Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wild Empathy

I'm finding it hard to breathe. 

Almost claustrophobic. 

Standing in line. 

The people are sitting, standing, reading the walls. They are all so calm, and my heart is beating with the anxiety of new.

I feel arms around my shoulders and I melt. She hands me an elixir, and asks me if I'm OK.

Wraps her fingers in a new hairdo, and I quietly let her be close to me.

No. I reply... and the tears brew in the corners of my eyes.

What are you struggling with?

Life.
The holidays.
Endings.
New beginnings.

And whether I will be able to afford just one gift for each of my 4 children. Christmas is the one holiday of the year that brings every one of us altogether.

Then I continue to share what it feels like to stay strong when pieces of broken are being held together. For the love of one day at a time.

She stares with wide eyes at me.
With the fragility of being understood.
And begins her story.

I believe in grieving.
I've been here almost 2 years.
Arrived with nothing and escaped an abusive relationship with lifelong scars.
She inhales sharply and grabs my hands from behind the counter, now.
Can I hold you?

I watch her face. 
Full of hope.
 This wild empathy.
I nod my head.

She runs full tilt around the long counter towards me, and stops right as I'm placing everything from my hands right down on the floor.
I slowly wrap my arms around her as she holds on tight.

Pressing hearts together.
 A long awaited reunion of 2 friends who've never even learned each other's names.

In the bottom of my bag is a mini shawl I have just finished. Remember the boring one? I ask her to wait. And explain that when I need to ache I also want to finish projects. 

So what you struggle with actually becomes a gift?
For who? For me?
Her face lights up, and the tears of joy spill..

 And I understand. 
That after 35 years of knitting that is what my Grandmother was actually trying to teach me.

"You can do anything you set out to do as long as you're grateful to try."

I never understood before. 
What her words meant. 
When ever I tried to give up. 
Or when someone's words hurt..

"Darling you must look up, throw some salt over your shoulder if you have to. There's a whole world out there and they're going to love you. Even when you don't feel loved. Listen to their stories. We are all connected."

This shawl with an equally matched button.
 I haven't thought much of it.
An then it leaves my hands with the fervor of realizing someone is winning the lottery.

We both are.

She wraps it every which way and is dancing right out into the market. Showing everyone in these closed quarters.
This gift.

And I realize some times that I can't even breathe, some times that I can't even handle. Those times seem to have a way of being the best gifts.

I tell her 
We'll meet again. 
And walk away.





.


Monday, December 11, 2017

To Connect With The World.. I Am Not Keeping Secrets Anymore.

A woman with an undeniable need for kindness walked into my life, yesterday.

She walked through the store. Gently holding many woolen creations, and exclaiming with glee how wonderfully healing they felt.

Her children walked in, and promptly asked if everything in the store had been humanely made. Are each sheep hugged before their haircuts? Do you feed them well, and ask them if they want their haircut? I explained at best how I have no answers for them. There are no sheep here, only dropoffs from many different farmers. We can just hope. All while continuing to be kind to animals and eachother.

Small changes make a big difference.

They both threw their arms around me and asked if it was ok if they could go watch the chickens, cats, and the big bear of a dog that everyone loves.

As they went outside I watched their mothers eyes -swollen from crying, and disbelief. She started to tell me how she felt so alone. She had given up a six figure job to spend all her time with them while her daughter had been in remission for stage 4 cancer. They were vegan and hoping to be away from the city for the quiet and the authenticity.

And this is where the page turns.

I told her how I long to connect with the world.
How, I want to hear more stories. Find a way to give each other our voices back. 
Because. Forever I kept secrets believing they would save me from the inevitable.

I want the opposite. I survived. I struggled with hopelessness and fought my way out of every single transgression. From child abuse, sexual assault, physical abuse, leaving home early, marrying young, dealing with anger issues, and spiralling out of darkness after my husband's infidelity.

I wrote a letter to just one of the women - forgiving her. That is, so we both could be free.

I will remain strong while life feels broken. I have gone back to work. My choice is to build our lives up - right back, with a better foundation.

