2016

I’m not usually one for New Year celebrations. It’s 9pm on New Year’s Eve and I’m in bed, not surprising to most people who know me. It’s always been a weird concept for me that people celebrate the year end or the start of a new year when for me it doesn’t really make a difference. I mean, school isn’t over, fiscal year runs til March, it’s sucky January. WTF is there to celebrate?????

Then 2016 came along…

If you haven’t heard of Phoenix then consider yourself lucky. It’s a new pay system for Federal Government employees and it has been the bane of my existence. One the days I’m not screaming at my computer then someone is probably lined up outside my office to complain. I’ve been worn down to the final strands of sanity that I so desperately cling to most times anyway. I’ve been yelled at, hounded on my days off and after hours, tracked down via FB, and don’t forget those two very fun times when I was secretly stalked by that super awesome co-worker who thought it was “funny” to sneak up to my door and hide just so he could listen to what I was saying and try to catch me talking shit. The funniest part of all that is I’m very open about the shit I talk…just ask me next time ok?

I moved, which was THE BEST DECISION EVER…but led to some very stressful times of adjustment.

My grandfather had a major surgery. I was designated as his person for the duration of his hospital stay. It was not an easy task. Nobody should ever have to sit by and watch a loved one struggle so deeply with pain and breathing tubes in the ICU. That day changed me. I can’t even put it in words how traumatizing that was for me. Maybe because it was my Poppy, maybe because I’ve lived such a fortunate life that I am 35 and still have my grandparents to talk to every day,

WebMD has been my best friend in trying to diagnose my own health issues. Low iron, high calcium, high PTH levels, non-existent vitamin D levels, kidney stones, stomach pains, nothing crazy, just enough to drive me even more insane than usual. (It’s actually diagnosed, Primary Hyperparathyroidism)

My dad died. Never thought I would ever actually care but, go figure, it’s opened a whole new can of whoop-ass in the feelings department…and they won’t go away.
It was actually better for me just thinking he was out in the world somewhere being a dick to someone other than me. Leave me with a tiny bit of hope that someday he would show up and actually be nice. Maybe apologize or something. Now he’s just my dead dad. The dead dad that left shit wide open. Not much closure other than at least now I don’t have to worry about him finding the kids when they visit PEI.

Throw in the usual family drama, friend drama and then Donald Trump and well, I’m so over 2016. I get it now. I get how some people just want to leave an entire year behind them and move on to a new one with celebration. It wasn’t all bad of course, but enough is enough.

Bring on 2017, with immense anticipation of (hopefully) good things to come.

Struggle

This time last year I was stressed about how the hell I was going to afford presents for the kids. I was barely keeping the power on. I was literally one month away from having to block off rooms with blankets to conserve heat and only three months away from foreclosure on my home. We hardly had food. I was a blink away from a crying meltdown at any moment. Life was miserable.

This time two years ago I was stressed about how the hell I was going to afford presents for the kids. I had a new-to-me best friend who was going thru HELL on earth, we were planning the great escape from her shittier-than-cow-shit boyfriend (Hi Cory, I still hate you too), there were lots of extra people around my house, plus stray teenagers. The weather was causing me panic attacks because of my treacherous hill. Life was miserable.

This time three years ago I was stressed about the how the hell I was going to afford presents for the kids. I was terrified in my old and scary house. I felt alone and miserable. I was so broke I was actually getting the kids to “borrow” food from their dad’s house without him knowing. Talk about mom guilt. Wow. Life was miserable.

See a theme year? Broke, anxious and sad. Yes. But you know what else? Free, empowered, loved. Content, at peace, simplified. I always thought yoga kind of began the journey of the new me, but man, this last four years has defined me.

I was forced to not buy stuff. I was forced to rethink most “major” purchases. I began to realize that quality over quantity is a legit thing. I had a few moments where I sold stuff out of desperation but that slowly turned to selling stuff for pure satisfaction of not having junk laying around. Life wasn’t about dinners out with friends. It was all about Wednesday wine nights with friends that mattered. It was about pushing past anxieties to make sure life appeared mostly normal for the kids. It was about finally, finally, finally realizing after all these years of struggling to be on top that I would rather be on the bottom and happy that at the top and miserable beyond belief. I realized that I would rather be cold and hungry than with guy I literally despised looking at. I was better off (more) broke and able to be myself.

The last four years of my life have been the hardest. But also the best. I learned to be very independent. This reduced some of my anxiety. Because of that I actually let my guard down enough to meet my soul mate Lisa. With her I learned to laugh and have fun. In my ability to have fun I found myself a guy to have fun with. My guy taught me fast and furiously that I could be a better person than I ever thought I could be. The last four years have been rough but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

There have been art nights and Jenga parties. Sleepovers and roommates. Breakups and makeups. Challenges and growth. I mean, seriously folks, I met my BEST FRIEND because my battery died. I found soul-hugging comfort in my tiny apartment because I know what it’s like to be freezing in a large, two story house. I appreciate small gestures because I know how false some large gestures can appear. I know the difference now between wants and needs.

I think of these things all the time . I would never ever change anything in my life. It’s all brought me to where I am now.

