“Please Don’t Stay In Touch.”

I feel sometimes, although I pour every emotion I have into this blog and feel like what I’ve written has made sense, people still get it twisted. I want to make a few points very clear.

I don’t need anybody’s sympathy. Though I so love the well wishes and the people on the sidelines cheering me forward, I want people to understand that they do not need to be sorry. I have had a comfortable and colourful life, and for the most part, I still do. I don’t want people to be sorry because my illness is not a weakness.

I think it gets thrown out there that mentally ill people are a little less sharp due to their condition, but I strongly disagree, and here’s why: I may not be able to concentrate as well in everyday life as I used to, but rest assured, my focus is not waning. If you can imagine yourself having a conversation, imagine having one with ten people shouting into your ears. Imagine driving and hearing the rising and falling of voices that are not really there. If you can’t picture this, I’ll just tell you that it’s hell. But it’s my hell, and I am ploughing through it.

I’m no damsel. A condition like this causes one to suffer, but because I know this suffering, I know that there is life beyond it. Suffering has made my skin as thick as leather, and my heart soft like butter. I have a deeper compassion than I have ever possessed, and patience I’ve never known before. I feel so deeply that I often live in the past, thinking of ways to correct all of my wrong turns, though I know it cannot be done. On the other hand, I’m determined to create a better future, and I’ll basically crush anybody who tries to intervene. Rumi said “The wound is the place where the light enters you,” and I fully believe that this is what has happened.

By sharing my story, by stripping myself bare for anybody to read, the light has come and it has filled the holes left by other people. I cannot be hurt anymore, because I cannot hide. My naked mind and heart used to feel a chill, and now I cannot imagine ever covering them. I am drunk on the freedom of it all.

Make no mistake, though I try to be compassionate AND patient, I still have a fire under my ass that can’t be put out. If you doubt me, if you wrong me, I welcome that. I will take the bitterness and seething anger that would usually apply and use it to smash every last one of these goals like an orange ditz on the Jersey Shore. I will do it better than you could ever imagine simply because you don’t think I’m capable. And I promise, when I come back, while you’re busy eating that crow, I will tell you to go FUCK yourself.

This has been “Hulk Smash: the Softcore Version” with Karlee Gorrie.

L Is For The Way You..

After nearly 23 years on this Earth, I’ve discovered that I have a lot to say.

I love words. I love the way that words sound differently rolling off of people’s tongues, the way they give colour to an otherwise ordinary story. I once dreamed about a woman and I’ve never forgotten her, because the way she said “square” took my breath away. I’ve tripped through pages of books and fallen in love with the characters. I’ve sobbed at 3 AM when love was lost. I used to imagine that I could cover my body with stories I’d treasured so that I could read them when being in my own skin felt excruciating.

The problem isn’t finding the words. The problem is having so many thoughts and words to sort through that I just can’t bear to turn those gears. The words burn holes in my brain while they are being held captive. When they are set free they seem to catch fire and flicker out of control, beyond my reach and become a mighty inferno that I can’t quite remember creating. Words echo, you know. Even when you’re not in an empty space. Words bounce off of the walls of brains, and some never recover.

If words take space inside of brains, If what I say should echo through the tunnels of the mind, they should mean something. And so it is that I torture myself daily. What, more that anything else, do I want to say? If there was one thing that could be heard and recognized forever, which words should fall from my lips? I want to tell you, and everyone to do what you love. But it could never be just that coming from me, could it? No, I have so many more words, so much more on top of it. I know somehow that this is the only way I’ll ever be able to say it and really be heard. This is my goddamn blog and I’m going to elaborate.

To do what you love, you have to pursue it relentlessly, hopelessly. If you’re not willing to die to let it flourish, I’m not sure it’s what you love. Nobody ever wants to read the story about that guy who kinda liked lacrosse and played it a lot but not on shark week or during lent. People want to hear stories about men and women who gave everything they had to their passion and abandoned the fear of risk. People want to hear stories that are built from the ground up, with twisted plots and a naked honesty. They want to hear about the failures that led to the inevitable successes.

To do what you love, you have to be willing to make the climb. Imagine the road that separates you from that which you desire. It’s steep and slick and the weather is never in your favour. You roll your ankles in the deep ruts, you slip through the mud and bruise an elbow. Nobody on the sidelines tosses you an Advil, cleans your wounds, no, no. If there is anybody there at all, they will be telling you to turn back; out of love, fear, disbelief, spite. You have to be willing to look through the fog and see the beam of what you love in the distance, you have to be willing to use your mind, your free will and your perfectly capable, beating heart to say “I have to finish this.”

