Monthly Archives: November 2017

Acceptance and Openness

I am still working on accepting myself as I am, and not feeling pressured to change myself or constantly try to be “better” when really I know there are just things about myself that seem pretty innate and maybe shouldn’t be considered liabilities. And the changes I DID need to make to be a more functional person have mostly all happened, like getting a handle on my addictions and keeping on top of my mental health.

But one of the things I am still working on is being open with people close to me. And sometimes I do really poorly at that, but more recently I’ve finally been able to talk about some stuff with a close friend and work through it and it’s funny, because I was anticipating horrible outcomes. And overall it was actually really nice and sweet and like, relieving, because now I don’t feel like I’m keeping secrets from her that she probably needed to know about. I’m not going to talk about the details of it here, just that I am glad being open with her is still going well and that now I’m feeling pretty safe with her as a friend, and I have gotten closer to some other friends in the last few months too.

One of my main problems was missing a relative who I had a rocky spring with, with some unfortunate fights, and it was really hard because she and I talked almost everyday before that. Anyway we have gotten back to chatting and it’s not exactly the same, but it seems like the rift was kind of healed.

And another friend of mine I am still trying to get closer with again, and it’s hard sometimes, and we aren’t totally there yet. But it’s getting way better than it was a few months ago.

There’s something about writing emails or messages or opening up conversations where you need to deal with interpersonal issues that is still really terrifying to me. I think it has to do with how I was raised, I wasn’t really taught conflict resolution skills at all. I still hate conflict, and I have had a bad history of just running away when it happens. And even when there isn’t conflict, if I know a conversation is gonna be hard, it’s very difficult to bring it up. I know I need to get over this problem I have with conflict, because I DO eventually want a serious relationship, involving parenting together, and I don’t want to be that shitty partner who gets mad and sulks and ignores someone, because I know what it’s like to be on the other end of that, and it’s awful and abusive and miserable. And mostly when that dynamic has come up in my life again, things DON’T get resolved, someone just resigns themselves to the fact that the silent angry person is never gonna change or apologize, and ends up trying to make things work again, even if it really isn’t healthy at all. So yeah, learning conflict resolution skills and how to work through problems and have honest conversations with friends is really important to me right now.

Obviously I’m not open with EVERYBODY! Like this is a select small chosen few close to me that I am trying to stay open with. Ha ha that probably sounds weird when you read this blog, but it’s true! I have secrets, sort of, sometimes. And when they impact other people or my relationships with them I want to talk about it, because I’ve seen so many things happen because of misunderstandings and shit going down and unsaid things. And things can be resolved a lot faster if people just communicated a little better. And although I have a blog and an oversharing fb (ha ha which is mostly shit like “I just washed the floor!” “here’s me cooking!” “look I ate this thing!”) AND I am a filmmaker/video artist/whatever I am, I have been a bad communicator in the past. Like sooooooo bad. So I am trying to be braver about talking about what I want and need and think with my friends. And talking about it doesn’t mean they have to agree with me or anything, but being able to talk about it really does make things easier, and I think stops situations from going sideways.

So anyway, I was able to talk about a scary thing with someone, and it went okay, and life goes on, and that’s really nice.

This weekend I am going away to Winnipeg and hopefully meeting my little brother for the first time ever. I’m pretty excited about it, the sister I grew up with is disabled and non-verbal, so I’ve never had an actual conversation with a sibling before.

You know, the funny thing about that is I remember when I was a little girl I wanted a baby brother. Mom already had her tubes tied by then, and also even if she hadn’t I think she was pretty done with having babies. But then many many years later my Dad told me I had a brother. I have another one somewhere else, but I don’t know anything about that one. Anyway, the brother I do know about is my fb friend and I’ve never been able to meet him, until this weekend (HOPEFULLY!). I’m so curious what he sounds like when he talks, cause Dad talks a certain way and people who meet me and have known him say we talk alike.

Anyway, big life events! Ha ha, I hope it goes okay. I’m also doing arty things in Winnipeg with Videopool’s Isolated Landscapes show. So that will be awesome.

I think things will be okay. And being open is helping me, in various ways.

2 Spirit Grief

The last time I saw them was in the ground.

It was a rainy day, the end of May. The clouds had parted just enough to let a sliver of sunlight through while we drove their coffin to the cemetery. There were horses in a nearby field, and as the cars followed my uncle’s truck to the gravesite, the horses galloped back and forth.

I was sitting in the back of the truck with my cousins, Shar, Jenny, Shawn, Lorne and his son Jordan. We were the pallbearers for my Grandpa, who was being laid to rest with my Grandma’s ashes in an urn cradled in his arms. It was the first time our reserve, Little Pine, had women act as pallbearers. Although all of us women were also two spirit, and for me especially the label of woman doesn’t always stick as neatly as it does on other people. Either way, two spirit people by definition bridged the genders, and we were supposed to have some cross over in roles.

