The way is love

Graphically real in a full monty kind of way

When abusers come to visit

forgiveness 3

I have some guests coming up for the weekend. My mother and my step-father.

When I talk about being abused as a child, it was by my mother.

And, yes, I do still let her into my home. Why?

  • I have a son and he has the right to have a relationship with his grandmother
  • I confronted her about the abuse and she apologized
  • We have worked on our relationship for over ten years and she accepts what she did to me, she doesn’t deny it, and she allows me to be myself

I know most abusers don’t admit their actions. And in that way I suppose I’m lucky, if you could call it that. At least she accepts what she did.

I am under no illusions that she is “better,” however.

She said she doesn’t remember what she did to me. I believe her because a lot of people when they’re abusive and mentally unwell don’t know quite what they’re doing. That’s no excuse, don’t misunderstand me. I still know what she did to me was very wrong, and I am still working through the wounds.

In a lot of ways I find it ironic that I can have her in my home and enjoy spending time with her.

For a while it was still a bit sick, I still wanted to earn her love. When my son was young I still carried that everlasting hope that she’d become the mother I wanted to have. The mother I deserved. But I know now she will not be that woman.

I went through years and years of hating her for what she did, but I didn’t express it and turned it inwards, hence my depression and anxiety.

I think her behaviour really hit home for me psychologically after I had my son. I have always considered my son a miraculous gift, and I could never imagine treating him the way my mother treated me. The idea is abhorrent to me. I am not an abuser, never have been. Maybe that’s why I can forgive her to a certain extent.

I know for myself that keeping that anger alive ultimately only hurts me, and the people I love. If I’d kept holding onto the anger I would’ve become more and more diseased by various physical and mental problems because I’d be holding that hate inside myself. I have decided I just don’t want to do that.

And over the last two years since I had my breakdown, I’ve been slowly ridding myself, layer by layer, of all that pain and hate. It’s been very hard to let go because I’d learned to use it as fuel to keep going on. But now I use love as fuel, and that’s been an eye-opening transition for me.

So when my mother walks through my door this afternoon, I can honestly greet her with my heart. Not a naively hopeful heart, I know she isn’t the mother I really wanted, but in some ways I feel lucky that she’s my mom. And I think that’s healthy, and okay.



The good, the discouraging and the perspective


I feel pretty mixed up today.

I’ve had some really good things happen and some discouraging things happen. I suppose somewhere in between them there’s balance.

Good things

I received a really nice message from a man on a singles site. I had shown interest in him and he let me know that he’s about to meet someone and doesn’t like to pursue more than one woman at a time. He said my profile was very interesting, but he wanted to see how things go with the other woman first. I thought that was very honest and filled with integrity. And I thanked him for letting me know. He’s renewed my faith in the online dating scene.

I also found out that my ex-husband, the father of my son, wants to spend more time with my son. My son has been with me 100% of the time for about six months. I guess his dad is missing him. So I may have my three evenings a week back, and my son may be seeing more of his dad, which is very good. Especially since my son’s 16. He needs a man’s influence in his life too.

Discouraging things

I woke up and realized I have a yeast infection. Often after I take antibiotics I get one. I just feel as if with my woman garden (thank you Jenny Lawson for this term!) it’s been one thing after another. First the UTI, now this. Blah!

I know it’s not really a big deal or even that unexpected, but I’m tired of feeling tired. The UTI kind of knocked me out, and often the yeast infection medication does too.

I’ve been worried about making enough money for a while now, and it’s damned difficult to be productive when all you feel like doing is curling up in a ball and sipping on tea! Something about this feels so November in Canada. It’s a month where everything is going to sleep or dying, we are overwhelmed with grey all around us and it’s getting cold and it’s dark so early we feel like going to bed at 5pm. Not an inspiring month.

And when I went for my healing treatment on Monday apparently the first two chakras are linked to creativity and our financial life. Figures! No wonder my woman garden is unsettled.


But then as I was driving back from the pharmacy feeling sorry for myself I realized that compared to some of the things going on in the world, a yeast infection isn’t much. And the UTI isn’t much either. Even my financial concerns are only temporary.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims in Paris and the countless others physically hurt from the terrorist attack. Now that is something really beyond discouraging, and has made me realize I’m having a pretty regular day.


The dangers of denying who we are

Jacqueline Snider

I have a history of denying my self.

