A letter to my sister.

To my older sister,

Growing up with you I only saw our differences. I used to say, “If we weren’t sisters, we would never be friends.” Which is true, because we probably never would have met in the first place. I remember trying to force secrets out of you but your mouth was a vault. I remember your deep breathes as I did anything I could to annoy you in an attempt to get your attention. I remember us having different interests, talents and very different social groups.

Now that we are older, I realize our differences aren’t that big after all. They are my favorite parts of us. What I thought kept us apart turned out to bring us together. The truth is I am lucky to have a sister who is so different from me. I have somebody to show me different points of views and introduce me to new ideas. Somebody with enough patience to sit with me while I cry. Somebody I can trust with my secrets. Somebody I can laugh with (and we sure do laugh a lot). Somebody to be my biggest cheerleader when I didn’t even realize there was anything to cheer for.

If we weren’t sisters, we would never be friends. But damn am I ever lucky that we are.

Love,

Your little sister.

(BSFL)

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The Outside Pressures

I originally wrote this short piece for a Sociology assignment. It turns out this assignment might have cause another defining moment, when I started living more for myself and less for other people…

*lightly edited to be less sociological and more blogable.*

Towards the end of 2016 I was let go from my position as an Insurance Advisor. This turned out to be a defining moment in my life. I decided not to return to my previous career and to look for a new alternative. I quickly learned that there are limited opportunities without some form of post-secondary education, ultimately leading to my decision to return to school.

Right away I applied to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  My rejection letter arrived quickly stating that I did not have the pre-requisites needed for this program. My high school diploma is from an American International School and my high school courses are not recognized here in Canada. I was forced to “upgrade” to attain a Canadian high school equivalent, despite already having the grades needed.

As my “upgrading” came to an end and I was looking to apply for programs I was faced with new concerns. I was more concerned with program length, the career title, and salary than ever before. Spending two years upgrading and dealing with other people’s assumptions had taken a toll on my self-esteem and self-worth. I was looking for a way to rebuild this and it came down to how impressive I thought others might find my new job title. As it is outside of Canadian society’s norms to be in school beyond your late teens and early twenties and I was concerned how being in school well into my late twenties would affect people’s view of me. I no longer looked at programs out of personal interest but instead based solely on how I thought it would affect other people’s opinion of me.

I realized through my internal battle of choosing a program that very few of our decisions are based solely on what we want; there are often outside influences that we may not even be aware of at the time. My initial decision to return to school was influenced by Canadian society today and the need for higher education in order to gain employment in most fields. My decision to choose a program was a fight between listening to my own preconceived ideas of what the outside world would think and what I wanted to do.

Tonight I began writing a post that briefly mentioned my sexual assault. As soon as I typed the first sentence concerning it I froze. I hit the delete button and stared blankly at my kitchen floor.

Sexual assault sadly is not a rare experience but it still gets brushed under the rug. I know there are so many men and women out there who are just as scared as I am to speak out. Scared because of all the responses I’ve already received from the people I was close to. Scared of the words that won’t be said to me but about me. Scared because I’ve already felt so much guilt for something I was a victim of. Scared because of the infamous question “why didn’t you report it?”… Scared because I didn’t expect one sentence to have such an affect on me.

I’m not ready to share the few details of my sexual assault that I can recall. I might not ever be and that’s okay. I’m writing this for myself. I hope that one day the memories of that night won’t have such a hold over me and maybe this is the first step in getting there.

I used to write poems.

I used to write poems, but I haven’t in a while. I used to express my emotions in such a delicate way, as delicate as the emotions themselves. It’s been almost 10 years since I stopped. Since I stopped being open and vulnerable with myself. Since I allowed myself to embrace each feeling, good or bad.

Almost 10 years ago I tried to take my own life. I remember feeling so many emotions leading up to this day, many that I didn’t understand. It was overwhelming. So much so that it led me to attempt suicide. When I woke up from my attempt I taught myself to hide or suppress my emotions. I was scared of them, I was scared to feel. I stopped expressing myself because I didn’t have anything to express. I had survived but I wasn’t allowing myself to live.

I spent 10 years trying to hide from myself. Not allowing myself to embrace joy or fear or any other emotion except for sadness. I could never fully escape sadness.

It took me 10 years to realize that by denying myself the good emotions I was pushing myself farther into the dark ones. I needed to teach myself how to feel again. Slowly I began being honest with myself again. Honest about how I was feeling in each moment. The more honest I was with myself the more open I could be too. Eventually I found myself having something to express again.

And now after almost 10 years, I am writing poems again.

1 in 5 Women

1 in 5 Women will experience some form of intimate abuse in their lifetime. A few years ago I was one of these women.

I met my ex boyfriend during a very trivial time in my life. I was beat down and looking for something or someone to pick me back up. Unfortunately for me, I only found him. For our short courting stage he would tell me I was beautiful, open doors for me, buy me gifts. I had never experienced such lush treatment like this before.

Shortly into our relationship he had me “hooked” and these “spoils” came to an end. He began isolating me from the people I was close to by manipulating me into believing they were toxic and only he truly had my best interest at heart. He would belittle me, accuse me of wanting to sleep with any man who crossed my path, show up to places unannounced as a “surprise”(even to my work) to check what I was doing. Things could get physical when we fought but never enough that I was able to considered it physical abuse (if you find yourself questioning, it likely is). I would spend nights locked in the bathroom, once even sleeping in an empty parking lot in my car. Too scared to go home to his wrath and too ashamed to admit to anyone that they were right to have concern about the person I had once so fiercely defended.

People told it was like somebody had taken over my body and was pretending to be me. If I ever made a comment or did something I knew he wouldn’t like, I would immediately shut down, even when he wasn’t around. My world became small, there was so much of myself that I had lost.

Eventually that relationship came to an end. It took a long time to recover from that relationship. To learn that I am loved, worthy, strong and so much more. I am still working on it to this day. I still experience flashbacks and have nightmares from time to time, but they have become less frequent and less intense overtime. It serves of a reminder of what I survived and how far I have come since.

I barely remember the girl who became so small that she could barely ask someone for directions or freely laugh at a joke without feeling like she was doing something wrong. But I will never forget her either. She is a part of who I am today.

 

If you ever find yourself experiencing a form of abuse no matter if it is emotional or physical or whether you are male or female, reach out and find help to get out.

Remember you are loved, worthy, strong and so much more.

Home

I grew up internationally, never staying one country for more than four years. When people think of TCK’s (third culture kids) they think of them as being able to find home anywhere. However this isn’t always the case. I have since moved back to my birth country and haven’t been able to make it feel quite like home… whatever home is.

I ache for it,
Not knowing what it is.
I ache for it,
Not knowing where it is.

I ache for change,
I get restless and bored,
Ready for another new beginning.

Yet I ache to stay,
For a place to call my home, To know it is my own.

I am homesick,
But for which home?
My heart aches for a place I am yet to discover.