An Open Letter to My Villains.

Dear Villains:

I have been in this world for 28 years. Which is a little time and a lot of time all at once. Even ten years ago it was hard for me to imagine being nearly 30. And here we are.

The one thing I’ve learned about life that I’ve carried with me since I was 9, for better or for worse, is our greatest enemies are those closest to us. All of you have been among my closest confidantes and have caused me the greatest, deepest, most intense pains.

I often wonder why or how one loses people. Is it what we do, or how we react? In my case, it’s both. I’m not perfect and unlike some of you, I’m not going to get defensive and just point out all the reasons why I’m consistently right in the process of making enemies, and you are all consistently ‘wrong’. That’s not what this is about. But the fact of the matter is, I have enemies. Sometimes it’s because of who I am, and what I represent. Sometimes it’s because of the ways in which I reacted to something one of you has done. Sometimes I just shut down and can’t communicate or comprehend the ways I feel hurt by you. But there are millions of ways to lose people. And it never makes it easier.

All of you have stolen something irreparable from me: the ability to trust, to engage, to lead, to befriend, and to feel confident. They’re things that are broken in me and make me feel broken to lack. And whether it’s my fault or your faults, that is my reality. And I have my relationships with each of you to blame for that.

Nobody likes to exist in the world with the knowledge that they have “villains”. It’s an unpleasant string that hurts to tug on. It’s something that’s heavy and awkward to carry, that you need to constantly stop and rearrange. But there’s no way around that except to just carry and carry and carry.

Someday, I hope that all of you can just leave me alone, both internally and externally. I hope you can unplug, or leave my thoughts and nightmares and recollections. I can only hope for this to be true. For now, I take comfort in how empowered I am despite all of you and the ways you’ve torn strips off me.

Sincerely,

M

An Open Letter to My Heroes.

Dear Heroes:

Whether you are in my life or I simply look to you as a pillar of wisdom and inspiration despite that we’ve never met, you are all equally valuable.

I came from humble beginnings in my life; I was destined to be a strange, awkward adult with immense difficulty fitting into the world. I was someone who was always under-confident, left of centre, and a stranger to everyone around me. It’s people like me who need their heroes the most.

I questioned today: what makes a good hero? To me, a hero is someone who is fearless, true to their own vision and/or their own self, and someone who embodies qualities I wish to uncover and reveal for my own self. To me, a hero is someone who is a born leader and isn’t afraid to take charge of a situation. A hero is someone who protects the interests of others to a fault, and someone who is unwavering in their kindness and care. Heroism is difficult to define, as its qualities and traits vary from person to person. I see my heroes as people who are dependable, loyal and possess integrity. I see these traits in all of you every day, or every time I listen to a song of yours or read your words. I am instantly comforted, empowered, inspired and long to be better.

I am grateful for such amazing heroes. You make me want to be better even when I cannot be what I want to be. You helped me out of the deepest darknesses I’ve ever felt and also helped me to appreciate and be grounded and feel fortunate for what I do have, rather than constantly lamenting what I don’t have. You taught me lessons about love and careers and growing up and becoming the burgeoning person I am today. You remind me that I’m not perfect, ever, but on top of that, I should never claim to be, think of myself as such, or think I am ‘too good’ for any opportunity, any person, or any situation I find myself in. Most importantly, you have shown me love, whether you realized it or not, and you taught me how to love others in ways I didn’t think were possible, sometimes just on the strength of words alone.

So to my heroes, and others’ heroes, and those individuals who embody the characteristics of what makes a good hero, thank you. For making others’ lives better, for demonstrating the best qualities humankind can possess, and for being role models of strength, humility and good character.

Sincerely,

M

The Biggest Compliment I’ve Ever Received.

So inspired was I by this article, that I felt like writing about the biggest compliment I have ever received.

This was not an easy task. I don’t take compliments well, for better or worse, and I don’t really know that I ever deserve compliments (as a very under-confident person, that struggle is real). Having said that, there is one that sticks out to me as one that really ‘got to me':

You’re wise beyond your years

This was said to me by one of my ex-boyfriends, a person who I wouldn’t say I’m on “bad terms” with presently, but with whom I don’t speak anymore which is, I think, the best for both of us.

