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Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people .

8 Jun

I stand in front of myself.

The mirror is no friend. It never has been. A scrawny child turned too tall and broad teenager turned adult with more bumps than roads, I’ve spent a lifetime staring away from myself. No matter how healthy I have been, how in shape, how active, I scorn my reflection. It has never been good enough.

Too tall.

Too broad.

Too fat.

Too curvy.

Too unattractive.

Too nervy.

Always something.

***

I have never been a little girl.

Around other women I feel awkward and oversized, my height, the sheer heft of my shoulders, the calves that never fit into those sleek black boots, the boobs which double as bird feeders and get in the way when I talk with my hands. I watch other women, they of tiny hands, thin bones, in some cases, the blessings of genetics, and I feel envy, as well as shame. Womanhood, is it not in delicacy? Is it not in the lovely flutters of fine boned hands, soft and pointed? Have they not the trappings of will, or at the very least, a slot in a lottery I lost out on, my own blood full of the tall, the thick hipped, those who will survive famine. Hearty stock. Peasants maybe.

My unease with women may stretch back to the fact that I always feel like a giant among the munchkins, and I am the problem. Rooms full of svelte and tanned, bellies that lie flat, arms that rarely jiggle. Pants that stay put.

When the world, or at least the one presented to you, is a consumptive tea party of flounce and vanity, of slimness and restraint, how does a girl look around her if it’s her ass that doesn’t fit in the party chair?

***

I haven’t worn a swimsuit in public for years, not openly without something over it. Does it matter if crazy gained me weight? If medications did? If stress, lack of time, the natural progression of my body? I haven’t worn one without covering since I was 14 or so, when, relatively skinny, someone still called me “lard-ass”.

Of course, I’ve also heard this in varying combinations while walking down the street minding my own business, flung from a car window like so much trash. Sure, sticks and stones. But the 10th time. Then 50th. How long until you believe it, random words from adolescent idiots? How long before the world reinforces that regardless of your actual strength and health, it’s how someone else sees your ass in those pants that matters as you walk home late at night.

If you’re lucky, someone only throws something once.

***

I am pleasantly surprised at the ease push ups start to come, at the smooth feel of my body as it relies on itself. I smile as muscle replaces slack in places. I make conscious decisions to eat better, to eat less.

I am however, still fat. Judging by the biological members of my family alive, I will always be fat. But does my fat dictate my health? Can the people who drive everywhere, who rarely take the stairs, but who perhaps don’t eat, or who are lucky to be blessed genetically, are they more healthy? The fat women doing biathalons-are they unhealthy? I will always be a size above, unlikely to ever slip under an 18. (I haven’t been a 14 since the summer I spent high without eating, having maybe 200 calories a day while I cycled everywhere. I still had a stomach, even then.)

But how does that determine judgement? If I recoil from a skinny woman, who to me, is far too slim, I see judgement cast at me. Yet recoil from me, and people will join you. I’m fat. I’m not welcome at the tea party. I’m disgusting and unhealthy.

I am, essentially, invisible, and yet, visibly judged. Even though you may know nothing about me, and how I live. I am your perfect whipping boy for your own vanity.

***

I love to run. I always have. And yet, I’ve never been able to without my lungs seizing up, and rendering me breathless, culminating once in passing out during a basketball game, legions of 13 year old girls newly trained in CPR wondering if they would get to try it out on the fat girl.

(Ironically, just writing about this makes my chest seize up in anxiety.)

I try to run. I try to run away from the body I have, because it is, quite simply, not the body the world condones, and is one it barely tolerates, no matter how fit it might be, no matter how healthy each doctor deems it against their own judgement. But I cannot run. And I am faced with raising two daughters in a world which makes weight and either or proposition, which it may not necessarily be.

I can’t run my way out of my body. But I can’t seem to run my way out of expectation or judgement either.

***

30 years in, 33 this year somehow, I can stand in front of a mirror, and face myself. I am imperfect. I am lumpy in places I’ve been lumpy since 14. But I am also strong.

