I love tattoos.
I know they aren’t for everyone. I know many people do not like them, but I do. I love being able to wear art on your body.
I also believe in being 100% certain that I want something etched into my skin for the rest of my life. Unlike piercings, you can’t just take off a tattoo and go on your merry way like it never happened.
Everything I have on my skin, I wanted, and still want. And all of my tattoos mean something to me.
Lately, I have been obsessed with words. Words are power. If words are tattooed into my body, they become part of me. They become me. My last two tattoos have been words. I already know what my next tattoos will be – more words. Not sure when. Probably within this year. I don’t know. But I know what words, and where they need to be. And those words will become part of my soul.
Corny, I know. Cliche, I know. But true.
My latest tattoo is a quote from Alice in Wonderland. I love that story, the Disney movie (animated one, not the newer live action ones – those are CREEPY.), and there’s something about Alice and Wonderland that has always resonated with me. I had originally thought the words enough, but then wanted to add in the Cheshire Cat in some way. All attempts to add the eyes and smile of the cat didn’t work out right. But thanks to my wonderful friend Emilie, and her ability to draw something from my horrid cut and paste, clip art photo, I was able to find the exact design I wanted. I wanted a collarbone tattoo, similar to those (now too) popular flying bird ones. But not birds. Nothing about birds says “Cat”. But I loved the simplicity of the tattoos. Mine isn’t as simple as those, but I think it matches me perfectly.
And yes, I am quite mad.
Especially these last few years.
Back in September, I also got a tattoo. This is the closest in time that I have ever gotten inked. But I had been working on that tattoo idea for some time. I knew I wanted a semicolon, but I needed something more. All I had worked out was, “breathe ; ” What came next was a struggle to figure out. Although as soon as I did figure it out, I knew I needed to get the tattoo right away.
I might be impulsive about getting my tattoos, but a lot of overthinking goes into what I want to put on my body. Thing is, because of my very strong intuition about things, I often need to get things done as soon as I know I need to do something. Thankfully my tattoos have been pretty small, so I didn’t have to wait too long for appointments.
The arm tattoo is a reminder that I can, and will, survive. Anything. I just have to remember to breathe, and my story isn’t over yet. I can rewrite, and restart. It will happen. I’m okay.
Words are my jam. They mean something to me. And as I was starting to write this post, I realized I hadn’t ever posted about the back tattoo I got in 2012 – which is where my obsession with words on skin began. In August 2012, I had a lyric from my favourite Sarah McLachlan song – Elsewhere, tattooed on my back. I wrote the text, and Emilie helped me with the design around the words.
All of my tattoos can be covered up if need be. I have stars on my wrist, a faerie silhouette on my leg, and a paw (and “pant”) on my ankle (my first tattoo – in memory of Kewpie after she passed away in 2002). My collarbone tattoo is the first one that’s going to be harder to conceal, but with a t-shirt on, you don’t even notice it. And really, unless I get another job where concealing tattoos is a rule, I’m not all that worried about them. They aren’t hurting anyone, and they are such a part of me.
I love tattoos. I love words. Makes sense to have the important words permanently inked into my soul. (As cheesy as that sounds.)
I wonder a lot about things. All things. Little things, big things. Things. I wonder. I ponder. I overthink. I stress, obsess, worry, and fret.
It’s part of who I am. Even if I might not know who I am at all times. And even that – who am I? – I tend to overthink. It’s a daily struggle.
I do about 95% of the things I do based on instinct. I’m a highly intuitive person, and I have learned over the many years of my life, that I should follow my gut instinct when making decisions, or I won’t end up happy. And happy isn’t really an emotion I was used to for a lot of my life. Once I worked out overthinking my instinct, I found I was in a happier place.
But that doesn’t mean I stopped overthinking things. Not at all. Even if I know, deep within me, the decision I want to make, I will still stress, obsess, fret, and think-think-think, over it under I have ripped it to shreds.
Sometimes I don’t follow my instinct. I think it’s wrong. It’s like when you a pretty sure the multiple choice answer is b, but you choose c at the last second and you get it wrong.
But in the inbetween between those two choices, you overthink the answer. You stress. You fret. You make your final choice and it’s…not the one you really wanted to make.
Sometimes I overthink my intuition. I question it. And I question myself.
And lately, there have been lots of questions, and a whole crap-ton of overthinking. I think… I think I’m not the same person I was three years ago. I mean, of course we all change, but in my case, I think the trauma changed parts of me that I have always taken for granted.
