Ohana

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Hi All,

Long time no talk… A few entries ago, I posted a short story my younger brother wrote, it was amazing.  Had lots of feedback from readers how incredible it was, and amazing a 16 year old rat wrote that, lot’s of people couldn’t wait for the next thing from Brody.  Well, I’ve been begging him ever since as he get’s my website hits up.  He claims he is working on another piece with words, but he threw a curveball at me again and sent me these pictures that he drew, and painted.  Have a look (see below).  Remarkable again.  Had no idea the kid was an artist with words, and images.  Very talented.

This blog has provided me many things in my life, it’s provided me solace, happiness and a sense of worth, and some feeling.  But, almost as importantly, it has brought me a stronger relationship with my brother, and taught me of a deeper connection.  We, of course, as brother’s will always have a tight bond, and when you start to count some of the stuff we’ve had to overcome together as brothers, and as a family, that bond is always strengthened, and will always be there.  We’re both wired very similar, and we wage our own personal wars in similar fashions, though likely unhealthy, we often think we can do it ourselves, and we’ll be fine.  Sometimes we are too reluctant to seek help, sometimes dangerously too reluctant.

It’s funny, I remember as kids, though there is a ten year difference between B & I.  I always wondered what is was we’d have in common when he grew up, and what would keep us close like most other brothers you see.  I always thought; hockey, of course.  It’s what I love, and it’s what we did growing up at home.  Mini hockey all the time in the basement, street hockey, I even helped coached one of Brodys novice teams when I was in Gr. 12.  It seemed like the natural course for us.  Connect through sports.

But, now, almost ten years later… at the surface, you wouldn’t think we have much in common, or to connect over other than being brothers.  There’s a wide age gap, Brody is far more masculine than I; he loves outdoors, and hunting.  I don’t know that I’ve ever shot a gun in my life that didn’t fire out Styrofoam darts, and I think my stomach would hurl if I even killed a squirrel.

On the flip-side, I am a hockey, and baseball freak. He’ll sit down and watch the occasional game while we visit, but I know it’s not his preferred activity.  I think for years, I always thought, well what the hell.. this kid brother and I, we got nothing in common.  I loved that he was into different things, I thought it was cool, and it opened me up to things other than a puck, and seamed ball.

But through this blog, I have learned that there is actually so much more that we connect on than a hunting rifle, or a Synergy Si Core.

For better or for worse, our depression.  We’ve both been there, and fought, had days where there seemed like no tomorrow possible.  We’ve both exhausted ourselves fighting ourselves.  We’ve both somehow lived to see another day, to smile another day, and to laugh.  Certainly, if I had a choice… neither him or I would have to live with this illness, and happiness would just come easy for us.  But, that just isn’t the “Courchene” way to do things.  However, it’s has in a unique way I think brought Brody and I much closer together.

Though it’s tough to have your deepest connection with your brother built around your mental illness, it’s brought out so many other things we’ve learned about one another, and been able to share; Art.  Music, words, and now drawings.  As much of a music nerd as I am, Brody is far more knowledgeable about it, plays an instrument, something I always regret not doing, and I am so happy he has chosen to do so.

We share the same passion for music, and what it means to us.  It’s not just a string of words matched to a guitar, it’s not just the bass pounding, or some song about going fishing in your big truck. It’s something far more thorough.

We’ve passed books along to each other of Kurt Cobain, and we have some similar art hung up in our homes/rooms.  Then, you throw the middle brother into it; Kyle and it’s the same thing.  We all have a little Kurt Cobain imagery somewhere in our home spaces.  I think of course… we all love Nirvana, who doesn’t? But, for us it’s more than that…  I remember talking to my therapist about this years ago, that I was freaking myself out with my fascination for Kurt Cobain.  I read tonnes of books about him, had pictures, read online for hours, and went to Seattle basically for a Kurt Cobain tour.  Hung around in Viretta Park for a bit, went to the EMP Museum and took 3,000 pictures.  Amanda had to literally drag me out of the Nirvana exhibit.  When discussing this with my therapist, she said it’s likely Kurt Cobain means more to me than just music,  I am further entwined because it connects me to my sister, because she was a huge Nirvana fan, and that it’s something Jen & I always shared, and can still share.  This made total sense to me, and I think it’s the same thing for Brody, and maybe for Kyle too.  I remember my Dad talking to me about Brody being overly fascinated with KC for awhile too and it freaked him out as well, and I explained to my dad just this, and I think it made sense to him as well.  It’s more than just Nirvana, It’s more than just Kurt Cobain and where he’s from and how he grew up… but, it’s our sister too, and somehow in this weird way that I can’t expect anyone else to understand… but it brings all together.

Beyond the passion we share for music, is writing.  I remember about two years ago, my mom texting me this hilarious story of something Brody said or wrote, something about a house cleaner, I think it was.  I wish I still had this little story she told me, but it was incredibly funny, and clever.  I remember thinking at the time… Man, I hope that kid starts writing.  He’ll be incredible.  Then fast forward to just a few months ago, mom text me “You have to read this story Brody wrote, I emailed it” …  You’ve all read this by now, I am sure, and had that same reaction as me.  Wow.

So while, I spent the first ten years of my younger brother’s life wondering what the hell am I gonna share with this kid, and then forcing hockey down his throat, and longing for us to connect over some stupid sport that I question if I even love anymore… It was all right there in front of me, every day.

We don’t have the relationship most brothers have. It’s hard to say we grew up together, I moved away when Brody was eight years old.  I’ve been home for a summer since, and some weekends.  So things, naturally become a little bit different in our relationship with one another.  Though, we only live four hours away from one another..  we still only manage to see each other a handful of times a year, this is sad when I actually think about it, and write it out, but it’s the truth.  I’d love to spend more time with him, but the same could be said my Kyle, and really, all of my family.  I really would.  But again… just that crazed “Courchene” way.  Together though, Brody and I have been through more shit together than one can imagine is fair for anyone’s lifetime, let alone a pair of brothers 27 & 16.  But, somehow it’s all helped form this unique relationship we have, that I truly believe is as strong as any despite the distance in age, and despite the distances we live.

Though it’s tragedy and darkness.  It’s kept the four of us together. Through the places we’ve come from.  Through where we are today, and how we got there.  Through the music we listen to, and share to connect and feel closer to those we’ve lost.  The war we face every day with ourselves.  Through the words, and images we compose just to try and heal ourselves.

It may be pretty, and it certainly isn’t glorious, or ideal… but it’s brought us here, in a unique, weird, “Courchene” way… it’s kept us all forever entwined.

 

Ohana means family.  Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten. 

Ohana.


Take a look at these drawings and paintings Brody put together.

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What Makes You Happy?

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What Makes You Happy

 

I haven’t written in a long time, part of me felt like it was maybe because I’ve been doing better. I haven’t been feeling as depressed. My life had seemingly come together, even if just the slightest. I always told myself that when hockey ended, I was going to become an author, a literary wizard; I was going to write every day now that I had a bit more time. Well, hockey’s been over for about six weeks, and I am just starting to write at 10:56PM Easter Sunday.

Sure, I’ve been busy with things in the meantime, but if anyone knows me, busy, is not an excuse. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the means to do it. Busy doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not because I don’t ever do anything, in fact, that’s probably quite the opposite. I probably have more going on than most folk. Actually, I could almost guarantee that. I just don’t feel the need to let everyone know how I preoccupied I am. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. It makes me sick when people say they are too busy.

Why? I remember years ago, my sister tried to chat with me through Facebook, through simple Internet chat… and, I recall looking at the messages, the message read something along the lines of hey, call me when you got some time, want to know how college is going. I looked at it, thought, meh; I’ll call her later… I am busy. I never called her. And, I don’t know if I ever talked to her again. She committed suicide a couple of months after, and I’ve never been too busy since.   So when people tell me, they are too busy. It doesn’t sit well. At all.

