Good afternoon. Welcome to my vagina, would you like to sit down? Please, make yourself comfortable.
It seems to be a hot topic these days. Everyone’s all about the uterus and vaginas and what’s going on all up in there. So I thought I would take this opportunity to give you a full behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to have a vagina.
Vaginas are a lot of work. Maybe you had to deal with the odd untimely boner – but try getting your period for the first time. Picture this: You think you’re sick. You leave school in the middle of history, and have no idea what’s happening until you get home, go to the bathroom and it looks like a Freddy Kruger movie. You quickly learn there are no pads in the house and you have no clue how to use a tampon. Also, to a 13 year old, those Always brand cardboard applicator tampons may as well have been the size of a zucchini. So you just sit in the bathtub and cry until your mom comes home.
No… nothing? Just me then. Okay.
My mom lovingly congratulated me into womanhood; I soon found out that this would be my new life, every 28 days. I was to simply get used to the whole wanting-to-pull-your-uterus-from-your-body-because-it-feels-like-it’s-a-miniature-version-of-Rocky-Balboa-is-trying-to-take-you-down-from-the-inside thing.
It’s around that time you become hyper aware of how to avoid rape. It weird, because no one really out-and-out talks about it, so I didn’t actually know what rape was, I just knew how to avoid it. It was constantly reinforced by teachers and parents: be careful, don’t walk alone, and if a man is walking toward you, cross the street… it didn’t even seem weird. So normal to just start becoming aware and adapting to this new way of avoiding harm. It was learning to look both ways before you crossed the street. Just now instead of cars, we’re watching out for predatory men. That’s normal, right?
Alright, well onward and upward. Let’s move on to consensual sex. That’s better right? Sex is always fun.
NO. Losing your virginity sucks. Not in the aw, that sucked but it’s okay, it’ll be better next time way. It is straight-up AWFUL. And I was one of the few that wasn’t drunk, I had a loving boyfriend and a completely pressure-free experience. So basically, I had the best possible environment for a positive experience… and it still sucked. I was also under this naive impression that your first time hurt, but then it was all good and everything was fine after that. NOPE. It was a process. Sex hurt for like, a year or so? I think. God… why did I keep doing it? That’s dedication people.
Okay so time passes and let’s say that eventually sex becomes fun. You might have to wait for your mid-twenties before a guy actually figures out how to help you have an orgasm, but eventually it happens. So you go around and you have all the sexy times (safely, because you care about your body and you’re a woman of the 21st century so you carry your own damn condoms) – and then what happens? UTI. BLAMMO! Yeast Infection. BAM! You have all the fun sex and then you get an infection. Your sexual liberation is rewarded with an INFECTION. YAY! I once had a bladder infection so bad I couldn’t stand up. I crawled to the bathroom. After it was treated I had to get up at least 3 times a night to pee and it took over a year to get to a point that I could sleep the whole night without having to go to the bathroom. Good times, good times.
Okay. Millennials. I love you my bothers and sisters. But why. WHY did we make the Brazilian Wax a thing? Holy Mother of Christ. Occasionally, I have taken these small precious moments after having received a Brazilian in which I gently pat my newly naked mole-rat looking genitals and apologize that I wasn’t born in an era that appreciates a solid bush. #bringbackthecarpet
I can only speak from my own experience which at this point includes none of the vaginal trauma associated with birth. So we’ll all take this moment to shout-out the women that have sacrificed themselves, their vaginas and the reliability of their bladders to ensure that our species lives on. Whenever someone tells me their birthing story I will (after regaining my composure – I’m quite squeamish) mentally salute them with the same intensity and respect as one of those dudes from Saving Private Ryan. ‘Cause as far as I’m concerned, that is some next level shit.
