Monday, February 3, 2014

Still Here

Nothing to say.  J is in full time school, it is INTENSE, but she is really enjoying it (and I am enjoying seeing her happy like this!).  I do everything else.  It is also intense, since full time work, with running the house, making sure we are fed and watered, bills are paid, etc etc etc, is at times overwhelming, when all I want to do is sit down and read Harry Potter.  I know this imbalance is temporary, and it's not like J is resting on her laurels either.  She is in school M-F, from 8:30-3:30 (ish, depends on the day), and then comes home and does another 3-4 hours of homework.  However, she's so organized and on top of things that her weekends remain relatively free, with only 3-4 hours of homework through the weekend.  I am intensely proud of her.

My stupid baby hormones have not stopped screaming at me, it does not help with two of my amazing, beautiful besties popping out babies (one is out already, and he is simply stunning and super sweet, the other is still gestating but not for much longer).  We have plans after J is done school to do all this other stuff, but I don't think I will be able to wait one.more.damn.second.  Negotiations planned for next December.

Life is still plucking away.  Our big tom cat, Mustang, was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis last week.  He is 17, has endured far too many medical tests lately, and we have decided to make him palliative, to treat for symptoms and make him comfortable.  I have not shared with hardly anyone, because people say terrible things like "why let him suffer, just put him down, he's just a cat".  People said terrible things like that to me when I was primarying at work too, and this is just as jarring.  He is MY cat, it is OUR choice.  He is comfortable, well medicated, with adequate pain control.  He still eats (although not a lot), he cuddles, he grooms himself.  He is not suffering.  We may have weeks to another year with him.  We watch him closely for signs that his body is shutting down, that his life is filled with nothing but pain and suffering, and then we will take him in and let him pass peacefully and quietly.  We are not interested in sustaining his life, he is old, and he is a CAT, he does not understand, and the quality of his life is more important than quantity. My recent experiences with palliative care prepared me well for these difficult conversations we've had, I advocated for Mustang the way I advocate for my babies; is this test in his best interest?  Will it change the course of treatment?  What is the value in this?  How do we best manage his symptoms?  What will happen if he dies at home?  What will happen if we decide that he is suffering too greatly?

So, we are embroiled in sadness in our house.  J has had Mustang since he was just a kitten.  We are also worried what will happen to our other cat, who does not tolerate his absence EVEN FROM THE NEXT CHAIR OVER.  Part of me hopes he dies at home so that she will see and perhaps understand, but realistically I know this will not be the case, not with pancreatitis.

Life continues though, I am planning our patio garden and slowly working through deep cleaning the house, which is always in preparation for a tiny human.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Keep on Keeping on

**This is an old post, but I really liked what I had to say in it, so I'm posting it*

It's mother's day today.  While I am annoyed (and slightly disappointed) that we will spend this mother's day (and several more) just celebrating our own mothers instead of each other (due to the ever-present not-being-pregnant thing), I'm grateful that at this moment in time, I still have my mom.

I've been doing some really deep work lately, it's gotten really intense.  I am *so* glad that I've connected with my counsellor and feel safe exploring the dark places of my soul.  The question that came up lately was "why are you preventing yourself from achieving what you really want?", I attempted to argue that it wasn't *ME*, how could *I* be preventing myself from moving forward.

Like always, there was a knowing look and a gentle push to get deeper into myself.

And then there was an... "incident" a week later.  A small thing really, a mistake in my calendar, hardly a big deal (I was an hour late to a party due to a typo when I entered the event start time), but I simply went over the edge with myself.  I realized that I do not like myself very much.  This was hard to hear, especially because I think that people see someone completely different (self-confident, happy, smart).

It took me nearly a week to forgive myself for it.  I started to dismantle the rage and fury I felt at myself, and how underneath it all was this place of horrific pain.  I was able to take apart the really horrible self-talk that was going on.  It took an excruciatingly long time.  I ended up having to back off because it was just too much.  It's incredible difficult to look in the mirror and realize that you hate yourself, and with every fibre of your being, and that you've spent the past 25+ years of your life trying to cover that up.

It's where the harsh judgement, weird control issues and uncomfortability with things come from.  The internalized homophobia is still absolutely rampant (although on the outside you would *never* suspect, because I know what to say and keep hoping that if I repeat them enough that I will internalize it all).  It's where my body issues come from, where a lot of my struggles communicating my boundaries, even understanding what and where my boundaries are.

I dumped this all on the floor for my counsellor and I to piece meal it all out and it was hard, it hurt, but it was so good.  She understands.  She promised that it would get easier, that loving myself will take time and energy, but worth it in the end.

