Thinking about writing this recap has weighed heavy on my mind. There’s a pain about the last year that is difficult to relive and although writing this has felt absolutely critical, it’s also been hard to the point that I’ve avoided it till the last second.
There’s things I’ve wanted to say. I’ve held my tongue out of fear. Fear of retaliation against my daughter…but now that she’s out of reach of certain assholes, it’s a little easier. Not by much, but keeping these things inside aren’t doing me any favors.
I’ve been having trouble finding the right words, though. In my head, I’ve laid out all the facts and evidence a hundred times…and it makes me tired. It’s exhausting to go back to the weeks and months that led up to the bullshit and then the weeks and months afterward. It took us a long time to piece together what had gone on, but the point in sharing all of that would be to resolve what happened. However neither family, in TEN months, ever asked us, “what happened?”, “tell us your side.” Not. Even. Once. I have to surmise that they didn’t want to know because the truth was too difficult for them to bear. It’s unfortunate, because an innocent kid got hurt, but hey, your egos & delusions are still intact. So sharing all the exhausting details is pointless, but telling our story – that’s critical. So that’s what I’m gonna focus on.
This past year and part of 2018 (you can read about some of what happened in my 2018 recap) my little girl was the one that paid the price for my bad choices in friendships. Going after my kid…that’s a low I did not expect from these people…from anyone really. I was living a fantasy. A fantasy where women aren’t jealous twats. Where mothers don’t want to take down other kids. Where grown ups care who they’re hurting…where getting the facts right is important. Especially where it concerns innocent kids. That was my fantasy. And it got blasted out of the water.
There’s two things that are always important to me, so much so that it’s a personal trigger. In shitty situations, I have always wanted the truth to come out and justice to be served. As I’ve pondered these two things for months, I have felt less and less like I needed to take part in either. The truth always comes out. Somehow, in someway, it just always does. Justice…well that usually works itself out, too. To be honest, they’re suffering already — they are ego controlled, ignorant twats with hubbies who behind their backs don’t support their idiocy (secret apologies and saying he HAD to say what he did because his wife was pissed, sheepish looks when they acknowledge that it’s their wife causing the problem), have kids who hate them, and tell themselves lies to be okay with the lives they live. I think they’re doing a perfectly good job of fucking themselves up..
So let’s get to the chronological list…
1.January…what a hard time for Itty. The two week break during Christmas had helped. Distance from the little jerks had helped. Then she went back and the first thing that happens is one of them comes and interrupts a convo she’s having…just keeps talking over Itty until she’s raising her voice so loud it’s at the point of yelling and Itty has no choice but to either full on yell to continue her conversation with this classmate or be quiet. These little jabs continue to happen…at school at soccer. They don’t let it go and they won’t tolerate anything but total social outcasting. It’s disgusting behavior.
2. But we go on…and Itty gets worse and worse.
3. She tells me that she understands now why bullied kids end up killing themselves. She’s not suicidal herself, but the fact that she can empathize from her personal experience, hurts so much.
4. Itty’s psychologist and I start talking about her changing schools.
5. Itty isn’t ready, so we revisit the idea of trying school mediation.
6. I’m scared for her mental well being…no matter how much she talks to me, no matter how much we support her, no matter how many counselling appointments she goes to…she is not getting better. She is getting worse.
7. And then Itty, in her usual wise and eloquent way, describes exactly what’s been going on and it shatters me:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – there’s this scene where the rebel alliance is trying to stay out of range of the First Order’s missiles…if they maintain a certain distance, their shields will hold, but eventually they will also run out of fuel, quicker than the bigger First Order ship. There’s a moment when General Hux of the First Order says, “they can’t run forever, but don’t let them forget that we’re back here. Keep firing.”
Itty tells me — she’s the little Rebel ship…she’s trying to stay out of range, she’s trying to move forward, but they aren’t going to let her forget that they’re there. They’re not going to let it go, not on the soccer field, not at school…it’s not going to stop and she doesn’t know how much longer she has the fuel to keep going.