I’m tired of letting you keep me from myself.  And it stops now.

Duplicious

5 May

I try to never lie.

I mean, I’m sure I lie to my kids occasionally, telling them their mouths will swell shut if they keep talking at 4am, or I might shave 10 pounds from my weight to preserve my vanity. But the big stuff? Who I am, what I look like, what it means to be in this body-I don’t lie about that stuff. What’s the point? Eventually someone will find you out, and you lose the person, as well as, presumably, your self respect.

I had recently connected with someone through my blog, or so I thought. Conversations I’d look forward to on email, the kind you sometimes only have with new people. I thought I’d made a friend.

The odd comment would be weird, but then, I’m rapidly discovering that with most people, I’M the odd nut, so I chalked it up to the awkwardness of conversation, stilted through emails, and moved on. But then I asked for a picture. I’ve been talking, on and off, to this person for months, they’ve read the blog. My life is up here, in technicolor. Seemed only fair.

I received a picture obviously pulled from a catalogue, or an ad. When I questioned it, I was basically told I was broken, with the person immediately running offline. Which makes me then question if the pictures of their children weren’t stolen off someone’s blog or some other site as well, a life crafted as a lie to make me feel comfortable.

I really don’t understand-I don’t get the lying, I don’t get the falsehood. Nor will I put up with it. I’m cautious by nature anyway, but had thought I had found a friendship, as I have found with so many of you. But something…isn’t quite right. While the antennae for wrong was triggered awhile ago, I could never quite figure out why. I wonder if I know this person, in life. 

Mostly I wonder why.

People mock me for my lack of faith in humanity. But generally speaking, humanity reinforces my cynicism with this type of behaviour. I wonder what a person gets out of this. I really do. But what is gained, in any case, aside from my anger and irritation?

So if anyone emails me, and I’m a complete snot-now you know why. People, you piss me off.

Cautious, or Crazy?

27 Apr

Sometimes this whole break up thing isn’t so bad. Somedays, I’m meeting new people, enjoying the quiet, working on projects around the house. It’s pretty cool.

Other days, I’m having discussions about how just because you’ve been chatting with someone in another country online for a few months, it doesn’t mean I trust them watching my children if they visit.

No offense, but most of you? I’ve known for years, and I still wouldn’t want you watching my children alone. I don’t necessarily know you, not really. With the exception of a few of you who are near me physically, who I’ve spent actual physical time with and trust (mostly) to not do anything foolish or crazy with my kids, I don’t trust that knowing you online means TRULY knowing you.

Yes the world has changed. Yes, I connect with others online. However-I still firmly believe that you cannot necessarily trust, 100%, someone you have never met in real life. How many times do we hear about people misrepresenting who they are online? Pretending they have dead children for sympathy-stealing photos to create families that aren’t real. How easy is it to be someone or something you aren’t online?

It’s very simple. I tend to be honest-but I’m still not exactly the person I am in reality on this site. If I chat with someone online, even for weeks, they still don’t really know me in terms of my behaviours. I may not disclose all the idiocy that makes up my day to day life. I may leave out the little bits about being on the psych ward. I may omit a number of things because they are not necessarily relevant, and lets me honest, because I don’t want them to force a preconception about me.

End of the day, our online life, the “us” online is NOT absolute or transparent. It’s a facet of us that, while close to who we truly are, is still not the entirety.

So when I’m asked if I’m ok with someone known only online for a matter of months watching my kids, someone who is young, and without children of their own, someone from a completely different continent, and then treated like I’m not “with it” cause I don’t trust my children around a stranger-I become more than a little angry.

This is not about me. This is about my children. This is about a reasonable expectation of their safety. It’s about making a judgment about safety. Could we use the break money wise? YES. I’m not looking forward to a summer of no breaks and Mr. Noodle at this rate. Do I feel comfortable with signing off, at this point, on a stranger watching my kids?

No. I don’t.

