Mar. 3rd, 2017 01:29 pm
I don't know how many times we can say, "I don't know how much longer I can do this." Saying it out loud does not make the train coming toward you go any slower. But do we just keep saying we can't do it and keep going forever? When is enough enough? When do you get to that point when you can, literally, no longer do it?

I have been struggling financially over the last year and things have just gotten so bad. I hide it well, of course. Only my two closest friends know what has been going on, and my father only to an extent. It started after Salem had his surgery and having, permanently, the additional and hefty expenses of his prescription food and medication (Salem always comes first so in no way am I blaming any of that, or him). And it has slowly gotten worse from there. Things really took a nosedive around November, and ever since I have been struggling to pay my rent every month, going without food when I need it, panicking because I cannot afford my own medications, not even having enough to do my laundry sometimes, being unable to go to the dentists all year or get a haircut. It is rare I am able to treat myself to anything; I have mostly been relying on Christmas and my birthday for that. Any time I do treat myself I almost immediately regret it, no matter how much we need these "treats" sometimes. I kept thinking making it to March was all I needed to do because I would have a three-paycheck month and my tax refund (which is small compared to what I need but it's still something). But after going over all of my expenses and budget, I now realize this month is not going to save me. This has been weighing down on me for so long now, and it never gets any better. And I am completely exhausted.

As I was on overtime all of February, slaving away for crap pay at a job I hate, I realized I would never, ever be able to get a second job. I am so burned out and so miserable right now - physically and emotionally - and I have been informed we are on overtime again for all of March. I drag myself here every day. I congratulate myself for getting out of bed because it truly is amazing I can even do that. Obviously, this is for reasons beyond finances and being "tired." This is also my depression and my severe lack of personal time. The time people normally get to relax, I spend rushing around doing errands after work, without the help of a car which always takes three times as long, trying to clean my apartment, showering, making my dinner, prepping my breakfast and lunch for work the next day, etc. I have so little time by the time I get home and my sleep is suffering because of it. Sometimes I envy those who are with a partner and have help for all these things, especially household chores. I do what I have to do, but I am not in a good place or having a fun time doing it.

I honestly have no idea what to do or how to get myself out of this. Every piece of advice that is given to me, I just think, 'I can't do that. I'm stuck.' Like the second job, for example. Believe me, I cannot do it. I do not have the energy or the time to sacrifice. I am already spreading myself too thin. Salem is already left alone too much and I feel guilty. I don't even have enough time to sleep properly. And I don't know what I could do from home because that's still going to cause the same problem. How else do I get out of this hole? I just have no idea...

I feel like I'm flailing around in the water in the middle of the ocean, alone.

Fading out

Nov. 13th, 2016 08:53 pm
carnivalnights: (animals: pengies)
Why doesn't anxiety have an off switch?

Things got so bad today that I called a nurse via TeleHealth. Over the past six months, my anxiety has been even worse than my depression and I don't know what to do about it because I am already on medication and it is not addressing any of the anxiety like it should be. When I chose a medication with my doctor I was sure to mention I wanted to be on one that also treated anxiety. But so far, this medication has done absolutely nothing for it. I still get anxious to the point where I feel sick and nauseated. The smallest stressful situation seems to blow up into a debilitating one. And instead of being my normal self, the one who does not hesitate when making decisions, I sit here confused and mulling over choices constantly because I feel like I am not in the right mindset to be making them.

Every weekend, I get into bed Friday night and I really do not leave until Monday morning. On weeknights, I get home from work, I feed Salem, and then we both get into bed for the rest of the night. (I know it makes me sound like a crazy cat lady, but every day I miss Salem while I am at work and cannot wait to get home to him, and I have come to realize it is because he is the only thing in my life that doesn't hurt me, my only solace.) I eat dinner in bed. I usually fall asleep most nights way too early and have to get up in the middle of the night to shower, lay out clothes, get my breakfast ready for work. I clutter my nightstand until I can no longer see it simply because I do not want to leave my room and put things where they belong. I am too tired to clean. Doing more than one load of laundry at a time seems exhausting. Every small errand feels like a marathon. I hate my life, and myself. And most days I have absolutely no idea how I keep going or how I get myself to work. Most people would say that is an achievement in itself but for me it is not enough to just go through the motions and stay on autopilot forever.

