The Owner

On May 28, Facebook “Share A Memory” feature reminded me that it was exactly one year ago I arrived in this park. I’ve shared bits ‘n’pieces about my landlord before. I’m reminded today how truly lucky I was to land here and meet Mike.

We arrived with backpacks and a tent. Tired from such a crazy journey, compounded by reprieves in places that brought angst. We were looking for a place to rest and figure out where we were going from here.

The owner happened to be in the park (he isn’t always) and offered us a nice camping spot. He gave us a key to his cabin so we could shower. He didn’t ask for a dime. It was a few days before the 1st so he told us just to hang on and we’ll worry about it after. Just be comfortable and rest.

Two days later he pulled up with an older (like 1979) motor home. It was functional and he thought it might be easier for us than a tent so he offered to put it in a spot and we could just pay the pad rent on it. Like tenting for a month but with a shower and electricity. That’s how we decided to stay.

What a remarkable human being! He had permits to build up to 60 spaces in the campground but kept it to 30 so he could preserve most of the natural environment. It allows for every person here to have space between neighbours and beautiful yards.

He built the raised bed garden area and fenced it for deer. I casually mentioned this past week, at a bonfire he had for the whole park,  that rabbits are getting in the garden and slugs are a battle. So this week he is rabbit proofing and bringing in mulch to put around the beds. We can salt the mulch and totally prevent slugs. With the added bonus of it looking nicer and no mowing. But the point? HE makes it all happen.

He provides a guest Winnebago for anyone who has someone visit the park. Free of charge. But when my girlfriend came to visit from Winnipeg for Christmas? He gave her his cabin for the week.

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He regularly throws park meet n greets so everyone knows each other. He pays for all the beverages and most of the food. More recently it’s been a bit potluck but he really provides most of it.

He forgave me for making a big ugly display in his park. He allowed me to stay here. He sold me the trailer I was renting (at a ridiculously low price) so I would feel like I have a sense of security in my housing.

There are people in the park who, at times, are down on their luck and Mike will let them work off part of their rent No matter what kind of a problem you have? You can approach him and he will help you. He is patient and understanding. He handles concerns with discretion and diplomacy. I’ve never heard him say an unkind word about another person, even when you can see he might like to.

All that is firsthand knowledge. If you include hearsay? He’s won awards for his kindness and generosity in the community. I’ve met people who hear where I live and instantly they know who the owner is and that he is a fantastic person. I obviously appreciate his kindness to me but I also see his kindness to everyone. He is beyond generous to everyone around him.

Yes. I am very thankful to live where I have such an amazing person as my landlord!

 

 

 

 

Not Writing

I’m not sure why I am having trouble writing lately. I have four drafts on topics way more relevant to my life than ‘I don’t feel like writing’.

On the upside? I have been doing other things that require motivation. I finally got some tomato and pepper starts and planted them in my garden. I’ve been taking regular walks. I drew up the plans for renovating my bedroom area and tomorrow I pick up the materials and get it done. I did all my laundry, including blankets and towels. I wrote and mailed 5 letters.

So why am I having trouble putting my thoughts to keyboard?

Well, for a while there I was seeing my ex nearly every day. I find I don’t write around him very often. He encourages me to write and the issue of not writing around him is all me. But it is preventative at times. Especially when our relationship has been up and down throughout working on things.

We’ve decided on a different approach at our healing for now. It means more time apart with focus on individual healing. It’s important. I’m hoping more time alone will help me focus.

The other reason is that I feel stagnant. I know I am learning and growing in small ways every day but I’m not seeing the huge leaps and bounds I was four weeks ago. I’m wondering why and having that question in the back of my mind is, I think, holding me back a bit from writing about it.

Tonight? My sleep has been off for a couple of nights so I am wide awake in the middle of the night. Maybe I’ll crank out a few of those drafts I have sitting and waiting.

 

My Sister

Letter from Jaye

I have quite a few brothers and sisters. Between marriages, divorces and adoptions my family tree is more of a briar patch.

I have one sister that was in my life for the first twelve years. She is older than me and was my best friend. However she hurt our family deeply in the way she left and since then has rejected me entirely because I don’t support her version of her childhood truth.