  • I have been underweight for most of my life.
  • I have lived my life to please others, including my parents, my boyfriends, my husbands and my son.
  • I have denied my feelings to make other people happy.

These behaviours are not uncommon for a woman in North America, and likely in a lot of other places in the world too.

Rather than growing up being encouraged to look within myself for my direction on my health, relationships and career, I was encouraged to be what others were comfortable with me being. And that has done me a lot of harm.

That mentality of living for others, trickles down into all sorts of dangerous and insidious places.

I consider practically starving myself very dangerous. Being on the border of anorexic for most of my life and actually being proud of denying my body what it needed is very sick. It was partly a form of control on my part, but also I was denying the fact that I’m a naturally curvy woman. There’s so much media pressure to be a skeletal woman that it’s hard when you’re more naturally curvy, as most women are and should be.

Trying to please my parents, boyfriends, husbands and even my son comes from my early programming as a little girl. My mother used to yell at me, “Why can’t you read my mind?” so of course I did my best to read hers and everyone else’s. And I became very good at it, which is also pretty sick. That didn’t teach me how to read my own, however. In fact quite the opposite.

And then my feelings suffered immeasurably. Did I even know my own? Or did they change with every person I was with? And I totally lost touch with them when I denied myself so much that I had a breakdown. I was severely depressed.

And what have I been doing since then? I have been denying myself the right dose of anti-depressant medication. At first I took the full dose, but as I got better I tried to wean myself off of it. I experienced a boomerang effect that I caught fairly quickly, but it scared the hell out of me. My mind had started racing again, I couldn’t sleep, and my anxiety climbed. I went back up to only the half dose. And now I ask myself why. Why was I denying my brain and body what it needed?

That’s my pattern. It’s almost automatic, and it’s taken me almost two years to see that. I went to the pharmacy yesterday to get more pills and the pharmacist took me aside and asked me why I’m behind on my prescription. She reminded my I should not stop them. And with her insistent, rational words I had my ah-ha moment (thanks, Oprah!) and I thought, “My God, I’ve been doing it again!”

This time I wasn’t hard with myself like I would’ve been and I took the full dose last night for the first time in over a year.

I consider this a personal victory.

I don’t care when I realize these old automatic self-destructive habits are still part of my life, I’m just thrilled with myself when I do.

We must learn to be gentle with ourselves. And I moved another step in that direction yesterday.




Going away and coming back again

I found it really weird going to a wedding alone, without a date.

I’m an independent person and usually really love doing things on my own.

The seven-hour drive to the wedding was pure magic for me. I talked to myself most of the morning totally enjoying the gorgeous blue sky, the flocks of Canada geese heading south to feed in the fields and the birds of prey circling overhead. The trees hadn’t started changing yet so they were a beautiful green still crisp and alive from the hot summer we’ve had.

Once I got close to Toronto I realized I’d forgotten directions to my mom’s place. I laughed, shook my head, turned up the music, realized perimenopause had taken part of my brain and at that moment she called and I memorized the route to her place once I got off the highway.

I still took the wrong exit and had to rely on Google Maps to get me back on track, but I got to my mom’s eventually and it was a great adventure.

The wedding was not. Though it was a good wedding. A traditional first wedding with 200 people, speeches, dancing, slides and an open bar–the whole thing. For the first time I was at the kiddie table, which was with my cousins instead of my aunts and uncles. I really enjoyed that.

I was the only one without a date, but I ended up sitting next to an angel. The girlfriend of one of my favourite cousins was sitting next to me and from the moment I sat down she talked with me as if we’d known each other forever, which we didn’t. I’d only met her once before. She kept me feeling part of it all and positive and I made it through the evening without too much old family shit coming up to the surface.

I’m the only family member that has left Ontario.

I left when I was 18 and never moved back.

One of the best decisions of my life.

And as I drove back across the border and into Quebec I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew once again that this is where I’m meant to be.

There are family members that I love and would love to see more often, bit overall my family doesn’t make me feel welcome and they never have. I’m not blaming them, they probably don’t know they do it, but my differences were always highlighted. I was made to feel awkward and weird and misunderstood–the black sheep–from a very young age.

