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.

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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.

 

 

Please… Have a Very, Very Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays – From… The Rest of Us.

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Today…  My heart feels a little heavier, my stomach feels a little more knotted, and today I’ll battle and push just a little harder. 

Today, used to be the day I waited 364 other days for, I’d lose sleep week’s in advance anxiously awaiting today.  I’d stay up late and shake the presents trying to guess what I got for Christmas; I’d stay up late just to try and hang with the adults, trying to be cool, as if they were the barometer of “cool” Today, I’d try do all I could to exhaust myself so tomorrow would come faster. Part of it, I am sure, and I hope is simply growing up, and the fact that I am not 11, or 12 anymore.  But, the other part of it…  Well, life has his own rhyme and reason, I just haven’t quite figure out what it is, just yet.

Today is Wednesday, December 25, 2013.  That is all.  I no longer anxiously await waking up today, I no longer rip down the stairs, I no longer subtly make as much noise as I can so my mom, and Jen get their asses out of bed so we can all be together, and open gifts.  NoToday, I woke up at 8:23 am, rolled over, threw on jeans, a hoody and took out the dogs, then I made a coffee, heavily laced with Baileys as if it were going to knock me back out.  It didn’t, so I proceeded to watch TSN.  No need to subtly make as much noise as I can to wake the household anymore.  It didn’t matter.  Today, I woke up and it was Wednesday, December 25, 2013.  That was all.  I did nothing different than I did on Wednesday December 18th, or 11th, and I certainly won’t do much different on Tuesday, December 31stToday, is just Wednesday.

Still, Today, fortunately I was able to spend all of today with the one’s I love, the one’s I go to sleep with at night, and the one’s I am lucky to wake up beside every morning.  Amanda, Kona and our seasonal dog; Krimson. I wake up next to this trio every day, and I consider being one of the luckiest, today was no different just because of what today is supposed to be.    I was still fortunate enough to have so many great friends and family who sent their best to me today, and wished me a Merry Christmas, knowingly, or unknowingly of today’s difficulty, the salutations were much appreciated.  I was still fortunate enough to partake in the tradition of Christmas Day gifts, as Amanda and I exchanged gifts, hugs, and kisses, and it was special.

But today, our family remains split, and divided, we continue running, and hurting.  In Edmonton, In Calgary, In Victoria, In Vegreville, In Mayerthorpe you will find us.  We try our absolute damnedest to avoid today, to get around it, to ignore that today is Christmas Day.  We try so hard to run from it, we convince ourselves it’s just Wednesday, December 25, 2013, or at the very least we do a damn good job of pretending.  You eventually become so numb to it all, that faking it is no longer really faking it.  It becomes real.  We try so hard to run from it, that we separate ourselves, and we draw further from each other, further from each other, and further from ourselves.

There was no real effort on anyone’s behalf to get everyone together, and celebrate in a unified place today.  I tried to justify 300 KMs as an excuse to why I couldn’t be with everyone. Before we moved to Mahogany it would take me a day and a half just to accumulate 300 KMs.  But, today I couldn’t do it just to be with family.  Deep down, I think I know I want to just try and replace this sorrow, and misery with a bit of normalcy, as much as we can, or at least as much as we ever will.  The only way to probably do that is to be in one place, with everyone and relish Christmas Day, to just fucking do it.  Even if we are forever without one, we are always going to be, but are we going to run forever? … Probably.

I do not mean to drag you down today if you are reading this in-between whatever it is you do on days like today, I do not mean to search for sympathy, and it certainly is not my intention to in any way steal Christmas spirits from you if you are reading.  Merely,  I am once again writing what I am completely incapable of speaking, and sharing verbally, to those who matter most.  Though we likely are all feeling the exact same In Edmonton, In Calgary, In Victoria, In Vegreville and in Mayerthorpe, but we leave the elephant to dance in the room.

Though, if there is anything I can do… though, this may be cheesy, is I will tell you this, and hell do I ever mean it…. Just enjoy today.  Celebrate, and be merry today, for what today is, and for what today is meant to be; Christmas Day.  Do not take today, and the moments that come with it for granted, not for a single second.  Enjoy it all. Soak it all in.

