I remember being introduced to the Hip in my 20s. One of one of the great loves of my life, my first, gave me a tape of them and I never stopped listening. In the car, on my Sony Walkman on the train, over and over, each trip to and from young love. Gord's haunting voice had me hooked as much as the boy had my heart. We broke up, as young love often does, Gord and I didn't. I have loved the Hip since that boy blessed me with his taste in music.
I have seen the Hip in concert 3, maybe 4 times. The last time was Y2K. It was 1999, going on 2000, and the fear of the end of the world was upon us. Everyone who ever did code in a computer assumed the world's computer networks were going to crash when the systems tried to figure out the number 2000 as the year. I was on call for the next day, Y2K + 1. If the worst happened I was to get into work on Bay Street immediately. Actually most of the people in the corporate sponsored private box at the concert arena that night worked with me. Most of us were on call. We drank (for free, see private box note) but reservedly just in case, and danced to Gord's hypnotizing voice for hours into the New Year. At shortly after midnight when our Blackberry's didn't go off and we no longer thought the computer world was ending, we turned the party up a notch. We drank in the box until they made us leave and then we left the arena stumbling out into the streets of Toronto with the masses. There were no cabs as there often isn't on New Years Eve so we walked, dropping into clubs and dancing all the way from downtown Toronto to midtown and back to my apartment. It was one of those great nights you remember from your younger years. It was just fun, from start to finish. My best friend was with me. I was dating a guy who I found to be the perfect challenge. I was relatively thin, again (wrongly overly important to me) and somewhat successful in my career. While I was in therapy as always my mental illness had not progressed yet. It would catch up to me eventually but that night, all things were good in the world. I was good, Gord and the Hip were great.
In 2011 a friend from High School got in touch with me knowing I ended up living where? Bobcaygeon of course. For those who don't know (you must not be Canadian) there is a song called Bobcaygeon by the Tragically Hip. It's not really about the town. The town name just happened to rhyme where the lead singer and songwriter, Gord Downie needed it to, with the word "constellation". It was actually more about riots in the depression era and gay love between two police officers apparently. While deep in meaning the song has the band's usual hypnotic rhythm and sound. People know the song by the title and word Bobcaygeon but most didn't even know it was a town name until Downie wrote that song. My old friends asked if they could stay with us as the Hip was finally playing a concert in the town of Bobcaygeon.
Bobcaygeon is in cottage country so there was a huge farmer's field converted into concert grounds. People were coming from all over the Country to be a part of this historic moment in what can only be described as "God's country" where Gord Downie would sing about the constellations in Bobcaygeon. I wasn't going by choice. I get anxious in crowds so I don't do things like massive outdoor concerts much anymore. Besides that I was sure I would be able to listen to them right from home. We weren't far at all from the grounds. I would host the girls for the weekend, drop them off and pick them up. It was a fantastic weekend reuniting with a friend and her wife, both beautiful souls. Another great Tragically Hip memory.
When I heard Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer every ounce of my mental illness, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), cried out. I felt so bad for him, his family and friends, for every Canadian that was going to feel sad that I wept. When he announced he was going to do one final tour across Canada for his fans I was overwhelmed by emotion. I lost myself a little bit to the emotions I felt reflecting on his courage and kindness, his heart, and all my memories associated to him. Admittedly I ended up in a bit of a pity party of the memories of times that seemed better as compared to today only when looked upon through my sadness. Memories of a job I could no longer do, and money I no longer have because of that. The younger, thinner me. The partying freely all night long, not a hot flash in sight me! The mental illness me that was still being exhaustingly held at bay. Life was good then, wasn't it?
I was also feeling very much like I did when the world lost Prince, like a part of me, my history, was going to die too. Dramatic I know but this is what it felt like. That is really what this disease, BPD is about, emotional dysregulation, and the impact and reactions to the same. When someone else is dying, it feels like you are dying. When in actuality it has nothing to do with you but your emotions make it so. It's a bitch of a disease but can be managed by using what they refer to as your "wise mind". The wise mind is a little emotional mind, and a little logical mind. People with BPD have to practise that as much as they can, to use both parts of their brain. I have to remind myself over and over again that things are not about me. I am not part of this story or that story. My emotions want me to be, but I am not. It's okay to feel sad for this man, it's not okay to get lost to sadness because of it.
Last night when most of Canada was watching the live presentation of the concert of a lifetime, the Tragically Hip in their hometown of Kingston Ontario, I was not. I could not. Just like their recent tour, I would not be going. It simply would be too emotionally triggering for me. Plus I was home alone, my husband is away for the weekend with the kids. Knowing I was more in emotional mind than not I wouldn't make myself watch this beautiful man pour his soul out to Canada simply because everyone else was. I didn't want to feel overwhelming sadness for this man and musician, for his friends, family, bandmates and all of Canada really. I often find myself crying uncontrollably over things that should not impact me that way. I didn't want to cry uncontrollably last night and I knew that was possible.
Every day, like many, I need to make choices that are good for my mental health and wellbeing. Choosing things that are healthy and self soothing. I wanted to celebrate the Hip last night with all of Canada but I couldn't. My mind wasn't in a good place this past week. I have accepted that I have an emotional mental illness and sometimes it can get in the way of things I want to do. Until I have a really good day where I am all about being in the moment, being mindful and in the now, I won't be able to watch this concert so I taped it. I have read articles today and watched little clips which brought me to tears, but for now I won't be watching the full concert. As I teeter on the high wire of my emotions I am going to think about Gord Downie and everything he meant to me. For all the times I saw him perform perfectly healthy, happy, and giving Canadians great music with his band, the ever Tragically Hip.
Thank you Gord. Thank you the Hip, for everything. One rainy day soon when the sun is shining inside of me I am going to sit mindfully in the pocket of the moment and watch the concert of a lifetime. I can't wait.
Psssssst hey you my American friends and family, go listen to one of their albums, you'll love it, I promise.