I have a brother I knew well and he has taken a step back from me because he doesn’t agree with my lifestyle. Another brother I don’t know as well has told me my politics make me a danger to society and he doesn’t want me around his family.

I haven’t had much in the way of sibling relationship that hasn’t gone sour on me so I’ve avoided trying to get in touch with the rest of the sisters or brothers I haven’t met. Over the past two years I have reconnected with my biological father who has daughters I don’t know. He asked if I would write to one in particular.

I agreed and wrote two small letters and sent them off in the past couple months. I thought they were being ignored and was a bit sad but then today?

My Dear Sweet Sister,

The very first thing I want to say is that I am so terribly sorry this response to your kind (and very treasured) letters took so long. I am typing a real letter for you. I have scrapped several drafts, and it’s a shame, but my hectic life is in such a state that I only manage to type a bit at a time.

Your letters mean so much to me. I desperately want to know you more and I think it’s great you want to know me, too. I have loved, missed, longed for and prayed for you my whole life. I can tell from the way dad is getting to know you again that you are a wonderful woman and the kind of sister I have always wanted ❤

I promise to send more pics with my next letter, which I promise has a lot more details. Recent pictures of , me, dad, my best friends and my wonderful BF of three years.

I love you Shaunda. I can’t wait to develop a relationship and know you more.

All my hugs,

JJ

I cried. Yep, a big sappy cry of total happiness. I have a real blood related sister who wants to be real sisters. I’m a bit overwhelmed and looking so forward to spending a large portion of my day writing her back!

I have a sister!

The Doctor

I went to the doctor today. It shouldn’t be such a huge announcement except I have such an elongated history with both doctors and the medical system in general.

I had the most amazing doctor in the universe for 20 years when I lived in Winnipeg. She practiced in a Women’s Health Clinic. Over the time I was her patient? She helped me come out of the closet, talked to me about safe sex and answered the questions I could never begin to ask a parent or pastor.

Together we tried ever drug under the moon to deal with my mental health. I have side effect issues with all drugs. When drugs were not an option she made sure I had free counseling and every other support necessary.

She was my referral for my surgeries and stood by me through complications. She was my doctor through becoming disabled. She was my health hero!

When I left Winnipeg and her care? I was lost.

I tried to get medical care but in Alberta they were so mean. I was trying to get my ID in order so I could get medical coverage. But at every turn I was turned away. Ironically? The surgeon I was referred to from Winnipeg for my previous surgeries? He’s in Alberta.

I was trapped in Alberta because of legal issues. They were more important than doctor care.  So I stayed and dealt with them without medical care.

It was so much easier to get coverage where I live now. The biggest challenge here is finding someone who is taking patients that isn’t over an hour drive each way. But I found one and today I went to a doctor. After nearly three years of being disabled and without treatment.

His medical practitioner spent over an hour starting my medical profile before he came in.

He told me he was concerned about the drinking. Yes. I am honest with doctors. If they try to prescribe me something that ‘if taken with alcohol’ will kill me, I should know that! He commended my honesty. He offered support systems that aren’t AA (AA will not happen for me). And he gave me my anxiety prescription. Exactly as I asked for it. I was surprised because most doctors don’t like to prescribe it.

But I was told, in addition to helping my anxiety,  it is a medication prescribed to people coming off alcohol to help detox.

Who knew? Maybe it’s why I drank less when medicated.

I am heading back in to so many tests. No one has been able to figure out my issues, only how to treat the symptoms. This doctor and his personal assistant took over an hour today (between them) to learn my issues.  So much family history. So much surgical history.

Together we made an action plan for my health. It includes a physical, tests and meeting with the mental health nurse so she can help direct me. I told them I have a hard time getting to appointments because I don’t drive and the bus only runs once a week. They offered two sources of free rides to clinics for appointments.

He asked me what benefits he would have by requesting a previous medical file. Would it include things I haven’t disclosed? I told him I have disclosed everything but my past file was two files thick with surgical and mental health history. Psychiatric  profiles from three psychiatrists. His eyes lit up, he smiled big and told his assistant to make sure to request it.

