Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happiest Day

In my aunt's backyard growing up there was a monstrous tree that had stood on that spot for a good century or two. My dad scrounged up some rope and fashioned a swing that he tied on a tall, strong branch. With eager kicks and a pair of strong arms pushing you, you could soar high enough for your feet to touch the leaves. That swing provided endless amounts of joy for my brothers and me.

I remember one summer day. The breeze was streaming off the lake and we were bathed in the fresh sunlight of that golden hour before dusk. My mom, aunt and brothers had already gone indoors; my dad stayed outside to push me on the swing for a while before we joined them.

I remember flying in the pure, Canadian air. It felt as though the very heartbeat of the earth was caressing me; it felt as though every sunbeam was a personification of joy. It was intensely simple. A young girl and her father engaged in play and sharing a perfectly Piscean moment. It was innocence personified.

In the loud silence of the birds and the breeze I thought to myself:

Remember this, Tee. This is the happiest day of your life.

Even as I made the mental note, I knew how naive and silly it was to think that a brief moment as a young child would overshadow every moment of my oncoming lifetime. But I have never forgotten. My terribly young self was much wiser than I am today -- it is still the happiest day of my life.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

On Hatred

I've had a special struggle this past year since 'coming out' about my brother molesting me as a child. It has been a roller coaster of disgust, hatred, and horrendously persistent self-loathing. When I finally stopped lying to myself about what he did I suddenly had to completely reevaluate my relationship with a brother who's no longer on this earth. I used to mourn a lost sibling while harbouring secret feelings of shame. Then the lies ended and I had no idea if I should mourn, or celebrate, or hate.

I chose hate, I think. I usually do - angry emotions are much easier to confront. They're useful, perhaps, in buffering you until enough time has passed that you're distanced from the event. And so, this past year has been my year of absolutely hating him.

I'm not sure why, but I opened the police report today for the first time in years. It has 1268 pages, and back in 2009 I spent months going through about 1230 of them before it finally overwhelmed me and I quit. I feel very weak today - a weakness that has been building over the past two months as I've struggled in a life and a job in which I do not recognize myself. I always come back to my dead family when I'm weak. Maybe it's the catharsis of the confrontation of emotions, or maybe it's by reminding myself of the omnipotent woman in me that overcame so much, but I find a renewal of strength in coming back to my dead family. Perhaps I thought today might be a good day to finish those last 30-40 pages.

In the report are the three pictures of my family members. The pictures that today I barely remembered but had once been all but burnt into my retinas. The pictures of their bloodied and burnt faces that were used way back when to identify the bodies. They're massive in the report; nearly ten times the size of every other page, so if you don't expect them and zoom out in anticipation, they kick you full-force in the gut. I have seen this report so many times that I know exactly when to zoom out.

So there was my brother: green eyes half open, trail of blood from his mouth, frozen in the snow. He was 23 - younger than me now. There was my object of a year and a lifetime of hatred and disgust: eyes half open, blood in his teeth, snow in his hair.

That poor boy.

Oh, that poor boy.

He must have been so scared, so drenched in fear and anxiety and pain. He had such hopes, and such talent, and such a love for life and for people. And our Daddy took that all away from him. That poor, poor boy. Whatever mistakes he made as a brother, he did not deserve that. He did not deserve what he got.

What happened has become so factual now - so perfectly scripted and mundane. God help me, but I had actually forgotten what had really happened that day. I had forgotten that people were stabbed and burnt. I had forgotten that they had spoken, and screamed, and fought. I've been so entrenched in what I have gone through that I had completely forgotten what they themselves went through. My family, my darlings.

Maybe I will never forgive, and I believe that is okay. But it is time I stopped the hate.

Not one of them deserves my hate.

-- Perhaps me least of all.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A poem from Mar 10, 2013

I Can't

Maybe I’m not the person
Everyone always told me I was.
They were always kind to me;
Predicting wonderful, magical things
For my life. Telling me I would
‘Go down in the history books;’
That they’d be looking for me there.
Praising my intellect, my wit, my charm
My smile – splitting my unassuming face in two.
I was the teachers’ favourite.
I was the youngest and the lone daughter
Of parents overflowing with love.
I was told I was beautiful – so beautiful!
My superbly-intelligent brother told me
I must absolutely have a higher IQ than him.
They said things like: you have the potential
To be an opera singer – gosh!
You have a lot of potential as a figure skater –
We’re bumping you into a higher class.
You could win an Oscar someday! A Nobel
Prize! You will be a doctor, a lawyer.
Why aren’t you taking physics? You’re
My best student! Why didn’t you accept
That journalism scholarship? You’re not
Pursuing English? You’re not pursuing
Chemistry? You’re not pursuing My
Subject? But you’re a star, you could shine!
You will excel! You will be unbeatable!
You are so special, we will miss you,
I will remember you for the rest of my life.
Keep in touch, you mean so much to me.
You’re so unique, you’re so interesting,
You’re so important, you’ll do so much.

Guys – I’m so fucked up.

