Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Bleeding Love

My bosses kid messed himself up this week in a skateboarding accident. Jersey was, understandably upset. I had a little accident of my own this weekend. Can't wait to go into work and face him tomorrow all bruised and bloodied.

I'm fine, I won't say definitely that my red 6-inch heels were trying to kill me last night, but maybe they were. Maybe it was Jehovah, trying to send me a message about the path I've been going down recently. If it was him, Congratulations dude, I still think you're an asshole.

But I did put a huge gash through my lip which is unfortunate because everything I've been working so hard for is finally coming together and they are coming over to take pictures of me on Friday. The doctor today said not to worry about it because "big lips are in". (Worst doctor ever.)

In a way, she's right though. A little bit of make-up, some lip gloss and it'll be like it never happened, but I have fabulous lips. I was heading out from dinner last night, going to see my guy and I tripped. It's funny, I don't think we ever get over that kid-like reaction when we fall down. You know how kids cry, even if they aren't hurt? It's just the humiliation of the whole situation. Well last night I didn't cry, I got up. And I was bleeding like crazy. I was wearing the dress I thought I might wear for the photoshoot on Friday, to test drive it and see what people thought. It has a lot of red in it, but now, the red was dominant.

I walked home past my bar, where my friends I had had dinner with were grabbing a pint after I walked off to meet J. One of the girls who works there went in and told Lindsay she should probably check up on me because I had just walked by, covered in blood.

It all still hurts a little bit and I chipped a tooth, but it's ok. Besides my hurt pride and messed up face, I'm fine. And one thing I've learned recently, through having to re-live the story to tell the story over and over lately to get it right, is that nothing, not a bruise or a break or anything that bleeds, can ever hurt as much as the emotional aspects of things do.

We, here on the outside, keep hoping they'll tame it down a bit and life might get more normal for us. But instead they've decided to be even more hard-core, you should watch this:


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Constant Knot

Do you know that City and Colour song? You should. That's how I feel. I walk around with a constant knot in my gut. Waiting. Because it always happens.

My friend was back today in town this weekend and he came to see me first. I was really happy about that. So we took a walk to the distillery. It was a beautiful Friday night. And of course, we walked right into two old friends from that other life I had. We got the classic reaction that I usually get. It's so dramatic it's almost funny, if it wasn't for the fact that these are old friends. They look at us, some kind of shock and awkwardness in their eyes, put their heads down, avert eye contact and walk right by. Quickly.

Apparently I am so dangerous, even eye contact with me should be avoided, lest I somehow am able to glamour you with my eyes and take you over to the dark side with me. (Vampire reference, if you don't know what "glamouring" is.)

I'm used to it now. Or maybe I'm not. I'm used to experiencing it, dealing with it, living through it. You never quite get used to being shunned by former friends and family members.

And it's so ridiculous, because guess what guys? I'm still a JW. You can't get out (unless you get disfellowshipped and I'm not anymore), so hey, technically - I'm one of you. The shunning is just getting kind of silly.

So we're both a little upset now. I cry. He talks about how this story will be all over Toronto by the end of the night (JW Toronto). I go home, cry some more. And I woke up this morning, all wrapped up in the nicest guy I've dated in a long time. I went to the market, went to meet Liz for a bit, caught up with Krista while she got her hair done, getting ready to go meet Lindsay for dinner.

And I thought, hey, sure I used to have dozens of best friends. And yes, I still miss them. I always wonder if Vivian's ok, or think about how my best friend since I was 10 years old has two kids I haven't seen since before they started school. I'm sure they don't remember me anymore. But it's ok. Three good girlfriends is really all I need in one city. And the others, who live a few hours away - they are my link to my past and we all keep each grounded as we go through the same experience of being cast out and trying so hard to move on.

Those girls last night? The ones who've known me for at least a decade, who I used to party with? I have nothing but compassion for them. How sad it must be to spend your life dedicated to a cause that preaches love and forgiveness but tells you that you shouldn't even smile and wave at someone on the street as you walk past them because you must participate in their punishment. I'm sure it's a difficult thing for them to reconcile at the end of the day, I always had a problem with the disfellowshipping arrangement, even when I was hard core.

