No More Parades

Some days I just don’t have it in me. 

This day has lasted 4 months, my slate is perpetually blank. 

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Reflective Fragments 

The first time someone called me delusional I was seventeen. The librarian called said that I must be delusional because she was positive that I hadn’t returned a book that I was positive I had. 
The first time I questioned my mental health, truly, I was sixteen, and was largely rebuffed by the professional I confided in. I was lazy, ungrateful, ambitionless, and angsty. Get out of bed, brush your hair, show up to class on time. You’ll feel better. You have so much potential. 
The first time I wanted to die I was fifteen. I had a panic attack over having to tell my mother that I had failed math again. I had myself in such a lather that I began cleaning out my closet, and I had every intention of hanging myself in it with a belt. A pink belt with green stars that I bought at Forever 21, the only souvenir from my school band trip that I could afford. My mother called and asked me to do the dishes before she got home. I missed my window. That feeling of wanting to end would simmer in the recesses of my mind, bubbling over at different times later in life. 

The first love of my life came at fifteen, and has remained my only love. He nurtures the good parts of me, and forgives the bad. I owe him my life. 
The first novel I remember reading was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. My dog was my best friend, and the book helped put my emotions into words. It also destroyed me emotionally for a few weeks after finishing it. Being able to read independently (i was in the third grade) offered a method of escape that would save my life more than once as I got older. 
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On the foggiest days I can reach out and touch the ragged fabric with which my reality is created. It’s frayed edges like worn burlap glide through my fingers as I struggle to grasp something tangible. As the mist coats the flora in the early morning, so does my fragmented reality coat my mind. My thirst for normalcy never quite sated from such a thin layer of moisture. 

When the wind picks up I am carried into the lives of others. Today I’m a parent volunteering at the school. When the wind changes I am an acquaintance in a tattoo shop, a fraud in a bookstore, a friend via text. I can never commit enough energy or attention to any one person or thing for too long. Lights flash in front of my eyes, I want to entertain all of them but instead cannot focus on even one. 
I feel so many things, yet I am paralysed by the thought of expressing them. Truly feeling them. It would be more apt to say that I think about feelings. If I start allowing myself to feel, I won’t be able to stop. I am an emotional implosion waiting to happen. The only thing I feel is fear. 

Fear of loss. Fear of change. Fear of success. Fear of self confidence. Fear of finding out who I really am. Fear of failure. Fear of faith. 
I couldn’t tell you who I am if I had all of the words in the world. I am a collection of grand ideas, half-truths, fears, and open wounds. The embodiment of an overactive imagination. I am an actual metaphor. Or is it a simile? I could never keep them straight. 

The Maker Makes

I have three daughters, aged 7, 4, and 10 months. As my beautiful ladies grow older and develop their own interests and personalities, I find that I’m discovering parts of myself in them. My biggest fear for them is that I will pass my poisons onto them, and not recognise that I’ve done it. 

When I was a child and even a teenager, not many people subscribed to the idea of childhood depression. Many people, my mother and father included, believed that the brain wasn’t capable of mental illness until after the age of 18, and also that “teenage angst” was a choice – not a symptom of mental stress. 

After discussing my youth in-depth with my psychiatrist and councillor, we mutually determined that I have been suffering from anxiety since childhood, major depressive disorder since my mid to late teens, and bipolar disorder stemming from around the same time. Looking back at those times in my life I can quite clearly see the signs and symptoms, which of course, seem obvious in retrospect. 

Now, as a mother in this new mental illness enlightened age, I worry for my girls- my eldest especially. Certified gifted, I was told that I may experience behavioural problems with her, and was giving a few books about “coping” with the gifted child. My amazing, hilarious, friendly, little L has trouble getting out of bed, especially if her dad is sailing. Prone to fits of rage, sometimes physically attacking me, sometimes not being able to eat. Happiness countered immediately with sadness, coupled with anger and obsession. 

It’s hard to deal with. 

