Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Our Story (6): Strike Three

“No one ever gets tired of love, everyone gets tired of waiting, assuming, hearing lies, saying sorry, and hurting.”
- unknown -

(continuing from last time...)

When I was 8 months pregnant with my second daughter, I received a phone call from my ex as he sat in the back seat of a police cruiser. He’d been stopped while speeding and because he was driving without a license (a regular habit since he’d lost his license a long time ago, and really, he had no qualms about breaking the law), they wouldn’t let him leave with the car. They could have seized it but decided to give him one chance. So he called me to come get him. And the car. I put my very pregnant self and my young daughter (who was turning five that month) into a cab and headed over. When my daughter and I stepped out of the cab, the police officer standing nearby stared with what I can only assume was total surprise. Obviously he hadn’t expected a woman who looked like she was ready to go into labour at any moment. And a pre-school child.

I was shaking uncontrollably. My heart was pounding. My cheeks were flushed. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more ashamed in my life. Or disgusted. I put my daughter in our car, strapped her in and got into the driver’s seat. The police officer walked over to the driver’s window and the look in his eyes made me feel even more embarrassed. I could barely meet his gaze. I’d grown up in such a wholesome household. How did I get to this point? What was wrong with me?
My mom with her two granddaughters at the
hospital on the day the younger one was born.
Thank goodness for my loving family.

He said “I’m giving your husband one chance. The next time we’re going to arrest him and take him in. You should speak to him.” I turned to him and said “I’m not his mother, officer; I already have a young child and one on the way to take care of. He’s a grown man and should know better. The next time you pull him over, lock him up and teach him a lesson.” He nodded and left.

They released my ex and I drove us home. I didn't say one word as he gloated about how he had talked his way out of this. No apology. No remorse. No regret. Not even for his daughter witnessing this. Nothing. Just sheer satisfaction at getting away with it. Again.

I couldn't sleep that night, plagued by guilt and shame and sorrow as I played the scenario over and over in my mind. Something broke inside me that day. Perhaps it happened when my daughter wanted to run to see her dad as he sat in a police car. Like this was normal. Perhaps it happened when I thought about my unborn baby who was fated to begin her life in such dysfunction. Perhaps it happened when I thought about all the years’ worth of heartbreak. Disappointment. Humiliation. Neglect. Rage. Hopelessness. Betrayal. Helplessness. Manipulation. And more. Or maybe it happened when I looked into the police officer’s eyes and saw what I’d least expected: sympathy. For the pitiful world I was living in. The one that I was shamefully raising a child in. The one the baby in my belly would be arriving into. Pure and innocent and impressionable little souls.

Whatever it was, the resentment toward my ex began to build. And even though the baby girl I gave birth to three weeks later began her life in a toxic environment, it would only be a matter of months before that world would be left behind.

To be continued... (click here)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Our Story (5): Strike Two

“Pain makes you stronger, tears make you braver, and heartbreak makes you wiser. So thank the past for a better future.”
- Unknown -

(continuing from last time...)

When I was 11 ½ weeks pregnant with my second child, I started bleeding. I was horrified because it was the end of the first trimester when you begin to feel secure that you will not miscarry. It was the weekend and my ex was home from work, so I approached him with what I considered an emergency and asked him to please take me to the hospital.
My brother, Steve, who passed away in 2011 clowning around
with his younger niece. He was such an amazing uncle.

Instead of being alarmed like I was, he seemed annoyed at being disturbed while he was messaging and clowning around with his work pals on his computer. “Relax”, he said. “It’s probably nothing. Like the last pregnancy.” There was no sense of urgency. No support. No sensitivity or compassion. Not a shred of concern. Nothing.

But I wouldn't relax. I insisted on going to the hospital. He sighed and took me. The doctor who examined me found the baby’s heartbeat, and although there were signs of bleeding, the pregnancy seemed to be intact. To make sure everything was alright, he scheduled me for an ultrasound later in the week. My ex accompanied me there but left before the exam was done. Because...well, you know...too busy with work and other things. “You don’t really need me here, right?” No, of course not. Not as I wait with my heart pounding in my chest to find out whether everything is okay - or not – with our baby.

Thankfully, everything was fine. Apparently some women bleed occasionally when their periods would otherwise have been due, almost as if the body forgets that it’s pregnant for a few moments.

