The other night my son wanted to break a wishbone with me. Naturally I have a jar of wishbones ready for all of our wishing needs. And every time we compete for one, he yells, “you’re never gonna win!”
It always makes me laugh, but in my head there’s a little voice that says, “story of my life.”
He won, and his happy little bounce as he silently made his wishes made me happy. But it got me thinking. I’ve been making a lot of wishes the last while. Actually I’ve been making a lot of wishes my whole life. Usually I’m wishing that something were different. I have a big list of wishes ready, but I never seem to win.
It’s just so frustrating sometimes. And while I try to make myself think positively, I quite often feel like I come up short. I don’t think I’ve ever had something just come easily to me. It seems like there’s always a catch. Some rocky terrain to cover before I can get where I wanna be. And then I just wish I was stupid, maybe then I could be content. Maybe then I could stop dreaming and just settle. Maybe I could stop comparing myself to every other woman, artist or mother. I wish I didn’t care so much about everyone else’s feelings, and I just wish someone would put mine first. Choose me first. I wish I felt desirable, and I wish I could just fuck cause I want to, instead of on some fucking schedule. I wish I could just enjoy love, without the fear of loss always hanging over me. I just wish I could be like the cool kids and not give a fuck, but the fact is I will always give too many. Sometimes I am crippled by all the fucks.
Sometimes it makes me think I should hide. It makes me want to run away. Pretend to be someone else. Try on another life, see if I fit. But I’m not someone else. I’m me. Even all the fucked up and annoying fucks I shouldn’t give, are me. All of the emotions that keep bubbling up even though I try to ignore them, are me. I don’t wanna ride the complain train. But I’m not sure what to do when everything that’s happened is out of my control. And I don’t know what to do with the angry feelings that keep trying to come out of me.
I recently attended a workshop though, and our instructor said “the way it comes out of you is right.” She said “Work on one area at a time, but remember to take a step back every now and then so you can see the bigger picture.”
Obviously she was meaning the art, but life is art, and I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear those words. So instead of running from this funk I’m in. I’m trying to walk with it, let it come out of me. So I went walking last night. I was thinking and trying to figure out if I’m even on the right path. If I don’t even know what I wanna do or where I wanna go, how can I get where I want to be?
As I walked though, I noticed that my path has gotten smoother just by continuing to walk it. Some parts of the trail have blown in, so I’ve found other routes. Even on the bumpy parts I’ve noticed I’m starting to make my own little groove. And it got me thinking maybe the problem isn’t my path, maybe the problem is that I’m always comparing my path to others. Life, art, love, feelings, fertility—wishes, none of these things are meant to be a competition. Each one is just a path. And we will each have our own experience. For whatever reason, my circumstances have provided me with the odd bumpy and winding path. But I’ve gotten pretty damn far despite all that. I do get tired, but I know now that my strength is in my perseverance.
So maybe if I keep going I can make more wishes come true for myself. I have already made it a point to try to choose myself, and to love myself first. It feels right, it feels good. And come to think of it, I could even go fuck myself. Check another wish off the list. Ha! I’m always giving too many fucks anyway, maybe it’s about time I lay some of those fucks on myself.
And maybe one day, I’ll even be thankful for all of the wishes that didn’t come true. Sometimes it’s been the blocked paths that have pushed me to take another route. Sometimes those roadblocks, led down paths that turned out to be even better than what I had imagined.
I just need to remember that just because one path is messed up, it doesn’t mean the journey is ruined. And maybe I don’t need to know exactly where the path is leading me yet, I just need to walk it. One step at a time. Find my own way. Make my own groove. Just keep working on one area at a time, and try to remember to step back now and then and appreciate how far I’ve come. If I like how it’s coming along, I can keep going. But if I don’t, I can always choose to go in another direction.
I’m just realizing that what really fucks me up most of the time, is that I start to think the picture I’m making is wrong because it doesn’t look like anyone else’s. And it never seems to turn out exactly how I envisioned it in my head. But maybe it’s not supposed to.
