The needles lay scattered across the concrete, the only reminder that pain stood here. It came through the experiences of a human being and it lingers because up to this point Pain has nowhere else to go. A back alley, bathroom, locked bedroom or random space is all that is needed to accommodate self-medication and annihilation.
Dignity has long since disappeared and so to have the values that were once held close – no foundation exists. Uncomfortably aroused by traumatic memories it is difficult to escape and so today darkness takes over.
I was a compassionate Teacher, brilliant Lawyer, safe Truck Driver, respected Business Owner, top Sales Person. My role as a Husband, Father, Uncle, Brother, Son, Mother, Sister, Wife, Daughter, Aunt, wasn’t enough to keep me from falling.
When something triggers me I don’t know how to cope. I know you wish I could learn to manage myself better, and handle life like “other people do”, but my pain is too great. The grief, loss, trauma, voices, all the memories flood over me and I can’t keep my head above, I’m drowning. I haven’t shared all of this with you because….
I had good parents. I had screwed up parents. I grew up in Foster care. I’m University educated. I was on the honor roll but barely graduated. I hated school so I dropped out in grade 10. I live across from you. I work with you. We play on the same sports team. We’ve been at the same parties. We vacationed together. We were introduced by a mutual friend.
It was one incident. I suffered from an undiagnosed mental health condition. I’ve survived multiple traumatic/abusive situations. I had an injury and was put on prescription drugs but then they stopped treatment. That sent me over the edge and though I’ve often considered entering rehab the needle exchange support is more accessible than a bed.
There are times when I float above to see me and that damn needle both lying on the ground. Its empty of what I thought would save me. My story is laced on its tip but discarded so easily.
I know you don’t want me in your neighbourhood but I’m here.
Leading up to International Women’s Day many people around the world look for ways to spark conversation or provide information about women’s role in society, our ongoing challenges and incredible contributions! In all of that we have a wonderful opportunity to explore what has transpired in herstory and dream big for the future. Inspiring young girls and boys to celebrate the accomplishments of women is so important to relationship building and from a career standpoint can open the door to more choices. Women of influence are everywhere and choosing a healthy life path may come through understanding other women’s experiences. So, let’s Talk Facts and appreciate our Role Models.
For all you Teachers and Facilitators out there here is a link to IWD’s 2018 TEACHING RESOURCES
I looked down at my hands, Wow! That’s a lot of wrinkles, I thought. The hands are a dead giveaway that we are aging. We can plump lips, dye hair, nip here and tuck there. We can strap in and flatten out, shape eyebrows and pluck unwanted hairs. Clothes can make us appear younger or distract the viewers from challenging areas but hands, well they keep it real.
It was while I was ironing that I had this moment of self-reflection. I hate ironing. I let shirts and pants pile up in the to be ironed zone until I can no longer classify it as a new decorating style or art installation. If my stupid iron had the capacity to iron out body wrinkles then maybe I would show it more love.
My mother used to have a home in Palm Springs, California. Every year during the winter months I would fly down for a week or so just to bask in the sun and shop for new clothes. We would hit all our favourite stores and I would chat it up with the ladies who ran those businesses. These women were impeccably dressed and looked exactly the same way as they did the year before. Everlasting beauty was clearly something to strive for.
Palm Springs educated me about the quest to defy aging and remain youthful. There were women (and men) with faces so baby smooth and radiant I wondered if one more sanding might be the last. Their lips were perpetually in pre-kiss mode, which I’m sure could certainly be construed as an invitation and laugh lines… what are those? I could never figure out why in such heat there was a need to wear blouses or turtlenecks done up to their chin but to each her own.
It was my dear Mum who said one day, “You know hands are the one thing they can’t change, just look at the hands.”
It was a fair observation and comment. These were beautiful people who have the right to do what they like but all the exfoliation, surgery or injections in the world wasn’t going to iron out hand wrinkles. I best get used to that.
I walked up to the bakery counter in my local supermarket with my eyes drawn to two Apple Fritters. These were going to be an indulgence my husband and I would enjoy – his with a coffee and me with a tea. As I placed my fritters in a bag I felt the presence of someone and then heard his voice. “Oh, you are just like me. You where a jean jacket with layers underneath – see, I’m doing that too.”
