Sanj and I were watching TV last week and as is the case when the remote is in his hand (99% of the time), he channel surfs (THIS IS SO ANNOYING TO ME because I actually like commercials)! ESPN (or some version of that) was on of the channels that he surfs. On the screen was a young man being interviewed by a very empathetic reporter. The man being interviewed was crying as he shared a gut wrenching story. Kyle Beach came out as the John Doe who was sexually abused by a coach. It has taken the hockey world by storm, as it should! Hockey is a sport, well, truthfully, all sports are” infected with sex scandals and yet there is the culture of silence.” (Toronto Sun)
Sigh. My heart broke for this guy. Kyle Beach, a 20 year old, joined the Chicago Blackhawks. Being a mom of 5 sons who lived hockey, this was equivalent to a lotto win! He was sexually assaulted by one of the coaches. When he reported with assault, the leaders decided (in my words) that winning the Stanley Cup was priority. After they won the Cup the team allowed the perpetrator to-remain on the team and celebrate the win.
The perp was later met with by the head ups and offered the chance to resign without an investigation. He received a severance, a play off bonus and was paid his salary for months to fall. He was even allowed to bring the Stanley Cup to his home town (a big deal) and have his name engraved on the trophy.
This is the gist of the story. As I watched this young man, tears streaming down his face, sharing the story, my heart broke and yet I felt that familiar anger that justice never seems to be served.
Here’s the reality… WHY WOULD HE LIE!!! Who would want to live through this? I hate that the reality is this man will always be known by this story. He will be known as a survivor. He will use his pain to help others. It is what survivors do.
I think the hardest thing about being a survivor is accepting that it is part of your identity from here on out when you share. Kyle Beach said he shared his story to help others. I applaud him. Hiding from your pain does not facilitate healing. There is never going to be freedom if that pain is not addressed.
I am struggling with the justice system. It sucks. Ok I realize that a lot of good is done. A lot of “bad guys” are caught and serve time. And yet what about those that are not? It is so maddening to me. A victim can go in and report what happened. Then the perp is charged or arrested and given a day in court. THIS can take a year or longer. Meanwhile a perp is still living his/her life. The victim is surviving. One day at a time. Looking over their shoulder. Locking doors. Wondering when they may come into contact with the perp.
I am glad I shared my story. Sure my rapist is out there. Sadly the statue of limitations in Ohio was only 9 years, so criminal action was taken away as an option. I feel like God led me with baby steps to share and make this part of my ministry. I know it isn’t for everyone. I know that my voice is speaking for others. And yet I can’t wait to be in heaven where there will be only peace and love.
I’m not sure why I am writing this post except that maybe one person needs to hear that you are not alone. Maybe one guy out there needs to know that sadly this happens to men as it does women. I am not saying you need to go to the authorities(only you can make that call) but I am saying that you are not alone. Seek help … there is so much to be gained by sharing with someone, preferable a trained professional.
I am back! Oh my goodness, how much I have missed writing about nonsensical things! There is so much that I could have written about this incredible journey of being a PUBLISHED AUTHOR… and yet I miss just writing for the sake of simply writing!
I haven’t been on my blog site regularly (www.livinglovingbreathingboys.com) simply because I have written little bits on my Facebook page. Imagine my shock, horror and appalment when I decided to write and opened up my site to a page that was selling VIAGRA- some online pharmacy!!! OMGOODNESS!!!! If I can digress a moment, I will admit it did catch my attention! Did you know there is a VIAGRA for women?!!! The site is called the HappyFamilyMedStore. And the good news is orderswill be packed safe, secure and in a package 📦 that does not disclose its contents! 😅Phew! I was worried. It also says that “it has other components to help uncover the sensual aspects of the female soul, working to increase libdo, liberating and relieving psychological stress! Wow relieves psychological stress … I am mean would chug this down if it added, “relieves hot flashes!!! 🥵
Bahahahaha! I love the internet! I love science and all the things that keep me as “sane” as I can possibly be. Seriously, medical peeps…. VIAGRA for women… thoughts? If Sanj reads this I may know what I may be getting for Christmas!!! LOLOL
Ok enough of the nonsense. But it did make me smile! Life is changed so much since Covid, hasn’t it? On one hand, I love having everyone around and my quiver continues to be full. On the other hand, I feel so bad for the life changing pains and hardships that have come with covid. I also feel for my kids who have had online school over the past year and some and really have missed out on the social aspect that comes with this time of life. Balancing “partying” with exams and assignments and their jobs. Yet all in all everyone is hanging in there.
Then there is the cost of housing… how on earth are my babies supposed to get their own places when the prices are astronomical? Oh my goodness!!! Even simple dumpsters, truly homes that can only be demolished are beyond reach! Sigh. We have under 5 acres. We have been “joking” that the boys may have to get trailers and set up out back. We can’t build anything more than a 10×10 on our property. As much as I joke, I do think that there is a possibility that this could be some reality. I actually think it would be cool, to some degree. Sanj made a campsite out back when he had his yearly play day with the excavator on Father’s Day. I mean, let’s say 3/4 of the boys get trailers (which are pretty awesome), as long as they have water to accommodate toilette needs 🚽 it would be so cost effective!
Can you tell I am just rambling? A few of my kids are really into the stock market and crypto-currany. It is certainly a whole different world! And truthfully no matter how many times it is explained, I don’t really get it. The reality is as long as there is money in the bank, and it has gotten there legally, I am a happy camper.
I have been laid up the last week (I’m good 😊) and during this time I found myself glued to TikTok!!! There’s a lot of stuff on there my age group that cracks me up! I was appalled when my phone usage called me out that I had an issue!!! On the flip side, I’m motivated to get back to my yoga.
Boy this felt good to just write! I’m sure the next post I’ll add a book update but for now Happy Monday! 💕
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This last week has been exhausting! I have been up late nights and early mornings like I was nursing a new born baby! I just sent my master manuscript maker (aka my editor) my final draft with my seal of approval! I am hyper active by nature. Life in general can be very exciting for me, even simple things, such as foolishness with my boys. Sanj comes home and I can literally talk his ears off about nothing and do so quite animatedly. I am sure he often wonders if it is too late for me to be given a dose of methylphenidate.
What I mean is that my mind does not know how to stop or even slow down. I have plenty to do during the day, on top of going through the drafts and editing my manuscript. I think I have it memorized! 🙂 Now that I have to literally wait, I am feeling nauseous. I have asked God for BIG. I have had to analyze what I mean by that. I realize that riches of the monetary kind isn’t going to come from my book! (Poor Sanj has dished out plenty a dollar to help this dream become a reality). Yet it really wasn’t about the money. It is about my story. It is about my mom’s story, one that she never could tell. It is about my brothers and I, how faithful God has been. It is about God answering a little girl’s dream and blessing her with a beautiful man. It’s a love story between God and me. I love that!!!
I love God’s faithfulness!!!! I must add a disclaimer… my life is not perfect. AT ALL. My children aren’t perfect. My marriage isn’t perfect. God hasn’t taken the hard stuff away. But I think it really is what we choose to focus on. Don’t you think?
Guess what this is:
I have an ISBN number!!! International Standard Book Number is what every real book has. It’s like a birth certificate for a new baby. 🙂 Ok, truth? I don’t know if that’s really true but it sounds good.
Ahhhh… I have had 3 big God sightings today. Each of the sightings affirmed something that I was insecure about. I have had people reach out to me and offer their help/services from the goodness of their heart. I have yet to hear from Oprah. Yet I am still holding onto hope. If you know her, could you pass on the fact that she can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org?
I am not sure I will get much sleep tonight. My sleep aid that I have on hand for insomnia has let me down. It’s all good, though. I do my best thinking when everyone is sound sleep.
My book will be available next week if all goes as planned. Could you say a prayer for me that all will go well? Amazon is backed up (apparently) due to COVID. I even called them there and talked to a nice Amazon man who said they are doing their best to keep things on track. Sigh.
Ok I am actually writing to simply write. Jordan is making dinner (YAH!), Max seems to be baking cookies and Josh has been yelled at 3 times to empty the dishwasher.
If you need this today, Jesus loves you. Yes I’m His favourite but I know that second place is available!
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This particular post is to offer congratulations to my favourite guy, Sanj!!! Sanj was inducted into the Peterborough 2020 Business Hall of Fame!!! “The inductees show integrity and business acumen and have made community contributions, making them inspiring role models for enterprising Junior Achievement students and young Canadians.” (Peterborough Examiner)
Sadly it was supposed to be an exciting shindig but thanks to COVID, as with so many other things, it was cancelled. This Thursday it will be presented to the inductees and shared live-stream. (I am pretty sure this calls for a new outfit, regardless)!