Don’t be a fuck about it, though, okay? If you want people to root for you, offer them the same encouragement, too. Don’t step on anybody, and don’t mow anybody over in the hopes of traveling this road in a more timely fashion. I won’t tell you that karma will get you, because I’m not sure of that. What I am certain of is that what you love will be forever tainted with memories of those you caused pain to on your journey; not so sweet. If what you love causes you to harm others, it is not what you love. It is an unhealthy obsession that you have taken on and need to confront. Love should call us to do many things, but never to cause violence or harbour hate. Love doesn’t share, and it will not coexist with hatred.

To do what you love sometimes means saying goodbye. To habits that you loathe, to friends that bitter your warm and open energy, to crutches that you have found necessary to lean on in the past. It forces you to abandon your demons, your need for validation and uncertainty. What you love you should be sure of. What you love is sure of you.

If you don’t know what it is that you love, don’t worry. To love you must live, and if you do it openly, freely, it can only guide you to what you love. Now that you’ve heard my two cents, Go do that!

Raise Your Hand if You Feel Awkward Right Now

They tell me that experience is the most brutal of teachers.

I agree, but I don’t want to talk about that today. Today I want to talk about experience being that teacher that is awkward and makes you slightly uncomfortable, but is also hilarious in an understated way. You know, like the male teacher who freezes and turns crimson whenever someone yells “tampon!” (Maybe this didn’t take place as often for most people as it did for me, but I digress…) Today I want to share some of the weirdest, most uncomfortable experiences that have turned out to serve as great pearls of wisdom in my life.

Why Confidence Wins Every Time: When the neighbouring community built an indoor leisure centre, friends and I would spend most of our free time hanging out there. “Romance” would bloom over greasy french fries and sweaty hand holding at local hockey games. The pool had a water slide, and if you put all of these components together, you have a twelve-year-old kid’s Shangri-la. I remember one particular afternoon after swimming, sitting in the change room waiting for my friends to finish stuffing their bras and applying the mascara I wasn’t allowed to wear yet. I was feeling ugly, jealous and petty. I heard a grunt and looked over to find a middle-aged woman completely nude on the bench next to me. I had no idea what to do or say, so I just did the awkward turtle and moved my shoulders around a lot. I kept thinking “Should I leave? Does she want privacy? Am I creepy for sitting here? I should leave. No, wait. That seems rude. That might make her think that she is making me uncomfortable.” I settled on staring at the ground, watching her out of my peripherals. She was a large woman, covered in stretch marks and sporting undergarments that would make a nun chuckle. She did not look up even one time; she didn’t seem to notice my presence at all. Out of nowhere, two tall, beautiful twenty-somethings in a bikinis floated (yes, floated, beautiful people seemed to defy gravity in my adolescent mind) past, one muttering “Take that shit somewhere else.” A wave of pity and embarrassment for the woman washed over me then, and I stared at the ground even harder. I couldn’t believe it when I heard her call “Do you have something you’d like to say to me?” Fuck looking down, this was an invitation to a party where shit was about to get real! The two women stopped and gave each other a shockingly ugly expression of what I can only assume was horror. The beautiful blonde replied “Um, no.” and they continued to float. Nude Lady wasn’t having it, though. She stormed up to the duo and said “Listen, perky tits, when you get to be my age and realize what’s truly important, you’ll be sad that you didn’t have it in you to let those perky tits of yours hang out while you still had ’em. Take your friend and your tramp stamp and get out of my face.” Perky Tits and her friend walked away defeated, and Nude Lady went back to putting on her bra. That’s the day I stopped seeing beautiful people floating above ground in my head. I left that change room hoping that I had the balls to be half the woman Nude Lady was.

Why Being Kind Matters: One day in what I believe was fourth grade, I was walking through the halls of my elementary school, about to go stand in the washroom and pretend that I was peeing to avoid math. I had learned that if I dragged my hand along the railing and pretended to walk like I was a piece of spaghetti there and back, I could shave a solid 15 minutes off of that horrendous class. So, there I was, walking like spaghetti and minding my own business when I was abruptly pulled into a hug by a crying woman who I did not know. In between sobs, she told me that she was so thankful for her daughter having a friend at this new school and that she’d heard all about me. When she pulled away and saw my confused expression, she asked if my name was Alyssa. I awkwardly informed her that it was not. She ruffled my hair and walked away looking horrified. Although I was shaken, I was sort of wishing that I was Alyssa, because I hadn’t ever been so warmly embraced for doing nothing before. I wanted adults to weep over my kind gestures, too. Later on I saw this in a less narcissistic light, of course, and I finally understood that small expressions of love may not feel like much effort in the making, but could be the band-aid on the wounded heart of somebody else. Important stuff. Kudos to you, Alyssa, whoever you are!