Stop for a second, look around and appreciate what’s around you, even if it is the in-laws, and cousins of their cousins.  Wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, even if you just did, and even if it’s the forty-second time you’ve said “Merry Christmas” today. Mean it more than the last.  Look around again, and tell them you love them, say thank you, and be sincere.

Hold your friends and family a little tighter when you hug them, laugh a little louder today, smile for a little bit longer today, even if it is black socks you just unwrapped out of that gigantic box that you thought for sure was a PS4.  Don’t miss the point.  The point is celebration, the point is togetherness, and the point is family.  For one day, today will just be another day of the week for you, though I hope not for many, many decades, the fact is life can be unruly, cruel, and even more life is unknowing, it can change, it can change instantly, and drastically when you least expect it, and when you’re least prepared.  So let today be very merry, and please, for sake of us who cannot share the same merriness and cheer anymore.   For those of us who are just amidst their 51st Wednesday of the year, Please, and damnit do I mean it when I say this…  Please, Enjoy the living hell out of today. Don’t let it just be Wednesday, December 25, 2013.

Let it be Christmas…  Even if all you got was reindeer pyjamas and black socks.  One day those might be all you have left from today.

God Bless you, Thank you so much for reading. 

Merry Christmas, and please have one hell of a holiday. 

Blair

Crazy to want this, even for a while.

 

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.

Image

I don’t know what it is lately, but the best company is myself, alone.  Which is ironic cause I know right now I am not my best self.  I don’t know what that even really looks like actually, good question… what does my best self look like.  Personally.  I don’t know. Does anyone?

It’s been awhile since I wrote in this blog… It’s been months, I don’t know why.  I want to say the reason is because I have been so much better…  I have conquered my depression, I am happy now. I am O.K.  But, in being completely honest to my self now.  That’d be horribly false.   It was a hectic month of March.  Hockey ended and I left my old job, thankfully and started a new one.  Which has been absolutely amazing.  The people at the new job have been nothing short of phenomenal; the job itself has been much the same.  So that’s been a significant change…for the better.  It’s been a big change, especially mood wise. I am happy with my new job. I am happy at work… And, while I am happier, when I am happy, that down, empty, withdrawn emotion has not really left.   As people who also suffer from depression can attest too, we can make these changes, like a new job for example and we can be happier when we are happy, but we can still be depressed, and still be down, empty, or sad.  And, I still am.  It sometimes can create a challenge, in that it’s misleading.  Sometimes, including the entire month of March, and more so beginning of this month, I’d think I am doing great… because, I am happier when I am happy, but, I am still going through these lows, and lulls but its easier to waiver them because, the highs are high.  Which, in the moment seems like all we need.

Do I think I’ve been doing better? Yes. I do.  But, am I 100% removed of my illness?  No, and I don’t know that I will ever be.  There are days where I have accepted that, and then days where I am afraid of that.  Days where I don’t think I’ll ever make it to see if I can ever rid myself of this illness.  Then some days, most days, the thought is… It’s ok.  I can manage it, I am happy right now….  Those are the thoughts when I am doing ok…. Which, is for the most part, more then I am sad, down or empty.  Which… right now, that’s how I keep score in this battle, and the winner is frequently changing.  No one can keep a damn lead.