So, to say that I haven’t been writing, because I have been doing well, or because I have been doing poorly… I don’t even know the answer. Sometimes life has a tendency to just happen, and just leave me trapped in the motions that I just can’t comprehend the appropriate emotions, and feelings.

I know that writing provides me with the single most joyous experiences of my life. So, you would think it’s easier to do so. But… for some reason, it’s been getting more difficult, and for the first time, I feel like my writing is actually good. In the past, all I did was write about how I felt. That’s it. There was no scientific method to it; there was no English specialty behind it. Simply, just how I felt. I have such a difficult time re-reading my pieces, for a variety of reasons… mainly because I feel such a huge disconnect with the person who wrote that very piece, but also because… I think it’s shit. I looked earlier, and I have posted 47 entries to GAB. This being 48. I can honestly say that 1 was of quality, Your Move Chief. So, as much gratification as writing brings me… I don’t know if it’s from the actual writing, or the feedback. As pathetic as this may be, I seek so much approval, and accreditation, from… whomever, predominantly from my mom, and from my fiancé…. It’s pathetic, if I don’t hear anything within a day or so, I am texting those two asking what they thought… It drives me crazy that I do this. But… I do. And, I can probably recap every single compliment, or piece of positive feedback I have received from my blog. There is truly nothing, and I mean NOTHING more gratifying than when I hear about people who have read my blog, and find comfort from reading. Whether, I know them or not. I spend so much time wanting to write, then I spend such little time actually writing, and I conclude with spending even more time looking for approval on my writing. From, my family… my fiancé… my best friends… my friends… strangers… When, I receive this, it’s pure happiness. Joy. Elation. You know that feeling where you just can’t wipe that smile off your face. This is the only time I’ll feel it. So you’d think I’d write more, with this being the case. But, truth is… I think I have become a bit scared. My unrelenting life standards have once again trapped me with failure. Where, I need simple accolades. However, that’s slowed down significantly. I don’t know if it’s because my writing has gotten stale, or the content has. Or maybe, I am just without the random viewers from Europe. Or, perhaps, the people who have already graciously patted my back don’t feel like they need to tell me good job every single fucking time. Though they shouldn’t. However, I feel like, unless I get that… I am failing. I want to know what every single person thinks of my writing, even if they think it’s complete crap. I just want to know… because; I think it is too, I can’t even find myself appreciative, and satisfied with my own work.

So, in getting to the point of this entry… the great folks at Mind Your Mind proposed the question, what makes you happy? I thought about it for a long, long time. There are so many things that I enjoy, so many. But, to label them as something that makes me completely happy would likely be false. I think at any point, doing makes me happy. Regardless, of what it is that I am doing. I think sometimes you can find temporary joy in that, and I do. But, I tried to really think of something that makes me truly happy. True joy. I almost couldn’t think of anything, till I thought about writing, then I thought about all of the positive feedback I have received over the two years, and the people I have been able to help, if even just to help them temporarily. This has brought me pure joy, and continues to do so. It’s the only thing that allows me to feel self-pride, and self worth. Regardless, of the success I have at work, or in coaching sports, or my daily life even. I always seem to be stuck wanting more, and eventually get a place where good just isn’t good enough. But, with writing, that’s different. Even, if I receive two notes about my latest post, to me it was a success, and it provides that feeling. That feeling where I can’t stop but smiling, even if it’s a random stranger at an arena that says, “hey, you’re the guy that writes that mental health blog” … Yes, I guess so. These are the things that keep me ticking, and continue to remind me just what it is to feel joy, and to feel good.

You just hope that somehow you can find a way to enjoy, accept and appreciate your own bravery and work. Sometimes there is just far too much pressure on writing purely for the audience, and hoping to help them find joy, and hope. I need to find my own first.

Rest easy, and rest happily Max. I hope you can still find some time to read my blog, and I hope that you’ve found true joy.   I know you and Jen are hanging out as we speak. Listening to music, watching over us, and laughing at us.

My Beautiful Girl

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I wanted to post this yesterday but didn’t have a chance.  Also likely going to take some real flak from the boys for posting this; soft! So I was probably delaying that a little bit too!

Keeping things with Valentines Day, and in a week or so will be the 11 year anniversary since I asked Amanda to go out with me. Thankfully, she said yes.  We’d be 12 years but she said no the year before!

Anyway, I wrote this letter for her a couple weeks back when I was heading home from Hawaii without her.


It hasn’t been more than thirty minutes since I last looked back, and waved goodbye. I finished my tour of anxiety through security, looked back to you, and waved. You immediately waved back. I could see the excitement in you that I had looked back to see you one last time. I made my way up the escalator, and I hoped I’d see you once more; I didn’t want to lose sight of you.  You must have left, and then it hit me. You were gone, and I was going the other way. We were apart. In most worlds, and most relationships, I think people look forward to four days of alone time, and there isn’t likely to be a person who loves their alone time more than me. But this time… it hurt me. I don’t know why. I think every time I am not by your side, I am so afraid that it’s the last time I will see you. The last time I will see happiness. I think one of the things that people go through when they suffer from depression is, though they may have moments of happiness, and elation… It doesn’t always last, and when it’s gone, it’s heart sinking because you always feel like that may be the last time you’ll feel that joy again. That’s how I am every time

You have this weird way of allowing me to be happy, to have fun, and to feel like everything is going to be just fine. Even if in the moment, it doesn’t seem like it will be. I used to always be so hard on myself, expect so much of myself, that it was nearly impossible for me to ever find happiness. I blamed myself for every little thing that went wrong, things I couldn’t even control; I found a way to make it my fault. I lost all sense of hope, peace and completely lost all hope of happiness. I can remember that time I was really at rock bottom and you went miles above your call of duty to ensure I was ok. After talking to the psychiatrist about how I was feeling, I remember her coming back into the room. I was ready for her to tell me I needed to be locked up, or kept overnight because I was crazy, or something was wrong with me. She didn’t say the former, or the latter. She just said, I think he is just very, very sad. She could not have been more correct. There was no need for this significant diagnosis, exams, or medications. I wasn’t going to hurt myself, or hurt anyone. I didn’t want too. I was just simply, or complicated-ly…sad.   At the time, I never thought I could lean on you the way I have learned how to now. I didn’t want to hurt you, let you down, or feel vulnerable. I was afraid of that. I thought I could deal with my despair independently. This led me down a path I wish to never return. Using alcohol as a crutch. I’d drink, and drink, drink some more and continually party. I knew that this wasn’t making me any less sad, or any happier. It was temporary relief, where I would simply forget my sadness for an evening, only to awake to a stronger never-ending mountain of grief. This wasn’t working. Most people would have left me on my own after the pain I had caused you, all of it completely unfair to you. Though, through it all, you never budged, you never gave up. I am sure that it must have been extremely hard on you. Nights I was out partying and you had no idea where I was, what I was doing, when I was coming home, or if I even was. I’m sure I caused you many long, sleepless and emotionally drowning nights. I am certain of it now. For that, I cannot apologize enough, and I cannot thank you enough for never losing hope and faith in me. You somehow always found something in me I could never find in myself.

When I started to realize that the crutch I was using was only digging me deeper into darkness, and I decided enough was enough. I needed to find help, elsewhere. You had longed for me to enter the PAS program at the hospital, and try it. Finally, I did. And, throughout my weekly sessions for eight months, I learned so much about myself; I think I gained so much strength in those eight months. I learned different ways to channel my sadness, and try to turn it into something else, I learned that it’s ok to sometimes feel like nothing, to sometimes feel as if you’re mental space has completely died, yet your still moving physically. I learned that it’s ok to feel vulnerable, and for years, I was mortified of this. It was ok to feel weak, and to have those around me know that I was weak, and that I was hurting, and it was ok to lean on your for help, and for strength.

