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22 May

I am driving in a car, sitting quietly beside the driver. I’ve never liked driving, always had a tightness at the back of my throat about it. It’s better now than it was, now I’m able to sit in a car without white knuckling it the entire way home or having a panic attack. But I still hate it.

In this dream I’m abnormally calm, until I look up to notice that the car is being driven on the edge of something, one set of wheels on pavement, the other floating almost in the air above water. The edge of the lot is corraled by a large bump, striped with multiple colors as a warning. The warning is not being heeded by this driver. We veer to the right, towards the water and I realize I need to get out. The water is dark and choppy, winter water, cold and dormant. I need to go, and now.

I open the door and step into the air as the car is falling, throw myself from the car as I urge the driver, comically slow and muddled, to do the same. I hit the water with a snap, and come up to see the car bobbing on the surface. I’m calm but paniced, unable or unwilling to go under to try and pry the door open. I know I can’t. I know it won’t help. I’m not strong enough.

Swimmers are gathered from a nearby beach, and one looks to me as I scream and dives down. There are terrible grey seconds and then finally, he rises with the driver and feel peace again. It is safe. He is safe.

We stagger to the beach together, and say nothing of it.

I wake and remember the cool surrender of falling, and the strange terror of calm.

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

23 Jun


Originally uploaded by thordora

Try as hard as I can, I can hardly see myself there.

I know I was seven, once. Long ago. A lifetime, maybe 3 lifetimes ago, the memory tucked neatly beside that one time my brother broke my hockey stick, just around the bend from when my mother started getting sick. There was a little girl, just like this one. Heavy in the eyes, shouldering the burdens of the world already, heart sad at the unjustness of it all.

“This husky killed a 21 day old baby Mom!” I hear peep over lunch as she reads Macleans, absently with her food, much as I did, and still do, eyes tracing words as food, eventually, found it’s way home.

I curse her quick wit, her knife like brain, the inner workings which barely skip a beat. I can only shrug and nod, my own heart hardened and inured to this type of thing, the horror of everyday life in our world. While I have trouble remembering the sunlight at her age, or the helplessness, I vividly recall the echoing terror of that age, the realization that things can, and will hurt you.

She’s too perfect to feel this yet. Too lovely, too wonderful and magical to be weighted down with such earthly concerns, with the dull roar of what we’re capable of, you and I, and eventually, her. She’s much too Technicolor to be part of the machine.

A mother’s bias, the beauty I see in her. She will always be a myth I’ve created, a glorious accident, the collision of love and passion. Like a stutter she exists everywhere, in my arms, newly born, hesitant to hold my hand near the school these last few days, slamming doors in my face while emotion reigns king, handing me my first grandchild as she smiles, standing fearless at my deathbed. I see all the Vivian my age will bring, and beyond, this woman I’ve created, the girl I hold at night through terror when the darkness only brings the dogs she fears.

I am sad for the person I will never know, the woman I will never see because I am her Mother, and not her friend, or her sister or her lover. I will walk only part of the way with her, in this, the spring of her life, setting her free into her summer to blossom and roar into the sunshine.

Gladly I dance with her now, for spring is fleeting, and terribly sweet.

When I was barely 6 months pregnant, while she slept under my heart, I dreamed of her, the her now, walking hand in hand with me down busy streets, much as I remember of my mother and I.

And here we are, her voice flying through the tender leaves of our new summer, her growing hand loose in mine, ready to slip away in readiness for someone else, sooner than later. We walk the grey streets of my dreams, and talk of nothingness and love.

She the dream, I the dreamer, blessed with foresight.

It is the face of our own shadow that glowers at us across the Iron Curtain.

12 Apr

I’m running.

My feet seem winged as the ground moves underneath, springy and moist. Except it’s not-the concrete something I pound as I move, my feet solid and strong. I chase a phantom, a mist that prances before me, turns occasionally to meet my eyes and encourage me on.

My lungs do not hurt, nor my knees. The wind purrs through my hair as my body, exultant, sings with each step. I feel each muscle as a part of the whole, a chain of events one on top of the other. My body is a machine, well oiled and proud.

My path leads upside a building, and I pause at the top, unsure I can make it over. That which I chase silently chides me for doubt, and waits patiently for me to find it within myself to heave my feathery body over the top. I stare ahead as he runs inside, the feel my legs leap to life to follow.

My body is nothing more than water in this place.


I dream of houses. Not often. But when things change, out comes a home and I become lost in it.

Often it has been abandoned, rickety and dangerous. Holes in the wood floors in empty, musty rooms. Dank tapestries covering walls, stairways which were dark and ominous. Occasionally it would be cluttered and claustrophobic, the detritus of life a trap and a myth, colors that would riot. Sometimes I could wander the place, others, I’d be trapped within rooms. A dilapidated mansion once, the colors muted and watered out, the entire building a sad weeping shell of itself. I became trapped in the basement, next to a festering pool with flashlights which could barely cut through the gloom. Something…hunted me then, in that house, and the exits all led to walls.

But I ran to something different. This house was not underground, nor dank, nor rickety. It was clean. It was above the ground, lit from the inside. Cluttered yes, and full of random pieces of lives-the stacked mess of babyhood in the corned of one floor, the slowly clearing kitchen. Furniture, clear windows which looked out onto a city at night. A house I stood in and whispered “whoa” to.

A clear mind. A new clean home.

My shadow had long since disappeared as I stared around, in awe. It was my place. I belonged there. I was home.


