Little sister, I miss you terribly.
Yesterday I celebrated another anniversary of leaving my abusive husband.
More than 15 years ago on the morning of April 1, I woke up to being called a pig and minutes later I got hit in the face with a snowboard. It was the same as any other day but I finally decided I couldn't deal with it anymore. Too many days of having to go through his pockets for change when he was asleep so I could have some money of my own, being choked to unconsciousness when I was holding my baby, being told I was an ugly bitch, a fat pig, stupid, not being allowed to pick out groceries... he never hit the kids but they witnessed things he did to me. I realized my daughters would grow up thinking it was ok to be treated that horribly. The idea was unbearable so I left.
All I had to my name was a garbage bag with diapers and clothes in it, and two little girls.
We were lucky, there was a room at a local Women's Shelter. We were in a safe place.
I was so flipping scared. I had no money and didn't even know how to turn on a computer. I had no idea how I was going to afford finding a place to live, or how I was going to get a job that would support my family. But I knew that no matter what, anything would be better than what we had.
Our first home on our own was a one bedroom apartment in an area affectionately known as "Cracktown". We might have walked past needle drop boxes and prostitutes on our way back from the grocery store, but we were the happiest we'd ever been.
A friend helped me get a temp job and the bosses liked me enough to offer me full time work. I took a weekend job at a vintage clothing shop and cut hair at home in the evenings to make ends meet. I taught myself how to use a computer and slowly built up my skills to increase the kinds of jobs I was qualified for.
I was very fortunate to have friends and family that helped when I was in trouble, or life would have been even more difficult. Programs like Adopt-A-Family at Christmas made sure there were gifts under the tree.
Any time I got discouraged or scared, I'd listen to Tom Petty's Wildflowers. I'm not usually a "Top 40" music person, but the whole idea that I deserved a beautiful life kept me going. That song was my anthem when I was on my 14th day of work without a day off, when I was recovering from major surgery, when I thought I was going to be alone forever because I was a worthless cow, and when I had to decide what was more important, winter coats for the girls or paying my utilities.
I just want anyone who is enduring abuse — whether it's physical, emotional, financial, or otherwise to know that it's NOT okay. You deserve a good life, you deserve to be safe and happy.
There are resources out there, they might not be easy to access but don't be discouraged if you can't get out right away. If you're in Canada, leave me a comment and I'll try to help you get in touch with a local shelter or someone who can give you the assistance you require.
I know it's hard, but I have faith in you. You can get out. You are worth it. I know it gets better. My daughters are generally happy, and I'm in a wonderful healthy relationship with a person who genuinely loves me and my kidlets unconditionally. Life won't be perfect right away, but if you have children, teach them that a peaceful home environment is what we should strive for.
https://endvaw.ca/ — Women's Shelters Canada
http://www.thehotline.org/ — National Domestic Violence Hotline
http://ywcacanada.ca/en/pages/programs/shelter — YWCA Canada
When I left my husband and ran to a Women's Shelter, I had two small daughters, a garbage bag full of clothes and diapers, and not much else.
I had serious health issues preventing me from working until I had major surgery so we subsisted on welfare.
The first December on our own was spent in a one bedroom apartment in a part of Calgary affectionately known as CrackTown. We were happier than we had ever been in our big house but I worried about what kind of Christmas I was going to be able to give to my girls. I was living on $800/month and rent alone took up most of my budget. I could barely afford to feed us, never mind buy prezzies.
The Sherriff King Home Crisis Shelter arranged for my little family to be adopted and I almost wept when I saw the pile of presents Dom and Aurora were going receive. That Christmas morning was one of the most wonderful days in my life. We were safe and happy. We were on our own and there were gifts to open. It was exactly how every family hopes to spend the holidays.
I'm never going to forget the time in my life where I had to constantly choose between necessities like food or cough medicine. I'm so thankful that I am in a position to pay my bills and give my loved ones everything they need and most of what they want. But I can't forget those early days when I constantly struggled to makes ends meet.
