Carolina

When it rains, it pours, let me tell you.

Remember how I almost died? Well, 2022 decided to further kick me in the face! My company faced some financial hardships, and almost all of us were laid off. Suddenly I went from feeling confident in my future to worried about losing my house. It was tough. I have nothing negative to say about my time with the company. This is a great organization with great people. I’m honoured to have been part of it. I met really great people and I’m lucky to be friends with many of them. It was a rewarding experience. But, I have to pay bills and even when life gets you down, there’s a silver lining. One of my former colleagues works for another organization and she was gracious enough to offer me a position. I’m super excited to be part of this company. She’s a great leader and I feel like I can learn a lot from her. Most importantly, I’ve been reunited with colleagues and friends that I loved working with. It’s a really cool time for me work wise.

However, switching jobs means switching pay periods. Money is tight. Benefits are non existent for the next three months. Trying to scrape together money for medication has been tough. Speaking of medication, I’m still fighting my doctor for a referral to a specialist and I’m not getting anywhere. The tooth I had a root canal in has been feeling off (not painful, just weird), so anxiety says my tooth is falling out and I’ll be ugly. I’ve been afraid to work out since my pulmonary embolism. I’m just very down on myself.

I deleted my dating apps a few weeks ago. I got stood up and just decided that was it. But I’ve been noticing the way I look at myself hasn’t been great. I genuinely don’t see the point of trying to date when I feel genuinely ugly. Any time someone suggests that I date someone, I just say I am too ugly and crazy have WAY too much baggage. Whether or not i was interested was irrelevant; I was just too ugly to even consider it as an option. Everything is just about looks it feels. Even when I was explaining my frustration with my doctor, my friend kept bringing it back to my weight, even though it was about my doctor only wanting me to take one kind of medication. When I went into Lululemon I was asked if I was shopping for gifts because “we don’t accommodate plus size.” I realized my weight will always be my defining character trait until I lose it again, so there’s no point in putting myself out there to meet anyone. I just feel like the annoying person people engage with because they work with me or whatever. Hell, even some of my friends always tell me how I’m doing so great on my own and they see me as the type of person who will be happy with their cats, alone and don’t need anyone. They meant it as a compliment; I felt like it meant I’m not really a catch. I don’t think I’m a catch. It’s either that or reminders that the general population says me as some kind of airhead with no substance and talks too much. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “shut up Mary-Helen,” I’d never have money problems again. All of my report cards with “talks too much,” are now making me wonder if I’m really just…not partner material. All of a sudden dating just felt like a waste of of time so I just sort of gave up.

I get this is just anxiety. Deep down I know I’m not ugly or stupid and my tooth probably isn’t going to be extracted or fall out (but until the dentist says so, I’m gonna be a little scared). But I also have to internalize a lot because a lot of times, my feelings are sort of dismissed as “you’re fine,” or “it’s fine,” while I’m kind of expected to be there for everyone and it’s overwhelming. When I’m helping my kids with body image issues, I can’t really open up about my own. I won’t have benefits for three months so therapy is off the table for a bit. It’s also the feeling of not being in control of every situation to give myself the stability I need to thrive. So, I needed to figure out how do I pull myself out of this rut? I can’t just cry and I’m not allowed to drink so functional alcoholism seems to be off of the table for now. I needed a new plan to help pull myself out of this mental health spiral.

I’ve started goal setting using an app called Finch. It has all sorts of things to help with wellness and keep anxiety in check. One goal was to fill all of my Apple Watch rings in July. I need to build healthy habits. I get up thirty minutes before I have to so I can meditate and set the tone for the day. I went so long without putting on makeup or even trying to take pride in my appearance, so I make sure to at least do my eyes every morning, and do my hair as well. No more ponytails. I get to work forty minutes early so I can mentally prepare for my shift and make an action plan for the day. They’re baby steps, but hopefully they’ll turn into strides. It’s gonna be a journey, but I’ve pulled myself out of darker places. I just need to focus on the things that I need to thrive;

1. Fitness

2. Family

3. Friends

4. Ways to grow at work

This means getting over my fear of fitness. I have to remember that it wasn’t exercise that hurt me, it was the medication that caused the blood clots. I’ve taken steps to recover. I have to trust my body is healing and ready to get back into shape. I can start off slowly and eventually get back to the point where I’m seeing results. Obviously this situation has caused me to make some major dietary changes, so between that and the fitness, I should see the results I’m hoping to see, and I can celebrate my commitment to health.