Years ago, after a particularly vivid dream where I seemed to be living as a hobbit, I read up on house dreams, and stumbled across Jung. (Hey, I was 12. I did stumble across it.) I was intrigued by the idea that the house dream can be a reflection of our psyche, our self. There was always someone else in those dreams with me, a shadow sometimes, something I would at other times consider myself, or pieces of me, pieces of past and future. The chase dreams started about then, the constant necessity to run, to prevent harm. I would inevitably end up cornered or dead, and could argue with others that dying in a dream does not mean you actually die. I would have been dead many times over.

The house dreams always came when I was becoming. When something was changing, when I began accepting and working with who I was, they would appear, almost like clockwork. Sometimes reassuring that I was on the right track, other times a disturbing reminder that something was terribly, horribly wrong. Our own viewpoint of our minds, of ourself, should never, ever be dank, dark and black, rotted to the core and echoing.

But for so long, it really was.

But then I sat in that dream, after running for miles and feeling I was flying, after feeling my body work itself, staring at this place, this cluttered but new and vibrant. Dark, but changing. Alive. Vividly alive with the pieces of my life.

The times, they are changing.

I don’t use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough.

13 Apr

She was gone.

In the rooms, swept with grey, painted with some crooked brush of forgetful, I sat, desperately trying to focus on the mundane, what’s for dinner, what to say, how to live.

As my heart seized and contracted, and whispered her name in my ear, over and over. My arms suddenly stretched and fell, realizing they’d never feel her gentle, warm body surround them ever again. My eyes would never catch hers, the liquid orbs wouldn’t ever dance for me.

Dead. My first born, gone, simply, from a flu, a cough, a something transient and unreal, too quick, too easy.

And I could not breathe.

The tears would come, and I’d heave and struggle, every cell in my body screaming for her, screaming Vivian! wretched with the knowledge that her body was cold and still somewhere, not giggling and perfect before me. There weren’t enough tears, not enough power in my lungs, enough life in my body to roughly handle her void.

I sat, in a restaurant, and cried my aching womb to sleep.

I tried to wake from this through the night. I’d shake out of it, and be dragged right back to it, to the hideousness of it all, the utter void. Losing my mother was horrible, absolutely, but the absolute blackness of losing a child, losing the issue of my entire vocabulary can’t touch on it. When I finally woke, I pressed my fingers to my face, expecting the tears to have been real, expecting my heart to be laying forlorn on my chest.

After the alarm, after the drunken morning shuffle downstairs, I stared into her room, stared at her softly rising chest, at her shaggy head, listened to the slight snores. She soon come into the kitchen after me, rubbing away the night, blinking at the stove light.

I’ve never held her so tight, or breathed her in quite so well.

The Bus

1 Mar

It’s an old bus, peeled, worn paint, exposing the metal under a layer of gray and red. The seats are smooth plastic, cheap corduroy, “I was here” and “Lisa loves my cock” scratched on the backs, elusively, only in the back, out of sight. I’d wipe the dirt from the windows if I could, but it’s splashed across the outside, like dust that’s risen from roads far from here, and been painted on. I can see through like sepia, like underwater almost.

The rumble, the groans and roars of the engine, they resonate into my belly, a jumble, shaking my baseless thoughts as they meander. I look forward to the head of the bus, and the largest woman I’ve ever seen is driving, her giant thighs spilling like water over the side of the seat. But she’s whistling as she drives, and seems happy.

Out of the corner of my eye, where I can barely see him, a mid aged, dark man is striding towards our idling bus. He’s angry, violently angry, and I notice the giant stick in his hands, worked fingers wrapped tightly around. If a man could trail steam and bile, he would. He’s coming alongside the bus, and then he’s swinging and swinging and I duck as the glass shatters over me. The belching fire of fear comes roaring up my throat, and I’m dry palmed and scratchy eyed, trying to keep my bearings. That cold sweat everyone talks so clearly about? It’s rolling down my back like dry ice and I try to stand, will my arm to move and brush the shards from my hair. I’m bleeding from pinpricks.

Quivering, my head turns from side to side, worried that someone will be seriously bleeding, or seriously losing their minds.

No one has moved. They all continue to stare blankly before them, out the filthy windows, at their papers and stories. When the man storms the bus, they do not flinch as I do, they do not move or gasp or anything. It’s like standing in the midst of a dream, or rather, standing watching one fly by.

He saw me. Unprotected by the flutters of other people, he honed in on me, started for me, then noticed the driver, her expanse frozen where she sat, terrified, pondering all those little fates that could so easily and violently be hers.

Somehow, he dragged her off the bus, her body slamming across the black vinyl of the stairs, her tears and screams echoing. I was compelled to follow, even as I heard the sickening crunch of wood on skin and bone, the squishy impact of flesh absorbing energy. Her screams murmured to gurgles in my ears as the water turned to glue and trapped my legs.

I watched her fall, shake and not get up, purposefully not looking at the spreading darkness underneath her, or the feral glare in his eyes, glowing as he stared hard at me. I looked back up into the bus, to the blank faces, the unknowing.

As fast as my feet could push me, I ran, with him so close I could feel his sticky hot breath on me, and his fingers ready to clamp across my neck.

Oh, darling, let your body in, let it tie you in, in comfort.

16 Feb

 Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne’s So Sexy So Soon seeks to address this very type of childhood experience: a complete lack of awareness about sex and reproduction coupled with a media-fed understanding of sexiness – that is, as one young girl in the book explains, getting boys to chase you and try to kiss you – that revolves around emulating TV characters and buying as many products as possible.

There’s a great book review of So Sexy So Soon at Feministe-please, go read.

But it got me to thinking.

How much time can we, as parents and mothers, spend blaming the media, the western world, capitalism, Walmart, etc, before we also realize the true impact we have on our daughters?

I firmly believe in openness, to the point of irritation I imagine. Vivian telling me that “that place” feels good when she touches it-that filled me with pride. Pride that she was able to say this to me with no fear or pretense, and that she took such obvious joy in herself. Pride that I’m starting to create a woman who isn’t afraid of herself, knows where all the proper things are, and just exists in this manner.

