teen years, Uncategorized

Waiting

I lay on the patch of grass trying to breathe. To keep my happy facade firmly in place. I’d found a little spot of green with shade amidst the hard cement and cold uninviting buildings of the downtown.

 

The clouds twisted and danced as their shapes continually changed. I wished I was an artist. I wished a photo would show what I saw. And I waited.

It was the third day. The bus depot was ready to kick my loitering butt to the curb. They wouldn’t let me sleep on the cold plastic bench another night. The money I’d earned picking cherries was almost gone. The public washroom couldn’t wash the stink off me. I had been waiting for what seemed forever.

The bus system had a safety net for youth. They would give you a ticket home if you needed to get home. As long as someone was willing to claim you and say they were your home. There was no safety net for me. Deep down I knew this. I knew I had no safety net. Yet I had tried. Dared to hope a little bit.

My mother was technically home. They would give me a bus ticket there. Trouble was, I wasn’t allowed to live with her. There was no point in going further from where I planned to settle down. My family where I was trying to go wouldn’t acknowledge me. Wouldn’t say they would be my family home even to get me safe travel passage.

I would have to hitchhike the highway of tears if I was to get where I was going. It wasn’t called that yet. That would come in another few years. My waiting was over. I just had to pull up my big girl panties. Put on my happy face. And build my own life. Starting with hitchhiking almost a thousand kilometers.

The waiting was over.

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my family, Uncategorized

When they were little

Thankfully when my children were barely ending their toddler stage and starting elementary I got a divorce. It was the best thing to happen to me, to us and I am grateful every day that he threw us away.  An odd sentence I know.

 

As I struggled to build a life for the kids and I life became busy. Work, daycare, school, soccer, gymnastics, work some more,  night school. The list was never-ending. I thrived from the hectic schedule. I persevered and pushed through it fighting to build a life where I was independent and able to provide for our basic needs on my own. During that time I faced many choices. One choice I had to make was working multiple jobs and jobs that might pay more but would keep me away from the kids most hours of the evening and weekends.  Or I could work for much less but be able to get the kids from school, take them to soccer and cheer them on, tuck them in at night. I had spent a couple years clawing and scratching my way to get to that choice. Working up to 5 jobs day and night while attending night school. I had cleared us from the mess that the ending of my marriage left. Now I could almost breathe.

So what to do? One day I asked the kids as we drove to school. What do you want? Mommy home with you but we have less stuff, fewer toys and shopping, can’t go on big trips but I’ll be able to be home more. My son’s answer still melts my heart. It wasn’t a short answer. His answer lasted almost until we pulled into the school parking lot. He wanted me home. Who would give him kisses when he needed them. Who would make cookies with them, help them read their books, answer their questions, show them how to do their homework, play in the park with them, kiss they’re boo-boos, teach him to tie his shoes, the list went on and on the entire drive. His adorable chubby body I loved to squish and hug settled in the back seat. His blue eyes so clear and trusting. He just wanted me there. My daughter ever the serious and silent one just nodded and agreed with all that he said.

So it was decided.  I took the low paying going nowhere job that let me drive them to school and pick them up. We camped, hiked, flew kites, played games, rolled in the leaves, played in the rain, tried fishing, went canoeing, went sledding in the dark, built fires, set off fireworks, saved unwanted dogs and found them homes, went exploring thrift shopping, made crafts, cooked together, slept in the back of the car when I forgot the tent poles camping, we did it all together. Priceless memories that hopefully gave them the courage to be themselves. The confidence to stand on their own. The unquestionable knowledge that they are amazing and can do anything they choose to. That was and is my main goal as their mother.

 

I will probably always look back and wish I had done more. I think that about the teens I raised when I was too young to know what they needed. I now wish I had done more with them. They are happy and have good lives not wishing I had done more. So I must learn to be as well. Hopefully, when my children are grown they feel the same way. I think it is the way of growing older. Looking back with the earned knowledge only time gives. Seeing what more could have been done. I am ever so grateful to have had the ability to make the memories I have. I sure miss those little snuggly children I had. I adore them no matter the age, size, or stage: but I sure miss the snuggles from when they needed me so.

teen years, Uncategorized

What I have always missed

You might surmise I missed my mother. Or my father. Maybe even my little brothers and sisters. Or my friends. No those things I became used to not having.  What I have always missed is the sense of community, the sense of belonging. Of not being alone. The deep-rooted piece that leaves me sad and lonely is the lack of belonging of community.

