Tag Archives: brave

Doing the Shuffle


I must tell you all, right off the bat, that I know I haven’t written anything for several weeks.  I really feel bad about it because I know it helps me get through a lot.  I’ve put my volunteer work on hold for this month because of the extreme anxiety I’m feeling about my health and the crazy developments with my father’s estate and, as such, the state of my family life.  The stresses have really gotten to me where I am, once again, staying away from candycrushthe outside world most of the time and hiding in my online games.  So boring I know.  I do go to my appointments and have made more effort into cooking some meals the last few days than relying on junk food.  It helps that Carly is home to eat.

After messing up the last 2 appointments booked with my new mental health worker we finally met each other for the second time.  It all went well until she asked me how my typical day goes.  I was quite embarrassed about it until I remembered that I do get up early twice a week for when my granddaughter comes over for the day.  (So fun to be with her…two years old and so cute and full of goof).  She asked me what my stresses are and I told her about the above mentioned in more detail.  It was a pretty substantial list but mostly I have such fast and negative thoughts.  Then I was to go over the positive things in my life which were fewer but still easy to come up with; kids, boyfriend, and my finances are a little better.  I was also to tell her about what I do to help the with stress.  Again the list was small but at the end of the meeting she said that column would eventually be full and she could see how low my self-worth and self-esteem were and she has the tools to work on those negative thoughts.

I so desperately want that.  So much.  Which is one reason why I’m writing tonight.

It’s been mind-numbing during the day and my sleep is filled with monsters and fear.  Restful sleep is really not a part of my nights.  It’s mostly 3 or 4 in the monstermorning when my brain will finally shut down and my eyes slam shut for anywhere from 5 to 12 hours of sleep.  I slept a day away a few weeks ago with a total of 19 hours.  Crazy.

One thing I told my worker that I was sure I looked like a “mental health patient” with my shaking and whatever.  She assured me I looked just fine and start thinking more positive about that at least.

Well, sure thing.  Except for last night…

My fella and I were finally getting to have some time together and were going out for supper except I kinda and sorta forgot about the going out part only because it was later than I thought we would be going.  He called and said he was here and I had just got out of the shower and was dripping wet, naked and just figured, no problem, I’ll just throw something on and let him into my building like I usually do.  I went to the front door, where he usually waits, then the back door but no fella.  I was quite confused.  I called him and asked him where the heck was he and he said at the front in the #1 parking space.  So, after wandering around the hallway in my nightie for another couple of minutes it dawned on me about the going out part.

Right.  He’s waiting in the truck.  For me.  So we can go out for supper.  Okay.  I got it now.

What to wear?  I felt all hot and sweaty after all that running around so I put on a tank top and jeans and put hair products in my very wet hair and ran out the door.  He asked me if I wanted to go to a fancy restaurant but I told him I wasn’t really dressed for one (that’s for sure!) so he suggested a favourite pizza joint we both like.

It was very crowded and we were waiting for a table when I noticed someone eating at a table nearby who doesn’t like me too much and the feelings are white winequite mutual.  I hid behind my fella after warning him.  He was worried about a cat fight or me being so uncomfortable that we should go.  I told him not to worry, I have big ovaries and can take it but could he please buy me a glass of wine tonight?  Absolutely, he said.

He’s such a nice fella.

So all the tables were full except for one right beside this person and a whole bunch of reserved ones.  The owner of the restaurant told us to sit in the reserved section for now until a booth became available.  “Don’t you guys leave,” she said.  Whew.  We sat in the reserved section (getting the stinky eye from THAT table) until a group of volleyball players started to arrive. It was then I noticed how hot my feet were as I listened to my fella regale me with his own restaurant stories.  I tried to remember which shoes I put on when, to my horror, I looked down at my feet and saw….

I was wearing my slippers.

I was sitting in a nice restaurant with soaking wet hair, a man’s lumber jacket, no slippersbra and a tank top and wearing my slippers and there is a person 20 feet away who thinks I should be locked up and felt the need to insult and treat me with such disrespect because of my illness I had to block her from my life.