I wonder if the dudes that are taking women’s rights away have acknowledged that they originated from a vagina. I wish I could graphically remind them. Maybe that’s why they’re so adamant about it all. Because they know, deep down, that if their mother knew how much of an dickhead they’d become, she would’ve aborted them. So it’s in their best interests to keep their population alive! Long live ignorant dickheads! Maybe if everyone took a moment to appreciate where they came from we’d have less ignorant dickheads and more enlightened vaginaheads. Or something. I hope that it’s understood by the majority of the population that no one who is Pro-Choice is running around saying ‘Abortion is awesome!’ or ‘Abortion is the preferred method of dealing with anything!’ All anyone wants is their own right to make the decision themselves. Duh. Has anyone tried the opposites game? What if a political party was attempting to legally enforce abortion in certain circumstances? There would be uproar there too. It’s the choice that’s being fought for. Not the procedure itself.
What else have I gotten to experience with a vagina… oh! This is fun. With my glorious vagina I have had the experience of awkwardly laughing myself out of mildly threatening situations. I’ve avoided dark allies, learned self-defence techniques (thank you dad), I have had sex not because I wanted to, but to avoid hostility; and I have felt that my safety was truly jeopardized when I didn’t return a certain man’s advances.
Being a woman is a f**king trip people.
I always agreed with it. Women are the weaker sex. I thought: My mum can’t lift as much weight as my dad, and therefore she is weaker. But man, age gives you some serious perspective. I have observed women, I have listened to women… and I can tell you for certain. They are strong AF.
You know what takes strength? Going to work the day after a rape. A woman has done that.
Strength is protecting your kids by taking the abuse of your husband on yourself. It’s fighting to be heard and seen, or to be quiet until someone finally listens to you. Strength is telling your side of the story even when no one will believe you or take you seriously. Strength is living through the trauma of rape only to find out you are now pregnant and now have to have an invasive and risk-ridden medical procedure to avoid a lifelong reminder of an instance you are trying to move past. Strength is making the decision to sacrifice a human you created in your own body for the greater betterment of it’s life and your own.
If strength were just muscle – oh what a simple world it would be. But it’s so much more than that.
I could list for days the strengths that women have embodied, but I don’t have to, because you know women are strong. You’ve seen it. And if you haven’t seen a woman be strong, then your eyes are not open.
So what’s it like to have a vagina? It’s pretty messed up. It’s scary. And it’s pretty f**king powerful.
So if you haven’t picked up on it already, after much practice and years of experience, we’ve got this covered. Thank you so much for your weighing concern, but we truly do know what’s best for our own genitalia.
So please, unless you are invited, stay out of my vagina.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to date so many buttholes.
Buttholes are such an important part of the self-development process. They highlight all the areas in that we lack. If you have trouble drawing boundaries – no problem! A butthole will come a take advantage of you until you figure it out.
You struggle with being a constant people-pleaser? You will eventually come across the forever un-pleaseable butthole.
Doesn’t matter what the goal of your personal journey into self discovery; overcoming your issues with confrontation, temper, drama, perfectionism, your value and/or self worth. There’s a butthole for that.
Of course I didn’t always see it this way. I went through a stretch of disliking, and in some cases, loathing these people for a period of time. I would relive and replay all the ways they had wronged me, hurt me or taken advantage of me. Then that got kind of boring so I decided to reflect on their impact. I was able to take away valuable and insightful lessons that helped me to understand myself and the world a little bit better. And even if in most cases I learned maybe a little too late, I still learned.
I’m not sure who coined the term serial monogamist, but I think that would describe my dating habits as well as any. I have dated enough to fully emerge myself in the experiences of various nuances of men on the butthole spectrum:
There was the one that was so sweet and sensitive but turned out that his ‘sensitivity’ was actually a stealthy form of manipulation, and for bonus points, he was also a low-key misogynist racist. NBD. Then there was the passive aggressive who wanted time, love and attention but could not request this directly so he used the silent treatment to get his way and to avoid conversations he didn’t want to have. Then the ‘I-can’t-live-without-you, you’re-my-whole-world’ one that slowly got me to do everything for him because he needed me and I was ‘always so much better at it’ than he was. That was actually super clever. Well done.
And then there was that one guy that when we broke up he called my home phone number 28 times in the middle of the night. And my cell phone 16 times. (No exaggeration here people. I’ve never seen anything like it.) And he left voicemails and texts that rom-coms base their desperate post-breakup characters off of – calling the first time just sad… the second one was more desperate. Then it was fiercely angry with horrendous name-calling. Then apologetic. Then sad again. And so on. I am absolutely one to indulge in the occasional hyperbole, but this was legit what happened. I suspect there are some deeper issues there.