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Growing up with the entire community living as one has left me with an overwhelming sense of aloneness in this world. I could blame technology but this feeling came not long after ‘coming to the world’ as I call it. That was before technology as we know it. The realization that ultimately I was alone hit hard. Knowing the families in the neighborhood, being friends with the kids my age, eating and playing together ended. The sense of belonging was gone. Even walking into a church didn’t help. And I tried. Either members knew ‘my story’. The story that was being spread throughout the SDA grape-vine. Or no one knew me or tried to reach out to the slip of a girl hiding in the back.

I realize now that I needed to reach out. I needed to talk to people to interact. I didn’t know how. I didn’t want the avid interest. The offers of help that comes with a price or an expiry date. I was so hurt inside I only could manage to push people away. If I was abandoned by my own mother – well really there was no sense in offering anyone else that opportunity now was there.

Now I know that I needed to become active in life. To join groups ( aside from church! ). I see now that a sense of community is built around being doing things together, memberships, clubs, hobbies. But it isn’t the same. I think many of us want to feel as though we belong. Whether is’s to our family we are born into or to the one we choose. This is part of why cults, churches, organizations, teams, are all so popular. They accept us and welcome us in. The unloved, the misunderstood, the different. We all want to belong.

It’s almost like Mr. Rogers had something with his line ‘won’t you be my neighbor’.

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childhood, Uncategorized

Idle hands idle minds

Growing up our time was scheduled. All of it. What we ate, what time we ate, how long we had to eat. The same with reading, praying, sleeping, study. It was all scheduled right down when and for how long.

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Ever read how to do mind control? How to make someone malleable to your ideals. It has some similarities. Once I was in the world, in a real school with access to a real library I read a lot. About cults, Satanism, mind control, sociology, psychology, and of course romance. I loved the worlds I visited in books. I still do.

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Back to the scheduled time and being busy. Once I was on my own and starting to get the hang of functioning as a responsible (adult) in the world. I began making money, paying rent, trying to cook for myself and learn how to be around people. I found out that they (the ones I knew) spent a lot of time sitting, watching TV. I didn’t understand it. I had difficulty following the humor as most show’s make references to things in life everyone knows as common knowledge. Unless you grow up locked away with no radio, newspapers, television, news or outside contact. A few years ago I was listening to a comic and got so excited because I GOT his jokes. I had been in the world long enough to understand the references. Seems like a small thing but it isn’t.

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I tried so hard to learn to sit and do nothing. To sit and watch television, to lay at the beach, to sit around talking. It was difficult and I’m still not very good at sitting still for long. I did have a few years where I was actually good at it. Although in hindsight that may have been due to stress and depression. That’s a story for a different time.

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Back to scheduled time … I always felt guilty if I wasn’t doing something. I still do – makes it very difficult to paint my nails! I fear missing out on life. FOMO they call it nowadays.  I don’t’ want to miss the warm weather, the cold weather, the snowflakes, the giant droplets of rain to dance in,  the sky, the clouds shapes. I just want to do and play in every moment until I need a rest. All those moments that should be spent doing not resting. I’m now starting to think that’s because I grew up with my time scheduled. Taught to be busy. That idle hands cause idle minds which then begets trouble.

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childhood, Uncategorized

How could she 

So here’s the question of my mid-life emotional crisis. HOW COULD SHE???

I look at my children who are now teenagers. Gangly, pimply, know everything and nothing. Pushing me away and then needing me. Hugging me then turning away from too much contact with “mom”. How they need me and manage to admit it once in a while. The fragile grip they have on adulthood. The guidance needed to help them become confident individuals that are happy and give back to society.

So how could she let me go at 13? How could she deny me at 14 to return? I sat waiting, praying, mentally in anguish begging ‘please let them say yes’. I wanted to come home.  So I sat waiting for the staff meeting to end. Waiting to find out what their vote would be. Would I be allowed to live at home again with my mother or would I be sent away?

What I didn’t know at 13 was that if you left you couldn’t just come back even if your parents were there. I left because I was angry at the lack of understanding over my grief. I left because I was overwhelmed with loss and fear. I left because I never knew if mom would do as she said. Would I come home to an empty house? I never knew if she would be locked in the house in the bedroom in the closet with daddy’s bloody clothes. Or if she would be gone with the little ones. The rifles and ammunition gone as well. Maybe it would be their bloody clothes I would have to add to dads. She kept saying it would be easier to do that. The fear was staggering at that age. She had already proved to me once that she would take the younger ones and abandon me.