The point I can’t seem to make clear, and maybe I am in the wrong, is that online relationships are NOT 100% real. They are friendships sure, and I may feel connections to some people, but they aren’t the same as knowing someone who lives down the street from you, whose house you’ve been in, who you’ve interacted with in everyday situations.  I do not trust most people in normal life, not with my children. So trusting people who I cannot always validate in reality? Scares the ever loving shit out of me.

I was hurt by the real people in my life. I go to many lengths to ensure my children are safe, and this? Feels like I’m holding a door open to any possible scenario happening.

So the question is-am I weird to be so distrustful of online relationships? Do any of you feel that online relationships are just as, if not more so, trustworthy than “reality” relationships? While I know you cannot really know anyone if they want to hide things, I just strongly believe that it’s a LOT easier to do online, and much simpler to protect your motives behind so much technology.

21 Years

26 Apr

I’m not there but I can trace the streets with my fingers. Technology gives me tentacles, allows me to walk the streets of my home town yet again, stare at the front door I open and closed so many times, the curb I drove my brother’s bike off one dewy spring morning, into the side of a passing car. The steps I sat with friends on fiery summer nights, or with my mother on cooler fall afternoons.

The shutters are falling. The siding is grimy and stained. If houses are metaphors, this one matches my life. Full of memory, dingy at the sides, but still standing.

***

She’s there.

In my mind, in my frosty memory, it’s April 1989 again, and she’s laying in the front room, her blue room, on the hospital bed my parents procured from somewhere, her body wasted and yet bloated. She had come home the week before, her doctors forcing her hand, blunt with words “We can’t help you. You are dying. Give up.”

It was not in my mother’s nature to give up on anything. And so her last wish was not denied, to die at home, to spend her last days in the home she built with her lover, her husband, the one she brought her children home to, my first home. Her beautiful sitting room, strewn with the chaos of death-the drugs, the gauze, the tiny cans of near food in vanilla. The pale sky of carpet she laboured over choosing became compressed and dirtier by feet, vomit, life.

I watched her final days there, much as her sister and my father tried to shield me. I saw my mother naked for the first and only time there, flailing and seizing on her bed as her, the woman I knew, finally left me. Some of me expired with her, sailing towards a sky, cloudy.  A crack in a lifetime, the line in the sand of before and after.

I stare at the house I grew up in. The house she died in. The house I ran away from, feet pounding on distance and action-had I the ability to sprout wings I would have, and flown straight into the sun. Even my dreams rarely brought the solace of her, and slowly I have forgotten her voice, her touch, what it meant to be her, to be my mother.

But her ghost still echoes, across these years. Sunlight around her like a halo, possesses my memory. Her distant smile, haunted somehow, wistful.  The heft of her, the sense of solidity, security, like a vault I could land in. Years I never got to know, stories she never told me-all hover like fireflies over a night field in that house, beautiful and untouchable.

It’s been 21 years. I am not a small girl any longer, rigid in my strength, weak behind those doors. I have been alive for longer than she was with me, only pieces of her left to remind me, whisper gently that I have a mother, that she loves me, and she misses me more dearly than I can imagine.

I love her still, and that house, and that yard, all the places our hands and feet touched, even silent on that burgundy couch lazy Saturdays, watching movies as the rain poured. She’s in that house, her breath trapped in the corners, behind the blue wallpaper, inside the steel stairs.

And she’s in me, forever.

She’s home.

I’m sorry, is The Mother’s Act trying to help women? My bad…

22 May

Once upon a time, everything was wrong. I knew it. I couldn’t bring myself to where I needed to be. So I lived with it, we worked around it, we did what we could, the people in my life, me. But when there’s a fuzz in your brain you can never quite shake, you can’t see through it. You can feel the wrong vibrating through your life, but you can’t quite settle it.

Even if you talk to a doctor, even when I sat down and said, please, I want to die, I can’t hold it in, they saw nothing. The next time I’d be fine, and bouncy and wonderful and life was grand and they saw nothing. So I carried on, with the wrong still buzzing, believing I was doing what I could do.