Part of the problem I think of late has been that it’s that difficult time of the year for myself, and my family.  It’s nearing May 7th…  May 7th will be the 5-year anniversary of my sister passing away.  Every year, it seems that a few weeks leading up to this day is extremely difficult.  As my mom put it today… It’s the “pre-anniversary depression” And, that’s exactly what it is.  I’ve slowly started to notice it take over.  Daily, I think about May 7th.  I think about the May 7th five years ago, and I think about the May 7th coming up in 3 weeks.  I am afraid of it. I am nervous.  I just have no idea what to expect from myself.  Every year it’s the same thing. Am I going to be ok? Am I going to be sad? Am I going to miss it? Am I going to do things the right way? Am I?… Am I?… Am I?… I just work myself up so much for the day, overthinking and overanalyzing just about everything.  I try to just let it be another day. But, it’s not. So how can I. How can I even bother pretending, and I just hate that suggestion.  There have been years in the past where May 7th seemed like a manageable day itself, and when it’s over I’m almost relieved… but feeling slightly guilty because I thought it was maybe easier then it should have been?  Then, there have been some years where May 7th is a completely overbearing and emotionally fucking exhausting day.  What I fear the most is I don’t know which one of these two days it’s going to be.  And, I think about it. Hourly, making the lead up to May 7th… almost worse then the actual day itself.  Last year, it was manageable because I was able to avoid the build up.  One day I was Venice, then I was in Bari, then I was in Corfu, then Santorini, then Katakolon, then Kusadasi, then Zurich… Avoiding the lead up to May 7th was a breeze.  The actual day itself, I remember it still being difficult.  I was in Zurich. I was my other self.  Quiet. Empty. Withdrawn.  But nothing out of what is normal for me. I was still Ok.  I think.  It’s easy to look back and say that now.  But, I was in Europe. I was with people.  For some reason, on that day, alike the others I almost always want to be alone.  Which, in turn is likely the worst idea possible.  I feel like, because it’s such a challenging day for me, I don’t want to bring other people into my misery.  Into my world.  But, I think that’s exactly what I need is to lean on my support group of friends, and family that day… At least that’s what they tell me anyways.  But for me, I feel as though, as much as I maybe wish it to be “just another day” for me like it is for all else, it just isn’t and I shouldn’t nuance someone else to become involved.   I can remember in previous years though, it’s almost like I’ve been upset, or annoyed at people not knowing that it’s May 7th.  And, what that means for me.  I have a hard time remembering that IT IS just another day for everyone else.  Why should they act, or say something differently to me… and if they did act differently, I’d probably hate that equally as much, if not more!

It’s just like, as I’ve wrote about before… When my sister passed away and I thought the world would stop. I thought it did.  It certainly did for me…But, people still walked and got the mail, they still cut their grass and they still took their dogs for walks.  I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t seem right.  That’s almost how I feel about every May 7th now.  The world stops for me.  It’s almost as if it should stop entirely.  People will still go to work, they will still walk their dogs and get the mail and in 3 weeks that will astound me.  It’s doesn’t emotionally make sense for me!

Nonetheless, this year, right now.  I am no question deep into the “pre-anniversary depression” There is no doubt it is hitting me hard right now.  I won’t deny that.  That’s what started this entire blog, was not denying my depression… right! … And, to be honest, I have been denying it to myself the last few weeks.  But, right now… given the extenuating mental, and emotional circumstances… I’d be lying to that self to say I am at my best right now, and don’t take it personally, or to heart if I come across a tad withdrawn… It’s just that season for me. It’s a challenging time.

It’s coming on five years, and I feel like it’s just the other day Jen & I were with mom on Whyte Ave at O’Byrnes in Edmonton enjoying a Stella.  I can remember even the exact spot I had parked my car.  I can remember what everyone was wearing…

Here is a picture of us having a beer at O Byrnes.  Last beer I had with her.

Here is a picture of us having a beer at O Byrnes. Last beer I had with her.

This would be the last time I ever enjoyed a beer with my sister.  It felt like it was last weekend.

I miss her.  And days like these, and weeks coming… I think about her more then ever, and more then anything…and in part I work myself up more then is healthy.

… Bare with me

 

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Reindeer Pajamas, Hot Chocolates, Holidays & Hell.

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Happy almost-holidays season everyone!  I know most of you are likely already in the full swing of things by now. Trees, lights, decorations.  All the glitter, and all the rest.  I know at our place there are a few too many snowmen, snow-penguins, snow-bears, snow-mooses…  And, pretty well every other morphed Christmas animal you can possibly think of.

