cripsy13

Musings, mutterings from the misguided.


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Here yesterday; Gone today…

The end.  Finito.  That’s all, Folks!

You see – I am the end of the line – family wise.  My dad was the only boy (he had two sisters) and I was supposed to be a boy (oops, sorry about the not having a penis thing).  It’s something that’s bothered me for many years, ever since I realized (and, was informed) that I am indeed, it.

About five years ago, I became very interested in tracing my family tree.  Now, my dad’s side has been traced back to Adam (we’re a bunch of drunken, Scottish heathens) – but my mom’s side – well, that’s a whole different ball of wax.

My mother never told me (or anyone, for that matter) much about her family.  My grandfather died about 5 months before I was born, and based on what my sister and dad have told me about him, he was quite the character and I’m very sad that I never got the chance to meet him.  He came from Russia in 1913 to join the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  He fought in France, lived through Vimy and was wounded a few days later at (in?) Arleaux Loop.  He was sent to a military hospital in England, where he married his nurse and they returned to Canada.

That’s about all I’ve got.  My mother adored her father and didn’t have much use for her mother (who, according to my mother, was evil and batshit crazy…hmm…the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree on that one).

So, armed with that information, I started digging.  I came across some information in an old family photo album that actually listed all of my grandmother’s brothers and sisters.  Aha!  But the person I was most interested in was my grandfather.

On and off, over the past few years, I’ve done some research, even managed to get copies of his attestation papers from Veterans’ Affairs.  Reading them was just fascinating!  It detailed his military history, his health, what happened when he was wounded – every little detail was meticulously kept.  Except for the town in Russia he was born in.  The name he had listed doesn’t exist, nor did it ever exist.  I tried a million different variations, asked around to some of my eastern European friends – I just couldn’t get anywhere, so I sort of let it lie.

About a month ago, my sister gave me a bag of documents.  It was everything that was in my dad’s safety deposit box – she’d had it for some time, but had only recently come across it.  For me, it was like Christmas.  I found my mother’s birth certificate – and on it – was the REAL name of the town my Grandfather was born in!  Turns out that it’s now considered a part of Belarus (I guess that sort of makes me a Belorussian – I think we’re very good at shot put in the Olympics, if I remember correctly 🙂 ).  I also found out that my mother had Grade 12 piano (never heard her play a note in her life).  I even found copies of her high school report cards – she was a pretty smart cookie; dad on the other hand – erm, not so much.  It had my dad’s military records, a few photos and even a letter written to my grandfather from 1904.

In this bag, was a link to the family I never knew, never got to know and brought to light who my parents were before they were my parents.

My mother was HOT, I mean SMOKIN’ HOT!  And my dad was no slouch himself.  I learned through some reading and from my sister that she was a talented artist (again, I never knew of this). She was a real shit disturber during her Air Force days, and spent most of her time on her hands and knees, scrubbing airplane hangars with a toothbrush.  The pictures I have of her as a young woman shows a free spirit, full of fun and life and mischief.  Dad was the same way – some of his Air Force stories had me rolling with laughter (some of the crap he was allowed to get away with in the 1950’s is considerably different than what they can get away with today!)

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I’m sad that I never got to know my parents beyond them being ‘mom and dad’.  I did a little bit with my dad, but my mom remained tight lipped until the day she died.  It’s only now that I’m learning to appreciate who they were as people, as a young man and woman in the 40’s and 50’s.  Why they were the way they were – what happened to my mother to turn her into an old, manipulative and excessively codependent woman?  Why didn’t she share her life with us, her family?  Was my dad truly happy?  Did he live a good life and was he able to achieve some of his dreams?

While I’m writing this post for me – it’s mostly for all of you who might still be lucky enough to have your parents with you.  Learn from them.  Ask questions – not kid to parent questions – adult to adult questions.  Ask about their past, their dreams and what some of the best parts of their lives have been.  Would they have lived life differently?  Do they have any regrets?  Encourage them to tell stories about crazy Aunt Helen, about their first kiss – even their first job.  Get to know them as people; you’ll be pleasantly surprised about the things you learn – after all, they’re human too.

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TRUST…WORTHY?