He said this to me in the context of me speaking about my past and where I’ve come from that’s led me to the understanding of the world that I have now. Everything I do, believe in and love is entrenched in believing in and prescribing to the wisdom of people I believe to be ‘wise’. I believe wisdom is something that is to be passed down, shared, and most importantly earned. In short, I hold ‘wisdom’ as a concept, in very high regard.

To be a person who is wise beyond my years implies that I have a sound understanding of the world, my world, and where I fit in and what I can do within the confines of what I’ve been dealt. That this person who said this to me recognized a quality in me like this that I so, so deeply admire in others, was something I will cherish forever.

I don’t really know where this ex-boyfriend is in life right now and if he is happy in life and love or not, but I hope he is. These words will stay with me forever and remind me of just how far I’ve come and how much I really do know and understand about life.

Four Things I want to Thank My Boyfriend For.

June 6 was the anniversary of my first date with my now-boyfriend and love of my life. Over the past year he’s been a supporter, cheerleader, lover, best friend, and overall inspiration and I never take what he does for me for granted. Every day, I see, hear or do something that makes me think of him and I come to this realization that I am a very, very, very lucky woman to have found love like this.

Sometimes too, thanking your partner is more than thanking them for the beautiful gift or the dinner they treated you too. A good partner will do all these things and more, but a GREAT partner will help you realize your full potential as not just a girlfriend or boyfriend, but as a human being. While I never take the little things for granted, the bigger things are so big, they seem to go unnoticed as if they just happened like clouds moving through the sky – huge and immense, but there they are. I want to take ten minutes out of my evening just before bed to thank him openly for what he’s done for me.

1. He helped me realize my career dreams.

When I finished my teaching practicum, I thought to myself, “I never want to do this again.” And then I started dating a fellow teacher – one who never had the confidence issues, rocky road, and difficult workload that I had, who sailed through his practicum seamlessly and enthusiastically. A pettier version of me in the past would have been envious and bitter at a close friend’s successes in my field. Perhaps that was why I decided to bow out of the competition – to avoid failure.

On our first date, I told him, “I never want to be a teacher.” And he replied, “that makes me very sad to hear that.” As we went on and talked shop, I realized through his eyes that I had more to offer than I thought and more successes than I thought during a very, very stressful and tumultuous time of fear, overwork and uncertainty in myself and my abilities. I changed my mind, now I’m a teacher, and I would never have felt this kind of satisfaction and comfort level with my career choice, had it not been for his encouragement and his own unwavering enthusiasm and passion for education.

2. He makes me feel truly beautiful, inside and outside.

Some argue it’s not important to feel beautiful but the sad reality is, depending on the day, and especially for someone with deep insecurity issues like me, it really is. And before I dated anyone, or when I dated an asshole who treated me poorly I felt un-pretty and un-wanted and un-loved.

Currently, I’m in a place in my life where I have gained quite a bit of weight and it’s only very ever-so-slowly coming off (but not fast enough). And yet, rather than griping about it and feeling the burden of 10 extra pounds, I instead feel like someone who is beautiful and confident and bolstered in other areas of my life. When you’re in love, you feel unstoppable; you feel as though the world has given its favours and luck and rewards and magic spells all to you and you hold all this goodness in your hands and it feels amazing and wonderful and freeing.

If I’m 10lb heavier, or I’m not wearing makeup, or I feel sick and bloaty and on my period, he always makes me feel just as beautiful and just as desirable. This hasn’t demotivated my own weightloss journey (which is ongoing and now in life, ever-present) but it certainly makes it feel like less of a load to carry during rough patches.

3. He doesn’t make me feel like damaged goods.

As someone who’s faced a lot of tragedy in my past that has contributed to a loss of a lot of confidence and self-worth and the ability to really have a voice in many scenarios, almost to the point where I’m crippled, I have always been worried about others finding out the reason(s) why and looking at me as someone who needs to be protected, sheltered or treated like half a human being. It was my biggest fear and continues to be walking into every relationship.

In this one, my fears were very unfounded. Realistically, I know most good, mature responsible adults are not ever going to look at me this way when I tell them what has happened to me, but that doesn’t help ease the difficulty in telling people about who I am and why I am that way. I told my truth to my boyfriend on one of our first dates. It’s become something that’s easy enough to talk about with him but that also stays hidden in the background, easily accessible but only if needed. And if it is needed, that’s okay too.