And it’s true I don’t want to “fit in.” That’s not me. And because I come from an extremely competitive, Type A family, my own personality defended itself and pushed them away. I don’t regret it. It’s how I’ve kept my own self against great odds, but I don’t feel as if I’m walking into the bosom of my family when I occasionally go back that’s for sure.

But I do feel totally comfortable with the life I’ve made for myself here. It hasn’t always been easy. I’m divorced twice, but I’ve found a church community I love and friends I’ve known for years and watched my son grow up here. And I love where I live, and the home I live in.

As I drove home through the West Island streets I realized how gorgeous and vibrant the area is. The trees were just beginning to get tinges of yellow and orange in the tips of their leaves. The malls were busy and the houses were well looked after and beautiful. And I knew without a doubt that I was home.

I had to make my home for myself because that’s how I found my tribe. It was a journey I will never regret taking. I have grown into myself, and learned that who I am is exactly who I want to be.


The everyday lives

I was sitting in the Pointe-Claire village on Saturday evening waiting.

I was meeting someone for dinner and I was there early so I decided to people watch.

Watching people is fascinating in its everyday simplicity.

Julia Cameron talks about it in her book The Right to Write and I absolutely agree with her.

I watched the parents and kids walking their dogs, the couples off to dinner, the guys off to the pub, cyclists on their way somewhere, people picking up last minute groceries at the village market. And it was all so simple and all so beautiful for that simplicity.

I was seeing the everyday that binds our lives together.

For all that people are fascinated by the glamourous lives of the stars, I would argue that the glitter loses its appeal pretty fast and that its the everyday that the stars clamour for once the glitter becomes only surface shiny.

I say this because there’s so much pretending in the glamourous life. And it gets really old, really quickly. And when you’re famous people hang out with you because you’re famous. Not because they like you, but because you’re a name.

But even people who aren’t famous can feel a bit what it must be like. Walk into a bar and you can get attention just because you’re beautiful or single or alone. But the man or woman who is paying you attention at that moment doesn’t necessarily care who you are they just want to be with you at that time. Much like I’m sure stars experience when they go to a club or restaurant. They suddenly have “friends.”

So when I was watching the regular life walking by on a beautiful summer Saturday evening I knew that only the simple life fills me up. That’s the life that I think of when I remember my past. The small moments that add up to what’s truly real.

Those are the moments I love with my son, my animals, my family, my friends.

Watching Star Trek curled up on the couch. Sitting in front of the fireplace chatting with my dad, dog curled up next to me and cat by the fire. Reading a book under the trees in my backyard, cup of tea in hand. Walking my little barky dog while she’s sniffing our neighbourhood till her heart’s content. Chatting with my son in the living room listening to him regale me about the characters in his video games or the last movie he saw. Talking with my girlfriend on a terrasse as we sip mojitos and explain our lives and dreams to each other.

These are the moments I love to live, and they’re the everyday that I live for.

Pissiness–Where does it come from and where does it go?

Have you ever felt grumpy for no particular reason, or at least nothing that you can put your finger on?

That’s me for the last couple days.

I’m not the grumpy type. So it just makes me grumpier to be pissy, especially when I’m not sure exactly why.

Usually my strength training class drains away any frustrations. This time, no dice.

Then I have a little chat with myself, “Okay, Jackie, what’s up? So you’ve been drinking coffee. That’s not that big a deal. So you’re having trouble sleeping and taking sleeping pills. It’ll pass. Okay, you’re achy. Well, you are training and you are perimenopausal so…no real surprises there.”

Anyway, my pissiness seems to be waning as I write this post. And then, come to think of it, I just realized I haven’t written a blog for a while. Maybe, just maybe, I’m missing it.

That sharing that comes with blogging.

As I drive to my favourite cafe I go through my affirmations for being a writer. And I usually feel better after that, but sometimes I still think being a writer isn’t possible. That it’s not a “real” job, whatever the hell that means.

Because here I am writing and I make my living writing and editing every day so…

I will let that ridiculous belief go and just write. My pissiness will disappear and I will eventually sleep better.

As my father says, “The only constant is change.” Ironic coming from a man who isn’t really good with it, but then maybe that’s why he always says that, as a reminder.

I get impatient with life, but at the same time I don’t want things to happen too quickly. An irony I have to face every day. That’s my Type A trying to force the world around me that’s more and more zen by my own choice.