His reaction, along with the amount of time taken to take my profile information, tell me he is committed to understanding patient history. That is so important to me in a doctor.

He seemed to genuinely care about my whole health. So many doctors breeze through so quickly and you don’t get a chance to get out all the details before they are trying to shove a prescription at you.He listened so patiently and asked further probing questions instead of trying to move on quickly. He reminded me of my doctor in Winnipeg.

His medical practitioner told me she was proud of me for coming in to a doctor and trying to move forward after three years without medical treatment. I felt good about ME!

In the end? He gave me a B12 shot. So I have a lot of energy today! I have two more scheduled appointments. One is for the regular girly health check with their girly nurse practitioner. The other is with the mental health nurse to find out what resources and supports are available in my area. I have lab work to get done before the next time I go in.  Overall a very productive appointment!

I am so happy to finally have a new doctor.

The Big Mistake

Let’s be honest.

Our marriage was a mess long before we got to this park. I was lying and hiding my drinking. He’d already tried to leave me several times but with no income he had to come back. That might be why I didn’t really encourage him to get a job even when we weren’t getting by. He couldn’t leave me without means.

I chalked it up to needing him at home because of my health stuff. Which is truth! However I also would not have been as stressed or in need of constant care if we were making ends meet financially.

It was a Catch 22.

I thought getting away from the high bills and stressful living place would help. I suggested we leave. He gladly agreed because he loved me and wanted us to have a fresh start as well.

Our trip from Alberta to where I live now had many hardships we got through together. But it also drained us completely. Physically and mentally.

We arrived here in the throws of the ruin of our relationship. We both already saw the end even though we were trying to hang on. We loved each other desperately.

Back then? We loved each other way more than the hate that was growing.

But the hate was planted from seeds of bitterness and resentment. Watered with fear and dependence. Grown in a fertilizer of deception and anger. Sunshined with neglect.

Our marriage was overgrown by those things long before the big mistake.

Shortly after we arrived at this park we met someone who was a bit enthralled with me. He is older than me. Not like grandparent but older than parent. So at first I took his kindness to be in that capacity.

I heard rumors around the park. I hate rumors and try not to participate but you are often subjected to listening when you are in the company of many people. When he began to put a few moves on me? I could tell what he was after and I shut it down often. Even joked about it with my husband.

At first.

Then in July 2015, while still ‘not so happily’ married the first thing happened.

Everyone knows I like my picture taken. Everyone knows I like to drink. My husband knows I have poor judgement when I drink. My husband knows how those pictures turn when I am feeling no inhibition.

After drinking at a neighbour’s place I was invited back to enthralled man’s place to take some pictures. I looked “very photogenic that evening”, apparently.

I asked my husband to come with me. He knew I was drinking and I told him I was going to take pictures. I asked him to come so we could have some together. He told me told me no but I could go ahead on my own.

When he walked up to find me much later? He discovered me with my shirt up and the guy taking pictures of my bra. I was still in lying phase then so I tried to make excuses but it was obvious. I apologized. I promised not to be alone in that person’s place again. I was told I was forgiven and I honored that promise.

I was still in social situations where he was there. My ex and I went over, together, to visit with him. Even though I was still friends with him I never put myself in a compromising situation with him or anyone else after that. I refused any kind of advances. I knew I had done something inappropriate and I wanted to honor my husband by changing.

Move forward ten months later and nothing had changed about the other problems in our relationship. I was still lying and hiding drinking. He still had some serious anger issues and wasn’t working. Neither of us could communicate. We had vicious fights every three to four weeks. And we broke up over THOSE things!

I’ve said before it was a messy break up. It was. Explosive and public. And after it was all done we spent a week not talking. We had so much anger. We eventually emailed because we had to take care of getting him some of the things he left behind. In those emails there was hatred. Zero hope for reconciliation. He said the most awful things to me. He also said them publicly. I was single.

I turned to that other man for comfort and affection. I won’t go into detail but it crossed boundaries for a married person, not a single one. Had he been crushing on me and maybe took advantage of an emotional girl? Did he freely provide anything I needed including all the wine I could possibly swallow? Yes!

