I never wanted to believe that someday we would have our own X-file, but here we are. A while back, at the beginning of summer, I did something scary. I sat down with my partner in crime of four years to talk about how things weren't working and how we needed to make a plan to move forward. Although he agreed and we had a very calm, mature conversation, it was still painful.
I've had my share of breakups and whatnot, but walking away from this is entirely different. I'll spare you the drawn out relationship recap and just say that things essentially changed directions. We had previously acknowledged it and made attempts at steering things back, but to no avail. It was about as exhausting as watching the Steelers try to slay the dragon in the AFC championship game last year, and equally difficult to accept.
You see, James is the Mulder to my Scully, but we had shifted into these weird roles and it began to feel more like Mulder and Scully in the "Arcadia" episode when they pretend to be husband and wife, only less funny.
It's like we were pretending to be a couple for so long, when in actuality we were just friends. Friends who slept in the same bed, rolled away from each other. And you know what, our friendship suffered too, because we'd been holding in so many feelings and weren't really being authentic. It's so easy to allow yourself to become resentful and bitter when things aren't what you want them to be. I mean, how could this not work? We both love and respect each other so much and enjoy each other's company, but we're not in love. Isn't that the way these relationship things end up eventually? I suppose it really doesn't matter if the answer is yes or no, because neither one of us was satisfied, and we both deserve better.
During this transitional time, we continue to live together as roommates, trying to be supportive, encouraging and respectful. But it's not easy. This holiday season has made things particularly emotional. Stockings with our names hang above the fireplace, Beans' in the middle. That's the other thing...it's not just us. Yes, a cat is different than a child, but at least things can be explained to a child. Beans has been adjusting to the fact that mommy and daddy sleep in different rooms now. She always begins the night with James, then sleeps the rest of the time on me. She's clearly trying to divide her attention evenly, which is both heartwarming and sad. I wish I could explain things to her. I also wish that I knew what was coming. Where Beans was going to end up. Unfortunately, I don't.
But I guess nobody really knows what's coming, right? And this scenario is not a tragedy. I live with my best friend, and most the time it's ok. It's expensive to live in Victoria, so we're taking advantage of what we have--a great affordable place in a fantastic neighbourhood, blocks away from the ocean and the most beautiful cemetery. I feel incredibly grateful for that. Sincerely. But then there's the part of me that knows that this is temporary, and that at any moment it's all going to change. This is not good for my anxiety.
My depression has also ramped up big time and my therapist suggests I try antidepressants for a while. I'm seriously considering it, though it's scary because I've never taken pharmaceuticals for these conditions. Also, I recently went back on The Pill for health reasons and it's been absolute fucking hell. But the thing is, I've been through hell before. I try to remind myself of that often, but sometimes a voice interrupts and says "You're such a loser. You never make anything work. You don't even know what you want to do with your life." Thankfully, I'm learning to interrupt that voice with the occasional FUCK OFF, and I've even started to interrupt with something I thought I'd never say...I've got what it takes.
That's the real me. But sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I buy into the idea that I can't do this. That I can't get through it and I've got nothing to look forward to. I have to believe that that's not true. That I'm not really stuck. That I can do this dance and will be fine, even if I'm just dancing with myself (cue Billy Idol). To anyone else who's stumbling, trying to find their footing, remember that you do have what it takes to keep going. There's so much good stuff ahead, even if you can't see it yet. I'm looking forward to celebrating with you, dear friends, and hopefully celebrating a Steelers Super Bowl win. Here we go!
Ted Bundy saved lives. I think. Of course we all know that he killed tons of people and had sex with their corpses, but he also worked at a crisis line in Seattle, perhaps quite literally talking people down from the ledge. Lately I've been teetering close to that ledge and have considered calling a crisis line, but then I picture Ted on the other end being like, "It's all good girl, you've got this! Now tell me, are you in a sorority?" Yes, I have trust issues.
Recently, I told James that I was considering calling a crisis line, and he responded by telling me that he had already called on my behalf and wrote down a bunch of resources that I might find useful. I think I looked at him and said, "Oh. Thank you?" It kinda got me thinking about what happens when you get caught up in something and everything else--everyone else--stops existing.
Now, rather than feeling guilty about this and getting down on myself, I'm going to give myself some credit. It's not as though I decided consciously that I was going to become caught up. I feel pretty proud for actually having the decency to treat myself well in this situation, because it's not easy. That's the thing about depression--not only does it make you feel like shit, but it makes you feel like shit about feeling like shit.
It's now the end of December, a time of year that tends to have people feeling like shit. Part of this is because the end of a year can get you doing this sort-of "year in review" thing. One thing I like to do at this time is to watch the annual year in review on the various sports channels. But what happens when you're the Cleveland Browns and not the Pittsburgh Steelers? Yeah, I had to get that burn in there. Haha. Honestly, though, what can you take away to make yourself feel better? For the Browns, they can focus on that one win--the fact that they did not go winless this season like many thought they would. In fact, the Cleveland Browns inspired me last week. Their win against the San Diego Chargers--watching them celebrate--got me thinking. Thinking about the small victories.