Anyway. If you get the chance to reflect on these experiences in an objective manner, you get to pull out all the skillsets that they left you with. In many of my own experiences it came down to me learning to honour my value, draw boundaries, and have more self-respect.
If you get really keen on being objective, reflective and learning; you can also take away how you, yourself were a butthole. I am fully aware of the level 10 butthole I have been in certain circumstances (none of which will be listed today, because I know you think I’m perfect and I would hate to disillusion you). I also see the miscommunications that happened, and how things sort of got muttled, and therefore people got hurt unnecessarily. But hey, we’re all a little tougher now with a better sense of humour. Right? Or perhaps, the less desirable outcome, in which we’re all a little more jaded with a bitter sense of humour. Either way.
Each of the experiences with these buttholes (and my being the occasional butthole) really helped me to identify the man I chose to marry. They created this metaphorical checklist that I was able to go through.
Oh, you do that thing where you twist everything up and have no responsibility for anything? … nah. No thanks.
Ah yes, I am familiar with this technique. This is the avoid-it-until-she-gives-up technique. Nope. Next!
Hm, I am noticing how defensive and mean I get around you. I don’t like this version of me. Peace mofo, I’m out.
As awful as it sounds, there was a period of time when I was dating the man that became my husband that I was practically waiting for him to do something ignorant. But he just never really did… Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like he’s perfect. It’s more that he’s accountable. He has his moments, and he’s the first to tell me he’s sorry, or that it’s not my fault or that he just needs a bit of time to figure something out. If he’s been a bit insensitive or I have felt hurt, I tell him. He listens to me and he always apologizes. (And he doesn’t say dumb stuff like: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Or “Calm down it was only two fries!”)
My husband respects the shit out of me. It kills me that his mother has passed away because I always want to thank her for whatever she did to make him the man he is today (I do regularly thank his dad), and I want to take notes so I can one day raise a human to be so considerate and kind.
He cherishes me. He makes me feel important to him. I feel valued, trusted and loved.
I once told him about my insanely unreasonable fear of getting locked out of the house. That day (THAT DAY) he went to Home Depot and changed the deadbolt out for a mechanical deadbolt so I didn’t have to worry about losing my key. I didn’t ask him to do that, he just did. ‘Cause he’s awesome.
He always cleans the kitchen if I cook. And often will help me clean the kitchen if he’s cooked. He does the laundry, he plans dates, and buys my favourite snacks when I’m PMS-y. He also buys me flowers every time he comes home from a long stint at work.
But most importantly, I can be all the weirdest versions of myself. He supports me with my experimenting, pushing boundaries and trying new things. I am allowed to feel all my feelings, and I feel truly safe knowing that he’s not threatened by my experiencing emotions. My favourite part of our relationship is that neither of us holds the other one to blame when we are sad, upset or hurt. Even if it was their doing… we don’t say “You hurt me” … it’s “I’m hurt.”
I know that we’ve only been together for a short time but this isn’t the first time I’ve been in a relationship for 2 years, and this one is different. At this point in previous relationships I am usually acutely aware of things that are making me feel stifled and uncomfortable, and simultaneously naively optimistic that all that garbage will get sorted out – and then it doesn’t, and maybe it lasts a few months more until it inevitably comes to a strained end. I’m just really grateful to be this far in and there’s no garbage. There’s effort, communication, and the occasional disagreement. But it’s pretty mellow. And I love that.
There’s a Buddhist quote that discusses finding your person, I’m going to paraphrase it because I can’t remember it and Google was NO help. It says something along the lines of: when you meet your life-partner it won’t be all sweaty palms, heart pounding and fireworks, instead, it will be this noticeable sense of calm. AKA it won’t be this dramatic hot/cold soap opera. I think we base our expectations of love on movies, TV and storybooks – which is a distorted adaptation of reality. It’s not to say you won’t get butterflies or nervous – sometimes I still do with Brin! But mostly he makes me feel ease. And it was like that from day one. Easy.
