Since I was small, I have had both the fortunate and unfortunate experience of dealing with mortality. I had the displeasure of seeing the man of my world deteriorate into nothing, and he still smiled, and was as pleasant as he ever was. I got to watch my father cry when he told my brother and me that he had six months to live. I was eight. Children don’t understand what death is, but I know that I am better for the decision that my mother and father made telling us that he was ill.
My memory from the two and a half years of watching him die is very vague. For example, I remember being told, I cannot hear his voice, but I still see his face. I remember that it was sunny, which was a rare thing in the summer for West Berlin, but it was sunny, no fog. I don’t remember my Dad actually speaking after that. It is like remembering a TV episode in pieces. My memory is so shattered when I think of him, that it for me is almost impossible to remember certain things.
Those of you who don’t know, my father was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was 38. It was discovered, quite frankly, by accident, because my oldest brother (at the age of 12), had an impeccable memory as to what actually happened when Dad had a seizure in the Bank of Montreal. The physician, who attended to my father, knew enough not to assume that is was epilepsy, instead, the description of my father's seizure triggered something in that physician's mind that changed our lives forever. Forever.
I speak of this because recently I came to the realization that I, as a child, suffered a trauma that I have never been able to address. Most of you have fathers. Most of you have had the experience of being able to argue, love, and live with your father. I didn’t. I am not asking anyone for sympathy, quite honestly, as much as you say you could only imagine the reality of losing someone is something that no one can imagine. The reason for this is because the amount of love and interest that you have invested in the person that you lost is the one true binding factor as to how much you are truly affected by the loss that you experience. I only had 8 years of being his little princess and two and a half years as being his princess who only wanted to help him get better, and teach him how to speak. Yes, that was the task that was bestowed upon me. I bugged my mother because all I wanted to do is to help, so after talking with my father’s speech therapist, I was given permission to go through the "See and Say" programme with my Dad. I would sit down for hours a day teaching him and helping him, and instead of my father reading to me, I was reading to him. Showing him pictures of objects, telling him what they were, and asking him to repeat them. I, as an adult, can only imagine what my father thought of this. Was he proud that I never was afraid? Did he know that everything I was doing was only out of pure love? Could he see the heartache I felt when people made fun of him because he couldn’t speak or because he couldn’t walk properly? Did he know that I recognized what bullying was when I was that little? My father was a highly intelligent man so when he got sick, people who had an inferiority complex thought that it was their right to make fun of him because he could not form a sentence. Talk about beating a man when he was down. Nice huh. I know that because of this, I have this protective spirit inside of me that does not allow others to get bullied. I don’t care how big they are, male or female, what is right is right. I will always stand up for the person who is in need of help.
I titled this piece "Finding My Heart" because, through tragedy, you become one of two things; stronger, or weaker, for the experience. Here is what I discovered about myself at a very young age. At the time, I was made fun of because I had no father; I was bullied because my little heart was so raw that I began to express my feelings from a very honest point of view; and I saw people avoid things that they choose not to understand. I remember how I viewed life; I remember this because it has never changed. I knew the power of love. I knew the fragility of life. I knew the power of forgiveness. I knew the power of having the ability to empathize. Finally, I always knew that there were people out there worse-off than me. Oh and also, no matter how nice you are, how respectful you are, there are always dicks out there, but truthfully, they can be kept under control (they have their own problems, but that is another blog altogether.) My beliefs were brought to the forefront when I became the very thing that I despised; self-absorbed, and self-destructive. I attempted to drive out those feelings, ignore them, and do anything so I couldn’t feel anything. I allowed anger and fear to rule my universe, and I became "the bitch," which I was so famously referred to as, in my youth (and maybe a little today.) Yes. I broke down. I do not know if using the word "broke" makes any sense when describing what happens to people. I much prefer this description: I took a dark pathway, believing that I was safe, but I was misguided. For those who think I am talking about when I got pregnant, I will cut that off right now. The point when I became pregnant, believe it or not, was one of the times when my self-esteem was in recovery mode.
Finding your heart is when you know and accept how your heart feels. Although that may sound grammatically incorrect, it is not. Acceptance is the key. Being able to accept yourself for who you really are is such an eye-opening experience. It is kind of like when you watch those movies where people stand up and say, "I am a geek," and then a whole bunch of others stand up and do the same thing. When you think of these movies, the first person that stands up, to me, is the most impressive, and the others, well, they are sheep. They are portraying an action that they think is the very embodiment of themselves, but in reality (or movie-ality) they are following the lead of someone who has true courage (or a great script.) We refer to these movies as "feel-good" movies. Why? Well, basically, because you feel good afterward. When you find your heart, these movies are your reality. You have no fear of being you. You accept that you are the very best you that you can be ~and~ you don’t give a crap what others think of you. We are taught strange things that go against our natural inclinations. Like when you hurt yourself as a child, you are told to "stop crying." How does this help? I know when I hurt now, I cry. I know now that crying releases a lot of chemicals throughout the body which help the body recover more quickly, than if you don’t cry. Imagine if we were all able to just release all of it. Let it all go. You wouldn’t have that giant chip on your shoulder. You would put your body into more of a Zen state. Relaxed.
I am able to express myself now, without fear. I am able to feel safe and not bullied when I express how I feel. I am pretty excited about finding my heart. I am more honest with myself than I have ever been. This discovery has made a huge difference in my love life and in my life in general. George and I are very honest with each other. The smile that you see on my face is a real smile! The frown, well that is real too! I do not pretend to be anyone else other than me. It hasn’t always been like that. For some reason, you feel the need to be like someone else (god knows why, being you was too difficult). "Happy Does It" is a philosophy, a lifestyle philosophy of finding your happy, and enjoying your life. If you have problems, financial, romantic, or otherwise, I will let you know, unless you are dead, your life story is not over. It is not as bad as you think, and believe me, it will get better. Look around you! Take notice! See everything that is around you and be present in your life. Engage your life now, because, you do not want to get caught up in life and find yourself in a state of inertia. I am not telling you to do something; rather I am asking you to live. Appreciate every breath. Believe that you are the best you that you could possibly be today. You cannot change the past; really who would want to? The past you is the one that got you to the present you. Including, but not limited to, the past you that made REALLY stupid decisions. :o)
Keep your head up! Smile. Love. Cry. Laugh. Be Alive and enjoy!
Happy Does It!