To the girl who wasn’t as prepared as she said she was

•April 4, 2016 • 3 Comments

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I see you crying. I see you crying a lot. I can almost physically see your pain, see the discomfort radiating from your now seemingly frail and weak body that shakes with sobs sporadically. I hear you take deep, shuddering breaths trying to steady yourself, trying to regain your composure; trying to be strong. I see your internal struggle. I think I can hear you arguing with yourself, fighting your inner demons as best you can.

You thought you were prepared for this. You said you were. You assured yourself you were. You reassured those around you that you were. You joked about it, made mock of it, threw in the odd self-deprecating silly story.

You were asked almost on a daily basis for months what you were going to do when this moment came. Asked how you planned on handling it, what you were going to do. And you simply shrugged, said it would all be OK; that you’d deal with it all when the time came.

You idiot. You weren’t at all prepared for the inevitable for the end you knew was coming regardless, and especially not for what you did.

Did you do it on purpose? Did you make it worse to make it all easier in the end? Did you fuck it up because you were told not to? Why don’t you have these answers?

Why are you crying so much?

You’re an adult(ish) who was supposed to be making adult decisions and being a better human being. Looks like you missed a turn somewhere on the road to a better you and future. But why?

You knew what you were getting into from the beginning. You knew it was never going to last. You knew you’d be alone not because of a failure in relationship, but because of a living situation. You accepted that. You said it was OK. You said you were OK with it.

Because you knew it would inevitably end, was that the reason you went into it?

Stop crying.

You’d been counting down the months/weeks/days till that fateful day. Is that why you chose to fuck things up early? Piss him off enough to push him away so you could deal with the pain of losing him before he actually left? That was a pretty stupid idea. Perhaps one of the least intelligent “ideas” you’ve had as of late.

What the fuck were you thinking?

After everything you’ve experienced, learned, felt, and realized over the months, you’ve regressed again. You did it on purpose; please tell me you did it on purpose. You can’t go back to that place, you can’t let yourself sink back down to that. You’re bigger than that, better than that, you’re worth more than that.

He did that for you: he made you feel worth it. He built you up. He showed you everything you could be and more. He made you feel like a real person, he made you feel happy, like a human being worth being around; someone with a heart and intelligence and a stupid sense of humour that could actually be appreciated. He showed you how great you were, through his actions and his look.

Stop crying, and don’t throw all that away.

Don’t go back to that place you were before. I see you trying to sink back, to step into the same shadows you emerged from months ago. Fuck that. Don’t be a complete idiot. Take from this and grow more.

You thought you were prepared for all of this, and maybe you were. But you weren’t prepared for yourself, and that was the worst part. You should have prepared for that. You should have known what you were capable of, what you were able to do without even meaning to. Have you learned nothing over the years? Maybe you really are destined to forever be that girl and you’ve just got to fucking accept it. Ever think that?

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but tough love might be exactly what you need right now. Tough love to toughen you up and stop you from making these mistakes in the future. Stop throwing away good things.

And stop crying. Please, please stop crying.

You gave everything, and every part of you. You held nothing back; not emotions, nor words, nor physical gestures. You presented it all fully. It was all accepted. You also presented a side of you that was less than desirable, and entirely not acceptable in his eyes. You need to live with that. You need to embrace that and accept that’s now a part of you, as well.

All these puzzle pieces, however awkwardly shaped and sharp-edged come together to make you who you are. You might not like the shapes they make, the colours they produce or the images they portray, but they’re you.

Fucking deal with it.

To the girl who wasn’t as prepared as she thought she was: Prepare yourself to heal, because you will. Eventually. As painful as it all is right now, you will pull through. You always do.

Sincerely,

The girl who wasn’t as prepared as she thought she was

xx

We all break

•February 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment
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We’re all bits and pieces of brokenness, really…

Everyone’s a little broken. That’s life. We experience things that tear us apart, rip us up in side, leave us feeling like we’ll never in a million years recover. As humans we subject ourselves to these situations and put ourselves in harms way to experience things to live. They’re not always horrendous, they’re not always heart wrenching and soul-crushing, but we are all broken in some way.

We lose family members, pets, friends, jobs, good fortune; and we break.

We embark on self-realization, self-discovery, emotional clarity; and we break.

We realize we’re not where we want to be in life (at all); and we break.