There are many people with a long dating history of failed relationships that will tell you there aren’t many good ones left. They’re the first to tell me that I really lucked out with how awesome Brinley is. Don’t worry all, I am well aware that my husband is straight-up the tits. But I want to get across something I feel is very important. I truly feel that I was able to identify my husband as someone to spend my life with because I reflected and learned from my past relationships. I was willing to look myself in the face and acknowledge where I needed to adjust and shift for my own personal growth; and I was able to very distinctly know what I wanted in the human being that would become my life-partner. I became so clear on this that I had decided I would rather be alone and happy by myself, than to settle for a relationship that only filled me up part way.
Before I met Brinley I made a list. A list of qualities and traits that were all inspired by the previous relationships that I had experienced. It was a pretty detailed list. When I completed my list, I read through it, and my first thought was: “Wow. If this person exists. He’s a pretty remarkable person.” It made me reflect. If I find this incredible person, then I ought to be the most incredible version of myself that I can be. I ought to be willing to return these same qualities. It’s not terribly fair to ask someone for this level of investment if you’re not willing to come to the table with similar value. So I started doing my best to develop in my own areas, asking myself harder questions: Are you ready for your person? Truly. The person that you know you want. The one that is going to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you comfortable being all of yourself? Are you responsible with your money? Are you brave enough to own your feelings and your mistakes? Are you able to stand up for yourself? All of this inquiry gave me the motivation to invest in myself. To hold myself accountable to rise and expand on who I am. To acknowledge my value and observe my deficits with kindness and patience.
So thank you, Buttholes. You were the reasons I was able to make that list. The reasons I knew exactly what I appreciated in a long-term relationship and the reasons I knew exactly what I didn’t need. You helped motivate me to step back and evaluate myself and acknowledge my various strengths and the I’m-working-on-them parts. You helped me to understand and appreciate what a truly incredible person Brinley is. Without the contrasting experiences of your Butthole-ism I may never have been able to fully appreciate the gift that my husband is.
Thanks Buttholes. I only hope I was able to do the same for you.
I have a pretty solid belief system. It doesn’t really follow any particular organized religion. In fact, it sort of just fell into my brain one day, and I never really told anyone about it, I just silently joked to myself that it’s called Tanyaism. One day I’ll elaborate on the whole idea of it all, but today, let’s talk about Jesus.
I grew up Catholic. I was Baptized; had First Communion and went through Confirmation. The whole Catholic Caboodle. My Grandma Shirley was so proud.
I never loved Church, but I didn’t hate it either. It was just kinda boring, and we were never allowed to eat beforehand so I was always hungry. And sermons made no sense. Kinda just felt like this dude was enjoying hearing himself talk. The mono-tone music wasn’t super enjoyable, but at least I got to sing, right? Sunday school was cool, but I got too old to go. Anyways, it wasn’t my favourite Sunday experience, but we always went with Grandma and Grampa, and we always got donuts and hot chocolate (and sometimes waffles) afterwards. So it was alright.
Anyways, shortly after I was Confirmed I began to think about the Bible and all these stories and scriptures – and basically there were a bunch of things that just didn’t make sense to me, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. So I started asking questions. My Grandma was a proud Catholic and I considered her to be my in-house Bible-expert, so I asked her.
“Did Adam and Eve really populate the entire earth? If so, how did different ethnicities come to be?”
“Did Jesus really walk on water? Or was it sort of a figure of speech?”
“How can God be everywhere at once?”
“Okay so God is all powerful right? How does this Devil guy even compete then? Can’t God just squash him with his little finger?”
My grandma didn’t really receive these questions too well; AKA had a pretty epic freakout on me for even considering this heresy. And I mean, I get it (now – it was a bit confusing at the time). For her, her faith saved her. My Grandma had a fair share of struggle in her life, so for her, finding God and Jesus really helped put her life in a healthier direction. She was the most faithful person I knew, so that’s why I wanted to ask; but all I really learned at the time is that you don’t question Grandma’s God.
