An Open Letter to Anyone Experiencing an Unexpected Loss

Every loss is a tough one. Whether it were a grandparent, a parent, a sibling, a child or a friend. They don’t get easier with each loss,  and no one’s loss is any more significant than anyone else’s. But there is no loss quite like the ones that we never expected.  The times that we didn’t have the chance to say goodbye, because it never even crossed our mind that we would never say “hello” again. What are we supposed to do? Make huge grand gestures every time a loved one leaves the room because it may be our last chance?

A woman that I work with lost her son this weekend. She and her family are very close friends of my in-laws. I know what she can expect now, I know how they feel. I know that she will be hearing a lot of, “I’m sorry”; “How can we help?”; “I can’t even imagine”.  But I can imagine. My family suffered the same loss just 8 years ago.

These unexpected losses leave holes that can never be filled with anything other than questions. Most commonly,  “Could we have done something to have prevented this?” But the answer is rarely “yes”. I would say that 98% of the time there was nothing you could have done to save them.

You will never recover from your unexpected loss but the days may get easier. They may not, the darkness may consume you. But my hope for you is that you find strength in the love you still have, and that you are able to still have hope for your future. That you feel them with you every day, holding your hand. I hope that you allow yourself to walk down memory lane, and that the pain gets less and less because you get to see them there.

I like to think that the people we lose live among the stars;  helping the sky to provide us with light in the darkest of times.

Those Doubts are Demons

I truly have the most amazing boyfriend. He is sweet and kind, he is loving and cares only about my happiness. But he is not perfect; I struggle with depression and anxiety, and that is something that he just doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand that I have good days and bad days. Or that when I have those bad days, I don’t want to hide myself from him. I want him to see me, but he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand that when I have those bad days and he asks me what’s wrong and I respond with “nothing”, it’s not because I’m being a pain in the ass; it’s because there’s no one particular thing that’s wrong, there’s nothing he did, there’s nothing I’m hiding, I’m just having a “dark” day. To him, the things that give me anxiety are irrational. He doesn’t understand that when I am having an anxiety attack, I’m not looking to have my issues be belittled, I’m just looking for him to tell me it’s going to be okay. It just takes a second and then he can go about his day. Humor me. He doesn’t understand that my sickness requires the most of his ability to show patience. And that I really need him to stop thinking that I’m okay with leaving our house unlocked because it’s not going to fucking happen.

The worst part of having these issues is that when I have those “dark” days, my mind is filled with doubt. Doubt about our relationship. Doubt that I can make this work. But those doubts aren’t real, those doubts aren’t me, those doubts are demons. I don’t listen to those doubts. I have those doubts because he doesn’t understand. But on one hand, I’m glad that my sickness is something he doesn’t understand, because that mean he isn’t burdened by it. On the other hand, we all just want to be understood.

Choose Positivity

Looking back at my last post, I was in a dark place. I wouldn’t say that everything has changed. I still fight with myself every day to stay positive and not let the depression take over.

But depression is a flaw in chemistry, not character.

I am so blessed to have a life so filled with love and to have my life so together at such a young age. Many people live their entire lives working for what I’ve accomplished so soon, searching for somebody like who I’ve already found, and wishing for the things I have. I still feel guilty for a lot of the questions I used to ask myself but at least I know that they were ridiculous questions to be asking myself. I may be sick but I know that I am loved more than I could ever be loved, and luckier than I could ever wish for myself. I have a love that will always put my happiness first, and who I will do the same for. And no matter how hard I have to fight to stay above the water, I will because I have someone worth fighting for. I won’t let our plans for our life together go unfulfilled. As time goes on I see that he needs me just as much as I need him. And we don’t love each other because we need each other but we need each other because we love each other. I have a mom who has suffered enough lose in her life to allow her to see me as anything but happy. I will show her that I am grateful for everything that she’s done to get me here, and I will not allow anything that she’s gone through to be taken for granted. I get my strength from her, because if she can do it, then I can do it. And I will remember these things everytime that my demons try to make me think any less of myself.

