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Life of V

The journey from being broken to being queen

7 months…

… 7 months was the last time I felt the urge to write.

That stinks. I love writing. I’m pretty good at it. But then things pile up, the snowball effect, and life kinda gets away from you for a moment… or a few months.

But I did a thing. In the last 7 months, I’ve left one job… a job I was at for nearly 3 years… and took a stab in the dark at something I never thought I’d have the courage to do.

I applied for a restaurant manager job.

EEK!

I’ve been working in kitchens for a loooooooong time, nearly 15 years. I know how kitchens run. So, when job searching, an ad caught my eye and made me a bit excited. Restaurant manager. “ooh, wouldn’t that be nice?” I thought. And almost immediately, the anxiety and poor self esteem and negative thoughts that have plagued me my whole life came in and said “you’ve got no experience managing, they’ll never even consider you” and “you can’t run a kitchen. You’ve never done it before”. I almost didn’t give it a second look.

But I mentioned it to Chad. 🙂

And off it went from there. I’ve never had a cheerleader in my life who pushes me to do the things I never thought I could do. He makes me want to be better, yet still loves me the way I am. Broken and twitchy and moody as fuck. He still loves me.

He and I are coming up on 6 years together. He’s seen me at my worst, the lowest moment of my life, and he stood by me and held me together and helped me be strong. He doesn’t seem to mind that I’m a bit mentally unstable; he’s been able to maneuver through my anxiety and pull me from the weeds to keep going. I’ve never trusted another human being more in my entire life. I love him so much.

He also believes in me like no one else has (save for maybe my mum). He encouraged the crap out of me and lo and behold, I sent my resumé for the manager job. Being the way I am, I was upfront in telling them I had no actual managerial experience, but I knew my way around a restaurant. I also wore a really cute skirt to my interview 😉 (that perfect red one Brittany!!!) The owner of the business was at the interview and well, let me tell you, that was pretty intimidating. But something in my mind said “fuck it. I’ve got as good a chance as anyone!” and away I went.

And you know what? She HIRED me!

Can I get a hell yes!

So, I’ve been managing a burger restaurant in Bedford for the last 5 months. I’ve also been managing my mental health pretty well these last few months. I mean, I’ve had some setbacks, a couple of panic attacks that crashed into me outta nowhere, and I’ve been battling this ever-looming sense of anxiety and an internalized pressure cooker of needing to be strong and perfect and have everything together and have everyone love me and constantly impressing people. Yeah. There’s always that. But I’m learning how to talk to my inner demons and tell them to shut the fuck up. I’m fine. I really am. It’s a constant battle, and I’m exhausted all the time. But I’m actually doing it! And I’m even learning to enjoy myself in my downtime. I KNOW, RIGHT?!

I have learned a lot in the last few months. Not only have I learned the ins and outs of managing a restaurant, I’ve learned to place more trust in my co-workers instead of listening to the voice within saying it’s always a competition and a ruthless one at that. See? My mind is fucked up. The people I work with are wonderful and supportive and they actually seem to like me 🙂 *nervous laughter* (That’s my brain telling me that people just “tolerate” me for the sake of getting through the day and never giving me a second thought… I tell ya…. fucked. up.)

I’m learning how to tell those thoughts apart from my own thoughts. My depression is always hanging out in the background, trying to make me believe the worst in everything, including myself. It’s a constant struggle that’s really hard to describe. Waterboarding with negativity, doom and gloom, basically. But I’m beginning to loosen the restraints. I’m finding my job rather enjoyable, it’s a mix of customer service, cooking, math, food science, psychic prediction, being a know-it-all (which I loooooove haha), and I get to go shopping every week for certain things (and I loooove hanging out at the wholesale clubs. I find so much cool stuff to come back and buy on my days off haha). I also get to hang out all day with a pretty awesome, yet somewhat rambunctious group of people. The staff at the restaurant is full of personality, a good melting pot of delightful weirdos who are good at their jobs 🙂 I love each and every one of them like they were my own kids, even though they’re not kids. Not kids. Young adults with waaaaaaaaaay more energy than I’ve got, but it’s awesome. We made over 3000 specialty burgers for Burger Week and everyone survived as a team. I am beyond impressed. We’re gonna do 4000 next year. I haven’t told them that yet though 😉

So there it is… my last few months, in a nutshell. Came to a fork in the road, I decided to go in a different direction. I thought I got lost, but it turns out, I was just making a new road for myself. I’ll keep you updated as to where I end up 😉

Tell It Like It Is

So, I got a new day planner a couple of weeks ago. It was an idea for how to start writing down things that happen in my life and in my brain, as well as writing down the things that are causing me stress and anxiety, so I can maybe start to see a pattern and squash it like a bug. I’ll let you know how that goes. But it’s a gorgeous planner and I’m a little bit smitten with it and I bring it with me everywhere. Maybe that’s a good sign.