Sanj is one of the most deserving people of this honour. Personally, I don’t know why it took so long but I may be a little bias. 🙂 Let me share with you a little about this man I am blessed to call mine.
He is the number 1 audiologist and that isn’t me saying so as his wife. Ask any one of the thousands of patients he has seen over the last 27 years. He treats each of his patients with absolute kindness. I was working the front desk one day and a lady came in and asked if we did testing or sold something … telling my the rays of radiation or something was surrounding us and that’s why she sometimes sleeps with her head in foil. She was insistent and needing help. After being startled, I asked her to wait a minute and went to grab Sanj. He was sitting there chuckling listening to me baffled and quite enjoying the moment. But when he came out, I was so touched and amazed at how he treated the lady with respect and listened to her to for a good 5 minutes (despite his waiting room filled with patients). He then gently suggested to her that it was something that her doctor could help her with. The way he handled her gave her reassurance that she should go to her doctor. I have seen patients come in to share with Sanj that their spouse had passed away. I have seen Sanj shed tears with the living spouse, listening to their heartbreak. We had a waiting room with fresh baked goods and coffee for the patients (pre-covid). Patients would popped in to have a cup of coffee and munch on a cookie and say hi. I have seen him well up with tears as a parent sees their baby hear their voice for the first time.
There are other parts of this man that many don’t see. He volunteers his time to the community with various organizations and charities. For the 20 plus years, Sanj booked his morning off every Friday and lead the children in worship at the boys school, and continued to do so even after we left. If you know Sanj, getting him to take time off is a difficult task!
My brother pointed out that I haven’t written in a while. I start and then delete the post thinking it’s dumb. Nothing exciting is happening and yet this is a good thing. Today Sanj and I grabbed lunch and he was talking was talking about middle age, and I made the comment that we WERE middle age. His reply was, “You’re past middle age, unless you live to be 100 years old.” That made me pause! I suppose it is a little depressing to think that I am past middle age. But then again, what really is age? I never really think of myself growing old.
I have alway thought that “when I’m older I’ll be more mature.” And then I realized that some who I have become 50 and am still kinda immature! I have the epiphany that THIS is me. I am going to be an 80 year old wearing my quirky tee-shirts that makes my kids and brother ask, “Where do you find these shirts?!!” I am going to be an 80 year old who wears flip flops till snow is on the ground. I am not going to be a sexy sultry high heel woman with age. I am going to continue to be a clumsy, tripping over myself, praying that don’t break any parts of my body. I will bat my eyes not in a flirty nature but rather because there’s something in my eye. I will continue to rub my eyes, forgetting I put eyeliner on and end up with raccoon-like eyes. Sigh.
I will still be me. I will be me with more wrinkles, thinning grey hair, more moustache hair then on my head. Sigh. And I will still be quirky. Poor Sanj. I have told Sanj I wish I was sultry. You know, look like in the movies… and Sanj knowing me, always laughs! Laughs! Ok, and then I face reality and giggle! I would probably get a concussion and give one to Sanj in the process.
Here’s the thing: I don’t feel my age. I know the number changes and yet I don’t feel like I change. Do you feel this way too? I know I am done having babies and yet I miss that. How is it possible that I hear Sanj and the boys talking about grandkids? I am not anywhere near old enough to be a grandma, am I? And then I realize that yes, it is possible! I’m not opposed to being a grandma when that time is here, in fact I will love it. But… just the fact that I can be a grandma seems crazy since I still feel made 40.
I am sure there have been times when Sanj sometimes just shakes his head. Or stares at me in disbelief. Or wonders if I will grow up. Or maybe he doesn’t because he lives with constant entertainment. I mean he really doesn’t know what may come out of my mouth or when I will trip over myself and break something. But I have realized that he means what he says. He loves me as me. Isn’t that so crazy? Or he has just resigned himself to the good, bad, quirky, unfiltered me. How lucky am I?
So I am writing as I think about the fact that this is me! Period. I will grow older physically but I think mental, maturationally, THIS IS ME!
Last night in my counseling session, my therapist and I were talking about struggles that I have been having about certain situations. I want so badly to stop fighting some of the thing “normal” people just take for granted. It can be so frustrating because I know I am putting 100% effort and yet my body/mind still feels the need to protect me.
While I am not ready to share these particular struggles, I will give an example of what I am talking about. If you have followed my blog you are familiar with my fear of the boogie man following me. After my seizure and during my “break down” (as I call it), I was petrified of the boogie man for lack of a better word. My mind knew it was such a stupid thing! And it was so frustrating. Yet my mind had learned to be fearful of being hurt. I knew that danger was a real thing if I was not aware.
In the 4 years I have been doing CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and while was skeptical I was have now been reaping the rewards. Baby steps!
Last night, in my frustration, my therapist asked me to watch the video called the Backwards Bicycle. It makes total sense! My therapist often mentions the neuron-plasticity in the brain. What is amazing is how God made the brain. We are able to unlearn horrible thoughts and fears! And we can unlock the pathways in our brains. I am hopefully. Just like I unlearned to be fearful of the boogie-man, I can unlearn fears. I needed to feel hopeful again. I know with God all things ARE possible. I know that God wants the “bestest” life for me.
I am sharing this because I think there may be someone else that needs this encouragement. So google this video and feel hopeful!
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I need to write. I need to express my thoughts for no one, then for myself. By now we all know who George Floyd is/was. Last night Sanj and I were watching CNN and the protesting against the police in so many different states. I watched another video that was longer and up close (more so than the original video that was initially circulating) as that cop kneeled on George Floyd’s neck and you could see that moment that he stopped all movement. You could hear the bystanders yelling, at some points, begging the cops to let him breathe. It has left me breathless. It has left me afraid. It has made me question the cops and the basic humanity.
When Sanj and I moved to Peterborough 25 years ago, it was predominantly a white town. To say that we would count the number of non-white families wouldn’t probably be much of a stretch. LOL! The non-white families seemed to be educated or successful and respected in town. Over the years that has changed as more and more minorities have moved in. I was never really scared for my boys. They had a few moments where they were asked ignorant questions but for the most part, they have always been respected.
This week as this ugliness unfolded I felt panicked for my siblings, cousins, my adoptive family, for my friends, for their children. I felt fear for us as a country. I am Canadian. But there is a piece of me that will always be American.
Peterborough has always felt safe to me. Then there was the story that unfolded this February. This is a family that are friends. Sanj and the father played together. Zachary hung out with these boys. They are my Zachary and Jordan’s ages. They went to jail! I couldn’t even imagine the nightmare. It was as if a family member went to jail. The father had been at our house to say hi maybe a month before. How was this possible? A lot of prayers went up. People rallied from our churches and prayers went up for God to do His thing. Then in April this. How does one ever overcome something like this? These two kids were not even in this town that the crime happened in.
There has been a huge growth of immigrants in Peterborough. It is a college and university town and now this predominately white town is no longer a town with a few minorities scattered.
My kids have had to deal with prejudice, ignorance and hurtful comments and events. Our family dealing with prejudice at the rink. I am so nervous about what may happen if they are at the wrong place at the wrong time as the Simmond boys were. A couple of days ago, Max was working at the local grocery store and a man came up to him and beckoned him over.
Last weekend Jordan, Josh and I were at Canadian Tire. Jordan was loading up our stuff and unknowingly dropped his Starbucks drink. As we were driving away a small built white man in the van in front of us, with a bunch of young kids was waiting with his doors open, yelled at Jordan is pure ugliness:
“Pick up your trash! Keep our country clean!”
There was such venom in his tone. People were looking. Jordan apologized that it was a mistake. But as this man continued on his tyrant about keeping his country clean, they boys yelled back. Josh his 6’3 maybe taller with this afro, and Jordan with his big self got out of the car, to pick up his cup and stand up to his small in statue bully. They would never have done anything unless physically atttack but really? This man’s children all under the age of 10 were watching. Prejudice is a learned behavior. In that momnet my heart broken for those poor children. What did their father just teach them?
I am paraphading this event in my words. Yesterday Max was a work in his grocery store. He was in his isle doing his thing. A man came up to him and beckoned him. “Where are all of you from?”
Max: “From here, Peterborough.”
The man: “But no really, from where? Like that guy over there. The man pointed to a young guy wearing a turban. “What is he?” The man acknowledged he was from the backwoods. lol
My boys are born and raised in Peterborough. It broke my heart that in that moment Max was on guard for a racist comment from this man.
Why are we so threatened by other differences? We teach our babies to love everyone and then we teach them even louder by our actions.
Tensions are high. My kids have had to learn that there is hatred toward them just for the way they look. It is a heartbreaking reality. And yet we all have our prejudices. Don’t we?
As I watch the ugliness unfolding and can’t help but wonder how heartbreaking God’s heart must be. I am ending this post without really wrapping it up because this is how it feels to me, unresolved.