 I looked like the stereotypical mental health patient.  Just like I thought…

A booth opened up and the owner had us skedaddle over there right away.  It was a really busy night.

My fella had me howling with laughter when I confessed to my slipper shuffle.  He does that all the time. He said he was going to get me a hospital gown to go with my slippers for next time we go out so I can really look the part.  It was then I remembered what I told my worker about the fear I had that people looked at me funny and man…I was laughing so hard.  We both were.  I had to put a little extra shuffle in my step for the rest of the night and the code word was “slippers” to make me start laughing all over again.

Supper was great.  At the end when my fella was paying the bill I asked the owner how her trip to Greece went.  She told us that she went there to find all her old boyfriends so she could fuck them since she was too young to do that when she lived there as a young girl.  She didn’t find any.

My fella was more shocked by her confession than by my slippers.  It just added to the general hilarity and weirdness of the evening.

It was great to get out.  It did me a world of good.  I’m so looking forward to Thanksgiving with my sister’s family and my group.

I’m also looking forward to working with my mental health worker in the coming months.

So I hope everyone has a great Canadian Thanksgiving and even if you’re not turkeydinnerCanadian, eat some turkey.

🙂

 

Away From Home


There we were, two of the most anxious females I know, going to a strange city by Greyhound.  Whatever gave me the idea that this was a GOOD idea?  Well mainly it was because Carly and I were going to spend some good quality time together.

My son was driving us to the bus depot and I was feeling pretty calm until we were almost there.  Then my mind started racing with questions.  What do we do?  Where do we go?  We started off doing what we thought was the right thing.  We went to the counter at the depot and told the guy (who turned out to be our driver) that we were going to Edmonton and what do we do?  He looked at our tickets and, very kindly, told us we would be departing at Gate 1 at 6:45.  We found seats nearby and waited impatiently.  It got later and later and Carly was coming up with more and more dire scenarios (What if we don’t sit together?  Why did I have to read about Tim McLean? What if people smell bad?)  then finally we saw the bus arrive and security being set up.  We were about 5th in line and finally got to the security table when we noticed we were the only ones without any tags on  our luggage.

Now, remember, we did go to the counter and no one said anything about tags.  We had to go back to the nice man and tell him we needed them. There was a lineup there too and only 2 people on duty.  One staff member was being held up by a guy who was trying to say his 3 bags were all carry-on’s and the bag that weighs 100 lbs. is free.  That was not true and vigorous arguments ensued.  We finally got to the nice man and he apologized for his mistake and even let me take my heavy carry-on with me.  By this time there was no line at security.

Security checked my bags and waved the wand over me.  Then Carly.  Good, nothing was pierced on her that I don’t know about.

The thing about the motor coach I noticed the most was the smells that made their way to me throughout the trip to Edmonton.  The first half hour I smelled vomit.  The guy across the aisle kept belching really loud and they were quite stinky too.  As were his farts.  Then I thought everyone was drinking on the bus because someone would walk by me and I would smell alcohol.  Turns out it was the hand sanitizer from the bathroom.  Good for them for being so clean.  At least I knew they washed their hands after they did their business.

The smell that started half way there and never really went away came from a cup of coffee that a woman behind me spilled which proceeded to go downhill where Carly’s backpack was directly in its path.  Carly was already so stressed out at this point she went over the edge for a bit.  She cried over her Vans backpack and her new toiletries bag inside, now reeking of and dripping with coffee.  The lady felt so bad and mopped up everything with toilet paper.  Then there wasn’t any TP for the bathroom.  Finally the driver found some.  Whew.

feetMy legs and feet swelled up so much it was ridiculous.  I have a history of blood clots and made sure I walked around whenever we had a stop.  My feet hurt so much throughout the trip.  The swelling never really went away.