Each month has a tab. Ah, swoon. On that monthly tab page, it looks like this:

 

IMG_20161030_175648389.jpg

Some are cutesy. Some are motivational. I’ve decided to use these as a theme for the month ahead, interpreting everything I do into some form of symbolism because that’s how I am. November is “Tell is like it is” month. I’ve a bad habit of bottling things up and letting them eat away at me until I crash and burn. This month, I am going to work at conquering my fear of saying what I really feel when it comes to something I feel is important. I have spent years being told (and believing) that my thoughts and feelings don’t matter. All you’re worth is that you can do for other people to make their lives easier. I know that it’s that ugly cloud of depression and insecurity that makes me think this way, but some habits are fucking hard to break. But this month is a month of quitting. Quitting keeping things held back and bottled up. I have to shatter this mindset that talking about my feelings makes the people who love and care about me uncomfortable or inconvenienced. If something  bothers me, I need to find a way to talk about it, or else it will destroy me. And I don’t want to be destroyed by something that. I want to be destroyed by an asteroid or something like that.

I don’t take care of myself very well. I am realising that more and more lately, and I am struggling to think of a reason why I shouldn’t treat myself with the same respect, dignity and love that I treat everyone I care about. I’m discovering that depression and anxiety have plagued me my whole life, it was just undiagnosed and unrecognised because I hid it so well. I hated myself when I was younger. I wanted to be thinner, funnier, prettier, smarter, more perfect, but I could never get there. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I know now that I was full of shit. I was plenty back then and I’m plenty now.

I still struggle with knowing I’m enough, let alone plenty. Since I lost my mother, I have felt lost, without my biggest fan, my other half. I have struggled to feel whole. I have the most wonderful partner in the whole world, loving friends and a sweet and close family that drives me insane, but even all those blessings, and I feel… incomplete. I’ve felt that way for a long time, and I am struggling to find those missing pieces.

So bear with me friends… I’m about to get very open and very honest.

A Better Place

A few days ago, Chad and I celebrated our five year anniversary. Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve found someone who’s been able to handle the fact that I’m kinda messed up in my head, and still been able to see the human underneath and love her. In the past, it’s sent people running, and I just kind of got used to it. When the chips were down, most folded. Chad raised. I’ve never had such a connection with someone, a deep understanding and acceptance of the whole package. So we celebrated all this with steak. 🙂 We’re real partiers too. We clinked glasses filled with non-alcoholic drinks, made out in our little corner of the dining room of The Keg, and giggled and stared stupidly at each other like it was our first date. It was nice.

We stayed up late talking, like we did the day we met, and talked about everything from which was the best Star Trek (TNG, obviously), our future plans and dreams, the differences between vegetarian and vegan (neither of which we would ever be, unless they invented a bacon tree), the changes going on at work (I’ll get to that), and even remembering that our anniversary was also a sad one, for it was the day Canada lost Jack Layton. We both admired him, and it comes up in conversation every year, because I was the one who broke the news to Chad the day we met.

I’m very lucky to have Chad in my life, and I don’t even think I understand how lucky. He’s been by my side during the toughest moments of my life, and carried me through when I couldn’t bear it. He’s been there when the darkest parts of me clouded the real me and helped me break through and come back (hopefully) stronger. I wouldn’t be here today without his love, and I don’t even think he knows how many times he’s saved my life.

So, here’s to five years. I love you more than all planets orbiting all the stars in the universe. Thanks to you, I’m gonna be alright.

Alive

I’ve been told a lot that I have no filter. My first chef used to walk behind me while i was prepping for service and in a singsong voice say “filter” to remind me to shut the hell up. I talk a lot is what I’m getting at.

I used to apologise when I’d catch myself babbling on and on about something. I was trying to be interesting, useful, someone worthy of being liked. It took me too goddamn long to realise that I already was. It’s so hard to really figure out what was going on in my mind during all these years of self doubt. It almost seems ridiculous now, but hindsight’s a bitch, or something like that. I don’t apologise for talking anymore. I’ve got things to say.

So, while I still have no filter, I am much more aware of the cloud that always looms in the background. I used to feel like I was drowning. But it seemed normal. I thought this was how life was supposed to feel. Fuck that. I need to take back my life.