While, I do enjoy Christmas.  Holidays are just never the same as they once were for me.  Especially Christmas. It’s typically an emotionally enduring time of the year.  As it is Christmas. It’s a special time of the year. But, ever since I’ve lost my sister, It’s never quite been the same. It’s hard. Actually, most holidays are just different now.  My birthday & Christmas are often the toughest.  And, that usually results in me being referred to as “the grinch” by my girlfriend.  But, it’s not that I hate the holidays, I most certainly do not.  But, maybe as some others can understand after your life changes drastically as a result of losing someone close… And, as I have mentioned before.  Nothing is ever again the same, and nothing is again as it easy as it once was.  Ever.  

Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year. I longed for it every day as soon it turned December 26th – I couldn’t wait for the next Christmas Day.  I think up until I was 15 or so.  My average of sleep on christmas eve was likely 3 hours. I could never sleep Christmas Eve.  Just way too excited.  Albeit, I was a kid.  A lot of it was, I just couldn’t wait to open up gifts, and get spoiled by my parents, grandparents and rest of my family.  Then, as I grew up, it became less about the gifts (while I still thoroughly enjoyed them, and still do now!) But, it became more about spending time with those close too me, that I may otherwise not be able to see as often as I would like.  As my sister lived in Victoria, we only were able to get together a few times a year.  Which… still haunts me today.

Anyway.  Christmas was always a special time because I got to spend it with Jen, my parents, my brother, and my grandparents.  I can remember just waking up in the morning, and being so excited to just hang out, throw gifts around and watch everyone else just enjoy being together.  This is exactly what Christmas is about. Family, laughing, and being in the company of those whom matter the most.  And, as you grow up, you realize this.  And I think that’s part of why Christmas now is a little bit more difficult. We are missing one.   I think too,  I had just really gotten myself to the point of truly realizing what Christmas is about, and then suddenly we were without Jen.  While, every day is difficult after a tragedy.  Some days are worse than others.  But, holidays.  They’re just never the same. Again.  As much as you try and fake it, make some kind of shitty attempt to place normalcy into your days, and into your Christmas festivities… It doesn’t matter.  It all just amounts to trying too hard in hoping to be able to fake it, get through, and continue on in our own world of denial.  Ultimately… Just making the days and the season all the more difficult.  Then, in turn, you just kind of float through the days.   Doing your best to completely avoid the traditions that make Christmas.  All the while, just feeling completely empty and emotionless. Raw.

Now, I should never complain, because my holidays seasons the last few years have been quite extravagant, and I have been extremely fortunate and lucky to have spent the last 2 in Hawaii.  And, while as great as Hawaii is, and I do get to go with some people that do mean the world too me.  The last couple Christmas that I have been in Hawaii, I have not been with my family.  Which is sometimes difficult because I know that holidays for them are never quite the same, either. So you want to be together to try and help them cope…But, I think, why I have enjoyed going to Hawaii so much the last few years, is not just because it’s Hawaii.  But, because it’s almost like… It’s… It’s not real.  It’s not Christmas.  Even though it may be December 25th… It’s +28, people are in shorts, the beach, the ocean, everything that goes with Hawaii.  It’s not what I have been accustomed too.  It’s not tradition. And, tradition is easier to avoid. And, the other part that has made the past few I think… manageable, maybe, is I haven’t been with my family.  I’ve been with people that Christmas to them is as normal as it should be. As much as I try, and I think my family does as well to instill normalcy into our lives, like I said, we sometimes just try too hard and make it worse.  So, the last few, while I have thought about Jen a tonne.  It’s never really been talked about, or apart of the “Christmas Celebration” except in my own head, I guess.  Because, I have been by myself, and with my girlfriends family.  But, Christmas has been manageable, ultimately, because, I have ran away from what has made it so difficult in the past.

But, I know that I can’t go on like this forever, because, it is the holidays, and at some point I need to enjoy them as much as I once did, or, at the very least, make some sort of attempt to do so. While I also need to stop running away from the problem.   And, I think this year I am going to have an opportunity to do so.  While, in stages.  I think what is different this year, and is going to allow me to possibly cope with this season is, I have come to terms with my own mental illness, and I think I have maybe, finally accepted that Jen is gone.  And, she is never coming back…..As hard as that is to admit.  It’s reality. And, I think, I have finally realized that.  Despite how hard I sometimes try to bring her back.