Did I knowingly accept every drink? Yep, duh! Did I need comfort because I was suddenly all alone, scared and being told by my ex he was going to be dead every second day? You bet.

When we started talking more openly and I was finally being honest? I told my ex that I had turned to that person. I told him I crossed boundaries. I didn’t give details though. Why? We were trying to work on things and I wanted to move past it.

I cut ties with the other person. Which seemed to satisfy my ex until he found a picture on the computer. Of that indiscretion. The big huge, stupid mistake. I told him immediately what it was. He told me in the moment he respected my honesty.

I know I shouldn’t have turned to that person in my grief. It was like a knife in his chest. I regret it. It’s now the focal point of my marriage break up even though it happened AFTER. I regret not just taking the time to myself.

But I needed a friend. I don’t have a lot of friends here. So I turned to someone I knew would listen and get me drunk. I knew he would get sexually forward and I went into it anyway.

I feel awful and I have been apologizing for it ever since. Without forgiveness.

He keeps saying I was in love with that guy and have been fucking him since the day we moved in.He offers so many moments of kindness and patience where he says he forgives but then they all dissipate in fits of rage and anger. He casts out even wilder accusations than I am guilty of. And it comes with the most horrible name calling.

Today was the last straw. He wanted me to make a complaint to the owner about that other person. Sexual misconduct. Well, he’d like to call it assault because I was drunk. And while I look back on it and feel maybe taken advantage of in a vulnerable state? Nothing about the situation could constitute an assault. The fact there are pictures prove that clothes were ON and parties were participating willingly. How is that assault?

Knowing all that he still wants me to make some kind of formal complaint and call the police. It’s the ‘closure’ he needs to forgive me and I don’t love him if I don’t do this. Even when it goes against my better conscience and I already spoke to the owner about my other very legitimate concerns.

Under duress I typed a written copy of the complaint I already made. Then I struggled and cried about trying to word the other one. I explained, frankly, why I was having trouble while he sat there and shot me down. Slut shamed me and made me feel like nothing. Telling me I never loved him and he should have left me a year ago.

He eventually took the computer and left. He told me he would never contact me again and without a computer he couldn’t. I was freaked out, upset and relieved at the same time.

But then he showed up a couple hours later. He’d printed them, even the unfinished one, and refused to leave my place until I would sign them and give them to him for him to hand deliver to the owner. I refused and walked away. He went up to the owner with them unsigned.

It didn’t have the effect he wanted. That’s all I’ll say about that.

What I learned today? I will not go against my conscience to please someone who will treat me so viciously. Who will make me feel so bad as I beg for forgiveness.

I learned from the owner I am respected here for handling things discreet and diplomatic instead of going off half-cocked in anger.

Today, I forgive myself for my big bad mistake. I know I showed bad judgment. But it was not the break up of my marriage. I will not beg any more for forgiveness from someone who lacks it to give.

This mistake is going in the vault and I am moving forward!

 

 

 

Please Do Not Disturb

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I really appreciate alone time. At this point? I don’t have a lot of personal friends where I live and the ones I do have respect my need to be alone. Often!

Since my break up? Concerned neighbours, sometimes even the random strangers I’ve met who have been told where I live, try to pop by and see if I need anything. It’s mostly kind. Sometimes it’s the kid who wants to find work in my yard or other type opportunities. Sometimes it’s neighbours or park friends with offers of rides or a drink. People seem to care about my well being.

This past week I’ve been deep in depression. Toward the end of the week it spiraled into severe anxiety. I had my Please Do Not Disturb sign out for several days. I had my kitten. My ex came by with food and kindness. He helped me eat and took care of me when I allowed him to be here. But I was mostly perfectly okay, alone on my couch, being not okay.

I found out today even though my neighbours genuinely respected the sign, they also got very worried by Day 4. People started to ask about me. The girl I see the most hadn’t even heard from me.

However, before finding that out, I took the sign down this morning. And suddenly?

The owner talked to me today about something else and asked if I was okay. He asked if there was anyone I was talking to. He promised to check in on me whenever he is around.

