visiting the past

In town, back in the neighbourhoods and areas that hold so many memories. Not even thinking of them as good or bad memories anymore, just as memories. A recall of times past and life the way it used to be.

This visit is, for some reason, a rough one already. Driving from the ferry, the emotions started going downhill. Tears and sadness as I drove through the different areas from the ferry to our home stomping grounds in Port Coquitlam.Burnaby, Vancouver, highways and streets that I navigated for years as my life was what it was. So much changed now, physically, so much altered emotionally.

I found myself driving last night to our old home together. After I dropped my oldest son off at work, it wasn’t an option, it was simply directed somehow. I needed to be there… to see the place where “we” were. The “we” that is lost now. The “we” that I miss so much that it hurts – that hurt so heavy this weekend that it’s palpable and sharp in my chest.

My logical mind tells me to just drive back to be with the other boys and go to bed; it’s late and I’m tired and emotional; and what purpose is going to be served by “torturing” myself by visiting the past, literally. My heart steers the car though and I turn off the car as I park outside our old home.

It’s dark out and I can see into the windows; the lights are all on and the blinds are open, giving me the opportunity to visually go inside. It’s hard to see though through the tears. So much is going on in my head. This was where we moved after the divorce; just me and my boys – again. I loved this place. It was where we started over and where it was so good. Where I found “me” again as I made the decision to change my life and voice my priorities. The diningroom where we all sat while I explained that I would be working less and we would be having more fun. Where we planned our first family vacation in years. Where we found “us” again after a marriage that almost destroyed us. The “us” being me and my boys. All that mattered and was needed together under that roof. The lawn where we exploded the diet coke bottle with too many mentos; the back yard that should never have been cut by a son with hay fever allergies; the house with enough bedrooms for everyone but that still saw them all crammed into one room anyways – brothers that, while they could fight like crazy, were close enough to want to sleep on the floor so they could all be together for movie nights in one bedroom. The kitchen that saw Son 2’s chicken cacciatore, not only welcome after my rush hour drive home, but amazingly tasty too. The kitchen that I found Nerf guns in the cupboards – hidden the night before for a sneak breakfast attack. The living room that saw man-sized teenage bodies stuffed into crazy hiding spots for a game of hide and seek to entertain the littlest brother. The bathroom that was the constant source of arguments – and laughter of goofyness; hair gel, first shaving attempts and straightening irons for thick curly hair they cursed. The house where we all re-discovered laughter and silliness in life.

Tears as I looked and saw the pain there too. The hallway I watched Willie storm down more times than I care to remember. The bedroom that held laughter turned to words of anger and hatred as tempers flared as we all struggled to understand what was wrong. The living room that held the couch that I kept finding Willie on, asleep and cranky even in the middle of a summer day. The bathroom that he would lurk in for hours, hating his appearance and trying to find something he liked in the mirror. The dining room that saw months of him not speaking at meals, glaring when spoken to. His bedroom and the walls that I had to paint when we moved to remove the words written to me, by him in anger. The window that I was staring out as I called his dad to come get him when he threatened and raged on the weekend visits from the psychiatric ward; scared of my own son and who he had become.

The stairs that I stood at the top of as I watched our belongings leave as we moved at the end.

Trying, through my tears last night, to see the good that was there and the happiness that we had… and not see the way it ended.
Driving away… wishing so badly that I had him to visit and not just memories.

Walking meditation musings

Walking home today and my mind wanders along with my feet. After Willie died, walking became of form of moving meditation for me and today felt very much like that.
I have made a conscious effort to not dwell… to not focus on what has been lost but rather on the present and what I have in my life now. For the most part this has been a good thing and it’s worked in letting me try to move forward.

Today though all I could think about on the way home was Willie. I miss him. It hurts. On so many levels and in so many ways.
I catch myself chastising myself for doing what I “shouldn’t”. I realize that I’m sad and grieving now not only for Willie and what I lost but also for what won’t ever be now. I grieve for things that never happened and for things that never will. It’s bad enough to feel the pain of loss but to feel pain for things that never were seems not only ridiculous but indulgent and selfish.

So I get mad at myself for doing it. I get angry that I’m not grieving “properly”. The anger turns to hatred and then the tears come… and the truth that underneath all that anger is simple hurt.
I miss him.

I muse over the fact that suicide is something that isn’t fair. The simplicity of it is that a life has been taken. Just like murder; someone is to blame. With suicide, it’s even easy in a sense; we know exactly who was responsible for the death. In our case, we even had notes and reasons, of a sort, explained by him. The unfortunate part of this is that there is no one to blame, really, except for Willie. We can’t vilify bullies or predators who harassed him and drove him to kill himself. He’s not a victim of anyone’s malicious intent or ignorant brutality. I can argue that the “system” failed him or that his doctors or counsellors didn’t do what they should have or that this or that or this or that could have, would have, should have…that mental illness clouded his judgement and altered his mind to the point that he chose actions that he would not have, had he been healthy. After all the conjecture and hindsight the most basic of all truths is that Willie took his own life. That at the second when he had to make a choice to do it or not, he chose to take an action that would result in his death. I believe that his mental illness contributed to his choice and his actions but I also believe that he knew fully and consciously what he was doing, and that it was his choice.