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So I left. I said goodbye, got on my bicycle and peddled away. Six months later I wanted to return. I missed my siblings and mother. Mother seemed to be doing better now. It was then that I learned you can’t just move back with mom. That the commune has to vote and decide if I should be allowed home. Who fucking knew that at 13? I should have known. Even though no other child had left like I did I should have known. No other child dare ask the questions that I did. Dared to stand up when I thought things didn’t make sense or seemed odd. I didn’t realize what I pain in the ass I was to those idealists.

So some select commune leaders held a meeting to decide my fate. I sat on pins and needles. My stomach in my throat. If I chewed my nails they would have been bloody stubs that night. The unanimous decision was NO.

I was shocked. I had had a friend on my side in that meeting. I had thought she would sway their hearts and minds. I was born and raised in this lifestyle. They made me! My dad had devoted his life to this lifestyle. He had helped build the world they wanted to hide in. Yet they said NO. I was even more shocked that mom accepted their decision. What kind of mother is that? This is Christianity at it’s finest moments. The golden jewel for their crowns.

I would like to think those adults as they grew old regretted turning me away. Realize how cruel to deny a child her mother. Send her to the streets. They made me for fuck’s sake. I was born into that. It wasn’t my fault my father taught me to not be a sheep. To think for myself, to ask questions, be inquisitive. He taught me to be an individual not afraid to stand on my own. To question and learn, to try and understand.

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I know deep down those people prayed for me. Felt they did the right thing. Maybe they never gave that decision another thought. Over the years they grasped on all the fabricated juicy gossip they could. Adding to it and spreading it further. Trying to condone to themselves what they had done. I hope there is a heaven.  And I hope to hell that at those pearly gates they are reminded of the young me. The child that needed love and understanding, not the boot.

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street youth, Uncategorized

How alone are we really

Sometimes I think it’s funny how I’m so used to being alone.  That I chose to do things alone. As a teen, I had no choice. My mother didn’t want me. My extended family didn’t want me. The commune was terrified to have me around questioning them. I was a problem they had created. So I was sent away. The rebel, the black sheep, the one to pray for and to keep out. Keep your children away from her. Warn others not to take her in.

Fired

Now at 40, I’m so used to being alone that I crave it at times. I don’t feel as alone and desolate as I did. That heavy blackness that sucks every part of your being in.  Worse than a black hole. Desperately clawing thru the darkness trying to find the light. Gasping chest heaving silent sobs choking you. That heavy aloneness.

I had a heartbreaking revelation in the middle of the night as a teen. We are like grains of sand. Millions of specks that blend together. Disappear in the chaos of life. I realized I was utterly alone when I might need someone to help me. Hug me, hold me, push back the darkness for me when I was too tired to do it any longer. It took a couple more decades to realize we are only as alone as we choose to be.

One morning at about 5 am I called my aunt sobbing. I had been fighting the demons all night. Trying to understand why I was alone. Why I had no one. Why I was unwanted. I was wanted. I had two dear friends who wanted me but I felt so lost, so confused, so unworthy I hid from them. From their love and support. So here I was calling my aunt. I asked her, “Is this what you meant when you said we are all ultimately alone?” Woken from a dead sleep she struggled to understand me. She had no idea what I was talking about so I ended the call. My mother came to visit and brought me lunch shortly after that call. She was of little comfort to me.

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I didn’t know how to put into words how the demons came at night. Attacking my carefully built walls. Undermining my happiness. I didn’t realize then that something as simple as exercise, sunshine, a nearby friend would help chase those thoughts away.

Now after a full day or a weekend with others I’m exhausted. I need rest, quiet, to be alone. To regain my strength.  For sitting listening to the ebb and flow of conversation, watching the different types of personalities. It leaves me drained. Even when with those that I love and adore.  The ones that I can be myself with. Even that exhausts me. Leaves me weak and depleted, aching craving rest.

I still do things alone. I prefer to be with a friend of course but I don’t let it hold me back. I go out for lunch, kayak the lake, hike the trails, talk to my dog, have a bottle of wine. Live life in general alone. Not afraid anymore. Demons don’t haunt my nights anymore. Turns out this a good quality for me to have as I now have an amazing boyfriend who happens to be a rig worker. As in he is away half the time. I joked on our four year anniversary it’s actually two since he’s gone half the time. Apparently, I’m the only one that finds that funny.

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childhood, Uncategorized

Writing my story

I used to love writing. I wrote a short story when I was maybe eleven years old. Now I find it hard to write. Maybe it’s harder now as it’s easier to remember the negative the hurtful than the nice memories. Or maybe after not writing for so long. Maybe it’s a lazy underused muscle. Maybe my avid love of reading has made my writer side lazy.