And the main reason is because a very small community housed me, held my hand, took my pictures, refused medication and told me to take this life -one day at a time.

Because I can do healing on my own. I am my own person. And I am never going to be alone.

You can tell from this story that it ended with her shocked. She continued by stating how the hairs on the back of her neck were standing up. So, I also wrapped my arms around her as she tried to regain her composure before reuniting with the children outside.

I'm telling you this because we all have voices. And we can also be given them back when you feel silenced.

You are worthy.
Trust me.

If you are reading these words you can be assured that they are for you.
We can all know that we walk this path together.

If you are spiralling into an overwhelming darkness please know that you are absolutely not alone.

There was a day that I did not want to be saved.
Today is a the next day. Its the only day. Each one is a gift. That is, one day at a  time. Just one foot in front of the other.
Thank you for being a vital part of this life story.
Tomorrow I will be on exactly the same path as I am today, trying to live with intention and grow through my pain and love with my whole heart.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

When I realized now was the only time.. to leave.

The yellow in her eye flicked just a minute.
A spark ignited.
I fled.
Under my bed.
Come out now!!
Silence.
Instantly there it was. The searing pain of fingernails digging into my flesh.
Pulling hard.
A throbbing in my head began.
Knowing this was now my only second.. before the first blow.
They were hard,
swift
& intense.
A grab of hair as she skimmed my head with two full fists.
A shove into the wall.
A yank up.
This nearly unconscious body of mine.
Not willing to fight anybody. 

I knew from years of pain, this was more of a chance for her to vent her own pain.
The incredible pains she had suffered at this age.
my age.
15.
The doors of my closet closed and I took a slight inventory of the little possessions I owned.
The smurf collection, torn jeans, favorite shirts, the cute pair of flip flops that I lived in. 
There were 2 albums strewn carelessly on the floor.
Full of pictures nostalgic
& happy.
All this filled a very small back pack and still I kept it on the floor..

Hours passed before I could sense it was time to open my door.
She was working.
I was hungry..
but were there restraints now on my door?
I gingerly, ever so quietly, inched my way to the door.
It creaked and I stopped in fear.
Hearing no remorse for these actions,
the door opened slightly..
by my own hand.
Dinner had been served, dishes were needing to be washed.
I filled the sink.
Listening to the water gush from the tap, the soap bubbles rose.
This was quiet time for me.
No one ever wanted this job, and I had no desire to wash laundry.
We had no washer and it was a days worth of scrubbing each article one by one.
She left you no food. My sister sneered.
It's ok.
Are you back talking your sister?
He grabbed my throat, and I could feel her leering at me.
The knives were arms reach, each one glistening,
I knew this was my last chance to retreat, to suppress it all.
Again.
Slurring in my face with sweat beading on his brow from the hours of lager, smoke & gambling. She is my daughter & you are a whore.
I glance back to my peripheral view and his friend is cowering at the gambling table. Waiting for more tobacco to roll.
Not wanting to interfere, he stares wide eyed as I wait. 
Wait for him to release the grip from my throat. 
No words escape my mouth. 
But you could see the condemnation his friend felt from across the room.
Me who called him out of my bed for groping at the early hours of 3 am.
Me who knew every move, every strike against me and still I stood my ground.
If he was going to knock me down I was going to stand back up.
That tiny small backpack & I jumped out a window and breathed a sigh of freedom. 
The day I realized now was the only time.. 
to leave.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Whirlwind


One, free, seventy..
I open my eyes.
The puppies are no where in sight.
Loud crashes are coming from the cabin and I start running in circles. 
The faster I run, the quieter it feels.
I stop. And wait.

Boots (whisper) Buffy. Come play with me. 

Our yard is wide and green. 
We're nestled in the middle of a forest that reaches just so far, then opens up to a lake.
With water as far as I can see. 

No neighbors. 
No visitors. 
No friends. 

All I know is my Mommy. 
And a man: whom I call daddy.
But he never wants me to play around him. 