We’re hurt by those we love, betrayed, lied to, cheated on, made to feel insignificant; and we break.

We take on too much in life, we over-analyze, we work too hard, we don’t enjoy our free time, we overthink; and we break.

We all break.

It makes us human, but it doesn’t make it any better or easier.

So, why do we let it happen? Why do we put ourselves in harm’s way?

You know full well falling in love can lead to heartbreak, but you do it anyways. Why? Because it feels so goddamn good. Because it lights you up inside when it’s there. Because it feeds your soul and your mind and every fibre of your being. And if you went into it thinking only of the end, only of the break, you’d never feel all that glorious lightness and amazing inner glow. So you don’t. You focus on the good, the experience, the now, the present, and you deal with the break when it happens and only when it happens — if it does.

We all break.

I broke for the first time a few years ago. I broke in the worst way possible. I imploded. I let myself crumble from the inside. Pieces of my soul dropped off internally, and I told no one. I showed no one. I even hid my brokenness from myself, covering it up instead with an affair. I hid from my ex with another man. And I hid from myself in the arms of someone I wasn’t married to. I broke. Hard.

And when all those shards of myself had no where else to go and they came spilling out and the world was privy to my brokenness I shattered all over again in a whole new way. Because, you see, as humans we’re rather like onions in our layers … it was only a select few of my layers that had broken away, I had plenty more to be dismantled. And dismantle they did.

Am I proud of my broken times? Not at all. Am I glad they happened? In a way, yes. I wouldn’t be where I am right now had I not broken the way I did.

We all break.

And I think we break to be better. To learn. To overcome. We can’t know who we truly are, what we really want, until everything is exposed. Until everything is seen, known, heard, felt. And the only way to be all that is to crack it all open, expose it, break it.

How do we recover from the break? Ah, now that’s the question.

I don’t think I have yet. I’ve described myself as many things over the years: weird, odd, silly, funny, intelligent, spastic, non-adult-adult, crazy, driven, ambitious, clueless. But the one description that’s resurfaced multiple times is: broken.

In the beginning, when I’d accepted that I was indeed quite broken, I used it as a defense mechanism. It was a way to keep people at a distance. If I told them I was broken, they’d not want to come any closer, not want to embark on anything more serious with me for fear of slicing themselves on my sharp, jagged, broken bits. At least that’s what I’d tell myself internally as I’d shake my head and say in a coy, playful, yet serious way, “Oh, you don’t want me, I’m broken.”

It made me feel safe. Made me feel secure being broken. Made me feel like I could control the next break. Control the pain, and inevitably remain numb to any sort of connection.

Well, I broke my rule of keeping everyone at a distance for fear of exposing my jumbled bits and pieces. And I did it knowing full well that I was opening myself up to another emotional evisceration.

We all break.

Can we glue the pieces back together? Can we ever truly heal? Can we be whole again?

I don’t think so.

But, if we’re ever so lucky (and maybe luck is the wrong word, maybe it’s more about fate or the universe working in just the right ways) we find another human being who’s equally shattered or someone who at least understands what it means to truly break. Someone who’s there to see the cracks for what they are and not just try to cover them up; someone to pick up the shards, but not try to reassemble them. Someone who’s simply there to support the unstable bits, lend a hand at organizing the fallen pieces, and maybe shine some light through the cracks when it gets too dark in there.

We don’t need someone to fix us, we need someone to accept us for who we are after we break. Because you’re never truly fixed, you’re never truly whole again, but that’s OK.

We all break, because it makes us human and makes us who we are.

The break won’t be pleasant, it won’t be enjoyable, and it’ll hurt like a motherfucker, but it’ll happen; and you’ll be grateful it did in the end. Trust me.

The Sobbing Tree

•January 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment
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The Sobbing Tree (furthest to the right, with the most moss…)

A few days ago, I broke down at the base of a tree so large I couldn’t even see the top. Covered in the greenest moss I’d seen in months at the edge of a winding, quiet road on the edge of Butchart Gardens near Victoria on Vancouver Island, I openly sobbed and wept with one hand against the ancient evergreen, doubled over, as cool, refreshing BC rain washed over us both.

I didn’t mean to. That hadn’t been my intention as I strapped up my running shoes in my hotel room and mentally prepped to go for a run. I’d just landed on the island, never having visited before. I wanted to explore a little and also knew I needed to clear my head after a long day of travel and an upsetting conversation (for me anyways).

