Teenage Dream

This girl…

Doesn’t forget anything. She is like a walking encyclopedia of my past.

I was 5 years old when we met, and she was almost 5. It was Kindergarten. Life was good.

We spent our entire childhood together, spending long days together at school, only to rush home to watch Full House and Fresh Prince and make microwave popcorn together. Things have changed drastically over the last 21.5 years, but one thing remains: she is still my best friend. Always will be.

The night of the riots will go down in history for the city of Vancouver. It will also go down in history for me. I am going to keep my thoughts to myself (and my loved ones) on why it was such a painful night, but I won’t forget it.

My mom called me at 1o:30pm, which was super late for her, panicking that I was downtown. I was safe and sound at home, only crying. We talked for awhile and she promised me that things would look brighter in the morning.

She was right.

When Nicki and I were teenagers, her parents graciously took us camping in their trusty motorhome every summer for weeks at a time. We had a b.l.a.s.t. We practically owned the Okanagan those summers, and on Thursday we packed my little blue car to the max, climbed in and hit the open road. We fulfilled a promise we made to each other all those years ago: to return to the Okanagan when we weren’t kids anymore.

The first adventure came along about 1 hour into the trip.

Say hello to 4 bears!

The adventures continued on from there.

My facebook status the day we left talked about hoping to find joy and peace. I got my wish.

We had some new fun adventures this weekend, that’s for sure. But mostly we just hung around on the lake laughing our butts off at our seventeen thousand memories from years past. And we blasted Raise Your Glass and screamed it out going 125km on the Coquihalla, fists pumping out the windows. It was exactly what I needed. Someone who has known me my entire life, who knows my heart, who doesn’t need constant conversation to be comfortable.

When we were teenagers, riding in the back of a motorhome writing messages back and forth in a notebook at the table-that-is-also-a-bed, we filled pages with our dreams. We wrote messages back and forth about cute boys we had seen at fruit stands, about who we wanted to be when we grew up, about what we wanted from life. We dreamed big. We trusted that life would turn out pretty good for us both.

And ya know what? It has.

~C

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Daddy Issues

Where to begin?

…………………………………

I’m no stranger to Daddy Issues. Had ’em all my life. And I don’t want this to turn into a long, drawn-out, convoluted, woe-is-me post at all. I just wanna say it like it is.

You wanna know something about daddy issues? It’s one of the reasons Brian decided he didn’t love me. I don’t know, and will never know, if I was being punished or judged in some way for not having my father in my life, but I do know that I could never be with a man who removed his love from me for allegedly having “daddy issues”, as Brian so kindly put it. And even though people who know Brian are gonna read this, I’m just gonna say it like it is: it REALLY pisses me off that he said that to me. In plain old English. Because you know what, my friends? I have worked my ass off for the past 10 years to work through those issues. Counselling upon counselling appointments, letters, deep talks and epiphanies, forgiveness and self-realization, acceptance and love. I’m a stronger person because of my dad, no matter what we have gone through.

So for someone I loved to look me in the eye and say they are leaving me because of my daddy issues cuts me deep. And he knows it, too.

Part of me immediately hears in all of this, “who will love you, then? not your dad. not brian. not anyone”. 

LIES!

One day maybe my dad will decide he wants me, and when that day comes I will turn the page to another chapter of the story of my life, but one thing I can tell you is that those pages of my book will not be flipping backwards. I’ve learned my lesson about boys who want perfect girls. I fought hard to be that girl and it wasn’t good enough. I hope for Brian that he finds a perfect girl who came from a perfect little family with a perfect father and maybe she will be loved. But for me, I will take a man who loves me because of the person I have become, not the person I was. I will take a man who knows what it is like to feel empathy and compassion. I will take kindness over convenience and I will take love over perfection.

I had dinner at my dear friend’s house tonight, and we were talking about this blog. I made a comment that I have felt a draught lately…couldn’t come up with anything to write about. But that isn’t exactly true. There is lots of this stuff, this unplanned, unedited, raw stuff that I need to say. I have been afraid to say it. Afraid to step on toes. Afraid to be looked at differently. But tonight those things don’t matter anymore. Tonight I am realizing that the people who read this blog read it because they want to, not because they have to. So if I am stepping on your toes, you don’t need to read this.