He drinks from a big bottle. 
And when it's empty, it smashes on the ground. 
I try my best not to hurt myself. 
But I fall all the time. 

Mommy tells me I am not allowed to play with my cousins because they don't open presents. 
That we talk different them every day of the week.
But thats ok.
I'm only allowed to open presents when Grandma and Grandpa give them to me, anyways. 

Alicia! 

Here I am. 

Did you hear me calling you?! 

No.
Why is he so mad?

He grabs me by the jean jacket and carries me all the way to their big bed. 
You come running when I call, you hear me! 

All I remember is: Spank spank spank - until I fall asleep. 
When I wake up Mommy has made some soup.
But it's cold now, because it's been waiting so long for me. 
She's all different colors. 
A pretty rainbow. 
I can't stand, so she carries me. 
I smell her in the place of her neck that I love so much.
The familliar smells of smoke and a strong smell that burns my nose. 
But it doesn't matter. 
haven't had a hug since the last time I remember that 'he' was gone. 

Alicia do you remember your Uncle Bob?
I nod in a haze.
He's going to live with us now. 
Why? 

Just because. 
No more questions. 

But I want to ask. And I want to eat. 
My tummy is sore and mommy won't look at my eyes. 
I go to sleep and there is so much noise. 
I wake up but I am not allowed out of my room. 

The dolls are my friends. 

It's time to go potty but I have no where to pee. 
There is a pot in the corner that I try to sit on but it tips over and I pee on my leg. 
Trying not to get in trouble I sit so still just to wait...
and hope for food. 

There is nobody coming for me. 

I hear, my name. 
Where is Alicia? 
She's in her bedroom. 
It's 2 o'clock in the afternoon. 

Crash bang, scream. 

The door opens with a bang and my Uncle checks to see if I need food. 
I don't know what to do so I just sit there trying not to make a sound. 

Just a second goes by and I sniff. Huh? Was I sleeping?

Someone is hovering over me and spit is falling on my face. 
We're going for a drive. 
I try to stand but my legs hurt from sitting and they sting. 
They take turns carrying me outside to the car. Just my Mommy & 'him' in the front. 
They stop at a red light and Mommy opens my door, 
her door, and the trunk all at the same time. 

She grabs me with one hand and the two suitcases in the other. 
And she runs. 
Down the hill into a ravine. 
I see uncle waiting for us. He takes the suitcases and runs another way. 
She takes me and we hide under a car. 

We run 
and stop 
and hide behind buildings. 
There is a car revving up and down the streets.  

I remember french fries.
I remember a big bus.
I remember falling into someone's arms as I tripped down the stairs. 
All In a daze.
Into my Uncle Frank's arms.
His blue punch buggy was waiting to drive us to our new home.
My Uncles had saved me.
They saved us.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Shifting Perspective