I don’t know what the real turning point was in those eight months that have led us to today, but I keep thinking back to that exercise I completed in therapy where I had to write you a letter explaining why I had a difficult time leaning on you. I’ve always been better with writing my feelings down, than I have been verbalizing them. We know that. Yet, I was so scared to give you this letter. It took three weeks. Finally, I did. I had never been so nervous in my life. I was afraid I was going to hurt you. I had no idea what to expect from you in response to this letter. I watched your every move as you read the pages I delivered to you. My mind raced, attempting to analyze your every thought. Finally, you finished, looked me deep in the eyes, and told me we’re ok, hugged me, gave me a kiss and told me that you loved me. You didn’t get upset. You didn’t shut down. You didn’t try to dig for more. Your response was everything I would have envisioned in a perfect world. And, at that very moment, I think you made me truly feel like everything was going to be ok, no matter how weak I was at the time, or at anything… or how much I was hurting. You were there for me.

Fast forward to today, as I make my way home on my own. I looked back to see you one last time as I rose up the escalator… and it hit me. You are truly everything to me. I am heart broken to be away from you even if for a few short days. It sounds pathetic, but it’s true. I have finally found peace, strength and happiness alongside you, and being able to confide in you has provided me with a life of joy that I could have never imagined.

I can’t wait to be home with you again.

I love you, my beautiful girl.

Pigeon Camera – When Dreams Happen

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If you’ve been following along my blog for some time, you know now that I love music.  I am always listening to music, reading lyrics, watching concerts…etc.  Growing up it was a big thing in our family.  The second thing you might know, is every now and then I have dreams of which my sister is in.  Sometimes so vividly, I can see that she is happy, enjoying herself.  I believe this is her way of telling me she’s better now, and that things are going to be alright.  I wish I had these dreams of her more often.

A few of these dreams I’ve had with her, I’ve really tried to keep with me, and revisit them often. Just to see her smile, and to see her laugh.  Sometimes I’ll ask her before I go to sleep how she’s doing, and to visit me soon in my dreams.  Hoping that I’ll see her again.  One dream I had with her in particular, I can recall almost every little detail, and have still images of this dream as if were some kind of photograph.

We were in a dark room, presumably some kind of pub.  Looked just like the Crocodile Pub in Seattle; my favorite place on the planet.  Jen loved Seattle, I often wonder if she got to go there.  Anyways.  Ahead was a small wooden stage lifted about a foot off the floor.  The stage, well-lit, sat in front of a small circular table that my mom, my sister and myself sat at in high black bar stools.  I can even remember the order of which we sat.  Mom was in the middle, Jen to the left, me to the right.  We sat, and laughed, all we did was laugh.  Jen looked just as I remember, she just looked… happier.  In front of us, on the stage performing was the Tragically Hip, complete with Gord Downie’s usual performing antics that make them such a phenomenal show.  It just seemed so real.  They just played, and played, while we sat at our grungy round table laughing, embracing the show in front of us…. and they just kept playing.

The Hip have always been a band that we listened to as I was kid, and growing up, I mean… who didn’t?? As I got older, I realized that my mom was more often right than wrong in her choice of tunes, and I learned to appreciate some of the bands she forced on me more and more.  Today, I love them all.  Music was something that we could all share together as a family, and continue to do so now as Brody grows up and learns to appreciate real music.  I remember always talking about music with Jen, wanting to look through her Roots CD wallet, see what new albums she had, or what she was listening too.  I’d try to trade her some of my discs for hers, or if deal was declined, I’d just try sneak away with the ones I wanted. Borrowing!  I must have gone through that CD Wallet five thousand times growing up.  That very same CD wallet is one of the most cherished items that I now have. It sits in my bookshelf, with all of her CDs still in place.  I’ll take them out, listen to them occasionally, and they go right back in the exact sleeve I found them.  I take care of this thing, more than I take care of anything else that I own.  For years, I wouldn’t put it near anything else, in fear that it would lose the scent of her.  I can remember yelling at Amanda after she moved in with the rest of the photo albums and such on the bookshelf at our old condo.  She asked why, and I didn’t want to tell her, I think I just said “Because!”  One of the other things I have of hers is the “Hipeponymous” box set, which I treat as if it were a million dollar item as well.  These two things that I have of hers, to me are as important as the pictures, and the memories I have of her, and more important than pretty well anything that I claim to own.

I’ve been to a Hip performance once before; Stampede Roundup.  However, I stuck about 300 yards back, and could hardly see a thing, or hear.  So to me, I don’t count that as really seeing them, cause, well… I didn’t.  Thus, The Hip have long been on my concert bucket list.  I’ve been fortunate enough to attend countless amounts of shows, and have seen many of my favorite bands.  However, none of which were shared with Jen.  It’s something that I think about every concert I go to.  Man…  I wish you were here.  I think this is probably what led to the aforementioned dream.


Last night… My brother got to enjoy his first real concert, and I got to knock one of the bucket list.  Mom had taken us to a show.  The Tragically Hip.  Brody. Mom. Me. Empty seat.  Just as we sat in my dream.  Beside me was probably the only empty seat in the first two levels of Rexall Place.  I thought nothing of it. Great, more space.  The show went on. Few songs in…”Pigeon Camera”  My favorite Hip song.  I didn’t expect to hear this one, not realizing he was going to play the entire FullyCompletely album.

Over there that’s my room
And that’s my sister’s
And that’s my sister
With something we could no longer contain

At that very moment, it hit me.   That dream came back to my mind, as vivid as ever.  I glanced over, and realized.. Brody, Mom, Me… Just how we sat in my dream.  Then, the empty seat beside me… Jen.  She was there.  Right beside me.  Pretty well the only empty seat in the building.  I started to laugh.  Couldn’t believe it.

My dream had come true


As I drove through the night, and early morning hours of this morning heading home, I was absolutely just gleaming.  I had my iPod playing, on shuffle… I have about 700 songs or so on this iPod.  You know when you have the shuffle going, you really always quietly hope to hear a couple different songs, then they never come on, so you get frustrated and then just search for it.  Well, I was really hoping for this one particular Yelawolf song…  Sure enough, two songs later.  Write Your Name.  I kinda laughed to myself, thought, ha thanks Jen!

Then, nearing Calgary, I thought… Ah, I really hope I get to hear The Year the Summer Ended in June before I get home.   Not three minutes later.  Yep.  I was stunned, butterflies.  I couldn’t stop myself from giggling, and shaking my head.  Here it was 2:30 in the morning.  I’d been awake for 20 hours straight.  Drove to Edmonton and back… and I all I wanted was for this night to continue on forever.  I have never felt Jen’s presence so much.  I could almost see, and hear her.  It was seriously, a dream come true.

For the last six years, all I’ve wished for is a chance to go back, and spend more time with Jen, do things with her I hadn’t done when the opportunity was there.  Nights where I’ve laid in bed screaming for a chance to go back.   Moments where I’ve wished myself sick, and sore.  It was as if I were to squeeze hard enough, I could go back.  Could go back and spend time with her, and share those moments that we’ve missed out on.  Moments like last night.  With everyone.

And last night, It just happened…


February 12, 2015 will go down as one of the most memorable nights of my life.  Thank you to those who were apart of it.  Mom, for taking us.  Brody for coming, and sharing tonight.  I was thrilled when I heard you were coming.  I had no idea.  And Kyle, for sharing some of your evening with us, and planning dinner, and meeting us.

I always laugh when people say this, and consider it to be so cheesy, and ya ya whatever.. but, everything really was aligned last night, just right.

Truly, one of the greatest evenings of my life.

Thank you.