As for dating, I’m gonna stay away for now. Until I can see myself as someone worthy of love, I can’t. That’s how I ended up with people who were abusive or mean before. I don’t want to settle, so until my response is no longer “no way, I’m way too old/fat/ugly/stupid” when anyone suggests a possible date for me, I can’t even consider it. I can’t be a good partner to someone else when my inner monologue is treating my psyche like shit. This way I can avoid being preyed on by some creep, and when the time comes, I’ll be emotionally ready to be a good partner…In theory.

I Bet You Think About Me

Well y’all. Another year is over, although it feels like Marchvember 57 of 2020. It’s been an interesting year. I quit my job and found a workplace that’s collaborative and full of leaders who want to see everyone grow together. I put my mental health first and took steps to get as healthy as possible. I took steps to improve my physical wellness so I can get back on the weight loss train. I’m excited to be my best self again. As always, I compiled a photo essay of my fave memories (excluding my children). If you ever want to watch my ridiculous life in real time, follow my dumb ass on Snapchat!

Happy holidays everyone and I’ll have more adventures in 2022!

Peace out toxic job

When my house finally got grass

Best birthday cake!

That time I chopped off all of my hair

One for the Rocks & One for the Scary

Oh hai.

I know I sort of fell off of the Earth lately, but I haven’t felt particularly motivated or inspired to write lately. I haven’t really been motivated to do anything, except let my anxiety run wild and create insane scenarios in my head about how everyone actually hates me because they’re cooler, better looking, and smarter than me, and I’m the fattest, most annoying loser that ever lived.

I find myself constantly trying to balance if I’m being too much, or talking too much, or being too “me.” I’ve spent most of my life being told that being myself won’t always leave the best impression, and I really want to fit in with my new team, because they’re all so awesome. It’s dumb, but ever since one of my friends told me I’m only fun to be around in small doses because otherwise I’m overwhelming, I tend to obsess that I’m always gonna be too much and eventually I’ll annoy everyone until they don’t want to talk to me anymore. Every time I spend time with anyone, I wonder how I could have done that better. Could I have talked less, about myself less, could I have been nicer. What could I do to be less annoying. When I get home from work I wonder how I could have been better. Could I have interacted better. Do my coworkers like me. Am I dragging the team down. This is my head every night.

I thought getting out of a toxic work environment would fix my self esteem issues, but I still feel like I’m too annoying to be a real person. I’m doing well at work and I’m excited to be working on a project that I’m super passionate about. But it also triggers insecurities. I wonder if someone else should present it because my coworkers are cool and kick ass. Deep down I know I have no reason to feel that way. I love my new job. I’m getting to know amazing people. I’m part of a team of colleagues I admire and respect. I’m working on projects where we get to do more for our community because it’s the right thing to do, not just to get a point on scoreboard. I love being home more with my family. I love that I have more free time to see my friends. I love that work is fun again. But just because you remove yourself from toxicity doesn’t mean you don’t have to check yourself for your own toxic behaviours and correct them. I’ve realized that my insecurities and anxieties are impacting my life and I need to make healthy changes so I can be a better MHC.

The negative self talk has helped me realize that my anxiety is out of control. It’s dominated every aspect of my life. I’m constantly comparing myself to the highlight reels of others, wishing I was confident like them. I’m constantly putting myself down in my head, letting those comments from friends, my old boss, and even my third grade teacher play back.

– Too much

– too big of a personality

– too domineering

– no one wants a strong woman, a fat woman, an old lady

– talks too much.