No one actually knows it is this bad, but it is. I hate admitting it, even if it is just to myself. In many ways, I am strong. I have always been strong. I have always been proactive when it comes to my mental health and I get help when I know I need it. But what happens when you have exhausted all forms of help? Doctors, counselors, medications? What else is there to do? At many points I have taken my life into my own hands and have pushed forward. At other times I have turned to a professional for help. But what now? What happens when those things are no longer working?

I feel very helpless. And I despise that feeling. I cannot live out my days in my bedroom. In all honesty, I wish I could just drop off entirely and stop talking to family and friends. I do not want to go to family dinners or have a girls' night with my BFF. It just makes things worse right now. I do not know why. I have to force myself to stay in touch lately. I do not want to pick up my phone. I do not want to send or receive texts. I just want to fade off and I do not want anyone to care or check up on me. I just want to be left alone. I legitimately just want to be left alone and not have to speak to or face anyone. It has been a long time since I have felt this way. But that is how I feel these days.

I do want things to get better. Obviously. I am just at a loss for what I can possibly try now that everything else has failed. And while I figure out my next move, I just do not want to have to answer to anyone or explain myself or complain to anyone how shitty I feel all the time. And I certainly do not want to hear how little someone understands what I am going through, like my insensitive father who I kicked out of my apartment this week for being an asshole about this anxiety. I am so tired of that. To me it just seems better if I stay away from everyone. And it is definitely better if everyone just stays away from me.
I know this is going to make me sound like a whiny brat but I feel like there are only three modes to my life: shit, double shit and triple shit. Shit is just the regular day-to-day way that I feel and how things go. I am rarely ever happy, and I rarely ever feel peaceful or content. The good times in my life are so rare and so short that they have nicknames and I use these when I say I wish I could feel that way again. Double shit is when I am under any sort of additional stress where my free time and mood suffer, along with my body usually (e.g. constant overtime at work, problems in any relationships, financial troubles where I am struggling to pay rent/groceries). Triple shit is when I am already dealing with double shit and then something horrific happens (e.g. dealing with Salem and all the medical/surgery issues and financial issues, an ill/dying family member, personal medical issues), and then my health starts really declining and I become a completely useless human being, barely being able to function and no longer taking care of my apartment, no longer cooking/feeding myself because I am too nauseated with stress, etc. More often than not, I seem to be in the double shit category.

I recently saw a psychiatrist for the first time since I was sixteen. Though I have been in and out of counseling my entire life since elementary school, mostly due to depression, anxiety, losing my mother and PTSD, I had not seen an actual psychiatrist since that time. One of the things she asked me, given my very long history with depression/anxiety and various anti-depressants, is what the longest time I had been happy for was. I told her maybe a month or two here and there. And that is my honest, non-angsty, non-exaggerated answer. I felt like an idiot saying it out loud but it is the truth. I recently went back on anti-depressants a few months ago (mostly due to the events in my last entry here, in fact), and one of the things my long-term family doctor brought up was staying on them permanently, which I didn't even know was a thing. The psychiatrist made the same recommendation after our appointment, saying that going on and off time the amount of times I have makes no sense anymore when there has been enough research to support it being safe to stay on them. So I guess that's it? I am on them for life now. Perhaps I'd be more satisfied with the outcome if I felt like they ever did anything. I usually come off them because they never help me, after giving them ample time, and I say that with an extensive list of ones I have tried (and different doses). I would say at least 6 by now.