When I was young, I trusted EVERYBODY.  I took everyone at their word and never once did I even consider that someone was being less than truthful with me or wanted to hurt me.  I was an open book; my mother used to tell me that I wore my heart on my sleeve.  You always knew where you stood with me – why would I lie?  Why would I hide my feelings away?

Thanks to lying, cheating men, friends who stabbed me in the back – I have done a complete 360 – I trust NO ONE.  It borders on paranoia.  Someone says something to me, I immediately think ‘can this person be trusted?’ – or, ‘is this true?’  Even people that I love – I have a hard time completely believing them – and believing IN them.  It’s not a conscious decision, rather something that has become ingrained into my psyche.

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If I were to write out all of the relationships I’ve had over the years, I’d have Hollywood writers knocking down my door, because NOBODY has the kind of luck I’ve had with men and this stuff can’t be made up.  From being in a long term relationship with someone who was engaged the whole time (this is where that ‘trust’ thing came into play; I had no idea) – to the guy who was married (yep, didn’t know that either – dumb? trusting?  stupid?  all of the above? – I only found out when I went to change my bird cage and saw the birth announcement of his daughter in the paper – seriously, no word of a lie – ha).  How about the guy who, unbeknownst to me, had hepatitis C and failed to inform me?  The only way I found out about that, was through a colleague at work (we all worked together) who had seen it in his file.  I had to go through the whole process of shots and updates for years.

Now, the occasional white lie – when appropriate – is okay.  I’m talking the ‘yes, you look AMAZING in those skin tight, white pants and no, I can’t see your happy face underwear through them’ kind of white lie.

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But soul destroying lying – whether it is outright – or lying through omission – is NOT okay.

I have developed a very cynical attitude towards most people.  I question people’s sincerity.  I question their motives.  I question their moral compass.  I feel – subconsciously – that I can no longer trust anyone for anything they say.  If someone says something nice about me, I shift into ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?” – I can’t even accept a proper compliment without getting the shifty eyed ‘you’re lying’ look going.

If someone tells me something that just doesn’t sound right, I don’t say much of anything.  However, I have the memory of an elephant for lies – and if you are lying to me, I WILL catch you.  Imagine how exhausting it is to be suspicious of almost anything anyone says.

I never used to be this bad – it’s only been in the past 9 years or so (since my father died).  I’ve always had a wall, but his death made me build a wall AROUND the wall, put barbed wire up, build a moat with sharks in it and guarded with a fire breathing dragon.

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As you can imagine, this has caused many a rift in friendships.  I have a small handful of people that I call my friends and each one of them is very special to me and I hate the fact that from time to time, I question what they tell me – or what they’re not telling me.

As I continue my journey into healthier living – inside and out, I’m desperately trying to not question what people are saying and/or doing, NOT question their motives and NOT think that they have an ulterior motive when they say something kind to me.  Because – I’m learning that these people are in my life because they give me something – love, friendship, honesty and kindness – and I hope (and I’m not going to question this either) that they think the same of me.

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So, I had a wee meltdown earlier this week.  Actually, it was bigger than wee, more of an intense 3 hour meltdown.

I had another meeting with Weight Wise, first thing on Tuesday morning (yah, who books a Weight Wise meeting the day after Thanksgiving? – me, apparently).  I always get myself into a state of anger before I go.  Why?  Because I’m pissed off that I have to be there in the first place.

I got off the elevator and walked into the waiting room and just stopped.  Dead.  The whole room was filled with morbidly obese people.  I’m talking people in wheelchairs, people who needed walkers, those that could only wear sweatpants because that would be the only thing they could fit into.  Part of me was horrified; another part of me felt anger.  Horrified because I couldn’t imagine ever being that large, anger because I felt lumped in with these people – there is no WAY I could relate to any of them.

That sounds horribly judgmental of me, doesn’t it?  I think what it boils down to, is that I abhor in others what I see in myself.

After finding a place to sit, in the back of the room, I seethed with loathing.  A woman sat next to me, who breathed loudly through her mouth and kept belching, and if I’m going to be completely honest – she had the odor of unwashed feet.

OMG, WTF am I doing here?  I don’t belong here!  I’m nothing like these people!

