This Week in My History: October 26, 2008.

He doesn’t like me. I just spent the coldest weekend of my life (in more ways than one) with him and it was business, business, business. And then I wrapped. And that was it. Actually, it was mostly just awkward as fuck. And I hated life a lot. Then I worked on my horrendous McTaggart Award entry – GOD – I don’t stand a chance at winning that contest. There’s no POINT to my essay, no hook, no interest, it’s too dark and controversial, the style is all mixed up.. totally, totally, totally shitty, legitimately. *Sigh* and I wanted to win so badly. Because if I did, I could take him with me. That will never happen. But he kind of hates me anyway, so it doesn’t matter. I’m cold. And I’m going to bed. Because I’m tired. TWO MORE DAYS UNTIL CARDINOLOGY.



I’ve just turned 30.

30 seems to be a really good time to start considering priorities in life; what do I want not tomorrow or next week, but next year, 5 years from now, 10 years from now? And what can I do ‘right now’ to achieve these things? I ask this question because in today’s world, it’s often either: emphasized that people in their 30s (women, especially) have a hard time coping with the pressures that society places upon them in the 21st century and they go into some kind of crisis mode; or, it’s really not important to ‘be in a certain place’ at a certain time and we should all stop worrying, travel endlessly with money from…somewhere, and worry about the big stuff later. But what’s “later”? How long do we wait, and for what? And what are we waiting for? Being a millennial who’s verging on not being of a ‘millennial’ age anymore is confusing. I think we’re all confused, wandering through this abyss of nostalgic Buzzfeed articles, social media pages from our friends who are ‘farther ahead’ than we are, and getting mixed messages from parents, mentors, friends, ourselves, and television and films about what we “should”, or if we “should” all be doing something specific right now.

My question is, what are my priorities? And how am I feeling when my priorities are either being met, or not?

I’ve said it before and I’ll reiterate the point – between 2013 and early 2015, my priority was life. I took out a pension, moved to the coast, racked up endless amounts of debt by being a student and being unemployed in a city where knowing connections is everything and people with phDs are vying for the same jobs as you just to get their foot in the door. But I had fun racking up that debt and wandering around eating soup and banana bread in trendy cafes around the city. So while I was stressed, I shoved that stress down so far I could hardly see it.

Until I met someone. Then I could see it all as clear as day. The wedding, the house, the career, the summers off as a teacher spending endless amounts of time raising my family or traveling across the country, the continent, even the world… suddenly, life took on this new meaning that was crystallized by, nothing other than, falling in love.

Falling in love induced me to moving back to Alberta. Falling in love helped me realize I wanted to be a teacher, so I could be better and do better and be more than I thought, just because someone I love introduced me to the idea that I could do all of these things. So I left my life of lollygagging around and doing nothing of importance, and I found a job at least closer, and cheaper to travel to the person I loved, than taking an expensive plane ride to and from Vancouver once or twice a month.

Suddenly, I found my career was the priority.

Endless hours of work, stress, dreading waking up in the morning out of fear of how things might work out or not, dealing with beaking kids and inappropriate comments I’m not sure how to unpack or handle, wondering what the future holds, cold winters, scary highway drives in the dark, in the snow, and all because I wanted a ‘good’ job. Which didn’t turn out last year, to be very ‘good’ for me at all. Actually, it changed me as a person – into this poor, blubbering, frustrated, self-pitying, annoyed, depressive, clingy bag of misery, living in one fourth of a crack den, in a cold, isolated, lonely place, just so I could work in a job I wanted.

Upon promising myself not to do this again, I found a slightly better but still sometimes agonizing and frustrating place which gave me a career I wanted, in a reasonably good place to live, but still away from people. Do I like my luxury apartment and small city life? Yes. And did I get myself out of a potentially bad situation I may have been stuck in forever? Yes. But am I 100% happy and loving life as I once did when I was free and easy in Vancouver, racking up debt and being 21 all day, every day, even though I was almost 30? No. So what is happiness, really?