I have my own emotional shitstorm to battle with every day, sometimes trying to deal with her is too much for me. I check out, lock myself in my head, and hope that the kids will engage autopilot before I crash the plane. But they deserve better. L needs my compassion, my understanding, my experience, but most days I’m just too tired to give it to her. We do battle on a daily basis. It’s hard on all of us. No matter what, I always try to validate her feelings. She is entitled to feel. Whether I agree with her or not, she gets to tell/yell her thoughts to me. I don’t know if it helps or hurts, but at this point I feel like she’s constantly on the cusp of exploding, but it seems like the yelling and stomping keeps her from diving over the edge  

I’ve read the books, the blogs, the listicles, the forums, and the truth is: I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing when it comes to my girls’ mental health. I have no clue. I barely have a grip on my own mental health, how am I supposed to be responsible for that of these precious beings? I’m terrified daily that I’m causing permanent emotional damage, or passing on my mental instabilities (or both). On the other hand, I don’t want to see symptoms in them that aren’t there. We all know what tricks the mind can play to spike our anxiety and send us spiralling. For now I’ll keep reading, keep fighting, keep cuddling, keep trying, keep failing. I owe them my best, even if some days my best is merely existing through the day. 

I need so desperately to protect them, but I can’t save them from themselves. Or, maybe I can. I wish someone had tried to save me.  

Too Many Elephants in the Room

This month has been full of ups and downs. My sister and my niece came to visit, my husband has started sailing again, now my uncle and cousin are here for a few weeks. I haven’t been compelled to write much as of late, but a recent experience has reminded me of the healing that can come from expression, and the cathartic relief it provides. 

A few days ago I ran into the one person I was not ever prepared to face – the person who over the course of several years abused me financially, emotionally, and sexually. The encounter was brief, but the effects were immediate. I was terrified, horrified, and completely taken off-guard. Of all the gin joints in all the world, how did he end up in mine? 

My fear turned to shame, anger, and guilt. Am I being punished? Tested by some divine power, perhaps? I went home shaking, wondering ” why me?”. I told my husband immediately, and he reminded me that I’m safe, and will remain safe with my family. 

After a restless sleep full of nightmares of horrors from my past, my husband and I talked again. I learned a lot from that short talk, and I’d like to share that with you now. First, and I think most importantly, we talked about forgiveness. I am not required to forgive the wrong that was done to me at the hands of someone I trusted. He will never apologise, and I need never forgive him. I do however, need to forgive myself. It wasn’t my fault, and I need to stop punishing myself based on the actions of another. The emotional trauma that these events caused me have changed me forever, but they needn’t define me, and I can’t allow the bad memories to continue to creep into my new life. No forgetting, no forgiving, just acceptance. I can’t erase the past, and it’s time to stop living there. 

The second, equally important point was strength and success. I have conquered many things in my life, why not this? Fear of the past has coloured the way I have lived, have seen myself, and controlled my emotional capabilities. But hell, if I can survive suicide, death from illness, bullying, homelessness, and hopelessness, who’s to say I can’t survive, and thrive, because of this? 

It’s time to reclaim my life! My emotions, my mental health, my dreams at night. I own all of those things, and no one person can take anything away from me. Only I have the power to punish myself, and only I have the power to heal myself. I forgive the naive girl that I used to be, I forgive the bitter woman that I have allowed myself to become. The soul-sucking raven I used to be is gone, and a Phoenix has arisen from the ashes in its place. No more feeling sorry, no more excuses for my anger, no more burying the experiences that have helped to shape me. My shadow needn’t scare me, my nightmares aren’t real any longer, I owe myself some sanity. 

I am growing, I am moving on, and I am looking forward to a newer version of myself who refuses to be defined by the bad, but instead by the good.

I am strong. I am worthy of real love. I am a better person for all of my experiences, both good and bad. Most importantly, I am good enough for myself. I am OK with who I am as a person, a mother, a wife, a sister, and a friend. From this moment on I pledge to give no one the power to hurt me, and I will cause no one any hurt in return. I can’t forgive the wrongs, but I can move past it all and know that acceptance, in my case, is a good replacement for forgiveness. 
  

Idiot’s Eden 

I have decided to give my time to an orphanage in Romania. The location and organisation are not up for debate, nor are my intentions. I have been working to advertise, and for the most part, the reactions have been positive. I have a restless soul that is yearning to do good on a bigger scale, and I truly believe that this will be a life changing opportunity for me. 

This next part of the post is for anyone that has been less than supportive. 