Because I disagree that this is fully the fault of what Mattel is selling this season, or that sitcoms have taken things too far. I disagree that it’s those damn music videos, or those stars that kids want to emulate. Not fully.

Cues are taken from parents.

How many of us were raised in a don’t ask, don’t tell sort of environment, where the most sex education you received was 2 weeks in Grade 5, and maybe a book left covertly on a counter top by your mother? How many women can’t bring themselves to call a vulva a vulva, or even know that their vagina is only on the inside? How many women can’t bring themselves to orgasm, or help their partner to do so? How many women blush at the thought of talking about all of this? How many of us learned, early on from our parents, that our hands can be dirtied so easily?

When I was Vivian’s age, I liked to rock on a specific doll-I remember, it was a pink stuffy with one of those plastic kewpie doll faces on it. It made me feel good-happy, in touch with myself, like a sun rising, so I wanted to tell my mother. I showed her.

She didn’t hit me. Instead, she looked completely horrified, and I never saw that doll again. Standing in the hallway, my mother stared at me, and held her hand out. I handed it over, cried, and stumbled back to my room, confused.

Later, a few years perhaps, when my neighbour molested me, I remember feeling like I had no control over my body, that it never belonged to me, and I should submit. I could never tell my mother-it would be my fault. I would be punished, and would still not know what was mine in terms of my body. For years I dreamed of being abused by conveyor lines of robots, people. Just my lying there, at the whim of others.

It was my mother’s responsibility to teach my about my body, about myself. It was her responsibility to teach me that there is no shame in acknowledging my humanity in this way, in embracing my sexuality, even at that young of an age.

Make no mistake-we are sexual creatures the day we are born. Which is why as parents we need to step it up right off the bat, in the most normal way, as if explaining how to make bread or why you have an elbow. Blaming media and society for one’s child wanting to dress like a Bratz doll or a 13 year old knocking up a girl-it’s a cop out. It’s easy to say “The school never taught it!” or that “Miley Cyrus made her dress that way!” and turn the other way.

Much more difficult to raise your children with appropriate sexual values and mores, to have those conversations that at times, are less than easy.

Being sexual is part of who we are-and it always has been. We now treat even into mid-twenties like teenagers, so why is it so strange that a seven year old starts to act as they might? Why is starting the mating dance at 12 so odd? What if, biologically, that’s where the drive can start for some. I began menstruating about then-if I can bear children, if I am considered a woman, physically, why can’t society, or parents be bothered to?

I may not necessarily agree with a pre-teen acting out in any way sexually-but I’m raising my daughters with the knowledge to make responsible choices, when appropriate. Will I always win? No, not with two daughters. But I refuse to use the cop-out that the world around me has more bearing on how my daughters come to their womanhood than I do.

It took me years to come to grips with my sexuality, having children being the last nail in that particular coffin. I don’t want that for them. Our bodies are wonderful, beautiful things, and by telling our daughters on what’s bad, and horrible and not allowed because they’re too young/not ready/just can’t only serves to increase the need and make it more attractive.

Refusing to speak to your children out of embarrassment, or fear-to me, that’s worse than all the Bratz dolls and belly tops. Because our parents are our guides, for good or ill. And we do ourselves a grave disservice by leaving our daughters out to dry.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. “

24 Nov

When I was small, time flowed like golden syrup. Leaves hung in their buds for ages, full to bursting, seams dripping with the sugars of life. A summer breeze lingered, its sweat beading on your skin under a dark sun, heavy in the sheltered sky. I dreamed in my backyard, underneath the slyly growing birch tree, my initials carved with Joey’s with bottlecaps dredged from the gravel drive beside my dirty white house, low slung porch on the rear. I dreamed of my future, of my singular answer to the question everyone asked with that terrible smirk on their face.

“What will you be when you grow up little girl?”

I had as many answers as pebbles in that driveway. On Tuesday, under the maple hiding from the rain, I would be an artist, my fingers catching minutes and transferring them, chastised to the page. On Saturday, digging earthworms from beneath the wild strawberries, I would be a paleontologist, my world rooted in one millions of years old, pale scratchings against the earth, dusty with hope. Maybe an inventor, standing on my front porch on gray April morning, trying to invent wipers for my glasses, or a removable film. Perhaps a teacher as I stood in front of my cuddle friends, Papa Smurf, Lion, Garfield, Holy Hobbie, my ragged chalkboard stapled to the wall behind my door.

My world was a flower spiraling open then, a multitude of paths leading outward, into a glorious center, a future I couldn’t see but could stand warm in, the reflected moments shining back at me. I would be something-I would be the person I could best be, and nothing would stop me.

Life it seems, has different ideas.


I never finished school. I never settled on any one thing that I wanted to do. I didn’t have the perseverance to write every day. I’m not that good an artist. I couldn’t sit through the biology, the sciences, the math (oy the math) to do anything remotely like digging up a dinosaur. I surfed through my life on charm, wit and a perverse lust for knowledge-so long as you’re enraptured with learning, you’ll never look stupid and useless.

But knowing the rhythm of someone’s life in the 14th Century or that Ron Jeremy is a trained pianist or having pity for Catherine of Aragon-these aren’t skills you can transfer to the real world. These are bits of useless knowledge, gathered up like oregano just a little short for the pot. A love of learning doesn’t translate to much.

I had a talk with my boss today, who was frank and said she couldn’t trust my work. She’s right. She can’t. My attention to detail, a monkey on my back since, shit, when did they start judging school work? it has been worse since August. Something died on that gurney in the ER 3 months ago, someone died. Since that day, I haven’t been who I was, and my ability to really focus in on my work has been sparse at best. So she put it to me-is the job, as it stands now, too much for me?