Do you have a best friend? I have a few very close girlfriends and I hesitate to call one a best friend because I am lucky to have a few of them. Sanj is my “bestest” friend. He is the one whom I share so much with.
This post is about is having someone in your life that you can share everything with and know you’re safe. It is very freeing to have that kind of person in ones life. It helps me talk things through. Sometimes they just listen. Period. And then other times they may have insight but again, it is for me to accept or reject. How in the world do I have such a person in my life? It’s easy! They are paid!
I am talking about a counselor or therapist. Is there a difference? Web MD says, ” Counseling is also usually more short-term than therapy. Psychotherapy is more long-term than counseling and focuses on a broader range of issues. The underlying principle is that a person’s patterns of thinking and behavior affect the way that person interacts with the world.”
In this time of craziness, I am so grateful to have a paid bestie that I can share anything with. I mean anything! I have been in therapy for a little over three years. If you follow my blog, you know that I have been on an intense journey of healing a brokenness in me, redefining myself and the life I want. And God has been and continues to be faithful. He wants all that for me too!
I feel like I am doing an infomercial. I wish I was getting paid! lol This is actually just me sharing and if there is something that you can benefit from I’m grateful. I have felt compelled to write this post, which may mean God’s nudging.
When I started therapy, I knew I needed it. I have had therapy over the last 20 years a few times. But after marriage, I just could not find my paid bestie. As with any relationship, it must be the right fit.
Three plus years ago I started therapy and it took some a time for me to get into it. It was like I had been emotionally constipated for years. I didn’t feel like I was so plugged up, until I did. Then the laxative (trust) began to develop and then it was emotional diarrhea as I realized that we were a match, my paid bestie and I.
There is some thing real about tackling pain of yesteryear. I call it the Ostrich Dance. So many things of the past… the long time ago pain that has never been addressed and it seems safer to bury ones head in the sand. I researched the ostrich as learned that this is a myth about ostriches and yet I am using it as it fits my post. Burying ones head in the sand is so easy because tackling a wound is often times frightening. Vulnerability is frighting.
Therapy is like my crazy pill. It was trial and error with my physician to find the right cocktail of meds to help me function in a healthy manner in my life. I have written many a time about my crazy pill(s). It is part of my daily life for me to be a “normal” human being. It stinks but I have learned to be grateful for modern medicine. Yet as it took a while to find the right balance, so does it take time (sometimes) to find the right “paid bestie.” If you are seeking a therapist/counselor do not be discouraged if you need to break up a few times. The right fit is so important!
Self–care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self–care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. (psychcentral.com )
I love a great massage. There is something about laying still and having someone massage those aches and pains away. There is something so relaxing about this. It’s about self-care. This is something I learned. I am a care taker. It’s a role I was given with no choice as early as 3-4 years old. I have learned to do so even at the expense of my own health. So over the last 3 years my therapist will often end by asking me what I would like to have as homework and often it is to find ways of self-care. It is one of the hardest things. Yet it was really learning to give myself permission to take care of myself. As I began to heal, I learned to listen to my body. Sometimes it was a nap. I had to give myself permission to simply STOP. No one suffered from my time out for a hour. Sometimes it is getting my nails done. Or something as simple as not making supper and ordering pizza or everyone fending for themselves. (Mind you, obviously my babies can do so now but when they were little, pizza was often my way out). One of the biggest blessings was a lady that offered to bring my boys home from school once a week. Josh was little and it was such a beautiful thing to not pack him up mid afternoon and pick up the boys. I have never forgotten that act of kindness! I challenge you to find ways of self care.
I have learned that my seizure was likely my body rebelling against all that angst and stress I had not been able to deal with. I only knew to push it to the back of my mind, as far away as possible. Being raped, dealing with being physically and mentally abused was a hard hand to cope. I did not have tools to release myself from those horrible shackles. Once I began to share my story of rape with the support of so many, I found myself needing to purge emotionally. My paid bestie was the key to walking me through this journey. God was walking along side me. He gave strength and courage.
Tools! I have learned tools to help me through the rough patches. Years of being passive or being scared to say “no” because of fear are in the past. People that need for me to say a gentle no, appreciate it! And if they don’t, guess what, too bad.
There is so much I can write about having a paid bestie but as I started this post I didn’t realize I have so much I can share! So there may be a part 2! Paid besties cost $$ but many have insurance. There are resources out there and sometimes it just takes a bit of time to seek it out.
Don’t be an ostrich! Take that leap of faith! God wants us to live the best life we can! Ask Him to help you. He will!
This has been such a game changer in our world. We have our new reality and for this mama bear, having almost all her cubs surrounding her has been such a blessing. I love my boys! We have been so blessed to not have contracted the virus and for this I am so thankful. Sukumarans practicing social distancing in pictures.
Food seems to be the tie that binds us in a big way. We have been baking a lot (as is everyone else from the lack of flour and yeast out there). One of the things we did was to give a kid a designated day for supper. They had to think of the meal, shop for the ingredients and cook the meal. The creativity was amazing and they did their mama proud!
Max brought his skills from work (one of them being noticing expiry dates and emptied out my spice cupboard).
Sanj made cool workouts for the boys to do since the gyms are closed.
Jordan trying his hand at hair cutting.
They say a picture says a 1000 words. Boredom defined.
Jordan is Sanj’s mini me.
These two are my shadows. Why not lounge on the comfy mat and in my way while I am making supper?
Josh mastered banana bread!
Zach working out legs.
Jordan loves cooking. We’ve been treated with pizzas, fish and chips, burgers, Cajun chicken… I am loving the break from thinking of what’s for supper.
Why not FaceTime everyone at home?
Puzzles are a way to decompress and gather my boys around me.
Sanj doing what he loves.
Why? Why Not!
I have loved this time of social distancing. It has been good for our family. Not sure what week we are in or what day it is, for that matter. There are so many things that we are sad to miss. This was a big year for Zach. He will be missing prom and graduation. Tyler would have had graduation with the completion of his BA in Business. So proud of these boys of mine! We are missing our friends. We are missing the things we take for granted such as haircuts, shopping for a new white tee-shirt or simply going in and out of places. And yet despite all this, I am so grateful for health for each of my men, for family time and seeing God’s faithfulness everyday as we walk through this new reality.
This post is about nothing… meaning I am sick of myself and tired of the heaviness that I seem to feel constantly of late. The Harvey Weinstein verdict, the stories of the athletics at Ohio State, yadda yadda sent me into a downward spiral and blah blah blah.
So this is about the joys of boys! I have posted some of these on Facebook but I am reposting so they are on my blog for memories for our family years later. 🙂
Often times the boys say things that leave me speechless. I am so shocked at the way their minds work. They are really one of my biggest blessings.
“I was walking with a girl and she walked through a puddle so I felt I had to or I would look like a wimp. She had boots and since I didn’t I had wet feet all day.”
Pick up line: “Would you like to go on a date with me? You’ll enjoy a fine Indian made by my mom.”
“I feel more productive when I shave.”
“Was I a mistake? Who has six kids?”
“Scaliness (dry skin) is cool.”
“Does this shirt look too dirty?”
“That tasted like butt-cheek on a stick!”
This is an experience Max had at the grocery store his works at. He works in the health and wellness products and food.
A middle-aged lady approached him, asking if he could show her where the yeast products were. Max is 18-19 years old. He told her that she would find yeast in the baking section. This lady had a great laugh at his innocent response when she explained it was yeast cream, at this point when Max clued in. She said she probably should have not asked a young man. My poor child! 🙂
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I had the most amazing God sighting or answered prayer about something that has affected me my whole life! I have hesitated to share but hope that this post gives someone hope that with God all things are possible.
+++ Please be warned that this post contains some graphic violent scenes that may be upsetting to some readers.
Over the last 50 years, well, it is probably over the past 46 years, since I remember my dreams from the age of 3-4 years old, I have nightmares about my dad. They are horrible and horrifying. These dreams have been part of my reality as long as I can remember.
My earliest ones were at the young age of 3-4 years of age. There was someone in my closet. The boogie man for lack of a better description. Someone was out to get me, to hurt me. I hate sleeping without some light somewhere in my line of vision and to this day that is true. I need a light on that is brighter than a nightlight. I have a true fear of sleeping with the door shut. (I realize that many kids have bad dreams but you will see as you read that this was the beginning of an ugly fear, based on something very real in my world).
It amazes me that my kids have no trouble sleeping with their door shut in the darkness. I still leave their bathroom light on for them but realize to this day, that it’s for me.
