Step 1. #Accountability; “choices”, you made them, own your part in the outcome.

I remember vividly the rainy night I was sitting in my favorite muskoka chair outside, consumed with heartbreak and loss, grieving a recent breakup. All the stages seemingly at once of grief (totally can picture a Bridgit Jones manic episode as I type this out). We all have had heartbreak, it can feel like you’re dying inside, every slow song on the radio torments you, situations trigger memories, I won’t even touch on the self induced torture of deciding “The Notebook” would be great selection to watch during this time. Something else happens…. we’re hurting so badly and loneliness is filling up inside, that we start to romanticise the reality. Suddenly the reasons that were blindingly clear that it wasn’t healthy or sustainable begin to be replaced by the “perfect times”, the loving moments, the memories shared together… oh, hello self doubt, was waiting for you to appear. I could easily go on and on about this – however, good things don’t end. Remember the bad, remember how they made you feel over and over again, remember the tears, the loneliness you felt when they were right beside you… THESE are the realities. Easier said than done.. totally get it, but you don’t “get it” until you’re over it. THEN the “why in the sweet holy hell did I ever stay, no, GO BACK multiple times – knowing the outcome would result the exact same or worse – maybe this time ….. CHILD, NO! Its your heart playing games with your head… its not the “hope” this time it will be different – its fear – of continuing on with how badly it hurts, being alone, the long exhausting process of meeting or even the idea of meeting someone else, they couldn’t ever be like “he/she” was, right??? Thats the point, you dont want them to, it ended for a reason (or multiple). Its plain and simple grief. Its normal, if you werent suffering horribly over the loss, you didnt love them.

This however, wasn’t a “normal” relationship or breakup, where feelings are hurt, possibly jaded… this was an extremely toxic, abusive, demoralising, damaging, constant walking on egg shell based, loaded with multiple traumatic experiences mixed in. I didn’t go back once, I went back 5 times prior. I put my daughters and family through the hellish tormoil and constant worry for me, 5 times prior.

I digress for a moment if I may, soon after the breakup, a girlfiend had recommended a book for me to read that helped her during a marriage ending.. “Why Does He Do That”… I downloaded it to my Ipad and read no more than about 3 pages… “WTF”, WHY am I focussing so much energy even beginning to attempt to try to understand how or why he acted as he had (with a long history of the same behavior to others he “loved” FYI), WHY did I ever not just allow this for myself, I chose… no, contintinued to choose him over an over. What’s wrong with me? If asked, I’m a zero BS, blunt when it comes to advise to others, how can I be so willingly neglegent to my own self worth?

The “superpower” aspect of having an ADHD mind, is that theres hyper-focus, its like having the mental ability to process as if a panel of 8 advisors debating in your mind at once. So, this one raining night while the internal playing of my relationships “Greatest Hits” was going off, so was the “advisory commitee”, my broken heart and sad mind all together at once, when it hit me like a bolt of blinding lightening…. Why am I missing him? Why did I choose anyone to be a part of my life like him? I wasn’t a prisoner or victim of circumstance, I saw the flags 3 weeks in and ignored…. actually, why is my history filled with being drawn to broken, damaged men? Why do I almost starve for dominant males approval to validate me? The “nice guys”, great friends, but have always deemed them “weak” to consider dating, just no immediate chemistry. Hmmmmm… theres a pattern here.

Welcome to the stage – Accountability. I had never ever prior, taken a step back in life and said to myself “ok, well isn’t this a fabulous shit show… how did my choices result to this”. Now, I’m not going to sugar coat it and say the remainder of the evening was pleasant, far from it. We all have little compartmental spaces in our minds for memories… as I began to go back farther and farther through the years, teens, child, baby… instead of reflecting on memories as that age, I observed them through adult eyes. Hidden compartments putting together little flash backs that never made sence suddenly fit together, truth be told, nobody can prepare you for when your authentic story & truth appears, we mature, evolve and gain experience as we get older, however, who we are now – was created from every one of those experiences, life lessons, memories. Its a package deal, our character makeup, from the past to the present. Before I realised it, the sun was coming up, I was raw, hurt, angry, sad – a million other emotions mixed into the melting pot, and didnt speak with my immediate family for just over 2 weeks, explaining only that I needed a little bit of space.

If you aren’t willing to be accountable for your choices which played a part in your life – you’re simply covering issues up with a light layer of dirt… the same cycle will continue.