When we got there, after 18 hours on the bus and with barely any sleep, we still went shopping.  I could barely walk and would send Carly into a store while I would find a bench to sit on and rest. I had to buy a sweater because it wasn’t summer in Edmonton.  Fall weather had hit and I was in shorts and tank tops.  I was miserly with money and was so glad to find a pretty good one for only $10.  Carly must have spent over $300 the first day.   Her money not mine.

I slept so good that night and was out like a light before 9 pm.  I loved the pillows.  Our hotel was nicer than I expected.  I used booking.com and found a pretty good deal.  I give it 3-4 stars.

We hit so many stores.  There were so many people, especially on Saturday.  It was almost impossible to get through some of the aisles as they were clogged with crazy shoppers.

Saturday at the Mall!

Saturday at the Mall!

Friday was my birthday and another day of shopping was planned.  I got some great deals just telling people it was my birthday.  My new fella had given me a card with strict instructions not to open it until my birthday and I actually obeyed.  It was one of the first things I did when I woke up.  Open it I mean.  Lo and behold it had money in it!  With more strict orders (he seems to be a little bossy) to spend it frivolously on myself.  So I bought Body Shop stuff, which I never buy because it’s too expensive.  Because it was my birthday I got free hand lotion thrown in.

Carly spoiled me rotten on my birthday.  She paid for all the meals and cabs and bought me a beautiful forever scarf which was handy on the way home in the air-conditioned bus.  She paid for more than half the food on the trip and half the cab fares.  Almost every time I looked at her she had her bank card out.  She was so patient with me and my sore feet, as long as she knew where I was.  Thank goodness for texting and cell phones.

I noticed a lot of things that makes Edmonton different from Winnipeg, besides the mall.  The noise is unbelievable and overwhelming. We had to shout to each other most of the time at the mall.  Everybody goes really fast there too.  Cars and people.  Some of the fashions I saw I haven’t seen here, at least not yet.  AND I didn’t see one butt crack when people were sitting down.  In Winnipeg you can count on seeing several in any food court, on the bus or even just walking around.  I didn’t see one and that made me happy.

Leaving Edmonton was very different then leaving Winnipeg.  For one thing there was absolutely no security check done.  This caused a whole new round of anxiety for Carly as now anyone could have a knife or a gun and cut off our heads.  No one did but even so the trip home was a nightmare.  For 20 hours we listened to a baby either screaming with misery or laughter, depending on her mood.  At least I had to listen, Carly had her iPod so she plugged into her music world and drowned it all out.  The baby rarely stopped and it was horrible.  When she did stop another would start.  There were 8 children on that bus under the age of 5.  One mom had 4.  Another mom had 2 and one of hers was the devil child who kept screaming.

This mom who had 4 children with her was amazing.  We were about to leave Edmonton when a man came running onto the bus looking for seats he said.  There weren’t that many, it was pretty full.  The driver announced that a family of 5 was coming on board at the last-minute and to be patient.  No problem.  Out the doorway I could see this tiny woman, maybe about 25 years old and 4 kids, ranging in age from 8 to 18 months, all holding something; pillows, blankets, books, bags of food.  They climbed on then the driver made ANOTHER announcement that these people had reserved seats so a lot of people had to shuffle around.   The dad then ran off the bus, yelling “love you kids!” and he was a blur going back into the depot.  The little family was in the back and we didn’t hear a peep out of them.

We had a layover in Saskatchewan and these kids totally entertained me.  They danced and sang and giggled and climbed and ran and hid.  All the while, their mother was calm, laughing along with them, getting them to settle down for only minutes at a time and not worrying too much when they started up again.  She spoke to them patiently and kindly and I could tell she does this all the time by the way the kids treated each other; the same.  She met my eyes and laughed telling me they only had 3 hours of sleep so they were really goofy.  I told her, “My dad used to say, It’s better than crying”.  She laughed more.  I could hear a little hysteria in it though.  She was so great.  She would crouch on the floor with them, rocking the youngest against her chest while talking softly to the others and feeding them apples and grapes.  How she could hold that position for so long boggled my mind.