Love, B

Lifetraps – Unrelenting Standards & Failure – Mind Your Mind

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I have really enjoyed writing for Mind Your Mind in the few short weeks I have.  Each week they’ll send out an array of engaging topics, and I go from there.

Last week, I chose to write about the unrelenting standards, and failure lifetraps!  Take a read here, and check some of the other pieces on Mind Your Mind!  It’s a great program, and great site!

 

http://mindyourmind.ca/expression/blog/lifetraps-unrelenting-standards-failure

 

 

Fighting to Survive the Gaps in Mental Health Services

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Last week, I teamed up with a mental health awareness program out of London, Ontario to provide some writing material.  Each week I will be contributing to Mind Your Mind on different topics regarding mental health.  My first article with Mind Your Mind was regarding the gaps that are found in mental health services, and the challenges that come with them.  Below is the article, please read, please enjoy, and if you’ve had a similar experience… Let me know!

Keep following along with Mind Your Mind, as they have some excellent writers on board, and have plenty of other unique things going on!

My first article with Mind Your Mind – Click Below!!!

Fighting to Survive the Gaps in Mental Health Services – Blair Courchene

Hope you enjoy, as always, thank you so much for reading.

Your Move, Chief

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Maybe this is too late.  Maybe this isn’t even relevant anymore.  But, last week we lost one of the finest individuals to grace this planet.  No, not just because he was a phenomenal actor, but because he battled for so long, to bring everyone else joy and laughter despite his own misery, and emptiness, despite his own mental obstruction. He was gifted, courageous, and beyond brave.

Upon hearing the news of Robin passing away, I was upbeat, driving home from engagement photos, and on the radio, as DJ whoever began playing his next techno beat, and the beats of this terrible song faded in, DJ whoever let us know that an icon had passed. But, that was all. Into the techno trance the song went. Instantly, I felt sick. I loved Robin Williams. First thing that came to my mind, was… Is this guy talking about the same Robin Williams that played Mrs. Doubtfire? Like… Patch Adams – Robin Williams? Surely, He’d have done more than just say “oh hey by the way folks before we get to this song…” But, after searching my mind for a few minutes for another Robin Williams, I came to the unfortunate conclusion. Yes. It was… Patch Adams. Typically though, as part of my own constant fight with mental illness, I feel nothing. That’s my usual reaction. Nothing. Emptiness. Even amongst the most tragic events. I don’t usually feel an overwhelming amount of sadness, or despair. I don’t…. usually feel anything. Empty. I try too, but I can’t for anymore than a moment.  But, I felt sad. Abnormally sad, I just had a bad feeling.  I felt connected.  Moments later, I got home… and I think I had already convinced myself I knew how Mr. Williams had passed. I turned on the TV, and it was confirmed. Suicide. My heart sunk, and my stomach twisted immediately. I don’t know how I knew. It just hit me close to home, right away. I just knew.  I felt it.

As sad as it were for me to learn about the news of Mr. Williams, I am not on a personal level with Mr. Williams, therefore, I couldn’t allow myself to be overtaken by the news. I can’t try and feel the same pain that his family and friends feel, I don’t want too. I’ve felt that. But, the hardest part for me in moving on from this one quickly, and not allowing myself to feel anything more than a few moments of sadness was… the rest of us.

I’m not one to follow along to celebrities’ personal troubles. I always believe they are humans alike the rest of us, they just happen to be good at their jobs, and the rest of us care way too much about what they’re doing, and put them under these encapsulated microscopes, and we wait for them to struggle, we wait for bad things to happen to them, and we pounce, we have opinions, comments, we have all the answers to the lives of these robots. As if that’s what they are.

As par for the course, when a celebrity struggles, fights, battles anything. It becomes a global issue for a mere 72 hours. Whether it’s racism, poverty, drugs, crime, physical health, and… Mental health. It’s unfortunate that all of the problems that plague our society are only really discussed at the “trending” level, when one of these robots we hold on a mile-high pedestal is identified with of these issues. Though, I notice this often, I am easily able to just shut off twitter, facebook, TV, radio…etc, and I don’t need to really associate myself with the opinons, and views of “us”… But, this time, I associated myself too close to the matter, and let it get to me.  It was too close to home.

Shortly after learning about the passing of Robin Williams, I posted this…

Devastated by the news of Robin Williams. Too close to home for me. An unfortunate reminder that we can all be victim to mental illnesses. No matter how rich, or how famous, we’re all just human. #RIP Robin Williams.

The response was tremendous, reassuring, almost like people understood this time.  I’ve been talking about mental illness through my social media feeds for a few years now, and I do it without any hesitation now, but I still often am thinking about what other people might be thinking when I do write the stuff.  But, Maybe, just hopefully we’ve had this discussion enough times that we have finally figured it out. We have finally learned that mental illness is real. It is real, it is happening, and it is happening to any kind of person, regardless of pedestal, fame, fortune and power. It does not discriminate, in any way, shape or form. And, Robin Williams is a sad, and unfortunate reminder of this. After posting this, and seeing the responses, I felt better, I felt like maybe we are actually making progress towards accepting mental illnesses, and accepting those who fight this as… normal.

A few days had come and gone, and for whatever reason, I just stayed off of social media. It’s almost as if I knew I was being naïve, and it was too good to be true, so I was avoiding what I was afraid I’d see, and what I knew I’d see.  We have not made any progress. Then, all in the same day, I was no longer able to avoid reality, and avoid society.

Around the same time, my mom had sent me a note that had passed along to her from one of my blogs readers, and she then mentioned to me one of these internet trolls had wrote something absurd about depression, mental illness and suicide being a choice. I just couldn’t fathom it.  Really? Someone could say that?  Really?  I didn’t even really respond, because I didn’t allow myself to believe it. My mom mentioned that she had tried to make this ignoramus aware of their own idiocy.   I remember then, debating with myself. Do I want to read what that troll wrote, and join my mom in letting her know my opinions too, or just leave it because it’ll drive me crazy, and ruin my day.  I went with the latter, but then I opened up my facebook page, and couldn’t believe the comments I saw. Albeit, from an individual that I, and many others hold in quite low esteem, but there behold comments like

“I am sick of the media responses about Robin Williams, he made a choice”

And then equally sized morons commenting

“He had all the fame, fortune, money he could imagine, how could he be sad”

“This isn’t the real Robin Williams we know “

“He made a choice, lets quit talking about him, and talk about the real Robin Williams we know!”

… Are you fucking kidding me? Are you seriously that stupid, and that ignorant? I immediately, had completely lost my faith, once again in our people. Again, the host of these comments, and this discussion is not someone I would trust to tell me the difference between grass and snow, but still, all the more reason he shouldn’t be commenting on these types of issues. I skimmed through the comments at the time, and those four I just typed stick out in my mind like a sore thumb, an engrained image. Nauseating,

  • What choice did he make? To live with an illness that he tried to tolerate, manage and fight for so long that it ultimately became intolerable?
  • Right, So famous people aren’t susceptible to mental illness, just all the other illnesses, they can’t be depressed, or have bi-polar disorder. Not Robin. Not Kurt. Not Wade Belak? Rick Rypien? Derek Boogard?
  • This is the one that really gets me. Who is the Robin Williams that we all know? Is it Patch Adams? Mrs. Doubtfire? Is it Sean Maguire? Those are the Robin Williams we’ve seen, that’s the Robin Williams we’ve come to know. Him in his professional life. Not his personal life. We don’t know the real Robin Williams, this is part of the problem.
  • Again, the problem. Let’s never quit talking about him, his legacy, or his demise. Maybe that will stop the next one.

You haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about

It amazes me that people can be so ignorant, and so oblivious to these things. These people that are writing these comments, are the exact reason that people like myself, or people like my sister, or Robin, or Kurt Cobain couldn’t feel like they had the power, or strength to talk about their mental illness. These are the people that make the rest of us feel trapped, feel powerless. These are the people contributing to the stigma that perceives mental illness as negative and shameful, something that isn’t real, something made up. The reason these illnesses get so intolerable that, suicide becomes the only thing left, are these people.  It doesn’t take many of them to eliminate any chance of a platform allowing us to comfortably talk about mental health issues.  If only Robin Williams, or Jen could talk about their fight without any fear or repercussion like these internet trolls, maybe they wouldn’t have felt so entrapped, felt so isolated, so scared, they wouldn’t have felt their illness was so intolerable, and then they’d still be hear making both of us laugh today.   But, instead we attack Robin Williams daughter Zelda on twitter, because we can. Because, we can hide behind our keyboards under our fictional internet name,  and our poor grammar, because it allows us a platform to say the cruelest of things without any worry of repercussion. it’s easy, and nothing will come of it. This is where we put our energy, instead of constructively talking about how we can make mental illness an acceptable illness, like anything else… and understand it is not a choice.

No one chooses to struggle with depression. I don’t remember a morning in my life where I decided I wanted to be depressed, I don’t remember a morning in my life where I thought about my afternoon, and thought, ya, around 2:00 after I have lunch, I’ll try kill myself, because I feel sad today.  This isn’t how it works. It’s not a choice, and it’s not just a shitty day where things aren’t going right, so you decide to mop around at home. It’s not just a crappy week at work.

It’s feeling absolutely nothing, feeling empty, it’s not feeling sad, it’s not feeling happy, it’s not feeling real. It’s failure, it’s feeling complete failure regardless of accomplishments, it’s anxiety, it’s denial, it’s worrying, it’s fear, it’s feeling minute, it’s irrelevance. It’s not a choice. It’s “you’re always afraid to take the first step, because all you see is every negative thing ten miles down the road” It’s real.

 

It’s not a choice

&

 

It’s not your fault

Rest in Peace Robin Williams.  Say hi to Jen for me.

Remember When We Were Young…

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It’s been awhile.  A long while, but a good one.  I can’t recall last time I wrote here.  But, whenever it was last, things have gotten a lot better for me.  In the summer, I began going weekly to a therapist to just talk, this has never worked for me in the past trying this experience, but for whatever reason, this time it’s been great.  It’s been more than just me talking and the stranger across the room writing down notes about how nuts I am according to the books they’ve studied in school.  She listens.  Doesn’t judge.  Isn’t arrogant like the rest of them.  And, we work on things, we do different activities to help with what is dehabilitating to me, and it’s working.  I think that in addition to some other contributing things,  my life seem’s to be getting back on track.  My last session with my doctor, she asked me since you’ve been coming here in the summer, if there was one word you could use to describe your life now, that you would have never said then… What would it be.  It didn’t take me long to come up with the answer.  Easier.  Everything just seems easier, even when things are bad, dealing is just easier.  Easy & Yellow.  I don’t know yellow.  Just a color that comes to mind, things are brighter.  In the past… When I would think about my life, the only colors I’d ever see were dark grey, black and navy.  Now, Its vibrant colors.    And, to further prove that things have been getting better…  It’s now May 4th, and I have just now been hit by the fact that it’s May 4th.

For anyone who has followed this blog, or knows me well enough… Spring is the most difficult time of the year.  I am very short tempered, very standoff-ish, alone, very, very, very sad, disorientated sometimes and likely extremely difficult to deal with.  Usually these things will come and go for me from April till May 7th, and even a few days after.  May 7th.  The day my sister took her life, and my life, all of our lives forever changed.

This year has been different, I sauntered through April without any problems.  I knew this week was coming, but it didn’t take me long to shake it off, and look at it as a day we celebrate Jen’s life, and our memories together. It even sometimes brought a smile to my face.  There were times I almost felt guilty that I wasn’t being crushed by the approaching day.  Had I gotten over it? Had I moved on?  I hope not… What does this mean?  Often times, it was confusing… but, it wasn’t hurting, So I kept on.  …Till this weekend, I started thinking about it more, and more. What am I going to do? Go home? Spend time with family? friends? Or, stay in Calgary, spend it with Amanda? Friends? What the hell do I do…. Or, do I just begin to treat it like any other day. Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat. Watch Playoffs. Go to Hockey. Come Home. Go to Bed & Repeat.  Because, at some point in my life.  I will need to treat May 7th like just another day, because unfortunately, though I feel like it should, and I feel like it sometimes does.  The world does not stop on May 7th, for me or my family. It continues going. People go to work. Business is done as it is any other day.  Maybe I should just join back in, and not make a big deal out of Wednesday.  Maybe then I will get through the day, I’ll be busy, and I’ll forget.  I’ve began thinking about so many different scenarios, and possibilities about Wednesday. I’ve beyond worked myself up about it, once again… Though at least, on the bright side I suppose it’s only five days in advance I’ve done this, instead of 6-8 weeks like the previous years.  Well, as you can imagine… I came to no conclusion. I’d think long and hard about what to do, and then I’d begin to get standoff-ish, cold, irritated and difficult to be around so I’d try and shake myself.  And, again I was able to snap myself out of it and get back to reality.  Wondering if it was really going to be this easy this year.  I really hadn’t lost it, or completely fallen apart yet.  Was I going to survive this time? Or, am I getting blindsided somewhere soon.

Then today…I don’t know why today.  I woke up, I felt good, I even had a great sleep, and slept in. I was even going to leave to leave the house and go get groceries, which, was a feat considering the last week or so, only time I leave the house is for work, or hockey.  Anyway.  The morning continued on as any other…  I had brunch, sat down watched some VICE, talked to mom and then a buddy about planning a little boys weekend this summer in Sylvan Lake…   Ironically, the exact same thing I was doing the afternoon I found out Jen had passed away, with the same person.  Though, at the time I, of course thought nothing of it. I was excited. Great Sunday ahead. Finished off my episode of VICE, set the PVR for the Hawks/Minny game and set out to Save on Foods! What a day.

For whatever reason.. As I parked, and was leaving my truck, I thought hey, let’s take my iPod and headphones while I cruise the aisles.  Great idea.  I actually enjoy the monthly trip to the grocery store, I am a fantastic grocery shopper. I buy all the fantastic shit Amanda won’t buy.  The kebobs, the shrimp, the lobster tails, the salmon, the beef jerky, the cool labelled  BBQ sauce, funky pizzas… Cool stuff.  So, early on I was having a blast… Take out my earphones to grab a couple spolumbos and kebobs from the deli fella… And, boom.  Now I know exactly why I brought my headphones in.  One of my worst fears was on the speaker. There are a few songs I absolutely can not and will not listen to unless on my own terms.  I will do anything I can to remove myself from wherever these selects beats are going.  Wild Horses. Adia. Angel & the one playing…  I Hope You Can Dance – LeeAnn Womack.   Ah, fuck. First though that came to mind…  Why in the hell would they play this song at a grocery store… I would bet my life, there is not a single person who enjoys listening to that song, or is happy listening to that song. No. It’s fucking devastating.  Thank God, I had my headphones. I threw them back on, grabbed my kebobs and got the hell out of there as if the deli man was the one trying to break me with that song.  No way.  You won’t do this deli man! And, I literally sprinted away from the deli counter and down a different aisle.  Fortunately no one was really around to see this.  So I parked the cart.  Took a few deep breaths, turned up my music and tried to carry on.  I could feel my stomach start to twist, my throat swell up, and my hands start to tremble. I stopped again and had a little chat with myself…

“No… You’re fine kid. Not here.  You can’t here! We only have 3 things on this grocery list, and have only gone down 1 aisle, and you’ve ran down one so we’ll need to cruise again to grab bacon bits… Settle down… Deep breaths… 1….2…..3…. We’re alright. We’ve made it this far. Don’t break.  1….2….3….  Ok, I’m good”  I think.  Pfew.