The UN’BECOMING Truth

Mental Health, for lack of a better description is at a current global #crisis state. #endthestigma, #shame, #anxiety, #depression, #PTSD, #suicide & #addiction, in many cases aren’t because people are sick broken or weak, they’re tired from being strong for too long and are suffering. After taking a poll I posted on #Twitter, 50% say they are suffering in silence due to the fear of criticism, judgement and or possible dismissal from work. The reality I’ve learned for many, is simply this – saying #I’mFine for too long, the load became too heavy and something had to give, their mental health. This is also my personal truth. I’m part of the 80% suffering of those who took the anonymous poll. Currently, 1% of medical funding within Canada is put towards Mental Health. The suicide rate, prodominantly with First Responders is skyrocketing to all time highs. I can say from personal anecdotal experiences I’ll share throughout, its a very broken, weak system with very little accountability and direction from the relevant professionals in the field. A little personal insight, I’m 48, a Self Employed Health, Safety & Mental Wellness Professional, Certified First Aid Instructor, single Mom, on the outside, a positive, happy person with a “great life” – who hid behind the #shame of admitting to mostly myself – that it was just that, appearances. If only Mental Illness could appear on the outside – I ‘d surely have looked like I fell into a wood chipper. I managed to get to my 19th year of marriage, which came to an end, amicably, where the events, choices and experiences began to add up within the 6 years following, much of which resulted in significant anguish and multiple traumas.

It was spring of 2019 after being faced with 3 individual traumas/stressors within an 8 month period, the final one, pushing me off the “edge”, resulting in a severe anxiety attack (literally felt like I was having a cardiac episode – or dying, lasting for hours & into the next day) followed by a deep dark depression and ultimately a complete breakdown of my mental health (I’ve just recently even been able to share this with my parents – apparently I’ve mastered the coping mechanisms to hide behind the smile) I saw my physician, was prescribed medication & secured and have attended recommended therapy. For two months, I barely if ever left the security of my home, completely isolated myself from all friends and family. It was a good week if I decided to simply take a shower. It is only as of very late, I can see a little bit of sunshine through the dark black skies of depression. The reason I’ve chosen to share this insight is as follows; I have always been an advocate for others to speak up with their stories, the non-judgemental listener, advised to consider seeking medical attention for professional help, I shared the posts with the #’s supporting mental health and wellness – the reality is, I felt like a complete hypocrite & was doing exactly what so many others do – submit to the #fear of the #shame stigma. I’ve learned that speaking your personal truths, knocks walls down, it encourages others, resonates with some that “OH MY GOD, someone gets it.. its like reading my own story, I thought I was alone”, its completely empowering! I’m here to tell you that you’re NOT alone. The reality is, I feel anyway, my mind, body & soul – had to completely “power-off” to rest and heal. I don’t know if I could have possibly faced another single challenge during this time, that terrified me, how fragile I became/am. Was all I could muster just to not let my daughter’s home fall apart taking her Mother along with it, I felt grateful that my oldest daughter lives in London, Ontario so I could at least spare her.

I met with my therapist early this week (best decision ever BTW), she asked me what fuels my internal “guage”. My honest answer was – “helping others”. I’m admin. on a private Women’s Support Forum which I take so much strength from, however its intentially small. As soon as she mentioned journalling (which is a big help, just to write thoughts down – even if all you have is one sentence that day, its making the decision and allowing some of the internal chaos – out) It IMMEDIATELY resonated to share my journey on my Blog. It’s win win, I can express openly to help heal myself & even if it allows one single person to feel less “broken” and alone – to possibly allow someone else hope that they CAN get through this, aiding to smash the stigma surrounding Mental Health, be part of the solution, not add to the problem – then HELLO – this seems like a perfect forum.

Following this post, under the title The UN’Becoming Truth, I’m going to share as often as I’m able, my story, broken down into “chapters” as each one is relevant to my breakdown. The story and journey is 100% authentically mine, however, I’m not an academic in this field in any regard, I am however jam packed with real life experience, and my journey back to a stronger, healthier version of myself, along with the tools and methods that aided the process, in the hope to raise awareness – can’t learn that in a text book.

I KNOW, and have learned the hard way, you can’t possibly build a strong future, on a broken foundation. I didn’t truly think a month ago, I’d ever feel “ok” again, and a few really bad days following that, I was just too far gone – BUT, here I am, typing this blog, as effortlessly as fluid, I can validate that this has been hands down the most difficult time in my life, its not cliche’, the words we’ve all heard, that sometimes you truly have to personally hit rock bottom, and then plumet lower after that, before you can begin to rebuild. It WON’T be easy, but I PROMISE that you’re worth it, WE’RE worth it. Minute by minute, thats all it has to be – remembering to look out the windsheild ahead, the rear view – is to look back and learn from, which is also an important part of healing, at least for me, I had to look alllllllll the way back, to understand who I had become, and “UN’Become” that person to make room for who I will be …

3%

I was sitting in my garage a couple of weeks ago, as I tend to do after doing yard work (or during a great rain storm – one of my favourite things), contemplating some tough experiences I’ve had as of late. I saw my neighbour across the street, Ricardo drive past and wave as he proceeded to park in his driveway.