Why Patience is a Virtue: This is a two-in-one. I was in my doctor’s office recently, and I was not having a fantastic time. The waiting room was jam-packed, every seat filled by a rump. I think it’s a general rule that people feel more comfortable ripping a fart when there’s that many other people in the room that could be blamed for it, so there was a lot of that going on, as well as incessant chatter from the two women on either side of me. One was very upset, and the other was trying to comfort her. The only problem here is that they would put their arms around each other sort of over top of me. I asked numerous times if they’d like me to move so that they could sit side by side, they said no and looked annoyed that I would interrupt or eavesdrop on a conversation that I was literally in the middle of. Farts. Coffee breath. Crying. NO. I stood up and told them that I wanted one of their seats because they were driving me crazy. They looked hurt, and everyone in the room became quiet and looked at me like I was an asshole, which I did not understand. That same day I went into the grocery store, looking for something that I can’t recall now. Apparently I couldn’t recall then, either, because when I asked one of the young stock boys about it, I had totally forgotten what I was looking for. The voices got really, really loud and then I started crying. While I was crying, I picked up a  honeydew melon and shook it out of frustration. When it still wouldn’t come to me and the discomfort of the situation became too much, I left the store. Later on, I remembered the two women I had raised my voice to, and remembered that they, too, were struggling with something that I didn’t know anything about. I remembered the stock boy, and how even though I was crying and grunting and shaking that melon, he didn’t become edgy or irritated. He didn’t ask me if I was crazy, and didn’t interrupt me at all except to ask what I can only assume was “Are you alright?” I learned (and I’m still learning) that I don’t have to understand everything. What I must do is understand that if I want people to be patient on my way to figuring it out, I have to do the same for them, even if I DO find them insufferable.

So there it is: Experience, the most awkward of teachers.The most wise and weird and beautiful and awful of teachers. I suppose, if we must shake melons and walk like spaghetti and see other people naked, we must at least be able to tell a great tale as a result.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…..

Hola amigos, it’s that time of the week again!

Let’s talk about compassion. I know, I know. I beat the damn subject to death. Today is different, though, because I’m not discussing having compassion for other people. Today I’m talking about having compassion for ourselves.

Why is it that most of us find it so easy to lift other people up as if they’re balloons and we’re helium, and in the same breath, sink ourselves like anchors? You know, the whole “No Karen. You’re not ugly. You’re like, super gorgeous. My pores are as big as suitcases. I pack toiletries in my face when I go on vacation!” thing. I don’t know about you, but I am a regular offender. My sense of humour has always been a little self-deprecating. As much as I am proud of my ability to laugh at myself, I’m starting to see that it’s more of a defense mechanism than anything. I think it’s my way of making fun of myself before anybody else has the chance.

Today I had my second session of therapy. My therapist asked me to pretend that my adolescent self was seated in the chair next to me, describing her story. She then asked me how I would respond to that little girl. My heart broke a little bit. I wouldn’t say ANY of the things to her that I do to myself on a daily basis. All I could think to tell her was how much potential she had, and not to worry, because she was beautiful and funny and smart and fucking badass.

I’m coming to the conclusion that I don’t need to make fun of myself anymore. I don’t need to beat other people to the punch, because here’s my nub: People who make a point to discuss my flaws are ASSHOLES. They’re assholes, and I don’t want to socialize with those people in the first place. So why do I care so much what they might think? A wise woman once told me “It’s none of your business what other people think about you.” At the time, it felt abrupt, like a cuff to the noggin’. In retrospect, it makes so much sense and I’m so glad that she had the balls to give me that little nugget of advice.

If I really think about it, the only words that ever hurt me were the ones that I believed to be true, and the majority of those words did not roll off of the lips of other people. Nobody can hurt my feelers like I can. From now on, I’m going to make a point to try to catch myself before I say “Oh, duh. I’m stupid.” or “It looks like I’m hiding a dinner roll in my pants.” I know that old habits die hard, but I’ve taken the first step. And when I inevitably fail, I will accept it. I will remind myself with kindness and patience.

Let’s try to be a little sweeter to ourselves, shall we? Tell me all about the things that make you an outstanding person. You can find me here, via Twitter, or Facebook. I always enjoy hearing from those of you that are taking the journey to self-acceptance, too.