Damaged Goods

Once upon a time

There lived a young woman who’s heart was growing on the outside

You may have heard similar stories of babies born like this

But this young lady’s story was unique

You see, she was born with her heart perfectly intact and enclosed inside her body

But when she was 7 years old, her dad left her and her mom for good

She cried herself to sleep

Every night for a month

She missed him terribly

One morning she woke up and felt a lump under her pjs

It felt like it was moving!

She ran to her moms room

Her mom jumped out of bed and ran to her side

She saw the lump moving with her own eyes

It looked like it had a heart beat

She tore off the young girls shirt

And there her heart sat

Exposed and thumping away

Doctors and hospitals and so many tests

Nobody knew what was going on

All tests showed that the girl was perfectly healthy

Her heart was strong

Except for the strange occurrence of her heart being on the outside

As the young girl began to grow into a teenager

Her heart grew with her

When she experienced emotional pain

Like when another birthday passed, with no word from her dad

Her heart throbbed and little cracks started to form at the edges

Every time it beat, she felt a searing pain and a small rip would appear

It would go away for awhile

And then something else would happen

Like the time she saw her mom crying in the kitchen

Her heart would scream its pain so loud she couldn’t sleep

And her heart ripped apart a little more

It was really bad when she turned 18 and started having panic attacks

She was so worried that her heart would completely rip apart and she would die

And her mom would be all alone

She would wake up in a sweat

Crying and her raw red heart ripping in all the wrong places

This young woman and her mom decided to try to follow the advice of a new doctor

Who recommended that every time a rip would appear

The girl or her mom should get a sewing needle and some thread made out of twine and simply sew it up

This reminded the girl of a time when her cabbage patch lost her arm and her dad sewed her back up

Good as new but with a little scar that showed someone had loved her enough to fix her

They were shocked that this seemed to help

Every time something bad would happen

Her heart would rip a little more

And she or her mom would rush to get their needle and thread

And sew it a little more

Soon, her heart looked like battered war-torn soldiers clothing

All stitched together with black twine

Crissing and crossing all over her heart and in a hundred different directions

She felt even more fragile than she ever had

The only thing keeping her intact

Were haphazardly sewn together stitches

She felt like these stitches were somehow holding her whole life together

To keep her from falling apart any further

She wondered what would be the ultimate thing that would finally pull the stitches apart and leave her heart in pieces

She knew she was damaged goods

Maybe she always had been

Broken, cracked and irreparable

Too damaged to be helped

Like the cabbage patch doll who, after her dad left, suffered too many rips and tears to be put back together

There just wasn’t enough of her heart left to piece together

So she did the only thing she could

She hid the needle and thread and found her dad’s phone number

She sat on her bed and called him up

He picked up and she felt like maybe everything would be okay

She spoke to him for a minute or two

He sounded rushed and annoyed

Suddenly she heard yelling in the background

It sounded like a young boy

He was calling for his dad, telling him dinner was ready

She felt the familiar twinge of her heart ripping apart

Her father told her he was busy and said he would call her some other time and hung up

She sat back and let her heart fall apart

One last time

Later that day her mom found her laying on her perfectly made bed

Her eyes open and lifeless with her broken and bruised

Damaged heart

The Great In-Between

I hate the period of the ‘in between’

It can be anything

Transitioning from jobs, schools, homes etc

To me it’s a period of unrest

A feeling of general unease takes over me

I feel unsettled

As if my feet are not firmly grounded

And I’m at great risk of just floating away

Never to be heard from again

Or maybe spotted somewhere over the Pacific

Aimless and untethered

The ‘in between’ is the start of the unknown

The anticipatory anxiety of what comes next is excruciating

My frazzled mind jumping from one thought to another

And none of them with happy outcomes

I long for this period to be over so that I may feel the firm ground beneath me once again

So that I’m rooted

In place

And somehow finding comfort in being unmovable

Sturdy

Stable

Like a 100 year old tree with roots spread so far apart and deeply ingrained in the earth

I should like that

Very much

After all a 100 year old tree can’t just up and fly away

Not without a serious fight

Hope and all that could have been

What is hope?

When I read the following definition,

‘The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best’

It sounds far too subjective

A feeling

Wanting

Turn out for the best

If this was a gambling game

Who would take odds

Based on nothing more than feelings

Feelings impacted by beliefs, moods, opinions

And with an outcome that could turn out to be any which way

No guarantees

I don’t know

Maybe I’m too skeptical

Too cynical

Jaded

For hope

Or maybe

Hope is too vague

Too unrealistic

Too wishy-washy

For the likes of me

As hard as defining hope is,

Even harder is picturing it

What does hope look like?