I need to have my blankets tucked under my feet, protecting them from what? I am not sure. I never (if I can help it) hang my feet over my bed. I hate what may be hiding under there, that could grab my feet. To this day, I have to make a conscious decision whether to give in to that fear or fight it. I never could sleep (nor still choose not) on the side of the bed that is closest to the door, or have my back towards the door and if I do, I am conscious of that till I just turn over.
Early on in my childhood, cats became a creature to fear. I don’t understand to this day, why and yet the reality is they still scare me to death. And ironically, I have a pretty severe allergy to them now. We had a cat when I was approximately 8 or 9 years old. I have no idea why or where it came from but I know it was my dad that brought it home. My brothers and I were so fearful of this poor cat. I can clearly remember this cat leaping on our bed and ducking under the blankets petrified that it was going to attack me. This poor cat! And I know there are many cat lovers that are feeling sorry for this poor creature. (It was at this age that I knew that my father was abusive and it became a part of my daily world).
Cats become at part of my world that was fearfully. I had reoccurring dreams that my dad had beaten my mom. She was laying on the ground (in retrospect, dead) and a cat was eating her face. The cat eating her was my dad.
Tidal waves were also a recurring nightmare. We were always in a high rise at the beach and a tidal wave was about to hit the balcony of our apartment and I was franticly trying to save my brothers. I was always trying to save them. To this day, as much as I love the beach, the dark waters of the ocean petrify me. If I can see the bottom clearly, I am ok. Yet the darkness of the waters cause my heart to race. I am not sure what lurks under me and the unknown is so frighting of what may attack me.
Nightmares have been a part of my life. I dream vividly. I can tell you about my dreams every morning. Sometimes they are crazy and random. Other times they are full of things that occupy my mind, especially if I have a big project I working on. It is so strange and incredible how our minds work. (Or maybe it is just my mind). People from yesteryear that I have had no contact or thought of will pop into my dreams and I will wake up thinking, “Hummm.”
I will share two more dreams/nightmares I had so you can understand the place that I was at. Usually the worst was my dad attacking my mom and I was always trying to protect us. The cat always had my dad’s face as it was causing me grief in my dreams.
After my dad’s death, during my breakdown the dreams became my reality in that the “boogie man” became a living nightmare. I was fearfully constantly. No need for me to go there as you know my journey, if you have followed me.
As I found myself again through that period of time, as I found healing and learned to embrace my new reality, I began to exhale. Did the dreams continue? Yes. Yet it was all I knew and had accepted.
My mom died. I was home after being away for 6 weeks. My mom was gone and I was learning to deal with this new reality. During my mom’s illness, she refused morphine. She was 100% adamant that she would not take it. She asked for morphine via IV during her last hours, when she knew the end had come. Day 3 of being home I dreamed that my mom was in the hospital. The nurse had put in the IV and was about to give her the morphine. She was petrified. She asked, no, begged her roommate to help her. She begged her to remove the IV before the nurse returned. In my dream I was at the doorway, entering her room and saw the roommate approaching her to help her take out the IV. But at the last second, I saw that the “roommate” was not a random person, but rather my dad, taking the IV needle ready to stab my mom in the face! I screamed and woke up! My scream was a petrified scream that scared Sanj laying beside me. One of the boys came to our bedroom to see if I was ok. Sanj held me as I continued to shake and cry as every time I closed my eyes, I knew the dream would continue. Sanj began to sing Sound of Music’s My Favourite Things to try and calm my mind and body down.
The dreams (nightmares) continued. Not always with that intensity but the darkness and ugliness were always present. Occasionally my rapist would show his ugly head in some of my dreams just to add some variety.
I asked one of my brothers if he had dreams of foolishness such as mine and he repied, “No, you’re so messed up.” In my therapy sessions, we talked about it but it was more venting and sharing of my dreams.
I was beyond tired. I was exhausted of being scared and unrested. I was tired of the dreams being so disruptive in my life.
I talked to one of my dear cousins, and began to share some of my dreams and talking through what they may mean or represent as this was a field of study she is interested in. Some of it is obvious. And yet there is the cat factor that was a mystery, simply because cats are loving creatures. She is a lover of felines and they are part of her family. Yet in my world they were scarier than a grizzly. I knew that I had to get a handle on this part of my life.
Sanj had been rebuilding our porch this summer past. I would often go with him to buy the lumber and gadgets needed, or hold a piece of wood into place. One day Sanj was using the staple gun and suggested I try it, knowing that I would love it. And I did! There is power in that gun as it makes contact with the wood and I love that feeling.
One night shortly after I had a dream. We were visiting India. It was my mom, dad and myself. My brothers were there too, but not at this particular moment. We were staying in a hostel of sorts and the surrounding in my dream was very messy and scattered. My dad lost it with my mom for some random reason and told her he was going to teach her a lesson that she would not forget. (In real life, this was a line he used before a beating). He was coming at her and I stopped with a fury I never had and pushed him on the bed. I screamed at him that he would never hurt any of us again, especially my mom. He laid on the bed as I began stapling his face with staples with the staple gun. I can remember so clearly feeling the power of the staple as it pressed on his face. And the satisfaction of knowing he would never hurt us again.
I woke up. I realized how messed up I am. What in the world? Who dreamed these kinds of dreams? And … I didn’t want to live like this, where my dreams had so much anger and ugliness.
I found myself back to begging God for peace. I needed to find the rest that only God could grant. I found myself that next week, as I headed home from my inlaws, randomly going to the cemetery where my dad was buried. I had only been back with Sanj once, on a whim, a couple of years before. I found myself petrified (like he was going to grab me from the grave) and ran back to the car begging Sanj to get us out of there. (My poor husband really does know the meaning of our vows, “For better or worse!!!”
I drove tentatively towards my dad’s grave. I asked God to grant me peace and to be with me as I walked to his grave. I had total peace. I found myself sitting at his grave. I thought I should say something to my dad but what? I said, “Daddy, I forgive you. I’m letting it all go.” Then to my Heavenly Father, I found myself begging God to free me of this heaviness that had hold of me since I was a little one. I asked for freedom in my dreams. I couldn’t believe I was sitting, well if I think about it, on top of my dad, feeling safe.
I went home. I feel asleep. No daddy dream or nightmare. Night 2- no daddy dream. Night 3- no daddy dream. Night 4- no daddy dream. Night 5- no daddy dream. Night 6- no daddy dream. ONE WEEK and no daddy dream of any kind. My dad was absent in my dreams period. I was so excited that God HEARD me! Of course He does but this was HUGE for me.
I had one dream a month later and will admit I was so disheartened. But I prayed and asked God to please continue to give me peace. It is that kind of peace that really does pass all understanding. I am happy to say that since the end of October I have been dreamless as far as my dad goes. I have had a lot of peace actually in regards to him. I sometimes find it weird that days go by and I haven’t really thought of him. It makes me sad that this is the memory he left of himself and yet I am so grateful that I can gently let him go. My dad is so much a part of me in many ways, the biggest reminder being my feet! lol I have my dad’s feet. Guess it could be a lot worse! lol
As my cousin and my therapist reminded me, I now have the tools to deal with a dream should one occur. How awesome is it that God can do what seems like the impossible. I sit here with a silly smile on my face because of how incredible it is to know that God cares about my dreams!
I was editing this post and found that I needed to change a lot of my quirks from past to the present, such as feet hanging, the light left on, worried about leaving my closet open etc., but… being a survivor of trauma, it’s is a part of me. But I write this to say that there is hope and where there is hope, there can be healing.
I’m so furious! How many times do we have to hear that “it happened to me too?” How many times is it a trusted teacher, pastor, principal? Of course I realize there are so many others that are perpetrators but I am specifically talking about you! You were a principal and their teacher. You were their confidante and their friend’s father. You were at the pulpit countless times!!! You had the act down pat. You preached of God’s love. You taught religion and the bible to them. IT makes me wonder if you are simply a psychopath? You feel no remorse. You feel no guilt. You take. You violate. You touch. You look. You break an innocent trust that was a gift.
I am so furious! Yes, I have my story. Yes I have shared it countless times. YET when does it stop? I am realizing that it doesn’t. I am so sad that while change is happening and times are changing, there are so much of “us.” Those that have been hurt in the decades past. Those that have carried this “secret” for 50 years, 60 years, 70 years, 40 years, 30 years, and all those in between. One random ( or not so random) act of evil, 60 seconds of a touch that was never supposed to happen, has forever changed a life.
You taught them to read, write, memorize Bible texts, play at recess with kindness, placed a Band-Aid on a skinned knee, all things that those blessed to work with children did. And yet all that, is a blur. That one touch, that one kiss, that one attempt has changed their world. You robbed them of something they will never get back… their trust in others, their innocence, their childhood.
I really hope YOU know that I am talking to YOU! You are my Facebook “Friend.” You are a family “Friend.” And yet you are NOT! I want to scream at you for all your VICTIMS!!!! I hope you realize that there IS NO Statute of Limitations where this happened. And now people know.