But alas, that does not matter anyway because therein lies the rub... I cannot afford the prescription. Even with my drug coverage, it is still too much for me to take on monthly. After Salem's surgery, I started incurring additional expenses of a couple hundred a month paying for his medication and prescription food (both of which he is on for life). Salem comes first and I will keep doing what I am doing to give him the best life I can; that is not up for debate. But yes, unfortunately, this has put me in a permanent financial hole. It is not only these expenses that have caused the hole. I was already in one before they started six months ago. But see, this is where the double and triple shit come in. That is what I mean. Things are already bad but they get worse. I have already cut expenses everywhere I am able to, and that has not helped. I still have monthly student loan payments, which are pretty big, and I struggle to buy things like groceries... forget the odd thing for myself or the apartment which I always regret immediately. Just going to a movie or eating out with a friend is a burden on my wallet. I simply cannot afford to do these things, to have a good time, to treat myself. There is no greater struggle than living on your own in the city. There really is not. Everything is so difficult. And even if I wanted to move outside the city, I have no car, and I would need one because the city is where the jobs are. I have looked into drug benefits here for those who cannot incur the costs of a particular prescription but the deadline was September and apparently you cannot apply until next September now. I do not even know if I would get approved because to other people I am sure the medication cost is nothing and they would wonder what the issue is. I guess I can apply next year, but until then, I do not see how I can continue on this medication.

I only have two friends who know how deep this situation goes (the only two I speak to on a regular basis, or at all most of the time). The depression, the anxiety, the finances, hating my life, hating my job. One of them has not been there for me lately and instead spending all of our in-person time together texting other people incessantly and ignoring me, which is out of character, or replying "I get it" if I text a few messages about my struggles instead of making me feel like they understand or care. The other just simply does not know what to say. They have run out of words and resort to cliches and repeating themselves, saying they are sorry I am in the situation -- which I guess is all anyone can do. I think it is partially because they do not really understand what I am feeling no matter how clearly I express it because they have not been in the same situation. I just end up getting so irritated hearing the same thing over and over and it is unfair to them. I have no idea what I expect from my friends anymore. I have just come to the conclusion that they cannot make me or this situation better and it is probably futile going to them about it. I just have no idea how to keep my mouth shut about my life because I am miserable every day of it and sometimes it feels like the misery could actually just cause me to implode.

And thus, I take to putting feelings down here... where virtually no one will ever read them but it is still somehow cathartic.

Going mad

May. 23rd, 2016 03:50 pm
It's such a strange feeling when everything aches... my body, my heart, even my brain. When you suffer from depression and anxiety, there is just this constant sickly feeling. This underlying panic. What I panic about changes from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour, but I always know it's the depression/anxiety. I never confuse it with other feelings. Whenever I feel Depression Sick, I never confuse it with a cold that might be coming on or an upset stomach. I now have such an intimate relationship with it that I can identify it right away.

After a lot of a trauma lately involving my cat and a very expensive and invasive operation he had to have to save his life, I decided it was maybe time to go back to a psychiatrist. It is not that I believe the visit will help, but I am grasping at straws now wondering what I can do to help myself or how to start dealing with things in a more healthy way. I was already depressed again before Salem's operation, but during that whole time (about two months worth of vet visits, the operation, the post-op recovery), I lost my shit. There is no other way for me to describe it. Here was this being, this creature who had helped me through so much, and was sick and I could potentially lose him. And I just lost Shadow two years ago and frankly, I am not even over that yet. I live alone with Salem, and he is my only solace. The thought of losing him sent me into a madness where I felt out of control. It was affecting my work at my job (which I didn't tell anyone about). I stopped eating and I lost 10lbs in just over a week. I was constantly nauseated and feeling like I was going to vomit (which started very early on and eventually led to the lack of eating). When I tried to eat food, I would just gag and have to stop. It got to the point where I had to buy meal replacement drinks because I was feeling physically weak. People at work were asking if I was ill. I looked even worse than I felt. I most definitely was not sleeping. The week Salem got back from the hospital, I was sleeping maybe two hours a night. I woke up about every fifteen minutes. (And this poor, light sleeping has just continued.) I was taking codeine every day trying to make the headaches bearable enough to get through the day. I tried Ativan for the severe anxiety I felt every waking moment. NOTHING. WAS. HELPING. Not my favourite TV shows because I couldn't sit still. I was so restless and filled to the brim with panic and anxiety that it felt like ADD trying to do any sort of task. Not music, which actually irritated the shit out of me (I could only listen to jazz and classical, no lyrics, no singing). Not movies. Not reading. Nothing. I stopped cooking (obviously). I stopped cleaning my apartment. It was bad. It was bad enough to scare me into thinking I had gone to a place I might not come back from.