The truth is that I’ve neglected myself for so long that all I can focus on anymore is the negatives about my life, appearance, etc and I need to bust out of the rut of feeling ugly and stupid. So, I’ve made a conscious decision to shut down the negative thoughts by putting me first. I’ve been blocking off time to work out, and some friends in Ontario are keeping me motivated to get in shape for a wedding in the summer. I’ve rebooked that hair appointment I’ve cancelled four times. I’ve blocked off time to do yoga every night. Most importantly, I recently took time to talk to my doctor about my mental health. While I’ve been seeing a therapist for months, I’ve been referred to a psychiatrist to help me with my anxiety and PTSD. My therapist has been amazing, but I think it’s time I get to the root causes of my anxiety and how to effectively cope with my PTSD triggers to be my best self again.

Part of getting out of toxic environments is really looking at yourself and taking ownership of how you can avoid these situations in the future. Part of my issue was needing validation from my boss so desperately made me like myself a little bit less every time I didn’t get it. The more I got torn down, the more I would resolve to be better instead of accepting that this was a sick cycle carousel where my best was never enough. Now I want to feel valued by the people around me and that’s not a healthy way to live and it’s not fair to the people around me. I also need to figure out why I keep putting myself in these unhealthy situations; both personally and professionally. I don’t want to just learn to cope; I want to really heal from the trauma of losing a parent and being abandoned by the other, being physically assaulted by an ex fiancé when I was 19, the physically and emotionally abusive marriage, and why these incidents led me to choose unhealthy partners, jobs, and friendships. By working on healing properly, I hope to teach my own kids that it’s okay to have uncomfortable conversations about mental health, and it’s okay to seek help to be better.

I’ve always been afraid to really deep dive into my mental health, but I know in order to be healthy enough to get in shape, have healthy relationships, and regain confidence, I need to truly resolve my trust issues, insecurities, etc. It’s gonna be uncomfortable, but most growth is. I spent a lot of years being complacent with my job while letting my anxiety take over. Maybe it’s time I really push myself to better again, so I can finally feel good about myself, and feel like I’m really capable of accomplishing good things…or I’ll still be the cat lady who ends up a Walmart greeter at 85. You know, whatever.

I am Not a Woman, I’m a God

I’ve been thinking a lot about growth.

I’ve always strived to improve as a person and the last year or so, I didn’t really do that. I basically sat around, got fat, and let the depression take me. I also learned that you never realize how bad something is for you until you get rid of it. Since I left my old job a month ago, my hair isn’t falling out as much. I work out again. I sleep better, my skin care routine is better. Oh, and I take vitamins every morning. I’m more optimistic and peppier. I just feel good about myself and my life for the first time in a long ass time.

I’m really excited about my future again. I don’t feel 100% confident to jump into dating, mostly because I don’t totally like myself. Also, I’m not sure online dating is for me. I need to get to know someone before I can pursue a relationship and I’ve run out of friends to date. But it’s not a subject that stresses me out anymore. If it happens, it happens. But I’m excited about who I’m going to become again.

One way I’ve gotten back on track is to focus on growth that isn’t about a scale number or a workout. It’s the stuff that has changed that I never thought was important but is. I pride myself on my house being clean and organized. Before I accepted that I’d never be the best housekeeper, but I’ve learned my family and I deserve better. I used to be afraid to drive; now I drive for a living! I’ve really prioritized taking care of my hair and skin, and I’ve been doing home workouts to get back into fitness. Sometimes you get so caught up in the idea that because one thing hasn’t changed, you aren’t growing. But I’ve been getting better in a bunch of other little ways. I’m not the person I want to be yet, but I’m trying and I’m gonna get there. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I can get back in shape, be a good mom, do well at my job, let my hair grow back, and be the type of person who can be in a relationship with someone else. Now that I’m not under the weight of a toxic work environment, I feel like I am capable of success and that I deserve it. I’m surrounded by friends and colleagues that share my ideas of what winning together and cheering each other on actually means. It feels so good to be around people who want to build each other up, and celebrating successes with people I respect and admire.