(Carly hates my people watching.  She thinks I’m nosy.  What the heck else would I write about if I didn’t watch other people and what makes them do what they do?)

Meanwhile the other screaming kid was still screaming with the mom begging her not to cry.  The dad did nothing; he just looked mad.  I know the child was tired and they were on a long trip but it was really hard to take by hour 15 of the 20 hour trip.  By the time we got home, I wanted to kiss the ground.

We had a delay before we left Alberta.  A young woman was hanging out with some of the younger guys on the bus, taking smoke breaks with them, etc.  These young men always smelled like pot (SECURITY!).  Anyway, we made a quick stop in a small town and I walked by her where she was commenting to some of the other women (who also smoked) with some concern about how she was swelling up.  I wanted to show her my own feet but didn’t dare scare her.  We all got back on the bus and started off again when she left her seat and went to talk to the driver.  He turned around and took her to the hospital.  According to the guys she hung with, she had taken opiates and then one of the guys gave her something else which didn’t react well with her.  We had to leave her there in the middle of nowhere, hopefully in good care.

I totally had a good time although in pain. Tylenol Arthritis was my best friend.  I’m pretty proud of myself but not totally surprised I could do it.  I had to be a good mom to Carly, who was anxious a lot of the time and keep her calm from her day-mares.  Never mind the hundreds of people or the guy who wanted to give me a makeover and wouldn’t give up, even when he saw me later and practically chased me.  I handled it.  I did good.  It’s taking me a few days to recover from the overload and the swelling but I’m just about there.

I’m still not sure about social situations though.  This was very impersonal as I didn’t have to interact with many people.  Just doing this trip and knowing, even if I am anxious about it, I can breathe through it and continue on.  I don’t know what the future holds but it sure looks good from here.  Going into big crowds like that was amazing and overwhelming at the same time.  We kept it simple; using cabs to get to the mall and back.  We didn’t do any sightseeing at all.  The fear of getting lost is still too strong.

Would I do it again?  Not on a bus.  No way on a bus.  I would fly for sure.

My world just got bigger.

Shopping…


I’m about to test the strengths I’ve learned these last few weeks/months/years.  I’ve planned a great adventure with my daughter which is totally out of my comfort zone.  One that will include a Greyhound bus full of strangers, bad food and poor sleep.  And then…

Destination:  West Edmonton Mall

We will be shopping pretty much non-stop for 3 days then head home again.  loveshoesWell, the girl will be shopping with her money, I will be the one behind her carrying her many purchases and stressing over how to save a nickel (could we have popcorn for supper?  I really don’t want those shoes.  Yes I do.  No I don’t.).

Does this trip fill me with anxiety?  Oh yes, you bet it does.  As a matter of fact today I had to drive to the airport where the bus depot is to purchase tickets and I felt so much panic as soon as I couldn’t see downtown anymore.  Will I get lost?  Will my bank card not work?  Maybe I don’t have any money.  Will my heart decide to stop beating?  Will there be an accident while I’m driving my son’s van?  Watch out for that old lady!!!!

Remember, this was just on the way to the bus station.

The original plan was for me to rent a car to get to Edmonton.  This wouldn’t work out because I don’t have a credit card and also because I would have to sell my body 541,000 times just to get the $1,000 I would need.  So Greyhound it is.  I’m relieved I’m not driving the 15 hour trip.  I would really be scared of getting horrorlost among other things too many to list here.  I’ve watched way too many movies where a car breaks down and weird-looking strangers make sure the passengers are never seen again.  The mom always gets killed first.

So once I conquer the bus and the inevitable motion sickness I’m prone to, we hit the hotel and then the mall.

The huge, incredible “mall”.   mall

 

This is bigger than anything in my city.  There aren’t just stores; there are amusement parks and restaurants and lots and lots of people.  Lots of them.

I want to do this though because this is the last year my last child is a child.  Next summer she will be an adult and making her own trips with her friends.  This way I get her all to myself for a few days with no computer in my face.  I’m really looking forward to it in spite of the gnawing in my stomach.  After all, I made it out of the bus station with a few wrong turns on the way back but made it home, unscathed, just the same.