I wonder how many are reading this, wondering if it is you. I feel sorry for you if you too have this worry of being found out. God knows.
I can’t believe that last post was in October! Life has been very busy and I have often come to my blog to write and realize that I never finished posts that I began. A lot of times these post are few memories later in years for us as a family to remember.
November 2019’s highlight was Josh’s baptism. He wanted Uncle Kumar to baptize him. This meant we celebrated Thanksgiving twice, Canadian and American. The cousins and some of the extended cousins came down and we had a blast as only can happen with some 30 people gathered to celebrate.
Baptism, as we believe in as a family is by immersion in water as we publicly show our acceptance of Jesus in our lives. Josh made this decision of his own. And yet I think my mom had an influence over the times she was with him.
Josh had/has a whole in his eardrum, thus any water entering his ear causes pain. His dad the audiologist had an earplug made and all was set. This poor child was so stressed about the going under. But as with anything involving his Uncle Kumar, there is always a unique element.
It was great to be together as a family as this seems to require planning now days.
This is one of my favourite pictures from the weekend with the cousins. Jordan decided to make cookies with some of the cousins! I think birth control was his lesson for when he is married! LOL
FALL 2019 also meant I headed to BC to reunite with my brothers and meet my new niece! Tyler and Max went along with me and we were able to share in the dedication of my new, precious, niece Isabella. Tyler and I fought for baby snuggles!
During this whirlwind trip to BC, the boys and I rented a car and drove the 5ish hours to Richland, Washington to visit the newest member of the Knight family! This big guy was a little guy I babysat, what seems like not that long ago!
This was a small recap of the fall. November came with serious ugly drama. I have not written about it simply because it requires so much emotional energy that I have not found.
So I will share a few of the media coverage but all in all the support was incredible. And ignorance is still alive and well as was shown to us through some of the comments.
Oh well, the end result in all of this was that we were and continue to be proud of our sons. Zachary showed restraint, grace and was so great in sharing his story with the media. He obviously gets his calmness and poise from his dad!
If you are on Facebook with me, you have already seen this picture of Josh coping with a non-existent bleed. His brothers cracked up and that was that. I am sure the picture made its way through the brothers’ social media. I know many a kid has done this yet it never seems to become old. I will say that this time it took me off guard since I have long since needed these items. When I asked Kid of Mine where he found it, I was told the laundry room. I am always surprised at the things I find around since the boys have discovered that girls don’t have cooties!
Josh had to have some teeth pulled out for his orthodontic work to be effective. Sanj and I both have small mouths, who would have thought, eh? I get so sidetracked! Sorry. Anyways, the surgery only took less than 20 minutes from start to finish, which made me think of the dollars/hour this guy makes after I saw the bill! I also found him very hyper so I wonder if that was part of the quickness of the procedure. Oh well, all was well that ended well. Back to the original subject, so I was called up to see Josh as he was in recovery. Wow, that happy gas sure made his chatty! Anyways this was what I walked into:
Of course I cracked up! Love this face so much!
Here are a few things I found out if you are interested in being educated on the many other uses of the “feminine” hygiene products
Emergency bandage. For a cut or abrasion, pull apart a sanitary napkin and use it to absorb blood and hold on the wound.
Nosebleed stoppers. Gently insert a tampon into the bleeding nostril.
Tinder. Both tampons and sanitary napkins can be pulled apart and used as tinder when building a fire when camping or even in your back yard BBQ.
Nail polish remover. If you are out of cotton balls, pull apart a sanitary pad or tampon.
Toe separators. You can use individual tampons between your toes when you paint them.
Spill cleanup. A sanitary pad can be a useful tool for absorbing spills.
Painting tool. Use a sanitary pad for sponge painting.
Pest deterrents. Hang tampons from tomato stakes to scare away deer and other pests from your garden.
Head cooler. Does your child have a fever, or are you feeling hot? Dampen a sanitary pad, place it in the freezer for a short time, and place it on your forehead.
Ear cleaner. Tampons can be dampened and used to clean out your dog’s ears.
Test tube cleaners. Tampons are the perfect size for cleaning out test tubes.
Eye soother. Cut a sanitary pad in half, soak in witch hazel or green tea, squeeze it out, and place over your puffy eyes to reduce swelling.
Essential oil diffuser. Soak a tampon in your favourite essential oil and then suspend it in the area you want to treat.
Cat toy. Roll a tampon in catnip and let your kitty have fun!
Packing material. Sanitary pads can be helpful when packing up glassware for moving.
Ice pack. Soak a sanitary pad in water, freeze, and place in a plastic baggy to use as an ice pack.
Potty training accessory. For those who keep a training potty in the car, also keep a sanitary pad for soaking up the liquid until you find a place to dispose of your trash properly.
Pipe protector. If you have pipes that form condensation, wrap a sanitary pad around them to collect the water.
Hair curlers. Use both tampons and rolled up sanitary pads for hair curlers.
Keep spare tampons or sanitary pads in your glove compartment, purse, camping gear, first aid kit, and backpack. You never know when you may need one!
*Thanks to naturallysavvy.com for some these ideas.
There is so much on this subject! As the wife of an audiologist, I am not sure that using a tampon to clean your dog’s ears out is advisable. My favourite is using it as a tinder! Anyways, just some useless or useful info.
A few ideas my boys have not come up with yet (at least to my knowledge)!
The last few years I haven’t blogged a lot about the boys because this phase in life has been one of growing pains that come with kids in the late teens and early 20s. So I had to respect their space and refrain from posting. Now I am back at writing about my boys and their antics. My heart still races a little as I recall meeting the newest member of our family.
Thanksgiving Weekend brings with it the Norwood Fair. It’s a bit of a drive, one we did when the boys were younger to see their school work displayed for all to see. The day at the fair came with the usual rides, cotton candy, tractor pull and what not. We had some great memories from this time in life. Yesterday a couple of my boys headed to the fair with friends, while the rest of us recovered from a busy weekend. Around 7 o’clock I hear Tyler beckoning for Sanj and me to come to see what they had won at the fair. I was in bed, watching something and had no interest in seeing the foolishness that they had won, annoyed that it would be another thing that would need to be junked after the newness wore off. I hate those huge teddy bears that can be won, although it does take skill to win. I told Sanj to please go see and tell them to get rid of it, as we had rented a huge dumpster, as the purging continued.
I heard Sanj say, “OH BOY,” and then “Reema, Come See!” I was mumbling with irritation about not being in the mood, when I opened our bedroom door and in my face what THIS!!!!!!!!!!!
Tyler was on top of the landing and THIS THING was literally in my FACE! Of course, I screamed, ran into the bedroom, slammed the door and screeched for Sanj to get that thing OUT OF OUR HOUSE and deal with the boys!!!!
You can see that this THING is HUGE! Tyler is a big guy. This THING was huge!!!
So, from what I gathered, the boys and friends left the fair and apparently saw this on the side of the road that someone was giving away for free. Well, it’s free, so why NOT bring it HOME! The boys begged to keep it. Of course, they promised to take care of it. (Insert eye-roll). They left the room and then came back tell us the found a place for it, the shed. We don’t have a shed. We have a garage that is attached to the house. The “shed” is a hot water boiling thingy that we never have used. It is not a shed!
Then came the idea of killing the THING and eating it for supper! Insert throwing up emoji. The thought of my kids killing it was horrifying. Yes, in the past they did kill a vulture that was supposedly “attacking” them. I still am very disturbed by this.
After being told in no uncertain terms that IT could not be kept, they got rid of it. I left it at that. I did not look for too much detail as I am not sure I really want to know.
I found these pictures that were taken in between the CATCH and RELEASE:
So this was the newest member of the family. Sadly it went … period.
It is October 1st and supposed to be HOT, high 30s! I am loving the fall weather so I am done with the hot humid weather. I love sweater weather. Today I am nursing a cold, and feeling like a big baby, but there isn’t anyone to baby me. So I am sucking it up and getting on with my day. I have an article to write, trying to figure lunches that are easy, edible and can stay without being refrigerated. I love cooking when in the mood and today I am in the mood.
I am exhausted with parenting. What I mean is babies were easy and I loved it. Toddlers were cute, busy and I enjoyed them. Then came the school age and that was fun and at times, frustrating. High school, I will admit had its challenges and was a learning curve for me. We are a lot less uptight with our thoughts with Zach and Josh then with the older ones. Then came college/university. Oh my goodness! There is so much that comes with this! Or maybe it is just me. I was a naive, very innocent and the worst I did was break curfew at school. Insert eye rolling. My kids aren’t going to a Christian college university (like I did and so this is a whole new ball game for me) and all are home except one.