I tended to the majority of my pregnancy alone. My ex did not accompany me to any doctors’ appointments or to all the ultrasounds or to the visit with the nutritionist when I was bordering on being diabetic or to the weekly blood tests to make sure my sugar wasn’t too high. Because...well, you know...too busy with work and other things.

To be continued... (click here)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Our Story (4): Strike One

“A woman has got to love a bad man once or twice in her life to be thankful for a good one.”
- Unknown -

(continuing from last time...)

Not long after my second child was born, my first marriage began to collapse. But the road there was long and agonizing with numerous incidences of lies, manipulation, browbeating, volatility and the silent treatment. Because sometimes I wasn’t even worth looking at.

But there were also countless moments that demonstrated how far down I was on my ex’s priority list and how selfish and insensitive he could be. These moments were agonizing but enlightening; each one drove this dysfunctional union closer to the end.

I have chosen three such experiences, out of many, to share with you because they pack a punch. And since it would be lengthy to share them all together, I am dividing them into three posts.

I’ll begin with this one:

During my first pregnancy, I bled on and off throughout the whole time, constantly fearing a miscarriage. But the baby, my little miracle, was determined to join this world and held on. At seven months, my water broke. I was rushed to the emergency, the labour was stopped and I was hospitalized for two weeks, after which time I was sent home with a stern warning to remain on bed rest 24/7 in hopes that the pregnancy would continue as close to the due date as possible to prevent a very premature birth. “Every day that you remain pregnant is a blessing for your baby”, I was told. No getting out of bed aside from using the bathroom. Or to shower; making sure to sit down in the tub while doing so. All my needs had to be met and my only job was to remain pregnant for as long as possible.
My dad holding his first granddaughter; my miracle baby.

On the day of my hospital release, a day off for my ex, he picked me up at 9 AM, drove me home and promptly left to go play golf with his buddies. For the entire day. I hardly ate anything and I lied to my mother every time she called to see how I was doing. Yes, I ate. Yes, he’s here taking care of me. No, you don’t need to come. He can’t come to the phone right now because he’s in the shower/cooking/outside/doing some work/running errands/at the store/busy/busy/busy. Of course I’m telling the truth. I wouldn’t lie about such a thing.

When he finally showed up at 8 PM, he made some food and offered me some. Not once did it dawn on him that he’d done anything wrong or that his behaviour was objectionable. And when I hinted as such, I was being unreasonable. I couldn’t possibly expect him to just hang around all day, did I?

I remained in bed for another two very long and lonely weeks. Thankfully, my parents showed up regularly to feed me, clean my home and keep me company. My daughter was born at eight months, perfectly healthy, with fully developed lungs and the ability to breathe on her own. She was kept in the hospital for an additional two weeks but only for observation; no need for medical intervention. That month of bed rest had made a significant difference. And although my very soul had been crushed by my ex, I would do it all over again for her safe arrival.

To be continued... (click here)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blogging Absence

Adventure calls and I will be taking a blogging break. I’ll be online today and for a couple of hours tomorrow morning and then I’ll be shutting down all internet activity until Saturday, May 2. I will explain what’s going on when I return.

I would like to continue the posts about “Our Story”, so I've scheduled four of them during my absence. Hopefully they will upload properly.

When I return, I’ll resume posting one per week, every Friday. This series will end on Friday, June 26. I’ve chosen that date for a very specific reason and I will have something fun to share at that time.

I realize that this series is drawn out but the road that led me to meeting the most amazing man in the world was a very long and bumpy one. And I’m hoping that the posts I’m sharing clearly demonstrate that journey.

In any case, for those of you who are interested in this series, there are a few lined up while I’m gone. And for those of you who aren’t, come back on Monday, May 4 when I return to blogging.

I will miss you all. Take care. And (try to) be good!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Question Of The Day

What one thing do you admire most in others?

Activism. I am in awe of individuals who dedicate their lives to a cause that is true to their heart and actively work toward bringing on some kind of social change. They make this world a better place.

What one thing do you admire most in others?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kitty In The Kitchen

Well, at least kitty tried. I wish my two furballs could be this industrious. All they do is sleep, eat and fill up the litter box.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Chuckles and Chortles

Happy new week, my friends! How is everyone? How was the weekend? What’s new in your world? All good stuff, I hope. Our weekend was beautiful. Warm days and lots of sunshine. Finally. We spent some time doing yard work and guess what? The garden is waking up. Slowly but surely.