I have gone through a period of such anger at him for what he did. That’s dissipated though. Having endured and lived through the hell of the last 2 and a half years I have come to be able to understand, in a sense, his choice. The feeling of just wanting what is, to not be. His journals made it clear that he didn’t necessarily want to be dead, he just didn’t want to live like he was anymore. That is certainly something that I have been able to relate to. With that understanding comes the release of the anger. Replaced with the pain and the hurt of losing him.
Feeling some days like I’m back where I started… but knowing now that, as bad as today is, the belief that tomorrow can be better is there. So, I cry and let the hurt be felt… and try not to turn the hurt inward to anger at myself for feeling it… couch and blanket tonight … up and moving forward again tomorrow.

I inspire me

Inspiration is an intriguing point for me lately.

I have shared this before but it bears repeating…

Directly relating to some musings I have had lately regarding my own “brokenness”

Revisiting this yesterday as I returned from running a 10km race, The Victoria Goddess Run. It has been a long haul the last couple of years through grief and depression, ptsd and insomnia that has kicked my ass physically and brought me to a place where most of the time my whole body hurts and I’m habitually exhausted. Mentally, emotionally and physically. Most days, things just feel so hard to do. But I do what needs to get done. And more recently I’ve even started to have fun again and see joy in my life.

A large part of that has been making my physical well-being and happiness a priority again. For those who have known me for years, you know that I am an active person. My usual level of fitness and activity is pretty high and demanding. And I love that. I love my body feeling strong and healthy and capable. I haven’t felt that way for the last couple of years and it’s been steadily wearing me down emotionally.

Feeling disconnected to my physical self is something I hadn’t experienced in years. My Yoga training and being a Yoga teacher, fitness instructor and personal trainer brought me a level of body awareness and somewhat acceptance that was sorely needed starting in my late 20’s.

Two years after Willie’s death and grieving still, 6 months ago I realized that I have found myself almost completely foreign to myself physically. Not able to do what I “normally” would not even blink an eye at… flexibility lost… strength diminished and a body that looks notably different due to extra weight and a lack of muscle definition… Struggling still with insomnia and depression and battling self-harm manifesting in a rearing up of anorexic behaviour again it was time to make changes.

So I set a goal to run a half marathon. I signed up in November 2013 and it was for yesterday, June 1st 2014. I had never run a half marathon but was determined to do it.

Depression and grief held on… insomnia got worse… my weight went up instead of down no matter what I tried it seemed like. Injuries one after the other as I struggled to just push through. Coupled with self-hatred and sheer disgust at myself for what felt like moving farther from my goal every week instead of closer. 2 months ago I made the decision to alter my goal to the 10km distance instead of the half-marathon. This was in the midst of a hamstring pull so bad that I couldn’t even walk, let alone run and the reality that, as Physio pointed out, the idea of running a half-marathon in less than 7 weeks when I couldn’t run 2km without pain was ridiculous.
So, I altered my goal. All the while still looking at other areas of my life and seeing that it was a theme that I was hating. I would make plans to socialize or go out and I would almost always cancel. I had moved from being someone who NEVER didn’t deliver to someone who would shrug and say “whatever”. Part of me, a large part of me, really expected that I would not run even the 10km that I had signed up for. When I found out that my son’s Karate tournament was on the same weekend I thought “of course” and resigned myself to not running it.

Then something clicked. I thought, I can do this. I had been able to rehab to consistently able to complete 5km (still with pain but I could do it). That little part of me that still believed in me was there enough to make a plan and decide that I was going to believe that I could do it.

A weekend of controlled chaos of race package pick-up, ferry and rush hour traffic to Vancouver, not enough sleep… full day at a Karate tournament and a hell of a long trip home to the island … not enough sleep and a morning that came too quickly and there I was. June 1st and the Goddess Run.

Incredulous that I had made it and was doing it. I had set a time of wanting to do it in under 1hr 15 minutes. My last organized race was over 10 years ago and my time was 1hr and 1 minute. In my mind I had a time of 1hr and 8mins that I wanted to meet but felt that was unachievable.

Even as I got set up to run I fought with the feelings of failure that I was running the 10km instead of the half-marathon but as I got going something clicked and I realized that I should be proud of myself for even being there when all along I had been convinced that I wouldn’t even show up. It’s hard to put into words how good it felt – even with just 1km under my feet – to be there and running. I didn’t care about time, just that I was doing it and was going to finish. To feel my body strong and my mind focused and determined was a feeling that I had forgotten I had in me. It’s true that the mind trickles down and what you set in your mind, you create and manifest with your actions. Your body is a vessel for the experiences of your Self.

A moment… I looked up and the woman in front of me was wearing a shirt that read “You Inspire Me”… I felt tears in my eyes and I thought to myself something I hadn’t thought I would ever think… I felt proud of myself and I thought “ I inspire me”. It’s hard for me to write those words because for so long now I have beaten myself up for my failings and hated myself for what I felt like were my weaknesses but those three words are a turning point. The fact that I was running at that moment – achieving what I set out to do when I truly believed that I wouldn’t – that moment showed me that the “me” that I always knew could do and achieve anything is still “me”. Never not broken but always strong and capable.
Finished the 10km in 1:02:57. Better than I hoped for but even if it had been an hour and a half I would have been proud.