Yet with modern technology, i.e. the phone, texting face-timing, we are “together” still. We are involved and aware of the happenings (well, most of the happenings). And their stresses are often our stresses. Maybe again, it’s just me. There is the partying (not the bad kind, though I guess that is dependant on your definition of “bad”).
There are friends, that I just love. There is an open door policy and the fact that we never know who and how many will be eating us out of house and home, and this is great, fine and welcomed, YET how do I keep a kitchen stocked to accommodate this at any given time? My kids eat everything in sight the day I buy it. I am not really exaggerating here. There are the girls in their world, yes friends. But… friends can turn into more. Sanj and I were friends for many years before that somehow changed (well on his part). And then there is the fact that this could be potential DILs (daughters-in-law) and OMGoodness! I have seen many a MIL and DIL that aren’t always pretty or can be very stressful or well you get the picture. I can’t help but think along those lines, much to my boys’ chagrin. Then there is the whole subject of career choices. What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s not so simple anymore. I remember when the answer was a cop, fireman and even the garbage man. Could they go back to those easy answers? Now I find the system ridiculous that kids need to know in high school their career path. This is such a stupid reality (at least here). Half the time they don’t know where their shoes went or wearing matching socks is a bother. How are they to know what they want to do for the rest of their life? Again, maybe my boys aren’t the norm. I know of a few kids that seem to have their lives mapped out and I must say, well actually I don’t know what to say, because I don’t have mine fully plotted out. I have 1/6 that has a plan and he is like Sanj, a planner, studious and more responsible than me. Sadly for the other 5 boys, they are a lot like me in that department. So much of the rest of their lives depend on these years they are presently living. So often I find myself praying for things like school, future spouses (that I love each of them and we have awesome MIL and DIL relationships), for their careers, that in all this they will find fulfillment, love, and happiness. I know God IS in control and loves them so much more than I possibly can. When we kept having babies, I didn’t think much about the future of my kids. I was just focused on living in the moment.
All this to say that parenting is kicking my butt. And yet, there isn’t too much I would rather do. (That is the politically correct answer, right)? No really, it is the truth.
I had a great birthday. Of course, Bermuda isn’t a bad way to celebrate, is it? The day of my birthday I just easy, nothing exciting aside from dinner out with the family. I just love the fact that we each have a day all about us! I don’t think we think about what a gift life is. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s losing my mom or maybe it’s just me but I am so grateful for the gift of my life, my world and all that comes with this package, despite the hard stuff.
Today I am working on an article about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I know we have heard the story a thousand times but when I read it, studied it as a mom, it touched me in a different way. Sure it was such an honor to be chosen by God. I would love to have an angel come tell me that God is well pleased in me! I would love to have an angel talk to me period! Can you imagine being the Saviour’s mother? And yet as I had to think of Mary and all she went through, I can’t imagine the pain that came with that privilege. I often think of Jesus’ death, how having nails pounded into my palms or how having a crown of thorns pressed into my head would feel? How much my heart would break watching this horrendous act being done to my dear son would feel. How much heartbreaking pain must Mary have felt watching all this play out! Mary is someone I can’t wait to meet! She is a woman of such strength! I can only imagine how much Jesus must have loved her. I realize Mary is more than likely His favorite but… then again, I wasn’t born yet! 😉
I have so many thoughts running through my head and I have started a post many times and left it as I couldn’t put anything sensible down. SO I am just going to rambling because I need to write!
Writing has been my therapy from my university days. I am not sure what made me start but it revealed my love, no my need to write. I started using my daytime planner for my thoughts rather than my schedule. I would write a paragraph on whom I saw around campus, my phone call home or a sentence or two about my thoughts. I did this for a couple of years and then those couple of paragraphs became pages of thoughts that made way into notebooks.
Looking back I see therapy came in a few forms for me, even though I didn’t realize it. One was the hours of sharing and listening to roommate(s) and friends over the years at school. Sharing made my world less lonely and slowly showed my that most don’t have a perfect reality, at least no if they were honest. The other thing was journaling (writing) became a necessity. I had shared, vented, hoped and celebrated in the pages of those journals. Instead of “Dear Diary” mine was “Dear Jesus.” This was another way of reaching out to God, making my thoughts slow down and chat with Him. I know this was huge in helping my relationship with God grow at such a fundamental age.
As I read some of my journals over the years, it is astounding and humbling to see God’s hand at work years before I saw it, or knew even knew I needed or wanted something.
Journaling continued from university to marriage and I found myself writing more so when I was unhappy. Venting, primary because time didn’t allow for much. I regret this simply because one of the best things about journaling is going back … and seeing that Hand of God in action.
Kumar, my youngest brother began a blog ( many moons ago when blogging started). I loved his stories and enjoyed this peek into his world that normally wouldn’t be possible. He eventually encouraged me to blog myself. This started another form of writing for me. I would write down stories of the boys or life as it was happening.
The struggles I had were sometimes posted on my blog. Lately as I have been slowing overcoming or finding help for those struggles, it has again been so incredible to see how much God was present, even when I was at my lowest and loneliest.
We each have different forms of expression. For Sanj, it is his music. After a bad or stressful day, I can hear him playing usually something in a minor key, as it is melancholy and depressing (LOL) to me. And yet it is how he pours out his “thoughts.”
I have always wished I was artistic, that I could draw or paint. Or even dance but I am grateful that I can pour words on a page and feeling a bit lighter.
Ramblings… I will admit this felt good. Just writing… Do you have a way that you express yourself?
This post is about Sanj’s heart being broken. He is a very private person, unlike me, so this post of his thoughts is something special. It is something many men who have had a broken heart experience and yet suffer quietly not realizing they aren’t alone. It is a long piece, but definitely worth the read and sharing.
So you think heart attack and you think ooh that’s bad. Yes a having a heart attack is indeed bad but there is so much more that happens along the way that can be the bigger challenge. Mental health has become a topic that we are getting much better at being open about and a heart attack definitely can be surrounded before and after with mental health implications. I would like to finally share my story in hopes that it will help others be willing to be more open with the mental health element of heart disease both before a heart attack and after. The physical heart attack was the easy part to recover from. I simply went to the hospital and had it fixed but I was not prepared for the mental health implications
Most Indian/Sri Lankan immigrants from the early 70s would not be considered to be extremely health conscious. Really in the 70s most of society had not caught on to the healthy living lifestyles that we currently have great exposure to. Arriving in North America in 1970 as a five year old our family was definitely in that category. We ate primarily South Indian and Sri Lankan food at first, which has lots of oil involved. (The incidence of cardiovascular disease is statistically higher in India than most other counties as is the age of onset.) Later on we moved to a community that was primarily Ukrainian and of course Ukrainian food, which was delicious also was not the healthiest. Our Friday night treat was KFC as it was the only fast food in town. You get the picture. Sure we had an active life as kids in a rural community but we were not allowed to play organized sports. I don’t regret the piano lessons but I do wish I could have played more sports.
I remember watching Jack Lalanne on his workout show but working out was not something I knew much about. I was always a skinny child and wanted to be strong. My dad was ahead of his time as he took up morning exercising when I was quite young. I remember he bought one of those Joe Weider workout kits that had those spring based exercise gadgets. I would go upstairs in our garage ad try doing these exercises that promised I would no longer be a 90 lb. weakling getting sand kicked in my face. If only I weighed 90lbs I would have been happy. My dad had polio as a child and was deformed through a burn accident but that didn’t stop him from waking me up at some ungodly hour to do yoga and go for a morning run, both which I did without ever waking up. We also were put in swimming lessons from an early age.
The point is that exercise and healthy living was something that became a part of my life early on even though my diet was not all that healthy at the time. In high school I discovered the weight room and in university expanded my workout to swimming five days a week, running, and weight training. As I grew older I began to understand more about nutrition and became conscious of what I was eating. At about age 50, my very in shape daily exercising father had a heart attack. Dad had stents put in but years later required a quadruple bypass. I was not my father; I was eating right, playing sports, going to the gym and was in great shape. I could bulk up when I wanted to and lean down at will. Cardio conditioning became a big part of my life. In the summer I would get up as early as the sun would come up to do my quickie 20km bike sprint and then go to the gym. I became somewhat of a fitness fanatic. My routine for most of my life was a 5:30 arrival at the YMCA for my morning workout before work. I was stronger than I might ever have imagined in those Jack La Lanne, Joe Weider days. When my second child was 5 we started him training Jujitsu with some mixed martial arts as well. After a year I looked into my future and worried that this little boy would one day be a big boy and would be able to whoop me so I started training as well. We are both still training as he turns 23. I played hockey regularly, softball, golfed, snowboarded with the boys and was generally a very physically active individual. Having six boys gives you no choice but to be active. As I got older things started to change.