It’s okay though, I’m a practical kid, and in the case of God I just figured if no one would answer my questions, then I would come to my own answers. And since I couldn’t think of any logical answers to my questions, I decided that there was no God at all. I was 13 and a self-proclaimed Atheist. (I did not tell Grandma).
I stayed really committed to that belief for a very long time, almost a decade I think; basically until a friend of mine was willing to field a few of my (very cynical-atheist originated) questions. He was of Christian faith and very patient with me (I think I was kind of a dick) – but he said something to me that made my brain twitch.
I asked him (probably with great disdain while rolling my eyes) “How is it possible that God is listening to my prayers over here, and then someone else in Australia, and someone else in another part of the world. Sounds a little too much like Santa Clause to me.”
My friend casually explained that his belief is that there are more dimensions than solely this physical plane that we are aware of. And God isn’t human, so he’s not limited to the same linear forms of travel and communication that we are.
And that was enough to crack the door for me to go from a firm “No. God does not exist.” To “Maybe I will think about it.” – and poof. I became Agnostic. I still wasn’t sold on the whole God thing, but I now felt that I had to leave room for error. Which I did for quite some time – until that shifted to my own weird conclusions (ref: Tanyaism).
I have many, many friends that grew up with a similar story to me. They grew up in the Church. Their questions weren’t welcome. They themselves felt unwelcome because of the rigidity and judgement of their institution. The way we experienced it was: This place is boxing me in with a bunch of rules, and they won’t even tell me why! So we dropped our religion and went on with life.
The trouble is, a lot of people still carry those wounds. The ones where they felt ignored, or judged or restricted. They never made peace. So they still walk around to this day, complaining about the horrendous system that is the Christian Church.
And that’s a damn shame.
I mean. On one hand, I get it! I’ve been there. Felt burned and rebuffed. There were (and still are) a number of things that just don’t make any sense.
But what I’ve noticed since then… I have a lot of friends that attend church. And they are some of the best people I know. And yet, some people avoid Church-going friends because they’re worried that they’re going to … I don’t know actually… what are they worried they’re going to do? Throw holy water and burn them? Lecture them on their sins? Projectile a wooden cross at their forehead while running away shouting “THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!”?
For whatever reason it might be, I know a lot of spiritual people that avoid church-goers. (And vice-versa – but I’ll also save that conversation for another day). They judge people for going to church. Which is HILARIOUS because that’s why they left the church in the first place. Judgement, exclusion etc etc. And now here we are on our spiritual high horse doing what was done to us. Kind of hypocritical.
The reason we have all these different religions BECAUSE one size doesn’t fit all. You’re allowed to have your faith, and love to worship the shit out of that faith every Sunday – or whatever day of the week you prefer. Or believe that you die and turn into dirt, your consciousness fizzling into thin air.
We have almost 7000 languages on this planet, a full spectrum of different colors, millions of food options… We GET to be different. We get to choose what feels right for our own heart. You are allowed to believe in exactly whatever way you want to. Wear whatever color you want to, speak whatever language you want to. So I don’t understand the harm in letting someone else believe (or not) in whatever way they want to without getting all emotional and opinionated about it.
I don’t identify as a Catholic anymore. Or Christian, or Evangelican, or [insert other Christian/Religious systems here]
But I’m cool with Jesus. I’m cool that his story inspires people to live their life in a better way. I am glad that people have somewhere to turn when their life gets hard.
Just because you had an experience where the church hurt your feelings – or even if it’s that you feel the church has abused it’s position in history (or currently)… could you avoid making that the fault of Joe-Buddy down the road and his wife. They’re not going to church to try to take over the world, they’re going because they are worried about paying the mortgage this month and they’re turning to Jesus to find comfort in sharing their worries and fears. This is harmless people. And arguably a healthier coping mechanism than some of the alternatives.
And if Joe-Buddy actually is a judgemental, self-righteous, holier-than-thou asshole. Make sure you hold him, himself responsible – because even though he might try to manipulate a bible verse to justify his poor actions. That’s not the church’s fault. That shit is HIS.
