‘Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness But it’s better than drinkin’ alone’ Billy Joel

I never thought that finishing a mental health group program at a local hospital

Would remind me of a challenge I’ve often faced in my life

It’s called ‘loneliness’

One I’ve struggled with throughout my life

‘Loneliness is often defined in terms of one’s connectedness to others, or more specifically as “the unpleasant experience that occurs when a person’s network of social relations is deficient in some important way”.’-Wikipedia

I can’t recall the first time I felt lonely

I remember watching home videos of me as a kid at a birthday party

I was standing by the wall

Watching as all the other kids played and ran by me

I wonder know if that little girl felt lonely

Even in a crowded room with other kids laughing and playing

The last time I can clearly remember not feeling lonely was when I was a kid and I had two cousins who would sleep over for days at a time

Even during the school week

We went to school together too

But it was over too soon

Because when I became a teenager everything changed

Adolescence was a fucked up time for me

I felt like an outsider who didn’t really belong anywhere

And I don’t think I ever really found my niche

Until recently that is

Until the group that I was in at the hospital

The misfits

I wasn’t alone in the group

Even lost in my own thoughts

There were people beside me

Who knew

Who understood

There is nothing as intoxicating of a feeling as being understood

Of course we exchanged numbers with promises to stay in touch

But promises don’t always last and we all forget

Anyway that the group is over

And I’m not working

I find myself alone a lot

Being alone isn’t a bad thing per say

But it does give me too much time to dwell in the feelings that being alone brings

It’s empty and hollow

Like a cave

And sometimes I just want to leave this cavernous space

And be around people who get me

But I’m sort of stuck in this time and place

And I’m worried that if things don’t change

That lonely small little girl who watched the world go by

Will become a lonely sad old lady

Who is watching the world go by…

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‘The Bravest Thing I Ever Did Was Continuing My Life When I Wanted To Die.’ Juliette Lewis

It’s the eve of my graduation

Tomorrow I will graduate from the Taking Charge Program at Humber Hospital

Where I’ve been going two to three times a week for the last two months

I remember in the days leading up to the start of the program

I had no hope that things would improve

I had no hope that I would learn anything or experience anything life changing

I was so wrong

In this program I’ve had the fortune of meeting people

Who are like me

Something I’ve not experienced often, if at all

Sometimes one of us will be talking and I’ll look around and see others nodding their heads

Or we can finish each other’s thoughts

It’s uncanny

How a group of totally diverse strangers could share such intimate details of their lives

And bond in such a way that makes me wonder what I’ll do when I don’t get to see them so often

Often the stories are sad

Or frustrating

Or disheartening

Or just too fucking familiar

But there’s this weird sense of comfort in all of it

The comfort you feel when you’re just completely understood

Even in the midst of all your fucked up-ness

I’m proud that I made it through this program

I’m glad I forced myself to talk, share and listen

Even on the days when I wanted to remain curled up in bed

I’m honoured to have been part of this wonderful group of misfits

I didn’t think I could learn more about myself

Having been through this so many times

But I did

I learned about myself

I learned that in the end

Even after all the shit and hurt and pain

I can still be in such awe of life

And I’m still willing to do whatever it takes to do more than simply exist

I want to live

‘Armed with skill and it’s frustration. And grace, too.’ The hip

There’s something about the sight of my hands covered in paint or glue

Chipped nail polish and stained fingers

It’s the look of hard working hands

It shows the world that I’m a hard worker

Valuable

A member of society

Even though I don’t feel that inside

It reminds the outside world that I still exist

It hints to the world around me that I’ve gone through my share of battles

Battles I still go through

It allows me to feel purpose

Even though most days I’m walking through life without an idea of why I’m still here

And yet I still feel pride in my tarnished hands

It’s similar to how I feel about my collection of tattoos

It illustrates to the whole world

That I was here

That I’m here now

That I’m alive

That I’m still surviving

The only difference is now I’ve got the battle scars to show it

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundum-The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

The last 4.5 months have been filled with things I was too scared to do, things I thought I’d never be able to do again and things I fought to be able to do again. This was one of them. ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’ means more to me now than it did when I initially wanted this done. Thank you again to the incomparable @xmarks for the tattoo, the chats and the comfy chair.

‘In the blink of an eye, everything can change.’

Sometimes I’m scared to blink

Im afraid that this current edition of my life

Will suddenly morph back into the one I was living 4 months ago

Although living seems like far too grand of a word for what I was doing

Existing maybe

Barely

So now even going to sleep is a gamble

Which version of myself will I be when I wake up?

It seems like far too big of a risk to take

And I’m not that much of a risk-taker

Not with my life

I don’t want to lose this stranglehold I have on my life right now

I’ve worked too hard

Struggled and fought too hard

To lose it all

In the blink of an eye

Me n Robert Frost and a room full of strangers

Three people graduated from the program today

The facilitators spoke about each of their accomplishments

The rest of the group was invited to share with the graduates our own thoughts and well wishes

Three strangers were moving on

To different stages of their lives

They looked relieved, scared, unsure, happy and apprehensive

They spoke about fear of relapse and of isolation and of the unknown

My peers talked about their wisdom, bravery and relatable experiences

I shared the only thing I could

‘In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.’

And there’s something that’s both so reassuring and terrifying about that

It just all depends on the day that you wake up to

I looked around

And I just knew that each of them understood exactly what Robert Frost meant

I could see it in their eyes

That reminded me so much of my own