The Final Step is Acceptance

For the past few weeks I’ve noticed something different about myself. I’m 100%, undoubtedly, and ridiculously…unhappy. I never really understand why though. I feel homesick, and guilty. Guilty for not being there last year while my dad was sick, guilty for not being there when my grandpa died, and guilty that I’m beginning to forget what my brother’s laugh sounded like.

I constantly and consistently feel small, stupid and insignificant to the one person who is supposed to make me feel like I matter more than anything.

I never go out anymore. I sit at home every night and watch Netflix. Not even with him, I watch it in bed by myself.

I go to bed at night, and cry, while a million questions run through my head.

Did I make a mistake? Can I leave? Should I leave? Would he care? Would he be relieved? Is he waiting for me to leave? Is it this town?Am I desirable? Does he still love me? Do I still love him? Would it hurt to die? If I hurt myself, would he notice me? Does he see me? Does anyone see me? Is he bored of me? Do I have any friends? Is he the reason I feel like this? Am I just homesick? Am I just bored? Is it weather depression? Cabin Fever? Is it just stress? Am I sick?

And I feel guilty for thinking these things. Well…some of them.

It Gets Better.

“It Gets Better” is an internet project in response to the suicides of teenagers who were bullied because they were gay. It’s goal is to prevent future suicides by having gay adults convey that their lives WILL improve.

But this message should be spread to all bullied teens, gay or not. That’s what this post is for.

Summer vacation is coming to a quick close and soon, kids will be back to school. I graduated high school in 2010, after 4 pretty miserable years.

I was bullied since the 5th grade, by people who I thought were my friends. Day in and day out I woke up hating myself.

I remember one day when I was in elementary school I had just gotten a hair cut, and a new outfit. I went to school trying to be as positive as I could be, as confident as I could be, and that very day a girl named Laura B. posted a sign on my back that said “wide load”. She was bigger than me and by that I obviously mean heavier, but I still let it get to me.

When I was in high school I wore a lot of black, dyed my hair bright colours and listened to punk music, but in a small high school full of red neck country kids, I was just a “fat emo”. Because you weren’t allowed to have an identity that was different then theirs.

My high school prom, my dress was a size 10.

Today, I fit in a size 2.

It started in college, I decided to stop hating myself. I had to prove that I was worthy, but I didn’t have to prove that to anyone but myself. I got healthy, and yea, it did have something to do with the bullying but all in all I did it for myself. I think I have radio to thank for it, it made me confident for the first time in my entire life.

And honestly my weights the only thing that’s changed about me. I still listen to punk music, I still wear a lot of black, I still dye my hair bright colours, I have tattoos and piercings. But that’s what makes me me, and that’s what makes me sexy.

It’s funny, last time I went home to visit…people were amazed. I saw guys I went to high school with who never paid attention to me then, checking me out. I saw girls who bullied me, who were now bigger than me.

I felt fantastic, I was 40 pounds lighter and 21 years old with a full time career 3000km away; I had grown up, I had gotten out.

I hadn’t thought much about high school in the past few years, and then recently a girl who I used to be friends with sent me a Facebook message to apologize to me for some less than friendly behavior. I appreciated her apology, but I didn’t need it. I had come to peace with my bullies. I have more now than I ever could have imagined, and I have accomplished more than I ever would have thought I would have by 22. I still have to work every day to conquer demons that those bullies created within me, but that gives me strength. It got better. I got better.

Honestly, if I wasn’t bullied every day in one way or another, I would probably still be wearing size 11 skinny jeans and hating myself.

Strength, Faith and Fear.

I don’t believe in God as our creator. I don’t believe in Jesus as our saviour. I don’t believe in Heaven for the good, nor Hell for the bad. But I do have faith. I believe in an afterlife, because I like to think that the people I’ve lost are living among the stars. I believe in the science that will fix my father’s heart. I believe in miracles, destiny, and the fate that brings two people together. I believe in love, although that has not always been the case. I believe in the “gut instinct”, because only you know what is right and what is wrong for you. I believe in equality for all, because the bible is full of holes. I believe that bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to people who have done bad. I believe that things can be forgiven, things can be forgotten, but rarely both. And I believe in happy endings, because no matter how awful things can get or how scared you are for the outcome, you have it in you to make it through anything.