A proverb (maybe slightly differently worded here) I always come back to is: “the foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise man grows happiness beneath his feet”. I remember and absorb the wisdom that quote instills in me. But I still can’t follow it. In the past four years, I have changed locations (apartments or cities) several times, had jobs with a definitive start and end point, and travel every single weekend to see the person I love, to the point where I rely on that time to keep me happy and motivated. I question sometimes whether either of us really need that time or if it needs to be every weekend. But, then when I consider the value of staying in, having ‘me’ time, it’s depressing. Because in the last little while I’ve had varied priorities that have trapped me where I am. And I felt like I couldn’t leave or get out and looking ack, it’s occurred to me that I could realistically leave at any time. Last year, I could have just looked for other jobs and bailed on my contract because I was so desperately and miserably unhappy. So I suffered in my dutifulness when maybe I didn’t need to in the end. The question though, that this all comes back to is: why am I not happy? What is missing where my priorities aren’t messed up and I feel totally fulfilled all the time with waking up, going to work, and going home?

Priorities drive us. They dictate what we do and when we do it, what decisions we make that shape the rest of our lives, and the ways in which we act and do what we need to so we can eventually get what we want out of life. Knowing what my priorities are after I made certain decisions, has become a huge problem for me in my life. All I want to figure out again is how can I be fortunate enough to, right now, get what I want out of life so that my life I live matches the priorities I have.

Diary Entries from 2007.

February 2

I just heard that Jason died. And he’s not my friend – I’d say he never has been, but he’s been there my whole life. He was on my first School Reach team. He was on all the field trips I was on. He was a part of my grad class, and maybe he wasn’t my best friend, but I care enough about him that he’s made me realize the value of knowing someone. The alue of a face in the crowd. The value of, as I like to say, “threads” in the tapestry. One thread is unwoven. And I just never thought it would be. They say death is more common than people think in their consciousness. That’s so real for me now. I hope Jason, that you were happy. I hope you felt fulfilled with life and your last thought was of something good and pure and sweet.

February 5

It’s been a strange few days. I’m feeling fluish, I’m having a hard time studying, Jason’s death has put a damper on me more than expected, my mom is pissed at me, I’m stressed, and I can’t go to RATT tonight probably. What happened to my ability to be motivated? I miss being motivated. SO much right now. Yet at the same time, who cares? I dunno… it seems like in the grand scheme of things, grades are so unimportant to me. Yet, they have to matter.  I wish that wasn’t the case. To some friends, grades are indicative of pride – but I think deep down, they just want to be ahead of people… This stress will soon pass, though and I will be happier next week and it will be okay. I’m pretty sure that I can make it through more turmoil than I ever thought possible. I believe I am extraordinary sometimes. At least now I do.


On Thankfulness.

There are lots of reasons to ‘celebrate’ and hold dear the tradition of Thanksgiving, but the underlying purpose and main idea is to be reminded of what we’re thankful for and how. I wanted to take the time for a minute to give my thanks for all I am grateful for.

I’m thankful for my job. It’s so hard and some days are excruciating but at this point I can’t really imagine doing anything else.

I’m thankful that I was able to take enough chances of love and dating to end up finding the person who is so right for me; I’m grateful to everyone I went out with because each person, whether we had an amazing time or not, showed me what I didn’t want in a partner, what I would and wouldn’t tolerate, what it feels like to go on a great date, and how to approach love again after my past nihilistic viewpoints.

I’m thankful that I left the 2015-2016 academic year behind. It was one of the hardest years of my life.

I’m thankful that I can look back on my past now and laugh. Laugh at my stupid frivolous twenties and all the things I believed to be “hurt” by, which were really just distractions from real hurt, and/or trying to involve myself in more drama, and/or distracting myself from bigger problems.

I’m thankful for food, shelter and clothing. I’m thankful I have winter boots and warm, dry socks and underwear. I’m thankful for basics because they’re so important but sometimes we forget them.

I’m thankful that I ended up getting beautiful free comfy couches for my apartment. I never could have afforded those on my own.

I’m thankful that I love what I do, and I have the actual ability to do it.

I’m thankful for Ryan Adams and Wilco for every reason ever.

I’m simply so thankful for my life. It’s not perfect and I don’t have everything (and pretending I do have everything would be ridiculously unrealistic and silly) but I have what I need, most of what I want, and I have love and respect and gainful employment. I’m so grateful.

What it means to be ‘broken’.