Though I've had very bad bouts of depression before, and I've definitely suffered from panic attacks before, this was new. Something wasn't right. This time things were very much out of my control no matter how much I tried to calm myself down, self-talk, meditate. It didn't matter. I couldn't even control my crying at work. I was a wreck. And no one understood. My father probably thinks I am completely nuts by now. He didn't understand my depression before, not even when I was a kid, but seeing me like I was for that month and a half just made him think I had serious issues. He kept saying he didn't understand why this was affecting me to this degree or why it was having such dire physical consequences. And while I understood why it was, I didn't understand my lack of control over it because that's very unlike me. I felt completely helpless. I was calling distress lines and feeling WORSE after talking to someone because it was all just so cliché and irritating. I reached out to my old counselor but could only afford one session with her (especially due to adding yet another loan to pay back, for Salem's surgery). I think it was helpful but not to the point where I feel I am back on the right track. In the end, I ended up at my doctor's getting the psychiatrist referral because I had no idea what else to do. Maybe I need to be on some other kind of medication. Maybe I really am crazy. I have no idea anymore. The downside is that the waiting list is so long that my appointment is not until October. What the fuck am I supposed to do until October?

I've contemplated going back on antidepressants even though it's the last thing I want to do. As I said, I am grasping at straws. I don't want to put my body through that again. I get so, so sick when I first start them and I definitely do not like some of the side effects I always experience (no matter which one I try). But I don't recall feeling all this panic while I was on them and that's honestly all I care about right now because that is why I cannot function properly as of late. I just want the anxiety and panic to go away. I can't deal with it anymore. I am at my breaking point. I need to do something. The one thing I can never fault myself for is just doing nothing. Every time I am in this much distress (sad that I can use the term "every time"), I ALWAYS reach out for help. Whether it's seeing my doctor, seeing a counselor, calling a distress line during a bad night, whatever. I ALWAYS do something. I ALWAYS try to be proactive when things get out of hand. I just don't know what the answer is this time. I've tried everything. Time and time again. I always end up back here and it is SO frustrating and disheartening. It makes me feel like I just have to live the rest of my life like this, not ever getting the help I need. As futile as it may be, it doesn't help that my benefits won't cover a licensed counselor and only a psychologist. That means I can't see my old counselor, the one who helped me through all this the last time and very successfully, and that also means I will only get about 3 sessions before the allotted money runs out (because psychologists are $100-$150/hr here). I'd at least like to TRY seeing someone again before I officially write it off as useless. People can't even get the help they need. What if I was suicidal? Would they still make me wait until October? I told my doctor how serious this was. I told him I could lose my job trying to function like this. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough on this being urgent. Maybe I will go back and ask if there is any shorter waiting list, even if I have to travel a bit further.