The lesson I’ve learned is that if you waste all of your time feeling like a failure because one thing hasn’t worked, you’ll never see all of the ways you’re bettering yourself l. I spent years being made to feel like I was dumb, old, and incompetent at work, which made me feel like that at home. It sapped the life out of me and turned me into the failure they said I was. Now, I see all of the ways that wasn’t true and that I’m actually making baby steps to be better every day. I still have moments where I feel good big, ugly, and stupid, but I talk myself through them by listening to Lorde, Taylor Swift, and reminding myself of the changes I’ve made and that I’m better than I was last week or last year. Maybe by focusing on my growth in other areas, I can use that to hit my fitness goals.

So if you feel like you’re stuck, or you’re not getting better. Maybe you’re stuck in a rut. Maybe look at what else you’ve been doing. You’ve probably come so far and don’t even realize it. You’re still killing the game, just not in the way you felt like you weren’t, and even that will come. Just keep pushing forward and you’ll find the bad bitch you were always meant to be.

It’s Time To Go

Well y’all; I did a thing. I quit my job.

You’re probably wondering why I would quit my job after five years and have devoted almost every second of energy towards. So, let me answer! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, about how I can get back to a version of me I’m really happy with. One of the things holding me back was a lack of work life balance. My job was smothering me. I was giving so much to everyone, but in return I wasn’t getting a whole lot. I had to miss the last day of school, and the last time the three kids walked home together and it super sucked. I was reaching a level of professional dissatisfaction that I could no longer ignore, but I was trying to because I loved the company, my clients, and my colleagues. Then a line of professionalism was crossed, and I realized that while I was working so hard to be a good teammate, I wasn’t seen as a teammate by one person, I was seen as someone you didn’t need to treat with basic respect. I wasn’t being respected by a person who’s respect I should have earned through my work performance. I was giving so much of myself to a job that wasn’t giving me anything back in return but migraines, stress, and exacerbated PCOS symptoms. I was only staying for my women’s program, my colleagues, and charity work. I was worn out, exhausted, and I didn’t like going to work anymore.

The world has a way of helping you realize that where one person won’t appreciate you; others will. Some former colleagues and friends suggested me for another company. The company contacted me and offered me a job with work life balance, better financial security, and the opportunity to build a philanthropy program that was ethical and did more than just raise money, but rather empower employees to do more for their communities. I loved my colleagues, but I’d be stupid not to see that this is better for me. I’d have time to be a mom, more time for my mom, and more time to live my life, instead of just work.

Chasing someone’s approval, whether it’s a partner, a friend, or a boss that will never see your value, will always suck the life out of you. Over the last few years, I’ve seen my confidence diminish to the point where I’m afraid to do anything. I am afraid if I go to the gym, I’ll just mess up and not do well. My self esteem is in the toilet. I’m always tired. You always hear about how the wrong manager or the lack of validation at work can run an employee ragged and it would bleed into the rest of their lives. This was me. I took extra shifts, I was the first to volunteer for projects, I participated on calls, and helped my colleagues. I kept trying and trying only to end most of my evaluations in tears and apologizing for minor things. I loved my job. I loved the company. But after I got off of the phone with my new boss, I felt more valued than I had in years. I’m excited to unplug. No more late night messages about what worked, no more calls on my day off. My days off are mine, which means I can go to the gym, I can go to the beach (which I did), I can go to a movie without my phone blowing up. And above all, I feel optimistic about my work life for the first time in forever.

So, while it broke my heart to leave a job where I got to work with so many amazing people and help the clients I’ve worked with for so many years, I had to start thinking my mental health and my needs. I’ve spent five years devoting myself to what was best for the company, but never what was best for me. So, while it wasn’t something I had planned, I made a choice that was best for me.

Despite my love for my company and colleagues and team, when I left, I felt relieved and like thirty pounds of stress was gone. I’ll miss my colleagues and team, but it’s been so much easier to get up, exercise, and enjoy my week without that feeling of walking on eggshells wondering if today was the day I’d end up crying at work again. This week has been the most peaceful and relaxing week I’ve had in years. I’m actually looking forward to going to work again instead of sitting in my car for ten minutes just psyching myself up to go into the building or dreading answering my phone. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, I feel optimistic about my life.