Dear soapbox preacher:

Please enlighten me as to what you have done for the world. You can think of better places for me to go? More worthy causes? Then why don’t you champion them? Trying to make me feel bad for wanting to help somewhere that it is needed is beyond ludicrous. I know that there are other places that need help. I know that kids in my country are suffering. What you fail to recognise is that there are government programs that can help these kids. I can’t fix the government. I’m not Superman. I can’t fix everything. I have chosen to do this because children with mental or physical defects in Romania are literally thrown in the garbage. I would love to be a philanthropist and help everyone everywhere, but I can’t. I am one person who wants to help a few kids have better days while I can. If you don’t support me – fine! That’s your prerogative, but don’t you dare shame me for wanting to do a little bit of good. I am trying to be a better human being, how is there any shame in that? I shouldn’t have to justify wanting to good. 

Now, for those people who are interested in knowing about my quest, here is some information. 

I am fundraising to spend 6 weeks at an orphanage in Romania with the organisation United Planet. I have a fundraising page, a Facebook page, and I also tweet about it. You can click on the links in the text if you would like to learn more! 

10,000 Maniacs

How many times in your life have you felt out of control? I’m not talking party animal, too drunk to function, throw up in the Arby’s bathroom, I’m talking about your brain operating so fast that you can’t make heads or tails of anything that you’re thinking. For some people, bipolar is a mixture of depression and mania. I am one of those people. I have experienced depression as well as manic depression, or a mixed-state, but never true mania without the depressive undertones. You would think that being a mixture of manic and depressive could lead to a balance of sorts, because one should even out the other. This however, is not the case. Manic depression is terrifying because your wheels are turning at an incomprehensible speed, and you are powerless to stop them. The thoughts and feelings I have are almost never productive or helpful, and it is in these times that I hate myself the most. 

Some of the symptoms of being manic in my case are excessive sweating, the inability to sit still or focus on one task at a time, spending too much money, insomnia, no appetite, and delusions.

I am about to be  very explicit with my experiences in the hopes that it better explains what I am going through. I want my transparency to help those who are suffering without knowing the root of the problems they face, and the caregivers who feel helpless. If any of these thoughts, feelings, or behaviours sound familiar to you, talk to me. If you know someone who suffers from these symptoms, love them. Don’t punish them for the things that they cannot control, and certainly don’t make them feel ashamed to come forward. Sometimes just being able to say one’s thoughts out loud can save someone’s life. If you can’t be someone to lean on, I strongly suggest you get off of the crazy train at the next stop.

 When I am feeling only depressed, I am tired constantly. I eat too much, and doing anything feels like too much energy. I wear the same clothes, I don’t shower, I feel pathetic. When I am feeling manic depression, I have a lot of energy. I clean, I cook, I put makeup on. On the outside I function mostly well. On the inside, I can’t control my thoughts or emotions. The hate that I feel for myself while depressed is amplified exponentially by mania. My inner monologue screams at me. It tells me that I am useless, that I am not a good mom, a terrible spouse, and that my family would be better off without me. It is during these times that thoughts of suicide crowd my brain, and because i can’t get my thoughts in order, it starts to seem like a good idea. I project my own feelings of self-loathing onto my loved ones, and assume that they are tired of me, tired of having to care for me, tired of having to constantly clean up my messes. Those feelings are my own, and it’s wrong for me to assume that others feel about me the way I feel about myself. One part of me knows and acknowledges this, but the rational part of me has trouble overpowering the yelling that is constantly going on in my head. 

When I am manic depressive I act impulsively. I lavish my loved ones with gifts and money in the hopes that they will continue to love me, in the hopes that they can see a value in the things I give them, because I can’t see the value in just being myself. I am so sure that everyone hates me, and I’m afraid that if I dont’t shower them with gifts that they will give up on me. They will wish me dead just as I do. 

The pinwheel spins so fast that all of the colours blur together and become gray. It slows down long enough for me to see the blue thoughts, the ones that tell me that I’m worthless, incapable of normalcy, inadequate. It speeds up again and I’m left to dwell on the thoughts that came to the forefrunt during the small slow-down. I feel like a car without a driver, a brick on the accelerator. I can see where I am headed but cannot stop myself from getting there. I say and do things that hurt people, but because I can’t explain myself. The result is anger and frustration from the people who I love. I am not an easy person to live with, and I know that I put strain on my friends and family. What they don’t realise is that it causes me pain, too. I don’t want to hurt them or anyone, and as a result we are all stuck in a vicious cycle of me hurting myself emotionally as well as hurting everyone else.