I couldn’t respond at first. Nothing in my life has prepared me to have to say “Yes, I can’t do this. Yes, I am weak and lazy and unfit.” I’ve never had to ask someone to take work away, generally being the yes girl. But I haven’t been her since August, maybe even before that. I’ve been overwhelmed, and stressed and terribly unhappy.

She was blunt-the job is only going to get bigger, and what parts do I want, do I really want to do. The answer I didn’t give was “None-I want a new job.” but I know what things I’d like to keep, and what I’d like to be rid of. But what got me was that I heard, for the first time, what was really being said.

“You are too ill to do this job.”

It wasn’t implied to be mean, or to belittle. It was more to let me know that it was ok to back down. It was ok to be tired and stressed and sick of it. That it was ok to acknowledge my illness and handle it, instead of ramping myself up to such a state that someone would have to send King Kong up after me. While she was saying it with her ass in mind, I heard a message for me-to take this chance, and slow down, sit back.

I had such dreams for my life as a child-but they never included an illness that seems to worsen each year, and attempt to destroy me. In my world, you never get fired, you never quit because something is hard. You stick it out. You make the best of it. You deal with it, suck it up princess.

This has not served me well. Sure, 8 years employment for a bipolar is great. But I’m tired of sucking it up, of working twice as hard just to look like I’m doing the minimum. I’m tired of fucking around to avoid tasks I can’t stand. I’m tired of being pressured to be someone I’m not. I’m quite done with doing a job I’ve never planned for, never daydreamed about under maples.

I’m pondering now, what will work. I know she’s right-I’m not suitable for most of the job, not now. But other parts of it? I am.


Sometimes, riding the bus home, I see a new baby, a nervous new mother, shielding the child in a sling or carrier, her hand behind a head. I begin to dream about being the woman standing there to catch that baby, handing that slippery package to hands and a breast, the blood of new life running between my fingers as tears of joy run ragged edges down faces around me. I dream of guiding the bereft through their loss, holding still fingers in mine. I dream of the babies I’ll bring into this world, how they’ll turn to children, to women and men, to mothers and fathers, the circle turning and turning.

I still dream. Of life.

“this is the wavelength which connects us with dead men and the dawning of new beings not yet come to light. “

1 May

On the bus I pass a bridge with that unfortunate year chiseled into it’s side.


The year things stopped.

As always when faced with that year, I’m amazed. That something began when something else ended. That something was lasting. That someone was born, even on the day she left us. I stare hard at the bridge, wondering what blessed it with creation.

Irrational I know. But I can hardly be the only person who counts lost years, the years hence in things, in births, in incredulous “how can someone born then be ready for university?”

It doesn’t seem a lifetime already. Wasn’t it just 2000 a minute ago? Wasn’t I just in high school, dropping out of university a year ago? Weren’t those trees just planted, the lawn tended?

Shouldn’t everything else have stopped as well?

That’s what slaps me most of all. The fence that year provides, the utter confusion at the fact that while everything came to a shattering halt for me that year, other people moved on. While I changed, when I was changed, others simply continued, unaware, living. I gawk because I forget that while my life has been centered around a loss, other’s haven’t been, or have perhaps, and I just can’t see it.

Grief is transparent. We can walk through it, talk to it, make love to it. But it’s still there, like the air we breathe, the air sticky sweet around us on a summer night. I can’t see it hovering, unless I look, unless I stop and take the time to see that everyone, or nearly everyone has a year branded in the space above them-1989 or 2005 or 1974. But it shimmers so, becomes fairy like so much so that you barely hear it’s giggle above the tears, you barely see her for the stoicness of her owner. You have to see, really see, and ask, really ask. Then it becomes clear, the words tumbling free.

“I lost….They died….I hurt….I miss…..”

The human condition, right? Suffering, pain, grief. Joy being so sparse and brief sometimes. We should adjust and move on, get over it.

Get over the label grief brands us with, a date seared into our brains. Get over the alteration of ourselves, us at our core beings. We are changed by death, something shaved off the sides. You’re never the same. Your giggles turn to bubbles as if you’re underwater and lost. Your hopes fade into the sides of buildings which are there until they aren’t, and you notice in passing, 3 years later. Bridges and age of majority dates take new meaning.

Everything you should have, suddenly has new meaning, or no meaning.

Spring is supposed to be about renewal, about celebrating an opening earth, warm and welcoming. But for several of us, for different reasons, it’s not. Spring has a shadow behind it,  a mystery reminder that what giveth also taketh. That newness is only at the expense of last year’s left over crop. For some the ache is new, throbbing, still leaking sap. For others, myself, it’s an old wound that aches from time to time, but is mostly healed. Each of us those, is irrevocably branded by these events.

We’ll forever watch the sidewalks for our loved ones, stare out of the corner of our eyes for they who look like someone should. But it won’t be them. It will never be them.


As a teenager, I dreamt I was chasing my mother through a store, her back to me, her blue purple coat standing out against the endless bottle of shampoo. Around and around racks we went, my voice calling for her, echoing back at me. She refused to turn and acknowledge me, and allowed me to chase her instead.

She disappeared from my sight, leaving me wailing and defeated.


This dream of blood

17 Apr

I dream of blood.

I walk into your house, and the blood covers everything. I slip on it. On the walls, the armchair, the staircase.

I don’t dare go upstairs. I know your bodies will be there-how I know, don’t ask me. I know the body of your child, your lovely daughter is laid out, bloodless and sacrificed up there. The house echoes, is white and clean despite the redness that threatens to consume.

It’s quiet, and the floorboards creak underfoot. A terrible feeling wells up in my belly, I choke in fear, panic.