This year I am not stressed about being able to afford presents for the kids. I still make the same amount of money. But I live in an apartment instead of an oversized house. I walk to work so I sold my oil-eating car. I don’t pay for heat, I don’t pay for house/car insurance. I don’t buy crap I don’t need (most of the time anyway). I even stopped shopping at Chapters and go to the library instead. I don’t have credit cards. I don’t have overdraft. I quit smoking 6 months ago. I haven’t eaten fast food since August. I gave up the crap to live a simpler life. Giving all that up has left me calmer, happier, more content life. I am the happiest I’ve ever been. Right now, in this moment.

I miss the rowdy nights of laughing til we cried. I miss the nights where we would solve all the world’s problems over multiple bottles of wine. I miss the coffee dates and I miss doing her job every second Friday. I miss donating blood together, I miss yelling at each other’s kids. I look back on what we went through, the highs and lows, and I realize I wouldn’t go backwards to have those moments again. It’s all about moving forward these days.

This year, I have paid cash for all the presents. I have bought what I deem to be non-wasteful gifts. I didn’t buy fillers or fluff to add volume to the number of gifts.
I don’t get to see my BFF as much as I want because she’s not down the street from me. But she’s happier than she’s ever been too. I’d rather text every day and be content than see her every day in misery. I wander to the grocery store every few days with my clothe bags, I hang out for hours at the beautiful library. I have so much free time that’s not consumed with my old house trying to kill me.

Life is good. Not despite the past, but because of it.

Wound

The grey matter of life is not one of black and white.
It’s hard to explain what it’s like when a father you hardly knew dies.
Frustration takes over.
Then anger.
What’s the craziest, though,
is the utmost shattering sense of guilt from not feeling sad enough.

Three years have past since words were exchanged.
Yet I think of him more now in the last two weeks than in that entire time alive.
His words won’t leave my soul, his crazy is making me insane.
It’s hard to blame a man’s heart when his mind was at fault

Mental health devoured any chance of a bond.
Narcissism never let him know me.
Voices, visions and a visceral void.
Never would I ever call him dad.

Its over, the daddy issues are gone.
Burned along side his ashes.
All that remains is an unmistakable turmoil
The unresolved wounds with appear
Buried deep is angst yearning for repair.

I know not what to do with myself
This pounding in my gut is hard to bear
Sleepless nights
Closure’s door slammed shut
Indifference feels different now.

~ A wound gets worse when it is treated with neglect~ Stevie Nicks

Consent

When your friend wants to vent but has no outlet to do so…you let her borrow your blog…from LK…

Retaeh Parson, Audrie Pott, Stubenville, Glen Ridge, Dalhousie, Jian Gohmeshi, Bill Cosby, Brock Turner…. The list is actually massive when I googled “high profile rape cases”.

Recently at my son’s high school, a boy who in the fall, received nude pictures of a girl and showed them to his friends, received no punishment from the school, and then in the spring, the same boy sent pictures of his penis to different girls at the school, who showed their friends, and again received no punishment. The girls did though… It struck a cord. No matter what side of this issue this boy was on, the school did not punish him. “Boys will be boys”.

Now Brock Turner is all over the media, and society is again screaming loud and clear that we have a major problem.

I have two sons. I love them dearly, but I am scared as hell for them. While I try to use these high profile cases as a way to open conversations with them about sex, rape, and consent, the rest of the world seems to be telling them, it’s not a big deal. They only SAY it’s a big deal, but there are no real consequences. If you can stick it in, go for it. If you can take a picture, show us. If you can lift her skirt, have at her. If you won’t, send her over to me, I will. Women are here for our sexual gratification, our entertainment, women are here for us to use. No consequences.

I can only hope my discussions with them will play on their minds, when, and I say WHEN because they WILL end up in one of these situations, or witness one. I can only hope they think of their little sister. Of their girlfriends, and girl friends. Of the various victims we have read articles about, and discussed at length. I’ve said over and over, be the PROTECTOR. When society tells you it’s not a big deal, and while the law, or your school, may not give you the impression there are consequences for your actions, even if your friends call you a pussy, I am begging you, be the protectors.

What I’ve said to my boys about consent? What EVERYONE needs to say to our boys about consent? It means two people, of sound, sober mind, ENTHUSIASTICALLY WANTING each other. Both people, enthusiastically participating in the activity. Not trying to convince or pressure someone. Not begging for them to want you. Not relentlessly asking for naked pictures. Not a drunk chick you don’t know. DEFINITELY NOT AN UNCONSCIOUS WOMAN BY A DUMPSTER. We need to talk about this in the schools, at home. We need to talk about this in graphic detail. If she’s drunk, watch for predators, if she’s passed out, get her to safety. If she’s a stranger, or an acquaintance, or even a friend, who is drunk and coming on to you… It’s a NO. Just NO. No for you, no for your friends, and no for anyone else around. No means no, maybe means no, drunk means no, passed out means NO. It’s not about whether girls should get drunk, or whether girls should send naked pictures, or wear tank tops and short skirts. It’s about the boys. It’s what we are telling our boys. It’s about respect. If she liked you enough to send you a picture, respect that. Keep it private. If she liked you enough to willingly, and enthusiastically take her clothes off for you? Don’t call her a slut, or snap a picture, or tell your buddy she’s easy. Respect her. Keep your shit private. Keep HER shit private.

I will continue to pound this message into their heads, but I’m one mom, and they are just two boys, and it’s hard, and scary, when everything else coming at them seems to be telling them the opposite.

Contributed by LK