My thoughts of my family being better off without me, running away to help them,  or committing suicide as a way to put an end to their embarassment from having a crazy wife and mother are unfounded in the real world. The rational part of my brain knows that my children need a mother, and that I am thinking about a permanent solution to a temproary problem. I don’t want to die. I want to live free of pain and confusion. Even though that will never be a reality for me, I have to remember that I can make them feel better by trying my best to be a good mom. Removing myself from them doesn’t solve anything, and will cause a permanent hurt that I will never be able to take away. 

Being manic is a very selfish state to live in. The problems that I have inside consume me, and I can’t see a way out. It is truly terrifying to not know what you are capable of. I feel very self-involved, but I’m afraid of what will happen if I let myself stop thinking about it for even a moment. So far, the fear of myself is what has kept me going. 

Two years ago I got into our family vehicle during the only snow storm that we had that year. I jumped on the highway, and I spun my vehicle into the rock face as fast as I could. After I hit I tried to drive away again, even though the front end of my vehicle was gone. It was only after I was in the ambulance and on the way to the hospital that I realised that I had never intended to make it home. I hated myself so much, I was angry that I didn’t die in the hospital a few months earlier when I was sick. I was a shell of myself, filled with hate and anger and disgust. The only thing that could get rid of those feelings was to stop feeling all together. I got home after being checked out in the hospital, and a new hatred filled me. A hate that was fueled by my willingness to leave my family. I looked at my children and wondered how I could be so selfish, how I could think that they would be better off with a dead mother. I felt disgusting and unworthy of love. One thing that I have leraned from that experience is that suicide is not based on anyone other than yourself, but it’s not selfish. You are trying to put an end to their pain, you feel as though you are giving them a chance at a better life if you remove yourself from it. In my case, I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, I was trying to free them. 

Being manic depressive is a constant emotional rollercoaster that can’t be easily explained. It’s like being asked to explain the feeling of vomitting – you can’t listen to an explanation and picture the feeling – you have to experience it. I truly hope that no one I love ever has to know exactly how I’m feeling, but I do hope that if they read this they understand that I never, ever, intend to hurt them, and that I am always trying to act in their best interests. I also want them to know that I am always going to seek help when I know that I am losing control, and that I will, to the best of my ability, shield them from the trouble that my instability can cause. I know that my actions always affect my loved ones, and I am doing everything I can to minimise the blast zone.

Do you know someone who is eperiencing or has experienced anything that I have described? Don’t know how to treat them, act around them, or care for them? Here are a few ideas on how you can engage them in a positive way.

If they don’t want to be touched, don’t touch them. Sometimes being manic can heighten the senses, sometimes to the point of touch being extremely uncomfortable. Always ask before embracing.

Don’t force them to engage. Ask how they are feeling, ask if they need to talk, but don’t pressure or guilt them into talking if they can’t. One thing that bipolar people are good at is deception. If they can’t sort themseves out they will tell you what YOU need to hear, getting you off of their case so they can go back to fighting silently for their lives.

Don’t. Get. Angry. If your loved one opens up to you and is honest with the thoughts and feelings that they are having, don’t react negatively. The first time that you do will be the last time they trust you with their demons.

We don’t come with a ‘fragile’ sticker, so please don’t label us. I know that this is a difficult one, because it’s hard to know what will set someone off. I get that, I don’t know what will set me off, either. Just be patient, and know that we don’t do it on purpose. No one likes being handled with kid gloves. 

Know when you’ve had enough. There is no shame in recognising that you aren’t able to be someone’s nurse-maid for the rest of your life. We know that we are hard to deal with, and the unpredictability of our emotions is taxing on everyone. Have the courage and the decency to say if you can’t do it anymore. It won’t be easy, but if it’s what’s best for all parties, so be it. YOUR mental health should alays be your number one priority.

Most importantly, love and be loved. Let the people you love know how much you do, make sure that they feel it. Gifts don’t equate to experiences…something I’m trying to learn. Everyone has good days and bad, just remember that every new day is a new chance for forgiveness, kindness, and the pursuit of living a full and happy life with someone who is wired a little bit differently from yourself. 

Hoop Dreams and semicoherent ramblings

An ideal caregiver, simplified, and then possibly over-complicated, by me. 