This is the time of year when the differences between those who have enough to live on and those who don't are glaringly obvious. Right now there are thousands of women and children who can't afford to leave abusive relationships. The cost of living is so high that those women are forced to choose between being beaten or being homeless. Or these brave people have left the violence and are facing extreme financial hardship. Pease consider contacting your local women's shelter and adopting a family. If this isn't an option, then donate some of those essential items shelters are always needing. Diapers, baby formula, winter clothing for children and adults, gift cards to grocery stores, women's hygiene items, bus tickets, and the like. Donating a pair of mittens can literally mean a mother doesn't have to choose between feeding their child or keeping them warm.
It doesn't matter your faith, or even if you have one. We should help our fellow human beings when we can. Please consider giving to those vulnerable families so their lives are made a little easier and a lot brighter.
Happy Holidays, my fellow Earthlings.
19th Century White House garden aligns with solstice.
King Tut's knife made of meteorite - have scientists detected magick on this?
There is a big hole in the Sun
Scientists try to figure out why glitter sticks to everything
And a really awesome comic cover that made me laugh a lot when I saw it.
the title alone is brilliant.
Hopefully I'll keep this more positive content up.
I also hope to post some pics of the Comic Expo that went down a few weeks ago. Spent too much on Undergrounds, going to be boiling my broom for soup for the next little while...
I'm very excited to see my nephews this weekend. They are wonderful humans and I love having them over, facilitating experiences they don't usually get to enjoy.
It also causes that anguish and pain over losing my sister to push through all the coping mechanisms I've set in place over the last few years.
The heavy weight between my breasts that doesn't go away, pushing on my chest and making me feel as if my heart is going to stop.
Even the act of putting on my boots causes my eyes to blur with tears I don't want to shed. I think of the ridiculous slippers she brought me when I was in hospital, they looked like monster feet and everyone who walked past us as she pushed me through the halls smiled. I hear our drunken giggles as we stumble down the street after a night of celebrating my newly found freedom from my abusive husband.
I know my sorrow will lessen. The boys will go home and I'll pick up the cars and action figures strewn about my living room. I'll think of the good things and it won't trigger paralyzing misery.
But right now the mix of joy over my nephews and grief over their mother is overwhelming.
My situation is especially painful because my little sister’s birthday was Christmas Day. She would have been 41 this year.
I’d like to share a few ideas on how to get through the holidays and maybe even enjoy them a little.
- Don’t hide how you feel. Bottling up those strong emotions that “special days” can trigger will either cause you to manifest them in ways that can hurt others, or they’ll come out at a bad time. Sometimes you’ll feel guilty about telling someone you trust, you don’t want to be a “downer” at Christmas time. If you don’t want to discuss your issues with someone you know, there are many counselling and support groups out there. Call your local distress center or crisis line. The people who answer those calls care about you and are there to help. They understand what you’re going through and will listen.
- Don’t do stuff that will make you feel shittier. Seriously. Just because other people decide you should do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. If spending Christmas dinner with your grandma is going to make you feel lousy, don’t go. Your peace of mind and mental health are the priority. Noone else knows how fragile you’re feeling, if you’re simply not up to dealing with a houseful of people, you shouldn’t.
- Get active. Thor Harris has said time and again, exercise is not only great for your body, it’s good for your mind. Even if it’s parking farther away from your destination so you get a little walk from your car to the office, it’ll do you good.
- Help someone else. Doing good deeds is a great way to not only help out in your community, it gives you a sense of fulfillment. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, pick up some baby clothes and diapers and take them to a local women’s shelter, shovel your neighbours walk. Making someone’s day a little better will make your day better.
- Don’t worry about what others are thinking. I’m not suggesting that you become insensitive to how others are feeling, but you have no control over what others think. Be a decent human being, do what you know is right and to hell with anyone else. Easier said than done, but keep working at it.
- Remember, being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. If solitude will give you clarity and work on how you can heal, that’s great. On the other hand, if being with people who care about you helps you cope with your situation, do that. Only you know what your heart needs.
These are a few things that are helping me cope with the loss of my sister, if they work for you that’s great. If not, take a good look at your situation and do what is right for you. If you don’t feel you’re up to doing this on your own, take advantage of the many programs out there and get help. You deserve to be happy. Truly.