The Browns beating the Chargers meant nothing in the grand scheme of things; both teams were already eliminated from playoff contention and most people didn't care about the result. But what happened after the Browns' fluky win (yes, there was luck involved) warmed my heart. It was kind of like when the Grinch listens for the Whos' sorrow after stealing their presents, etc, only to discover that they were still celebrating despite their setbacks. That day, after defeating the Chargers 20-17, the Cleveland Browns celebrated. Hard. It was like they had just won a playoff game--maybe even the Super Bowl. It was strangely uplifting.
What really struck me was the emotions that the players displayed, particularly in the locker room. As I watched the players and coaching staff shed tears, I began to tear up. These guys worked hard all year and almost had nothing to show for it. In the end, this win was their Super Bowl. They deserved it and I loved that they were celebrating in such a big way. It reminded me of a podcast episode I listened to awhile back. I can't remember which podcast it was from, so that's not very helpful, but the host was talking about celebrating those small victories. For some, that means allowing themselves to get excited about that promotion they just got at work, for some that means being happy about finally finding that raincoat that both protects them from the nasty weather and looks fashionable (yeah right), and for others, that means just being happy that they were able to get out of bed today.
As the new year approaches, I am going to be careful about resolutions. Instead, I think I'll just work on the little things--appreciating what I've got and being proud of my accomplishments, no matter how small. Although the Browns won their game last week, they likely will not win this weekend against the Steelers (even though the Steelers are resting their best players), and I'm not holding my breath for finding that elusive fashionable raincoat, but I will continue to get out of bed each morning, and may even have more to celebrate soon enough. I suppose after mentioning a midlife crisis and small victories, it's appropriate that I leave you with some Faith No More. Enjoy! Happy New Year!
I've always loved tarot cards, especially the death card, and am excited to see various interpretations. Contrary to what I once believed, the death tarot card does not actually signify death, but rather generally represents an ending or transition. You will notice in the images above that the card in the middle is the only one that actually has the word death on it. That's because, long ago, it was thought best not to use the word as seeing it could trigger a feeling of unease. I find that super intriguing, because death is one of the few things that we all have in common. If you are reading this, you are going to die. For some reason not many people want to discuss it to this day, but I do, more so now than ever. Let's talk about death.
I think the first time I actually considered the matter was when my parents told me that my cat Rebel was "being put to sleep." I cried because they cried, but then I asked when she was going to wake up. Clearly, I had absolutely no understanding of euthanasia. It wasn't my fault, either. Nobody had ever talked to me about death. I probably didn't know that Rebel was ever going to die, and I certainly didn't know that I would someday meet the same fate. Now that "dying with dignity" is a thing in Canada, I actually might go out on the same note as my beloved Rebel. How fascinating! I just remembered something else. My favourite pet for a very long time was a bottom feeder named Brutus. I had a hard time finding him in the fish tank sometimes, then suddenly he would reappear. I later learned that the original Brutus died and my mom kept replacing him. I was at first shocked, then felt betrayed, then laughed because it's actually really interesting to think about how far people will go to avoid talking about death (or avoid disappointing their children, but that's a topic best saved for another time).
I, for one, think about death every day, and I probably talk about it every day, too. According to someone close to me, my mind generally moves in two directions...sex and death. He's probably right. No wonder I have such a strong connection to horror movies. In any case, I find it strange that those two things are probably thought about the most and are often the most uncomfortable to discuss.
Recently, I became aware of a relatively new phenomenon--the Death Cafe. I was immediately intrigued, so did a little research. Basically, a group of people gather to discuss death and the feelings associated while drinking coffee or tea and eating treats. How cool! The very first Death Cafe took place in London England in 2011, and Canada's first Death Cafe emerged in my home town of Victoria, B.C. in 2012. Today, nearly 4,000 Death Cafes have brought people together in at least 40 countries. I love this! Why should we wait until we attend a funeral to gather in the name of death and dying? If discussion breeds understanding, which I believe to be true, then why are we avoiding talking about the one thing we are all guaranteed to experience?
It's scary. I can admit that. It's weird to think that one day I will take my last breath, and I have no idea when that will be. It might be right now...or...now. Or later. But it will eventually happen.
I look forward to participating in a Death Cafe in the near future, and am considering organizing one. I'm also considering organizing a Sex Cafe, because that could be super fun and interesting as well. And potentially awkward and disturbing. Haha. But, honestly, awkward and disturbing are two things I find to be entertaining, so at least these cafes have less of a chance of being totally boring. Maybe I'll steal Samantha Jones' (Sex and the City) "Starfucks," but instead of a brothel full of hot men, it will be a coffee shop full of weirdos (like me) discussing sex. It could happen.
Circling back to the topic of death, I will leave you with Caitlin Doughty's TED Talk about the business of death and how much our culture's relationship with the dead has changed over the past century. She encourages us to be involved in caring for the dead, and not just through grieving. According to Doughty, "Death is not an emergency. You can take the time to sit with the person, hold their hand, tell stories." In closing, she says that "There is a gorgeous reality when you allow yourself to be closer to death." Hmm. I'd like to chat with my funeral home homies and get their opinion on all this. Until then, I will continue to wonder and won't fear the reaper. Or at least I'll try not to.
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!