Today it’s raining cats and dogs but that’s okay. We need a little of that, too. You know what else we need? To laugh. So let’s go ahead and do that right now.

Have a great day!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Story (3): And Baby Makes Three

“Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
- Robert Fulghum -

(continuing from last time...)

Children are never a mistake but raising them in a toxic environment is. That is what my first daughter lived in from the moment she was born. Her sister wouldn't come along for another five years, so she faced the constant tumultuous cycles alone in her formative years; the most critical period for the healthy development of a child. To say that it didn't have in impact on her would be a lie. And even though she only has a handful of very vague memories, this remains a thorn in my side.

Terrible examples were being set and neither one of us was teaching this innocent little girl what a healthy relationship looks like. I was a terrible female role model by tolerating, forgiving and turning a blind eye to things that were unacceptable. I had a responsibility as a mother and as a woman to my daughter...and I failed her. She was learning the wrong things from me.

The logical side of my brain knew all this but the emotional side was unbalanced. I was in denial, confused and second-guessing myself. I didn't hold my ex accountable or set personal boundaries. I forgave everything because I didn't think I deserved better. After all, it was all my fault. Always. I apologized. Repeatedly. I gave in to what he wanted after being mentally and emotionally worn down. My instincts told me otherwise but I believed the lies he told me. Deception, manipulation, emotional blackmail, shady characters, mental exhaustion, unlawfulness and betrayal defined my life. And through it all, a little girl was watching. And learning.

Once in a while the mental fogginess would lift and clarity would kick in. During one of those times, which occurred immediately after a major battle with my ex, I packed a suitcase for myself and my daughter (who was three at the time) and left with her. But it was a short-lived getaway. We returned home shortly and the dysfunction continued.

Two years later, another little girl was born. And with her arrived the beginning of the end.

To be continued... (click here)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

There’s Beauty In Black And White

“Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize
the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.”
- Robert Frank -

Today is another very busy day for me, so I leave you with very few words and some photographs in black and white. One of my favourite photo themes. It makes for very dramatic images.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Crazy Busy

I've been tackling a mile long list of household tasks, which will go on for several weeks. Last Thursday and Friday I washed my entire kitchen. Then Monday I started painting. And yesterday I was painting. And guess what I’ll be doing today, tomorrow and the day after? Go ahead, take a wild guess.

This is how I feel at the end of each day:

How are you feeling these days?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Question Of The Day

There are a few for me but Shania Twain’s ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ certainly rises to the top. Because if there’s one thing I really don’t like, it’s people who put on airs. If you’re unpretentious and genuine, you’ve got my attention. And if you’re arrogant and snooty, well, talk to the hand ‘cause “that don’t impress me much”.

Your turn!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chuckles and Chortles

Happy Monday, everyone! How went your weekend? I hope it was great. Our Saturday was spent running errands, which we had to get to. But yesterday was a whole lot of fun. We spent the entire day in our hometown of Montreal visiting family. It is the only thing I miss since moving from there - being close to the ones I love. I was especially happy to see my older daughter who I don’t see enough of.

Getting together with both my beautiful girls is my greatest joy.
My daughter, Alex, in the middle. My daughter, Marie, to the right.

Another week is here and so is another round of humour!

Wishing you all a beautiful day ahead.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Our Story (2): The Married Years The First Time Around

"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves."
Henry David Thoreau

(continuing from last time...)

So despite how toxic the relationship was and how mismatched we were and what a stupid idea it was, my ex and I got married when I was 24. Looking back now with 20/20 vision that comes with experience, maturity and wisdom, I can see clearly what a big mistake I made. Huge. I should have been a runaway bride and headed for the hills. I didn’t.
I should have headed for the hills!

Instead, I convinced myself that once we were married things would eventually get better. They didn’t. No matter how hard I tried. Or how I behaved. Or what I said or did. Or what I put up with or pretended not to notice. Or how often (and for how many shortcomings) I apologized. We were married for 8 years and the majority of that time was miserable. Heartbreaking. Painful. Dysfunctional. Alarming. Exhausting. Disturbing. Confusing. Dishonest. And worst of all, volatile. Many a time I would sit on my back balcony with a heaviness in my heart and a sense of despair and a darkness in my soul and think - over and over again - as I stared off into the horizon “This can’t be my life for the next 20...30...50 years. It just can’t. I won’t make it.”

