I failed

So it’s official. I have no power in the matter. I have been deemed useless and my future is up in the air.

I have been forced into medical retirement. At 45 years old, my goal of ever returning to my job has been officially been ripped away from me.

Sunlife, despite all the recommendations from all their own paid specialists, all of their own third party assessments, my own specialist assessments, stating that with the right treatment, I could go back in 6 months to a year, they have refused to help and have determined that I can never work again and am “totally disabled.”

I am NOT totally disabled and I WANT to work.

Despite all the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve had to spend of my own money to get the help I’ve needed and my GP, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, therapist’s backings, and all the hard work and progress and the letter written to my work stating how far I’ve come and that with all the hard work and progress I’ve made, I’d be on my way toward a gradual return to work in 6 or so months, work said that means nothing.

Despite having a union rep who I THOUGHT was supposed to be on my side, I am being forced in futility.

I have nothing. I have no goal. I have no identity. I’ve worked all my life. And I have no control over what’s happening to me.

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Married but Not

I am not your wife; you are not my husband.

We exist. You don’t talk to me. You had a bad day. You need to vent. You have a question. I have to answer or I get a “HELLO??!!?”

I am your calendar, Note-taker, sidechick, occasional project. I am not your wife. I take up space, oxygen, finances, frustrate and irritate you, make you accountable. There is possibly an app for that. It’s not a wife you require but an assistant.

You don’t remember what I tell you, rarely follow through because you weren’t listening in the first place. You heard my words but you weren’t listening enough to care. You count on me to remind you if it’s important enough. No investment required. You keep score. I am not your wife.

I may be gone soon. You will pretend you care and there is a chance you might because you don’t want to be alone but that’s not the same as missing me because you don’t know me. You are not my husband.

You know my limits but ignore them. You know when I’ve hit my wall but push my face into it and are quick to anger when I become overwhelmed. You are not my husband.

You choose not to learn how to support me. You prefer when I keep my symptoms hidden and praise me only when I am able to do so. We are not a team.

You see and share only how this has affected you. But choose to ignore how any of what you’ve been through has affected me. I am not your wife.

We are not married. This is not love. Love is patient and love is kind, understanding. Love does not have conditions. I feel unloved. You feel unloved.

You do not recognize how exhausted I am. You do not recognize how scared of you I am. You do not recognize how I hate myself in this relationship. We are not husband and wife. I am alone.

You are my mom – praise me in public and scold me in private. You are the face of the model husband. “What a great team you make.”

They have no clue.

I don’t feel supported. You have learned to tell me to look away but emotionally you have also made me turn away.

You have no clue. I have no one to support me and that feels lonely.

“I am so busy with work. ”

When you were off work, you were “so stressed about finding work”

You have no clue what goes on in my head. No clue. But I will not bother telling you because you don’t hear me. You don’t remember. You don’t care. You have your own stuff.

We are not husband and wife. You can leave your ring at home. I give up.

From Accident to Homicide – My Story (part two)

I will back up a bit.

I had been attending a Christian Liberal Arts College, one that allowed me to take my first two years of my four year Bachelor’s degree mixed in with some Biblically based courses and to be on a campus with people that were also Christians.

Sadly all of late night chat and times of prayers, hugs and crying sessions were about to be tested.

It’s important to note that our dorm had a curfew and of we were to be away over a night or weekend, we needed to let our Resident Director know in advance.

In hind sight, I think this is the structure that i had craved all my life and the sense of family and belonging that I had longed for.

Immediately following my mother telling me that Jamie had been killed and that i couldn’t stay with the rest of the family, she did one of the cruelest things that a parent could do and it was not the first such thing she had done to me. Just a couple of years prior, Jamie had been in a freak accident at work that had everyone bone in face shattered and put him in a coma and she had asked me to tell my dad. Now she was telling me to be the one to tell my dad that his own son was dead!!

As I arrived back at the dorm to gather my things, I thought that first i had to tell my RD i wouldn’t be back for a couple of nights so I knocked on her door. As she answered it, o found myself just staring at her and try as I might, nothing came out of my mouth. I do recall eventually reaching behind to brace myself against the hallway wall and sliding down in sobs and finally uttering that I wouldn’t be sleeping there tonight because my brother was dead.

She said “ok,” That was it! And she just kept staring. She did not walk toward me to hug me, to see if I needed anything, invite me in, nothing. Just “ok.” I realized in that moment that my emotions, my real emotions needed to stay on lockdown.