Gender roles in Plains Cree culture, especially in ceremonies, can be very rigid, something I always bristled at when I went to things like funerals. I would feel left out, feel misplaced. Feel disregarded and disrespected. I’ve been asked to leave if I was on my period before, even though two spirit elders say people like me who are having periods should just be treated the same as the men, like we don’t even have any. I got rid of my periods in a medical procedure a while back for other reasons. But that doesn’t mean anything for the gendered positions in my community.

At funerals the women cooked the feast food, the men did the pipe ceremony and prayed and served food and usually gave away the deceased person’s possessions to the community. I have been constantly reassured by women that if there was a woman’s pipe the women could do a pipe ceremony too. Still I’ve only been in two pipe ceremonies in my life, and one was with another trans/two spirit person. The amount of times I have been on the sidelines watching men pray in a language I barely understand even though it is my ancestors, doing something I can’t be involved in, it’s difficult.

But this was my Grandpa’s funeral, so things were different. He wasn’t that kind of man in his life. He was an old Cree person, he knew a lot of things from how the old ways were. But he was also very modern. If he said something about what women couldn’t do, there was always a twinkle in his eye where you knew he was half lying just to tease you, or that even if it was a traditional belief he was kind of egging you on to challenge it and think for yourself.

I didn’t cry at his funeral. I know a lot of people did, and I wanted to, and I felt badly that I didn’t. I was having a hard time with crying at that point in my life, I’d gone through some psych related trauma back in my 20’s and that combined with some heavy duty anti-psychotics made simple emotional responses like tears hard to access. It’s easier now. Things changed, I don’t know how but I was able to cry again. But at his funeral, it was hard. And we had cared for him for a solid month, going to the hospital every day, cleaning out his apartment, cancelling his phone service. All the things that must be done to wrap up a life. Saying our goodbyes to him. He was delirious in the end, but there were two points he recognized me. When I first came home and went to see him, he looked at me and said he was so glad. Another time was in the hospital. We were sitting there watching over him and he looked at me and got such a big loving smile on his face, and I remembered all the things he and I had done together, fishing and camping and visiting and talking and watching him make jokes, and I think I did cry then. And I didn’t want to cry because I knew he was saying goodbye and that he loved me, even without words, and I didn’t want to make him feel guilty for leaving me or like he shouldn’t.

But aside from those two times it was like he was already halfway out of this world. He talked in Plains Cree again, telling nurses to awas when they tried to change him or give him injections. He shook hands with spirits and watching them coming to take him away. There were violent thunderstorms the night before he died, and after that he was still and left.

Grandma and Grandpa were good people. They raised me just as much as my mother did, and he was the closest person to a constant father figure I had, even tho I did know my father and he lived in the same province.

Carrying a coffin is hard, and I know people were nervous about half the coffin being carried by women. Everyone has to apply the same strength, the weight has to be distributed evenly. But it was good for me to do, and nobody dropped it, it was fine. We carried it out of the band hall and loaded it into the back of my uncle’s truck, and it all went smoothly. I was glad to be able to carry my Grandparents out of this world. To be one of the first women pallbearers, even though I only feel like a woman half the time.

Grandpa really wanted all his people, his relatives and friends and community, to achieve their dreams. He was one of the first Indians to go to University in Canada. He supported education. He listened to people and told jokes and when he was angry it was awful but I rarely saw him angry.

When I lived in Saskatoon I visited him a few times a week. He didn’t have a lot of his grandchildren visit regularly. I recognized how lonely old people got, how some of the people at his home felt so forgotten. After his wife died, he lived on his own for the first time since the 40’s. I wish I had been able to see him more, but I had moved to Toronto by then. I remember he didn’t want me to move away, and I was genuinely sad to leave him behind, even though I came back to visit him.

But I was there the last month of his life, every day, and I was there with his body, taking him to the cemetery where his mom and dad and grandpa and sister and brothers were. I was there to drop a handful of dirt on him when we finally said goodbye.

After a Cree funeral, there is a feast for the dead. Everybody sits around and the food is blessed and we all get a bit of everything, and then give pieces of what we have to a container to feed the deceased person. It takes a long time, and often the soups have really cooled when everyone can finally eat. Children get squirmy, and the men have a pipe ceremony. But this time I was one of the people who got to distribute his clothing and random things to the people in the hall. There was some rules about how close I could get to the men who were praying, which was a totally gendered thing and frustrating. But still I was able to participate in one more thing that normally I wasn’t able to.