I have always thought that it took amazing strength to have faith, but what I’m learning is that more importantly… you should have faith in that which gives you strength.

Yule Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid.

As the holiday’s quickly approach and 2013 comes to an end; I reflect back on the past year and I’m amazed at how things have changed. This time last year I was in a relationship with a guy whose company I didn’t particularly enjoy and I was dead set on moving out of Peace River and back into a city. Now as I prepare for my second Christmas away from home, I’m saddened by the absence of my family but I’m also excited to celebrate the holiday with another family, a family that I’ve been welcomed into with open arms in only a short amount of time. I find myself settling into a life in Peace River with a man I could love for the rest of my life and making plans for the future not for myself but for the both of us, as a team…something I’ve never had with another person, something I’ve never let myself have with another person. I’m jealous of every girl who was with him before me and I only wish that I had met him sooner. In only a few months I’ve found that I am happier now than I’ve ever been. I’m not just content with the way things are and being on my own is no longer good enough. I see myself setting new goals and having new dream; building a future that includes all I have now and more, instead of just more than what I need. I’m excited to have someone who I want to give to, and give more; Because that’s what Christmas is about. I have built new friendships and found new success. I started my own business where I can express my creativity through a camera lens.

For the past few years, after the death of my brother, Christmas wasn’t something that was celebrated notably “merry” in my house. But I still would give anything to share my happiness with my family this year. Because if I could spread my own happiness and positive energy onto those that I have loved, and seen suffer, the most then I would have done more this Christmas than I could have hoped for. I take a moment this holiday season to remember those who I have loved and lost and wish they were here to celebrate it with us. I know that if they could see where I am now, they would be nothing but proud.

As I think of the upcoming year, I don’t just think about moving away from Peace River. I think about building on my relationship, and where we can go and what we can do together. I think about ways I can improve my quality of life. I think about ways I can plan to make my goals a reality. I look forward to all new things.The only thing I could hope for in the new year is to find the strength in myself to let go of my insecurities.

My story has always been about trying to keep it together, while falling apart. After all the hard times and things I’ve been through even just this year, I still believe this has been the best year because all those wrongs have lead me here, and here is where I want to be.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, to all those who I love.

Confessions of a Masochist

Even when we were together I knew I was miserable, I knew that I didn’t like him or enjoy spending time with him. I went out all the time waiting to meet someone who could finally pull me out. I felt ugly with him, worthless.   But for some reason when we broke up I was stuck in relationship purgatory. I had two choices; take him back or let go for good and I couldn’t bring myself to do either. I had seen what he was capable of and I was afraid of what he’d do to himself, what he’d do to me and even what he’d do to his son. When I look back and think about why I was with him, I know now that it was because I was scared. I tried so hard to push him away but somehow he kept managing to suck me back into his world. I couldn’t even recognize myself any more; I was like an empty shell just watching myself from outside of my body. I woke up every day in physical pain because of the emotional punishment I had been dealing myself, then one day I had just finally had enough. It was weeks after our break up but I was able to fight my way through his threats and his manipulation and I was finally able to let go. It was like as soon as I did, I was suddenly happy again.

Two Suitcases and One Pair of Socks: A Hobbit’s Tale

June 11, 2012 I hoped on a plane to leave Ottawa on a whole new adventure all my own, with only two suitcases and one pair of socks to my name. The past year has been more than I could have ever dreamed, more than I could ever expected and at times, more than I could ever have handled on my own. Being here has changed me. There have been highs and there have been definite lows.

Just days after flying out my grandpa suddenly fell sick, and a couple weeks later he past away. Not being able to go home for that and be there to support my family was tough. If it weren’t for my grandpa, I don’t think my mom ever would have warmed up to the idea of letting me move half way across the country by myself. I owe what I have now to him, and what I’ll have in the years to come to him, and his help in my move to Peace River.

