Sunday, August 21, 2016

Why I didn't watch the Tragically Hip concert live last night

Please don't hate message me, keep reading!  I love my Canada.  And I love the Tragically Hip.  

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.  

The incomparable Gord Downie.  

The Tragically Hip

Psssssst hey you my American friends and family, go listen to one of their albums, you'll love it, I promise.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sarah's Story - TRIGGER WARNING!!!!!

Before reading this story please be advised this is a fictional story of a sexual assault and should not be read if it will trigger any mental health issues.  If you do chose to read this, please ensure you are kind to yourself and use self care afterwards.  This does contain some graphic material that could upset anyone, but especially anyone with an experience in this. 

“Wow I am tired”, Sarah Jones muttered to herself.  She thought about having to get up for Church in the morning, for the early service she had promised her Mother she wouldn’t miss again.  She suddenly wished she hadn’t made that promise, or agreed to the late shift at the grocery store. Laying her hand on the tiny gold cross always worn on the chain around her neck she quickly realized it was the late shift she regretted most.  Church always gave her a sense of peace that she didn’t find elsewhere.  Even if that peace sometimes came in the form of nodding off a little during the sermon.  As assistant manager she thought proudly, sometimes a girl has to stay late and get the job done. 

Sarah had only just finished the day’s count.  Cash, credit and debit card receipts, and coupons all counted and crossed checked to the day’s tally.  She was balanced to within three dollars and seventy-six cents and wondered if that was a record.  People make honest mistakes, the store rarely balanced perfectly but this was close.  All the cash was counted and in the bank deposit bag hidden in the large purse she threw across her body.  Her hand rested very protectively on it as the she set the alarm in the store and locked the back store door behind her.  The store’s back door light was on a timer allowing her to get to her car in as much light as a single lightbulb offered.  All staff had to park as far from the grocery store doors as possible, both front and back doors.  In the front allowing customers to come and go as easily and conveniently as possible.  In the back to allow for the delivery trucks to drop off all day long and give space for the staff picnic tables used for quick smoke breaks more often than eating, and where gossip flourished.  Seeing the empty pop cans on the tables Sarah did her final job of the night.  Slowly she began collecting them two and three at a time so as not to spill the contents, often the dredges of leftover pop, ants and cigarette butts, on her white uniform top she had somehow managed to keep clean on shift today.  Her nose wrinkled at the thought as she made four trips back and forth to the garbage dumpsters.  Shaking her head, she thought about the sign at the back door she had only just made which read, “please clean up after yourselves before returning to work”.  So much for that idea she thought.

Just as she finished her final chore of the night the timer on the back door light went off.  Because it was the back of the store only two street lights, spaced far apart, now offered lighting for the entire back lot. Sarah could barely see her car parked down the way.  She should have moved her car to the front of the store she thought.  She had been told by one of the other assistant managers it was the better option if you had to work late.  There were more street lights out front.  The store backed onto an old field readied for building pursuant to the fencing and construction signs.  The field was expansive and dark, not yet lit by the construction process.  Fumbling around in her bag Sarah found her key chain which had a tiny flashlight on it and a whistle.  “You can never be too safe”, her father had told her when he presented the car keys to her the year prior.  It’s funny how she hadn’t really thought about that statement before now.  At the time her entire focus was on the little bright red car that was her 16th birthday present.  While gently used, not brand new, it was new to her and the greatest gift she’d ever received.  She had barely noticed the keychain.  Tonight she was thankful for the wee flashlight.  While tiny it cleared a lit path for her to make way to her car. 

Before anything happened the hair on Sarah’s neck stood up.  She quickened her pace to her car. There wasn’t a sound.  She saw nothing, but she knew something was about to happen.  When Sarah came too she was in the tall grass, she assumed in the field behind the store but she wasn’t sure. “Wasn’t the construction field fenced all around”, she thought as she tried to get her bearings.  She hadn’t yet realized what was about to happen to her.  She would never forget wondering, “how did I get into the construction site?”, it was a strange thing to focus on she thought for years after. 

The man had a mask on, just like the kind the robbers used in movies.  Black, and knitted, covering his entire face but the eyes and mouth.  Eyes that were wide and crazed, mouth that was spitting as it said, “if you scream or move, I will kill you, then I will go to your home and kill your whole family”.  Sarah wanted to fight back, she knew she should, then she saw the image of her little sister in her mind.  Her 10 year old flaxen haired sister, that everyone said looked just like Sarah, and she held back the urge to fight.  She wouldn’t kick and scream, she wouldn’t fight him to the death.  She wouldn’t risk her sister.  Her job as a big sister was to protect her, and protect her should would.  Steeling herself for what was to come Sarah said through tears, “please don’t hurt me.  I have money, look in my purse.  There is a ton of cash in there from the store”.  Only as those words left her mouth and a breeze passed did Sarah realize she was basically naked.  Her pants were gone.  She knew that simply from the chill she got which tuned her into her body and she felt the dirt and grass beneath her behind.  Her top was somehow off but around her neck and the man had a hold of it, pulling it tight at her throat.  She didn’t know if her bra was still there or gone like her pants, she just knew her breasts were exposed.  The cold was causing her breasts to react in a way that caused her breathtaking shame. 