I take heart in these small steps as they are leaps and bounds to what I could do 5 or 6 or 7 years ago.

Huge.

Like the mall.

Oy.

They SUCK!


Bad things happen to really nice people and my daughter just had the worst week of her life.  Sometimes teenaged boys just suck.  I’ve been dreading this…

My sweet and unsuspecting daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend of a year and a half came to an end this week.  She had no idea it was coming and is in total shock.  There is no comprehension, no reasoning she can see.  Why can’t it make the sense it should?

I feel so much of her pain.  No mom ever wants to see her child go through this drama.  I hate it. They got along well and didn’t really fight or argue a whole lot. I knew there was a strong likelihood that the relationship would end eventually because they’re so young.    I just didn’t want it to happen NOW.  A week before Valentine’s Day.  Holy cow.cookies and creme

My strong and beautiful daughter sobs like I’ve never seen her.  I let her and cry along with her sometimes.  Our home is where it’s safe to cry.  He won’t answer her texts, he isn’t calling.  This has to be the worst time in her life so far. Her heart is broken. I want to take all the hurt away, realizing eventually that this, for both of us, is all part of growing up.

I feel I’m making a difference.  She’s talking to me about her feelings, she’s set some goals, agreed to and made up some restrictions with her phone use so she won’t call him.  She listens to my advice, which I don’t give overwhelmingly. She wakes me up early in the morning just so I can sit with her until she has to leave for school.  She trusts me.carly

Needless to say, I haven’t left her alone very much.  To the dismay of my sister, I’ve even kept her home from school for 3 days and she’s now been back for 2.  The first day was hard but the second was better.  I encouraged her to get together with some girlfriends this weekend and is at a sleepover now.

I hate these hard lessons we have to face.  My memories of the first guy to dump me were horrible and will always be, even though I learned more about myself because of it.  I would call his place at all hours of the day and night and hang upprincess phone when he answered.  I would let it ring 30, 40, 50 times if he didn’t.  Needless to say there was no caller ID then.  I was so angry and sad and resentful. He was just cruel when he broke up with me.  There was no need for that.

Carly’s boyfriend wasn’t mean at all really.  He was “sugar-coating” his reasons which she recognized right away.  The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her, which she recognized as well.  It’s just now, for her, that hurt is burning and alive and it stabs me through my heart.  I feel it every moment she starts to cry or I look into her big brown eyes, full of sorrow.  Her posture is no longer straight and proud.  She is feeling beaten and betrayed.  How do you fix that Mom?

Time, I tell her.

We talk every evening.  I’m so proud of her for opening up about so many things I didn’t know but glad I know now.  She says I “get it”.

And I do.  I feel like a Mom again.

How about you?  The first time is always the worst isn’t it?

Kill The Demons (or just find a way to shut them up)


On January 13, 2014 and a Monday to boot, I faced a demon I’ve had in my dreams and my life for over 5 years.

This was a spontaneous decision to go to this place on this day although I had wanted to do it for a long time.  I faced the outside of the door, more than a little apprehensive on what my reception would be.  Unannounced, with no appointment but a steeliness in my heart, my hand reached out and opened the door.  My feet crossed the threshold.

I was back in the building where I spent 15 years of my life, giving it my all and then, when I left, felt like a failure.  The first thing I noticed was the silence.  This place was always full of noise when I worked there.  The next thing I noticed was a face peering at me from the front desk; older and maybe even wiser.  It took a minute for him to register who I was.  He jumped and said my name with a bit of a shout, and had big smiles for me.  I barely remembered what we talked about. We giggled a lot.

This wasn’t what I came here to do.