8. Spring break comes…it’s the same as winter break…I see Itty start to bounce back a little…smiling more. Laughing occasionally. It’s frightening to realize she was doing so little of that…but you don’t know what you’re not seeing on the regular until it happens and it feels odd or noticeable.
9. It’s obvious that she starts to feel a little bit better while away from them. I know in my heart that she needs to move schools. I just can’t watch her deteriorate week after week, hoping these assholes (the parents – they’re the real bullies behind this) will let it go. I already know they won’t.
10. I talk to my doctor and the psychologist and they reassure me that changing schools is not the end of the world and probably exactly what she needs. But it feels like the hardest decision. There’s no guarantee she’ll feel better. And she’s going to lose everyone she’s known since Kindergarten. It doesn’t feel fair. It’s heartbreaking.
11. We agree that one final attempt to come to some peace about what happened should be attempted. The school tries to facilitate what they call Restorative Action. The process is explained to the two little jerks, but they refuse. We try calling the parents, one doesn’t answer, the other does and the mother says I’m fucking insane when I try explaining what’s been going and when I lose my temper at her cursing at me, she hands the phone to her hubby and we get nowhere. We’re told to call the police liaison and that they will notify admin.
12. However, I’m not waiting another minute for them to try and do something. This has been going on for 8 months now. We just can’t. The effort it took Itty to start the mediation process, to rehash everything all over again – and have them just say, “no, I don’t feel like it.”, “I’m not interested.” — it leaves her completely spent. Parents out there — you have to watch out for this. If your kid is completely emotionally tapped out, you have to do something.
13. So we move her.
14. The school counsellor is kind enough to send our info to the Justice Institute of BC’s Community Justice Initiative team. We are contacted by a professional mediator who informs us, that once again, these shit for brains fucks don’t want to resolve the issue. No surprise, right?
15. The last two months of Grade 8 were hard. She barely got through them. But the school is different. The kids are kinder. The teachers are more positive. The building is beautiful and it’s within walking distance. There are positives that down the road will be appreciated, but right now…Itty just needs to heal.
16. It’s a slow process.
17. In the meantime, we have another child to nurture and love, our own relationship, our own health…we dropped everything to get Itty through this. And now we’re catching up on all the things that fell to the wayside. It has been an emotionally exhausting year…watching your child suffer like this…as a parent, it wrecks you.
18. Itty finishes grade 8…
Now that the school year is over, we can leave the bullet points and talk about life after that shitstorm…
July comes and we head out on our big maiden voyage – a 20 day road trip in the new RV down south. We head down the coast stopping in Oregon, Nor Cal, Yosemite National Park and then our furthest stop south – Disneyland.
The thing about going through something difficult is that the first anniversary of that shitty year/moment/experience is pretty hard. So we do our best to make better memories than the year before but we don’t always succeed. Still…Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, it really is. And it helped. Miraculously the crowds were a fraction of what their usual summer crowds are. We got to experience the new Star Wars land and ride all of our favorite rides without lengthy wait times…it was marvellous.
On our way home we stayed at a beach resort a few hours North of Disneyland. I would say it wasn’t the best RV resort we’ve stayed in, but we were right on the beach. While here, I learned my friend Candace Poe Blackburn had passed away. I was devastated by the news and spent the day sobbing in my bed…it was a shock because when all this shit started with the assholes, I took a stepback from my social media account…the one where they twisted my words to justify hurting my kid…I couldn’t go back to it. I missed all the details that Candace hadn’t been doing well. I didn’t even get the message that she had passed away until weeks later. And I feel like the biggest asshole because she was one of a kind…she cared like so few to do and the world was a darker place without her. If you want to donate to her gofundme, it would help her family out: https://ca.gofundme.com/f/candace-poe-blackburn
After a week at the beach, our next stop was San Fran…by this time we were exhausted. We hadn’t ever been away from home for that many days in a row and the driving and camping was not as relaxing as hubby and I thought it would be. We just wanted to get home. Instead of spending the night, we packed up and headed home. An 18hr straight drive that was exhausting but exciting – turbo sightseeing! We saw the Golden Gate bridge at night and a few pretty spots near Big Sur. Oregon disappeared in a flash and then were on Canadian soil…the way we celebrated making it “home” was hilarious. Reminded us how much we love Canada, that’s for sure!