One of my proudest accomplishments has been loving completely. Loving so much it hurts. Bending over backwards for the people I love, sometimes to be ultruistic and sometimes, admittedly, to be selfish. Sometimes love is a selfish act because we consistently want love to fill a hole within ourselves that could never possibly be held as deeply as we want or need it to.

Crushes are like that. When we have a crush on someone we constantly strive to ‘trick’ someone, or coerce someone, or pray for someone, to love us. We wish on shooting stars and on 11:11 with the hope that the universe will change its mind and spark someone to love us when the reality exists that, they don’t love us at all. We love this way because many of us sometimes feel ‘broken’; and maybe, if the person we have placed on this pedestal, returns our affections, it will fill that selfish hole, that selfish need for love, and then all will be better.

I always feel broken. My brokenness knows no bounds. I don’t see myself as pretty, I don’t see myself as someone worth loving, and I pour all my energy into showing affection to those I want to hold onto because I’m worried that one day they’ll wake up and change their mind about me. I have a reason to believe this; my reasoning is that a lot of people I have loved deeply – this deeply, in fact – have left me. Many people in my world — people I’ve dated, friends I’ve had, parent ‘figures’ in my life – have eventually abandoned me, or hurt me, and this has caused me to feel differently about my relationships with others. Abandoned people love differently. Hurt people love differently.

Sometimes I’m amazed that anyone would ‘choose’ me. I’ve gone through life mostly believing and seeing myself as someone who would disappear from view if I wasn’t loud enough. The more I progress in life and relationships, the more I realize that having this vantage point about myself leads to despair and rejection. Because my expectations about myself and others are unrealistic. That I always count on people on some level to make me who I want to be. And others cannot do that: only I can.

I have people in my life now that I love with my entire heart and around whom many of my decisions are based. But I’ve also frequently let down those I love, or have loved because I can be genuinely selfish, genuinely broken, and genuinely feel hard-done-by. The life I live isn’t perfect but sometimes acknowledging my own failings in this way has made me stronger and forced me to strive more for the kind of perfection and the kind of life that will make me rely less on others and more on myself.

Damaged people love indifferently: they love imperfectly. 

A Word About Reconciliation.

People say about reconciliation, that it’s “about you, not them”. But sometimes I wonder… is it really only about one person?

Things I’ve been unable to reconcile up until this point in my life: being abused as a child; being treated like shit by a particular teacher/mentor I had once in my life; being dumped with a high five; having to deal with a catostrophic friend breakup.

I remember reading this article once about a woman who told the police about her childhood sexual abuse long after her abuser is dead (mine has also died and I too, never said anything). The police officer was sympathetic and went with them to his grave, described the process and walked through everything with the woman and afterwards she felt less ‘unfinished’ than she did before. This was a heroic thing that was done. What she did was not only incredibly brave, but she reconciled for herself and herself only. Sometimes it’s too late but you do whatever you can to move forward. Sometimes it’s a two-way street. And sometimes it can’t be.

I think in this moment about the AA Serenity Prayer: “God, give me the courage to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The first time I heard the AA Serenity Prayer was on Queer as Folk when Ted is writing his apology letters for his 12-step program following a rehab stint for his meth addiction. I don’t really know anyone in AA but I have lived with those words for a long time. And sometimes attempts to change something when you still can is just as important as moving forward to help yourself push through things you can’t.

I hope I did that.

An “Open” Letter.

Dear So-and-Sos:

I had a dream about you last night. In my dream, I was in Jasper and I ran into you. When you saw me, you ran right up to me and hugged me and cried. You didn’t really say anything but that hug was something that even in my waking state, I can almost still feel. I haven’t dreamed about you in a while. Whenever I have, it was angry and I woke up feeling differently than I did this morning.

I was thinking about the past. I was thinking about how, when we were combative and not speaking, neither of us made an effort to reconcile. I thought about how currently, I am teaching my students the importance of “reconciliation” and that I have not ‘reconciled’, because I want some kind of upper hand, because I am still ‘angry’, I am a hypocrite. And I can’t justifiably claim that reconciliation is important to me when I haven’t actually embodied that in my life, in my former friendships, in my experiences with loss and anger.