That same friend who had me over for dinner has a precious little daughter who I was reading to in her brother’s bed tonight. As I closed the last page of my favourite book she looked up at me with giant eyes and said, “Can you get my daddy? I want my daddy to give me a hug and a kiss”. Things like that used to really kill me. I couldn’t hear a sentence like that and not feel anger or sadness that I didn’t have that daddy. But tonight I just smiled down at that little girl in her purple jammies, and I assured her that I would get him for her. And her daddy was on standby, waiting to give his baby her hug and kiss. That makes me really happy.

My dad moved away a long time ago and he didn’t say goodbye. And he came back to visit and he didn’t say hi. But I am told he loves me. And I believe that. It’s not the way I need to be or want to be loved, but that doesn’t negate the truth. He just doesn’t know how to show it and there is nothing I can do about that.

What I CAN do is love my dad anyways. I can forgive Brian for denying me love because of something I couldn’t control. I can move on with my life and learn from those experiences. I can make the choice to NOT give up on love because 2 of the most important men in my life left me. I can stop trying to be perfect.

You could say I’m hard to hold, but if you knew me you’d know, I’ve got a good father, and his strength is what makes me cry.

Feet on ground.

Heart in hand.

Facing forward.

Be yourself.

~C

(see…told you he loves me)

Family Matters

Remember for a moment back to a time when you were maybe 5 or 6 years old…it’s late at night and as a special treat you are allowed to stay up way past your bedtime to be with the grown-ups. Perhaps you are riding home in the backseat of your station wagon, perhaps you are curled up in the corner of a couch, but wherever you are, you are half asleep. You know that fragile place between sleep and awake? Waves of sound are swirling around you…laughter, a random cough, or clearing of one’s throat. You can barely make out what the grown-ups are talking about, but you look forward to one day being old enough to join in.

You are 5 or 6 years old, you are falling asleep, and you know with complete certainty that someone is going to carry your tired little body to bed, tuck you in, and kiss your forehead.

Are you with me?

You. Are. Safe.

You. Are. Loved.

I had the upmost privilege of going back there last night, back to that place of being carried by people who love me. I felt secure. I felt an intense sense of belonging and harmony with my family and I soaked up every minute of it, because I think it is going to have to last me a long time. I barely know where to begin here with this post.

My childhood had many different dynamics. There are aspects of it that were wonderful. I have an extremely, fiercely loving family in every way. We stuck together through thick and thin. For that I will always be grateful. But on the other hand, a lot of crap went down while I was little, and I was forced to grow up quicker than some of my friends. My family is complicated. There are many, many members. Some I have never met, some are my best friends, some are my heros. Some have let me down. Some have raised me up. I love them all.

Things are a bit complicated at the moment. Complicated and yet…normal. Because when you have a family as big as mine there is bound to be some drama. But let’s not talk about that now.

I have 11 paternal aunts. That’s a lot. I wish I could say that I have a bond with all of them, but that would just not be true. I love them all, but that’s not the same thing as knowing them. I don’t want to use the word ‘favourite‘, so I will go down a different road and say that the aunt I am closest to came here this past week for 8 whole days. It felt like a lifetime and it felt like a nanosecond all at the same time. We had an a.m.a.z.i.n.g time together.



I’m at an interesting place in my life right now, stuck between the family I was born into and the family that I will one day give birth to. I am stuck between being a child and being a mother. And honestly? It is something I am struggling with. It’s not easy to work in a job where I am constantly having the one thing I want most in this world rubbed in my face…teaching those kids is like being on a super strict diet and working at Cold Stone Creamery. I want kids. Badly. But as Auntie M and I were walking along the beach last night, she reminded me of how important it is to be really present in this moment. Cliche, yes, but so true. For now, and who knows for how long, I am here. I am a child. I am someone’s daughter and sister and niece and aunt and that’s enough. The wife and mother thing will come too, but later. And so I basked in my role last night as a middle child, as Tina’s aunt, as Auntie M’s niece, as my mother’s daughter, as a sister to my siblings…I just rested in who I am.