Oh.  Wait a minute.  I guess I am, or I wouldn’t be here.  I have a weight problem.  Some of it is medically related; some of it is my own fault.  While I’m not as large as some of these people, I am considered morbidly obese.

That brings tears to my eyes.  My mother was obese, my father was overweight – the only one that lucked out in the family was my sister.

I dress well.  I have nice clothes and I always put in the effort to look presentable (by that, I mean wearing clean yoga pants instead of paint stained ones in public 🙂 ).  Part of the reason I was so angry at the people in the waiting room, was because inside I was yelling ‘I understand that you’re overweight, but why have you given up on yourself?’  I saw people in stained sweats and t-shirts, people who looked (and smelled) like they hadn’t showered for a month and a man who was wearing cut off shorts.

I realize that this sounds judgmental, and maybe it is.  I believe, however, that these people have just decided that they’re fat and therefore, they aren’t going to put any effort into their appearances whatsoever.  But – maybe this is just my issue.  Maybe I need to cut these folks some slack.  Maybe, just maybe – they’re not as wrapped up in what they look like as I am.

Maybe – it’s not all about looks – and more about health.  Feeling better.  Being able to walk pain free.  Not having to use walking aids to get around.

I need to get to that place.  I need to accept that I need to learn to love my body, fat, warts and all.  I need to find a place of peace in my soul that allows me to feel calm and accepting of who I am, right this very minute.  Does that mean I’m fine with the way I am?  No – what it does mean, is that I can be okay with my body at this moment, but only I can make the appropriate changes to improve it.  Which I fully intend to do.

My sister and I were chatting last week and we both realized that our dad had teased us mercilessly as kids.  Now, I KNOW he never meant anything hurtful by it – it was never intended to be malicious – but in speaking with my sister, we both understood that his taunts were a part of why we both grew up hating our bodies – we both have SERIOUS issues with how we look and are both very critical on our appearances.

So, my sister and I have signed up for a course called “Be Your Own Beloved” – a course which involves taking a picture of yourself every day during the month of November.  I despise having my picture taken because of my size, but I’m embracing this idea and am going to open myself up to try to see myself as others see me, not the distorted, sad and angry person I see when I look in the mirror.

Wish me luck!

(If you’re interested, here is the link to the online course:

http://www.viviennemcmasterphotography.com/be-your-own-beloved/


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This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for…

As we draw near to Thanksgiving here in Canada, I have been reflecting on what I’m thankful for.  In as much as I bitch and complain about my weight, the government and various assorted other things, I am very lucky have a beautiful home, a great job and good friends.

But the biggest thing I’m thankful for is my big sister.

I should start off by saying that there is a 10 year difference in age between the two of us and we’ve not always been close or seen eye to eye.  We didn’t spend much time together over the years – with that gap in age, we had nothing in common – except for our parents.  When I was born, she was 10.  Trust me when I say that over the years, at some times it felt like a complete generation gap.

As an oblivious teenager, I didn’t pay much attention to my parents or my sister.  It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20’s that I sort of understood the family dynamics.  By that, I mean how manipulative my mother was.

I was the one that was always close to my parents – for a few years, we actually lived in the same apartment complex.  I visited nearly every day, called EVERY DAY and did general errands if they were required.  My sister kept her distance (for reasons I understand now; but I certainly didn’t back then).  I felt like it was always me that was helping out.  Me that was the one they turned to when they needed something.  I was also the person that was caught in the middle; if my sister hadn’t called or visited in a reasonable amount of time (in my mother’s mind) I was sent forth to contact my sister to tell her to contact mom and dad.

(Yes, I actually did that – it never went over very well).  I resented my sister for not visiting as much as I did.

My mother had me brainwashed into thinking that my sister was a BAD person because she never called or visited (she would call and/or visit, but not ‘enough’ in my mother’s world).  Then I’d have my father asking me to ask my sister to call because it was upsetting mom (you see where I’m going with this).  IT WAS ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER.  It didn’t matter if my sister was busy.  It didn’t matter if she was going through some sort of crisis.  All that mattered is that she HADN’T CALLED MY MOTHER FOR 2 DAYS – WHAT AN UNGRATEFUL CHILD!