I tried conjuring images of different things

Nothing exemplified what hope stands for

It all seemed too cheesy

Blue skies

Green pastures

None of which inspire

Feelings of hope

I guess if I try hard enough

I would say hope looks something like…

Eyes closed

Jaw slack

Relaxed posture

No tension in her body or features

Like she’s found peace

Or at least

Knows it’s coming to her

Calm

Serene

Confident

In knowing

That hope is tangible

And what she has hoped for more anything

Is hers for the taking

Maybe

One day

I will be able to close my eyes

And in a moment

Feel the tension leave my body

My breaths full

And Effortless

The racing thoughts fading away

The dull heaviness of depression being lifted

I wonder who that woman will be?

When everything weighing her down

Is finally gone

And it’s just her

The her that might have been

If life hadn’t turned her into someone else….

It’s never too late

A year and a half ago I only had an appreciation for Art other people created.

I always had creative urges within me.

To do something with hair, make up, my room, my body…To just see art around me.

And then when I needed it most

The ability to create art came to me

I was 37 years old

This wasn’t the way I thought my life would turn out.

I thought I’d be an old cool social worker working with disadvantaged youth…

then life happened…

Maybe through art I’ll find a way to become okay with that.

Maybe this is all part of the story of my life…

‘Let’s go to Never Land and never come back till forever ends.’

Yesterday I dreamed I was free

I could move freely

I could fly anywhere

My mind was a safe place

It was like a children’s playground

That I was free to explore

I could stand in the middle of the universe

With my arms outstretched

My head lifted to see the sky above

My eyes wide and bright

The world I saw was clearly defined but with no sharp edges

I could see kindness pouring out of strangers faces

I felt warmth

All around me

It was like having some soup on the coldest day of the year

And in that moment every thing is just right

Even if it’s only soup

And it’s only a dream

But morning comes too fast

And the sun is too bright and it hurts my eyes

And it’s too hot and my arm throbs

And nothing feels as soothing as that soup did

I woke up

And all I see are sharp edges and corners that lead to scary places

People aren’t so kind

And I’m warned not to go outside

And the only place I can stretch out and look above me

Is on my bed

And so all I can do is

Hope that when sleep takes me

My dreams are about playgrounds and hot soup on a cold day and kindness all around me

But maybe if I close my eyes really right

I can stay in that dreamland just a little while longer

I woke up thinking about my nonna

I don’t know why…

So I’d like to share with you a little about my nonna Concetta

She wore black for like 50 years after my grandfather passed away

She used to have really long hair

I remember being a kid and watching her in wonderment comb it and then put in a bun

She never wore it down so I felt like I had gotten a peak behind the wall

She took care of me during the school week

My cousins and I would go home for lunch and she’d be always be ready for us

It’s funny to me now

But back then she never missed a lunch

She always sat with us

She didn’t eat

I don’t know when she ate her lunch

But during our lunch time as we spoke to each other in English

She sat with us

Just being with us

I remember once my cousin was telling a story and said the word ‘stupid’ to describe someone

And she backhanded him lightening fast

Because she thought he had called her stupid

I remember hiding a grin and a laugh

One time my cousins and I took our time returning after school

We approached with a big group of friends

She was waiting on the veranda

Yelling and screaming in Italian

Putting her hand in between her teeth

I can’t explain it

It’s an Italian thing

Anyway

My cousin was so embarrassed in front of his non Italian friends

That he told everyone our nonna was a witch and had just put a spell on everyone

When no one was around she would sit on the couch and play cards on her lap

But as soon as someone showed up at the door

She’d sweep the evidence under the couch cushion

I don’t know why she didn’t want to be caught playing cards

But it always bothered me

Maybe she felt she’d be judged

I don’t know

As I got older I didn’t see her as much

I didn’t speak to her as much when I did see her

Embarrassed by my broken Italian that I had once spoken well

I’d say the usual greeting and whatnot

But didn’t really talk to her like I once had

We’d go visit her and my cousins would be there

We would sit at the table and laugh and tell stories in English

Reminiscing

And she would sit there

Like old times

Just smiling

Being with us

She got sick and older and frail

I went to the hospital to visit her

It was late at night

My cousin left to get us something from Tim’s

My nonna looked scared

I got up and went by her bed

She looked up at me and I whispered

‘Ti amo tanto Nonna’