After lengthy conversations with numerous people of varied backgrounds and levels of mental illness exposure, I have compiled a composite sketch of the ideal caregiver. Some points may seem contradictory, but the illness I suffer from is one giant contradiction. So bear with me, and feel free to comment with agreements, arguments, and amendments. 
My ideal caregiver…
– May not understand, but takes the time to educate themselves, and uses that knowledge to respond and react appropriately
– Asks open-ended questions about me specifically, that are more specific than asking if I’m ok
– Isn’t easily exhausted. 
– Understands that I don’t do it on purpose, that it doesn’t go away, and that I can’t always control it 
– Believes me when I say that my thoughts, feelings, and behaviours have nothing to do with them or any of my loved ones
– Doesn’t shame me or make me feel guilty/afraid to express what I’m truly feeling; no matter how upsetting or shocking hearing it may be
– Embraces the good days, and doesn’t melt down on the bad days
– Respects that I feed off of the energy of those surrounding me; if you’re grumpy, I’m grumpy
– Accepts that I am not always the bad guy, but calls me out when I am
– Apologises when they are in the wrong, doesn’t twist it into how I’ve created a negative atmosphere
– Self deprecation is common in people like me. You don’t have to like it, but a certain amount is always going to be there. The negative nelly in my brain makes sure of that. If it gets out of hand, talk to me – don’t shame me
– Knows that they didn’t cause my illness and neither did I
– Admits if they can’t handle the huge undertaking that is being a caregiver of mine. There is no shame in knowing and accepting your limits
– Doesn’t hide their feelings for fear of triggering mine. I’m a big girl, I know how to listen and be respectful 
– Isn’t condescending to me during panic attacks, down swings, or periods of mania
– Asks what I need, doesn’t tell me; and reacts and responds accordingly
– Loves me for me, because of all of my weird quirks, insecurities, and downright crazy attitudes, because I am worth loving, and I deserve to be loved without having to change to fit who others think I should be. 
This is a very simple list that I feel applies to any human being, because when it comes down to it, that’s all I am – a human being. I am flawed, as are you, and everyone we’ve ever known. Flaws can be beautiful if the people living inside of them are nurtured and cared for, feel safe and loved. Stop defining human beings by the flaws that make them unique, and start loving the whole person. 
Being someone with a flaw that has a name doesn’t make us bad people, being judgemental, ignorant, and impatient is what bad people are made of. 
I am the most critical of myself, and I often project my opinions of myself onto others. I try to remind myself that everyone is entitled to form their own opinion, and it’s not right for me to assume how they feel about me. It’s a cycle: I assume the worst, negative energy is created, the other party reacts negatively and/or I lash out, and assume that they have a poor opinion of me. Rinse, repeat. I try hard to avoid these situations, but I am often affected by social cues, both verbal and nonverbal. Tone of voice, how your eyes move, where your hands are when you speak; all things that my brain converts into either ‘good vibes’ or bad ones. My most used phrase (admittedly not first spoken by me) is, “impact, not intent“. If you are a caregiver or close friend with someone who is living with mental illness, this is really a mantra that you should take to heart. Let’s say that while we’re talking you roll your eyes at something I’ve said. (Assuming that we’re talking about more than just sports or the weather) even though you may not even notice that you’ve rolled them, I did. I am analysing, conjuring all of the negative thoughts that I think you’re having about me and what I’m talking about. The impact of what you say and how you respond to people can have a major effect on their mental well-being. 
I’m not saying that you should find out the life story of every passersby before looking or speaking to them, but I am saying that you need to know your intimate audience. Just as I can’t assume that you don’t like me, you can’t assume that you’re close relations can’t or won’t be affected by some of the things that you say. 
Educate yourselves! Embrace your loved ones! And most importantly, be comfortable enough in your own skin that you don’t have to scratch the freckles off of mine. I have accepted who I am and what I live with, if you can do the same, we can all care for each other. 

Pieces. 

Does anyone else feel like their lives are constantly on the verge of falling apart?

I have a lot of good things going on right now. Biggest kid is playing lacrosse and loving it, middle kid is coming out of her shell and enjoying her school and mates, smallest kid, is growing like a seed and developing a very sweet personality. This weekend I met William Shatner, something that I never thought would happen, and he was every bit the man I imagined him to be. Later on this month I’ll be travelling to Calgary with my brother for the Fan Expo there, and at the end of the month I have my oral surgery consultation so that I can begin the process of fixing my teeth. In the wise words of every 90’s kid, everything’s coming up Milhouse. So what exactly is my problem? 