A bit of history… I’ve known Ricardo since moving in to my home a couple of years ago as a single Mom. Middle age, english isn’t his first language, lives with his partner and blended family. He’s self employed as a General Contractor so acquiring his skills with a few “handy man” jobs has been a wonderful asset having him so close by. He is always wearing a smile, offering to lend a hand or offering a kind word. He was open about being part of Alcoholics Anonymous, but more so, his accountability and sincere regret for how it effected not just his own life, but the lives of the ones who love him. Being a daughter of a (30yr sober) Alcoholic/long time member of AA, Dad, Ricardo’s candid, vulnerable honesty proved such a strong reflection to his character, also allowed me some insight and validation I never knew I needed. I’ve literally never heard him utter a single negative word about anyone.

So, on this day… I was feeling pretty deflated and down truth be told. I hear a voice from a short distance calling “hello my friend”… Ricardo appeared from the front of my vehicle, walking towards me with a smile. We spoke our pleasantries and he shared a bit insight to a few issues and snuggles he’s experiencing being a Dad, expressing heartfelt emotion of the difficulties that can surface surrounding watching children grow into their own, becoming young adults (a topic I can relate to as most parents can). I allowed him the floor, so to speak, to vent away as he so wished. He looked at me in silence for a couple of seconds – he then shared that in Dec. 2018, he was diagnosed with incurable, end stage prostate cancer. He put off the signs and symptoms and when he had no choice but to see his Dr. the results came back as they did. There’s no treatment or surgery, he’s being monitored and will be provided with management as the disease progresses, ” I was given 3% survival as my prognosis”. I sat beside him, with an expression I can only imagine was complete shock – I couldn’t even process emotion as I was so completely caught off guard. He said he was still working, but knows he can’t for much longer, he’s staying positive and motivated, pushing himself to get up even on the physically challenging days and chose to not share his news with his family until after New Years Eve 2019 as he wanted what could be his last Christmas with them, to be happy, joyous memories…. again – felt like I had been hit in the stomach with a bat at his complete strength and selflessness. “3% , thats what I’ve been given, to make the most of until I’m no longer able. I hold on to hope, love and my will – thats all I choose to do”. His youngest daughter walked across the street following this – so the tone had to change, we said goodbye… those are the only words I was able to provide him, “goodbye”.

2 weeks had passed since I had seen him outside. I had become almost haunted by the guilt that I hadn’t reached out, walked over, expressed not only concern and to offer support, but to let him know how deeply his words effected me that day. FINALLY, last week I was out watering the gardens one night, “Hello my friend”, carries through the night air in my direction – Ricardo. I see him turning the corner on my walkway wearing as always, a big smile. His first words “I haven’t seen you outside much these days, your truck seldom moves and I have the feeling something isn’t ok in your world, I hope I’m wrong”…. Seriously? He came to check in on me? After all he shared, and heard nothing from me following… My eyes welled up, fighting hard not to allow emotion to take over so I could get the words out, I shared some brief insight into my current situation, his faced dropped and tears appeared in his eyes, I stopped him with; “BUT”… and immediately went on to how he, being so open, vulnerable, honest and positive quite literally ignited something so powerful within me that day in the garage. How truly sorry I was & that I didn’t know how to reach out, as feared possibly triggering upset on a day that may have been a happy one, how evey day following I’ve thought about him & his family, how much I admire him, not just as a person, but as a partner to his spouce, dad and friend. How much strength and courage I take from just knowing him, and how our friendship makes me see things so differently and continues my efforts to continosly become a better, stronger vesion of me. I told him he is a Warrior of Courage and Kindness – that touches all lives lucky enough to meet him – and the upset and worry that I may not have ever had the chance to express these things to him – as I hadn’t seen him to be able to share. Needless to say, the encounter resulted in tears and a long tight hug, he leaned back and expressed “You have NO IDEA how much I needed to hear this today, thank you”. He thanked me??? Literally he changed my entire perspective that one day in the garage, he allowed me a life line I desperately needed at that exact moment – without havng a single idea I was strugglng… but he thanked me?…. once again, leaving me so humbled and blessed to know him.