So I’m happy to say my pissiness is gone, I’m not going to castigate myself about drinking coffee or needing a sleeping pill. I will accept that life moves as it moves, and that the only constant is change.

Thanks, Dad!



Money and self-worth go hand in hand

I’m working on Worthy: Boost your self-worth to grow your net worth by Nancy Levin to try and get a handle on why my income goes up and down, and why I feel as if I have no control over it.

Nancy Levin believes that our relationship with money is directly related with our relationship we have with ourselves. I must agree. I’m about halfway through the exercises and I’m finding out a lot about myself I didn’t know.

I’ve been doing some serious internal work to come back from my breakdown 2.5 years ago and I thought I was finally getting to know myself pretty well, and also well enough to face some tough patterns that I’m obviously repeating as far as my money.

Even then I have learned things about myself and my history that have surprised me. This is very good. I need to know these things that I obviously haven’t seen before to be able to change my thinking and then change my beliefs about myself and money.

That’s not to say that it’s easy. I am beginning to realize that I’ve been giving away my power around money because of old damaging patterns I learned in my childhood, both from my mother and father. And that I’ve given away my own power in my personal relationships in a very similar way, unfortunately. One is really mirroring the other.

It’s a bit ugly actually. I value myself so much more now and I’m able to consciously see how much harder I’ve made my life for myself because of the damaging patterns I learned in my childhood. I am not blaming myself though. Nancy Levin is very clear about that. She reaffirms that we’re working through the book to get better at valuing our own self-worth so we can’t knock ourselves down because we are finding out things about ourselves that we didn’t see before.

So I’m not, and that’s not easy because my fallback position is to be harsh with myself. But that will only make it all worse. So I have promised myself that I will work through Nancy’s book with a positive open mind. So far I have been able to do that. But the work is hard and humbling and encouraging and transformative all at once. The way it needs to be to get any results.




Unknowingly texting with a complete stranger–Oddly it was going rather well

Last evening I was having a text conversation with a complete stranger, unknowingly.

I’d texted an old boyfriend a couple days ago because I saw a photo of him on Facebook with a baby and I wanted to congratulate him if the little cutie was his.

He texted back that he didn’t have one yet, sounded pretty much like himself and that was that.

Then last night he texted me back saying, “Anyway, how are you?”

So I responded, and as the conversation went on I began to realize I might not be texting my old boyfriend.

I asked him how his cats were and he said, “I never had cats.”

I responded, “Yes, you did! What’s your name?”

He said, “Ryan lol.”

That’s not my old boyfriend’s name, needless to say.

But the funny thing was and is this guy Ryan knew a Jackie, was a programmer like my old boyfriend and that’s why the conversation went on for as long as it did.

Once I realized for sure he wasn’t my old boyfriend I apologized for contacting him, said it was an old number and said I wouldn’t bother him anymore.

He was cool about it and said, “It’s okay.”

So now I virtually don’t know the assistant CEO of Ubisoft named Ryan.

Too funny!


Bringing my angels to church

I decided to bring my angels with me to church yesterday.

I know they were always there with me even when I was unaware of them, but yesterday I purposefully evoked them by name during the service, twice.

My minister believes that we are all angels so I figured they’d feel in good company, and they were.

The congregation was smaller than usual because a lot of people are still on vacation. So the angels had lots of places in the pews to sit and listen to our amazing minister.

Our minister is truly gifted. She knows so well how to engage us in her sermon without it ever being dogmatic. Instead she is uplifting, creative, poignant, genuine, real and amazing. She shines when she’s talking to us. I say talking because I don’t feel she ever preaches.

She is far too knowledgeable and open-minded to ever need to preach to anyone. That’s why I fell in love with this church and the congregation as soon as I found it.

It has been almost a year now that I’ve been attending services and getting involved in their various events. I never miss their women’s group night. I also volunteer during the Coffee House nights when live performers come in and sing for us. They always put on quite a show and we have a lot of people in to hear them.

My experience has been so great that I can’t imagine not going to church anymore.

Of course I’ve met lots of the parishioners and have become friends with many. The women in our women’s group have taken me under their wing. It is a magical experience sharing a spiritual evening with these women. For the first time in my life I feel loved and supported and heard by a group of women. I did not have this experience in my extended family, so finding this parish and these people mean SO much to me I can hardly describe their effect on my life.

I feel part of an extended loving community for the first time in my life.





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