As I got older, I started to ‘rebel’ against wanting/needing to call my mother every day (as should most normal adults).  I LOVED talking to my dad – he had no agenda, he was just happy to chat.  She’d call me at work and start in on what a terrible child I was – after all the nice things they’d done for me – I couldn’t even take the time to call them?

One particular time stands out in memory – I was working for an organizing committee for a worldwide event that was taking place in my city.  I had been working 12 hour days with no breaks for about 4 weeks.  One day, as I was in the middle of a very high level meeting, she called me.  And, she began yelling at how awful I was, how self centered I was and that I was basically, an ungrateful little bitch (her words, not mine).  You see, I’d nicely asked if they would mind looking after my parrot while I was working ungodly hours and they said that it would be no problem.  All of a sudden, it became a HUGE problem and I was told to immediately come and pick him up.  All because I hadn’t been able to visit for a while.  Forget the fact that I was working stupid hours; I barely had time to eat, sleep and pee.  I remember walking out the door of my meeting and calling my mother every name I could think of (and some I think I made up on the spot).  I don’t think I’ve ever been that angry in my entire life.  The event was a huge success and the final day was on my birthday.  I had to be at work at 3:00 am to assist in getting 40,000 people out of the city.  We still weren’t speaking; and at about 8:30 in the morning I got a phone call from my dad – who had snuck out into his parkade – to wish me a happy birthday.  Then he wanted me to apologize to my mother and well, that was the end of that phone call.

(I know now that it was because she was making HIS life a living hell all because of OUR fight).

I was beginning to understand my sister and her reluctance to call/visit.  A few years later, my beautiful, wonderful dad died of cancer – which was the beginning of my downward spiral into the depths of hell.  However, my mother, she needed to follow me.

My sister and I had to team up.  Mom would call and say ‘she said this’ or ‘she did that’ – pitting us against each other in order to get her own way.  This was the first time that my sister and I really started to get to know each other as people, not just as sisters.

While the event that brought us together was the worst thing that has ever happened to me – I’ll always be grateful for it allowing me to my sister as a human being.

After dad died, my mother became even more of a challenge.  My sister and I were put through the ringer.  Spending time with my mother was painstaking, soul sucking and emotionally draining.  Nothing we ever did was good enough, fast enough (don’t get me started on taking her into restaurants).  We didn’t call enough, visit enough, and when we did, it wasn’t long enough.

Mom passed in 2010 and shortly thereafter, my beautiful sister, who I’d come to adore, learned she had Parkinson’s.  WTF?  My sister, who’d sat on the International Rowing Committee, who’d traveled the world to different rowing events, who’d effectively created a rowing program strictly for disabled rowers – had a neurological disease that caused her pain and suffering.

It was like the universe was watching and waiting before it unleashed the hell that is Parkinson’s.  But, why?

I’ve watched my sister over the past few years fight this horrible disease with grace, dignity and even some laughter.  She doesn’t let it stop her, nor does she sit back and let it consume her.  She continues to work a full time job, have an active social life and volunteer her time for rowing events.  She is a dynamo, she lives life to the best of her ability and she is always, ALWAYS there for me.

To add insult to injury, she suffered a broken femur earlier this year (riding tandem with her husband – yep, she was entering a tandem bike race – she’s also a bit on the crazy side).   She was wheelchair bound for a couple of months and has graduated to using a cane.  During this time, she’s once again proven that she is made of tougher stuff than most people.  While she has her moments when everything just crashes in around her and she needs to just cry it out, she is strong, determined and most of all, she is still grateful for everything and everyone in her life.

This past weekend we made a trek to the Rocky Mountains for a quick visit and we had a wonderful time.  It was, however, hard for me to watch her struggle, as I knew she was in serious pain, but not ONCE did she want to give up or give in.  We walked, talked, laughed and cried (well, I did – when she wasn’t looking).  We learned that we each had a completely different upbringing – and that was insightful, as it helped me understand her better and vice versa.

So, thank you universe.  Thank you for giving me my big sister.  Thank you for providing the life experiences we’ve had apart and together – that has brought us both to the here and now.  Thank you for showing me love and for letting me see how wonderful a sister can be.  You’ve given me my best friend.

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