Jesus is cool guys. He did some seriously cool shit. He gave some dude his shoes, cause he felt he needed them more, he smushed mud on another guy’s face to get him to see (I mean, the scientific data support on this is low, but it’s the thought that counts!) – he said a lot of smart stuff and gave people hope. And he still does. Like, come on. He sounds alright. He may have occasionally been a bit full of himself – but so were the Beatles. Fame can get to anyone. We can all still take something away from his life and story.
You might not believe me, but you can even go to church… like, this week, and just sit there and listen – and you won’t leave brainwashed with an I Heart Jesus T-Shirt singing This Little Light of Mine. You can just listen. And you might get something out of it.
Maybe not. But maybe.
I am smart enough to know that this is way over-simplified and there are so many political implications to peoples’ issue with church and organized religion. But take it easy on me, I only had time to write a blog. Not a book. So this is what you get. Think of it as Grade 2 Religious Studies: Let’s all be nice to one another and get along.
I’m just saying; if you get all judgy and avoid people because of their belief… you’re missing out on meeting a buttload of cool people. Just like you’re a cool person, and I’d be bummed if someone chose not to be friends with you because of what you choose to believe.
Now, please excuse me while I dust off my rose coloured glasses and mix some Kool-aide. I have a Tanyaism service to attend.
Would you still create if no one was there to acknowledge it?
What is it that moves you to make your art? To sing your songs, put your words on paper, your hands on your craft.
Isn’t it meant to be a short period of time that we are temporarily not entirely human? This brief experience of becoming a vessel for this unknown force that is creativity. It moves us and bends us in an unrehearsed but beautifully executed dance. It’s the magical push and pull of how that flows through you – and onto your page.
I have, more than I’d like to admit, forgotten that that’s why I do it.
I have confused myself into thinking that I create for those who will hear me, see me, understand me. For those who will validate me, support me, affirm me. I expect my craft to work for me and ensure that the product of my efforts will result in feedback that fills the voids in my heart. I have obligated my creativity to sooth my insecurities.
I have unintentionally – and unequivocally blocked that beautiful flow of creativity by focusing on my work as a product instead of a process. As a machine, instead of a living, moving, intelligent force.
I have denied the inherent nature of my creativity by trying to control it and manipulate it to conform to standards set by myself, or what I perceive to be accepted by society and industry.
I have assumed this creativity was not a gift but a right. And I’ve abused it.
Sometimes it leaves. For a time I become unable to express and create in a way that I’m accustomed. And in those times I slowly recognize what I did to contribute to its departure.
I am so lucky that it comes back to me.
It has every reason to leave me, for good. So many times my creativity has been victim to my mistreatment; and considering what I have done, repetitiously, I don’t deserve it.
But it forgives me. Every time.
It leaves long enough for me to have time to remind myself to listen, to feel, to embody, to express, and then it comes back joyfully, ready for us to dance together again. To make magical sounds – to thread words together like some sort of audible loom.
I am thankful to have the patience, compassion and forgiveness of my creative force. I am more aware now to make it an intentional act to honour its nature and simply envelope myself in the experience. Reminding myself: I create because I am a creator. Because it’s a way for me to understand the world; to digest my experiences. To funnel grief, confusion, joy, love, sadness, anger, hope…
Regardless of who hears me, sees me, understands me, validates me… I create because I am a creator.
I have been struggling with my emotional body over the past while.
I have been suffocating myself in certain expectations of my life and myself that have gone unfulfilled. It’s a tricky thing sometimes, because I’m lucky enough to have a lot of perspective – enough to know when my mind is pulling me into unhealthy thought patterns. When it’s simply dragging me into the darkness because my misery loves my company. So I can usually stay afloat by grasping onto my knowing and riding it out. But, even though the knowing keeps me safe; it doesn’t stop the feelings. I still feel all the yucky feelings, it’s just that it usually doesn’t get to overpower me to a degree in which my life is on the line.
I wish people were more candid and open about suicide. I think that suicidal thoughts are a lot more common than most people make it out to be. Unfortunately, if someone uses the “S” word, it’s like an alert is sounded. All proper physicians, psychologists and therapists are summoned; drugs are doled out and everything is chaos for a small period of time. Everyone looks at you like you’re fragile; with that horrible pity-face we all love so much.