But then pregnancy, and pregnancy again, and there was a slight snap that let loose the dogs of crazy, and I slipped slowly into the vibration, becoming consumed, becoming someone I wasn’t, someone who I can’t recognize today.

They didn’t see it. They didn’t watch for it, they didn’t ask. My urine was more compelling than my mental state, even after the first time, even after being through it, after asking for help. Nothing. No one. They watched me crying, sobbing in a fetal position 3 hours after birth and did nothing. I should have been happy, shouldn’t I?

More and more foolishness comes out on the Mother’s Act. More lies, more blatant bullshit (prozac in a baby’s eyes? Really? People BELIEVE this crap!?!?) more obstacles to providing women with nurses and doctors who pay attention to their emotional state, who stop and ask them if they’re ok, who take a moment to look them in the eyes and tell them it’s ok to admit if maybe it’s not all puppies and rainbows.

Honesty. Caring. Compassion. Research to prevent post partum mood disorders.

I read a story like this one, where a mother kills her son. And I read how the family felt “she did not express the typical love of a mother for her child.” And how nothing had been done before that. How the mother said she killed him because “she did not want him to grow up with no one caring about him, the same way that she had grown up where nobody had cared about her.” She then walked the streets of her city.

If she never reacted properly to her son, why would no one ever see, or be told, or help? How long? From birth? Could this have been stopped, years before? This mother, who now waits to be tried, who wants now to die, who felt this was the only way, could she have been helped by something as simple as a doctor noticing, at some time, what was going on?

As a Canadian who has suffered a bad case of PPD, I’ve been watching the Mother’s Act hopefully, and wondering if we can implement something similar in Canada. Something that would extend a hand when it’s needed, not forcing or demanding, but merely being a support when it’s so desperately needed. Education for doctors and nurses to recognize the signs.

I’ve also been watching the backlash, the ridiculous claim from out of nowhere that this is basically an excuse for “big pharma” (I’m so tired of that term) to drug everyone into insensibility, make oodles of money, and giggle maniacally in their lairs. Because it’s hard to believe that anyone, even a senator who is paid to represent the constituents, or a mother who lost her daughter, might only want things to change for mothers. Because nothing can ever happen on a broad scale without some sort of conspiracy attached.

It’s disgusting, and infuriating, especially when coming from other mothers. I didn’t take anything when I was suffering-I went through therapy, and was eventually diagnosed, nearly 2 years later, as bipolar. Which I should have been diagnosed as years before. I elected to start treatment with medication, and did my research on each until we found one that corrected the imbalance in my brain, and allowed me to function, NOT exceed, but merely FUNCTION at the same level as everyone else.

I CHOSE my path. I still see a doctor, sometimes more, sometimes less. I take my medication because for me, talk therapy isn’t the only answer. But I refused anti-depressants twice, and was merely told that they were available, if I needed or wanted them. As with many women I know, I didn’t want them.

But some women might. And women should have the choice, since free will, after all, is a bitch.

There are lives to be saved here, women’s lives, children. By simple screening, questions, a kind word, someone paying attention. And yet we constantly see blowhards screaming their agenda, which is not so much about women but about their misguided attempts to protect. We see people who have never ever even given BIRTH, who decide, based on their vast experience, that this bill must be evil evil evil.

We have hundreds, maybe thousands of women, every day, suffering in silence, suffering in from of medical staff as I did, who get no help at all.

We are a compassionate people, aren’t we?

****

So I went to read the bill again. Looking for the “feed me Risperdal” clause.

Yeah…no….

(1) Basic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions.

  

(2) Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and the differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to the conditions.

 Again, research, especially about incidence, good. 

(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.

  

(4) Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.

  

(5) Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may– 

Gee, educating the public? Kirstie, are you listening?

 (B) focus on–

(i) raising awareness about screening;

     (ii) educating new mothers and their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and

    You mean, let people know what it might feel like so they can educate themselves? NO!

     

    (iii) ensuring that such education includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.

    And education means providing ALL options and alternatives to the woman, so SHE can make a decision like a big girl wearing big girl pants? How progressive!