Grieving as a two spirit person is just as hard as anyone’s grief, but being seen as my real gender made it easier. Feeling like I got to embody my grief and do things for the community and for my Grandfather made it easier. I didn’t feel slighted or bristly like I sometimes get. I felt recognized, and I really liked it. It might sound so strange, to feel touched by something that on the surface seems so simple. But gender in Plains Cree culture can be treated as a really cut and dried binary topic, and those of us who slip through the cracks of gender and want to be recognized are often treated badly. We can be seen as a bit of an irritant by people who don’t understand non-binary genders, like what’s the problem why don’t you wear a skirt is it really so hard to do that look everyone else with your perceived gender is doing it? Or worse, with outright scorn and hostility by the really hardcore transphobic and homophobic people.

But this was different, and it felt like love, and it made saying my final goodbyes to my Grandpa easier.

THE ONE

People are really weird when you’ve been apparently single for a long time. I say apparently because I’ve had weird relationships over the years with people who keep me a secret or never commit to calling it a RELATIONSHIP or some such nonsense that I for whatever reason go along with. It’s pretty bad. And tiresome. And makes me look very lonely, even tho I’m more or less content with my life and still have just as many orgasms as people in real relationships.

BUT I do want a relationship, and this year has been really weird because I went on dates that were actually called dates for once. Nothing came of any of them. But it was at least a step into a more obvious direction of possibly romancing someone. Anyway, the point is, I think the reason I am not having a real Relationship is because people don’t seem to realize I’ve been single so long because I’m waiting for someone I can do something pretty fucking major with, and not just for a few months or a few years but FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. It’s not like I’m not wanting a relationship, I don’t have a fear of commitment, with the right person.

And when I was more fucked up and actively using substances and my mental health was kinda shitty, it wasn’t really something I could even conceive of. Like maybe having a life partner, yeah I could see that SOMEDAY. But now I’m actually thinking about having a family with a partner, like me and her and our two children and our dogs. Or dog. Little Mister is super old I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t around when this all happens. I can see grumpy Posey being with us tho. And I know there are ways we could get not super expensive housing because I’m already in a co-op and hopefully I could go on an internal list for a place with more bedrooms. It’s hard to get into the 3 bedroom places, but 2 bedrooms aren’t so bad.

BUT it’s very weird to me to approach women and be like “Do you want to have a family together?” Like I know obviously I wouldn’t say that straight off the bat. I’d probably bring it up after knowing each other for a while. But it’s like, people my age are starting to make relationship decisions based on the family question, who wants to have kids and who doesn’t. And for a long time I was like “bleh I don’t want kids and I will be in poly relationships sure I guess if that’s all I can get.” Which is pretty sad. I mean the accepting poly relationships even tho I know I’m built way more for monogamous relationships. But changing my mind about having kids kind of shifts me into this whole other sphere of serious relationship requirements.

I decided I want to have two kids by the time I am 45. I don’t want to be super super old and trying to have kids. I can’t have bio kids myself, because I have no endometrial lining anymore. But there’s other options for getting kids. I don’t know, I might get with someone who wants to go through a pregnancy or two. I might end up with someone who wants to get on the list for adoptions. I thought about fostering queer kids, but I’ve been hearing more about how the foster system works and it sounds pretty brutal and kids get moved a lot. So I’m super dubious about that.

But yeah, it’s a lot to bring to someone, wanting to have kids. And being queer and having a history of dating cis women, there’s not a lot of chances for accidental children. So I think really first of all I have to let go of some weird shit I have about dating women who don’t want to treat me like a serious partner. Like I am not sure what that is about. Probably some weird self esteem vibe I give off or something. It’s been pretty infuriating to be honest.

On the other hand, I don’t have any old flames or exes I want to be with again. I’m not hung up on anyone. No one still hurts me when I think of them. I don’t have completely COOL friendships with all my exes, but I don’t dwell on any of them or what could have been anymore. Which is kind of the sort of person people want to get involved with, someone who doesn’t feel shitty about old relationships and isn’t still secretly in love with someone else.

I do still have a crush or two or whatever. But like, I dunno, those are also dubious for other reasons.

My psychic said I was gonna get into a serious relationship within the next two years. She also said I needed to get out more, and to be more clear about what I want in a relationship, because I think people are very confused about what I want, or willfully obtuse about it anyway. So yeah, someone to live with and come home to, to raise a couple of weirdo children with, and play with our dog together and walk kids to school and help with homework and make art and do arty things and keep having a career but also this family thing. It’s just like, the next phase of my life, but I kinda need pieces to fall into place before it happens. And also someone to be with in a serious way. Like, for a start it would be nice not to be anyone’s secret or whatever, like Jesus at least change our facebook relationship statuses for a change. Which I haven’t done with any of these weird non-relationship relationships I’ve been in because oh god that might turn off their other potential lovers.