And I completely understand this reaction. Because OF COURSE this needs to be taken seriously. The stake of a valuable human life is at risk. If someone is struggling then there do need to be actions taken.
So maybe what I’m looking for is another word for suicide?
I have been suicidal. A lot. Like, a lot a lot. (Mum and dad: Breathe. Everything is going to be okay.)
I don’t talk about it because I really don’t want to sound the alarm … and also, I have always known that even though I WANT to kill myself, I also know I won’t.
So what do we call that? The part where you feel the urge to not exist in this life anymore… but you won’t actually leave the planet without just cause (old age, illness, accident etc).
I won’t commit suicide for a number of reasons. Most of which fall around my spiritual beliefs. Not that suicide is a sin or ‘bad’ … actually, let’s start with the super weird and kind of funny belief first.
There’s a part of me that thinks that if I commit suicide, Life (Universe/God/Willy Wonka/Whoever) will intervene: “Hey Tanya, you still have work to do on earth, you forgot to learn a few things. No problem! We’ll just send you back!”
And then it ends up being like the movie Ground Hog’s Day. I wind up with the same challenges, same hurdles – and I’ll just end up having to do all this bull all over again. So, I kind of see it like: since I’ve knocked 30 years out of the way already, I may as well keep pounding away. No sense in losing progress. Even if it doesn’t often feel like progress. (*Please also reference ‘The Russian Doll’ on Netflix. Same idea. Also, super weird and cool show.)
I have other beliefs as well, that help sooth me in some of my darker hours. I have the belief that I, the soul of who I am, took part in planning the outline of my human experience before I came to exist on this earth. And if that’s the case, then I have, on some deeper level, already agreed to much of the discomfort that I go through. And that’s empowering to lean on. I chose this life. I chose to experience certain emotions, struggles and people; this way of thinking gives me a sense of ownership of my life. It helps me to sigh, breathe in, and continue forward. Because if I chose this – then I can have more faith in trusting that I have everything I need to overcome it. I’m strong enough. I would not have made myself something I cannot triumph over.
I get that this line of thinking won’t work for everyone. And it doesn’t have to. It works for me. It’s kept me safe when few other things may have.
If it ever came down to it, and someone were attempting to talk me off a literal ledge… and they started with “You have so much to live for!” … I’d be gone before they finished the sentence. I can’t live my life for what or who is around me. It would be an empty existence. I love my husband, my family, my friends – but I have to want to live my life for me. I have to feel like I have meaning, and that my experiences are something that are enriching me, and in turn I am adding value to this planet by existing. But simply living because someone else wants to you to? Doesn’t work.
When I hear of someone that commits suicide, I am so deeply sad; because I know they didn’t make that decision lightly. No one commits suicide on a whim. There have been years of inner-conversations that eventually lead to this person believing they are truly not worthy of their own existence. They eventually became unable to keep battling with the horrible darkness in their mind.
I don’t pity them though. I refuse to disrespect their soul with pity. I instead have a sense of saddened respect. It reminds me of how I felt walking through Auschwitz. I do not pity them. I respect their ability to persevere through the most cruel conditions; I am deeply saddened for the tortures they experienced, I am moved, and I choose to acknowledge their fight, knowing they did everything they could to survive. And they simply didn’t.
Being human is hard. Feeling feelings is hard. Expressing is hard. Feeling grief, trauma, torture, abuse, depression, stress, anxiety… is hard. So if you chose to be here, stay on this earth and persevere through the dark, often times the light isn’t far behind (Ryan Langlois, I’m stealing your shit); but sometimes, you have to believe the light is there, before it reveals itself. And that can be the hard part.
If you choose to comment on this post, please (PLEASE) do not comfort me; or tell me how valuable my life is. I don’t mean to sound insensitive or ungrateful, it’s simply that, that would indicate you missed the point of my post. I’m not looking to be consoled, or supported. I’m actually hoping to create the tiniest bit of normalcy around suicidal thoughts. I would love for this piece to create the opportunity for an open and safe discussion on the topic.