Then I’m pretty sure, before he left for a few days, he appointed a guardian angel. A kind lady came and asked if I needed anything. She made sure I can get through the week until payday and brought me some pretty flowers for my garden. She told me she was there if I need anything and reminded me I am very cared for here.

I also had a kind friend bring me my own computer. He happened to bring some marijuana as well (my answer to not taking valium which has also been offered). Even though he was in a rush to get out the door and couldn’t stay to smoke? He left me a nice size chunk to get me through the next day or two.

I feel a bit better after a really rough night and morning.

Maybe I’m being shown I need to shut less people out. Or maybe not for as long. I don’t need to shut people out who jump so quickly to care for me as soon as the sign comes down.

 

My Playlist

My husband came to take care of me last night. He’s been so great about that. Now that he is working? He gives me money to go buy food, I cook it and we eat together. Mostly so I have food and have someone to help me eat. Sometimes he stays over and I make him breakfast. We both benefit.

But I have a YouTube playlist that drives him a bit nuts. And I play it on repeat constantly. That is how I listen to music. I’ll repeat songs to death until I am sick of them. It takes a while because I only choose songs that make me feel something important.

In the middle of the night last night? He woke up, angry, and tried to leave. I had put my playlist on repeat before bed and it was in his head.

Because of my abandonment issues I cried and convinced him to stay. This morning he woke up, drank the coffee I made and left. In complete silence other than my asking what I did wrong.

And then sent me this email.

Why did you make me stay?  I just wanted to rest. You don’t care that I was irritated a month ago with those same ten songs. You insist on playing them over and over.
I just wanted to get some sleep.

This morning. No breakfast? What did I give all my grocery money for??

Whatever. Do what you want. I’ll do what I want.

I told him if he had even said ‘good morning’ I would have offered breakfast. Reminded him I turned the music off as soon as he told me it was bugging him and that he had said it was okay to play it in the first place.

The music made me dislike you.
That’s crazy. So annoyed beyond fucking annoyed. Can’t get those songs out of my head it’s driving me mad.
Makes me think you are insane. No one listens to the same songs like that!? Do they!?
I’m so fucking messed up from the constant repeating songs. I’m not in a good way. Feel like killing myself literally because of the fucking dumb music.
How do you even deal with that? Something that makes me feel so much comfort makes him want to kill himself. And he’ll leave me in the middle of the night, in the rain, to sleep in a tent rather than listen to my music in the way I listen to it.
My playlist is 35 songs at the moment. Not 10. Each song has a memory or a story that goes with it. Those songs bring me comfort, even if they are ‘fucking dumb’.
 His last email said he needs a break. It’s been several days in a row of seeing each other and trying to work on this. Maybe a couple of days break are in order. I’ll see if I can make a separate, longer playlist that are things I know he’ll enjoy.

Thoughts On Working

I can fully admit that at 42 years old I have not gotten the hang of ‘adulting’.

I had insight when my parents visited recently. They were younger than me and dealing with so much other bullshit than my childhood could see. Different than what I have faced but just as valid.

When I focus my thought energy on them, their age at the time, and what they were after? I see them in an entirely different perspective.

They were mid-aged parents with three children. They were fighting court battles about trying to keep us. Trying, desperately, to make a family. They had no money. Every cent was sunk into making sure if either of them died they would be able to love each other’s children. My dad worked so many jobs just to keep us a FAMILY. To make sure we had an education in the school they felt was right for us. To provide.

And what did I learn from that? Many great things.

Work hard. It doesn’t matter if your boss is an asshole. You work hard because hard work is rewarding in itself. Because work is necessary to make life happen. And the person ‘directing’ the job has nothing to do with your worth if you work hard. If you work hard it will be seen and recognized. Money isn’t always the reward. But a solid reputation in the workplace is golden.

Be flexible. Not every job will provide every need. So go out and get more. Do what is necessary to make sure you can take care of what is important to you! I’ve taken on so many jobs simply because I was flexible enough to see outside of my dreams and into my needs.

Work rewards itself. Not every extra job I took on was a ‘money-maker’ but they each added value. Whether that be experience or business contacts? I gained rewards for stepping outside my dream jobs to take on grunt work. It got me through and gave me valuable life experience.