I, for the briefest second this morning, thought that maybe I should just go to the Kingdom Hall tomorrow, stop trying to swim against the tide, go back to my people. But you know what? I've evolved. And if it takes a little bit of shunning and a few panic attacks to keep working at this great new life I have...so be it. Life is too short to live what you know is a lie.

And Vivian - if you ever get to where I am, I'm here. On the other side (not the dark side). Waiting for you. :)

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Puzzle Pieces

Ok, I think what I need now is a little more input from y'all. You can post anonymously, that's fine. Just give me a little feedback. Post a comment.

What do you want to hear about? Say if, perhaps, there's a chance a lot more people will read this soon. What reasonates? What is non-important? I know there are thousands of you out there reading me. I don't know who and I don't know why, but I have to think it's because I strike a chord somewhere when even if you haven't been through the same experiences in the same way, you've been where I've been and felt what I felt. And I think the biggest reason you probably can relate to me is because I'm real.

I don't want to sugar coat it. I've documented my journey as real and honest as I could. Do I try to look on the bright side, yes. This morning, my guy and I watched a couple of TED talks (totally worth checking out, I'll be on there soon) and one of them was on happiness. This guy spent his educational years studying happiness (of all things) at Harvard. He suggested there were a few things we should do every day to increase our happiness: 1) gratitude list: write down 3 things every day you are grateful for 2) keep a journal 3) exercise 4) meditate 5) reach out to someone to thank them or tell them why you're grateful to have them in your life. He said you don't need to spend more than 5 minutes on each, the important thing, is to do them all, every day.

Do that for 21 days, and then see how you feel. This past week, I went to a dark place after the incident with my mother. I did not try to live a healthy life. And I thought it was justified, because of what I went through. I see now though, that each of us can continue to make things better, regardless of what life throws at us. It all comes down to how we choose to react. Tonight, I had dinner with one of my best friends and her dad, who recently lost her mom/his wife too soon. We spent the night listening to stories about her and laughing, as I'm sure she would have wanted us to.

Sometimes the best we can do is just be there for each other, give a hug, listen. And hope that when we need the favour returned, they'll be there for us. From what I've seen, that's the reality of the world we live in, not the abnormally.

We are all trying so hard to complete our own puzzles, but we need some give and take from the people around us to make everything fit. Let's play the game together.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Hot Child in the City