The fact remains: I am hurt. I am hurt because I feel hard-done-by in our previous relationship. I feel like nobody ever heard me, listened to me, sided with me and really understood my life or where I was coming from. Those feelings forced me to react badly and in doing so I lost my cool. I lost a lot. I was immature and made an immature decision. And now what remains is this: I am still bitter. I don’t regret a loss of friendship. I don’t feel differently about where I would like things to be now. But, I regret being still bitter if only because I wanted to “win” and now, approaching 30 and thinking back on all of this bad blood, I have realized that “winning” really isn’t all that important.

All I want to express is this regret. And all I want to stress about this regret is: this isn’t some plea to return to how things were because I don’t want that and I’m assuming you don’t either. This isn’t an olive branch, because peace is sometimes just unnecessary, impossible, or a waste of everyone’s efforts. This isn’t me bending over backwards to please because I’ve done that too, and I’m not that person anymore. What this is, is: forgiveness. Forgiving myself because I fucked up. Forgiving you for fucking up. Not forgiveness for the purpose of rekindling some friendship that was obviously never built to last in the first place, but forgiveness so that we can move forward in life without aiming to “win”, without looking back scathingly, without saying one thing then meaning another, and most importantly: with expressing real, genuine, TRUE feelings about how we felt in this situation. Admitting that we were both vulnerable, that we both cared, that what happened was actually hurtful. Because it was. I know it, you know it, and regardless of how that pain has eased up significantly since the last time we spoke or even saw each other, pain is a part of a breakup. Pain is a part of who we became afterwards, maybe even who we became now. And admitting to that pain is also something that can help reconcile the uncertainties of the past.

It’s ridiculous that nobody ever admitted they were hurt by the utter catastrophic detonation of a 6-year best friendship, and instead all parties took a silent, bridge-burning turn towards an unfeeling desire to be “better off”. This decision is the most immature, stupid and backwards decision I’ve ever made. What I want to say to you, should you ever read this is this: all of this has fucked me up a lot. All of this has had me questioning my past, the genuineness of it, my ability to carry on a relationship, people’s true motives (including my own), and my ability to be what I define as a ‘good person’. All of this has made me feel bitter, angry, at times tearful, and griping. I lost a lot. Of self-respect, of respect for others, of trust, of self-expression. All of those things washed down the drain like toothpaste and I watched it spin and spin until it dwindled down to nothing but gross old residue of something from another time that I can barely even see or remember. And I am deeply, deeply angry about this still. I’m pissed off at how hurt I fell with absolutely no apology or acknowledgement. I’m saddened by own shying away from the emotional healing that accompanies a breakup of any kind, all because I wanted to “prove something” to you. I’m angry at all of your snide shoving-out of me, casting me aside proudly and making grand announcements about doing so on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. I’m fucking pissed as shit that after I never spoke to you again, you never, ever, ever contacted me to try and end things with something softer and gentler than complete silence and then instead of acknowledging this privately with me, you post an INSTAGRAM with some stupid fucking quote about saying goodbye then choosing to announce in public, on an account I don’t even follow, about my life and how you feel about it. And somehow did you feel that was supposed to fix or make anything better? For you, or for me, or for anyone at all? Was it enough? After six years, was it really enough and could you really stand before me now and say that was not just supposed to be enough for me to move on but also yourself? Have you moved on? Or are you going to bother pretending like this is all 100% okay for you now because you’re better off without me and casting me aside this way was the best thing you’ve ever done? It wasn’t for me. I regret it. I messed up, and I’m willing to be vulnerable because I don’t believe anymore that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. It took me 30 years but I finally figured out that it’s okay to do things like cry in front of your boyfriend or cry when you’ve had a bad day at work. I hope you have too.

I write this letter as a plea for some reprieve from the anger and sadness that plagues me in small but tinny, biting welts in my soul that only sleep, alcohol and loved ones can make disappear. I write this letter with the hope that in some fantasy land that doesn’t actually exist in waking life, that you and I could sit down and have coffee and air all our grievances and cry and get pissed off and make all the snide and angry comments in the world but feel better after it. And I write this letter to acknowledge that fighting dirty – a cold war chocked full of silent warfare, is not the way to end anything. I hope you understand and ‘get’ where I’m coming from with this. This is how I’m feeling today. This is how I often feel. And I’m growing both comfortable with that, and aggravated by it, all at the same time.