I start to leave when suddenly this woman, your mother yet not your mother, holds my sleeve, the white kimono sleeve and grins a horrible grin, bearing sharpened teeth and clean skin, stay awhile she grimaces, her grip holding tight, her other hand grasping a fillet knife, stay with me.

I stretch away from her hands, pulling myself out the door, stumbling, leaving her trapped in the doorway grinning, holding her knife aloft like a prize, her thin body framed by the sparse opening.

She is cold, evil and bloodless. And waiting for me.

I manage to find a police station, yet no one feels my panic, sit down and relax they tell me, it’s not that bad, we get there, don’t worry.

The hold me in place in the chair, a group of women intent on keeping me there, but doing nothing to stop that woman or ease the pain in my heart, the images flashing in my brain, the blood the cold cold blood on that white white house. I’m alternately scared and brave, wanting to go back on the off chance someone is alive…

I can’t erase the glare of that woman’s face from my memory, the pure malevolence…I’m seen her in other dreams I’m sure, but these dreams, these murderous death dreams, bathed in blood, they’ve been so rare, so far and away from me….


“What matters one lost vision of the night? Let the dream go! …”

8 Apr

I dream that I’m pregnant.

Full to the brim, almost there, ready to go. Thar she blows. I look down at my hands on my taunt round belly, the belly I never had, or maybe I did, it was just buried underneath all the fat that my genetics and my lifestyle gathers to it. But in this dream it’s the butter perfect uterus, protruding, accusing almost.

We argue my husband and I, about going to the birth, or how I’ll give birth. In the dream something is wrong, certainly wrong about this birth, we’re angry, and sad and oh so sick of it. We’re tired, and in the dream we stare past each other, looking for answers.



I’m not pregnant, unless you count the pregnant pause while I cram another sesame rice cake in my mouth (OMFG! Have you tried these?!?! NOM NOM NOM) I will never be pregnant again, aside from the slim, better chance of winning the lottery and getting run over by a circus train on the same day chance.

But my body gets it now. I get your lusts, your cravings for children, the emptiness in your belly, the want. I never did. Not as a teenager, not as a young woman. I never once felt a twinge in an ovary. I never dreamed of having children, or at least, I never dreamed of having babies. I recognized the sacrifice, and was content to live in my own little world of childfree. I stared dumbfounded at people who tried to get pregnant, on purpose! I scratched my head at people trying round after round of IVF, questioning why adopting was so not an option, wondering why they couldn’t accept that maybe, they weren’t meant to have babies in the first place.

I seize up looking at the prices of baby things, wondering how anyone could do it, why anyone wanted to do it.

But I get it now.

I woke up this morning, my hands rushing to my belly. Squishy, jiggly, not taunt and ready. There is no new life inside of my, no feet kicking me, no little hands pressing up against my side. I am empty, a vessel used and discarded. I will never grow a new life inside of me again.

I mourn this now, the thing I never wanted or appreciated in the first place. What better gift? What better talent than to grow life! How can a woman not feel superior when we create and sustain and deliver new life! But I can’t use it-I can’t even act as another’s womb without chancing my own life. My days as a mother, as a life giver, these are done with. It’s frustrating and sad and unfair that only now do I realize what I had, what I could do, what I did. What magic power I held in me.

I awoke feeling those phantom kicks, those hiccups, those dandelions and butterflies inside of me. I awoke feeling full of life, full of tomorrows and hopes and sunlight.

But the dream burned off, like frost as the day dragged itself across me. And so it goes.

“A man who doesn’t dream is like a man who doesn’t sweat: he stores up a lot of poison.”

13 Nov

It’s early, it’s snowing, and I want the dreams to stop.

On previous drugs, on anti-convulsants, I slept like a baby. No dreams, no waking up at night unless I really had to go, just 8 hours of blackness, sweet sweet sleepy blackness. With lithium, I don’t have the luxury of this sleep. One of the most important actions I can do as someone with bipolar is to regulate my sleeping patterns-if I start losing sleep, I can start cycling, and it can get ugly real fast.

I toss. I turn. I’m up multiple times a night. I kick the cat, then kick the cat again. And I have the dreams.

Dreams in which guns are held to my head. Dreams in which someone is chasing me, endlessly chasing me down hallways and streets, rain wet alleys with no exit. I’m running and scared in my dreams, I’m terrified and lonely, worried for the people around me. My home is invaded, and all I can see are big black guns. Or I’m a soldier, and about to die.

It’s always the same. Always has been, since I was younger. They aren’t nightmares technically, but they are very bad dreams from which I wake up shaken. They aren’t as bad as the one I had once about having to watch Vivian freeze to death through a window, but they aren’t walks in the park.

I had taken for granted the soothing affect of my previous drugs, the ability of them to lull me to a quiescent sleep. Now I have my own brain to contend with, and it worries me that these dreams are just the gatekeepers on the madness that will burst forth regardless. These dreams feed the fear that nothing will ever make me better. Normal people don’t dream of death night after night.

And what am I running from? What could I possibly have left to confront in my life? Do I use bipolar as a crutch, as an excuse to be normal and rational and calm? Do I need to confront myself on letting go of my sickness, on becoming a whole person? Or is there secretly another little person locked in my head who wants out, and I won’t let out?

It’s enough to drive a girl mad. Seriously.

In the woods

7 Nov

I run towards you, seeking blindly with my hands. I scatter the things across the desk, brushes, notes, stare in the mirror briefly. I look not like myself. I am haunted, and hollow.

This room is closing in-I cannot breathe, I cannot swim from it, and all I can hear is your screaming over and over in my ears, broken screams, fear manifest. I ache to reach you, yet the door won’t open.