Running soothes me. It’s been the one thing I could turn to in the last few years that’s truly been mine. It’s all mine. Running is completely selfish. I can shut down when I run. Not think about Owen. Not think about work. Not think about bills. Not think about anything but: right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe in, breathe out. It’s wonderful.

I knew I needed that more than anything that afternoon. Rain or shine, I needed it.

And so I went. Armed with a set of poorly explained directions printed out on a sheet from the hotel reception, I left the resort and ventured out into the Brentwood Bay area.

I came across my Sobbing Tree completely by accident.

When faced with the choice to go left or right after getting completely lost thanks to the sad set of directions, I chose left and was met with a steep incline and a winding, twisty road. Large, ancient trees covered in vibrantly green moss lined each side of said road. Before running (as best I could) into the green abyss, I removed my headphones. Rain was falling at a steady pace. No cars appeared. All I could hear was my own raged breath and the rain hitting the leaves in the canopy. It was a beautifully stifling silence.

And so I set out, up the hill and onto the forest-lined road.

As the incline increased and the burn in my thighs and calves became ever more present, my lungs struggled for air, the rain mixed with sweat and ran into my eyes burning them ever so slight, my hands clenched tighter and my arms began to burn, too; and my brain suddenly came to life with every struggle and upset I’d had in the past few months — scratch that, past few years. Every misstep, every uncertainty, every unknown came crashing down on me in mere minutes.

I just quit my current job, which means I start a brand new one in a few weeks. A new job I know nothing about. This panics me a great deal. I’ve kept this panic at bay for now, but as I rose up the hill, so too did the anxiety I feel towards this new venture.

Writing is my escape. It’s the one time I’m me, fully me. I need it to survive, I need it to function. I need it to be Miranda. But am I good at it? I read as much as I write — no, that’s a lie. I read more than I write. I read a lot of very good writing, and I read a lot of really shit writing. And I wonder, where do I fall on that scale? I find myself talking about writers who are complete crap but who’ve published books that I’m reading. Am I like that? Do I shock and surprise the reading world that I’ve “made it” and that they’re reading me instead of someone with actual word power? I clenched my fists tighter as my strides became shorter up the steep hill, pumping my arms hard, feeling my shoulders ache as I felt the anger swell: Don’t ever be one of those writers, Miranda. Don’t let it happen. Unless it already has? Clench tighter.

I don’t have the balls to say the words “I love you” to someone I actually love. I can’t make my lips push the words out, and I know in a few very short months when everything changes for good that I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. The fact that I can’t grow a pair and fucking tell him eats away at me. I’m letting my past get the best of my future. I’m scared of the consequences, scared of the result, the empty silence that could hang in the air after I say it. The possible rejection that I’m not so sure I’m stable enough to handle just yet. As the burn in my thighs grew to epic proportions, to an almost unbearable point, so too did the burn in my heart telling me to actually express myself, properly.

Being a mostly single parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I question my methods, abilities, and choices every single day. Do I say the right things? Do I teach him enough? Am I involved enough? Am I providing well enough for my son? Am I a good mother? These questions circle my brain more than I’d like to admit. Knowing someone’s life and well-being is really and truly in my hands, MY HANDS, it’s fucking scary. Petrifying really. Every day. As my lungs heaved and struggled for every breath, my worries and questions heaved from within too, bubbling to the surface.

The past few years have been a massive balancing act for me. From learning how to live alone for the first time ever in my 32 years to entering the dating world for the first time since I was 17 (and let’s be honest, I wasn’t really part of it before that, either) to learning how to be a fully functioning adult (I say “learning,” but really I’ve not even opened the manual yet) to working my way through a divorce and all the wonderfully shitty things that go along with that to growing my career then deciding to change my path ever so slightly to figuring myself out and discovering who I AM in all of this … fuck. It’s been huge. It’s been heavy. Supremely heavy. Soul-crushingly heavy, actually.

And it all came crashing down on me in staggering succession as I reached the top of the hill and stumbled up to my Sobbing Tree.

