my life and not being prepared for it at all … but maybe I’m just tired (and not quite the adult I thought I was). And I think my sheets are finally dry.

It’s OK to not be OK

•July 25, 2015 • 1 Comment
Take time

Take time to not be OK

I think one of the worst questions anyone has ever asked me is: “Are you OK?”

It’s a horribly open-ended question that’s terribly loaded and can be difficult for the one being asked to answer. I know. I’ve been on the receiving end of that question more times than I care to remember. My usual response is a nod and, “Yup.” I could even go so far as to smile and laugh with a wave of the hand, “Sure! I’m fine!”

Well, I’m not.

And I’ve never accepted not being OK like I have now. And it makes me feel good to admit and to embrace the fact that I’m not OK. I’m struggling with a lot now. I’m doing my very best to keep myself positive and take each day as it comes, but I’m not in a cheery mood most of the time. I have a million things on my mind, and on any given day at any moment in time I could very well burst into tears for no apparent reason. That’s just how life is right now. And I’ve accepted it.

So, those around me have to, as well.

If I look teary-eyed, don’t ask me if I’m OK.

If I seem frustrated, angry or am generally anxious, don’t ask me if I’m OK.

If I’m unusually quiet and want to left alone, don’t ask me if I’m OK.

I’m not. I will be. But I’m not right now.

And I’m going to take the time I need to not be OK. I’m going to take as long as I need, actually. Everyone who tells me to buck up and move on or grin and push through; they can go to hell (no offense). I want to cry. I want to take on all the sadness and the despair, and I want to learn to get over it. I want to truly feel it all, all the bad, so when I feel the good it’s a real good. Not a covering-up-the-sadness good. I want it to be real. It has to be real.

A huge part of me being OK and feeling that real happiness in the near future is doing what I’m doing right now: Sitting on a balcony in Whistler, BC with a glass of wine, wind rustling through the forest just beyond my reach, cool mountain air whipping my hair and keeping my breaths deep and clean.

This will make me OK. This will keep me grounded. This will make the happiness real. This will make me better. This will get me out the other side.

That’s why I take these moments, for me. I often get odd looks when I explain how I simply booked two extra nights in BC after a business trip to spend, alone, in the province. Without plans, without commitments, without any schedule. Just to be.

Today I drove aimlessly, stopping often to stand outside, arms outstretched to the sun (or rain) just to breathe. Just to let nature wash over me. It’s a liberating feeling. Yet equally stifling.

Spending so much time alone, with yourself, is very revealing.

When you’re not OK, you realize lots of little bits of yourself that aren’t as pleasant as you’d first thought. Those darker regions in the mind you may have ignored or hidden more deeply come to the surface. It’s intense. It’s eye-opening, and it’s actually pretty amazing.

It’s true what they say: You can’t love someone else until you love yourself.

I don’t think I every really loved myself. In my previous life (which is how I like to see it now), I hated more of me than I loved. I know that now. I know it because I’ve been changing, evolving, and improving those bits. I love a lot more of me now than I ever have before. I’m not at 100% but I’m a helluva lot better than I was.

So, am I OK? Nope. Not yet. I know I will be, soon hopefully, but I’m not there yet. Trips like the one I’m on right now help my soul, my heart, and my mind. Detaching, letting go, taking things moment by moment and just going with the flow of things is an amazing way to relax my mind and really get in touch with myself all over again.

Tomorrow it’s back to reality. I’m sad (but so excited to see Owen after 5 days away!), but I’m also happy to bring back a newer, more-OK-than-before me.


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