I was soon going to be 50 and over the years I had transitioned to a workout that was more cardio based and less power focused but I wanted to say that I still had “it” at 50 and was able to do so. Turning 40 didn’t bother me but turning 50 seemed like a significant age. As they say it was downhill from there. Soon after this I tore my meniscus in my right knee and while I had no pain I could no longer do some of the things I wanted to. I found myself struggling more and more with my cardio and I was beginning to gain weight that I could not take off the same way I could before. I mean I was 50! Things were bound to change. I would still go to the gym but I couldn’t do what I had been doing. I started getting discouraged at this darn, stupid aging process that I didn’t feel I could stop no matter how hard I worked. The fatigue led to weight gain and a diminishing image of myself. I was loosing control. It seemed ridiculous to voice to anyone around me that I was struggling with these things. I felt like this must be what all people go through as they age. I would still go through phases of digging a little deeper and willing myself to overcome. I would get on the treadmill and do wind sprints till I thought I would throw up pushing my heart rate up till I wondered if it would explode. The reality was that I could no longer sustain the effort. I was finding myself worn out and tired fighting to do what used to be easy. I was not depressed yet but I was discouraged. Soon it began.
My wife and I were in church one weekend and we were sitting up in the balcony waiting for the service to start that I was playing the piano for. I had my iPad with me that had my music on it and so I started doodling on one of the apps. It was some kind of silly picture and my wife Reema took a picture of me doing this. Reema posted the picture on Facebook with some caption about her strange husband. Later on in the day we were driving in the car when I saw a comment added to the other innocuous comments. This was someone who thought it ok to point out that I was looking like I had gained some weight around my midsection but not in those words. I was livid but mostly hurt and dejected. I have never felt it appropriate to comment on another’s weight or size or appearance. My second son along with his brothers saw this and went off. I love my boys. One of the sayings in our family has always been “brothers stick together”. Apparently these awesome kids also stuck with their father. In the end the boys learned the lesson that adults can be thoughtless and insensitive.
I guess because I had always been in good shape or even skinny, people noticed that I had gained weight and many seemed to have no problem pointing it out. At first it was just that inappropriate comment and more inappropriate comments from family members but it was not limited to them. I was not really very overweight but I wasn’t what people had always known me to be. All of this together changed my psyche. I started hiding my body, avoiding those that would be prone to insensitivity. Paired with my reduced ability to physically do what I used to be able to I felt myself changing. I was prone to brooding and found myself drawing inward. Was I getting depressed? Maybe.
Yes I am a type A and couldn’t avoid continuing to work hard at work and as well as in other areas of life. I may have taken a little longer to accomplish a task but I would get it done. One day I had done some significant weeding of the gardens that surround the house and had made large piles of weeds that were drying out. I went in the house to take a break when I was done. Later in the evening I remembered the weed pile and dragged myself outside to move the pile off the lawn and into an area out of the way where it could decompose. I went outside and grabbed a pitchfork, scooped up the weeds and threw them in the field a few meters away. I put the pitchfork away and came into the house completely out of breath. I was so discouraged because I believed this was just another indication of what poor shape I was in and how my weight was affecting me. I didn’t tell anyone but it did drop me a littler deeper into that well of self-loathing.
My wife is always worrying about me and while I had a doctor it was rare that I was able to see him. A number of years ago he had put me on a pill for cholesterol as a preventative measure given my family history. I didn’t often take that pill. My doctor did things in a very different way. In actuality I never even met him but rather just the nurse practitioner who I don’t believe ever touched me in any of the appointments or examinations but rather had her back to me the whole time working from her computer making decisions from diagnostic algorithms rather than connecting with me, the patient and understanding what I was telling her. I was not happy with this approach. The biggest issue was that I had to call the day I wanted an appointment and I would be given a time sometime in the day. I just couldn’t do this because I too had patients to see and this didn’t work. In the province in which I live you can’t just go find another doctor. We have a shortage and a doctor can’t take you until you quit your doctor and go on a waiting list.
One of our close friends works as a nurse/receptionist at a doctor’s office and my wife found out that there was a new doctor in town so she asked if he might take me. Somehow he said yes and I was scheduled for a meet and greet kind of appointment so that he could get a sense about his patient and review medical history. My appointment fell only a few days after I had my incident with the weeds. On intake my friend put on the blood pressure cuff, which automatically took multiple readings. I wasn’t paying attention but I might have noticed a strange look on her face when she came to take the cuff off and record the data. In the course of my conversation with my new physician going over my case history I mentioned that I was finding myself out of breath. In my head I thought it might have been a lung issue, which also worried me. I will forever be grateful for this doctor’s ability to listen and assess.
I was booked for a stress test. I took the first test and went back to the doctor who thought it prudent to book me a second stress test and maybe refer me to a cardiologist. I obviously knew that the concern was my heart. I was 52 I ate well, I exercised, how could this be. Sure my dad had a heart attack at my age but I wasn’t my dad. Or was I? Before my second stress test he gave me a prescription for nitro just incase I needed it. I was at the golf club that I belong to on the driving range working on my game. I found myself taking a few swings and then being really out of breath. It was getting worse. I tried the nitro for the first time. For those of you that have never experienced this it was a massive head rush. My head was tingling and I had an instant headache but I was no longer out of breath. It was at this moment that I knew I was having severe angina and that this was definitely my heart. I didn’t use that spray again till I was lying in bed one evening and I couldn’t breathe.
For Fathers day my wife had set up a day of fly-fishing lessons for me out of town. I was going to go to Toronto the evening before, go the U2 concert at the baseball stadium, stay over night and go fly fishing the next day. On the way to the concert Reema called to tell me that I couldn’t go fly fishing because the river was running too high. I was disappointed but also relieved because I didn’t know how I would be able to do it. Things had become so bad that I would stress about finding a parking space close enough to my pharmacy be able to make the slow walk in, get my refill, rest and get back to the car. My kids knew I couldn’t even carry anything without having issues so when I was playing somewhere that I needed my music equipment they would carry it in and out for me. At the ballpark I found underground parking by the elevator, which I could manage. When I got to ground level I realized that my entrance was on the side of the building which was up a fairly long set of stairs. I made my way slowly to the stairs and stood at the bottom looking up. How was it that the guy who not so long ago would do his morning mile swim or ride 20km sprints every morning and 60 km rides most weekends could be looking at these stairs as a challenge that might be harder than that. It felt like I was looking up at Everest. Anyone that could have seen me would have observed a man taking one slow step at a time holding onto the handrail while others rushed past. I got half way up and just couldn’t do it. I desperately reached into my pocket and grabbed my Nitro. As much as it hurt my head and gave me a headache it allowed me to make it into the stadium for the concert. While going back was a challenge it was downhill. I would even have to walk slowly in the office as I saw patients.
Finally the day came when I was to meet my Cardiologist. My Cardiologists was new in town but turned out to be a terrific human being and great doctor. They had me do another stress test and took my blood pressure and examined me. The verdict was that I definitely had issues with my heart and that I would likely require stents but they wouldn’t know for sure till they got me in for an angiogram. I knew that this was the likely scenario and was resigned to this possibility. I agreed that this would be best and asked when they would schedule the appointment. I had to get back to work to see the rest of my patients for the day. Without giving too much away she informed me that this would need to be done today and that there was a spot available. What I found out later was that I was actively having a heart attack in the office and that they were moving me to the front of the line for the angiogram.
I got into the hospital and prepped for the procedure. It tuned out that the head nurse was a friend, which reduced my stress, and it also turned out that the physician that was doing the procedure was the head of the Catheter lab at Toronto General a world-renowned hospital for cardiac care. He was covering for a Cardiologist that was on vacation. As it turned out this was providential since the 95% blockage was in a spot that where the route of the probe was tortuous. If they couldn’t get the stent in they would have to transport me to Toronto for a bypass. Did I say I own my own business and couldn’t afford to miss work for an extended time? In the end, although the procedure took twice as long as usual he was able to successfully put two stents in that spot and another stent in the 90% blockage. That’s right 90 and 95 % blockages. They released me on Sunday morning and I felt well enough to walk into our church and join my music team and play the set. I went to work the next day even though my doctor told me I should take some time off. He got to know me a bit while I was in the hospital and knew I would likely not follow that advice so he told me to at least not overdo it.
I was given a slew of medications that I was to take and was informed that some of them I would have to take for the rest of my life. I was feeling better now but still not myself. After a few weeks I was starting to feel down the beta blocker that was lowering my heart rate was also having other negative effects that I had not imagined. I felt like an old man. I was embarrassed and feeling down. My wife told me to talk to my doctor which I had a hard time doing but eventually did. He changed me to another medication that he hoped would be better. What had life come to? I was supposed to start exercising again in order to be rehabilitated. I tried going to the gym and found that the stupid beta-blockers kept my heart rate low and I couldn’t do my cardio, as I was accustomed.