As I walked through the hallway upstairs from my room to the bathroom to gather my belongings, girls that would normally interact with me suddenly were looking at the ground, shutting their doors or just plain ignoring me. I was a pariah. This group of girl supposedly there to support, uplift, encourage, suddenly didn’t have anything to say. I used the communal phone to make that heartbreaking call to my dad and got in my car and screamed at the top of my lungs!!!!

I drove the drive I had driven so many times; in fact only a half hour earlier, only it suddenly seemed foreign to me. I felt lost and as if I was in a city I’d never seen. It seemed darker; the street signs blurrier.

I got back to my mom’s house. I think my car was on autopilot, not knowing where to drive. I called to my brother’s house again. My mom answered.

“I’m at your place. Should I come over?”

“You can come over but there are too many people sleeping here already.”

My heart sank. I wanted to vomit. It’s as if I was asking a friend if I could sleepover. My brother just died and I wasn’t allowed to be with my family.

The naked truth.

I have an amazing smile!

This I am not proud of.

It is a cover for the fact that I feel completely  worthless.

I am a dichotomy.

I feel like I am good person – kind, honest, trustworthy, loyal, moral.

(How I obtained this, I will never know, because it was not something that was modelled for me in any way in my home.)

But at the same time, I feel like there is no purpose for me.

I have to bite my tongue frequently because it wants to utter the words,  “why?,” or “but.”

I can’t take a compliment, or encouragement, or any sort of affirmation without questioning the motive of the person offering it; without picking it apart and finding holes in the person’s statements, and ending right back to why they are wrong. I feel this way about everything from my appearance to my intelligence.

I really don’t like myself. I went from thriving (in my denial for nearly 40 years) to barely surviving.

I have fully taken over from my parents and am using their narrative. I was not worth their time; not worth their love or nurturing; not worth their celebration of my life, of my successes or even consoling in my time of failure.

I don’t know how to stop it. People have so many suggestions, from standing in front of a mirror and giving daily affirmations, to trying to meditate, to writing sticky notes of encouragement all over my home. What I need is to rewire my brain to stop the loop of telling myself that I am a failure and not worth the space I take up on this earth and start looking at what I have to offer, whatever the hell that may be, now that everything I worked for has been ripped away from me, thanks to that thing they call CPTSD.

If the flashbacks would stop. If the nightmares would give me a break, maybe, just maybe I could focus on trying to break this constant loop going on in my head.

“You are an idiot,” I tell myself for making the smallest mistake. This I have inherited from my father, and I no longer need for him to say it, but it has become an automatic response. I punish myself before any need say anything, even for mistakes that no-one around me would even notice.

“Don’t let it go to your head,” anytime someone says something nice to me. Or I wait for the second part of that, the “but.” And if it doesn’t come, I create it myself. This I inherited from my mother. She was sure to make sure that anything positive in my life was immediately torn down.

“You won’t amount to anything,” I was told. Looks like that is coming to fruition, and again. I don’t need to hear it from their lips anymore because it turns out it all worked out that way; all that I worked for and achieved, gone, just gone, and here I sit purposeless.

Woman of “Strength” or Righteous Indignation?

After some gentle nudging and my ever growing desire to pull myself out of isolation, I said “yes” to an invitation to attend a women’s conference at our church. I committed to the morning only because I knew the entire day would exhaust me. The noise, the people, the chatter, the fuss, the being “on,” the sitting, the being in a place I cannot escape from easily. I have slowly been getting to know the woman who had invited me and shockingly, I find myself trusting her in small doses, allowing myself to be authentic around her and to my surprise, she has responded with patience and kindness and shared and has not given up on me.

It was meant to be a place where women gathered to hear other women share stories and speeches of motivation, wisdom, inspiration, courage, and hope. By the second hour, I was filled with dread and anger and frustration but also awe and admiration.

A panel onstage was asked what each of them had to give up to become the strong Christian leaders/women they are today. The second woman said, with her lip quivering, her voice shaking, her body tense, fists clenched, and her knee bouncing, “I gave up the right to be angry. I gave up the right to be angry at those who hurt and abused me.”

Seven hundred women cheered. Several women behind me roared out “YES!”

My jaw dropped.