Obviously trauma can change a person. I mean, it’s trauma. Your entire world changes in an instant. What you know, and think you knew, shatters.
I find my reactions to things are no longer the same as they used to me. The me that I have grown so comfortable with has grown blurry. Am I who I thought I was? Am I becoming someone else? I question so many things lately. More so that I used to. Part of that is a loss of innocence, and naiveté that I still carried within me before the end of March 2013. I think I am feeling the loss of that most of all. And now I wonder about so much more than I used to. I wonder about trusting the world, and people around me. I wonder about me, and what I want out of life, and the world. And sometimes I wonder who I am supposed to be, because the me I was becoming was pushed off course. Have the parts of me I feel like I have lost stay lost? Will I regain those part of me?
What I will always have is my ability to overthink things into oblivion. Often that holds me back from life, and happiness.
I overthink. I worry. I obsess and stress. I wonder about things. I wonder what happens next. I wonder what the next chapter will reveal. I wonder what sort of stories I have left.
I overthink the possible endings. I overthink the current plot line.
I wonder. I overthink. I feel. I KNOW. I question.
And I just hope, that with all these thoughts running around my head, that I end up making the right multiple choice decision.
EDIT: this post ended up sounding way more morose than it is meant to be. I have been writing, writing, writing in a pen and paper journal a lot lately and this was more of a stream of consciousness based off of my journaling. Only way more emo-sounding.
I took last week off from work. Since I was a bouncing ball of nerves and anxiety, and since the streets were clear, and the days were somewhat mild, I knew exactly what I needed – and wanted – to do.
I haven’t been out on a run in forever. If I look back at my blog, it was 2 years ago April. Sure, I’ve run a couple of times at the end of a personal training session, but nothing on my own. By myself. For me. And I am ready to get back into it.
Something I learned in the past few years of trying to become a jogger? I miss running when I am NOT running.
Who knew? Certainly not I, said the Cat.
And it’s hard. And tough. And I am so crazy out of shape. I didn’t work out much at all in the last year because of health issues. My body needs to be retrained, but thankfully the muscle memory is strong and I am seeing results faster than I have before. My body just needed me to be back in the right state of mind.
One of the days I went out was wet, slushy snow, damp, and COLD. And yet, I ran. I’d have run more that day if my pants had not been falling off each time I did a running portion. Mental note: Only run with the draw-string leggings from now on because your body is changing shape again and your pants fall off.
I have a new training program to try through Runkeeper, and so far I kind of like it. It’s alternating between running and walking, in short bursts for the super beginner. And although it’s not easy peasy, it’s easy enough that I feel like I have accomplished something at the end of it. I’m only going out for short 12-15 minute jaunts right now. I’m trying my best to go twice a week (though I have not yet been out this week).
I miss it. I don’t want to be a non-jogger anymore. I want to jog and feel good about it. And sometimes I have too much going on in my head, and my body hums (LOUDLY) with nervous energy, and all the negative thoughts and feelings threaten to explode. So I run. I run from all of it. I walk to catch my breath, and I run some more. And generally when I am done, and I collapse onto the couch when I am home, I feel quieter and safer.
I have no goals this time around. Sure, I’d love to be able to run a full 5K, but right now I want to run for other reasons. Because I need to. I am not aiming for time or distance or endurance. I know those will all eventually fall into place if I keep at this.
I’m running from my demons. They keep me on my toes.
*the title of this post is a lyric from a song I wrote lifetimes ago. It popped into my head all last weekend.
I was sitting at my desk yesterday, counting down the minutes until it was time to go home, when a friend came over, in tears, to see me.
Bad news is never expected. Bad news comes out of nowhere and punches you in the gut.
A mutual friend of ours, someone I had worked with myself and adored, collapsed at work that afternoon and passed away. Sudden.
I couldn’t breathe. As I made my way home, I began to shake. I was numb. In shock.
I haven’t worked with Shane in 10 years. But when I was at the bookstore, he was one of my favourite people. He was one of My Shippers. I loved the men in the shipping department. They were my gang of protectors. They came to my wedding. They joined me for my Birthday Bowling Extravaganzas. Every time I’d see them at a union meeting, I’d always go over for hugs and gossip.
Shane was always someone I could count on to make me laugh. He was never a doom and gloom guy. Not a chipper, cheerleader fellow, but someone with a sharp wit and sarcastic streak, and someone who always had a joke, or comment to make me laugh.
He lived hard. He played hard. He was Shane. I always thought of him as The Fonz of the group. He was the Cool Guy. Listening to the rock station (always on in the shipping department). He always put a smile on my face.