I am constitutionally defective. No matter how much good can happen on the outside, the inside is still highlighting all of the things it feels are wrong about me. My inner monsters hate my body, but steal my energy, so I can’t find the motivation to exercise. The want is there, but the hate always wins. The inner journal of my mind is constantly stained with pools of sticky, black ink; the kind that never dries, but instead glues pages of good thoughts together so that I can’t read them. I know that they’re there, but I can’t see them without tearing the pages. 

The biggest pools of ink currently staining my mind are telling me that my supporters and loved ones are getting tired of me not ‘getting better’. One minute I’m feeling strong and wanting to talk to Big Daddy about what I’m feeling, and the next I’m worried that I’m becoming too much of a burden for him to bear. His life comes with its own stressed and worries, a lot caused by me. How much more can I put on his shoulders before he collapses? I have nightmares of waking up to him gone, the children with him. Finding out that he can no longer act as my caregiver, that I am no longer fit to be a mother. My bipolar monster telling me that they would all be better off without me. Even in dreams I cannot escape the clutches of mental illness. I awake in a cold sweat, heart racing, sometimes crying. I know that everyone is tired of hearing how tired I am, but I wake up exhausted from stress. I haven’t slept peacefully in years. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed not hating myself. 

I spend the majority of my days trying to make it seem like I’m not struggling. I can smile, I can laugh, I enjoy my children, but nothing (so far) has been able to quiet the anger and self loathing that I feel inside. Everything I do, my demons find a way to tell me I could’ve done it better, or that what I’ve done is too insignificant to matter – so I should stop trying. Run away, stop being a burden on the people I love. They don’t deserve a crazy mother, wife, daughter, friend. Why do I punish them? I rationalise how much better off we would all be. Perhaps if I left and didn’t feel the constant guilt or not being the person I should be, I would also feel better. When the rational part of me pushes those thoughts away and reminds me that I am a good mother, and that I couldn’t survive without my girls, the monsters call me a coward. It hurts, and I feel alone. No matter how hard my loved ones try, I am always alone. Alone with my manic thoughts of grandeur, my depressed thoughts of wanting to die, my rational thoughts of putting on clean clothes and trying to make it through another day. In the end, these thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are all I’ll ever have, they are what I’m made of, and as hard as I try, I cannot quiet them. More often than not it is too hard to combat these feelings. I lay on the couch, distract myself with tv or my phone. My mother thinks I’m lazy. Maybe I am. I’m losing the will and the energy to fight every single minute of every single day. I make promises I can’t keep in the hopes that something will click inside of me and I will magically become the person that I’m “supposed” to be. Instead I repeatedly let people down. Why am I the only one that doesn’t function like a proper human being? 

I know that I’m not, but it’s hard not to feel that way. I am always alone. I am the only one fighting my battle, and even though they try, no one can help me. 

So here I sit, the coward on the couch. Over weight, lazy, and unwilling to be a productive member of my family. I’m sure that’s how it looks from the outside, anyway. 