I took out my phone to make it look like I was waiting on someone, or looking for something so I was less of a spectacle for those passing by.  And, All I got out of looking at my phone.  May 4th.  3 more days. Fuck.  My hands started to tremble a lit more.  My stomach knotted a little tighter.  Breathing was a little more difficult.  I was losing it.  I could feel myself starting to tip over the edge. It had hit me.  It’s 3 days away.  Thoughts of Jen started racing through my head.  Memories of her, and then What was Jen feeling like May 4th, 2008.   Was she grocery shopping?  Was life normal?  What was she doing?  How was she feeling? Were there any signs of what was coming? Did she know what was coming? Can I go back and stop this? Can I stop her? No. It’s too late. I am 6 years too late.  Why did this happen. Why is THIS happening. Why am I here. In the middle of Save on Fucking Foods and I am losing it.  I am losing it. Yep. We’re losing it.  I’m  a mess.  What the hell do I do now.  Do I leave? Do I quit? No. We have no groceries, and I’ll have to just come back anyways.  Soldier on Kid. Come on.   So I tried.  Each aisle was harder than the last.  I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t read what the hell was on the list and then remember what it was by the time I stopped looking at it. I even caught myself going down the same aisles multiple times.  Just circling them.  Taking laps aimlessly.  A complete zombie with a grocery cart.  I looked down and avoided eye contact with anyone.  I thought maybe they’ll see my weakness, see that I am losing it right now, laugh at me, think I am a nut.  It was humiliating.   I couldn’t believe this was happening.  Here. Right now.  Really? I just needed to get home.  I did the best I could getting all I needed, and getting the hell out of there.  Usually, I’ll peruse slowly all the aisles and like I said, grab the coolest things.  Not today.  Just get me out there.  Going through the cashier, my hands continued to tremble, my lip quivering, I felt cold, weak, shaky, I was quiet, impatient and avoidant.  I was falling apart at the seams.  The poor cashier.  She was doing a great job, but had I not felt so weak and powerless, I would have just scanned the damn things myself, ripped them out of her hands threw it all in my cart, yelled thank you and darted out of the store as fast I could.  But, I felt far too weak.  So I stood there. Staring into lost space.  Three times she had to ask me Save on Foods points, or gift card?  What? Huh? Me? Oh… Points please.  I could tell the family behind me was getting frustrated with me.  Or, maybe they were just creeped out that when I was staring into space they were in line of my dead gaze.  Finally, I was on my way out.  I was trying my best to run to my truck but I could hardly get myself to move.  My legs felt horribly weak.  I honestly thought I was going to fall over.  I had to lean on my cart as I pushed it to my truck.  And, of course.  I parked at the very back of the parking lot.  Remember… An hour ago, I was feeling great! …  I unloaded everything into truck as fast I could.  I raced to the cart stable, and threw my cart back.  Good Riddance to you, I’m safe! .. Get into my truck, annnnndddd….Nope.  All throughout the last hour I thought I was really falling apart.  The second my head hit the back of my seat.  I had fallen apart.  That was it.  I lost it.  Uncontrollably.  As bad as I can remember.  I didn’t even notice if there were people beside me.  I thought the world had stopped, and it was just me.  It had to have been just me.  Everything kind of went blank, and dark.  Few moments later… Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a family parked two spots down from me, who probably saw this entire debacle of mine.  And thought, what the hell… why are they parked there!  I began to get frustrated, why are you judging me you don’t know what’s going on, Human!   Then I thought same with that family at the till that was clearly getting frustrated with my dead gaze, and my inability to pay attention.  You don’t know what’s going on.  Why are you even here! Isn’t the world stopping.  Leave me alone, judging humans!

On a separate note, I often wish that you could just stick a sign on your back with small details of your story so others could understand why you are maybe struggling, or a little off today.  I think this would be great only if people couldn’t speak, were unable to judge, and WE ALL had these signs.   On normal days, I find the same thing with myself.  I get frustrated with people, all the time…. but, I often forget to think, maybe there is a reason there are out in space today.  Everyone has their problems, and their own story.  It may not be very different than mine.  I don’t know.  That’s why we should all have these signs! …Had I been another person in the grocery store today and came upon myself the way I was… I would have ran my cart head on into myself.  Wake the fuck up, or go home.  If you can’t handle reality today.  Don’t be in it. But, today I was really that person.  I needed the sign.  Don’t kick me. Please.  I am already down.

I could not get home fast enough.  Thankfully I only live a short way away from the grocery store, because surely I was not in any condition to be driving at the moment.  I was driving just as I were walking, and cruising the grocery store.  Just lost.  Empty. Blank.  I can remember driving out of the parking lot, but I don’t remember the rest of the drive.  Even thinking back now and it was only a couple hours ago. I remember leaving the Save on Foods parking lot… I remember parking my truck at home.  The in-between.  No idea.  Poof.  I had landed at home.

Never ever have I been so relieved to get home, have a drink of water and just breathe.  I felt like I had just gone through a marathon.  Maybe I had…  A mental one albeit.


Now that i’ve somewhat pieced together all that had fallen apart awhile ago, I still continue to be held together by a thread, and I imagine I will for the next week.  Standoff-ish.  Avoidant. Cold. Irratible. Impatient. Empty. Blank. Zombie.   It’s the most difficult week of the year for me, and for my entire family, for obvious reasons.  I really thought this year was going to be different, and it was going to be easier.  but, I suppose it’s not going to be.  I am more confident in my ability to get through the days alive, I wasn’t so much in past years.  I know I will get through this year.  But, beginning this morning, apparently… this is and will be the longest week, these will be the longest, hardest and darkest days.  Even as I sit here and write this on a Sunday afternoon… My hands are shaky, My attentiveness is limited, My body feels weak, I feel sick, my stomach feels knotted, and empty.  I feel like something has been lost, like something is missing. Something is missing.


We lost Jen on May 7th, 2008.  That’s a long time ago.  But, for me it seems like it was only last week.  It seems like only this winter I had visited them in Victoria we hung out, walking along the pier in Sidney, arguing about Hockey Vs. Basketball, playing playmobil, trading CDs.  Talking about our lives when we grew up, and what they would be like.  Never did we say they would be like this.  Never did we say that I’d be sitting here one sunday afternoon writing, and weeping about the very moment we are sharing.  I never ever thought about that.  Never.  She talked about having a family, and what she was going to name her kids, and I thought they were the worst names ever.  I talked about hockey.  Everything about it.  We talked about going to Hornby Island.  When we played playmobil when we were young, we had a huge island piece that we often pretended was Hornby Island.  We talked about all kinds of things.  Hell, we even fought, and we argued about all kinds of things too.  But, we never stayed mad at each other for so long.  I looked up to her like I’ve never looked up to anyone in my life.  She was my hero.  I wanted to be just like her.  I didn’t know at the time she was fighting her own monsters the way she was.  But, looking back now, I applaud her for the strength she had going on, and she did a darn good job of soldiering on.  She did such an amazing job of never letting the way she felt inside, effect the way she treated others.  At least around me, and my brother.  I never knew she was that hurt. I was young, and naive but I always thought she was happy, she had fun, she was popular, had lots of friends.  I can remember her having parties in Victoria, and I so badly wanted to be apart of them. I so badly wanted to be friends with her friends.  Looking back now… I was that really annoying little brother that wouldn’t go away, and wouldn’t leave his big sister alone.  But, she was always so patient, kind, and nurturing.  She’d introduce me to her friends, all these girlfriends of hers that I fell in love with instantly.  I can remember everything.  I can remember thinking I can’t wait to be Jen’s age and have friends like her, and have fun like she has.  I just didn’t know she was hurting so bad inside.  I wish I had, maybe I could have helped. Maybe I could have done something.  Maybe I did help. I don’t know. But, maybe there was more I could do so that we could still share those same memories, and instead of me writing about them, telling them to all the strangers on the internet who will read this… I could call her, hey! remember that time Jen… Haha, yea. I’m sorry I was such a turd.