I was born in a thunderstorm, I grew up overnight
I played alone, I played on my own
I survived

I wanted everything I never had, like the love that comes with light
I wore envy and I hated that
But I survived

I had a one way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change and nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope just lies, and you’re taught to cry into your pillow
But I survived

I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive

I found solace in the strangest place, way in the back of my mind
I saw my life in a strangers face, and it was mine

I had a one way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change and nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope just lies, and you’re taught to cry into your pillow
But I survived

I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive

You took it all, but I’m still breathing

I have made every single mistake that you could ever possibly make
I took and I took and I took what you gave, but you never noticed that I was in pain
I knew what I wanted, I went out and got it
I did all the things that you said that I wouldn’t
I told you that I would never be forgotten, and all in spite of you

I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing, I’m still breathing
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive

I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive
I’m alive

A Million Years Ago…

You know how people interpret things differently all the time? And how that’s never created any sort of conflict ever, like whatsoever? Okay, yes, that second question was sarcastic, it sounded better in my head. But it’s still my intro to the world today.

I sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago. As gracefully a tapdancing buffalo, I slipped in a icy parking lot and my ankle bent at an unnatural angle and I felt/heard a very loud snap, followed by someone swearing. Oh wait, that was me. I was in and out of hospital (painkillers, x-rays, poking and prodding, bending and twisting until I yelped, Chad wheeling me into a wall, the whole shebang) in less than 2 hours. On a Saturday night! We either beat the bar rush 😉 or we just got damned lucky. I made jokes with the nurses, doctors and x-ray techs, and at one point asked for tequila. I don’t drink.

After a week on crutches, I am now in a cast boot. It was a little rough at first, but I’m able to walk now, and having the boot makes me feel steadier on my very tender and very weak ankle. I still have to work… gots bills to pay and such. I did take a few days off when it first happened, mostly because my boss is a nice guy and didn’t want to feel guilty about stepping over me when I’d crumple on the line. HA! Nah, but seriously, he was pretty insistent. Elevate that shizz… that’s what he told me. Sounds like a pretty good life motto, eh?

Which brings me to part one of where my intro fits in. After breaking myself repeatedly and being gimped up for more than half a year, I’ve had a lot of time to just sit and think. TO finally face the demons and take a really good look at myself in the mirror. Metaphorical mirror. I don’t sit and stare at myself in the mirror all day. I check myself out and jiggle my boobies in the morning mirror like every other woman, but that’s about it. I need to change my perspective about a lot of things. Something isn’t working and since I’m a goddamn adult, I need to address this. Immediately.

Come on this epic journey with me. Is it okay that I’m scared of what I’ll find? Of course it’s okay. I mean, there could be nightmarish stuff beyond this point. Spiders and shit. Skeletons? Donald Trump? Yeah, that’s what nightmares are made of. (Please don’t vote for Donald Trump. Hate and fear are not the solutions. It’s supposed to be a nation UNITED, not divided and colour coded. Someone who is dead inside cannot lead a nation filled with life and love.  #LovetrumpsTrump)

When you’ve got a lot of time to think about everything because you’re cooped up and immobile for a while, you think about some weird shit. Once I get past current events, and the sideshow that is the US election (get your shit together people. It’s your country, not Jersey Shore), I looked inward. My brain is always making noise, and I’m always trying to calm it down. I decided to look at it like my closet. Organising my closet means I have to purge some things. Usually a lot of things. Check to see if they still fit, if they’re stained or torn, if I’ve worn them ever or in the last year. If it’s a staple that always stays, or if it’s a piece of my history that has some special meaning. If not, unload it.

I find myself very anxious to be around people. Don’t take it personally. I love you to pieces, I just find it very exhausting and nerve wracking to physically be in your presence. It’s not you it’s me, and I’m not just saying that. I fought against my introversion for years. That’s not how you’re supposed to be. You’re supposed to be social, right? That’s how the world works. It’s hard to describe the feeling and thought process, it didn’t matter if I liked it or not, it’s just what was done. Feelings weren’t a part of everyday life, they were private. Something that were yours and not to be shared with others. Because they didn’t matter to anyone else.

I recognise that now as the cloud of depression and anxiety that has always hung over me. What’s the saying? Hindsight’s a snarky bitch that makes you go DUH! Something like that. I told myself that I had to earn the right to do the things that made me happy and to talk about my feelings and for some reason that’s what I believed. I was a stupid kid. I’m a stupid adult too, but I’m working on figuring shit out.