She smiled weakly

Eventually she got better

She went home

I visited again

I got a text from my cousin

Saying la nonna had died

It actually autocorrected to the nonna had died

That stood out then

Like she was the only one

She passed away at home

I went to see her one last time

I went to her room

Where she laid in her bed

She looked so small

So frail

So unlike the strong woman I’d looked up to my whole life

There was so much I wanted to say

So much I wanted to thank her for

Time had run out

But it didn’t matter

She knew

I just didn’t realize no words were needed for her to understand

She always did

Ti amo tante e per sempre

The world, tomorrow

Its not the same world that I wake up to everyday

Some days

I wake up

And the world is a cold scary place

People use you and forget you

Even the ones that are supposed to love you

Sometimes I wake up

And it’s a stressful world

Filled with risks

And people I don’t trust

Sometimes I wake up

And it’s a lonely world

With no one around

There is one world I like waking up to most of all

On those days

I wake up

And it’s a beautiful world

Filled with kind people

And compassion

The colours around me are more vivid

The music I hear is perfect

The art I create comes easily

So I go to sleep

Every night

Not knowing which world I’ll find when I awake

It’s this big gamble

On the good days

I don’t want to close my eyes

In hopes that this world can last forever

On the dark days

I can’t wait to fall asleep

And

Hope hope hope

That tomorrow the world is beautiful again

That is what a life with mental illness is like

A hope

A gamble

A fear

A despair

And then doing it all over again

‘…how blue the sky appears…blue enough to bruise a heart.’ Sanober Khan

Every time I scan my body for a bruise or petechiae

For the rest of my life

I’ll revert back to this past summer

And the disdain

I felt for my body

For betraying me

Yet again

I thought we’d come to an agreement after I lost my fucking mind in January 2019

I thought we were cool

Ready to coexist

Always together

Anxiety

Panic

Depression

MS

All of it

We were going to get through it all

But those damn blood bruises

A warning sign that my body wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain

Now even though I’m in some sort of remission

I scan my body

Hoping to not see those blotches on my skin

But when I do

Like this evening

I’m suddenly back to Florida in August

Angry

Afraid

Alone

With a body that was turning on me

A body that didn’t feel like mine anymore

I can’t help but miss the days when a stumble was just a misstep

And a bruise

Was just a fucking bruise

‘The Happiest Place On Earth.’

Today is Joey’s birthday

Last year at this time

I was living with my parents

My mental state was super fragile

We had cake for his birthday at my parents house

I remember trying hard that day

To put a smile on my face

To be brave

To not be selfish

For Joey

Because he deserved so much more than what he got

Because I always felt like we could have been so great

If not for all the obstacles

My challenges that have disrupted our life together

But today

One year later

We are celebrating his birthday at Disney in Florida

Joey gets to be happy

I feel good

Maybe sometimes magic happens

Maybe the universe and planets align

Maybe I worked my ass off to get to this point

Whatever

It doesn’t even matter

Bukowski wrote: ‘What matters most is how well you walk through the fire’

And I did

I walked through the fire

And survived

Sure I have the scars to prove it

But who doesn’t?

I’ll be in Disney this afternoon

Indulging my inner kid

She deserves to have some fun

Even if it’s a moment

I’m going to close my eyes really tight and try my best to savour the moments

I deserve it

So does Joey

PS. Happy birthday Joey 🖤

‘To be calm is the highest achievement of self’

Today is my anniversary

Notice I didn’t write ‘ours’?

Because this one

Well it’s entirely mine

Today marks exactly one year since I would rather have died than continue to live in the state of panic I was in

It might seem dramatic

I don’t know if I can explain the pain I was in

I remember my mom talking about how I was then

And she winced recollecting the sound of my crying

It was without a doubt the worst time of my life

That’s saying something

Since I’ve been through so much

Its strange to some people

That I would pick Multiple Sclerosis and the unknown

I would pick ITP and the biweekly bloodwork

I would choose those things in a heartbeat

I would choose those things if it meant never having to go through a mental health breakdown

Today

As I write this I’m in a much better place

Both literally and figuratively

I’m not freaking out at Humber’s unequipped emergency department

Pleading

No

Begging for someone to help me

Today

I will not focus on what I couldn’t do then

No

Today,

I’m at my home

That I share with my husband of 12 years

My two dogs

Vinnie and Benny.

I woke up this morning

I brushed my teeth and washed my face

I had coffee and breakfast

I rearranged some furniture

I did some art

Now I’m writing this blog

It’s all so unexceptional

And I am so fucking grateful