We are our own worst critics, and now I have to remind myself that I am being TOO critical.  It's also given me a new lease on my snap judgments of others, I have a new understanding of what it means when judgements are a reflection of how the judger feels about themselves.  The things I was hyper critical of in other people are things I struggle with myself, how deeply I am uncomfortable in my own body and life.  My crabby comments about what people eat expose how critical I am of the kinds of foods I put in my own body.  My judgements over how people dress expose my deep uncomfortableness with my perceived inability to dress myself in what I want to wear.

I know I don't walk alone in this, I've read enough blogs and had long 3am conversations with co-workers about this kind of stuff to  know that I'm not alone, that these struggles do not exist just in me, but in many many many people.  It's nice to be reminded that we are all together in this, working on a shared human experience.

Teamwork. Or how I learned to work with my wife instead of against her.

Here in the 'burbs on the west coast we had a bit of a blow-up a couple of weeks ago.  Some financial stuff that went unchecked, some long-term burying-of-head-in-sand, which culminated in hysterical sobbing and angry stares and some very tense moments were I tried not to break things (I SUCCEEDED!).  I never pretend marriage isn't messy, certainly not MY marriage.  You are innately attracted to the people who will push YOUR issues to the forefront over and over and over again until you actually deal with whatever you're supposed to be working on.

All that counselling paid off when I didn't walk out of the apartment and immediately file for divorce when this shit went down.  It is Ugly.

I take responsibility for the part that I played (knowingly remaining ignorant of the situation) and J took responsibility for her part (refusing to deal with the situation in the first place to prevent the Ugly), and we worked together and solved it.

And the funny thing is, I've already mostly forgotten about it already, it is not what immediately comes to mind when someone asks "so how was your vacation?" (this occurred during my 3 week vacation that I had from work).  We processed it (with much teeth gnashing and tears), we addressed the problem (figured out what kind of financial mess it was and how bad it really was), and then found solutions to that mess.  We worked together.  It's solved.

It was HARD FUCKING WORK to do this, to accomplish this.  It was hard not to want to shake my wife and yell at her and say "WHAT THE HELL'S WRONG WITH YOU?!" and it would have been much easier if I had flat out refused to take responsibility for my part in this.

It was kinda neat to see how this all panned out as well, since being unable to deal with money was one of the reasons we were pushed into seeing our counsellor in the first place, which then was pushed to the back burner until we had dealt with some other underlying things first, and when we were ready and had the ability to deal with it, it reared it's ugly head.  We saw, we dealt, we conquered.  I feel like we can do ANYTHING now!!  It was a tremendous boost in confidence to see how well we work together and how well we play off each other.

J started back to school this week.  I spent the previous week cooking like a madwoman making freezer meals so we don't starve when neither of us have time or energy to make dinner.  We're solid until November, I swear.  Last week I could not get another THING into the freezer.  It was kind of awesome.

I'm trying to figure out what I want this blog to become, mostly because it was meant to document and record our experiences in trying to become parents, but maybe I'll just focus on US for the moment, documenting our emotional journey towards whole, authentic personhood (good grief that sounds incredibly silly), which will morph into parenthood.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Grief

This is my 100th blog post, and I wish it was going to be a little more cheery, but it's not going to be.

I have experienced the death of all 4 of my grandparents, my uncle, babies I've worked with, people I've know.  We've experienced infertility and being unable to get pregnant and become parents.

I thought I understood grief, I guess in theory I did, but I had never experienced the all consuming, heartbreaking, grief that comes with the loss of someone very close to you.

On Monday, my 16 year old feathered companion, Alex (a pied cockatiel) died suddenly of what is believed to be a stroke.  We got Alex when he was just a baby when I was 13 years old.

 It was the spring of Grade 8, I was not exactly unhappy, but as my body filled with hormones and new experiences, I was fairly overwhelmed.  We had also lost my dearly loved budgies a couple of months before in a freak accident where they flew outside in the winter on a Monday night in the pouring rain and darkness.  I knew from the second they went out that door that they were gone.

And then Alex came into my life, a tiny feathered cockatiel with enough attitude to stun a horse.  I pretended to be sick the next 2 days to hang out with him, which meant that he bonded super strongly with me.

I convinced my family to let me name him Alex, although I never told them WHY Alex.  I was deep in my X Files fandom at that point, and my mom wouldn't let me name him Mulder or Scully, so Alex comes from Alex Krychek, who was kind of evil (sort of like my bird).  His name when he first came home was Buddy, but I always hated it and never felt that it suited him.