      

     

Frankly, I don’t see it. While I take medication, and it has literally saved my life, I don’t like pills either. I hate taking them. I’ve declined many medications because I don’t want it in my body. I would never support something that mandated medication. And this doesn’t. Unless there’s some super special secret page that only Amy whatshedrinking can see with all her friends. This is about education, and providing women with the tools they MIGHT need to help them get a handle on things.

Maybe I am insane, but I fail to see how this infringes on freedom, goes against the constitution, or any of the many things it’s been accused of doing.

It’s trying to help. People who have been there are trying to help. What’s really in it for those trying to prevent that help? Dollars for Scientology perhaps, more money for “natural” remedies that might also poison you? Is this just another way for some women to convince you that you aren’t a real woman if you haven’t “toughed it out” if you suffered true post partum, and not just baby blues?

I’m not proud. I deeply desired to give away my daughter at birth. To harm her and end my life. Many things too painful to write down. I recovered with therapy, with the help of a very aware lactation consultant who called at the right time. What I felt wasn’t natural or normal, and it took me a year to connect to her, despite fighting for therapy and assistance.

Now imagine the woman without an advocate.

That’s who you’re destroying here.

A child is a curly dimpled lunatic.

11 Mar

The clamouring starts before I’m even out of bed.

“Mommy, can you get me breakfast? Mommy, can you help me with my panties? Mommy, I don’t want THIS bowl, I want THAT bowl! Mommy, Jayden says that you don’t like me. Mommy, open the sock bin? Mommy, where’s my hat? Mommy, I can’t find Cheer Bear….”

If verbal assault could be explosive diarrhea, my children are official biological weapons.

Since I’ve been home, a lucky win fall for my daughters, the requests and needs and desires have been incessant, and I feel like I’m constantly being poked and prodded by a pack of wild monkeys searching for nits, the howling growing when I deny the T.V, the computer or more food. It’s almost as if they can’t believe their luck, and need to suck every inch of blood from my body until I’m just a husk a pod person comes out of.

I need to go back to work. I enjoy the time, but I’d enjoy it a LOT more if there weren’t kids under foot and I still didn’t need to get up most days to take Vivian to school. I have another job lined up, waiting to hear about one I want better, but DAMN, I am NOT suited to this stay at home thing.

I’m tired of cleaning, especially since no one else seems capable of keeping it that way. I don’t have it in me to constantly run behind everyone, or scrub the bathroom sink for the 5th time in a week. Reading is difficult since children, mine especially, have this irritating habit of talking. I really don’t have the capacity for games or experiments or anything arty. It’s just more mess. Winter has turned into that strange crunchy/slushy winter-spring hybrid, which means going outside is cold and sucky and boring.

I’m going a little nutty. I’m trying to just get away for a little while, since I also know I screwing with the patterns my husband has had for months, but this is a small city and there’s only so much to do. I’ve pretty much settled on spending a few hours at Starbucks or Timothy’s every day to read and maybe write if I’m up to the fierce outlet competition that ensues. Plus, it’s fun watching all the horrid 80’s hair on women far too old to pull it off. The odd poncho I saw today was also a nice touch.

Don’t even get me started on the hugging and the kissing and the cuddling. As people who have met me can attest, I am NOT a hugger, even if I adore you. Not a fan of touching-more a fan of the 3 foot personal space bubble. My kids are ALL up in my shit. I’m touched out in that regard. I don’t know if I can hack it anymore.

I LIKED leaving for the day, and coming back, happy to see my family. I could interact, pee without someone staring through the key hole, eat all my food, all by myself. Now, I’m so bloody lonely for human contact, for adult human contact that I’m being actively nice to strangers. Not just my usual good deed blather, but starting conversations and enjoying them.

This just won’t do. It just won’t.