We got back and needed a vacation from our vacation. Until our next trip in August to Tofino!!! The first day, we felt a dark permeating evil — the assholes were there!!! WTF!!! Out of all the places to stay in Tofino, they had to come there? Where we camp?! When they always stay at another campground??! UGH…maybe talk to your daughter about what she said in her nasty voicemail to Itty…you know the part about Itty coming to her happy place (a campground in Cultus, BC) and ruining it…wonder which of you she gets that entitlement from!? I can guess who’s said those types of words before…Maybe she could teach her mom about not ruining public places for other people…if it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander, hey?
The evil could be felt throughout the campsite, but nothing a good rain couldn’t clear out. Once it did, the sun shone again and we had the most relaxing, recuperative, lazy 10 days one could have. We all slept in every day till 10 or 11…then we’d go to the beach for some body boarding, get some Tacofino, get back in our pjs and sleep some more. I don’t think, as a family, we have ever slept this much. We needed it. In that time, I read 10 books, enjoyed the beach and friends. Took some pictures and generally inhaled the goodness of the ocean. We were ready for September.
However, having to see the faces of some of these assholes — ugh. It sucked. Bitty was still at the elementary school Itty had attended. Halfway through the second week of school we were notified that she had a spot at the school that feeds into Itty’s new highschool. Again, we experienced the stress and anxiety about what the right thing to do was…it didn’t seem fair to uproot Bitty…but we already new that the kids and community at Itty’s new school was different. Even though the two will never be in highschool at the same time, we wanted that inclusiveness and positivity for Bitty.
With a lot of anxiety and a giant leap of faith, we took that spot. It was the best damn decision we have made. For both our girls. The diversity and acceptance at these two schools is shocking…both girls noticed it on their own and told us about the differences. The kids want to speak french, they’re interested in learning, the kids aren’t using the bathrooms to do drugs or vape, they’re more inclusive and welcoming, they’re just plain…nicer. It’s absolutely baffling and we keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. To have such a 180 in the behavior and attitude of the parents, students and teachers…it’s wild. We feel really grateful for our new school community.
As a result, they’re both doing fairly well. Thankfully. We still have our challenges, and looking back to grieve the losses of the last few years is still hard, but having this distance has been the biggest blessing. Not having to drive through that neighborhood, not having to see their vehicles or their faces — it’s a wonderful wonderful thing. I will never take for granted how creating real and physical space can be healing. It’s helped me immensely.
Itty is really looking forward to 2020…for her, it’s a brand new year without the jerks. It’s cathartic to leave them and their bullshit behind.
Not only is it a new year, but a new decade. I’ve been inspired by Rikki Lee (from Insta https://www.instagram.com/rikki.e.lee/) to do a look back on a decade and I’m going to try and do that as succinctly as possible.
1.I had a baby, I removed my adoptive family from my life, I went to trauma counselling, I got help for my thyroid and lost a ton of weight, I lost my thyroid meds and gained a ton of weight, I was really sick for the last 2 years and am just starting to feel better and as a woman and mother, I survived some nasty nasty stuff…I have changed completely! That’s the simple answer! LOL
2. I’m still anxious at times. I’m still learning to unravel my coping mechanisms – like checking out, losing my patience and getting grumpy with my fam when I’m triggered.
3. Your family doesn’t define you, people are not as honest as you think they are and in fact are probably more fucked up than you – “give yourself some credit, woman”, and that I don’t have to respond or engage with every person that shows me some kindness.