Viking’s Valour

Here it is, my first post of the new year. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time that I’ve actually felt like writing. I still don’t feel like it, but her we are. I have been avoiding my blog for a few reasons, mostly because I haven’t been able to feel cheerful in some time, and who wants to read a post in which I report that nothing has changed? I had a lot of great things happen to me in the past year, but it’s not in me to be the person that only focusses on the good. I dwell on anger and sadness, it’s what helps me relate to humanity. Pain makes me feel human.
On Christmas day, my dog collapsed while we were on our family walk, and could not get up. He didn’t seem like he was upset or was in pain, so we waited for him to get up to finish the walk to home. After finally realising that he couldn’t get up by himself, a friend picked him up with his car and brought him to the house. (we were less than a block away)
After a day of pretending that he was just tired, and a night of panicking, on the morning of the 26th, I took him to the emergency animal hospital. I was separated from him for most of the day, which was very stressful for me. I was so worried, but the office was so busy that it took us a few hours to be seen. Because of his size and his inability to use his back legs, they made a bed for him in the back office, and were monitoring his vital signs. Every now and then a nurse would come and tell me that he was doing good, looking happy, he didn’t seem like he was under too much stress. Thankfully M stayed with me, in spite of her allergies, and helped me maintain my sanity while I waited. Even though I wanted to be with my boy, I was also a little bit happy that I was still waiting, because if I hadn’t seen the doctor, no one could give me bad news.
When the doctor finally came I was full of cautious optimism. Perhaps he had a pinched nerve, maybe a pulled muscle, maybe he was faking it because he had a flair for the dramatic (true story). Things went downhill so quickly that there were points that I struggled to stay breathing. After blood test analysis, it was determined that he had cancer in his blood, and it was so advanced that there were tumours in his hip and surrounding his heart. They could operate on the hip, but it wouldn’t do him any good. He had a week left at most, and according to the doctor, we were ‘lucky’ that he collapsed when he did, otherwise he probably would have died at home. I went in expecting to spend a few hundred bucks on treatment and medication, maybe he wold have an overnight stay at the hospital. It was then that I realised that I would be leaving without my dog. My boy. My Murphy, my Viking’s Valour, at the age of 7 human-years, was going to die that day – and I had to be the one to sign the form and say yes; I authorise you to take my dog’s life. I had his life in my hands, and I had to make the choice that was right for him, not the choice that was easiest for me. The doctor was so kind to me, I can’t imagine having to tell someone that they are about to lose their pet. He wasn’t a pet, he was my boy. My best friend, my biggest source of emotional support, and my foot warmer. He was one year less two days older than my oldest daughter, and we have had him since he was born. He loved my kids and they loved him. He was almost always a good boy. Never rowdy, never too loud, and only sometimes would he get into the garbage. (he had a thing for diapers and coffee grounds). In the end he was calm and ready; I was a total mess. We laid with him on the blanket while the vet first put him to sleep, and then euthanised him. As I felt his breathing stop I felt a piece of my soul die. I really did. i am forever altered by the loss of him, and although I know that it will get easier to live without him, I will never be the same. One of the lights in my heart has burnt out, and nothing can reignite it.

Good things have happened this year, so I will end on a high note. Most importantly, baby H was born this year! She is a magical little person and we as a family are so lucky to have her. Every day with my three girls is wonderful, especially during these few weeks of sadness. They have been able to help me through the darkest of days, and as always, I am eternally indebted to them for keeping me alive.
This year has given me new relationships, some unexpected and some long overdue! I look forward to growing with these new found treasures, and one goal for the year that I have is to better connect with the people that truly mean something to me – and not just via social media. I have spent so much time isolating myself, but the grief of losing Murphy has helped me reach out to people that I had forgotten how much I care about.
The girls have continued with their 100 acts of kindness project, I will make a separate post in the coming days about their progress!
Christmas brought us lots of treasures, including (for me) a signed copy of Col. Chris Hadfield’s new book, a new Nintendo 3DS to replace my old one that the kids broke, and a Jawbone Up24 band to help me step up my fitness game. New Year’s eve was spent with good friends, lots of food, and a bottle of wine to myself. I am continuing to work with Speak Up!, and was in YVR over the weekend to work on a project, and will return mid-month for a wellness fair. I find my time with them very fulfilling, and I am determined to not let my interest or commitment peter out, as so often is the case for me.
I have also decided that my 30th birthday will bring travel with friends. I have finally found the people who I want to travel with, and feel like by the time I reach 30 I will not only have enough money, but also have less anxiety over leaving the girls and Big Daddy. I still have a few years to hammer out all of the details, but I’ve decided that this year is going to be a year of change for me. No resolutions, just an overall life goal of making better decisions, committing to things that I say I am interested in, and making conscious behavioural changes that will benefit myself and my family. It is an ongoing process that will last the rest of my life, I will not put an end date on it by calling it a resolution.
Its finally time to say out with the old me, and in with the new. Im really ready, and I look forward to transforming myself in front of this blog, and I trust that my reader(s) will hold me accountable for the promises I make.

The year ended on a low note, but I have never felt more encouraged to be a better version of myself, and not just on the outside – on the inside, too. My pity party is over. Is anyone else making big changes to their lives? If you feel comfortable, please share your plans with me. We can all learn a lot from each other!

Cheers to a new year of adventure.

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Baby Haych

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Big Daddy and I with Murphy when he was a wee pup

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Christmas morning

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You’re Always Right. Now, Shut Up!