I really felt like I had my shit together before this. No, I was never "happy" at any point the last few years, but I've been on my own for a while now, I've been paying my bills even though I'm living paycheck-to-paycheck. I've been cooking, cleaning, doing laundry. My place is looking pretty good these days with all the purging I have done. I've repainted two rooms. And last/this year, I somehow survived ten months of unemployment on my own before I got this job in November. I've been adulting. I've been doing what I need to do. And now I am just back here again, feeling like a small child who wants to be coddled because I just can't do life anymore. I want someone to look after me for once. If I'm honest, that is how I am feeling. And when I was going through all of the stuff with Salem, yes, there were some fleeting moments of me feeling very annoyed that I am single and have to deal with this burden on my own without any support. I am alone 90% of my time outside of work. Sometimes I don't mind it, sometimes I do. And then there are times where I really, really mind it and get pissed off that there is not someone here to help me. Sometimes it's over something stupid like almost breaking my arms carrying groceries home without a car, sometimes it's as serious as going through a traumatic and scary situation like Salem's surgery. As much as I don't want a relationship, there are times where I know things would be a hell of a lot easier if I was in one. Financially, my life would change. I would be able to pay off my loans. I wouldn't be worrying about whether I could buy food from week to week. I know how much stress could be eliminated. But I also know that is not a good reason to get into a relationship, and I also know I am nowhere near ready to be in one again (despite the number of years that have gone by thus far). So it's annoying.

I don't know what's going to happen from here. I'm trying. I really am. I am trying to push through this and although none of my positive thinking is working, I am still willing to see the psychiatrist or maybe talk to my doctor about antidepressants again. I just don't think waiting until October for that first option is very smart or very viable right now. Someone needs to help me now, not five months from now. And I can't rely on medication to fix this. It won't. I will still have all the financial issues, the friendship issues, the family issues, he emotional issues, the PTSD that gives me nightmares, I will still lose people, I will still hate my job. Will the solution just come to me one day, out of thin air? I don't know how to find it. I've tried and just nothing sticks with me. I don't know why. I always end up back here.
carnivalnights: (animals: pengies)

Because I don't believe in god necessarily (at best I would say I am agnostic) but sometimes think the universe somehow plays a role in what happens to us, somehow, sometimes I actually stop stressing for a moment thinking there's no way the universe would let any more bad happen to me. I think someone or something must know when enough is enough, perhaps even my mom watching over me. But then it gets worse. And I realize there is no one protecting me or the people I love. And I feel alone. Unsafe. Like things will never get better if they haven't already because there's nothing to stop those things from happening. Anything could be taken from me at any time. My job (which it has three times in a row now), my money, my mother, my father, my pets, even my own life.

It's just up to me to keep taking these blows again, and again, breaking a little more each time. Until what, I don't know. Until I end it. Until there is no more breaking me to be done. Until I go completely crazy and end up in a hospital. I don't know when the breaking point will be or if I will magically keep surviving somehow - and just be unhappy forever because of it.

I don't know why I still have those rare moments where I think 'Come on, no more, it has to be the end now.' But then it's not. Over and over. It is comforting for a fleeting moment but then something else happens and you wonder how you could be so stupid as to think something is going to protect you finally.

And those moments you realize that, no matter how many, are always so terrifying. I understand why people resort to religion to feel a sense of safety and protection. I do. I would love to be able to rely on that. But I have been let down too many times to believe in that sort of thing. Some days I don't know what I live for. Sometimes I think it could be those rare moments of happiness. The moments I am laughing until tears are running down my cheeks. The moments where a kiss makes me feel alive. The moments I actually get something I feel I deserve. But most of the time, they don't feel like enough to keep me going. I need more. I need more than a couple moments each year that make me feel like this is all worthwhile.

I feel angry that I have to keep living and keep getting out of bed each morning without the kind of happiness I see other people somehow obtain. And believe me, I have worked hard. I don't just mean I have worked hard in life, school or at my jobs - though I have, endlessly. I mean I have been in and out of counseling my entire life, discussing cognitive distortions and negative thinking, filling out mood journals, on and off various medications, trying to find PEACE. Trying to find a reason to live and a reason to WANT to get out of bed each morning rather than just doing it because I have to pay my rent. I would love to feel more. I would love to be more than this empty shell of a human who feels too much and rarely anything GOOD. What a waste of a caring, loving, emotionally adept human being to just put me through so much misery that I can't even utilize my powers for good.