4. I gave up trying to please my adoptive family. It released me like nothing else has in my whole life. That was a big monumental moment for me. I realize now that I’ve always held people in much higher esteem than they deserve. I criticize and belittle myself constantly and see only the good in others. This is starting to change. I still see the good in people, but I’m not leaving myself out of the equation. Tied to that is realizing that just because my dad left before I was born, does not mean that I have to spend my whole life being a friend to anyone who gives me attention, says a nice word or appears like a nice person. I don’t owe people my time, energy or friendship. I don’t need to chase relationships, and especially not to fill the void a dad was supposed to fill in my childhood. I spent so many years worried about what I could do for others…I still want to do for others when I can, but I am also very conscious that it’s bringing good into my life as well. It has to go both ways.
5. The biggest influence of this decade has been hands down, Brene Brown and her work. My doctor and trauma counsellors also deserve honourable mention. And quite recently – The Holistic Psychologist on Insta (https://www.instagram.com/the.holistic.psychologist/?hl=en) — she’s amazing. I’ve been learning so much from her!
6. I am soooo grateful for my family for loving me unconditionally. I have not always been open to your love, but now that I am, I feel it. Thank you. I need your love. I’m grateful to myself…for being brave enough to break open and see that I needed myself in my corner. I really did and i’m glad I have my own back.
7. Again, my family. They are wonderful exceptional people. When my youngest was born in 2010, I said to my hubby — I finally feel a peace about our family…she was the missing piece. And our little foursome is badass…we cry together and laugh together and there’s nothing better than being with you three. I love you more than I could ever say.
8. I taught myself to soften. To open more. Be a little braver. A little more vulnerable. It’s still a work in progress but I’m proud of me.
9. I tried and failed at a lot of things in these last 10 years — art, writing, weight loss, making good friendships, being a mother of a child (Bitty) with sensory processing issues…aside from what happened with Itty (which I take the blame for – I should have done better to teach her she deserves better) that’s probably my biggest failure of all. Not protecting her from the mercury poisoning in the first place, but later when she started to have issues – I spanked her, I put her in timeouts, I threatened to take her to another family…I hurt her. Things she still remembers to this day…and it breaks my heart.
10. I wish I could have known what I do now, but I’ve spent the last 4 years giving her as much love, acceptance, patience, kindness and support as I can. I learned to do better so I did. I learned that I have to handle things differently with her, natural supplements that help calm her brain are one thing, but how I approach struggles that she’s having is just as critical. I learned to regulate myself better, so I could help her regulate herself better. It’s still a process but we’re getting there. As for the other failures…the things I’ve learned are all over this post basically.
It’s been a decade of crazy growth and change. Our family grew, my kids grew, my relationship with myself and my hubby grew. We experienced camping for the first time this decade. The girls tried snowboarding. We fell in love with essential oils. We each set and achieved personal goals. Of course there were many downs too…but it shaped us and molded us into people we feel really good about being today.
My wish for 2019 was that I don’t forget my worth…I held on to that conviction for dear life. At the end of last year, that’s all I knew for certain and throughout the year, I kept repeating to myself, “don’t forget who you are and that you deserve good people and great things”. I think I started on the journey of experiencing and learning that. I’m not all the way there yet. So for 2020 my wish is to continue on this spiritual journey. I also want to learn more about the ego (The Holistic Psychologist has this topic on lock!) and continue to let go of old coping mechanisms so I can be more true to myself and find greater respect and love for who I am as an individual. I also want to work hard on quieting my mind to really listen to my wants and needs and do a better job of communicating them to my loved ones but also in everyday life. I don’t need to be as agreeable as I am…it’s okay not to please everyone.
And my wish for this new decade — joy. My kids are going to be in their 20’s when this decade is over…hubby and I will be in our 50’s or almost 50 (he’s old! I’m not! LOL)…this next decade is going to be the most exciting time of our lives. Our kids, our pride and joy, are going to be adults. Watching them grow to be the amazing humans they are thus far is the greatest gift…but what they will become in the next decade – I think it’s going to be pure joy to witness. I’m looking forward to it all!
Happy new year all! Stay safe, enjoy your loved ones, love yourself and have an amazing 2020! It’s going to be a good one!