Ugh I really need to quit dating poly women.

Dangerous Nostalgia

The other night I had a using dream. I was grinding weed and rolling up joints and doing all that stuff that goes into using marijuana. I don’t remember where I got it from. I just suddenly had it and was using it and justifying it to myself by saying I only did it sometimes, I wasn’t gonna be a chronic again, etc etc. It was weird tho because often I have felt deeply guilty during these dreams, whereas this one I felt calm and in control even tho I was making a really bad choice for myself.

I woke up and was relieved I hadn’t really smoked weed. I live in an area where I smell it all the time, well that could be anywhere in Canada really, but when my windows are open I can often smell it coming from the courtyard. Anyway, the point is, I’ve known for a while that it would be really easy to get here. There are dispensaries all over the city, I could probably ask my neighbours, and although my friends don’t usually smoke around me, I could probably ask anyone and they would have three to four different connections each. It’s really weird, especially with the new laws coming into effect next year legalizing it.

That doesn’t mean when recreational marijuana use is legal I’m gonna run out and get high. Alcohol is legal too, and I am still not drinking and haven’t had a drink since 2012. Ditto tobacco. So it’s really just going to make things a little bit more visible. I’m not sure how I’ll deal with that, but realistically the only difference is that people won’t be trying to smoke discretely, because even now I could walk down the street and pass people smoking it, maybe in quickly palmed joints but you know. It’s fucking hard to hide it’s so smelly.

Anyway. I’ve noticed I have a bit more nostalgia about my substance use these days, and it’s kind of dangerous. I don’t want to be thinking about how much fun it was to take a pill in the shape of Obama’s head, without reminding myself I blacked out and woke up safe in my own bed the next morning but so much could have gone wrong in that time. Like there’s some shit that went down, and I’m still trying to be like “ha ha drugs when I used drugs blah blah.” BUT NO they weren’t great and like, there were so many ways my life became fuller after I quit. I remember the last several times I got high how anxious and paranoid and freaked out I felt, how much I wanted to be high when I was sober, and how much I wanted to be sober when I was high. That horrible out of control feeling, and the darkness. UGH! It got really gross. And then how long it took to quit, I wanted to quit for three years before I could finally do it, and even quitting originally started out as a six week break just to see how my body felt after detoxing from it.

And the detoxing was so horrible, I was miserable and bitchy and irritable and made everyone’s life hell. And my dealer was part of my friend circle so I still saw him around which was kind of weird. Ugh so weird.

Anyway, I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to feel miserable when I’m high and miserable when I’m clean. I just want to not think about it anymore. How long do I have to think about being clean and sober? Why do I keep having using dreams? Why does it seem so easy to go buy a drink, and yet why do I feel this looming dread if I even entertain the thought for a moment?

It’s also weird because I got clean and sober without using the 12 step programs. I went to a group for psych consumers who had addictions issues and we talked with each other and with an addictions counselor and a mental health nurse. It was really not like 12 step programs at all. We just talked, and some of us were really unstable and it was difficult. I was pretty together mental health wise when I started going, but some people were just out of the hospital, and some people talked and talked and talked until the rest of us wanted to die or crawl out of there. It was more health region programming based than NA or AA or any of the A’s. I liked it. I know a lot of people believe in the anonymous groups, but those didn’t work for me. I didn’t like giving up my life to a higher power, especially because what I know of God is that we all compose this entity known as God which means I’m responsible for myself really. And that doesn’t exactly gel with what 12 step groups are selling.

But I like accepting that I am ultimately responsible for myself. I mean I still do spells and create intentions and go to ceremonies and things, but ultimately I know if I want something to happen I have to make it happen, which includes staying clean and sober.

So I wish I could go back to that group or a group like that and talk to people. There’s a concurrent disorders group near here, but they are an anonymous 12 step based group also. And that just doesn’t work for me. Also sometimes people think of marijuana as such a soft drug to not even be able to be addictive, and then I feel judged like I was never enough of an addict. Whatever that means! There is a weird hierarchy of addicts tho, it’s bizarre. Anyway, I might keep looking for another secular health based group to join.

People have very particular ideas of how people should get and stay clean and sober. This society is very 12 step group heavy, even though there are a lot of flaws in it. But encouragingly a lot of people get clean and sober on their own. Which is what I did sort of and am still trying to do. I say trying even tho I have already done it, because I still have to wake up and make choices that keep me away from buying beer with alcohol in it, or visiting a dispensary, or saying I could have a puff with friends etc. I will always be trying just as much as I am always succeeding.