 

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I just noticed the fascination for the name Giggles started at a young age with me!

 

When I was young a few very hurtful and emotionally damaging things happened. We subsequently moved and I lost the fragile hold of budding friendships. Lost the comfort of what I finally felt was home. I had been betrayed by my family, my friend, abandoned by my mother. The realization that nothing is real. That love and family is just a word hits hard and maybe never fully heals.

I learned in that time that without a doubt the Biblical time of the end we were being taught was indeed very easily an option. The second coming of Christ, the second death for those not deemed worthy. The hunt and persecution of those in the wrong religion. Ours, of course, would be the wrong one. It was us that would be put to death after horrible torture once our family had turned on us. That was some of my childhood bible stories. Who needs stories of the monster under the bed when you have those.

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Back to my point about why writing is hard. Why it leaves me with a sense of guilt. Yet another excuse to not put my pen to paper. Or in this case fingers to keys.

Since we were isolated there was little for options of lashing out, acting out. I knew nothing of the world except what was deemed appropriate to tell. The basis of truth behind the stories built upon the tellers’ opinion. An opinion from someone who chose to leave the world for a commune lifestyle. See how that is a questionable source?

I wrote as I knew no other outlet. I wrote my pain and anger. My story, my fears, my heartbreak. I had pen pals – remember those? I think my mail probably was blocked to them.  No matter where I wrote my story, where I hid it mother found it. She would be livid every time. How dare I write even in fiction about our pain. Our deep embarrassing secret that really wasn’t a secret as everyone knew it. How dare I put to paper what should never be admitted. I kept writing and she kept finding them. ‘Never write down what you don’t want people to know’ she would say. What she didn’t want to face up to is more like it. Eventually, I let it go and began a new quest… BOYS!

childhood, Uncategorized

Baking bread

Growing up we made everything we ate. Even at one point grinding our own flour. We made our tofu, mixed our seasonings, stored our food for winter by canning, drying, and freezing. As a little girl I ‘helped’ with all of this. Of course, I began to want to do it on my own! My first cookie dough creation was ‘tasty’ to be sure. I was maybe 4 at the time.

By nine I wanted to make some money and came up with the idea to bake bread and sell it to the families. I realize the contradiction of wanting to earn money when we rarely left the farm and certainly didn’t purchase items very often.  The farm had a store that carried many items that making yourself would be difficult. It was a brilliant idea really. The families received a ‘stipend’ for working there and in turn gave it right back to the farm by purchasing from their store.

It was the juice boxes that got me. We didn’t drink anything but water outside of mealtime. A juice box was unheard of prior to this store.  A tiny box filled with juice that came with a straw that bent… I was hooked.

Smiley orangy juice box boy with its shadow and a straw on it

So here I was with a great idea to bake and sell bread to the local families. My mother even supported it once we had dad’s approval. She got out a piece of paper and we labored over the cost of a bag of flour versus the amount used in a batch of bread that yielded 7 loaves. We did the same for each ingredient. The cost of electricity was harder to decipher. Pretty sure she came up with a low sum like 0.50 a batch. Now we had the cost per loaf and just needed to add on profit. I sold the loaves for $1 each. Making one batch each Friday. After paying mom back I probably made maybe 25 cents per loaf but was happy as a clam.

I knew the recipe by heart. Add yeast to the brown sugar and warm water. While waiting for the yeast to rise, mix the dry ingredients. White and whole wheat flour and a pinch of salt. Once the yeast had risen to a proper head add oil and mix it all together slowly adding more flour until the dough was the needed consistency to knead by hand. Shape into a ball and cover with a towel to let rise. Half an hour later beat and knead it back down. Definitely one of my favorite parts. Then shape into loaves placing them into the pans to rise again while the oven preheated.

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I did all of this alone as a nine-year-old for almost a year. Since no one was looking I used more white than whole wheat flour. I added extra brown sugar and oil to the batches. I had the best bread in the entire community and they loved it. The women would ask my secret and I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. I knew what it was – adding extra oil and sugar. Less whole wheat and more white flour. You know the good stuff! I also knew not to admit that to anyone. Our diet was slowly getting better, we ate supper now, we had margarine instead of corn meal spread acting as margarine. We ate leavened bread and even had Mr. Noodles sometimes. But to admit to changing the recipe – well that would have ended my baking career.

questions, Uncategorized

 Do you have siblings

Such a common question. An easy way to keep a conversation going as you get to know someone. My answer has always been yes. However today I am realizing that even though I am the oldest I feel more like an only child. And am probably not far off really.