This woman was a survivor of sexual and physical violence. I didn’t know what to think. But suddenly I heard ALL my counsellors I’ve seen over the past three years in my ear, telling me how I would never get past or through this until I learned how to GET angry at those who hurt me; that I wouldn’t find healing until I stopped blaming myself and started to feel righteous indignation. Yet here I was at the precipice of healing and Christianity. Why does it need to be a choice? Forgive, forget, and move on. Such a simple formula. Come on!

I may not show it or know how to bring it to the surface and process it yet but deep inside me lays a seething heap of anger; pure raw anger. On the inside, I AM all kinds of angry yet most would never guess it. I am angry that there is supposedly this God up there that allowed me to be born into a family that didn’t want me, that didn’t care about me; that made me fight for everything I had only to see it all ripped away piece by piece. I am angry that I’ve seen more personal tragedy than a room full of my peers put together. But I am mostly angry at myself for cracking, for letting the seams split and not being able to hold it all together any longer and now being in a place that is unfamiliar, isolating, and scary. I am angry at the man who pulled the trigger and took away my best friend. I am angry at the officers who did their job carelessly and allowed agility man to walk. I am angry at my brother for going to work that day. I am angry for friends who drove carelessly and are no longer here. I am angry at cancer for taking other friends away. I am angry at mental illness for the several friends I’ve lost through suicide. I am angry at the belt that hung by the back door. I am angry that I went to the trial, that I spoke at the ceremony, that I blew my knee out, that I was born, that I wasn’t the kid my parents wanted. I am angry that I am not back at work yet, that I have no relationship with my family.

On the outside, I am fearful, anxious, zoned out, or faking a smile as I fight to push down the emotions fighting to trickle out. .

I don’t want to give up the right to be angry. I need to hold on to that right. I am going to need it someday when I’m ready. Most of my other rights have been violated or compromised. But this one I need to cash in when I finally learn how to implement it.

I have a feeling that my God will understand. But if he doesn’t, I choose healing. I choose to not blindly forgive those who trespass against me; to “be sweet,” and stifle that which is stirring within the depths of my soul, so much so that it seeps out in my sleep because I deny it through the day. Someday I will stop blaming and hating myself and will wear my right to be angry as a badge of honour and stop punishing myself for what others have done but until then I will fight to get there and clear a space on my lapel.

I am sorry for that woman on stage, for I felt her unresolved. I saw her unresolved pain. But she chose to give up being angry and to be a strong woman fo God. Interesting.

From Accident to Homicide – My Story (part one)

Have you ever wondered what happens to those families that sit in courtrooms waiting for justice to be served; for the man that sits before them; the man they have already convicted; the man that all the evidence points to, to be told he is guilty?

Have you ever wondered what really happens behind the scenes in those small Canadian courtrooms?

Lies. Corruption. Deceit. Confusion. Injustice.

I was 21. My brother was 23. We were friends. Not as close as we were when we were little, when we were bonded by our need to survive a house of violence and fear. He had a wife and two children, whom I loved and spent as much time as I possibly could with. In fact, I spent nearly every weekend over there or begged to babysit.

His youngest was turning 1 that Monday but we were celebrating his birthday on the Saturday; an open house. Jamie went into work early in the morning to help his boss fix a machine but promised he’d be back by noon.

He never showed up.

After unanswered calls made to his cell and to the warehouse, my little brother decided to drive out to see if he was there. Jamie’s truck was parked outside and the warehouse was unlocked. My little brother called out Jamie’s name. Nothing. He got spooked and left.

During this time, I had left the party and returned to my dorm room across the city to work on some term papers, declining invites to go out for the evening. Something just felt off. I had decided to go for a drive. I took a drive to my mom’s house to see if she had returned from the party yet but the lights were off. I went inside and called over to Jamie’s house.

My mom answered.

Apparently Jamie’s boss’s wife took her two neighbours to the warehouse and walked right in and found the two men, lying dead, and immediately called 911 and told dispatch that they were electrocuted. The RCMP decided NOT to follow protocol that night by sending a junior officer only who instead of doing her own investigation, took the statement by the wife and declared it an electrocution, DESPITE:

1) the blood coming from the men’s bodies

2) the machine being unplugged

3) the protests from the EMT/coroner

Protocol also states that a Sr. Officer come to the scene. In this case, he did not. As a side note, this officer, Cpl Marchand has since retired with full benefits and pension. They did not do any further investigations and left the scene in the hands of Health and Safety.