As I got older I went into robot mode. All I wanted to was to make sure that my mother was proud of me and that I became who she wanted me to become. It’s coming up on two years since she died and thinking about her is bittersweet. I wanted to make her the happiest person alive and I grossly misread the rules. She wanted me to be successful. So I read that as “become a doctor or a scientist”. I feel like I let her down when I dropped out of Acadia after my first breakdown (which I didn’t call a breakdown. I was in denial even back then). Then I went to culinary school for 2 main reasons: 1) I liked to cook and I was good at, having had lots of practice from childhood.. thanks grandmas and mamma. and 2) Community college is a shit load cheaper than university and it was only a 2 year program at NSCC. I could be earning a decent living and no longer be a burden on my parents. Notice how complicated that second reason was. That became my focus. Ah, to be young and stupid again. I don’t like being older and stupid. My boobs aren’t as perky and I don’t have as much energy.

So, I’ll be older and wiser. Time to rethink I ever thought, because the cloud is lifting. I’m getting better. I have my days, like everyone else, and I have more of them than a lot of people. I just don’t fight them anymore. My breakdown last year really was a blessing. I hate to say that, because it’s bittersweet. It’s good because it’s made me discover myself, but it’s borne out of my mother’s passing. I think that’s the hardest thing I have admitted. There’s today’s breakthrough. And I’m crying. Okay, I can get through this.

I really have learned a lot about myself since I stabbed those poor pork shanks and cried in the walkin that night. My feelings of guilt and sadness and desperation came to a head that night. I scared the shit out of Colby, the other cook on the line with me that night. Sorry buddy. Please don’t be afraid of me anymore. ❤

I felt so much sadness in losing her, it began to crack the facade. I felt so much guilt about so many things. I promised her I’d visit her again the night before she passed, but I didn’t. I’d had a panic attack at home with Chad and a splitting headache resulted. I took that night to myself to sleep off the headache and the next morning… well… that still tears me up. I’m sorry mom. I know you understand, but I’m still sorry. I hate that my last promise to you was broken. I had such a good track record. Why did it have to go out on that note?Fucking life eh? Oh wait… hey… did I just make a funny? No… well, maybe…?

I also felt guilty because I was trying so hard to act like nothing was wrong. And that I was afraid that I was still failing. If that’s not a contradiction, I don’t know what is! No wonder I’m exhausted. I felt guilty for not being to do more to save her. Guilty for still not being able to pay off her funeral bill, guilty for laughing at something, guilty for crying, guilty for changing and failing at resisting the change… I was a trainwreck waiting to happen. Now I feel guilty for having cracked. It’s never ending, and it’s exhausting.

It’s also exhausting to think that for a while, I was trying to go back to what I was like before.Trying to reboot to the last known safe point. That’s not how real life works and it took me far too long to learn that. I feel I could be much farther ahead in my recovery if I wasn’t so goddamn stubborn. Recently, a friend told me that there is a Japanese art form called Kintsukuroi. 

kintsukuroimeme

 

Thanks Matt. That was really sweet of you to share. Since I’m all about interpreting things, I think I might know what you were getting at 😉

I’ve been listening to a lot of Adele lately. I haven’t bought an album in a long time, but I just love Adele and 25 is my favourite of the trilogy. She reminds me of the good old days somehow. But young and vibrant and new. One of my favourite songs on 25 is A Million Years Ago (roll credits). This song touched me first because of one line in the chorus “I miss my mother” and well, I can relate to that. From a mental health standpoint, this song was clearly written for me.

I only wanted to have fun
Learning to fly…
Learning to run…
I let my heart decide the way
When I was young…
Deep down I must have always known
That is would be inevitable
To earn my stripes I’d have to pay!
And bear my soul

I know I’m not the only one
Who regrets the things they’ve done
Sometimes I just feel it’s only me
Who can’t stand the reflection that they see
I wish I could live a little more
Look up to the sky, not just the floor
I feel like my life is flashing by
And all I can do is watch and cry
I miss the air, I miss my friends
I miss my mother; I miss it when
Life was a party to be thrown
But that was a million years ago

When I walk around all of the streets
Where I grew up and found my feet
They can’t look me in the eye
It’s like they’re scared of me
I try to think of things to say
Like a joke or a memory
But they don’t recognize me now
In the light of day…

I know I’m not the only one
Who regrets the things they’ve done
Sometimes I just feel it’s only me
Who never became who they thought they’d be
I wish I could live a little more
Look up to the sky, not just the floor
I feel like my life is flashing by
And all I can do is watch and cry
I miss the air, I miss my friends
I miss my mother, I miss it when
Life was a party to be thrown
But that was a million years ago

A million years ago

Thanks for understanding me Adele. I wish I could see you in Boston when you’re there Sept 14th. Those tickets went FAST. Sept 14 is mom’s birthday and I feel like she’s around me when I listen to you sing.

MmmKay, that’s enough interpreting for today. If you’ve read this far, you must not be working today 😉 Sorry it’s so long… I just scrolled back up and holy shit.

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