He was an elderly man, slim build with a twinkle in his eyes and a big smile. I said, “Yes, some days layering with a jean jacket makes more sense than a heavy jacket.” He agreed and there he had found a gem of commonality in which to build upon conversation. The man recalled the price of his first jeans and the great fit of his first Levis denim jacket. Another older lady briefly joined in to reflect on how many pairs of jeans she had, confirming that jeans were and always will be relevant in fashion.
As she smiled and wondered off my new supermarket friend showed me photos on his phone and shared that his wife had died of cancer last year and he makes it his mission to get out every day for a walk and talk to people. At 81 years of age he still works as a Commissionaire – preferring graveyard shift – and says, “It’s important to like your job, purpose keeps me going.” As I stood there I heard about his two sons, was given a brief intro to how his parents raised him and his siblings, I learned that he held job at CN Rail in the early 1970’s and so much more.
By this time my husband had joined in the conversation and so there we all stood in small huddle with a cart full of groceries. It briefly flashed into my mind that time was passing and we had a list of things to get but then just as quickly I realized this was more important. This man found a way to reach others, and whether he had always been an open book or was given advice to just get out of his house, here he stood with strangers. There was his smile, sense of humour and a genuine need to connect.
After awhile our time together came to a close, we shook hands and bid each other good day.
This was a reminder that so many seniors live alone. Their life partners and friends have passed away and this world becomes more stranger by the minute. Seniors – just like this gentleman – can spend hours, days or even weeks without meaningful companionship and so today may have been a rare gift.
In our youth we don’t even think about being without friends, lovers and family. In our middle age we consider the possibility of life’s fragility but still, in the midst of challenge, somebody is there. However, in our senior years there is the real possibility that those that have held our secrets and hands no longer exist and we find ourselves in the company of strangers, trying desperately to move beyond loneliness.
Whether it’s common friendliness or loneliness that brings us together, share a moment with a senior today, a smile or chat. Help at a local seniors centre. Encourage a senior in your life to participate in activities they love. Engage with what they love even if its sitting through one more game of Scrabble, watching their favourite show or anything else that brings them joy. Be present.
The following video 7 Ways to Maximize Misery was created by CGP Grey and has been out for awhile, so I’m a bit late to the party. I have to say I found it quite humorous.
It was inspired by the book, How to be Miserable Forty Strategies You Already Use, by Randy J. Paterson.
There is also a great follow-up article written by Randy J. Paterson about the video and how he tabulated the comments. Check out:
We share a special date – it is arriving. Though he is not here to celebrate anymore, I will do so in my life. I just had a wonderful time spent watching a concert that I – for some inexplicable reason – had not seen, Live in Berlin 2002. With a glass a wine in hand my journey towards another year on earth was made ever sweeter by watching the great David Bowie have fun on a stage with his band, in front of so many fans. We were all lucky to have opportunities to see him live as his shows were indescribably beautifully orchestrated and mind-blowing! Such a talent dearly missed. Cheers Bowie.
I have welcomed you with my usual childlike curiosity and gratitude for yet another year on this beautiful earth but as I write this I can’t help but feel a little wistful for the year that just passed. Not to sound too dramatic but I sense there are things I will dearly miss about 2017- maybe for a lifetime. Still I’m glad to feast my eyes on these first few days.
I’m sure you will bring forth opportunities to challenge my beliefs about self, others and the world. I know you will allow for experiences that bring immense joy but I also realize that sadness and anger will also reveal their purpose too.
It would be nice to know that sprinkled amongst the mundane tasks that will make up many of my weeks, you will ensure I come out of the haze to pay attention to nature. You see, I don’t want to take that for granted.
For example, the other day I listened as the snow patted down on the ground after falling from trees. I heard the call of a Flicker, watched the sun begin to set over the ocean, and gazed at deer foraging in patches of woodland before darkness fell. It would be greatly appreciated if I could have more days like that.
My friends and family are important to me. It would be presumptuous of me to assume everything will stay the same, so with whatever you hold in store please make sure I’m reminded often to tell them how much I love them.
Without a doubt you, 2018, will have me meet strangers that will impact my life in more ways than I could have imagined. I also know I will support my clients and colleagues and learn greatly from each one. I thank you for that.
I do hope that you will reveal more ways for us (the world) to come together rather than be so divisive. Maybe someone, or an idea, will be born this year that will help tremendously towards that goal.
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m open to what you have in store because I know everything I have done so far has led me to be ready for 2018 – and I’m not alone.