It's HOT in Toronto. The kind of heat that hits you like a wall when you walk out of your nice, air-conditioned office. Personally, I try to stay away from too much airconditioning and went all summer without one last year at home. Last night though, I couldn't take it anymore. I dragged my friend across the hall down to the basement, dug up Krista's old unit and through much huffing and puffing and eventually completely drenched in sweat, we managed to get it in the window.
It's still too hot in my apartment to sleep. Oh well. Cat and I are staying hydrated. We're both getting old but we'll try to survive this heat wave. She spends most of her time lying on the tile floor by the front door. Maybe because it's cooler there, or maybe because she wants out of this heat box!
In other news, as I started what will prove to be an epic couple of weeks of work (read: trying not to have panic attacks), I came out of work at 6:30 Monday night and realized I had missed a call. From my sister. At least I thought it was my sister, they never call me, so when my BlackBerry freaked out last month and deleted all my contacts, I just never bothered adding Linda and Erin back in.
I called her back and they asked if they could pop by that evening - my mother had some things she wanted to drop off. Now the crux of this story is that my mother has decided to move to Panama to do missionary work for the JWs. She's actually leaving pretty soon, she already had a big sale and sold most of the stuff in her apartment. Without telling me she was actually moving to another country. Without asking me if I wanted any of our family possessions, before selling them on the cheap on Craigslist.
Ok, those things are out of my control and I assume, knowing those two the way I do, this behaviour shouldn't really be shocking. Hey, I can understand if I'm too much of a sinner to hang out with on the weekends, but you're moving to another country? I'm still your daughter. A heads up would have been nice. But I guess I think that way because that's what I would do in that situation.
So they show up. I smile, give them both a big hug. I don't mention the fact that neither of them included me in any of this process. I try not to gag while they excitedly go on about how great it is they are both "pioneers" now. Congratulations! Welcome to slaving in the hot hot heat in the summer and slushing through the snow in the winter, to have doors slammed in your face or - worse - finding innocent people to convert to your crazy sect. All the while, living in tiny apartments, with roomates, making minimal money because who has time to have a career when you do 70 hours of "volunteering" a month. I did it for 14 years, you couldn't pay me enough money to knock on someone's door and talk about the Bible (as interpreted by the JWs) ever again.
But if that's what they want, and they truly are happy, I'm happy for them. I see a bit of a disconnect in the fact that you can spend that much time every month trying to "help" strangers but refuse to have any real relationship with your daughter/sister. But I guess I see the world a bit differently these days.
One box was ok, I unwrapped pretty wine glasses that belonged to my great-aunt and was happy those didn't get sold for 25 cents in a yard sale. And we all know, I can always use a few more wine glasses. The second box though was what really got me. All the gifts I had given her over the years - returned. My grade school report cards, some pictures of me as a kid. If she's trying to erase her oldest kid from her life, this is the way to go. It's hard not to take it that way. Icing on the cake: she included the dress she wore to my EFFING WEDDING. A subtle reminder again, of what I had, what I've lost. What am I really going to do with that? Wear it? Burn it!
Now, if I had a boyfriend, who I really loved but it didn't work out (stay with me on this, I have a point), I wouldn't package up everything he'd ever given me and send it back to him. That, in my eyes, would just be hurtful. If I got to the point where I wanted to get rid of his stuff, because I wanted to move on, and it bothered me to keep it, I would pack it up and drop a box off at Goodwill.
My mother and sister, to me, are like that bad ex. The one who you really, truly loved and you just can't move on when he keeps showing up, inconsistently, out of the blue, to say hi, or tell you how great his life is now that he's moved on from me. I had one like that, and while I always tried to smile, stay friendly, be happy for him, it tore me up on the inside everytime he would pop back into my life out of the blue. And remind me of what I had lost.
Still working out my guilt issues, I would have felt mean to tell them not to come over with their boxes. But I have friends who say they would have told them to just drop it to the Salvation Army and leave them alone. I have friends who have shown up this week while I cried my way through getting over this, who say I'm doing really well, and I've been really happy, but everytime I let one of them show up in my life again, I'm un-doing all the progress I've made the past four years. Another friend sent me a message and said if she's learned anything about me, it's that I'm tough as shit. Yah, you kind of have to be.

I don't know how to not care about the way they treat me. I'm not like that. I know the thought process behind it. I know the Witnesses teach that this is the right way to treat someone who has left - withhold your love and relationship, and eventually, we'll get so sad and lonely, we'll see the error of our way, and come back.
For me now, these actions have the opposite effect. Everytime I'm reminded that this is how they are conditioned to treat their family - all the other things that they profess to display: love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness  - seem empty and hypocritical.
Ironically, my daily Buddhist newsletter this morning had the heading: Dealing with Shit. This is what it said: 
"You deal with your shit in Zen by sitting with it. By breathing right into it. You don’t try and ignore it with pleasant thoughts or lofty ideas, and you don’t try and bury it with solutions. You deal with it, you work with it, one breath at a time."
It reminded me of one of my favorite books, Tuesdays with Morrie. When he was dying, he was asked how was it that he didn't give in to self-pity or anger over the situation. And he said, he did. Instead of running from the negative emotions, he left himself feel them - really feel them. That he would take a little time in the morning, and if he felt sad or angry, he'd let himself feel it. He would cry if he needed to. But only for a few minutes. Then he put it away, smiled and went on with his day.
This week, this situation, has made me sad again. A little bit sad, a little bit angry that it seemed to be intentionally hurtful towards me. But I was able to smile at them and be kind. I didn't let them in to the hurt I felt, because what's the point? It would just reinforce with them how successful this solution is to keep your family who have left considering the option of going back.
That's really not an option for me anymore, it hasn't been for a long, long time. Especially now that the wheels are in motion for much bigger, broader communication on these issues, that will have my name all over it. At that point, I probably won't have to worry any more about random drop-ins or reminders that I have half a family out there that I will never be close to anymore. In my mother's own words: her priority is her "spiritual children" in her congregation. I'm glad she has them. I've built my own new "family" in Toronto too, we're not perfect, but we have a yacht. :)
It's been a bit of a bumpy week but I'll get through it. One breath at a time.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and Ferries)