Being the eldest and old enough to feed them, change diapers, and babysit; it was more like being a little mother.  In a way, it was like having the best doll in the world. My dolly actually cried, peed, waved their arms, and had drawers full of outfits to be put into. Much better than any replica doll I ever found for my children. My ‘dolly’ had soft soft skin and smelt delicious like only babies do. My dolly would hug me and follow me around where ever I went. Forever a faithful shadow even when I no longer wanted one.

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Taken on one of my bi-annual visits a few years before mom passed

When I was dating a test question was always, ‘are you prepared to help me raise my siblings?’ It wasn’t exactly a first date question. Definitely came up if things ever looked mildly serious. My ex-husband used to wonder how the heck I knew I would be raising my siblings as my own. He must have thought I had some sort of psychic power. In hindsight, the man had no clue the kind of woman I was and certainly didn’t know how to walk the path I found the strength to walk. With a smile, I might add.

I had no idea my mother would pass much too young. Never once did I dream we would be orphans with me barely legally old enough to claim them as my own.

I did, however, believe for years that my siblings would question the lifestyle that they were born into and leave. Go in search of more. More knowledge, more answers, more choices. The same things I had searched for but didn’t know how. The same questions I asked and didn’t find the answer for until long past searching for them. Maybe my questions were unusual for no one seemed to have the answers. Or maybe in my shame and low self-esteem I was surrounding myself with those that wouldn’t know. People that had those same questions but didn’t speak them aloud as I did.

What I know now I didn’t even know to think of. The options I see now I was unaware of. Unable to find the way there. Blinded by fear and self-consciousness I hid in a haze. Playing like a grasshopper instead of being a worker ant. In case your unfamiliar with that analogy let me tell you the story I heard.

There was a grasshopper who played all summer long. Teasing the ant for working so hard when he could be playing as the grasshopper was. Come winter the grasshopper was cold and hungry and came to the ant begging for food. Now, who was laughing…?

So back to the sibling question I started with. I answer but never truly never from the heart for the answer is complicated. Yes is a simple answer. I lie, deflect, or discuss my baby brother who I adore as my own. Tears of love stinging my eyes when I mention him.

childhood, Uncategorized

Hitchhiking with dad

 

I would often go with dad on his trips to deliver produce. It was a part of the market gardening project. Those trips enabled us time alone to bond. On one of those trips, I tried bubble gum for the first time. Dad spent that 12-hour drive trying to teach me to blow bubbles. One time we ate so much watermelon we stopped to pee every half an hour. Another time we almost died thanks to airbrakes and power steering. So many memories from different trips.

The time I am thinking of is the time the truck died in the middle of nowhere. Before cell phones were common and useful.  If nothing else when in a jam dad always showed me to be resilient and positive. To see that no matter what, there is always a way. “When the going gets tough the tough get going” he used to say.

So here we were driving a large cube truck thru the mountains heading home. The trip had been successful. All the produce was sold. The survival camping gear he wanted was purchased and in the back. It was just a matter of the long drive home. A third of the way in the truck began to lag and sputter before coming to a halting death at the side of the road.

We had recently passed a tiny town and so stuck our thumbs out for a ride there. The first and last time I would hitchhike with dad. Once we got to town it was realized we would need to catch the greyhound home. That meant getting back to the truck for our things and of course the ever important survival gear.

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We stuck our thumbs out and soon enough a nice man pulled over to give us a ride. He was an off-duty police officer who was in no mood to help a man and his young daughter. He dropped us off at the truck and left not caring how we faired or interested in giving us any helpful information. This frustrated my father as we as Christians believed in ‘giving the shirt off our back’ so to speak. Helping others with a part of our values. As a man of the law who was to serve and protect his country and his people, it was saddening that he wanted nothing to do with that when he wasn’t being paid.

There wasn’t much that we needed to get from the truck. Our backpacks and the gear. I don’t recall what dad all carried. However, I sure do remember what I had to carry. Two sets of military down sleeping bags. These mummy style sleeping bags would keep you warm well below -20 C. I had one bag on each arm as shown in the photo below. We walked the entire way. No one wanted to pick us up. Dusk had long since turned into the dark of the night.  Hitchhiking wasn’t getting us a ride, the lack of traffic may have had something to do with that. We were in the middle of nowhere at night. Drivers probably couldn’t even see us until they were right on us.

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I probably complained the entire way. The bags were awkward and heavy. The cords cutting into my arms. Dad had no time for my complaints. We didn’t know what time the bus might pass by. It wasn’t even certain that the driver would stop. We walked all the way back to that lamp post. Hoping and praying that the greyhound to come by and pick us up.