I asked the lovely receptionist (who was my work-husband on and off for 20 years) to see if the Executive Director was in and would he see me.  As he made the phone call, I started to notice other things.

spirit1There were ghosts.  Everywhere.  I knew that the clients I’ve known here, loved and stuck my neck out for were mostly gone now.  Their presence was obvious, though, almost like a breeze in some cases (Hi Marie, it sure is great to see you!) to waves crashing from an ocean to a shore; strong, really loud and hard to ignore (Well, looky you! WELL THERE YOU ARE!!  I knew you would come back.  Why did you leave?  Why. Did. You. Leave. Us?)

I wasn’t sure this was a good idea anymore.  What was I expecting?  It’s been a very long time since my sudden departure.  I waited at the front and saw a former staff member, one of my favourites.  I shouted her name and she turned around peering at me too.  The smile on her face was huge, the hug she gave me was huge and my heart was huge just seeing her again.  We only had a moment to chat before the E.D. came out.

His face was all lit up, grinning from ear to ear, obviously glad to see me.  I was so  happy to see that grin.  At least he didn’t have a lawyer with him. 🙂 We made our way to his office, ghosts still clamouring for my attention.

Some of the ghosts?  There was “Bill” who came to see me everyday no matter what.  Actually there were a lot of “Bills'”. And “Tim” who nobody seemed to like and he beauty of naturescared them because he was a bit crazy but I could see who he was back then, a frightened, rejected man for most of his life.  He would visit and I tried to get him to be a bit more sociable.  Sometimes it worked and lots of times it didn’t.

All through the halls, they spoke to me.

We arrived at the E.D.’s office and I sat in the familiar seat.  He was very animated and very glad to see me which he told me over and over.  I was feeling a lump in my throat.  I had to get the words out.

I explained I was here because I needed to say something about when I left so many years ago.  I wanted him to know how bad I felt about what I put him and the staff through, especially the last 6 months I was there.  I realize now how ill I had been and that there was no choice but to leave.  I didn’t hold anything against him or the organization.  It was a huge part of my life and who I was.  Unfortunately it was too huge to bear.  I couldn’t save everyone.

I also told him how much better I felt mentally.  My life is still a bit off-balance but I am now progressing rather than going backwards or stagnant.  I also told him how often I dreamt of this place (almost every night).  He wanted to know if it was good or bad dreams and I admitted to both, mostly bad.

He was so shocked that I, or anyone for that matter, would come in and say these things.  He also said that an apology was never needed nor did he ever harbour bad feelings towards me.  He could see my strength and I could feel it too.  He thought I was brave!  HA!

He explained how it had been for him and the rest of the staff:

He told me I had been such a fixture there, the staff and clients all felt a strong connection to me and could see me struggling every day.  It was awful for all to watch and he had no idea how to explain to me what was going on and what they were seeing.  Me, who could not see anything at all wrong with the way things were and it seemed pretty hopeless to get me to understand that things were not right.  He ended up putting my health first and making me go on disability.

He didn’t know what a nightmare it was for me after I left.

Now, watching his face and laughing with him and listening to the funny voices he still did that always made me laugh so much, I knew that this part of my life has some closure.

He escorted me to the clinic where I found some more long-lost staff and we reunionhugged and told stories.  Most of the staff I knew were no longer working there but, to the people who still did, I showed off pictures of my granddaughter, my dad and my kids.  They were all so amazed at my Carly and how beautiful and grown up she has become.  I was treated like much-loved and sorely missed royalty.  They were eager to hear about what’s going on in my life and what’s in store for me next.  I felt so…special.

slamming doorFinally it was time for me to go.  Off to the lawyer to slam a door on another part of my life that has been up in the air too long.

The ghosts were following me to the door, waving goodbye.

I stood outside those front doors for a minute wondering if they would follow me.  They stayed on the other side.  But they will have a better, less guilty place in my heart.

Always.

Found them…


April 15, 2013

I spent most of the day watching the news.  Twin explosions at the Boston Marathon rocked the world and made a fear which never really left come back like a punch in the gut.  (I’ve been punched in the gut and I know how it feels)

I frantically texted my daughter and, thankfully, she was 2 minutes away from home.  I told her to hurry as something crazy is happening to the world again.  She burst through the door a few minutes later crying, asking, “Is it North Korea?”  She was frantic we were all going to die because of the news that has been on lately.

