Sunshine, Protests, and Coffee

Today has been a wonderful day. It’s always nice to start such a beautifully sunny Fall morning off with a social justice event. I attended the In Solidarity Protest, at Beaver Hills, Amiskwaskahegan in Cree, located in downtown Edmonton this morning. It was organized by SOS Mexico Edmonton Though small in numbers, it packed an inspirational punch. There were traditional Mexican singers, community leaders, and a First Nation elder in attendance. It was quite something to see so many people who aren’t of Mexican descent show up at the rally to stand in solidarity. Because this isn’t just a Mexican problem, but a universal one, which was made glaringly apparent by the First Nations elder, Taz Uche, who’s speech made you realize how this kind of tragedy happens all the time, and in your own back yard. These kinds of protests always find a way to ground me and keep me true to my passions. It’s easy to get caught up in your own life and family, and forget about the world we will live. Not to say our lives and families aren’t important, but we’re all a part of a much bigger picture. Our brothers and sisters across the world need to know we’ve got their backs. Even if we’re 5,175kms away from each other.

Context: Last year, on September 26, forty three Mexican students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico were disappeared by the Mexican government and drug cartels because these students spoke out against the government. The act of disappearing someone isn’t new to Mexico, but this stood out as a notable atrocity.

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Get Back Up.

Since my last post, I’ve had really great energy and motivation. Then my school called to say that there’s a good chance I’ll be withdrawn because my funding hasn’t come in yet. After I hung up, it felt like all the goodness was drained right out of me. I felt defeated. Tired. Crushed. And so, so, so angry. These past six months, it feels like I’m being punished for something. All of these things that have happened feels like some cosmic justice for whatever I’ve done. And this phone call was further proof of that.

So I let myself wallow. I took the day off from classes (because really, what’s the point) and I binged. I bought $30 worth of pure junk. And I didn’t really want to do it, I didn’t really want to eat the carbohydrate-laden food I bought, but it felt like I was saying ‘Fuck You’ to everything in my life. Like I was saying ‘this is what you wanted, right? For me to eat these things”. Which isn’t a very good fuck you, but that’s what it felt like.

And it wasn’t pretty. I had three packages of Bagel Bites (literally, the worst), half a bag of chips, and an entire pouch of mini-m&m’s. And honestly, I was surprised to find them in a large pouch form, instead of those tubes, but I digress. You know what, I didn’t feel better. I didn’t get that high of numbness that I was looking for last time. And that made me happy. It made me realize that maybe I do have coping mechanisms and maybe binge eating isn’t one of them. So, I acknowledged that I didn’t want to eat any more of that stuff, I went into the garage to organize and put away summer things. I sat outside and listened to the birds sing. I felt the sunshine on my face and the breeze against my skin. For a moment, it felt like everything was okay.

I remembered that I’m a fighter and there’s a reason that term is a tired cliche- because it’s true. People are either fight or flight, and I’m fight. When life gets tough, I might back away for a moment to lick my wounds, but then I’m back in it -digging my heals into the earth, with my back strong, and my face tough to fight whatever’s next. And as I was sitting outside realizing all of this, a big, mile-wide smile creeped across my face. It’s funny how you can experience such intensely opposite emotions in one day. Aren’t human beings just marvelous like that?

I let this blog post roll around for a while before I wrote it. Because I wanted to savour the moment of me picking myself up by my bootstraps for the umpteenth time, rearranging my strategies and then getting right back to fighting.

Binge.

Recently, I’ve experienced a lot of life changes. My Dad died. I moved from Ontario to Alberta. I moved in with my Step-Mom and younger brother. I started a new job. I started school again. My grandmother died. All within six months. I don’t say that for dramatic effect, but rather to place a time-frame on all of this.

Needless to say, I’ve been through a lot of shit lately. I don’t have the best coping strategies, if I have any at all. Today, I find myself struggling with day-to-day minutiae. I made myself a to-do list to try to spark my motivation. Do homework, wash dishes, do laundry, shower, tidy room. Nothing extremely taxing yet I haven’t been able to check anything off my list. Instead I’ve been making half-assed Pinterest crafts, watching Talihina Sky, Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, Seabiscuit, and now Avatar.

And while I’m trying to keep my mind and hands busy, all I want to do is binge eat and then drink until I’m riding that biochemical high followed by the alcoholic care-free mind numbing state. So, I’m trying to keep myself distracted, but it’s not easy. I just want to indulge, to give-in and to not feel anything. But that’s not coping. That’s not healthy. That’s not what people say you should be doing when dealing with death and grief. But I don’t give a fuck. I want to eat and drink and just go numb. I don’t want this reality for a while.

Grief

Grief is a real bastard. It hits you at the worst possible times. Whether it’s in the grocery line ’cause you’re buying your dad’s favourite cookies, or at a restaurant and you know he’s suppose to be sitting across from you at the table, but isn’t. Or in class and you just break down in front of 18 strangers. Grief doesn’t care if you’re wearing make-up, or if your hands are too full to wipe your tears, or if you’re just really trying to learn about crisis intervention strategies. It’s a son of a bitch like that.

But, for as uncooperative and painful as grief is, it’s also eye-opening. It’s taught me to not waste time on shit that I don’t care about. It’s taught me to tell the people in my life just how enduring my love is for them. And it’s taught me how to love myself and my future.

That’s the greatest gift my Dad could ever give me. Even though this has been the hardest 6 months without him. And even though I cry almost every time I think about how much I miss him & how painful it is not to have him here, I’m grateful for the grief. I’m grateful for the opportunity to re-focus my life on the things and people that mean the most. And that definitely includes me.