4. He’s adopted me into his family.

I have a wonderful, albeit really small family without a lot of the love and affection you see from TV families. My boyfriend’s family does seem like a TV family; they are the kindest, most welcoming, most fun and lovely and kindhearted people to spend time with. It’s not something to necessarily ‘thank’ him for, but overall seeing his family members makes me feel like a part of such a loving, welcoming family. I’m developing a comfort level with them and it’s been such an addition to my life. It never goes under-appreciated.

The Good Times.

When I went on trips with my three best friends, we had this tradition where we would draw each other’s names and choose the tackiest possible souvenirs for one another. Then, on our last night of the trip we would have dinner, exchange our souvenirs and vote on whose was the funniest.

Things like this remind me that although we’ve all found ourselves in this darkness, although these women and I are no longer in each other’s lives, there were memories like this. There was good there, and there was love and laughter. Even if it didn’t last longer than any of us expected. It was there and it was wonderful. And beautiful. And it warmed my heart.

20150604_211626

The Impersonal Nature of Social Media.

In high school, I would have killed to have something like Twitter so I could bond with a bunch of people with similar interests, life experiences and so on. In my 4500-person small town, there was something I needed that I wasn’t receiving from the peer group I had – it was limited and stifling and I didn’t ‘fit’. I would have been online every day searching for the friends I didn’t have.

Social media though, has changed the dignity of basic human interactions – apologies and passive-aggressive messages and yearnings become public. We write vague, mysterious, emotional tweets, instagrammed quotes and Facebook statuses so everyone we know in primary, tertiary and peripheral ways will ask, “what’s wrong?” or comfort us, or hate the ones we hate. We seek validation on social media because we’ve forgotten that emotional resonance sometimes only needs to be personal, and targeted, and private, and above all, from the heart.

Something that has been important to me, and will continue to be important to me moving forward, is to keep some emotional moments and feelings private, and direct my emotions to only the person who is the target of those emotions – whether it’s love, anger, sadness, or disappointment. I haven’t been perfect at this and I’m not going to ever pretend I’ve never made mistakes. But social media is a dangerous multiple-headed beast that can only be tamed when we take a sword and cut off some of its heads.

I’ve made mistakes on social media – I’ve said too much and gone too far. It’s easy to do. It’s a comfort to us. It’s the comfort we all need – it’s the rooftop we all want to scream from. It’s the castle we want to be the king of. I’ve done and said things I can’t take back and I regret those, and I’m sorry for them and I’ve privately told the targets of my social media mistakes that I’m sorry for those as well.

I think sometimes when we’re online we need to really think about the intention of our messages, about who is reading them, and about the sincerity of every post. Especially the sincerity.

We Used To.

We used to be kite-flyers. You helped me tie ribbons onto the tail and while I ran with the kite, you held the string.

Because that’s what teammates do.

In the dead heat of summer we rode rickety rides and shared deep-fried treats, turning mediocre chaos into sheer laughter that rang throughout the night and lasted through sleep and winter and tragedy and breaking hearts and hard English classes and IMAX movies.

We used to be leaf-rakers, gathering strewn discarded shards of trees, the detritus stuffed into shopping bags which was sad, but it never felt so.

When we jumped in crisp dying foliage crunched beneath our knees and smelled like the end of our innocence as we grew up together into what we thought was into ‘women’ but we just grew into older girls, and we vowed to hold onto that girlhood for as long as we could, even as the leaves sat at the curb waiting for the truck to take them away in the frosty morning.

We used to catch snowflakes on our tongue. It seemed strange to me that although each snowflake was different it always tasted and felt exactly the same.

It’s the melting. Each starts off crisp and different but in the end disintegrates into just a droplet of water that makes up something else –a conglomerate, a pool, an ocean. Snowflake, raindrop, teardrop.. they always look the same in the end.

I plant flowers. I dig carefully through the dirt, finding old bulbs that won’t grow anymore and replace them with bulbs and seeds that will.

As snow patches disintegrate and disappear I can see the flat, broad leaves of new flowers and feel silly at how symbolic the world feels, as if it has built landmarks just for me to follow, breadcrumbs so that I may find my way back. But I turn around.

And birds have flown off, bread in their beaks.