Then he was inside of her.  It happened so suddenly she gasped in a way that embarrassed her.  “You like this don’t you?”, he said misreading her reaction.  It hurt, a lot.  More than she ever thought it might.  She had never had sex.  She had not yet made love with a man.  This wasn’t love she thought, this was hate.  He hated her, he must.  She hated him, she knew that.  Each time he pushed further into her it hurt her more.  It was like sandpaper and glass were shredding her insides.  Turning her head from him to focus on anything other than the hot foul breath in her face she felt the sting of a slap and heard him grunt, “you look at me bitch”.  With tears streaming down her face she stared her rapist straight in the eyes and thought only of her sister and the life she was ensuring she had by not fighting this evil man.  It didn’t take long for him to finish.  She could tell he was done she saw it in his eyes.  When he climbed off of her to pull up his pants he said again, “don’t tell anyone, not the cops, not your family, no one, or they all die”.  The man stood, bent to grab her purse she’d hadn’t even noticed was beside them, and he ran. 

Sarah curled into the fetal position and wept.  She wept for her innocence, now gone.  She wept for her family, would they all die if she told anyone?  She wept angrily at the people who had left their pop cans outside the store who delayed her departure surely causing this.  She wept because she hadn’t moved her car to the front of the store as the other manager had recommended her doing.  Was it her fault?  She just wept.  She didn’t know how long she lay there, until it suddenly dawned on her that she was freezing.  Her teeth chattered, from cold, from fear?  She didn’t know.  Between her legs was screaming in pain.  She’d never felt this kind of pain before, like she’d been cut inside.  Her backside felt raw, like she’d been dragged over broken glass.  And her head, her head was pounding.  She reached around to touch it only to bring back a hand covered in blood.  She retched.  Throwing up all over herself she retched relentlessly.  The tears began again.  Anytime she’d been sick in her life, her mother had been there to hold her hair and comfort her.  She wanted her Mommy.  She needed her.  She was going to get to her she thought angrily.  Pulling her shirt down and back over her breasts she realized her bra was still on her shoulders.  She reattached the clasp in the front.  Standing up pant less she began looking for them.  Her sneakers and socks were still on.  Weird she thought, “how did he get my skinny jeans off and not my shoes?”, her mind was racing with the strangest thoughts.  She was desperately trying to remember how this all happened.  In the moonlight she spotted her pants not far from where she was but her underwear was not with her pants.  She couldn’t find them.  Had he taken them?  Why would he do that?  She began to panic, where were they?  Gathering herself she realized they hardly mattered.  He could have them, she needed to get out of there.  She struggled to get her pants up and over her shoes again wondering how he had done it.  As the pants made it to her thighs she saw blood.  She had to steady herself from retching again. Closing her eyes she pulled her pants up and zipped them closed just as she had done that morning.  Such a simple task never to be repeated in the same mindless manner again.    

Stumbling in the darkness with just the moon now to light her way Sarah headed in the direction of the only other lights she could see in the distance.  She assumed them to be the two street lights in the back lot of the store.  They weren’t far from her at all.  She managed to find the construction fence and making her way along it she found the gap in the fencing.  Her car was right there!  How had she never noticed the gap in the fence before now?  And there were her keys, the little flashlight still shining a cone of light on the ground illuminating the whistle attached.  “Daddy”, she gasped out loud and dropped to her knees the tears rushing again.  Dad is going to be so angry with me.  “I should have known better.   This is my fault.  I had the whistle.  I knew something was wrong.  I should have moved my car”, she thought rapidly.  Only a sound of rustling in the bushes from behind her brought Sarah to her feet.  She jumped practically out of her own skin.  She grabbed her keys and launched herself into her car locking the doors behind her.  She turned the key in the ignition and threw the car into drive.  Sarah had no recollection of driving home.  Upon seeing her childhood house Sarah jumped out of the car screaming for her parents one after the other.  “Mom, Dad”.  The rest is a blur.  Sarah awoke again, came to, became aware of her surroundings in a hospital room as a nurse said, “we are done now Sarah, you can rest.  I will come back and we will do the STD and pregnancy test”.

“Pregnancy test”, Sarah whispered to herself and shuddered.  “God please, please, no”.

After reading Sarah’s story;

Tell me how you can vote for anyone who might take the right Sarah has to her own uterus away from her. 

Tell me how you’re not violating Sarah again by laying claim to her reproductive system.

Tell me how you think Sarah should be punished if she chose to abort a pregnancy created by this story.   

Sarah is not to blame here, he is.  Therefore, she should not be punished. 

No really, tell me how you believe you have any rights to this woman’s story, let alone her uterus. 

Friday, August 12, 2016


I hate the shooters.
I hate the bombers.
I hate people who kill people.
I fucking hate them.
I wish they'd all just die.  


Extremists, whether they are white (or orange), black, Muslim, Christian or supremacists, are killing because they hate.  They want everyone who doesn't share their beliefs to die.

The only difference between them and I?  My actions.

Isn't that good enough?

No it's not.  Hate is hate and it fuels itself.

I will never claim to love someone who kills another but I am beginning to see the logic in feeling sorry for them.

I am someone who gets very lost to her emotions.  That goes to the extremes with her thoughts.  How am I any different?

The only thing that makes me different is the absence of pulling a trigger or pressing the red button.

To all those that hate;

I am sorry your hatred is all encompassing.
I wish I could help you.
I wish I could make it better.
I wish I could retrain your mind to see the good in diversity.
I wish I could show you the true value of all human life.
I wish I could help you see that fear does not have to be represented through hate.
I wish I could make you understand that even hatred does not have to lead to death.  
I wish I could make you understand that revenge and retribution do not change your story.  Your story remains exactly as it was told, now it just includes hatred.

I am sorry.  I wish you felt better.  I wish you saw the beauty in the human race as it is.