But… Now we are where we are, and these are only just memories, memories that I have, and the only ones that I have.  We can’t create anymore.  There are only these.  That’s the hardest part sometimes.  These images in my mind, are all that I have left.  I wish I could just hear her voice. I forget what she sounded like.  I forget her laugh.  Sometimes I have dreams with her in them, and I can remember.  Dreams where she is happy. She is laughing, smiling, and at peace.  I think this is her telling me she is okay now, she isn’t fighting anymore, and that we’re ok to let go and be happy ourselves.  We have too.


If you were lucky enough to know my sister, this week is likely equally shitty for you too… and, I know I say this every year, and it’s easy to say this and a lot harder to do… But, try and let go of the sadness this week.  Think about her.  Talk to her.  But do so with a smile,  and a laugh. Not a bunch of tears.  Grab yourself a Stella, or a case of them.  For each one you have… Tell a story you remember about Jen, or something about her you remember.   Even if you are by yourself, or with a group of friends, even a group of friends who didn’t know Jen.  Tell them a story about her.  Hell, even send me a story about her, or a memory you have.

Send me an email b.lystang@hotmail.com, or text me  any memories you have of her.  403 808 3321.

It will help me get through the week.  And, it will be something we can all keep and put together for Abbey.

Even if you didn’t know Jen, wherever you are, whatever you do on Wednesday.  Have a drink, and please, toast to my sister.   Thank you.

 


 

 

I miss you so much Jen.  I love you.

 

 

Starting Over – My First Christmas

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Starting Over – My First Christmas

A lot has gone since we last spoke on this blog, Amanda and I moved out of Discovery Ridge early in December and into a brand new house in Mahogany.  We’ve been here a few weeks now, and are slowly beginning to get settled in, we have a few more boxes of I don’t even know what left to sort through, but we’ll get there.  The home is beautiful, I couldn’t be happier with it.  We have a lot of work to do in the spring with the yard, a deck and a fence but I am looking forward to all of that.  One of my favorite things about the new house is the office space/2nd spare bedroom upstairs, it’s the one space in the home I am allowed full control of, and I love it!  For those who have read this blog in the past, you know that writing for me is sort of like a ritual, I need music, I need dim lights, I need incense, I need a lot of stars to align to be creative. In a one-bedroom condo, it was difficult to do all of that without being a nuance to someone else.  Now, with the extra space, I am able to get away and do my writing pow-wow more often.  It sounds stupid, but the new home has been much more conducive to my writing.      …I hope I just used that word properly; “conducive” has become my favorite word lately.  My mom will let me know if I used that incorrectly I am sure, haha.

I hope everyone is prepared, and excited for the holidays coming up in a couple of days.  I am a little bit of everything, excited, scared, nervous, sad, the whole works… once again.  Springtime, leading up to the anniversary of Jen’s passing, and December are usually the hardest times of the year for myself, and my family.  This will be our sixth Christmas, and New Year’s without her, and it will be my first real Christmas without Jen.  Scratch that.  Now that I write it out.  I’m petrified.  The year Jen passed away, my mom, Brody and I set out to Cuba last minute, I believe we left Christmas day.  It was the best thing we could have done, cause I didn’t have to see Christmas really at all.  We flew home on New Years day.  Again, it was great cause I didn’t have to see traditional new years back at home.  Years since I’ve been in Hawaii, with Amanda and her family, and last year with both of ours.   That was also great, because you were completely distracted from the holidays here at home.  If we flew out on Xmas day, Terrific, I missed it all again.  If we didn’t, well, it wasn’t as bad cause you were usually so busy preparing for a 2-week trip to Hawaii that you didn’t really notice it as much.  And, in Hawaii, sure we still celebrated Christmas, we had dinner, exchanged gifts, said Merry Christmas.  But we did so in our shorts and flip flops, in 28 degree weather, at a Hawaiian pub.  It wasn’t real.  The people around were doing the same thing, nothing really changed.  It was wake up, coffee, newspaper, breakfast, and beach and then onto some activity, everyone did the same thing there, you never really saw Christmas, so to me it wasn’t really Christmas, it didn’t feel like it at all, new years the same thing.  I was able to avoid it, year after year, and I truly felt as I woke up on January 3rd, or 4th, after the dust had settled, I felt like I had won.  I beat the holidays.  The 3-4 weeks before the holidays, just like the 3-4 weeks before May 7th, you work yourself up so much wondering what it’s going to be like, that you almost psyche yourself out, and that becomes the most difficult part.  When it’s over, and you’re still breathing, you’re still alive… you feel like you’ve won, like you just beat someone in a battle that took nearly a month.  You came out on top.  Christmas and New Years has always been the same thing, Usually around Jan. 3, Jan 4 once it’s all done, I don’t feel like I have to hide from the holidays anymore, I realize that I survived, and maybe, just maybe it wasn’t all that bad.  I feel completely victorious, as you would after winning an exhausting battle, even though the battle is with yourself.

Amanda always calls me the Grinch, jokingly because I am so anti-holidays.  The truth is, I do hate them.  Absolutely.  You would too.  You would hate any time of the year that is as difficult for me as the Christmas holidays, and the spring.  We used to always spend every Christmas together, whether in Victoria, or Vegreville.  Our families would be together, and it was awesome.  Christmas was always one of the few times a year I would be able to see my sister when she lived in Victoria.  I looked forward to Christmas so much.  I can remember our last Christmas break together vividly.  We were going to Joey’s in Sherwood Park for dinner, my mom, my brother, Jen, Abbey and myself.  We were meeting my aunt and uncle for dinner.  I can remember the entire drive to Sherwood Park, I remember the conversations, I remember what everyone was wearing, I remember the weather, I even remember the damn road conditions, I remember bits and pieces of the dinner conversation.  I remember exactly where we sat in Joey’s.  The exact table, and I remember where everyone sat.  What I don’t remember, was really ever saying Happy Holidays to anyone, or saying goodbye to my sister.  I had no idea that would be our last Christmas, I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever have the opportunity to hug my sister.  I had no idea.  It was.  I’ll never go to that Joey’s again.

This is why I hate the holidays.  I’m afraid of them, I want to skip them all together, if not at the very least completely avoid them.  As I mentioned before, I’ve done a bang up job of doing the latter.  But, this year… There is no escaping.  I am here.  I am stuck, I have nowhere to go, I have nothing to distract myself.  I am going to have to finally face the holidays, and it’s already been a struggle.  I can tell since the beginning of December, I’ve just started to become a bit more stand-offish, I’ve been distant, I’ve been tired, not really motivated.  Just feel like you’re in a complete slump.  And it’s not really helping a whole lot at home when we have a tall task of moving going on.  There have been days where I’ve just come home, and I’ve been completely content sitting on the couch with the hockey game on, and doing nothing, saying nothing.  I’m just completely lost in myself, the hockey game is on, but I’m not even watching it.  I want too.  And, I want to help unpack, or organize things, but I just for whatever reason.  I can’t.  A serious case of the holidays blue’s, if you will… I guess.

A few times I’ve drove to work, or to hockey, or to wherever, and I can see Christmas tree’s in the windows of homes, or families building snowmen, or Christmas decorations.  Usually, I’d think that this should make a person happy, excited, or at the least feel good.  For me, it’s as difficult as can be.  Right away I have flashbacks to our Christmas’ together, whether it’s dinner at Joey’s, or we’re all sitting around the tree in Victoria.  Then, I think ahead to what will happen in a week when I am still here, and It’s Christmas, how the hell is that going to go.  Probably not well.  Then, I begin to psyche myself out all over again.