I never realized just how much space my job took in my life until I realized my life had no space because of my job. Now, my new job holds a space in my life, but so does my family, so does fitness (even though I’ve been afraid of failing at the gym), so do my friends, and a social life, which is how it should be. There’s a good lesson here, which is that I can’t allow myself to let my job take over my life and I can’t keep giving my whole self to try and win the approval of people who are never going to give me that. I’ve done this in my personal life and now in my professional life. However, I also learned that even if one person doesn’t see your worth, doesn’t mean others are missing it too. I’m so grateful for the number of colleagues, team members (past and present), managers from other districts, and even HR, who reached out to thank me for my work, my contributions to the company, and wish me well. Those are the people who worked on the floor with me, knew me on a personal level, and saw my commitment. I’m so grateful for them and their friendship.

So, while I’m nervous to start something new, as it’s been awhile since I did that (which is weird, I used to do it all of the time), I’m also really excited for a change. Things haven’t been working the way they were and now I’m excited to take on a completely new job and do something different. I’m excited to grow my career and reduce my waistline. But I’m most excited to find the best version of myself that I’ve been so determined to find again. So, much like every other time I’ve made a change to embrace something new, I’m excitedly optimistic about what experiences I’ll have and lessons I’ll learn.

All I Know So Far

Let me tell you the story of MHC’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

Yes, last week was the week of suck. First, I got sick. For those of you who know me, I rarely get sick. But here I was coughing, sneezing, and feeling like crap. I went into one store without a mask to grab some milk and felt like shit the next day. I will never not wear a mask again, I swear to God. Covid test was negative, but I still felt awful. I even missed a day of work, which never happens! I feel better but I have a cough that won’t stop, so I sound like I’ve smoked for 15 years.

My health has been tough this year. PCOS has done a number on my body. I’m also in constant pain. But this weekend, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t stand up, and it hurt to breathe. This turned out to be something called decidual cast, which is super fucking gross. Apparently this happens sometimes when your body is responding to treatments, so there may be light at the end of the tunnel. The doctor said there can be mild discomfort, which is medical speak for “you will double over and cry at work from the worst pain you have ever been in besides labour, but also finish your shift and sell a phone because you’re a boss bitch.” By the time I got home, I was embarrassed, felt disgusting, and just kind of wanted to die.

Then the kids got sick, and I had to take them for Covid tests. As a parent, it sucks to see your kids sick. Nothing is more stressful than watching them get a Covid test. There’s all sorts of uncertainty, fear, and even guilt. I got sick first, even though I tested negative, I felt guilty about possibly giving them a potentially deadly virus. Instead I accidentally gave them a regular virus. They pulled through okay, but it was still a struggle. I’m still taking care of my mom, who was just released from the hospital after a fall. She’s been having a tough time readjusting to being at home and needing more home care. Everything sort of feels tense, and it’s harder when everyone is under the weather. Between work, life, trying not to cough (& yet constantly coughing), my body falling apart, and trying to help my mom, I felt like I was drowning. I even had to pull my car over to puke on my way to work, so basically I’m living the dream. Just as I was done with this week, the Universe decided a final fuck you was in order:

OThat’s right! A TEN INCH CRACK IN MY BRAND NEW CAR’S BRAND NEW WINDSHIELD BECAUSE OF A GOD DAMN ROCK. That’s now a $400 repair that I did not want right before back to school season. But, sometimes life sucks ass and you gotta do what you gotta do. But if it was gonna go wrong this week, it did and I’m honestly over it.

When things go super wrong and everything is awful, all you can do it look for the positives. Yes, it sucks when your body does painful, disgusting things while you’re also hacking up your guts, but after months and months of wanting to feel normal again, this was the first step. It sucks to see your kids sick, but they’re getting better. Caregiving can be tedious, but I’ve been fortunate to have a great homecare company helping me out now, and my mom is slowly but surely starting to move towards normalcy. We’re working out the kinks, but we’re getting there. The kids have stepped up to help and I’m so lucky to have such compassionate, loving, caring kids.

And my car? Oh, that’s just shitty. Part of learning how to overcome stressful situations is to accept that everything happens for a reason, and that sometimes, stuff just sucks. You take it, and you move on.