I have always found it difficult to deal with my depression, since I was a little kid I've been told I was too sensitive. But at times over the last couple of years I've been so disabled by my grief I haven't been able to leave my home. My bed would be a refuge from everything "out there" and it would almost cause physical pain if I tried to rouse myself out of it. I would be sorrowful, outraged and insensate in the same hour. Relationships with the people I love most were jeopardized because my loss was all I could think about. I couldn't separate myself from the loneliness I felt from Erin's death and it created an invisible shell around my whole self. I was a being in a human shaped mass of melancholy.
I'm still not "over it" - whatever that means. I will always miss my sister and wonder why she made the choices she made. I will always wonder if I could have done more to support and help her avoid the psychic vampyres she started spending time with in the last few years of her life. The last time we spoke I said that I loved her and wanted her to be happy.
It wasn't enough though. She is dead and we are left to pick our way through the detritus. But thanks to the support I have received from my children and my partner in life, I have been able to start healing. The people I have chosen to surround myself with care about me and I want to start caring about me too.
I also have to say a big heartfelt thanks to Thor Harris. If it wasn't for him sharing his battles with depression so openly, I wouldn't have finally plucked up the courage to take real initiative in coping with my own.
I don't have much more to say but I thought I'd repost an entry I made a while ago about the fragility of life entitled "In the Grand Scheme of Things":
Our D&D party is traversing Yggdrasil, also known as the Tree of Life in Norse mythology. We are there to find a portal to Jötunheimr, Land of the Giants so we can rescue a cleric of our church.
The last few games have been taking place on this tree. It is so big that the leaves are six feet thick, the cracks in the bark are 100 feet deep and the creatures that we've encountered there are too giant to even notice us.
This place has been mucking about with my dreams. I know it's only D&D but it really affected me. Last week I had this crazy dream about my sister. We were in this really green place. The air was green and everything glowed like we were sheltered beneath one of Yggdrasil's leaves. I was touching her in the chest with a branch. The same spot that chokes and burns when I feel angry and want to scream with rage and pain. But then the view in my dream panned out and it was a fractal and I was touching my sister's chest with this branch an infinite number of times, spiraling out and out and out until all I could see was specks and green.
It made me think about this life and how nothing really matters, we are too small and this giant agony I feel about Erin is so insignificant. None of it matters, nothing at all because no matter how many people you touch it is a drop in the galactic bucket of life.
But seeing as we are on this big ball of bastards known as Earth, I guess we should make the most of our tiny little blips in the grand scheme of things. Be as decent as you can to as many people as you can.
I don't believe in heaven or hell, I believe that you live on forever in the way that people remember you. So make sure your energies are well spent.
My Beautiful Sister
I think I simply want to post some pictures of the show.
And thank Laibach for spreading the word.
They blew me away with their beauty. Inside and out they are human beings for whom I have utter and absolute respect. Art is life.
I have two dads. One who contributed DNA some years ago and one my mother married when I was a pubescent punk. My stepfather may have made some mistakes in raising us but he was there and supported us and treated us as his own blood.
The man who is partly responsible for my genetic makeup was in and out of our lives. My sister and I worshipped him. He was fun and loud and dynamic and always had gifts for us. He gave money to our baseball team for new uniforms. One birthday he showed up out of the blue dressed up as a clown. When we were around 7 and 9, he took us to Disneyland. During that trip, he left us with a strange babysitter so he could go to Mexico for the day. We would go months without seeing him even though he lived an hour and a half away but when he showed up it was absolute bliss for those precious hours.
One time in late fall/early winter, he came to pick Erin and I up in his El Camino. He sped through the side roads around our home, spraying dirt everywhere. It was thrilling and terrifying. We passed a little frozen pond and he screeched to a halt. "Let's drive over it, it'll be a blast sliding around!" he insisted it would be amazing. Erin and I had a misadventure with a little slough the previous winter and were very leery of ice. But at the same time we were terrified Dad wouldn't like us anymore if we didn't go through with it. "Maybe we should check it just in case, Dad," I recall saying. He got out of the car, poo poo-ing us and walked to the edge of the pond. As soon as he stepped on the ice his leg dropped in and he barely managed to prevent himself from falling in.