There are 2 things I want to say here.  Well 3 things.

Number one thing is that I will say horror a lot.  It’s a word stuck in my head today.

The second thing is my horror that our children, MY children and MY grandchild, have to live with the same fear my peers and I had when it came to the threat of nuclear war.  I used to go to bed at night terrified that I would melt in my sleep.  I would dream of horrible deaths of the people I loved.  I don’t want my child to go through that.  Why does she have to?  ( I wish I could write more about this but my thoughts are still pretty scattered to get it out the right way. All I can say properly is please vote and these madmen will not be so powerful in this world.  Feel free to say in the comments what you think as well.)

My son is 12 years older than she is and didn’t have that threat over his head while growing up, at least, not a very serious one.  Now, however, he has his own family that he loses sleep over because of it.

The third thing I want to say comes after watching the coverage in Boston replayed over and over again by the media.  I tried to block the images of the blood on the streets;  I tried not to think about the limbs of innocent people  strewn over an area where thousands had gathered for a famous sporting celebration on a major American holiday when bombs went off…That’s when I saw something else.

I saw the helpers.

It struck me how help was there immediately when that street of celebration became Hell.  There were medical staff there for sure and police, of course, as they were there for the event.   Runners who just ran an unbelievable 42.20 km, rushed to the injured spectators or to other fallen runners.  I saw people frantically ripping down and climbing over fences, rubble and banners to get to the hurt and fallen.  The strength they showed was almost inhuman.  There were many people who ran away from the blasts, looking for those they loved, going for safety or lining up at the hospitals giving their own blood to save others not so fortunate.

Then there were these other people who could have run away to do nothing, but they stayed and saved the world.  I noticed them the most.

Many of them were young people.  The under 30 group who I admit I was guilty of being so quick to judge in negative ways.  They were there, ripping and tearing to get to those on the sidewalk, struggling to wrap t-shirts around severed legs and horrific wounds, comforting a stranger’s child until her mom could be found.  Young people everywhere, carrying the injured, pushing wheelchairs and working hard, side by side, with the police, and medical personnel.  Organizing.  Helping.

They would not leave until they were made to go, covered in other people’s blood, maybe their own; looking for more ways to get rid of the nightmare their world had become.  The anger and hurt and horror on their faces was almost worse than seeing the carnage on the street.

This was not a war they chose to fight.

My friends and I used to worry about youth today. After all, they will be the adults who will have to look after us in our old age.  We were fearful.

I’m not worried anymore.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my Mother would say to me “Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping”

To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

– Mr. Rogers

ride upon your stallion


Have you ever heard a song that stole your heart, your mind and your very soul?  I think all of us have songs that fulfill something in our lives.  Some music may make us happy or remind us of another time or even give us hope for the future.  My experience with people during the last few years has shown me how passionate one can be about music and/or lyrics.  Styles and genre is debated all the time.  I’ve learned so much from so many about music.  I don’t ever want to stop learning.

Today I heard a song that, years ago, moved me to such an extreme it changed my life and my relationship with myself.  It may not have that effect on anyone else in the world but this is something I can own and I’m marvelling at how much it still gets to me.  It’s remarkable how much it did affect me back then and how changed I am now.  It just clicked!  I feel I’ve worked harder than I thought.

It’s a song about war and a soldier who is in battle, exhausted, weak and alone.

I first heard this Tom Cochrane song back in 1995.  My sister gave me a tape she made me for my birthday and it was the last song on the 120 minute tape so it took a while to get to it.  On this day, I plunked that tape in my trusty Walkman for my daily walk in 28C heat.  I loved to walk in the heat then.

It was an amazing time for me…just bought a house with my boyfriend who had balked about committment for 4 years, my son was the light of my life and could do no wrong, I had a job I loved, some actual girlfriends, I was in great shape for the first time in ages, my parents were healthy and I had a decent relationship with most of my siblings.  I was loved.