Alex was a lovely bird, he would sit on my lap while I was doing homework and preen, or walk around and talk to anything shiny.  He used to prop CDs up against the wall and sing to them.

I taught him the first few bars of the X Files theme, and my mom taught him the first few bars of Oh Canada.  He learned to talk, I taught him "Peekaboo" because his cage was right around the corner at the bottom of the stairs and I used to pop in and exclaim "PEEKABOO!" and we made it a game.  He called me "Peekaboo".  He also learned "hi darling", "are you a lovely boy?", "do you want to come out?" and "come here".  And then he learned to mash up the words, so eventually he would say "are you a lovely peekaboo darling".

He was incredibly independent, comparatively to my parents other bird (who freaks out when left by himself).  He would sit on the stairs, or the counter, by his reflection, and hang out or preen or whatever.  Or he would sit on the couch with you and explore or just hang out.

He used to eat dinner with us on the table, he had his own dish and everything.  He loved to eat butter. And salt.  The butter was a HUGE problem, because he would lick it off the side of the dish.  He loved bread, peas, pepper cores, kale, spinach, lettuce, quinoa, rice, oatmeal, almost any kind of berry, carrots, seeds and nuts.

He ate paper.  Constantly.  It was annoying, mostly because my parents never bothered to put any of it away.  I can't help but think his paper eating eventually caught up with him...

He had the same nine lives as any cat.  He broke his foot when he fell off his cage (before his wings had grown out) when he was just a baby.  He nearly got crushed in a door.  He was stepped on and broke his "femur".  He had a panic attack and smashed into the front window 4 times before I could get him.  He had lead poisoning.  He had chronic kidney issues.  His last days were spent dealing with another round of heavy metal poisoning (my mom has *no* idea where he picked up MORE heavy metal poisoning) and chelation.  He was obviously much sicker than any of us realized.

He didn't like very many other people, I was too stupid in highschool to realize that how my friends were playing with him was actually extremely stressful for him, and I regret that, although after that, we discouraged anyone from trying to touch him or put fingers in his cage or anything and to just talk to him instead.  He liked my brother well enough, and tolerated my dad.  He liked my mom lots, although not as much as he liked me.  He learned to tolerate J, but never let her touch him.

I love that ridiculous bird, as much as his contact calls annoyed the snot out of me (and broke my eardrums), I miss them.  My parents house is *so* quiet now (Sammi, the other bird, is nowhere near as chatty as Alex was).

I am surprised at the depth of my grief, I also didn't understand how grief this profound radically changes someone.  I feel different.  I have had tremendous support from the people around me, which has been amazing.  No one has said to me "he was just a bird", because I would probably punch them, and even if he is "just a bird", he was MY bird and MY friend.  And of course I should grieve him.

My world has tilted, and although I look fine on the outside, I'm working to pick up the pieces on the inside.  I'm doing such a good job of keeping it together that I don't think even my wife realizes how sad I am (although I keep telling her).

We buried Alex on Wednesday in a box that the vet had gently and very obviously lovingly tucked him into.  She had even put flowers around him.  Before we put him in the ground, I decided I wanted to hold him, and I'm glad I did.  I sobbed as I dug the hole where he was going to be buried, and sobbed as I held him, but I got the closure I needed.  He is gone, he was so well loved by my family for so many years.  I don't exactly feel lost, but I feel sort of... weird?  Empty?  But not empty exactly....

I will miss you, Alex.  Thank you for being the best companion I could have hoped for, I hope that you fly high, my little one.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dreams and School

Ever since I have known J, she has always struggled to find what she wants to DO.  She is not content to just do something just to earn money, she wants to find a job, a career, that provides meaning as well as an income.  This is fairly typical of our age group, we are not our parents, who have often been locked into jobs they hate just to pay the mortgage/etc.  My wife is so incredible, she is organized, charismatic, charming, resourceful, patient and non-intrusive.  She excels at getting people organized and on task.  It has been very difficult and heart wrenching watching her struggle to find a career path.  Originally it was going to be a stay-at-home mom while our kids were little, but that fell through when we couldn't get pregnant.

She was accepted into a very competitive and exclusive program at a local post-secondary institution, I knew in my heart that she would get in, and I'm so proud of her.  While it's not EXACTLY what she wants to do, it's a very important stepping stone to get her where she wants to go.  

And while this delays our baby plans at least another 2 years, I'm weirdly OK with that (maybe it's all the counselling?).  I will be 31 when J finishes her program (WEIRD), she will be 35 (EVEN WEIRDER).  We will have been married for 5 years, together for 11 (SUPER DUPER WEIRD).  It gives us (me) a big opportunity to finish our condo and clear physical and financial space for our kids.  I am excited for my wife and this opportunity, and I am excited for what's to come.