It was like being 5 or 6 years old and falling asleep knowing someone would carry me to my bed…

As we were loitering in the foyer of my parents house as midnight approached we were all so very reluctant to say goodbye to each other. My head was down on the arm of the couch and Auntie M rubbed my back and my sister played with my hair. I could hear my mom’s voice and I could sense that I was safe. It was an aha moment for me.

Auntie M says that even though she likes my tattoo, she thinks it is sad that I thought I had to write love on my body to know that I am loved…but that’s okay. Everyone needs a reminder now and again, right? And it turns out I wasn’t the only one who needed that. My older sister Marcy and my younger brother Nick got love on their arms yesterday, too. And it is so cool that the three of us now match. Well, besides that whole DNA thing.

This past week I cried a few times because plans I made with some friends fell through…the weather was so beautiful on the weekend that people wanted to be with their families to enjoy it. And I totally get that. But I cried because I often simply forget that I, too, have that family. I don’t need to cry. I guess living alone in a basement apartment can take its toll on me sometimes. I feel alone when I shouldn’t. But as hard as it was to feel left out and left behind when my friends changed their plans, it was good for me. This next phase in the healing process is looking like it’s going to be working on acceptance. And so far it’s been really hard. So Auntie M’s timing couldn’t have been better. When my family got together last night (minus my oldest niece—we miss you Jenna!), I made sure I soaked in all the love imaginable. It’s my strength in the times ahead.

Auntie M making sure BC doesn’t forget…

Fun at the beach

Love x3 

It’s in the smile of a stranger

In the eyes of a child

On the corner of a crowded street

It’s everywhere around us

It’s always growing wild

Love is a sweet, sweet thing

I hate goodbyes very much. Always struggled with that word. Leaving Africa and all my friends was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Saying goodbye to Brian was worse than that. But even though Auntie M lives in Winnipeg, even though my brother and sister and I are spread apart, and even though I live 45 minutes away from Mom and Gramma, the beauty about family is that there are never any goodbyes. Ever. It’s just the way it goes. And that makes my heart happy.

~C



26 Years and 11 Months

I have 30 more days left of being 26.

I’m gonna miss this year. It was a good one. The hardest of my life, as it turns out, but also amazing. And in some ways it feels like it dragged, and in some ways I could swear that just yesterday Myranda and I were planning my 26th party.

Yes, I am one of those giant geeks who plans their own birthday party. I don’t even care who knows it. There are people out there who don’t care much about their birthday and that’s fine. I just love parties and being with my friends and if I could throw a party once a month I would. And I ain’t no Kelle Hampton, who throws amazing parties for her babies. No, I am more like a BYOB and a camping chair and let’s just laugh for hours around a campfire. THAT, my friends, is my kinda party.

Life lately has been slipping by and I have noticed, sadly, that I am wishing away the days until I am so far from the break-up that my heart is whole and healed and this whole ordeal is over. No, I am not crying like I did. No, I am not wallowing in memories. Yes, I am actually extremely happy. But I still want it to be far, far away. I have been focused so totally on my healing that I think I have to slow down a little and enjoy this time in my life. I don’t want to look back at the last half of my 26th year and remember pain. I want to remember freedom and laughter and joy and energy.

I’ve got 30 days left to live as a 26 year old girl, and I am excited. I have 2 big trips lined up; a camping trip with 7 of my dear friends next weekend and then Nicki and I are headed to the Interior the following week. My 80 preschoolers are all “graduating” in 23 days; we have parties to plan (yay!) and pictures to take and little lives to soak in. It’s gonna be a great month.

Amanda Falk, who is a friend of one of my best friends Alisha, has this song called Unbreakable, which has really helped me out lately. This line, in particular…

Isn’t it crazy how flowers can bloom in the midst of a concrete jungle in June?

But they’re just living life like they were made to. 

Maybe my heart is like that concrete jungle, hardened by heartbreak, but there are flowers, beautiful flowers, growing through those cracks, pushing through and shining for all to see.

And I’m just living life like I was made to.

May you do the same : )

Happy June, everybody. Finally.

~C