Bad things happen, but they aren’t permanent. You’ve just gotta push forward. The best part of MHC’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week is that it’s over, and a new week has started. To prevent this week from also becoming no terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad is to leave the week there. You can’t change what happened, but throwing a pity party for yourself only keeps you in that negative space. Too often we dwell on crappy situations or events, or we do the opposite, and rely on toxic positivity to cope instead of just accepting the situation or finding a new strategy. The highlight of my week is that it’s over and that’s okay.

Fingers crossed that this week will be better. I don’t feel like death, it’s not ten million degrees, the kids are better, and I have an appointment to fix my car. So far, so good! Here’s hoping it keeps up, and we can have great experiences, and put the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad times behind us…we hope.

Bye Bye Baby

Guys, can I be honest with you?

It’s been a tough few months.

I’m struggling in every aspect of my life. Moving always sucks and I’m just finally unpacked after a month. I feel like I’m not doing enough at work. I feel like I’m not doing enough for my family. I just feel like I try and I try and I try to do the right thing and I miss something or I did it wrong and it all blows up and I’m just over feeling like I walk on eggshells in my life.

It’s been tough. My mom is back in the hospital after a fall. My siblings are no help so I’m trying to be a good caregiver and a good mom but something has to give and right now that’s my own health.I’ve been seeing a doctor for weeks now about some challenges that have caused my hair to fall out (fortunately I have so much no one has noticed), exhaustion, my face is swollen, I’m bloated and tired, and in constant pain. Fortunately, since none of it has to do with COVID, I haven’t missed any work. But I come home from work and sleep on the couch. It’s not ideal. I’m missing workouts, I’m missing calls from the hospital, I’m missing time with my kids. Apparently it’s stress or a disorder that doesn’t match my symptoms. It’s been frustrating and I just hate my body right now. It’s fat, ugly, and failing.

My financial situation took a huge hit when my ex husband (who is still almost 10k in arrears for child support) swore on all that was holy that he would file his income taxes in time so we could use it to move. He didn’t. He’s not working, and I have tremendous empathy for his situation, so I try not to ask for too much. But it’s just another time where he’s been dishonest with me about doing the right thing for the kids. Like, if you can’t help, I understand, but don’t lie to me and everyone else for months. Fortunately, I work for a company that has worked tirelessly to keep us working (we are considered essential) and find ways to compensate us well so this too shall pass. But it just adds to the stress when kids need summer clothes and new shoes, etc. and you had to use that money to cover the move. The past few months have been a lot and I’m just really tired.

I know I shouldn’t be complaining. There are others who have gone through (or are going through) much worse. But I want to be more authentic and honest when things are suboptimal. All my life I’ve hidden behind toxic positivity to pretend that everything is fine when it’s not fine. Then I get resentful when everyone is like “wow MHC you’re so strong, you got dis!” And then I wonder why I feel so alone. The truth is I don’t know if I “got dis.” My mom is getting older and I’m scared that our time left together is getting shorter. I also flip through complex feelings of concern, fear, and sometimes even resentment, especially towards my siblings, who couldn’t give a single fuck. I’m scared that maybe something is wrong, or that all of these symptoms are in my head and I’m just crazy. One thing I’ve learned from therapy is that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and scared. You don’t have to put on a brave front or feel guilty for wanting some extra support. You don’t need to fake happiness to make it.

If the last 14 months have taught me anything, it’s that we need to be gentler with each other. It’s okay to have bad days and tough times and you don’t need to hide behind positive affirmations to get through. Sometimes you can allow yourself to feel sad, angry, scared, and then pick yourself up and find the tools you need to help yourself. It’s okay to ask each other for emotional support. It’s okay to put self care first sometimes. It’s just not okay to wallow in your misery. Allow yourself to feel, but not to remain. Ask for the help you need to dig yourself out. For me, it’s therapy, exercise, my family, and my friends. It takes a village to survive the new normal, so for me, it’s about offering the support that I would want to someone else when I have the emotional energy to spare, while recognizing that it’s not my job to be there every time, so I can recharge too, so that I may be a better mom, manager, and friend.