I haven’t seen my dad or sister in a year, or my mom or step dad since October. Which is rough cause you start to feel disconnected. And then there’s my friends, many of which I don’t really talk to all that often anymore. Makes me wonder what things will be like when I visit home in the summer. I miss my friends back home every day, but I have made many friends here who make it bearable. I still speak to my best friend, Anna, quite often. But I’ve also been lucky enough to find a home in Emily, someone who I can count on when I need to talk, even if I don’t like what she’ll say in return. I hope that once I move away I’ll still find the time to come back to Peace River to visit Emily and Curtis as their family grows. Then there the  friend I was forced into, my loud and obnoxious roommate, Mathew. Then we have our two Clark Kents (who I’m PRETTY sure don’t have actual super powers but you never know) Daniele and Logan. And every day my group of friends is growing, with bee keepers, electricians, welders and corrections officers.

I’ve dated a few people while being here. I have felt things, and seen things I’ve never thought possible. Both good, and bad. I came here with a goal. Work hard, establish a career and it’ll only go up from there. Nothing can ruin that.

Other than that, in the past year I have met extraordinary people and have been blessed with radio life. I’ve attended one Bud Country Fever (and actually enjoyed it). I lived through the 2012 Moth Invasion and am currently in the middle of Round 2 against those things. I was at Peacefest 2012 and am geared up and ready for this years show. I’ve been in a helicopter and I lived to tell the tale. I’ve survived a Northern Alberta winter and I’ve enjoyed every second.

This year has gone by so fast and on the other hand I feel like I’ve been here forever. I guess all I can really say is ‘Thank You’ to everyone who had a positive influence on my experience in the Peace.

I dream of the day that I can get closer to home. But I’ve come this far and my strength will carry me farther. In the pursuit of happiness.

One day your life will flash before your eyes, make sure it’s worth watching.

What would you do if tragedy struck someone you love? Would you be prepared? Grief is a powerful thing. One second you can be laughing and happy, and then in a split second it’s right there. In the snap of your fingers it’s a tear in your eye. Losing someone you love changes you; sometimes for the better, but sometimes the darkness consumes you and you never really find your way out.

My brother and I had the typical brother/sister relationship growing up. I can’t honestly say that I remember much but we always looked pretty happy in pictures. Justin and Kari would never play Scrabble with me because I would make up words, to this day I still suck at Scrabble and I blame them. As we got older we fought more, there were a few incidents where he’d get angry and hit me. But I was always there to bring him a glass of water when he was hung over. Then once we were in high school it changed, he acknowledged me at school as his little sister even if it was just to ask me for lunch money, he made sure no one messed with me and would even sometimes hangout with me when we were home alone. I always looked up to him and not just because he was taller than me; he had strength in him that was undeniable. There was a side to him that not many people had the chance to see. He was dependable, he was adventurous, and he was a true friend. Justin did what a brother, son and friend should do; he cared.

May 17, 2008 was the worst day of my life, and I remember everything about that day. It’s been five years since Justin died. Sometimes I still wait around for it to hit me. Justin is dead. He’s gone. I can keep telling myself that but yet sometimes, even after 5 years, I don’t believe it. I can talk about him now and smile, but I also have days where I can talk about him and it’s that instant rush of emotions causing me to feel a hole where my heart had been just moments ago. I was only 16 when we lost Justin. I was a kid; I wasn’t supposed to feel that kind of lose. I had to be strong and hold it together for the sake of my mom but sometimes I couldn’t. As cliché as it sounds, going through this showed me who my true friends were; who would always be there and who was never really there to begin with. Losing my brother has made it incredibly difficult to allow myself to become attached to another person; it makes you see how fast they can be gone. Losing him has made me a little insensitive because I hate the awkward silence in a sad moment. My brother was one of the biggest influences on my life; I wouldn’t be where I am today or who I am today if it weren’t for Justin. He taught me to be who I am and do what makes me happy, make your life extraordinary, never be afraid, be adventurous, take chances, be smart, have fun but most of all losing him taught me to be strong.

Justin never got to live the life he deserved, so I’ll live the rest of my life doing everything I can to make him proud. I don’t know exactly what I would say to him if I had the chance, but I would make sure that he knows that I love him and I will carry him with me. If tragedy has ever struck someone you love, I applaud you for making it through it. You’re stronger than you know.