Here I am, home at last. In a whirlwind roadtrip that spanned 4 provinces last weekend, I remembered all the reasons I usually just fly to PEI. Because 6 hours on a train, 14 (not 12!) hours in a car and then a ride on a ferry across the straight makes for a long trip home. I was feeling a little sad to be missing Pride with my friends back home, but 14 hours in a car with 3 gay guys, Abba, Madonna and Red Bull and you can say you've without hesitation you've done Pride this year!

Totally worth it though, once you actually get here. And stop working. I was supposed to be off at noon on Thursday. I ended up working until 7 pm on the train. I worked all day Friday in Montreal (I was the only geek in the hair salon, one of my most favorite indulgences, working on a laptop until 5:15 pm Friday afternoon before a long weekend). Monday and Tuesday the office was closed, but Wednesday I was right back at it, working a couple of hours after lunch. Now, I know what they will tell me when I get back to the office. "You should have said no." I'm really not a workaholic, I just wouldn't have been able to enjoy my vacation until I got it all done, and that's how long it took.

Today, I actually slept till a little past 9 am and didn't even have one panic attack all day. The weather has finally agreed to cooperate and it was sunny and hot. Dad and I went to the beach in the afternoon and a show in the evening. Kicking off a trip to PEI with a night of country music is perfect. I'm sure most of my Toronto friends find this annoying, but I LOVE country music. It's a lot like me: a little too honest sometimes, a little too sad sometimes, and if you can make something tragic into a joke - go for it! My favorite song tonight was about a girl he dated and how he didn't miss her at all, but he really missed her dad. I can totally relate!

The few days I spent in Nova Scotia were great, but as it turns out, all my aunts and uncles are bad influences and in reality I probably gained 3 lbs eating the most tasty and calorie-ridden food on the planet and spent most of that time in a hungover blur. (Just kidding, they're all lovely. Any debauchery that happened was probably Brett's fault.) And if any of them ever come to Toronto, they will totally fit in at my downstairs bar.

PEI is quiet in comparison, with people actually going to work in the morning and to bed at night, but we'll tear it up this weekend at the Dixie Chicks concert. It may just be all that country music making me nostalgic, but I really do wish I could live closer to home. Not just because I miss the people (and I DO), but because I get all confused sometimes about who I am and how to merge the old in with the new. I come home and people are so relaxed, so open, so friendly. It takes me awhile to get used to smiling at people again and saying hi when we cross paths (even if they are a stranger) and letting people pull out in front of you even if you have the right of way. These are the same things that made people think I was weird when I moved to Toronto and I didn't think I would lose those parts of me. But I have and now the impatient, unfriendly, untrusting side of me has taken root and I don't like strangers, I'm in a hurry when I drive and I forgot how to smile at someone I don't know. (In other news, the ability to drive a  massive 22-foot truck is apparently something you never forget, like riding a bicycle.)

I still can't imagine moving back home, but I think a lot lately about how I should probably leave the big city before it makes me "hard". It's all great to work hard and make sacrifices (like giving up a day and a half of your vacation time) for your job and then of course, you deserve your time out on the weekends, to relax at cool restaurants and bars, with your cool friends. I tend to think though, I'll never really fit into that mold and I'll always be looking for something with a bit more depth, a little more substance, something a little more like the country. After my stint in New York City, of course, next stop on the bucket list. Whatever way it turns out, I know one thing for sure: I'm flying home on Monday. : )