I find myself outside, on a bus, trying to board another. The door closes on the face of another woman, a woman who screams. I try to tell someone, she laughs. How could I be scared? He says he didn’t do anything! She gives me that indulgent look you give when you don’t believe someone yet can’t be bothered to argue. I move off the bus.

Then I see you. Or rather, someone shows me a picture, just your bloody legs next to the cold face of a friend in shock. I must find you. The blood doesn’t touch your blue shoes.

I find you, somehow, stumbling over you. Your eyes are open, your face dappled in your blood. You mouth is partly open, your clothing strewn about. I’ve lost you.

I wake up.


21 Sep

We sit in church, waiting.

It’s your baptism day.

Even in my dream, this seems odd. The light drifts in the windows, musty, illuminating the stations of the cross that inhabit the church I grew up in. The ceilings still soar.

You cry as they pour the water on your head, and I am confused. I do not want this for you, every pore of my body screams that this is wrong, and I should grab you and run.

I sit and watch the rite completed. The older women around me smile their satisfaction. I feel terrified.

When I wake up, Mogo tells me I was giggling in my sleep.

Kate’s babies like to visit

28 Aug

I wake up being poked to consciousness by Kate.

In my dream, I’ve had Ben with me, or maybe it was Liam. He kept tearing his pants off, and rolling around in the snow, giggling maniacally, making me chase him. He laugh echoed through the buildings of my home town, the old stone absorbing his laughter, smiling back.

His red shirt with trains shining against the snow as other ladies smiled indulgently.

I drag him back apologetically, and his father laughs, we swap nekid kid stories and laugh, truly laugh for what feels like the first time in ages for all of us. Kate arrives, and the love-the love for her family is blinding, and warm. They are together, and happy.

We eat-good food we’d never make, delicate, particular. We talk for hours around the table it seems, everything and nothing, that easy talk of people with nothing to prove, nothing to lose.

Her son tugs at me for a question. I turn towards his sparkling face. The poking begins, and I look to Kate’s quiet face.

I wake up.

a thousand miles until..

8 Aug
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Frank Herbert, Dune, Litany Against Fear

When I am afraid, fearful, unsure, I say this to myself in my head, over and over. As I laboured and birthed Rosalyn, these words kept me strong and whole. My own little way of reminding myself that the only way out is through.

Everyone needs a mantra. I woke up from a dream this morning reciting this, a dream in which I believe my mother manifested herself. And I was sad-so sad, feeling her lingering grasp on my wrist dissipate, her arms leave me, the scent of her hair wandering away. We had sat eating pastries in a cafeteria, and she left me to teach a class of boy who didn’t want to be taught.

I lost her again. In dreams even I lose her. But she is young, and healthy, mostly. I can still see the black cancer underneath her skin, her eyes, even in dreams. A demon that haunts her. She wore white, and had someone else’s hair.

I miss her-I wake up from dreams like this one craving her touch-I touch I cannot firmly remember, craving a voice I wouldn’t know if I heard. I crave her wisdom and her wrongness, her judgements and her cattiness. I crave Mother. And you can’t fill that hole, not with anything in the world.

As always, she spoke, and I remember nothing. We spoke. And I woke up fearful and reciting a litany against fear, the fear that I won’t escape her arms, that 30 will bring the death I’ve feared for over 10 years. That she’s a harbinger. I don’t fear death, but I don’t want to die! For years this date has loomed heavy. I fear it. Does she bring life or death?

Or nothing?

To those of you who never remember your dreams, I salute you. I could do without.


29 Jul

In the dream came swarms of insects.

Giant wasps I can not stand. Blankets of ants, my arch nemesis of insects. Pouring from a hole in my ceiling as  stood terrified and powerless to do anything about it. Pouring from a wood crossbeam. I refused to get close enough to figure it out further.

I wouldn’t reenter the house knowing these bugs were there.

No one was listed to exterminate in the phone book-just one vague advertisement about bugs and plants. So we ventured out to find this person, this old man.

We found his home, almost a compound, filled with children and women-he was the only man. We cajoled him to help, bothered him until he agreed to come with us. We toured the grounds of his home.

To my daughter, named in dream.

12 Jul

There are drawings in the notebook I have written this in, drawings my eldest daughter has left me. The heads are far too large, bloated even, but the arms and eyes are just right, perfectly placed almost, dimensions as they should be.

With these drawings I hold in my hands a memory I will never lose, a memory of irrevocable times, of words she’ll only say correctly from here on out, thoughts she’ll have beyond the pricelessness of her youth. How sparse! How magical-how brief and melting are these days.

As a newborn, an infant, I listened to her squalling with the frustration and helplessness of my youth, my inexperience. I pleaded with her nightly to stop screaming, to let me know, to tell me, hell, to turn colors so I’d know what it was that she needed, what it was that I was doing wrong. Her snurgles late at night as she slept, her broad smiles in the early morning, her disdain for closeness-all things I thought would never end, that I would never find the answer to.

Yet here we are. Here I sit, thoughts meandering to late night baths, lavender lotion slathered on chubby unused baby legs, the desperate coos of the of a young mother trying to entertain a cold, wet unimpressed infant. Bottles by the sink for 4 am feedings, spent torn between annoyance and awe. Your lips would droop as you fell off into sleep, your stomach filled, until the nipple popped from your mouth and your grip on my finger lessened. Only my arms to guide you gently back to sleep.

I grow weak for those moments, those days. I want to beg for a do-over, another chance to get it right, to appreciate and enjoy, to love you as you weren’t, to love you for what you were, not what you some day would be. To love you. To love the daughter I had given myself, the one who named herself in my dreams.

Soon, too soon Vivian, you will turn 4. The heads you draw will become smaller, more expected. Perhaps your grin will not be so broad for me. Your world will hurtle outwards into space, time, into the lessons that make up a life.

