These are the Times

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Sometimes I get lost in nostalgia. Today is one of those days.

I lived in Toronto for 11 years in two different time periods. There was pre-New Zealand and post-New Zealand and the experiences are vastly different from one another.

This morning I find myself in deep reflection, once again, on my time there pre-New Zealand. This was an intense time full of deep relationships, friendships, emotions, highs, lows, struggles and heart aches.

During this time I led a reflection activity for a group of young people using Billy Joel’s song “This is the Time,” encouraging them to make the most of their young days because they would not last forever. I didn’t realize how true these lyrics would become for me. I truly thought that this was a time that would last forever; at least for me.

Watch on YouTube: This is the Time

As I sit here writing this, listening to these lyrics again, I am almost surprised by how much things have changed. I was certain that my life was going to continue-on in the same manner, that I would be surrounded by the same people, doing the same things, for the rest of my days.

But, everything has changed.

There are beliefs, lifestyles, locations and people long-gone that I thought I would never leave, or leave behind.

Despite the fact that I was encouraging a group of young people to be mindful of their current situation, that it would not last forever, I did not seem to grasp this reality for myself.

There is one truth I know in life – things will change. I miss my friends, I miss the city and sometimes I even miss some of the experiences. I never thought I would be sitting here, miles away, having not spoken to most of these friends for many years, worlds apart from one another, living completely different lives.

In-between us now sits the large ocean called “Life,” and it seems impossible to cross.

“Sometimes it’s so easy
To let a day slip on by…”

 

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Remember What You Love to Do

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It’s so easy to get sucked-into the stresses of life and lose-track of the things you enjoy. I love to write, but I tell myself that I have to do all the other “important” things first before I can focus on the things I enjoy, and then more often than not, never get-around to doing what I love. I do not stop to take time for myself.

I am currently taking 3 condensed university courses and struggling just to keep-up. Not to mention the fact that I have a precocious 4 year old who is keeping me on my toes.

On my desk there sits a daily calendar that offers vibrant, artistic, inspirational quotes. I was underwhelmed by today’s message, until I glanced-over to it while stressing about all that I had to do and all that I have been unable to do, and realized that its message was one I desperately needed to read: “Remember what you love to do.”

Remember what you love to do.

Don’t get lost in all the stress. Don’t fill your day with only that which has to be done, but take time to do something that you want to do – something you enjoy. Don’t forget to do what you love to do.

And, I love to write.

Yes, there are assignments, tests, quizzes, books to read, papers to write, rooms to be tidied, chores to be done…

But, in all of these things, I should never forget what I love to do – because, if I do that, I forget myself.

We all have responsibilities, chores, tasks and maybe even deadlines, but it is so important to not allow these things to become who we are. They are not more important than taking the time to do something we enjoy, to express ourselves and allow ourselves to rest and to be renewed.

Therefore, even though this is just a little note, I sat still and allowed myself to write before running-off to fulfill my next responsibility and in so doing, discovered that taking 5 minutes for myself not only allows me to remember what I love to do, it also reminds me to love who I am and to be kind to myself.

Remember what you love to do.

Poem – May 16, 1998 (17 yrs old)

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Alone
She lies on her floor writing
Poetry
for no one but herself.

Upset
She does not know who she is
Frustrated
there is not a soul who can tell her.

People
They confuse her more and
Crush
her spirit.

Two
Hearts she is supposed to have
Learning
to handle one has been hard enough.

Who
Will rescue her and help her to surface?
Why
is her question for everything.

Misunderstood
By everyone known and unknown
Despised
by no one but herself.

Depressed
By poetry that gets her nowhere

searching.

The Thorn in Her Side – A Poem

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I spent some time reading-through two of my old journals tonight. I found a journal entry from December 4, 2001 that piqued my interest. Once again, it reminds me of something I could have written yesterday, because of how familiar it is and how applicable to my current state:

December 4, 2001 (21 yrs old)

Sometimes when I sit down to write in my journal it is very difficult to know what to write and where to begin. I am sure that my journals are some of the most strange, inconsistent journal writings ever recorded. But, it serves its purpose for me.