I've never felt more lost and unhappy and alone and pessimistic and worthless than during that period; witnessing and dealing with situations that were beyond my comprehension. My world had spiraled out of control. I was living a life that was so off course and so misaligned in every way from what I’d dreamed about and wished for and approved of that it felt surreal.

I should have left early on. Why didn’t I? For many reasons. So many, in fact, that if I were to list them and explain them, it would lead to a book. In a nutshell, I got stuck in an emotional and psychological cycle that took many years and a lot of tears and intense soul searching to untangle...and heal. Because at some point I had to locate the woman I truly was and free her; the one that was buried under all this madness.

In the meantime, somewhere in this chaos my two beautiful daughters were born.

To be continued... (click here)

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Save A Place For Me, My Dear Brother

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”
- Unknown -

This time of year is bittersweet for me. Spring arrives, which is my favourite season, and I feel energized and exhilarated. At the same time, I feel a profound sadness because it marks another year without my brother, Steve, who died 4 years ago today.

Introverted and unassuming, my brother never thought he was very special. But he couldn’t have been more wrong. If only he could see just how much he meant to so many people and just how much we all miss him. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to share his life story and his tragic death - both of which have an important message for this world - but I’m not there yet. In the meantime, I am determined to keep his memory alive. And that's why you see a post about him, now and again. Please bear with me when that happens.

The song below is dedicated with love to my brother who was far more important and far more remarkable than he ever realized.

Always on my mind, forever in my heart.

Have a lovely Thursday, my friends. And thank you for stopping by today.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hometown Memories: Mr. Smith

So I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to share a funny story from one of the best jobs I ever had in my youthful exuberance years. And here goes...

Not long after I started a job in a hotel as a reservations clerk at the ripe old age of 21, I received a call from a man who wanted to book a room. So I took him through the step by step process of making a reservation starting with asking him his name. Whether he wanted to book a single or double occupancy. What time he’d be arriving. And so on. Everything I’d been trained to ask.

No matter the question, he kept repeating that his name is Mr. Smith (no first name given), putting emphasis on the Smith, and that he was a regular. I asked how long he was staying and he chuckled “Just Wednesday”. Would he like to guarantee the room? “Yes, I will be there.” I’ll need a credit card to guarantee the room. “That’s okay. I’ll be there.” I’m sorry I can’t guarantee a room without a credit card. He chuckled again and said “You must be new there.” Yes. “Is your supervisor there?” Yes. “Put me on hold for a minute and go ask her about me.” Okay.

My supervisor laughed heartily when I told her about the phone call. It turns out that he certainly was a regular at the hotel. Every Wednesday evening, in fact. He’d book a room for a few hours, pick up his key at the front desk and head to his room with his mistress who was waiting in the car. Mr. Smith was a married man having an affair. And obviously, that wasn’t his real name (duh!). How na├»ve I was at that age!

Have you ever had to deal with a Mr. Smith at work? Or known one?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Interesting Sightings

"In my view you cannot claim to have seen something until you have photographed it."
- Emile Zola -

It’s that time, folks. Time for some interesting, unusual, fascinating and even entertaining things I see when I’m out and about with camera in hand. Always with camera in hand. ‘Cause you just don’t know what will end up in front of the lens.

Let’s get to it...

It certainly does! Isn't this a great name for a restaurant?

OH NO...a bike tossed away! What is this world coming to?

If the real Woodpeckers don't visit, the fake ones will do. (Seen in Toronto)

OHMYGOSH...look at the size of this wasp nest from last year.

Coolest sighting of last summer. And yes, we did go inside.

A ramp for the turtles. "*squee* Cutest sighting of last summer.

Isn't this great? We spotted this in Ottawa last summer while biking.

Here's a close-up of the bottom.

What you don't want suddenly appearing in front of your camera lens while you're photographing the lake!

Yes, nobody cares! (Spotted on a car while out walking this weekend.)

And that's it for today. Have a great day!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Chuckles and Chortles

Happy Monday, bloggers! Did you have a nice weekend? I sure hope you did. The weather was great here. A little on the chilly side but wonderfully sunny. So we spent lots of time outdoors taking long walks and enjoying the views by the lake. And taking pictures of course. Always taking pictures.

Cheers from Kingston, Ontario!

A new week is upon us and what better way to start it off than with some humour. Let’s get to that right now.

Story of my life....

Wishing you all a beautiful week ahead.