A huge, heaving breath escaped me suddenly, and all I could do was double over. My hand shot out to stop myself from toppling forward, and I caught the edge of my Sobbing Tree. My finger nails dug into the moss, feeling the soft, wet shrubbery. And I wept. Openly, loudly, I wept. Crouching down I put both hands into the muddy earth at the base of the Sobbing Tree. Watching my bright purple nails sink into the rich, dark earth, rain pelting away on my exposed skin and fingers, I tried my best to breathe.

Deep, shuddering breaths were all I could manage. My shoulder pressed against my Sobbing Tree. And I looked up, into the rain, into the foliage, into the nature that surrounded me. And I felt small. My glasses caught drops of rain, and my breath caused the lenses to fog over. I was blinded momentarily, listening to only my whimpering breath and the creaks, shuffles, drips, groans, and sighs of nature around me.

For all the largeness of my problems, I felt tiny. Like nothing. Like a gnat on the surface of Mars. Minute. Microscopic. How could I let my troubles feel so large when I was so fucking small?

Before I left my Sobbing Tree, I touched my forehead to its mossy surface as a kind of thank you. I took one final deep, long, steady breath tasting its earthy scent and feeling the clean, cool air fill my desperate lungs. My Sobbing Tree grounded me in those moments. It brought me back to a reality I wasn’t quite ready to face, a reality I’d tried hard to push aside.

What if you knew when it would end?

•January 18, 2016 • 2 Comments

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As philosophical as I’d like to think I am, I am not talking about the end of days. Sure, the earth will likely implode one day in the distant future with the amount of shit we do to it and pollute it with, but that’s not what I’m on about. I’m not even trying to get into the greatly deep discussion about death. No, I’m talking much more personal, everyday things.

What if you knew when your cat or dog would die? What if you knew when you’d get fired? What if you knew when your parents would pass? What if you knew when you’d get into an accident and lose your car? What if you knew when your relationship would end? What if you knew when your child would move out and you’d no longer depend on them to make you the parent you’ve always known yourself to be?

What if you knew when it would end?

Would you do things differently? Would you not even start to begin with?

I struggle with this daily. Seriously. Every day.

When you start watching a movie or reading a book, you know it’s going to end. You aren’t shocked by the fact that it finishes. You aren’t upset or put out. You went into it knowing full well that it would finish. But between the time you start the story and end it, there’s a middle. There’s a meaty bit. Characters build, things happen, and the ending is (usually) satisfactory. And if it’s not, you’re annoyed, but none the worse for it. You experienced it. You learned something (perhaps not to read a certain author or see a movie by a specific director).

Can that logic be applied to life? Is experience and gaining knowledge and know-how enough to make something worth it if you know it will end?

When I was 27 years old, my 19-year-old cat passed away. I’d had her for more than half my life. She was, quite honestly, my best friend. She grew up with me. I got her when I was just 8 years old. I named her “Spooky” in my infinite creativity because my parents brought her home to me the day after Halloween. She was my confident. I used to imagine I could communicate with her. I’d created a legend of communication with the number of times she licked my hand when I asked her a question; 2 licks for “yes,” 1 lick for “no,” 3 licks for “maybe.” It was all quite scientific — especially to my 8-9-10-year-old self. Spooky used to follow me everywhere. She slept with me every night, even in her old senile days she still managed to jump up on the bed and curl herself up around my head and purr the loudest purr I’ve ever heard come from a cat.

Every day, Spooky would sit in the window and wait for me to come home. Seeing her excited face in the window each day, seeing her mouth excited meows before she leapt from the window to greet me at the door always brought a smile to my face — even on my absolute worst days. The moment I’d sit down on any surface, Spooky was instantly in my lap. We used to sunbathe in the backyard together. She used to “help” me fold laundry, and we always had the best time when I tried to make the bed; she absolutely adored running around  under the sheets and chasing my hand through the fabric.

Then she was gone.

I didn’t know the day it would happen, but I knew it would happen.

Spooky passed away about 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant with Owen. A close friend of mine at the time told me that it was the universe’s way of opening up my heart for another “baby,” since I loved Spooky so dearly.

I have two cats now. I’m not at all as attached to them as I was to Spooky. Not even Biscuit, who we recently acquired as a kitten. I won’t let myself get sucked in again. I know it’ll end. Not tomorrow, and likely not for many more years, but it will. And I don’t want that hurt again.

Is that what I’ve learned? Is that the lesson I took away from my 19 years with Spooky?