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Believe it or not, I know some things about some things. I’m certainly not the smartest person, but I am pretty OK at general things. Have a question about Canadian labour practice? Want to know what a specific political party’s running platform? Have a question about European history? Ask me! If I don’t know the answer, I more than likely have a book that I can reference to find it. My level of intelligence is directly related to my self-esteem. I take great pride in having a good education that I worked very hard to achieve. I had no free rides, and I put a lot of sweat and tears into improving myself, and proving to myself that I was capable of doing it. I LOVE debating things with friends and loved ones, I love learning peoples opinions, and I love defending my own. Friendly debates are healthy and mentally stimulating and should never hurt feelings or cause anger from any party involved.

I’m sure we all know that one person who knows everything – and no, I’m not referring to myself. That one person who will argue you until they are blue in the face – and when you prove yourself right? They are pissed at you and refuse to keep talking to you. They are the bully on the playground who takes the ball and leaves when he is called out. So here is my rant to you; oh brilliant one who has all of the answers to the questions of the universe, oh wise and omniscient know-er of all facts, including the ones that pertain to subjects you know nothing about. Are you ready? Pay attention.

Does my brain intimidate you? Good. It wouldn’t if you didn’t think yourself inferior to me. I’m starting to like that you get so frustrated that you resort to mindless insults or silence. You’re giving me a superiority complex. I don’t make you feel that way, you do. Being alive longer does not guarantee that you are smarter than anyone, and age does not entitle you to always be right. No one wants to discuss anything with you because the risk of making you mad isn’t worth it. The last time I tried discussing politics with you, you got mad and had tears in your eyes. How is that defending your opinion? If you think you’re right, fucking prove it! Use your knowledge of a subject to teach me something new! Change my opinion! We don’t have to agree on everything, but if you can’t appreciate that I have an opinion, I won’t respect yours either. The real kicker for me is that we have a mutual acquaintance who acts the EXACT SAME WAY as you, and you constantly bitch and complain about what an arrogant asshole he is, and how irritating it is that he has to always be right; but you are NO DIFFERENT. You’re both in the same category as  far as I’m concerned. The only difference between the two of you is that you shower occasionally. There’s nothing wrong with me thinking that I’m smart, everyone should celebrate their intelligence. I’ve worked DAMN HARD to know the things that I know, and I continue to learn and evolve daily, why can’t you do the same? If you aren’t interested in changing your beliefs or opinions based on new evidence and facts, at least have the courtesy not to yell at me every time you ask for my opinion and I give it to you.

You are also incredibly smart, and talented in a variety of areas, but your own unwillingness to accept other people’s talents tarnishes your own. I shouldn’t have to be afraid to tell you anything, nor should I downplay my successes to make you feel better about yourself. There are always going to be people in your day-to-day that know a multitude of things that you don’t know, and that’s not wrong. Your high horse is growing weary under the weight of your ignorance.

I love you, and I look forward to the day that I don’t have to worry about hurting your feelings over trivial events or conversations. Until then, I will continue to make you feel inferior because you think I do it to you intentionally. Just remember, it’s not me; it’s you. I’ll keep forgiving you because I have to, but I’m running out of patience and fucks to give.

Now that I have gotten that off of my chest I will admit that I sound completely arrogant in this post, but come on – there’s only so much I can take. EVERY WORD that comes out of my mouth is an affront to this person. They are the type of person that asks me a question and then argues over the answer I give. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t discuss a TV show without it ending in a fight and the silent treatment. Why ask my advice or opinion if you just want to rip me apart? Or is that what this is about? You feel intimidated and that upsets you, but you can’t figure out a way to refute my arguments, so you resort to anger and rudeness in the hopes that I will stop sharing with you and you can go back to feeling superior. I get it, I personally love feeling superior, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t – but part of actually being a superior human being instead of just thinking that you are is acknowledging that you are not the be-all end-all of the universe, and that quiet intelligence is always more attractive than loud arrogance or ignorance. The point of being educated is not to rub it in people’s faces, but to all exchange information and learn from each other. Being superior is knowing that you can learn something from everyone.

The bottom line is this: I don’t want to hurt you, and I don’t want you to make you feel bad about yourself; but I also don’t want to make myself feel bad to try and appease you. I have self-respect, and I cannot allow you to get in the way of it. Instead of bullying me, why don’t you take a look inward and see what it is about yourself that is causing you to attack me constantly. I get defensive easily, just like you. You try to make me feel bad, I will make sure that you feel bad. I don’t like that part of myself – I can admit that. We deserve to be happy around each other. Can we please work on that?

Temper tantrum over. For now.

#ilovesentencefragments