So, if you feel inclined, share a similar experience. Tell me what you do to overcome your thoughts of suicide. Or tell me about the black hole in your mind. Tell me about your Ground Hog’s Day hypothesis. Or whatever you feel you can share. Thank you in advance for your bravery, and thank you for continuing to look for and find the value in your own life.
I’m sure that every newlywed has mountains of great things to say about their spouse. So I apologize if this title makes you roll your eyes, and you now have the sudden urge to pop a heart-shaped balloon. I promise, I don’t carry the illusion that my husband and I will not have our abundant variety of differences; but at this point in our marriage, I am so appreciative of the things that I learn from him. Actually, if it tempers your cynicism to know this, a disagreement with him is exactly what inspired my writing this in the first place.
I recently had an argument with my husband. It was about as heated an argument as we’ve ever had. We expressed very polarized opinions on a political matter. We shared our opinions, our views, our experiences, beliefs… and we never ever reached a conclusion that we agreed upon. No one changed their mind, or came to feel enlightened or changed by the exchange of information.
[Just for the record. I was right. Obviously.]
And what happened when we concluded this inconclusive argument… we got out of the truck, unloaded our groceries, kissed, and made dinner. We had no sore spots or resentments. No one was hurt that the other didn’t change their mind. It was just this beautiful disagreement; we chose to accept each other’s mindset, and continue forward.
It made me think about what would happen if everyone in the world could do this. If we could all simply accept that another person will not share our opinions. That one line of thinking doesn’t work for all, regardless of your opinion, research, data, beliefs or otherwise.
I know, I know, you’re thinking “But Tanya, data and research DO matter. These are unequivocal FACTS.” – and to that I say: Have you ever tried to change someone’s mind about something? Anything? It doesn’t matter how much fact or validity you bring to your argument, you can’t change someone’s mind. Educate them, and move on. The only person that can change their mind is themselves. [Insert politically sensitive vaccine debate here.]
I said it earlier to be funny… but I truly believe that I am unequivocally correct regarding my position in my husband and I’s argument. I think that my belief about that matter is more objective, and expresses a better reflection of reality. But you know what? IT DOESN’T CHANGE HIS MIND.
Why are we constantly trying to change peoples’ minds and beliefs? What would happen if we simply trusted that someone will find their way to information and enlightenment in their own time, in their own way. Or heaven forbid our own mind is changed somewhere along the way.
Having your belief system (or lack-thereof) shook is terrifying. Especially if any part of your identity is wrapped into that belief system. I think we experience a certain amount of shame – or perhaps simply sheepishness when our minds change. So, in effort to save our pride, we hold onto that old belief… so we don’t have to admit that something shifted. We can maintain the status quo. It’s safe there, where everything is the same.
I have experienced some dramatic shifts over the past few years. Some that have made me question much of what I’ve come to learn. The biggest take-away I have rested with is to stay humble. That regardless of my conviction in a belief or fact – it can come to pass that that information is no longer relevant. I think of it as a software update. Out with what once was – and in with the new. And sometimes the initial adaptation of the new way is difficult [think about how you feel when Facebook updates its platform] – but ultimately, objectively, the new information is better, more comprehensive, and eventually you forget the previous once you’ve fully integrated the new. And repeat this cycle as needed, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.
People in younger generations criticize our elders for their lack of flexibility. You know the term: “Stuck in their ways.” – and yet we all can have these parts that are stuck. And lack of awareness of this stuck mentality will leave us as some version of Mr. Wilson shaking our fist on the front porch grumbling on about “Kids these days.”
[That was a Dennis the Menace reference, did you get that? 80s babes, I’m looking at you.]
Stay humble, stay adaptable, stay young.
I have learned so much from my husband – to be kinder, more patient; to offer greater compassion, and be aware of selfish behaviours. I have learned to be more spontaneous (I’m practicing) and to laugh shit gets awkward. I have learned to be less of a dick – and, just as importantly, more of one when the circumstance calls for it. I have learned that you can be so kind, and still draw very firm boundaries.
And one of my most favourite, and recent lessons:
I have learned that you can love someone, accept someone – and therefore can ABSOLUTELY tolerate someone – even when your opinions do not align.