“Your brother…there’s been an accident…he’s dead”

I don’t know how much I spoke after that. I remember getting in my car and just screaming at the top of my lungs. This couldn’t be happening. I had just spoken to him a few days ago. I do recall asking if I should come over to the house, to which she told me “no,” and that it was “too full.”

I retrieved my items from the dorm and slept alone in my mom’s house on a mattress I pulled into the living room.

The other wife and her two neighbours asked to return to the warehouse the next day for some reason and the scene became contaminated. By Monday it was cleaned up.

Autopsies were performed on the men, and the cause of death was immediately clear.

As I was driving to school a couple of days later, I heard this on the radio:

“Bullets have been found in the heads of James Deiter and Tim Orydzuk. Police suspect foul play.”

I remember the term “execution style,” at some point, but I couldn’t listen anymore. What was happening.  How could this be true? Someone took a gun to Jamie’s head and just pulled the trigger? Three times? And the RCMP assumed it was an electrocution? I don’t understand!!!!!!!!

By this time, it had become anxiety provoking and overwhelming as his photo and name had already been in every newspaper, on every news channel, and our phone was ringing off the hook for statements regarding the accident. What the hell was about to come my way, I was even less prepared for.

Dear Younger Me.q

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been able to write, able to put my thoughts out there for them to be staring back at me, let alone be scrutinized by others, but I’ve hit that wall, THAT wall. We all know that wall. We wish for someone to come and not necessarily rescue us but to understand us, walk beside us, hear us, advocate for us, without judgment, without us having to ask or feel guilty or whiny. But we can’t because that equates weakness. That stirs in us a place where long ago someone told us and engrained in us that it was not okay to be; in a place of want or need, or to show vulnerability. So, we are “fine.”

I heard the song the other day titled Dear Younger Me, and one of its lines that stuck with me was,

Dear younger me, it’s not your fault.

It’s a line that’s heard in many songs, poems, well-intentioned mental health posters, social media, but for me that line was not encouraging; did not invoke some sort of resolution in my soul or ability to blame the generation before me or those that brought on the traumas that have me entrapped.

Because, while I write to the younger me and try to convince her that it’s not her fault; that she did nothing to deserve the constant barrage of terror, abuse, neglect, it’s only fair that the older me understand that none of that really matters. Who dealt the blows or whose fault any of it was, at the end of the day when I’ve finally cracked during my older years, my 6-year old wisdom, while useful for survival then, is only pinning myself against myself in the adult world.

So guess what younger me, it may not have been your fault, but YOU are left to pick up the pieces, left to make sense of it, left with the financial, emotional, physical, mental, social burden of what has been done to and around you, and now, right now, those around you don’t care that it’s not your fault.

You are an adult now and you are responsible for your own actions regardless of the lack of guidance, moral compass, compassion, decency, nurturing, protection, or even love that you weren’t shown during the years that you needed it most.

Dear younger me, you did what you needed to do to protect yourself, to survive, to keep yourself alive, sometimes literally. You did what you needed to do to not let them win or see that it affected you. But dear older me, they’re winning now; its affecting you now, and your wisdom and survival skills as younger you, serve you no longer. In fact it has managed to cause everything to become so compacted that when you least expected it, it leaked out at a rate and in a way that you can’t get it back in.

Dear younger me, you didn’t choose to be born, and especially to a family that didn’t want you, to a family that would choose to torment you daily and make sure you were aware that your existence and you striving for a future were useless. You didn’t ask for your brother and best friend to killed by a stranger or to be subjected to the multiple tragedies and traumas that you have. You weren’t supposed to be exposed to violence on a daily basis. You should have been protected and loved, and made to feel wanted by your parents, and there should have been justice for the man who murdered your sibling . You should never have seen sickness or tragedies. You should have never have felt the sting of a strap, the cold steel of a gun, the hard edge of a ruler, the cold fist of a parent.

But dear older me, it’s time to get over it, the flashbacks and the nightmares, the anxiety, and the fear, and you are solely responsible for trying to find help, navigating the mental health system alone, all the while facing the scrutiny and judgement of those who don’t understand what happened to you “all of a sudden” and why you can’t “just get over it.” You are also responsible for the ever increasing debt that adds to your insomnia and anxiety. You and you only.

Dear younger me, you did not inflict these wounds. But older you is and will be paying the price to learn to heal.