I want to end up with a sunny picture as much as the next guy, but maybe I’ve gotta paint with the colours I have right now. And I’ve been handed some dark ones. So why hide it. I can’t seem to get rid of what hurts, so I’ll hold it. Work with it. Walk with it. I need to honour it as it comes out. Sometimes when I’m too close to it, it seems like a mess. But when I take a step back and look at the big picture, it’s kind of a beautiful mess. The picture will never be perfect. But I’m learning however it comes out of me it’s just right!
It’s been said by those that know me, that I come off as a bit of a creep. I can be a kind of intense. And if you give me a cocktail, you can bet I’m turning into a total close talker. If I’m at all interested in you I’m probably going to stalk you a wee bit. You know the usual stuff, gather intel, do a background check, light surveillance, nothing too crazy. I promise its totally innocent, sort of a detached appreciation. I’m actually quite introverted and definitely have no interest in a possessive way. But, I’ll most likely come on too strong, or over share, and send you running for the hills. And even if I’m not at the wheel of my creep-mobile, if you are remotely in my orbit, at some point I’m going to say or do something weird. I’m generally always doing something to embarrass myself.
For the most part I’ve embraced it, I’ve even worn my stalker badge proudly. I love making my friends these creepy music videos, kind of a birthday-gram. They all share the same theme—obsessed fan. It’s all in good fun and thankfully they still accept me despite my special brand of weird.
But in this life long pursuit to connect with those I’m drawn to, I’ve made things weird on a few occasions. Recently I was reminded of one of the more notorious events in my stalking escapades.
I can remember when I first met him. He was quiet and handsome and had dimples for days. I barely knew him, but I knew I desperately needed to know him better. I can remember one time I saw his car pull into the only gas station we had in our small town. It was blocks away, but I ran there as fast as I could. When I arrived he was just leaving. I was completely out of breathe, but I tried to act aloof, managing to squeak out one word. One breathe-less “hey.” He said hi back, hopped in his car and left, and I collapsed to the ground gasping for air. You probably think I’m exaggerating, but nope, that’s me. This is just one example of the many embarrassing things I’ve done when I find myself attracted to another soul. He should have been afraid but for whatever reason he tolerated my intensity and we became friends.
A couple years later we were hanging out just doing the normal teenager thing, cruising around and hanging out with friends. My girlfriends and I were scrutinizing and exchanging the only selfies we had back then, our annual school photos. I was picking my photo apart, but he thought it was cute and said he wanted one. I was embarrassed because I had to give them to my mom first, but I told him I’d give him one later. A normal human being would have just set aside one of the leftover photos. But instead, I spent the evening constructing a giant poster board, using all of them. Twenty or so of the same photo and pose, in every size. The idea was that he would hang it on his wall, and if anyone saw it they would assume he was obsessed with me. A real stalker of my own, swoon! My girlfriend and I laughed the night away at the thought of it. We added blinking lights, shiny paper and tinfoil. The next day I went to present him with my masterpiece. But suddenly I felt a bit ridiculous and started second guessing myself. I was a bit worried he wouldn’t get the joke, and would likely think I was a total lunatic. But I threw caution to the wind, and decided to go for it. I put it in his truck and when we got a chance to be alone I told him to go have a peek. I was laughing, because no matter what I kinda think I’m hilarious. To my surprise he seemed totally unfazed by this monstrosity, he smiled and told me it was awesome!
Awesome? Perhaps this quiet, smiley boy is a bigger weirdo than he lets on. “Let’s go plug it in” I exclaimed. And the rest is history.