***
I thought that this entry was particularly interesting, given the fact that I had begun this evening’s readings with a few poems in a previous journal that are very raw and unpolished.

In my previous post, I commented that I was going to start with bones – bare, naked and vulnerable, and this poem is just that.

NOTE: This poem could be triggering to those who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse – if you are concerned for yourself, please do not read further.

 

 

The Thorn in Her Side _- June 12, 1999 (18 yrs old)

A little girl,
Unsure and frightened.
Unknowing and trusting
Of those around her.
They are older and wiser
And she should be able to
Trust them.

One night
A friend
Took advantage
Of that small
Trusting
Child.
Stripped her of innocence.
She stood naked for the entire
World to see.

She felt it was wrong,
But did not know
What do do
What was happening?

Ashamed of letting her
Brother hear.
What if he knew?
He would tell and she would be
In trouble.

Closing her eyes
She attempts sleep
But she feels
Restless
Scared
Ashamed
And sleep won’t come.

Curling into a fetal position
Longing
For the safety of her mother
She hears herself
Screaming
Yet knows that she makes no sound.

As the tears stream down her
Rosy cheeks
Soaking the pillow where
They land
She eventually drifts away into
A deep
deep
Deep
Peaceful
Sleep.

When she wakes the next morning
She remembers it as a
Haunting dream
And shoves it –
Violently
To the back of her mind.

But the seed had been
Planted
And it would soon become a huge
Thorn
In her side.

Authentically Me – Dec. 1998

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When you are someone who journals, you have the great advantage of being able to go-back and answer that nagging question: Was I always like this?

I have begun exploring my old journals and while there are many in this world who would say that I am still a baby, a mere 37 years young, I believe that there is a wealth of information and experience to be mined from within their covers.

When I was eighteen years old, I felt like I was so old and so mature. There are valid reasons for this because, by my eighteenth year I had already lived what felt like several lifetimes and been-through an incredible amount of unusual and phantasmagorical life-experiences.

The following journal excerpt is from December 17, 1998 and is the very first entry in a new journal. It is incredible for me to read because it sounds like something I could have written last year.

As I explore my journals, I will be sharing excerpts that I find interesting. They will be in original form, non-edited and raw. One day I will put more meat to the content, but for now, I start with the bones.

Dec. 17, 1998

Sometimes I worry about my sanity. I am terribly confused. I no longer know what I believe in, what I like and dislike and very plainly, who I am. I find myself liking things and not liking things on the basis of the opinions of others. I also find myself not liking things just because they are liked and popular. I feel that if I like something that is popular I am saying that I am a crowd follower and cannot form my own opinions. I do not know how, but I have to discover myself again and find out who I really am. Unfortunately, I feel as though I have to hit absolute bottom before I can. It is too easy right now to simply ignore things and pretend things are alright. I have to feel, believe and know that it is absolutely necessary that I find myself.

***

Wow, kid.

The idea that, at eighteen, I felt that I had to try and “discover myself again,” boggles the mind. I see eighteen year old’s now and they are like babies, so young, innocent, and unaware. I thought I was a “worldly” eighteen year old, but I didn’t know jack. I was a baby like them once; I just didn’t know it.

They say that ‘hindsight is 20-20,’ and this entry is an obvious red flag to me knowing now that it would be a mere few months later that I would overdose on pills in an attempt to find relief from all of these troublesome thoughts and feelings.

Like I said, I was naïve. I knew nothing of what was yet to come and had a flimsy grasp, at best, on all that had been.

Nonetheless, there is a beautiful trait that pokes through the mess – and that is the constant intent to be genuine. I do not now, nor have I ever, wished to pretend that I am somebody I am not.