Sometimes in the quiet abyss of an empty house, while everyone is gone to their weekly responsibilities, I'm left.. Alone. 
All chores accomplished, all errands done or on hold. With more than the click of methodically wrapping yarn back and forth between two or more knitting needles.
It is often then that poignant remnants of past conversations echo in my mind. One memory burns with the dimly lit candle of my thoughts.
Gently she placed her hand on my hand, that laid haphazardly on my lap. She waited a very long 10 seconds and simply stated: Alicia. The acknowledgment of my name will always grab my attention, and I promptly stopped gazing into the abyss of my lap. I looked up, directly in her eyes. She softly phrases "this is going to take a long time. You are a recovering bulimic." The words were bricks on my already teetering tower of insecurities. She had placed this title right back on the starting line, and I felt exposed. Ready to bolt towards the bushes on the side of the race track. But no.. This time it was different. She wasn't a teacher, or a guidance counsellor. Nor was she a social worker, a pastor, a boss or a co-worker. She was known by no relation ties at all, I had just met her. And the respect grew as tears danced around the brim of my eyes. A naturopath first. One who would guide me to seek professional help from a therapist.
So began my start and stop process that lasted (now closer to) 16 years. At my lowest weight I was petrified of gaining just 1lb. At my highest weight (after gaining 110lbs) I kept building walls around my emotions. One that only I could hide behind even when help was readily available. I don't know when I realized that food was comfort. Maybe it was so many years past hiding in my closet when arguments escalated. Or when I would come home to an empty home and find home baked bread waiting to be served. Perhaps food had a special place in my heart after returning from Vancouver Island. I had been living with my Grandparents for the Summer of 1987. Any food I could have ever imagined or longed for was right ready for my devouring. 
The summer I was 10. 
And gained 25lbs.
This story is more of an iceberg melting. I've cried through the reality of keeping my closest friends from knowing my deepest struggles. Nightmares actually. 
Last year I decided it was time. 
One day at a time. 
When I started this newfound journey I was easily discouraged and felt all the familiar struggles of taking this all in day by day. I grew up with food anxieties that got worse as I was older (albeit without the childhood eating disorder) and often would go a whole day without eating because I couldn't have something I liked or the food triggered me being too full the night before. Opposite of a food addiction. I wasn't eating enough so my body was always storing. As of today I have lost 115 inches and officially 40lb. The inches lost this year and the pounds over the course of this decade. 
Honesty, transparency and the the fight on all mental battlefields, is a teetering point. What I had fought for behind ironclad emotional walls was none other than:
Freedom!
In the last 28 years, I’ve failed at weight loss no less than.. Ok. 1 million times. 
Sweets and I — we battle often. It’s only in the past year that I’ve found freedom to not avoid what may seem like a titanic sinking. I find myself finding peace, on this slow sailboat to a better port of landing. Wherever that is all I know is I will keep following that way, forward motion to a better place.
Moving on, moving forward, is the way you get unstuck. It’s also the way you lose weight mindfully without losing your mind completely. 
Do you ever feel a desperate sense that " its just right there, right in front of us, we’ve got to eat it all now? (And then, never again.)
Those secrets where you find yourself wondering why there is a still present want. A still unmet want. If you’ve ever convinced yourself that a whole box of chocolate bars is not enough, or even two cupcakes will be better than one. That is when you might finish, realizing you don't remember even starting. In those moments have you ever found yourself, ((wondering why)) feeling a sense of loss & doom that the 'treat' didn’t do what you thought it would?
Because I have. In unrelenting ways. That is; too many times to count, I am ravenous. 
What does it all mean, and what does this really say?
It says that I’m not hungry. Not for food.
I have this wanting. So many wantings. We all do. And I grew up really believing, and still kind of believing to this day, that food is a way, the way, to satisfy desires and cravings. It has nothing to do with my logical, rational brain; it’s so deep within me that undoing it feels at times impossible. And only slowly, I am changing that. I’ve got to. You’ve got to.
Shifting perspective, is a challenge. There will always be food and choices. Let’s keep our healthy intentions in mind all the while, room for life's unexpected celebrations.
Celebrating daily victories and realizing what's truly important is that I am changing from the inside out. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A start point ( to the first chapter ).


It is time to write my story.
This is the finished rough intro to the first chapter, and there is no verbal punctuation.

These Crossroads Are Parallel 

Well that is just a lie.  
She says it long and slow.. 
Just as she may be drawing a sword out of a sheath, with her back to me.  
With the undertones that state I will not defy her again.  
No.  
This I know was a mistake in the first place. 
He is not my Father. 
I repeat my sentence.  
My accusation.  
My death sentence.  
This is my good bye. 
Did you hear me?  
She turns around with a fury that I have learned to fear.
At the rage that ends with aching.  
My mind hurts.  
I squeeze my hand a little more.  
Letting the tension ease the stress.  
With my 2 thumbs finding their place on the second knuckle of my pointer fingers.  
I can feel it though, the pounding in my ears.  
The waiting.  
While she stands there staring at a wall.  
Pretending not to hear me..  
Though her ears work well, her eyes often fail her.  
Today especially I make a point not to make eye contact. 
18 years old and graduated from High School. 
I had left home still 15 years old. 
1 month before my 16th birthday. 
There was a miscommunication.  
One where I tried hard to succeed.  
To work.  
To finish school.  
I tried hard not to follow in my moms footsteps. 
Sometimes I believed I would never see her again. 
This woman who was raised in a home where all roads met together.
They all crossed.  
She might have made a decent life for herself...  
If I had not arrived on the scene. 
1 month before her 17th birthday.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Unravelled Layers