I miss being in the workforce. It’s one of the biggest losses I’ve suffered since becoming sick. There is a sense of accomplishment I am I missing in my life because I don’t have the satisfaction of a hard days work behind me.

I really miss having a purpose.

 

 

 

Social Anxiety

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I used to be one of the most confident, outgoing people you could ever meet. My mother feared at how bold I was approaching people the moment I could speak. ‘Don’t talk to strangers’ was not something I took to heart.

Now? I am still confident, but quietly. And I am outgoing when I have to be but I mostly choose not to put myself in situations where it is necessary.

What changed? When? Why? How? Looking back, I think some of my introverted nature began as an older child.

I was often grounded to my bedroom for not cleaning it or not doing my schoolwork. So my socialization happened in my imagination. Or by fighting with my sister.

Our school didn’t really allow for interaction in class either. We each had our own ‘office’ and we did our own work at our own pace. Self taught unless you had a question. You would put up a flag in your cubicle and the classroom supervisor would come and help you with your question. But you didn’t interact with the other kids unless it was recess. If you had a habit of not doing your schoolwork? You didn’t get recess. Detention meant staying at your desk while everyone else got to play for 15 minutes.

I only vaguely remember my teenage years. I worked so there was a degree of socialization there. But I was obese by teenage and I had restrictions that made me kind of an outcast, for lack of a better word. I felt like an outcast.

For example? Our school uniforms were chosen by the students. And they all had great figures. They picked them out at Mariposa. But I couldn’t fit them so I had to have my uniforms specially made at a seamstress. And they sure didn’t flatter me. Without actually being rejected, because that wasn’t allowed in my school, I felt rejected . So I didn’t really have close friends.

My school dynamic had changed to be classroom style by Grade 10 so there was interaction that way but it was still a lot of ‘work quietly at your desk’. I was known for skipping class. I spent a lot of time in the girls bathroom. It’s even in the yearbook, “Shaunda was known for leaving class to take her meds”.

I didn’t have boyfriends and that didn’t bother me. My crushes were on both boys and girls. I was too busy being confused to act on anything. Felt too ugly to act on anything. Mostly spent my time praying God would take my sexuality away so I wouldn’t act on anything.

My sister, who was my best friend,  had left our home by then so I didn’t have her anymore. I had one close girlfriend who turned out to be a bit psycho. Very troubled. And some metalhead guy I met at the baseball grounds on church baseball night who seemed to care about me.

But mostly, I felt like I was alone. I felt like I should get used to that because it was my destiny. So I developed my personality around driving people away and staying to myself. Avoidance turned into a habit. And when confronted with other life issues avoidance turned into social anxiety.

At least I think that is what happened after pondering it for a few days.

My anxiety is not managed now. I used to take medication when I had anxiety attacks. However I haven’t found a doctor or renewed my prescription for a couple years now. So I avoid things that make me anxious. I try to shop on weekday mornings to miss crowds. I skip out on events I think I would enjoy so I don’t have to talk to people. I have my ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign up almost 24/7.

Even with my avoidance? Lately my anxiety is over the top. Part of that comes from hearing things said about me that I know aren’t true. Part of it is just my nerves. Part of it is wanting to develop healthier friendships and not knowing how. (How can you get to be 42 and not know how to develop lasting friendships? I feel like an epic fail, socially. That doesn’t help either.)

But I really want to grow past this. In an effort to overcome my social anxiety I attempted micro-dosing social interaction yesterday.

How do you do that? Well, you go sit on a park bench, close to the high school, at lunchtime, with a kitten. Yep, for two hours Sami ran after every group of teens or teachers that walked past. So many people stopped for a two minute interaction to pet her or ask about her. One lonely looking girl even sat down to have her lunch with me. And thanked me after for letting her play with Sami.

The kitten buffer helped. I didn’t get nervous at all. I actually enjoyed all the little interactions. And by the time it was time to go do the grocery shopping? I felt more calm. The store crowds didn’t bother me and I didn’t get grocery cart aisle rage.

I’ll have to learn how to do this without the kitten but one step at a time, right? I felt like I had an anxiety success day yesterday!