She isn’t. 

Also, on Christmas day, this year;  I will be at home, in Calgary.  While, away from my family still, and likely just myself at home.  I will see again what Christmas is, and I think being right-square in the middle of the lights, the snow, just that aura of Christmas, that you don’t find in Maui.   I think that is going to be Step 1 of coping, and attempting normalcy these holidays.  Step 2. I leave to Hawaii ( as per usual ) on Jan. 1. However, different this year is my mom, my grandma, grandpa, brother and my niece Abbey (Jen’s daughter) will all be there.   Our family will finally be back together for Christmas.  Missing Jen but, I know that she will be there.   I get to spend the holidays with my family again…  And, in an environment to me, that just isn’t “holiday real”  – Just as I like, and for now, need. But, we are all going to be there together.  Going through it.  Together.

December through January isn’t the same for anyone in my family anymore.  And, instead of running away from the process, we will finally be able to go at it in unison once again.  Which, I am thoroughly excited for.  It’s still going to be different, and always will be.  And, maybe I am still partially running away from this by going to Maui. But, I am entirely fine with that.  So, in stages I hope to be able to enjoy a Christmas holiday season as close to normal as I possibly ever can.  Just without the tree, pajama pants, hot chocolates and christmas themed wrapped gifts.  I am not ready for that yet.

I know it will never be the same as it was.  No matter how hard I try.  I am just excited to be able to do it together, with my mom, my grandparents, Brody & Abbey.  Our way of coping with Christmas… Is too run away from it, but I am happy that we have decided to finally do this together.

Some people I am sure probably don’t, and won’t understand why we continue to run away during the holidays.  Some argue it’s the best time to be in Alberta.  Sure.  But, like I said… It’s different for us.  Remember in my last blog, or a few blogs back I mentioned the feeling I had driving to my sister’s funeral in Victoria.  I’d just expected the entire world to stop.  And, when I drove to the church, and saw people getting their mail, walking their dogs, having coffee and laughing.  It fucking pissed me off.  I just couldn’t believe people were getting on with their lives.   My world has just halted, instantly.  And, I expected everyone elses did too.  How could they continue?  But, really, of course people are going to get on with their lives.  It didn’t happen to them, but still, I couldn’t believe it.  That’s exactly how Christmas is for me now.  We used to always gather at the decorated Christmas tree in the living room, while in our pajamas, enjoying a coffee, hot chocolate,  or an orange juice…Whatever it was.  We’d sit there in our pajamas and throw gifts to each other, celebrate and embrace. We did Christmas. We did it right.  All of us.  Now… I just can’t do it. I can’t do tradition.  During Christmas I always get that same feeling I had en route to Jen’s funeral.  I, for some reason, just can’t imagine people doing what we used too, doing what you’re supposed to do.  I can’t fathom it.  And, I don’t want to see it.  Just like I didn’t want too see that man walking his dog that morning.  It’s doesn’t seem real.  It’s hard.  So, I leave so I can avoid it. Christmas is different.

That said, I am certainly not the grinch, as some of you might conclude after reading this.  I still enjoy the holidays. And, I wish nothing but the best too everyone else during them.  Actually, I wish more than that.  I hope that you thoroughly enjoy that time around the tree tossing gifts to one another. Having that mocha or hot chocolate with your brother and/or sister in your pajama pants decorated with reindeer and Santa’s. Please enjoy this moment.  This is what it is about.  Enjoy it the most. It may, now seem trivial, and “just part of it”. But, trust me.  It isn’t.  It’s more than that.  Because, you never know if you will be able to have this special opportunity again.  So, please.  Enjoy Christmas. Be grateful, and understand what it truly is about.  Family.  Not the cash that you get. Not the toys.  It’s your family.  And it’s that one really special time of the year.  So, while, I run away to the tropics to avoid tradition.  I urge all of you to run to the tree, with your brothers and sisters, Even if you see them every single day, and scrap for the majority of those days. Please, for me, soak it all in. Enjoy Christmas. Because, this is what I miss the most, and I will never get back. Enjoy one for me. 

– Happy Holidays too all of my readers!