This is why I hate Christmas, Amanda is right.  It’s not because I just don’t like it, it’s because it’s an extremely devastating time of year.  It’s just… hard.

I’ve been thinking for the last month, what the hell am I going to do when the clock strikes 12, and its December 25th.  Now what.  I thought, well, I’ll go somewhere; I’ll go for a drive.  Nope, I can’t do that, because I’ll see it.  I’ll see Christmas, I’ll see families enjoying it, as they damn well should, I just can’t anymore.   I thought, maybe I’ll just hang out, and just write all day, and watch movies, but then I thought nope, I can’t do that cause I’ll put myself right back into that slumping feeling where I am incapable of doing anything else.  I thought, well, I’ll just sleep, I’ll just play xBox, I’ll go skate at the outdoor rink… I have no fucking idea.  I have no idea what I am going to do.  I thought maybe, I’d drive to Vegreville for the day, and just spend the day with my family there… But, nope, that’s far away.  Really, I just tried to avoid Christmas with the family because of 350 Kms?  … This is how far I am starting to go to try and avoid the whole thing.  I don’t want to leave Amanda at home by herself all day on Xmas day, and I certainly don’t think I want the hoopla of Christmas.

I don’t want to take Christmas away from anyone else.  I believe it’s something every family should celebrate if you can, like I said, it was my favorite time of the year. I’ve just lost that now, and I try myself to keep it all to myself without effecting those around me, in my “Grinch” ways.  Like, Amanda for instance.  She loves Christmas, and I want her too.  She want’s to do the gifts, and the decorations, and everything else, which I great but I just don’t.   But, I keep it to myself.

So this year, Christmas for us will be on Boxing day.  We are going to celebrate it, just a day late.  I laughed at that kind of, thought that’s Jen’s way of compromising with me.  Telling me, Kid, you gotta go through this, but I’ll throw you a bone.  Do it on boxing day, not Christmas day.  Have Christmas Day at your own pace.  I don’t know if it’s her compromising with me, or having a laugh, but either way… I am hoping it helps.

On Boxing Day, my mom, niece, and my mom’s boyfriend Alan will come over for dinner, gifts, and… Christmas.  As too will my good friend Geoff, who has been through it all with me from day one of this year never ending grieving process.  I have to admit, In a weird way,  I am kind of looking forward to it.  I am looking forward to Jan 3 more than anything else, and the days to come after.  This entire blog, I shared with my counsellor, told her why Christmas is so difficult.  She mentioned that maybe this is one of the last steps in my grieving process, and the last barricade of an extremely challenging year.   Christmas was always such a special time for me, then I lost that, then I avoided every one of them.  Now this year, I have nowhere to go, but I’ve had all the years in-between to grieve, and to prepare.  I can’t hide from Christmas forever, so maybe this year, is the year I go through it, and I become victorious on Jan 3 when it’s all over, and from there it’s uphill, Christmas is the last thing I need to conquer.

Maybe I am just being too much of an optimist these days… but this year has not really been conducive to my life.

Bring it on holidays, I guess.

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I never understood our weather, or how together life & death must dance.

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It’s been way too long since I wrote last.  Almost 2 months? And through, what is the most challenging time of my life.  The always-dreadful spring.  I did a good job of keeping really busy, and getting myself through it.  Through the anniversary of Jen’s passing.  Through my birthday a few long days later.  And, the days, weeks that followed.

I guess if I haven’t had much to say in my blog the last couple of months, can only mean that things have been good?  Typically I only end up writing when I am feeling… hmm, ho-hum, or feeling like I need let a few things walk from the jar of feelings and emotions that I thrive on hiding.

I’d really like to start writing more, way more.  It’s a lot better for me than playing in the Skully Ferda League online with the fellas.  Haha. I keep telling myself that I’d like to write something every day, even if just a small piece, or a few creative sentences.  I just feel so much better when I am writing.  It’s like working out.  When I do it, I feel terrific after. Always. But, getting me to do it is a whole different story!  … Same thing.  But, if you want to challenge me at NHL 13. Name the place. time. teams. I’m there.

… I could probably use my free time a little better.

It’s almost the end of June? Wow.  I think that’s when I started this blog, was towards end of June, beginning of July of last year.  Or, maybe end of July beginning of August.  Either way, we are nearing a full year of this blog.  It’s been great for me.  Seriously.  The support I have received from my writings have been overwhelming, and absolutely tremendous.  My favorite part of writing, aside from the self therapy it provides, is the next day seeing people that have checked out my posts from all over the place, and the comments that you have all left with me.  I can assure you, I have them all saved, and/or have them all as a screenshot in my iPhotos, and I go back to them when I need motivation, or a pick me up.  Thanks. Maybe it’s only a few sentences, but it means so much.  You have no idea.  I read the comments, and see the views and I spend the entire day giddying like a 5 year old who just scored his first goal. Typically I’m not one to sport a smile, But to have those days where you just can’t stop smiling, and your face in turn eventually becomes sore… Those are the days after I write in this blog, and read all of the support.  Makes me want to do this forever.

Much of this blog, if not all has been related to myself, my ongoing battle with depression, and remembering the life of my sister.  It’s all tough to write, and thus the very-very periodic updates, and I imagine it’s tough to read too.  I never re-read my posts. I go through them once after writing them initially before I post just to clear up some grammatical errors.  But… It’s pretty useless.   Usually I am so emotionally high or low after writing them, that I can hardly focus anyways.  And, secondly… I ain’t to sure of my grammar being worth a shit; so it dont matter anyway.  (… Breathe Mom, I did that on purpose).   But, nonetheless.  I have never re-read any of my posts outside of the initial editing read 5 minutes prior to posting. So, I am very glad you read! 🙂 … One day, I think I will read them.  I think what I would like to do, is clean up each entry grammatically, print them all and put them together in the form of a book.  For myself, for my family, and hell, whoever else!

I think that will be my self-reward for doing this blog for a full year, and pulling myself from my own little hell.  I’m excited to do that, actually.  Maybe I’ll start this week.

One day I’ll read them all.  For now, I am scared to relive what I have already lived & wrote. I think that’s why I don’t go back.  We’ll find out.

NOW HIRING: Someone to fix the grammar in 23(ish) lengthy blog posts!

Maybe in the future too, I will begin writing about other things.  There are so many things I’d like to write about, good things, positive things.  Well, in comparison I guess.  Things that my readers can read without bawling their eyes out… Which, I hope isn’t the sake for everyone.  Really. I hope I have shared a few laughs with you throughout the last little while.

But, there are so many more things I’d like to write about. Again, if you know my weak grammatical abilities, you know that I also am extremely & at times painfully opinionated and am getting more and more strong headed.  Haven’t decided if this is good or not. But, I am pretty sure it will limit many new potential friendships, and relationships.  Which is fine.  I am quite content with those I have. But, I’d love to start writing about other things…

  1. There is hockey, minor hockey, and the massive changes coming there.
  2. There are starbucks baristas.
  3. There is kids. There is parents. There is bubble-wrap.
  4. Boy, is there bubble-wrap.

But, this is all for another day.  Another day soon.

Thank you again so much for all of your support, and reading.

Thank you to those who have messaged me, called me, text me and or kicked me in the ass asking for when the next entry is coming.

Thank you to those who have subscribed and or followed goneawayboys!

Thank you to those who have shared, retweeted goneawayboys!

And, thank you to those who have in any way contacted me about my blog and passed along messages whether it’s to me directly, or through mutual friends.

Some of the nicest things I have ever read are from people I have never met.

Most of all, thank you to everyone who has ever been apart of this, even in the smallest of ways…

You have helped put me back on my two feet.  

Blair