I am sad, and yet hopeful.

It is the mother’s place to hold tightly to the past-once the demands have lessened, she can stop and remember the coy moments spent laying on the spare bed, playing with the littlest of toes instead of remembering the innumerable loads of laundry. She can finally stop and recall the excitement of the new. How truly soft your cheeks really were.

I don’t sit sadly, maybe crying because I miss you already. It’s not because I am sad to lose you, as all mother’s will one day lose their daughters-I cry because I mourn what I have lost instead-what I gave up. Your first years gone in a retreating flash of time. Your silly years gliding away from me, already lost to you.

I will keep these drawings as i will keep this letter. For you. For your future, the daughters you will or won’t have, the days when you question my love for you. When you question the life I dream for you.


While I am not your father, my love is mirrored in the following.

All night long the hockey pictures
gaze down at you
sleeping in your tracksuit.
Belligerent goalies are your ideal.
Threats of being traded
cuts and wounds
–all this pleases you.
O my god! you say at breakfast
reading the sports page over the Alpen
as another player breaks his ankle
or assaults the coach.

When I thought of daughters
I wasn’t expecting this
but I like this more.
I like all your faults
even your purple moods
when you retreat from everyone
to sit in bed under a quilt.
And when I say ‘like’
I mean of course ‘love’
but that embarrasses you.
You who feel superior to black and white movies
(coaxed for hours to see Casablanca)
though you were moved
by Creature from the Black Lagoon.

One day I’ll come swimming
beside your ship or someone will
and if you hear the siren
listen to it. For if you close your ears
only nothing happens. You will never change.

I don’t care if you risk
your life to angry goalies
creatures with webbed feet.
You can enter their caves and castles
their glass laboratories. Just
don’t be fooled by anyone but yourself.

This is the first lecture I’ve given you.
You’re ‘sweet sixteen’ you said.
I’d rather be your closest friend
than your father. I’m not good at advice
you know that, but ride
the ceremonies
until they grow dark.

Sometimes you are so busy
discovering your friends
I ache with loss
–but that is greed.
And sometimes I’ve gone
into my purple world
and lost you.

One afternoon I stepped
into your room. You were sitting
at the desk where I now write this.
Forsythia outside the window
and sun spilled over you
like a thick yellow miracle
as if another planet
was coaxing you out of the house
–all those possible worlds!–
and you, meanwhile, busy with mathematics.

I cannot look at forsythia now
without loss, or joy for you.
You step delicately
into the wild world
and your real prize will be
the frantic search.
Want everything. If you break
break going out not in.
How you live your life I don’t care
but I’ll sell my arms for you,
hold your secrets forever

If I speak of death
which you fear now, greatly,
it is without answers.
except that each
one we know is
in our blood.
Don’t recall graves.
Memory is permanent.
Remember the afternoon’s
yellow suburban annunciation.
Your goalie
in his frightening mask
dreams perhaps
of gentleness.

Don’t mind me-I’m nuts.

26 Jun

I have to change my meds.

I’m cycling more than fricken lance armstrong here today. One moment I’m melancoly, the next cranky, the next excited and anxious, then happy, heart pounding happy, then all fired up in the nether regions, then just blah.

And that’s just one hour of my day.

You know what it feels like? I feel like I’m swimming through sludge, but occasionally come across dry land, then maybe a sand bar. I have no bottom. My feet can’t rest anywhere, because the current moves to swiftly. At the same time, I’m trying to knit with cotton candy.

My head hurts from this. I’m sleeping like shit. I know some of that is my cold turkey off the antidepressants, but still. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m not better off without any drugs at all. Lately, I’ve had just as many swings on as I do off. In the last year it’s been like that, but how do I know what is really the drugs working, and what is an extended period of “soft” mania? Because frankly-I’m beginning to think that my initial “success” from the trileptal may have just been that.

I say it all the time, but I’m tired of this! It’s getting annoying! My poor children over the last few days-all I wanted to do was sit and read or watch TV. I didn’t want to go anywhere. If they acted up, I was a right bitch. The dream of running away was kicking in hard yesterday, visions of Julianne Moore’s character in The Hours running repeat in my mind.

I’m exhausted, and confused, and tired of attempting to maintain some sort of baseline for the world. I’m constantly trying to mold myself into something safe for mass consumption, and that’s what most difficult of all. The effect I must have on other people. I’m unpredictable, whiny and mean. What a joy that must be to be around.

Sitting here feeling, on one hand, excited to go home and see my baby, and yet on the other hand not wanting to in case he’s cranky and I have to deal with it-these are the constant, rampant mixed thoughts. Which then lead to anger. (dysphoric mania is what I think is happening currently.)

Fuck fuck fuck. There is something very irritating and hopeless feeling about this state. I feel like I’m vibrating, quivering, and keep darting around in my mind looking for something to ease it with. Getting drunk didn’t help, despite the urge. Now I crave weed for some bizarre reason-something I haven’t done with any regularity since I was 17 or so. I’ve been having visual halluncinations frequently. But all of this is not QUITE bad enough to be a major concern, not yet.

I’m driven to do things like eat, or spend money. This morning I could feel the hypersexuality building back up, triggered in part by a dream with Jonathan Ryhs-Meyers in it.(ok, that part wasn’t so bad. Not my usual, but I can get used to that type of dream over the usual death and destruction any day) But it becomes relentless and out of control in my mind. Thankfully, it doesn’t manifest itself outwardly in any negative ways.

But I worry. Mixed states are worse than anything, because you have no idea what might come next. It just flies at you.