I still remember the look on his face, the classic "O" of his mouth and his eyes wide at the shock. Walking back to the car, the left leg of his jeans a waterlogged dark blue.
Looking back I know he must have been drunk or something but at the time he just seemed wild and crazy.
After he remarried and had kids, he told me that he didn't consider Erin and I his family. His wife and young sons were. I lived with them for 6 months when I was a teen and it was disastrous. Coming home with 98% on a test got the "Do you realize that 2% of what you did was wrong?" response. I was an out of control 16 year old, unhappy and not worth the effort so I was shipped back to my mom and stepdad.
As an adult, the need for affection from my "birth dad" only dissipated after I met my current boyfriend. He showed me I deserved the unconditional love this man who was there when I was born would or could never give to me. My sister never got over that need and up until the day she died she was looking and longing for it.
I have made peace with the fact that my dad doesn't care about me. I'm not wallowing in self-pity or asking for words of comfort. I just want others to know that it's not their fault if their parents don't give a shit.
Sometimes the folks who gave you life aren't worthy to be in it.
The response was eloquent and reasonable. Even quoted Saint Francis of Assisi.
I’d like to add my own comments in defence of the campaign - which has been quite successful.
I’m a single parent with a very limited income. I’m incredibly conscientious of what I spend my money on and if there is something special that I’d like to see/participate in, I have to budget for it.
However, when I found out that some of the founders of the most intense political commentators /art & music collectives the world has ever known were coming to a city that was close enough to drive to, there was no question. My boyfriend and I were going to attend. Even if it meant that we did nothing over the summer and I subsisted on ichiban when my kidlet was seeing her father, we were going to see Laibach. My boyfriend has been longing for the chance to see these people perform for over 2 decades and I’ve loved their work since he played Opus Dei for me 13 years ago. The almost 1000km (one-way) drive though the mountains would only cause our hearts to be closer to the heavens that granted us this opportunity.
Then I found out that the tour was losing money. Quite a lot of money, in fact. Now, Laibach has never been one to do things for fame and fortune. They are compelled to create their art and music, because they know it’s a message that needs to be heard. I decided that my evil credit card could be used for the forces of good. I would give my love the chance to meet these amazing people that decided to do a show in Vancouver. For $300 we were going to be able to say hallo to Laibach. In addition, I was going to receive an original Laibach uniform shirt, tie, belt armband, badge (that’s pin in North American) AND tickets to the show.
A pretty sweet deal if you ask me. They get a bit of support for their North American Tour and we get to meet some icons of the music and art world.
As the show (which I will review in the near future) date got closer, I began to feel a bit nervous. What if they were like the artists in my favourite classic novels? Would they resent me for being a patron of their art? Would I be looked down upon for using my money as a way into their world?
Turns out I didn’t have to worry about that in the least. After a performance that blew us away, we went backstage and met Ivan, Mina, Luka and Rok. All of them were incredibly gracious. So cool and beautiful I completely forgot all the questions I wanted to ask. I managed to mumble something about Putin being a jerk, anyway. They were impressed with the distance we drove to see them and we talked about a past performance and their work with NSK. We drank a beer and they smoked skinny cigarettes. We spent more time with them than either of us expected and it was a thoroughly gratifying experience. Something that neither of us will ever forget.
I remember in the 90’s being able to see 4 bands in a local venue for less than $10. This is not the world we live in anymore. Touring is prohibitively expensive now. If crowdfunding allows the artists of the world – vocal, visual or otherwise, to spread their work to the masses, then I’m all for it. Laibach shouldn’t lose money when they’re doing North America a favour by performing. It’s an exhausting life, being on busses and going from town to town. I’m glad I can say I contributed a few bucks to something worthwhile and got to meet some amazing people in the process. I put a couple litres of gas in their transportation and in return, my boyfriend and I got to experience something that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.
Laibach are not beggars, I’m glad they had the sense to launch such a successful campaign. What I got in return for my contribution was priceless. They deserve every fucking dime they get and anyone that thinks otherwise can simply choose not to give money.
I am more than happy to eat instant noodles in August.
Photo by Maya Nightingale