My point here is this… we aren’t given a warranty, for some of us, our time may be up completely unexpected by simply being victims of circumstance. Here is one Man, given a medical hourglass with the sands filled to 3% – and he is choosing to make 100% out of that 3%. Please, don’t wait to “say” all you want to say, express your love, express how much someone means to you, how they’ve affected your life, allow those you may have wronged the apology they deserve, those who’ve inspired you, possibly from afar, in so many cases, they would have no idea. Don’t wait. Push passed possible pride and fear to make the effort. Regret and guilt are horrible, painful prisons we place ourselves in. Crush the “bars” and own your truth. Don’t save these words and actions for a possible podium at a memorial or worse, never allowing them out. SAY whats in your heart, and ALWAYS, please, let vulnerability, empathy & mostly, kindness, win. It may, just be the lifeline another needs. Proof again, that EVERYONE has a story we know nothing about.

On – Li​n​e Dating 101

Whether you’re a seasoned On-Line dater or debating to jump off the dock into the pond of plenty, here are some tips from others that may help you navigate through the vast open seas.

First and foremost, for whatever reason life has brought you to this place, this is now YOUR TIME. Ask yourself a very important question “Why”. Why have you decided to join whatever site you’ve chosen and what are you looking or hoping to find. Maybe you aren’t certain, these are your perimeters, however, if you’re hoping for something specific, don’t set yourself up to fail right out of the gate. There’s quite literally (and sometimes shocking to be honest) anything and everything out there waiting if you look hard enough. Determining the 5 W’s Who, What, Why, Where and When will narrow the playing field for you.

I’m personally not a fan of serial dating (no judgements if you are – again, your rules) and since my separation 5.5yrs ago, the truth is I may have 20-25 “meets” under my belt, however, I have learned what not to do, or what didnt work for me and countless friends, both male and female who have confided their own experiences. The struggles are real for both sexes. Here’s some insight that hopefully can guide you towards a successful “match”.

Profiling the Profile

PROFILE PICTURES Your profile is now your brand. Decide how you wish to be “seen” and how you wish to advertise yourself. Seriously, it’s online shopping to be blunt, not dating, you haven’t met these countless strangers. First impressions are just that. If you put up half naked boudoir pics or bathroom selfies, sultry duck lips (guys.. SO not attractive on a man – for real, disturbing actually), shirtless Firefighters in bunker gear (LADIES, turn and run!!!!! Unless you want to be another notch added to the fire hose and discussed around the station communal area) I’m a sucker for man in uniform too, however they well know the attention they will receive without even trying, simply because they wear a badge. You will be assumed exactly as you’re promoting. We do attract what we seek. These are immediate hard NO’s for me. Advertise your “product” effectively and honestly. Make sure your pics are CURRENT. I’ve heard and experienced this many times myself. You will be setting yourself up for disappointment and likely hurt if you post pics from 10 years ago and possibly 10-40lbs thinner. Let go of the scraps of your youth and embrace who you are TODAY. Eventually, if all goes well, there will be a “meet” planned. I never call the first meeting, a date as I don’t feel that it is. A date is if it goes well and you haven’t already requested the bill before the first drink is even served (true story). I personally would prefer to be a pleasant surprise and exceed any possible expectations than to cause the surprise and obvious disappointment as I’m nothing as I lead them to believe. Trust me, friends, your personality might be wonderful, but to set someone up in the hopes you’d charm them to like you once meeting, you will be mistaken and they will most definitely be not only hurt but angry that you began this journey with them based on a mistruth. Picture, Age and Location are the first check marks – make sure you’re being authentic and honest, you’ll save everyone’s time. And NO PICTURES OF YOUR CHILDREN – this always blows my mind. Hello people, STRANGER DANGER!

Writing the Profile

Writing nothing comes across like you simply can’t be bothered, and maybe this is the case. If you can’t take the time to jot down a few basic words about yourself, says how much energy you’re willing to put into meeting someone. Keep it simple and for the LOVE OF GOD, do spell check. Again, it’s the little things. A few RED FLAGS; “Not looking for any drama”… I’ve read this countless times. Do you honestly think anyone ever puts “Searching for Drama and Conflict”? Here’s some insight, NOBODY IS. you’re not that unique to this. It comes across like you’ve either been burned or you’ve caused the drama so it seems to follow you. Reads jaded and bitter “cut”. Don’t bring up your previous experiences or mishaps, how horrible your ex is, keep it light, positive, a few of your interests. Showcasing how much money you have, hints of sailing around the world to possibly entice possible suitors – may attract some interest, but what kind of interest? To each his or her own, but if you have to bribe people to spend time with you – well that’s just sad. I’d immediately pass you by as you come across as desperate, not confident.

Remember your profile is the first thing people will see, the first impression. Decide how you wish to be perceived and the kind of individuals you hope to attract. For those paddling through the waters, please remember, not everyone is honest. You truly don’t know ANYTHING about that “profile” you’ve just swiped “right” on. Only what they intend for you to see.

Please be careful out there, open waters can turn tretorous without warning – don’t get caught without a lifejacket and a flare. You won’t know what’s swimming right below.