Just Awake

Oh, Hello!

It’s been awhile, eh?

Truthfully, I haven’t really had much to discuss. When everything is closed, there’s not much to do. Not much to do means not much to discuss. So, I’m just living my life. Normally, I go out of my way to put a positive spin on everything, but y’all, I’m tired.

I’m in the middle of moving, as my landlord has opted to list my house, and unfortunately, I’m not in the position to buy right now. 2020 kind of screwed things up for me a bit. It sucks and it’s stressful, but I’m not gonna dwell. I’m just gonna pick myself up and keep on figuring life out. Part of that involves realizing I need to reevaluate my finances. If I want to buy a house, I need to reduce my debt. I also cannot have a high interest car loan. So, I made a decision and traded in my car for a new vehicle with a lower interest rate, aka Wanda 2.0. It wasn’t the plan, I wanted to refinance OG Wanda, but this made more sense as my payments didn’t change and my insurance went down. I’m also figuring out how to pay off my credit cards so I can start saving for the down payment of a house. I was hoping to be able to buy my current house this year, but 2020 happened and 2021 is just 2020 with bangs so it’s not easy. But we’ll get there.

Meet Wanda Maximoff 2.0 (aka a 2021 Hyundai Venue)

But things are tough. Caring for an elderly parent is tough. Stroke recovery takes time. There’s mood swings, good days, bad days, and I’m very alone. My siblings haven’t even checked in with a “how are things” in months. It’s really highlighted how alone I am with this. The kids are juggling school and helping around the house. But parenting three kids on your own while taking care of an elderly parent on your own and balancing work, home, moving, and feeling like things just keep on piling up takes it’s toll. I’m exhausted and depressed. Fortunately I started therapy over the fall and it’s been super helpful. But nothing has been easy and everything just feels a little hopeless. I’m in full caregiver burnout mode y’all. I hate it because sometimes I get irrationally annoyed about little stuff with the kids, who in turn get irrationally annoyed with the next kid down the chain. It’s not fair to anyone and now we’re all sniping at everyone all of the time. Things are tough & I think we’re all feeling a little less hopeful.

One of my best friends keeps telling me that I like to pretend everything is great externally while, in reality, it’s damn hard. Parenting in a pandemic is hard. Caring for an elderly relative is hard. Moving to a completely different part of the city and navigating the bizarre school district and realizing I may not be commuting 4km to work anymore, and balancing it all while having absolutely zero minutes to yourself sucks. I need a vacation, but that’s not really an option either (although I may go hiking in the mountains soon. I need a break lol). I talked to some of my other mom friends and they helped me realize they’re all in the same boat. There’s no magic “super mom” who’s making all of the crafts and sticking to the colour coded lists. We’re just winging it. Possibly while drinking.

I guess the point is that we’re all so busy trying to convince ourselves everything is okay and we are nailing this life thing, and in reality, we probably aren’t. I know I’m not. But I guess I keep shooting myself in the foot, because I want people to think I am, then I’m shocked Pikachu face when I’m alone dealing with whatever is going wrong because I’ve convinced my support system I’m doing great. I can’t be the only one. Maybe 2021 needs to be the year we all stop pretending everything is perfect to impress or for the gram. Maybe we need to be honest and admit it’s not easy and we don’t have everything under control and we are one bad day away from a crying meltdown. We don’t need people to be impressed by our houses or our pretty pictures. We need to support each other.

Basically, if you’re feeling like I am, and like the weight of the world is trying to crush your spirit; you’re not alone. You don’t need to pretend that it’s all great and your kids are perfect online students, your house is clean every second and you aren’t one more tween argument away from sneaking White Claws in the closet. I am right there with you. I’d save you a spot if we were allowed to visit. You’re not alone, everyone’s life is a shitshow right now. Let’s turn off the highlight reels and keep it more real.

Protected: I Can Only Hope

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Don’t Let It Break Your Heart

How’s everyone holding up? Still doing okay? Sad? Poor? Sad and poor? Consider this your mental health check in.