I think a lot about how I’d have felt had I known when my marriage would end. What I would have done differently (if anything). Or if perhaps I made it end when I did. If I chose the date. If I chose the stamped delivery date of our demise. Did I know the end all along? And if I did, did that change me? Change us?

I know, with a good amount of certainty, when my current relationship will end (at least as it is now). No, I’ve not chosen a specific day and time to say, “Thanks for the good times, but I’m out.” It’s a bit more complicated than that.

What I know is that it will end. And I’ve known it from the beginning. But I still went into it. I went into it cautiously at first. I went into it thinking I could control myself, my emotions, my brain, my heart.

Fuck, I’m dumb.

Has it changed how I’ve reacted through our months together? I’m not sure. I’ve never done this. And I’ve not had enough experience otherwise to say there’s been a huge difference. The only thing I can say is that it’s stunted me in opening up fully. In trying to protect myself I’ve kept a few walls up, perhaps even built a few new ones as the end gets closer and closer.

Is that why I went into it in the first place?

There are those around me who say that’s more than likely. It was a “safe” choice, a way for me not be alone, feel loved, have a good time, and to gain experience and learn without a huge form of commitment.

To that I say: Bullshit.

I hate being hurt. I hate crying. I hate being upset. I hate feeling lonely. I hate feeling lost. I hate saying goodbye. I hate endings.

Why would I go into something knowing it would end? Why would anyone?

Because we’re humans. Humans who crave interaction. Crave connections.

Things end. That’s life. That’s how the world functions. TV series end. Pets pass. Children grow up. Parents pass away. Jobs are lost. Careers change. Location are changed. Families separate. Things end.

If we all knew when those endings would occur, we’d likely never be as brave or experimental as we are in life.

What if upon meeting a stranger at a bar, the first thing they said to you is: “Pleasure to meet you. In 3 weeks time precisely, I’ll say something really cruel and asshole-ish about your sister, and you’ll never talk to me again, ever. But until then the sex will be great and we’re going to have the BEST time together.”

Would you still do it?

Or if when you went for a new job the last thing you were told in the closing interview was: “You’ll work here for 3 years, 10 days, and 15 hours before HR comes in and tells you we’re downsizing and you’re one of the chosen few because we know you can survive, but it’s going to come as a shock for sure. But until then you’ll gain some serious experience in the field and grow your reputation in your position. Oh, and we have rockin’ Christmas parties.”

Would you still take the job?

Of course you would.You’d call back the person at the bar, and you’d call the next day and take the job.

Because as humans we believe in chance. Hope. The possibility that things will change. We hold on to every ounce of possibility we can. Even when we know, inevitably, there is an end, we hold on to the hope that the ending is avoidable or at least re-directable — kind of like a choose your own adventure book (I loved those growing up, btw… maybe that answers a lot of my adult issues … and is a subject for another blog).

I know the end. But I’ve not turned away. I opened my heart again. I expect hurt, but hold on to the hope that its avoidable, changeable somehow. That the ending can be manipulated, molded, formed into something that’s more of an interlude perhaps.

I’m in the meaty bit of my book, and I’m desperate for it to be a “choose your own adventure” that will keep me in an endless loop in the middle, never reaching the end.

The Evolution of a Relationship

•January 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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I’m the first to admit I know nothing about relationships. Correction; I know very little. I’ve come to learn more over the past few years, some lessons by choice, others by accident, and still others by sheer luck and circumstance. I’ve grown in the department of relationships, and yet am still very much in my infancy of understanding how they work and function “properly.”

Why in bunny ears? Well, because who’s to say what a proper relationship is, really? I mean, I’d like to think I know. But then I only know the “proper” ones I’ve seen in movies and on TV or read about in books. And are those really proper when they aren’t real? Then of course there are the relationships I see around me, but am I seeing the truth?

For years my ex and I put on a good show in our relationship. No one thought anything was wrong. Shit, we didn’t even think anything was really wrong. I mean, I think we both realized that there was an underlying issue, but a lack of experience and knowledge in how relationships should evolve and grow just left us acting the way we thought we should be acting: as the happy, content, perfect little couple. And we weren’t. We so weren’t.