I started noticing other things as well. As I said I am type A but beyond my usual worrying I found myself feeling anxious and agitated. As I drove to work, as I would run through the details of what I thought the day would bring. If I was leading a praise team at church or playing for another team I found myself planning with detail like I never had before and then stressing about every tiny thing. I was extremely agitated and anxious. I could almost feel my body vibrating. My wife again told me to talk to my doctor. Before I went to the doctor I knew what was going on in my head. I knew that this heart attack was out of my control. I knew that I had felt powerless. I understood that no matter how I lived my life those genetics were still an issue. In short I had lost control and was trying even harder to control the things I actually could control but to an unhealthy degree. I added another pill to help calm me down and stabilize my mental health. Some people face death and become hyper vigilant changing their lifestyle and becoming really healthy. My reaction was not this one. I had been living a healthy lifestyle all my life. I instead found myself just giving up. Shortly after my heart attack a man I knew at 45 years of age was out playing basketball with his buddies as was his practice several times a week and dropped dead following an asthma attack. This man was the father of two young children; he was in what appeared to be tremendous health. I was asked to play for his funeral. As I played for his funeral I was struggling with the fact that I lived and he died. Why didn’t I die? This thought has never left me even now.
My life quickly became one of inactivity, as I couldn’t make myself go to the gym. I would pack my gym bag at night and wake up at precisely 4:45 every morning as was my habit but couldn’t get myself out of bed. I was wide-awake but I felt like I was made of lead. I would lie awake till I had to get ready for work. There were times where I would try to go to the gym and drive over, park my car and sit there without going in. I couldn’t do it. I was struggling. I restarted Jiu Jitsu after a couple of months after the doctors cleared me. My Sensei is one of the kindest people I know and he knew I was struggling physically. I was winded so easily. I would have to stop every few mins and rest just to get through the lesson. I was doing more resting than training and I was frustrated with myself. I was slipping.
Because of my inactivity I started gaining weight again. I work with a lot of patients that are older and many I have known for a couple of decades. There are those in life that seem to say whatever comes into their minds. Perhaps it’s because I practice audiology connecting to patients on their level but it soon turned out that each and every day someone would make a comment about my weight. I can’t tell you how hurtful that was. The irony was that some of these people were very obese but were commenting about me. I felt like I couldn’t say anything to them in my professional capacity but I would try to avoid them the next time they came in. Some people even trying to be kind and compassionate knowing I had a heart attack would talk about my weight even as expressing their concern for my well being. I started wearing baggy sweaters and clothes to hide in. It was endless. Just about every day someone would say something to me. I didn’t want to interact with my patients for fear of what they might say. I didn’t want to visit family of friends that may make a comment. I made excuses to avoid reunions and social events that I would have otherwise loved to go to. I didn’t want to go near a scale; I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror and would purposely avert my glance. My poor wife knew that she had to only post pictures of me from the chest up because I was embarrassed.
Somehow I had missed being called to Cardiac rehab at the hospital and when they recognized the error I was enrolled. I would go once a week before work. I was demoralized as I walked in and saw the room filled with primarily elderly heart patients. Now I was one of them. I didn’t need to be taught but I did have a physical therapist that oversaw my program. I was supposed to train several times a week with certain targets. I was going along just going through the motions making little to no progress when the PT gave me a kick in the pants and for awhile that worked until it didn’t. After rehab ended I fell back into my old ways. I had fears that I wasn’t even fully aware of. If I did take part in any physical activity I always held back for fear of what might happen. I was fearful of elevating my heart rate beyond a certain point.
I would go on Facebook and get furious at those who self promoted their healthy lifestyles. People that would post pictures of their healthy choices in meals and would have lots of advice to hand out to everyone else were getting under my skin. None of this motivated me instead I just fell a little deeper into the pit of depression.
I am not sure what snapped me out of my funk of two years but I think it was actually my boys. I knew they were worried about me. This was not the father they knew. I was the one that introduced them to the gym and now I couldn’t get myself to go. The boys I knew were worried about what might happen to me. This broke my heart, as even my youngest child would subtly express his fears for me. I was tired of not being the me that I knew. I was tired of not being the dad that my children knew. I am not the same today as I was post-heart attack I am indeed forever changed. I write this piece not because I am now in the best shape of my life because that is not the case; I write it now because I am finally in a place mentally that I can talk about the struggles. I started back to the gym at the end of April 2019, never taking my hoodie off even as I sweat probably for the first month. I started doing my cardio even though I was walking shamefully slowly on the treadmill. In humility, I would lift weights that were previously feather-light that now challenged me. Currently, I have stuck to my specific diet and have made consistent gains in the gym. I am finding my strength again and feeling healthier for the first time in several years. I have lost weight but have ways to still go. People around me haven’t changed and for many their insensitivity continues even as they congratulate me on my weight loss expressing their previous impressions about my physical appearance. Even those positive expressions still bother me because they also point out their previous view. It is not the physical change though that has allowed me to write this story ,it is the mental strengthening that allows me to share honestly.
I have spoken in these years to other men that have also suffered heart attacks, some young and some old and as I shared my honest feelings and experience I found that they had gone through similar struggles. The recovery from heart disease was the easy part; it has been the mental recovery that was an unforeseen challenge. I wish I knew earlier what I know now. I write this article in the hopes that others that go through these challenges before and after a heart attack will know that they are not alone and that their challenges are nor exclusive to them. I hope others will see that they need support and can’t do this alone. I was fortunate to have a spouse that picked me up constantly and a physician who spent countless hours really listening to me and working with me to find solutions. Yes heart disease came with a mental illness challenge that I didn’t expect. While there is still much more that happened in this particular time period, I wanted to bring to light some of the broader themes of heart attack and recovery. I took the time to document these events because I don’t believe I am alone in this reality. I actually know I am not given that others have shared with me similar experiences. Please feel free to share my experience with those you might know that are struggling with admitting to the symptoms of heart disease or have suffered from a heart attack. Hopefully this is useful to their family members that are having a hard time understanding what is going on with them. Above all if you are struggling talk to someone as you navigate these unchartered waters in your life.
A podcast was sent to me to listen to called “Confronting a Childhood Abuser”. As I listened to the end of it, as the victim expressed his thoughts at the end, these were some of my same thoughts and struggles.
BF (my rapist) was someone that everyone adored and never would have questioned. Despite the fact that there was at least one complaint that he tried to kiss a student, she slapped him, it was swept under the rug. The student’s family chose to shush it rather than stirring up trouble. The administration chose to turn their head. Or the fact that he was very inappropriate with suggustions to student during a student lead weekend… no denial of it on tape…
Blah blah blah, you have heard all this from me. Yet what struck me in this podcast were a few things. Maybe not so much now, but how did parents/ family members live with themselves shushing this evil act? I have heard stories, not just one or two but sadly numerous amounts that chose to protect the church rather than tending to the victim? How will this parent/ family member that chose to look the other way answer God? How often are we taught to forgive and offer them redemption? There is so much guilt associated with evil acts especially done by psychopaths. They believe they are innocent. They believe the lies that come out of their mouth. I asked my therapist this past week, are psychopaths able to be sorry? Are they able to see past their lies? I have said before that I have forgiven BF. I have worked hard to do so and I believe that only with God’s help have I achieved this. And yet… it’s not about forgiveness I am realizing. I have peace that passes the understanding of most, including myself that I am able to forgive him.
YET what about the others? I mentioned two that I know of for certain. Then there are the others that are out there, for certain and yet I know that they have not, can not, or will not come out with the fact that they too are victims of BF.
How much responsibility is there on the victim for what happens to their abuser? There is forgiveness and yet there are consequences that are a result of their vile act. If BF lost his reputation or job, working as a head chaplain at 3 major hospitals, is this on me? Looking back, BF lied to me. He said, ” I don’t know if you think that I’m experienced at handling perfectly every situation that comes my way.” Yes he was! He knew, knows how to take advantage of his postion of power that he was over the vulnerable. The consequencse of his actions are on him, not me. That has been hard to accept as we are taught that this is on us… somehow, the victim.
Was it worth it for me to come out with my story? How could I not speak up if there were other victims? (Did it do me much good, 3 decades ago? No). Am I happy there are others that got hurt? In this podcast, he expresses my feelings so well. I hate that there ARE other victims, yet speaking up, I hope they know they are not alone. I know what that prison feels like that BF put you in. I guess I am writing this because I hope that by sharing over and again, it will reach you, that victim of BF. You are not alone. Please reach out and you will find you are not in that prison any longer. It is not you who should be behind those bars.