The point is, sometimes you are better off just letting it all hang out. I want to be liked and cared for just as much as the next guy, but getting close to people can be scary. I can be insecure, and I make mistakes attempting to do so. Some people get turned off by me, but I’m slowly learning those aren’t my people. Rejection is hard, but I’m a woman of many shades and I’m the only one who gets to define exactly who that is. Anyone else’s opinion is none of my business. Sometimes I’m intense, maybe a bit overwhelming, sometimes I’m introverted, probably kinda underwhelming. But I’m also a loving human being that desires intimacy with others, not in a sexual way, but a spiritual one. I need people I can be totally unfiltered with, laugh with. People who care about my story and remind me that although I feel like a misfit, I’m not alone in this journey. Apparently this is going to be misinterpreted at times, and may scare the odd person off. But there’s something special about it too. So I vow to be myself and see who stays. I’ve had success and found kindred spirits by doing so in the past. And I think those who are brave enough, might end up with a great friend. Someone who will always be looking out for them——albeit through a long range spying scope. Ha! But seriously I can’t help but be me, flaws and all. So I’ve decided to let my freak flag fly! Cause you never know who might be happy to see it.
Words and Art by Jessie Thoresen.
Words & Art – J.Thoresen
A spark I cannot tame.
Feel the warmth draw me in,
A moth unto a flame.
Can’t resist the urge.
Let the fire surge.
Come and make me sweat.
Pulsing with intensity,
Don’t let it settle yet.
Tell me you wanna tend the fire.
So even when just coals remain,
We have the warmth that we desire.
I feel winters grip,
The cold is poised to stay.
And I struggle being surrounded
By more darkness than day.
I wish I could be the moon,
A magic mirror of light.
A beacon to brighten even
The darkest of night.
You can live a life with no worries;
And all you need do,
Is follow these simple tips –
I’ll spell them out for you.
You must share the load as a homemaker,
The old gender roles you needn’t abide.
But the man of the house has obligations,
So be sure you can provide.
Being a soft, nurturing role model,
Must be a part of your mindset.
And you must be the fearless protector,
Alert to every threat.
Be a sensitive man who listens,
To earn your badge of pride.
But don’t you be a sissy,
keep your feelings bottled up inside.
Be a fun, impulsive sports fan,
Your deeds and physique should be heroic,
But always weigh your options;
Be wise, be calm, be stoic.
And if you’re confused by this paradox,
Between being a gentleman and a boor.
All you need do to fight it,
Is to see yourself as more.
Just live your life with pride,
If you want to be set free.
And don’t forget who you were,
Before they told you who you should be.
If you were honest,
And your intent was true.
Don’t you be disheartened,
By the opinion of a few.
Some may take it personally,
Some may reject or criticize.
But that’s a reflection of them,
Not a reason to apologize.
You needn’t explain your truth,
So don’t bother to try.
For those committed to
Often prefer the comfort of a lie.
My mom was raised by a single mom back in the 50’s, when being a divorced single parent was deeply frowned upon. The woman who raised my mom was beautiful, and resourceful. She made sure my mom always had a roof over her head and food in her belly. But my mom was also raised by a woman with a drinking problem. A woman who could be emotionally abusive, and moved her away from the love of her grandparents and in with whomever she happened to be dating. She was raised by a woman whose boyfriend got drunk one day, and beat her to death.
I had always struggled to understand my Grandma, and moreso everything that had happened to her. I would ask my mom about her sometimes. And my Mom would tell me stories from her childhood, some good, some bad. I asked about the man that had killed her. I couldn’t understand how someone could do that to another human being. I remember at one point, years later, I was thinking about it all and I asked my life guru-Google; “how can people be so shitty?” And Google in its infinite wisdom, told me that every person makes choices in life, and each one is decided by choosing either love or fear.
Fear or love.
I discovered that some people believe all of our choices, emotions and reactions, fall into one of two categories-love or fear. Some even say that fear is simply a call for love. Not good or bad, not right or wrong. As fear isn’t necessary wrong, I’m sure in the past fear helped our cave brothers and sisters survive all of the time. Fear is often our natural reaction, as it’s not always easy to sink below the turbulent thoughts of the mind and into the heart where love resides.