In the meantime, we have life to live!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Being True

I read a lot of blogs, I read a lot of family blogs, organizational blogs, parenting blogs, etc etc etc, and one theme that breeds through all of them is this nausea inducing white washed effect where everything seems sunny and cheerful *all* the time, that challenges are met and passed with skill and grace.

Please

I believe this does us a disservice.  It makes me look at my own marriage and go "wtf is wrong with us?", since there are moments when we want to strangle the other person, moments where I have to sit on my hands (and feelings) and just keep my mouth shut.

I suppose you could argue that putting REAL LIFE PROBLEMS on the internet is "airing the dirty laundry", that no one wants to read about the ugly belly of cohabitating with someone (and often the small humans who come into their lives through choice).

Perhaps that's why blogs like The Bloggess are so popular, because she lets her crazy out where everyone can see it.

Surprise, marriage is hard, and sometimes it sucks and you want to run away, but the rest of the time it's awesome.  Like when I have to hit J in her sleep because she's rolled onto her back and is obstructing her airway in her sleep because she's so allergic to life right now.

Being with someone over the long haul means you have to work together to GROW together.  You have to re-learn habits, ways of talking to people, ways of living in another person's space.

Is it worth it though?  Absolutely.  When I get super cranky and miserable and we're fighting and I contemplate the "what ifs", it's never as interesting as staying and working through our shit.  And so, we will make it to our 3rd wedding anniversary next year.  Yahtzee!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring

It has been wonderfully warm on the west coast.  It probably won't stick around forever, but it's a quick (week-long) reminder that summer is COMING.  This long weekend will see glorious weather, which is fantastic for all the Christians doing their sunrise services outside on Sunday (my parents included), where for the past dozen years it's absolutely poured rain.

Since spring is coming, I have been hard at work on our patio for the past day. We brought plants from our house that we love and adore, but in practicality do not like living in pots on a deck in FULL SUN all year long (*cough*geraniums*cough*).  We also wanted to plant veggies (illicit veggies, since our strata doesn't allow them.  They also don't allow pink flamingos, a very explicit instruction, yet our pink flamingo is rather sentimental for us and came from our old place, and so it's stayed).  I spent my morning yesterday toiling on our patio, revelling in the sun and warm, and then trucked over a car full of plants to my parents' house, where I proceeded to put them in the ground and also give time to my mom's large and gorgeous garden.

My family is avid hobby gardeners, although my mom is much more into pretty flowers than food (although the foodscape has definitely been expanding in the past several years).  When J and I moved into our rental house 3 years ago, we put HOURS into the garden (and a lot of money, too) and grew tons of stuff.  I miss it, and I don't miss it.  I lacked the motivation at that point to deal with the constant upkeep (the yard was absolutely overrun with incredibly invasive species, which required me to scour the garden daily for them).  I learned a lot.  My mom, having retired in December, took the Master Garderner's course in January, and has now earned the title of "Master Gardener", which fills me with pride and also makes me giggle, especially since my mom is attempting to commit every plant that touches her hands to latin memory.

This weather also reminds me of how much time I *need* to spend outside.  It's not a want, it's a primal, physical need to breathe the air and move my body and be around lots of green things.  Being outside fills my whole body with joy, something that running has allowed me to fully indulge and consequently understand.  Being outside is not optional.

To put it into the context of my marriage meant that I had to understand that my needs were incredibly important, that I was not articulating them, and then becoming resentful when they weren't filled (surprise!).  J is not, despite being a Girl Guide for many many years, a total outdoorsy type like I am.  I completed by very first backpacking trip ever 2 weeks ago and am absolutely hooked.  J will probably never participate in these activities with me.  I had to give myself permission to do these big things without her, to get over the guilt of "being gone for a weekend" and not "spending time with her".  I'm a better person when I get my run in, when I go and do these crazy trips with friends, when I spend an inordinate amount of time with dirt clumped under my fingernails and various sticks and leaves in my hair.

This was a big thing for me.  I'm not sure where, or how I learned that my needs and wants were not as important as other people's, I'm not sure if I learned this from my family or from the culture I live in (thanks, Patriarchy).  This will continue on into our family, since I'm no longer willing to sacrifice my own long-term happiness for other people.  We will have a running/trail stroller, I will get up earlier, I will simply go for a walk with my toddler, but it's all equally important.

On that note, it's time to put on some runners and go for a jog in the glorious morning sunshine with the birds chirping out their mating calls!