Look, I love my kids. I do, with every fibre of my being but dear FSM I just cannot get them away from me, even at night. It’s all MOMMOMOMOMOMOMOMOMOM!!!!!, always with the inflection at the end like I’m some strange german word. But I just couldn’t do this forever. Rosalyn won’t stop peeing the bed no matter how many times she pees before hand, Vivian has nightmares nearly every night, and both of them only want ME. Santa could walk in with a pony and all of the Care Bears and no one would care since it’s not me.

SAHP’s-how the hell do you do this? How do you carve out anything for yourself without feeling guilty? These kids are relentless, like the black death….

We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are – that is the fact.

10 Mar

Today the sky was a vicious blue, and the air was still. Nothing moved for a moment as I stood at an icy corner, waiting. A pause in a season, to catch it’s sense of self perhaps, shake March a little, like a snowglobe. Winter and spring fighting for their places.

It’s that blue that breaks the tempo after a long winter-the blue that reminds you that all things change, all things come around, nothing, ever, lasts forever.

“…developed a cancer growth in the large intestinal track. The doctor successfully removed a piece of the intestine that had the growth, so all should be well soon.”

In the mail, a letter from my sorta step-grandmother-the woman married to my blood grandfather. The letter came inside a birthday card for Rosalyn, attached to a check. “Don’t worry” it says.

My adoptive mother died of cancer.

My biological grandmother died of cancer.

My biological grandfather has cancer.

Yeah, I’m not worried. Not one bit. Not me, who muttered “well, at least I’m probably in HIS will.”

I’d slap myself for being so crass if it would make a difference.

Thing is, I don’t know how to feel. This man is my family-his blood runs in my veins, my face, briefly, resembles his, the shy smile, the height. I’m his granddaughter-his first born granddaughter, and I can smell the guilt from him a mile away. I’d like to believe it’s not guilt, but love, or at least like. But I’d also like to believe I’ll have a pony and a beach house someday.

He and my grandmother were truly the only people in my biological family who seemed to truly care, who unlike my birth mother, didn’t just throw money in my face to try and fix some perceived slight, 20 years old. My grandparents were the only ones who seemed to truly want to help, to know me. They were the only ones I cared to know, the only two in a large family seemingly disinterested in material’s or money in the bank. The only two who didn’t seem wrapped up in themselves.

My grandmother died, fast, of cancer rocketing through her body. I was 7 months pregnant with Vivian the last time I spoke to her, excited to be carrying their first grandchild, excited to give them that. She told me about everyone else’s problems, told me how proud she was of my half-sister.

She left out the part about the cancer eating her from the inside. She lived 3 weeks past the day Vivian was born. She never knew her name. They told me later that she didn’t want to upset me.

I didn’t cry-what was there to cry for? A body that is technically like mine, DNA I could mimic, follow home? But nothing beyond that point-nothing to say, nothing in common, our lives so very different for only being 40 minutes apart while I grew up.

40 minutes. That’s all that separates a life from another.

My grandmother was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. But I didn’t know her, and I didn’t feel entitled to grief.

I was not included on the death announcement, still just another hidden secret to be ashamed of.

So to see, on paper, the words that could likely turn into him dying, I just wish I had never looked. I unfriended my half-sister on Facebook since the last time I spoke to her she was, frankly, a bit of a bitch, and how do you explain anything to a 21 year old with a single vision? You don’t.

This man is the last link I have to a family that never wanted me, and has never even tried to fill in the blanks for me, never tried to be there. My birth mother has come and gone at will, rejecting me, pushing away. Occasionally an aunt sends a gift, a letter, then nothing. I sit here wondering if this is what family feels like, and if it is, why anyone bothers? I have more family in my father than I have in that entire group of people.

If my grandfather dies, when he dies, It will bring home how close I am to being an orphan, a story I could avoid telling myself for years. I thought finding my birth family would help me close the holes in my heart, help me move on with life.

It’s done nothing but wound me slowly since the day it happened. The farther I get away from it, the more I wish I had never, ever looked.

All I ever wanted was a family to love me, a normal family that wasn’t broken or strained or lying to itself. Meeting these people at 19 was a lesson well learned, one that continues even now.