I went looking through all of my bowling party photos from the early 2000s (I don’t like saying early 2000s! Wasn’t 10 years ago the 90s??) and it seems like I don’t have any photos of Shane’s FACE. Just the backs of his awesome bowling shirts, or him in a group shot with a bowling ball in his face. But then I saw the photo I used for this post, and it was just…so very Shane. The flames on his shirt. So him.
He was a bright, fiery guy. He was flames. He was fire. He was fierce.
And now he’s gone. And I can’t get my head around this fact.
I was just talking to him about a month ago, when we were voting on our new contract at work. I saw My Shippers and went over for hugs and gossip. I hadn’t seen them in too long and I felt sort of guilty about not having stopped by to visit. I had a difficult year, so a lot of things fell by the way-side (like socializing). We talked about the number of years left before retirement. Of My Shippers, I believe he had the most years left.
And now he’s gone.
I can’t even imagine the bookstore, and shipping, without Shane. Shane, Bernie, Sean, Che… they are My Shippers. And I have a huge space in my heart for them. These guys are part of what makes my time at McGill so amazing. I loved spending time in the shipping department. No matter what I was going through, they made me laugh, and feel like I could get through anything. They were like a gang of big brothers who looked out for me.
I love My Shippers.
And my heart feels a little less full with the loss of one of them. Though my heart is full of grief, and love, for my friends at the store who were with him when this happened, and who have to go into work today without him. I am covering them all in love right now.
Your flame was bright, Shane. The world is a little darker without it.
Sometimes a lyric deeply resonates with you. You hear it and your entire world stops. The only thing you know is, “This. This is exactly what I feel but I couldn’t put words to it.”
And it’s amazing how much can change in a decade. And it’s strange what dates we cling to as we keep track of time. Some people have said I should let go of these dates, but I can’t. I don’t want to. They are a reminder of how much of the battle I have fought, and not lost.
Ten years ago today, I was 30. I had just been offered a new job a couple of days prior. Our apartment burned down in the evening.
Ten years ago. So much has happened since then. So many changes. I’m still in the same job I had just been offered. I’m now 40. I own a house.
We didn’t lose anything important in the fire. Shawn was home when the flat above us went up in flames. He was able to get out with the dogs. I came home early from work. We watched firefighters battle the blaze for over 4 hours. We didn’t know where we’d live.
But it worked out. We survived. We got stronger.
Three years ago today, the sky came crashing down. It has taken me a long time to realize that my trauma from this event isn’t just seeing a life end in front of me, in one of the most gruesome ways I can imagine, but also that it was because I could have died. Had I not stopped suddenly, that man would have landed on top of me, and I would not have walked away from this at all. Therapy helped me realize, and begin to deal with this.
My life did not end that morning, three years ago. I might have flash backs and panic attacks, and think I can feel something on me that I need to desperately clean off, but I survived.
The past three years have not been easy. I think a person can only be so strong. And I think experiencing something like this changes a person. Not always right away, and it can be subtle, but there’s change in a person.
There is change in me. I am not the same person I was before 8am on March 27, 2013. I am not. What wide-eyed innocence I still had within me, I think is gone. I don’t trust the world. I don’t trust the city.
Sometimes I worry I have lost my ability to trust ever again.
And mostly, I don’t know where my old self went. I’m not saying I wish I could always stay the same, because that’s not what I want. I want back the parts of me that scattered when the sky fell. I want the parts of me that still believed in whimsy, and magic, and innocence to come back.
I am no longer enjoying things I used to enjoy with my entire being. I hardly read anymore. I don’t seem to be able to find joy in much of anything. I am acting out of character in many ways, and I’m so very tired of…well, almost everything.
I have done so much work within myself, and I know there’s more to do. But I am tired. I am an expert on all things ME. I know myself inside, and out. I am so in tune with my entire being that I can’t tune it out.
I have come such a long way in ten years. I have come even further in the past three years. But somewhere since 2013 I lost parts of myself that I don’t think I will ever get back, and my heart breaks over that loss. Because I was finally starting to like ME. I was finally comfortable being myself.
And now, I don’t know who I am anymore. So much of me has changed. I don’t show it to the world. I don’t tell it to the world. I just know. I know myself well enough to know that who I am, who I was, who I have been, is different.
I have a lot more work to do as I try and figure myself out. What do I like? What do I love? What do I want to do? How much do I want to change, and how much do I want to bury deep down inside?
I didn’t die the day the sky fell, but I shattered into a million pieces, and some of those piece are still lost.