Our young beginnings were often noted as less than healthy.
20 years have passed.
I'm writing full circle from where tentative steps were being traced on the horizon. The crumbling foundation that may have only existed temporarily, is a reminder that although there is always hope, sometimes revealing the layers that are unravelling is also a healthy step towards healing. 

A repost from January 2015. 

////

Today again my eyes trace the whiteout - foggy sky. The tentative steps multiply as I tread softly on sheer ice. Listening to the wind blowing sweet wishes of peace & well being. My arms flail regaining steadiness, as my lungs fill & I catch my breath.

I've touched on memories weaved together from past and present here. Gathered a cardigan across my chest as I dove down to the heart of this matter. But softly spoken is not always the whole truth.

Him & I. We've held hands through almost 2 decades and I have continued to be all unglued piecing together the puzzle of my past. Breaking our hearts in a thousand places, not even leaving this spot. All before watching the sun go down on our sorrows.

Because really there is a secrecy that has shattered our privacy and kept us turning in circles.

A quietness in my soul healed a forever illness of mistrust. This year was claimed: brave. This mess was set up in plain view. Triumph over the tumultuous mountain of last summer. We were survivors. Changes began to unravel and August rush arrived.

We let loose the reigns, trust began to timidly return. As patterns began to write a new history throughout this last September I agreed to dance alongside my husband. Can I just reveal how in awe (I am) of how he dances.

Our first class flowed with every turn and pliƩ ending with a breathless curtsy. Still uncertain of this season the walking paths looked so welcoming to continue threading my thoughts to the unknown days ahead.

I switch my ballet slippers for running shoes. Grab a few more layers to protect myself from the chill of October skies. Over the last minute I decide to only walk a few miles instead of a dozen and then change my shoes.

It's a trip off the curb only 10 minutes in and a silly little twist of my foot when I feel a snap in my calf and know something has gone ridiculously wrong.

My heart still feels see through, fractured, bearing the fault lines.
He is part of memories that dance through my mind, daily.
A couple of young newlyweds, early parents lost in daydreaming about tomorrow, inside jokes, & endless adventures.

I am overwhelmed sometimes how could I express an encompassing love after the impact of my hidden terrors on our marriage?

When you've experienced trauma from as early as utero onwards there is an inexplicable amount of triggers that catch everyone by surprise. He has offhandedly said many a line and watched wideyed witnessing my reactions. Read my eyes that urged him to.. leave me alone, hide, just go!

There is no where to run, nothing that can sever yourself from something that is not your fault.

He's held my sobbing body as I begged forgiveness, and ran for cover when I am clouded with disbelief. He's heard me repeat phrases that should fall on deafness but have been reciprocated with well recited absentminded backlash.

Hoarfrost thick as my hand lingers on groves of branches, bushes and individual trees. The forests here are few and far between. Look closely and their intricate designs will begin to gather through your eyelashes into your hair.. I breathe softly, memories of us.

His gaze caught mine sheepishly hiding eye contact under brand new bangs.

He invited all of us roommates to a birthday party 19 years ago that day. From Calgary to Three Hills, young and spontaneous of course we accepted. All piling into a tiny car the very next day adventuring to the small town on the prairies.

Our first evening together. Friends keeping warm under a new coat.

Dear Daryl,

You have held me, written words, spoken truth to me over the years.
You've laughed heartily when I've hmmphed and vice versus.
Our children watch eagerly and paint our lives colorful.
They need us to embrace our gifts.

We await signs the healing is fusing our hearts together as one, well travelled throughout life so far.
I see a hero of our story.
It's us.
Our next move.
Unravelling layers.
I love you.