On this walk I was finally almost at the end of the tape when the song came on.  As I listened. I could feel the heat from the sun on my face and the sweat running down my body.  Halfway though the song my legs felt weak and I sank onto the grass nearby.  I played that song over and over, crying like my heart was broken in little pieces.

Well, it was.

Shut your eyes my darling there’s nothing you can say
the man in the moon won’t fall on you
he doesn’t live there anyway
you don’t have to be a soldier to fight in your private war
let the blood you might see rain down on me
you don’t have to fight no more

I saw pictures in my head.  I saw a very little girl with bright, curly hair and old eyes.  I saw a man on a white horse reaching down for the fragile little thing and pulling her up to sit in front of him, wrapping his cape and strong arms around her.  He dried her tears and hid her fears for a time, just to show her it can be done.  He knew that all she wanted was for someone else to take the pain from her but she couldn’t let that happen because she couldn’t wish it upon anyone.

there’s nothing you can say
there’s nothing you can send
there’s nothing that can change the facts
not all the king’s men

That little girl spoke to the strong man and told him and his horse about the fear that has filled her nights in a home where she should be safe from harm and of the fear of people she loved.

He could hear her screaming.

Have you ever cried until there were no tears left? I did that day as I listened to that song again and again.  I could see that little tiny girl grow up to go to school, filled with incredible fear and loathing.  I could see what she saw; a scarred and ugly girl in school where it was kind of hard to make friends because if you looked at her funny she would cry.  She was afraid of everything.

By fourth grade there was a new abuser to take the place of the one before.  He had taken it upon himself to torture that girl and did, until high school.  Unspeakable days and nights.  The bath was her friend; so cleansing and it was the only room with a lock on the door.

ride upon your stallion
and I’ll ride upon your mare
we’ll ride so far, ride so hard
far away from here
and when we look back upon it
it all will become so clear
and the gates will open up for us
and we wont have no more fear
there’s nothing u can say
there’s nothing u can send
there’s nothing that can change the facts
not all the kings men

I know there are a lot of little girls out there just like this one.  She’s special to me though because she lives inside me and won’t go away.  Its been rather awkward sometimes, because the more I push her away the more she’s in my face.

there’s nothing you can say
there’s nothing you can send
there’s nothing that can change the facts
not all the king’s men
look away look away

you might be tired and troubled but not today
when they come down upon you
I won’t let them get anything on you
and we’ll dream away all those fears and troubles may
look away

we both were motherless children
they sent us separate ways
the family you’d seen beat down on you
mine it was okay
I’ve come to take you back now may
save you from this fate
they won’t have any more chances
to treat you this way

I’ve been in therapy for a long time because of that kid. My love/hate for her has eaten up a lot of my life.  She has made me strong though and, no matter what, I needed her.  If only she had known about me during her time. If only she had known how strong she would be.

I was brave enough a few years ago to go to the police and press charges against my abuser because I could see him grooming another girl and this girl was one I loved too.  The Crown couldn’t take it further because of the time that had elapsed but I had done it; I went on video, told that little girl’s story and dragged up details I thought were gone.  I sat through and answered every embarrassing and difficult question perfect strangers had for me, describing things in achingly painful detail.  I managed to stop him anyway.  I think he lives in fear of me now.

I found out recently my abuser lives less than a block from where I live.

Stronger.

A survivor.  I’m no longer a victim.

there’s nothing you can say
there’s nothing you can send
there’s nothing that can change all that
not all the king’s men

Now I’m listening to “All the King’s Men” by Tom Cochrane for the first time in many years.  I have been on a journey for a very long time, which most of my readers know, and I can see that horse as I listen and look into my heart. There is someone reaching down for that little tiny girl but it’s not a man at all. Not anymore.

It’s the 51-year-old …

me.

u don’t have to be a soldier
to fight in your private war
let the blood u might see rain down on me
u don’t have to fight no more

Holding you tight.  And Our heart is whole again.