And I feel so alone with all of this. I don’t feel I can go anywhere with it, and frankly, the thought of more “talk” therapy makes me what to spit. I need something to fix my brain! Whining and complaining about what I cannot fix on my own is frustrating to say the least. I’ve worked through most of my shit. I just want stitches on the part of my brain that’s fucked up.

Dear Mom

12 May

I’m hungover today, a sure sign that Dad has gone for the summer. We had a great night, but now? My head hurts. But that’s ok, since both of my daughters are giggling madly.

It’s a dark cold morning. It’s been warm all week, but suddenly, the clouds roll in and the sun hides and I find myself tongue-tied, at a loss for words that mean anything more than what I ate for breakfast (veggie dogs, lemon yogurt and berries, if you’re wondering. I can’t eat eggs, and I crave protein in the morning)

Mom, would you have an opinion on everything I do? My brother does, chastising me for us not having a car, despite me explaining the 500+ we save each month, despite my desire to not exhale crap everyday on the earth because I’m too lazy to walk or take the bus. Would you find it so odd that I can’t eat certain foods, and have to make up for it somewhere else? That my inability to digest things leads me to eat safe, crappy food? That your daughter is digustingly fat, and feeling increasingly sullen and lost about it? The weight piles on without effort, seemingly spun from the air. Counting calories makes my head hurt. Mom, I’m just so fucking lost with it all.

Should I stop taking my pills? I don’t think they’re helping. I don’t feel like I can get the help I need unless I take all my pills, all at once. I’ve been feeling this lately, increasingly, as I notice my life is almost worse than it was before. I’m failing at everything I touch, and I’m losing the words to put it into perspective.

Mom, I dreampt of zombies last night, again. It’s always fucking zombies, and me running, trying to avoid becoming swept into a world that I rise against, that I refuse to become part of. The mindless gibbering masses, blindly spending money to fit in, however that is. (And hell, the stuff I did at 16 to NOT fit in people do now to FIT in. How in the HELL can someone rebel now? Eat a dog raw?) I woke up scared and wanting to escape. Trapped in a corner, I could not escape being devoured by something simpler and yet stronger than I. Something worse.

I thought I was happy-I thought I had finally figured out the secret, found the switch but fuck hasn’t someone hidden it again. I’m tired of this Mom. I’m tired of being unhappy, of being tired and sad and short-tempered and mad and useless. Ugly. I’m tired of fighting with medications, trying to get a doctor to understand that yes, weight gain and sexual dysfunction IS a FUCKING BIG DEAL. I’m so tired of feeling disconnected, lost, unmotivated.

Somedays Mom, I’m tired of being alive. I hate myself so much somedays that I so want to die. I want the waves of life and death to spin me from my own grasp, and take me away. And I hate myself even more for believing in taking the easy way. I mean shit, you waited for us as babies, you watched us grow, you tried to hang on through the cancer. And I can’t even get excited over the things you wanted so much. I take it so much for granted, and I wish I couldn’t, wish that I didn’t. But I know no other way. I do not know how to enjoy being alive for longer than a few months.

I hate this. It’s eating me alive, this “disorder” this chaos and I’m lost within it. WHo the fuck am I? Did I know as a child? Did I have a personality that didn’t change from day to day? Was I even nice to anyone? I know that other people are suffering more than I, in many many ways, and that what’s happened to me, and what goes on in my head is nothing in comparision. So why do I still want to not exist? It’s that numb too-I don’t want to off myself. I just want to not wake up, to not be weighed down by all of this life that hates me so.

See, if I look at things from a biological standpoint, eventually my line of crazy will kill itself off. So maybe then I won’t have existed at all?

I hate even more the idea that my children will have this, that they will sit, 15 years from now, talking, dreaming about not being alive. About no longer suffering this obscure petulant shame and sadness. That they will wish they were never born. I wish that sometimes, and I know you’d hate it. But everytime I see one of those pro-life “save a life, your mom did!” signs I think, “Why? Why did she bother with it? What possible difference have I made on a grand scale?”

I’ve caused heartache and suffering. I’ve hurt people, accidentally almost, the way bipolar folk can. I’ve made my life into a shambles I don’t recognize. (Shouldn’t I have finished university? Done something with my life?) I tell myself that raising children is this great job, but I lie.

I fucking hate it. I fucking hate the mindnumbing boredom and irritation that it brings. The constant struggle I have to not lose my mind and spend the day screaming at them. I end up eating instead, eating cause I’m bored, mad, sad, upset. Can’t get out and run the shit off me-can’t get far with two small kids. I can’t get anything for me in that regard-there’s no time. So maybe I should stop eating instead. Something has to give.

Mom, I hate this. I hate it. I don’t know how to change it. I wish I was someone else.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Weekend Revel

30 Apr

So I made a concious effort to stay off the internet this weekend-checking my email only occasionally.

What an odd thing, to be impressed by staying off the web.

I went for a 1.5 hour walk on the trail behind my house, somehow getting blisters on the inside of two toes. (My feet are huge). I was pissy, and sad Saturday morning, and a long hard walk was exactly what I needed. I walked out my anger, and sadness into the beauty I found in those woods.

I’m so lucky to have this trail behind my house.

So I survived that date again.

I had a dream last night that I might a guy while sitting, waiting. He asked me what was so bad. And crying, I explained it all-how it hurt to lose my mother, how that pain is sometimes fresh every day, how I grew up without a female guide. How lonely I felt sometimes. How easily I slipped right back to that day when she died.

He said nothing, but let me simper all of this out at him.

Apparently, my unconcious needed to rid itself of the pain as well.

How many years? How many years til it doesn’t bother me at all?

This is yet another reason why I stayed away-I had nothing of value to contribute all weekend long anyway.

May starts this week. But then, I have my first root canal appointment this week, so we’ll see how it all turns out.