Right now there is a lot of fear, and a lot of people saying we should be afraid. The #metoo movement and everything that was going on with the U.S Supreme Court caused a lot of emotional reactions. It pains me too, picking at old wounds that I thought I had healed. ‘Cause that’s the thing, you can read all of the self help shit you want, but when your past comes knocking anything you haven’t healed is likely going to come spilling out. No matter how many bandaids you used to cover it. Personally I had promised myself that I would no longer just survive I would thrive, but I’m not always sure how to put that into action. And I believe my pain is a sign that I have more healing to do. So I take a little time to reflect, to understand why my friends opinions on the matter are causing me so much distress. I think of all the times I previously ignored my feelings for practical reasons or because I was told that a good girl goes along to get along. I feel angry at all those who ever made me feel powerless, and maybe even angry at myself for the times I chose not to speak up. But I watch all of the arguments, back and forth, and sometimes I think maybe I could explain it in a way to make everyone understand. I wonder though, would anyone listen? People tell their stories but if we don’t understand their perspective we reject it, often trying to dispute their feelings. Or we get angry at them for even sharing, we take it personally, or tell them they simply need to get over it. We are all screaming to be heard and understood, and yet it seems like we are moving farther and farther away from understanding.
Then I remembered something my instructor at a creative arts workshop had said. She told us that the key to creating great art isn’t found in our skill or technique. She said the greatest art makes us feel. She said that art can help us reflect and express ourselves. She believed that we turn to the arts as a way to relate to one another, to understand ourselves and each other when words fail us.
I don’t know if that totally sunk in at the at the time. But her words stuck with me, and lately her words have been coming back to me. An artist tells their story, pouring their feelings into their piece. We may have our own perception or opinion of what we believe the artist is telling us, but we know ultimately the piece is a reflection of the artist- it’s their story, their fears or love. Sure there may be critics, or people that don’t understand the piece, but we quickly realize that their opinion is irrelevant. They perceive the artists work based on their own experiences-their story, their fear or love. The best art makes us feel, it’s not right or wrong. Art is created to help us reflect, not react. To show us an example not an opinion.
And I wondered what would our lives would be like if instead of reacting to everything, we attempted to reflect instead? If instead of jumping to share our opinion, attempting to prove right or wrong, we just let people tell their stories. What would our world be like if we just reflected on one another’s stories, instead of reacting to them? What if we asked ourselves, what example am I setting by sharing this opinion? Why does this persons story make me feel this way? Is my reaction an example of love or fear?
And I thought of my Grandma again. I couldn’t understand what had happened to her or why she would accept abuse in her life. I couldn’t understand her perspective because I would never experience life from her eyes. I would never fully understand what it was like from her side, because it was impossible for me to fully walk in her shoes. But I could understand love and fear. And I could see that although she hoped for love, it was also obvious that shame, depression, and control had been major players in her life. Fear was used as a weapon against her, and fear kept her in her place. And I wondered how different her life may have been, if she had felt able to reach out and tell her story or choose love? Instead the love she deserved was misdirected as she begged and called for it through fear. I think maybe for the first time ever, I truly empathized with her. Her life was her story, anyone’s opinion of her life is irrelevant. Her life is simply an example of love and fear. As is mine, as is yours.
And as I write this it hit me, perhaps my ability to thrive instead of just survive, is bound to my ability to choose love instead of fear. My story is mine. A reflection of me—my fear and love. To hold back would be to succumb to fear, to express myself is to love myself. This doesn’t mean I have to tell every person every sorted detail of any trauma I’ve experienced. But it does mean I have the right to claim my feelings, and speak up if I believe something isn’t right. I won’t fight those who are committed to misunderstanding me because I realize that their opinion is simply a reflection of them-and therefore irrelevant to me. And so I will tell my stories, when and with whom I choose. I will no longer apologize for my honesty, my stories or my art, because it is my truth. Every choice I make adds to the picture that makes up my life. And I just need to decide who the major player will be in this masterpiece, fear or love?
I will examine fear, but I will choose love for #metoo !
What will you choose?