“I must keep my own style & go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other” (Jane Austen, Jane Austen’s Letters).

The yearning for authentic sincerity that I often wore like an inconvenient abnormality, has been rubbed by the intimate hands of time and is showing itself as one of my most beautiful strengths.

An Unholy Confession

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She knelt down at the bench that was drenched with the tears and prayers of all those who had come before her. This was a seat that was not meant for resting, but for wrestling. Sinners came to this bench to confess, to plead, to repent and to rise in salvation.

The black shoes she had been wearing restricted her from attaching herself to the bench in the manner she thought necessary to get close to God, and as she twisted-around to remove them, her black uniform skirt got caught on the sleeve of her tunic, revealing more of her regulation nightshade pantyhose than modesty would approve.

She did not know that he was watching her.

He was always watching.

She went about her business, preaching and teaching the word of God, leading the people in praise and worship of the creator she loved so very much. She was just doing what she had been called to do, the best way she could.

In her twenty-one years of life she believed she had a firm grasp on the world, and was wise and mature to its ways.

When he came to her and confessed his love, she found herself spinning and dizzy, unable to find her bearings and questioning what she had believed to be the safest place.

“My wife knows about you,” he confessed. She felt sick to her stomach and wanted to turn from him and run. Unable to speak, he continued, “I’ve been talking to my therapist about you.”

Was she, honestly, hearing him correctly? It seemed as though she had been thrust into another world, like a twisted version of what one might find beyond the wardrobe.

How could she have let this happen? What had she done to lead him on?

She stared back at him, in shock and disbelief and noticed for the first time how many wrinkles his face held and the glisten of his silvery white hair.

He was in his 50’s and had kind, but lost, eyes. She had always appreciated his gentleness, but now she felt like he was a predator. He was no longer a sheep, but a wolf in sheeps clothing.

“I love you,” he made his confession plainly.

She tugged at her white blouse nervously, suddenly feeling naked and exposed. In her mind she was pleading with him to stop looking at her. She felt undressed by his stare.

“What am I going to do?” he asked.

She said nothing. Frozen to the ground, unable to move, the world rang in her ears and she remembered what it felt like to want to disappear.

She never wanted to be seen by a man again.

Round My Hometown

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It is so strange to be back here. Back where it all began for me. This little town that formed so much of who I am, good and bad. Where I experienced so much joy, sadness, fear, shame, hurt, hope and love.

Each street breathes distant memories, rising up from the pavement and from walls of old buildings like dust being stirred by a strange wind. Sometimes the dust that rises is so thick I feel as though I cannot breathe.

I often ask myself how I will manage being surrounded by these oppressive memories, images and feelings. Will I ever manage to bring some stillness to this never-ending reel of embarrassments and moments of shame that I long to forget? Can I find joy here as well? Can memories that have long been stained and despised be redeemed?

I see a ghost of myself on every street, in corners, down ally’s, in buildings, and in the absence of buildings. She cries-out, asking to be found, to be rescued, to be safe, to be loved and to be free.

I search for ways to mend what was broken, picking up a piece of me that was left here, and a shard of me that was abandoned over there, and I attempt to find a way of putting them together that brings peace and makes me feel whole.

I ask myself if the town itself is oppressive, or if it’s just me – my own mind. I have no answer yet.

What can a person do, but keep pushing-forward, attempting to make things right, to find healing and peace and be better today than yesterday.

To Realize this Dream – I Need the Power of the Force

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I lost something somewhere along the way. Was it when I left the realm of the religious and spiritual? Was it when I had my son? Was it long before then when I had moved to a foreign country to be with a man I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be with?

When did I lose the ability to be still? To sit quietly, contemplating, or not, but being still, restful and at peace?

Sitting still now hurts my head. It is laborious and requires effort and discipline. I have to convince myself that it is a worthwhile endeavor and that it is producing something positive; that it is not just a waste of time.