I’m a victim who’s become so comfortable
In being a victim, that I perpetuate the title.
I’m uncomfortable when I’m not being pitied;
When I’m not being seen as so broken that
I can’t gain balance on my own two (very
Stable!) legs. I’m so hard on myself
That I force myself into terrible situations
Terrible health; terrible fear. I’m the
Absolute monarch on punishing myself.
This is nothing new – it’s a habit I started
When I was being hurt at so young an age
And wasn’t sure how to call attention
To my pain. Somehow I’d convinced myself
That if I could only make my life worse
And worse and worse, that maybe
Something will break. And when I’m
So fully broken, so completely shattered;
Everything will reform into the brilliant
Shape of a brilliant life. What a lie!
There is no Saviour waiting to make
Beauty out of your shards. Your pieces
Are your own to re-forge; and if you’ve
Sacrificed your very arms to the image
Of brokenness, what hands will pick
You up and reshape you?

Maybe my potential was there. Maybe
Their words were true; or maybe they
Were simply projecting their own
Wishes and desires from their own
Wasted lives on what was assuredly a
Blank canvas. I think in those days
I was so dedicated to sweeping myself
Under a rug, that perhaps I was
Anyone and everyone. An unformed
Character in search of an author. And
They were lining up to compose who I
Would be.

I did not know who I would be, and
I do not know who I will be. I do not know
How to be. How to be me, how to be
Whole, how to form myself. I do not know
How to access my potential – of which
I have so much? I do not know how to
Breathe. I do not know how to even
Climb out from under my duvet.
This is my sad little cave; a makeshift
Sanctuary that is meant to keep me safe
But only exposes me to horrors, and threats,
And a crumbling life that I will never get back.

I know this. However you may judge me on my
(In)actions, I am not a fool. I am too self-
Aware. Too much so. I know every wrong
I am doing to myself. I know my every flaw,
My every trauma. I know the source of
My every tic. I know why, at 2pm, my
Pyjama-clad legs are huddled under the
Oppressive warmth of my too-long-
Unwashed bedcovers. I know why I
Could neither bring myself to attend
The match I was assigned to today,
Nor notify my team captain I would not
Be coming. I know why my heart jumps
Into my throat every time I hear my
Flatmate stir. I know why I’m more
Afraid to contact a friend of mine than
To crumple in devastating loneliness.

I know how and why I am so wasted.
I know exactly how (and how simply!)
To crawl out of the abyss. But—
Damn it—

I can’t.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Calm in Crisis, Freaking Out in Everyday Life

"Being aware and understanding what's going on in your system and then literally working it through your body, like retraining your body how to calm down, is really useful," Meredith says. For many of her trauma patients, it's a long and intense process. And if it goes untreated? "A lot of people don't heal, and it manifests in a lot of different ways throughout their lives. There's a study they did with Vietnam vets who'd had—clearly—a lot of trauma during the war. Twenty years later, they measured their levels of pain before and after they showed them intense footage from Vietnam. Pretty much across the board, after they saw this really intense, violent footage from the war, their levels of pain went down. Because when trauma doesn't get to work itself through your system, your system idles at a heightened state, and so getting more really intense input calms your system down." Which is why, she explains, "A lot of folks who've survived trauma end up being really calm in crisis and freaking out in everyday life."
From I’m Gonna Need You to Fight Me On This: How Violent Sex Helped Ease My PTSD

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Past Events

What are your opinions on how to approach the past? Should the past be remembered, considered and used to inform the present? Or should it be left firmly in the past and disallowed to have an influence the present?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Four Years

It used to be that the day they died felt like yesterday. Time was running away from me, and I was still caught in a stationary bubble of grief.

Today -- today it feels as though forever has passed since they died. I feel nearly as though my life has never had them in it. Today, I am a woman. Today, I am an adult - and viewed as such by most around me. The day they died I most definitely was not. I was a teenager. A child. I'm not sure where these years have gone, or how exactly it was that I grew up just enough to pass that threshold into adulthood -- but these critical years were years without my family.

The person I am today is - yes, a product of my childhood and upbringing - but I have been powerfully sculpted by the last four years. By unforeseen responsibilities -- grief -- entering the work force -- by re-entering my own social position as Tee rather than the 'daughter of so-and-so'. I have passed and am passing through a fundamental transition of personal development ... while they remain in the past.

I wonder if they would recognize me as their daughter, and sister. I wonder if we would still get along in any functional way. I fear that neither is the case.

They're drifting away from me, and I don't know if it is personally a good or bad change for me. But I am absolutely terrified by how quickly they have lost an influence on my life. It has been four years. In another twenty - will I still even be their daughter?

I love you. And the farther I drift from you, the more I miss you. It used to be that you were so near in the past that I could reach out and feel you. I don't think I will ever be able to reach you like that again.

I hope your souls are as restful as mine is tumultuous - and that one day I can find on this world the peace that I know your tragic and untimely deaths have brought to you. I will have a better life.

xxx Tee.