So, how am I supposed to know how a relationship should evolve? Especially now. It’s not like I can follow the same steps I tried to (and thought I most definitely HAD to) way back then:

  • Start dating
  • Be smitten
  • Have lots of sex all the time
  • Move out together
  • Be smitten again
  • Get married
  • Be smitten again
  • Have child
  • Become a parental and couple unit
  • Continue happy marriage
  • Grow old together

I mean, that seemed like a logical progression when I was in my early 20s. Now it just seems laughable. Like, highly humorous actually. In my nearly mid-30s (good Lord) I see the relationship ladder a little differently:

  • Start dating
  • Be smitten (but cautious)
  • Have lots of sex
  • Continue to have my own life
  • Cautiously spend more time together
  • Never get married (again)
  • Never have more children
  • Understand that lots of sex doesn’t mean a healthy relationship and simply spending time together is sufficient and, no, the relationship isn’t going to end if we don’t do it every night
  • Feel like I have no idea what I’m doing 99% of the time
  • Not think about a future because that would be presumptuous and silly
  • Not get attached because good things aren’t allowed to happen to me
  • Try not to get too emotional
  • Be too emotional
  • Panic
  • Hopefully not mess up
  • Try not to end up alone with 40 cats

It’s really not as appealing. At all. But that’s kind of where I stand right now. In my current life situation, I feel like I have to be so bloody cautious about everything. Not make a mistake. Not fuck up. Not be THAT girl. But then I realize I don’t really know how to do the right thing, either.

And it’s always on my mind. Always. I’m not one to overanalyze, but I do think about a lot of stuff. All. The. Time.

What kind of stuff?

I think I analyze my feelings and emotions more than I used to. Much more than I used to. Mostly because I kept most of my emotions hidden and trapped inside for so long, and now they’re all there just bubbling under the surface, how can I not consider them?

But mostly I think about the progression of a relationship, the evolution if you will. How are things supposed to grow? How are they supposed to change? How are they supposed to evolve? And do they even? If a relationship stays stagnant, but is a good relationship, is that really a bad thing? Does it HAVE to change? Do I have to change? Does he have to change? Do we have to evolve together?

Life will inevitably cause some of those changes. Experiencing things together will elicit an evolution (or devolution, depending on the situation, of course). Travelling together, trauma together, good times, bad times, surprises, planned events, they all add to the story you build together and aide in the progression of the relationship. But how do you know you’re on the right path or even taking steps along that path?

I have absolutely no idea if I’m on the right path. I have no idea if I’m headed in the right direction. But I do know one thing: I’m happy. In this very moment, I’m happy. For all my inner anxieties and random panicked moments, I am happy more often than I am otherwise. And that’s amazing to me.

Is that proof enough that I’m on the right path? That I’ve made the right decisions, said the right things? I’d like to think so, but I can’t be sure.

Will my relationship ladder change/improve as the years progress? God I hope so. I can’t go through that process more than once, I don’t think. In fact, I’d like to never go through it again, actually. Dating is horrendous. And dating in your 30s is a fucking disaster. So, no thank you, I’d rather not have to go through it all again.

But here I am, still stumbling along and maybe that’s enough. Maybe that’s just enough to keep me afloat and keep me happy, and keep him happy, too. I’m fumbling blindly, but at least I’m fumbling and not charging ahead like a steamroller imagining I know precisely what I’m doing.

Because I haven’t a fucking clue, but I’m kinda loving it nonetheless.

Wishing you much happiness (and sadness) in 2016

•December 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment
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As a new year begins…

Today’s the day we all sit back and think about the past year; what it’s meant, what it’s done for us as individuals, what it’s brought us (emotionally, financially), and what it’s taken away. We cheer on the coming of a new year in the hopes that it will bring us much love, happiness, and wealth. We eagerly await that clock to hit midnight tonight, to bring us into the future where things are inevitably brighter, better and something to look forward to.

But what if instead we celebrated the past year as fervently as we welcome the next?

As each year comes to a close, I find it harder and harder to pinpoint specifics throughout the year that have influenced me negatively or positively. Everything blends together as a whole, joining up to bring me where I am at this very moment on the last day of the year. I think back on moments, on snippets of time, and I’m not sure if I can classify them as good or bad, they’ve simply changed me in some way. Changed me and brought me to where I am today, and for that I’m grateful. For that I celebrate the year I’ve just had.