I also used to write; I wrote almost every day between 1994-2013. I have a large stack of journals leaning-against our lounge wall reminding me of how I used to pour my life into words on a page. This was a religious act to me, just as prayer once was. It was part of my communion and communication. When I no longer believed that there was anyone out there with whom to communicate, I stopped writing.

I didn’t realize that I had been communing and communicating with myself all-along and that it was this relationship that had been lost.

I am on a mission to seek that which was lost – to find, once again, that communion with myself. I am also taking a terrifying journey to and through the past as I traverse my old journals, typing-up entries and key moments of my life. As I have begun organizing the journals chronologically, I have already experienced intense feelings of shame, embarrassment, anger, disappointment and fear.

I used to think that I was so mature – so wise and worldly. When in truth, I was such a child, and so naïve. It is going to be a taxing journey, but a worthy one. Who is this person from my past? More accurately, who are these people? The little girl, the young girl, the teenager, the early adult, the woman contemplating marrying a man she wasn’t sure she loved, the mother-to-be. Who is she?

I am determined to reconnect, at least, to the writer and the dreamer in her. To dream and to write again and to, finally, begin the task of chronicling and connecting stories into a piece of work that can be published.

I want to be a writer more than anything. It will never happen if I am not putting-in the work required to get me there.

So, mark this date on your calendar, the day I set-out to bring my life, my experiences, my thoughts, my relationships, my embarrassments and heartaches into a story in ink and on paper.

May the 4th be with me.

post-note: Though I have come to loathe this day and all the Star Wars posts, comments, jokes, memes, etc., I could not ignore the fact that this is the day in which I made some bold steps towards realizing this long-time dream of mine, and I need the power of the force behind me on this one.

A New Year

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I know I have been extremely slack in writing. This will be no surprise to anyone who was followed or known me for any length of time. I have a history of writing faithfully for bursts of time, followed by not writing for a length of time, only to pick it up and start again. On and on the cycle goes.

The main reason for this is that there are many, many, many things I want to write about that involve other people and I am not quite ready to put the stories that include other people (even if I withhold names) out there just yet. But, that doesn’t mean the writing isn’t happening. I still have to go through the process of writing about what’s in my mind. I just can’t share it yet.

These stories invade my mind and I still have to allow myself the time to go through them and let the stories work themselves out before I can move on to something else.

This often includes a process of revisiting the past and sometimes even reaching-out to a long, lost, friend or just trying to come to terms with how an old relationship ended.

There has been a lot of this for me in the past 6 months as our move back home has brought-up many memories and experiences with which I still needed to process and come to terms.

I have also become a full-time university student, via distance ed., working towards a degree. This has been a dream of mine ever since I left High School, when depression and anxiety held me back from being able to attend university. It has been something I had always missed-out on and, being someone who loves school and loves to learn, had always dreamed I would be able to do.

Now I’m doing it and it feels great!

I am also continually improving my health and nutrition and constantly striving to treat myself well.

I feel great.

2018 is going to be a good year.

#meetoo

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I have hesitated to #metoo for various reasons. 

– How many times do I have to tell my stories? It is not enjoyable to constantly have to rehash in an attempt to make people care. 

– I heard the debate about it early on and didn’t want to be judged. But, I also don’t want to be judged for not joining in. 

– The anxiety of whether to post, or not, pisses me off. First of all, I shouldn’t have to worry about it because these things should never have happened to me. They should never happen to anyone. 

Secondly, it saddens me that this is still such a problem. 

Thirdly, it brings up feelings towards men that are unfair. I know that there are great men out there. I have them as friends and in my family. 

Fourthly, it feels so empty compared to the trauma, the pain and the shame that every single #metoo event has had in my life. 

And finally, I questioned the validity of the movement because it seemed to me that it would only be affective if every one who had suffered sexual assault actually joined in. And that’s when it hit me…

#metoo