I’ve always prided myself at using my writing as an honest look into my life. This will be no exception. Folks, I’m damn tired.

Times have been tough man. My mom took ill at the start of COVID, adding some new financial and emotional responsibilities. My brother has been here to help, but I’m still calling the doctors, making the appointments, picking up the medication, the girls and I are cleaning the house and cleaning her room, and guys, that’s a lot when you’re raising three kids. There’s the emotional toll that comes with your parents getting older. Things feel darker, like maybe they won’t see your kid graduate. Maybe they won’t be a great grandparent. There’s all this guilt because you need to be home to cook dinner because you don’t want to burden the kids and you sleep through your alarms until you are running behind and end up skipping breakfast.

There’s the financial setbacks. Paying some of the back bills from the shutdown while paying current bills, all while the Family Responsibility Office reduces you to tears by screaming at you that it’s not their job to make sure your support payments come so accept reality that it’s not coming and stop bothering them.

This means sacrifices must be made. Those gym passes? They gotta wait girl. That’s grocery money now, because the support money you earmarked for groceries isn’t coming ever. The Halloween costumes your kids picked out? Nada. You’re now explaining to them that we’re gonna use last year’s and stuff from home because that money is now earmarked for insurance. Meanwhile you’re scraping every cent to make sure that you can get your oldest’s university application fee together. It’s not like you can make it to the gym because there’s so much to do at home and sometimes you volunteer to work late or a sixth day, or a seventh, because you want to give back to the good people you work with and those sales mean a chance to get ahead. That’s my reality my dudes. I’m tired and my weekly weigh in is sub-optimal, so I binge watch Drag Race for six hours after everyone is in bed and then lurk on the Bachelor on Reddit (despite never having watched the Bachelor) wallowing in my own depression and feeling like I’m failing at every aspect of my life.

I’ve stopped wearing makeup, because what’s the point. I’ve felt fat & ugly. I’ve felt bad at fitness. Bad at parenting. But mostly, because I’m not living up to expectations. There’s only so many times you can tell the kids next time/next year before they just stop asking. They know it’s not happening, and it’s because I let them down. Fitness is a losing battle. I know at 4:30 someone at home will call about an issue, and now it’s just not in the budget. I go for 3.5 km walks every other night and use my home fitness app, but it’s not the same. I feel like Sisyphus, pushing the Boulder up for it just to roll back down. I decided writing about it may help some other person feeling so overwhelmed know they aren’t all alone. Rona is making everyone’s mental health hard.

I cope by practicing gratitude. Maybe that’s dumb, but I feel like the only way to push through times that aren’t ideal is by reminding ourselves of all the good around us. For example, my family is rad. I have the best kids in the world and we have made this life thing work. I have an amazing job that paid me during Covid. I have a great team of reps and support from others to help so I can recharge with some time off. I live in a beautiful neighbourhood so I can go for walks. I have a home app I can use for my fitness until I can lift heavy things again. My mom’s health has improved significantly. She has a helpful nurse. My friends are always there for me. Life will never feel bleak if you can look and be grateful for what you’ve got.

Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, and pretending it is will only destroy you the minute it stops going well. Tough times are gonna happen. For me, that time is now. But if I waste my time and space dwelling on those things, I’m never going to get out of that black hole. My best friend always says to choose your attitude, so each night before I go to bed, I make a mental list of everything awesome in my life and thank the universe for it. This way, when these tough times are over, I can remain grateful. I’ll appreciate the gym more once I can get back. I’ll cherish that time more. I’ll go back to work with a renewed focus and help my team be better. I’ll look in the mirror and see someone to invest in, not to feel disappointed in. I’ll be more appreciative of little things, like that colleague that was kind enough to cover a shift for my vacation, or how my friend and I always take turns buying Starbucks. Maybe I’m naive, but I’d rather always search for good ever when everything feels less than good. I’ll build on all the good things until these times pass and there is only good. For me, it’s the best way to keep my bubbly spirit up while navigating tough times, and I’d rather be grateful than let depression rule my life. It’s a tough road, but I’ll get there.