For all those moments that made me evolve, made me grow, I celebrate the past year. Sure, not all of them were good, in fact I’d say a majority of them were heart-wrenching and downright difficult, but those were the moments I grew the most, the moments I really became me, the real me. As clichéd as it sounds, it really is the rough patches that make you the strongest.

I chose to move forward, to grow stronger instead of letting it make me weak, letting it beat me down. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fun, and I hated the process, but I did it. And I’m better for it.

2015 was an intense adventure from the beginning. I thought I knew what the year would hold, where I was going, who I was going to be with, what my path was going to be; I should have known better than to assume things would turn out the way I thought I’d planned.

And yet, I am so incredibly happy things went the way they did.

In the end, 2015 has been an amazing year, all around. For all the tears, all the emotional pain and growth, there was an equal (if not more) amount of laughter, joy and smiles. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever smiled (a real, genuine smile) as much as I have this past year.

Watching Owen turn into a real, live little boy. Watching him grow up and turn into a little man is always incredible, but as he turned 4 years old this past year it’s become all the more evident just how grown up he actually is… and just how quickly it’s all going. Watching him experience the world, seeing it through his eyes, his comments, and his stories is absolutely amazing. He’s my rock, my sanity when things get crazy, and my home. I am so incredibly lucky I get to be his mother, and I am grateful for that role every single day his smiling and loving face wakes me up in the morning.

New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection, and as I write this on a flight home from a few days away playing with a snowboard on the side of a mountain, I’m reflecting on how truly lucky, blessed, and incredibly happy I am at this very moment. And how this New Year’s Eve will be unlike any I’ve had in the past.

For the first time in years I feel complete as a person. Whole. Assembled the way I was meant to be. The real and fully put together Miranda. It’s quite amazing, actually. Mother, friend, daughter, lover, goofball, writer, editor, driver, occasional adult, weirdo; they’ve all come together as one and I’ve been able to show the world all of me this past year in a way I was never able to before. Incredible.

I won’t be sharing a kiss at midnight (not even with my son as he’ll be snoozing at that point), but it doesn’t matter, because I know I’m loved and cared for, and not just by my parent’s who will be sitting on the couch with me while we watch the ball drop, no doubt. No, by someone else (which is still a shock to me and something I smile about every day); and while we might be on opposite sides of the country at midnight, it won’t matter. I won’t feel alone, and I trust he won’t either.

I think back now on past NYEs and how forced they felt. How I felt I had to be happy, had to be near someone’s side, had to get that kiss at midnight, had to, had to, had to… And in the end, we were no happier for it, neither of us were. It was strained, it was an obligation, not a desire. We were going through the motions. And if it ever came up that we weren’t to be together on NYE, well, it would have been a disaster of disappointment and resentment for sure.

So, to know that I’m content thousands of miles away from someone I’d much rather be beside, knowing that he’s content as well, and we’ll both be silently wishing the other a happy NYE as the clock strikes midnight in our respective time zones makes me realize just how far I’ve come; and what it means to truly be happy. Real life happy. An actual happy. Not a forced happy. Not a pretend smile and fake laugh. No, the real deal.

2015 has made me happy in the end.

Seeing that written makes me laugh a little. If I think back to how 2015 started, I never in a million years would have thought it could end with me feeling that way, with my thanking 2015 for making me smile, for making me happy. Never.

Yet, here I am.

What a wonderful turn of events. We really can’t assume, expect or determine the direction our lives will take at all. We can only control how we as individuals react to situations and handle ourselves, how we are as people.

While I don’t want to go back on what I just said and predict 2016, I do know it won’t all be sunshine, roses and smiles (but then life never truly is, right?). I only hope I can take the strength and happiness I’ve earned in 2015 and pay it forward into the coming year to help me through any heartache I might encounter.

And really, that’s all we can hope to do in life, right?

So, on this New Year’s Eve 2015 I say: Bring your happiness with you into the New Year, but bring your sadness, too. It’s taught you how to be stronger. It’s taught you how to cope. Remember the good and the bad and use that to evolve and develop even more in 2016. Know that the New Year will bring you the happiness and goodness you create and attract. You will be happy if you allow it, so open your arms and welcome it in.

Happy New Year, I raise a glass to 2015 in thanks, and to welcome in 2016 that’s sure to be just as incredible and eye opening.

Trauma together is like travelling together

•November 24, 2015 • 1 Comment

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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 mutual 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; my father 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.

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.

 

 
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