Happiness just feels so unattainable and I will never understand why. Was I a serial killer in a past life who is paying for their sins in this one? What is the issue? Why so many obstacles? Why so much loss? People who meet me always say I have the worst luck out of anyone they've ever met and it is actually painful for them to be part of my life and watch it sometimes. Why is that? Why can't things just go well? Not all the time but even half the time would be acceptable. Just give me a reason to think this is worth it. That's all I'm saying. Because so far, this has not been worth it.

It's been another bad day and for the first time in years, I am having the urge to write again and just get my feelings down... even if no one is listening.

I am in such a bad place right now and as the evening goes on, I find myself panicking as people say goodnight and go to bed. I chat on and off through text messages to two offline people and a few online people, mostly because no one seems to have the time to pick up a phone or meet in person these days. I would prefer that, always, but people have their excuses and they are satisfied with messaging, I guess. So I just deal with the only form of communication people are willing to give me. And as they all go to bed, my anxiety kicks in because I will then be completely alone. Again. While I have been off work, my sleep schedule is a bit later. Sometimes I wish I could go to bed at eight before anyone else does, but my body refuses no matter how exhausted I am. Insomnia takes over sometimes. Even if I have felt like garbage all day, it seems even worse in the dark of night when all is quiet. It seems menacing, even. I remember when the dark was my friend. Everyone used to call my bedroom a "cave." Aside from the glow of a monitor and some string lights, it was always pitch black and I loved it. Now? Dark terrifies me. It signals my mind to go a mile a minute and delve into places it will not dare go during daylight. Strange how things change.

It was especially upsetting today because though my relationship with my father has been so much better the last few years that we have not been living together, we got in an argument today that brought back all those memories of never feeling like enough, never feeling he was proud of me and never comforting me the way a father should when his daughter is feeling bad. I have absolutely no idea why (WHY WHY WHY), but he asked me how much debt I had during a phone call and I answered him honestly. Each and every time he has asked me before, I have told him it is none of his business. And it is not his business. But for some reason, I lost my fucking mind and I answered him this time. Part of me thinks it was because I wanted to feel like I could tell him and trust him not flip out after how far we have come with our relationship. The other part of me thinks I am just that far gone right now and was not even thinking about what I was saying. Well, he did flip out, and he managed to make me feel just as small as he did when I was growing up. I felt defeated. I got off the phone and just cried for an hour. The debt was accumulated when I was in university and because I had shitty, low paying jobs out of university and then kept being laid off, it was the only way I could survive because my father was not exactly someone you asked for money. He did help with my tuition my second year (my first year was paid via scholarship), but the rest was up to me and I am still paying those loans. The debt was no shopping spree, believe me. It was for school books, a laptop I needed for school, surviving while I was in bouts of unemployment. The job I had while in university was minimum wage and only part time because I was doing a double major. I have not touched a credit card in years; I have just been paying the minimum balance because since then I have lived paycheck-to-paycheck, especially when I moved out and suddenly had to pay 100% of the bills. You cannot pay off debt when you are living that way. Now my father got a job right out of high school in his first year of college, and he left college to pursue that career and ended up working there until he retired. Lucky him. In my generation, no one will keep the same job until retirement. That is unheard of. He also made a lot of money and just cannot fathom someone who only gets by. He is so used to living comfortably that he thinks debt is something only morons accumulate. And that is how he made me feel: like a moron he was completely disappointed in. Again. In all honesty, it is not even that bad. Most people I know have far more debt than me. But yes, it will take me many years to pay off if I do not obtain a job that pays more than my last one and if I continue to live alone. (Marriage solves a whole lot of problems, doesn't it?) His lack of empathy and understanding really disappointed me, and I was honestly ashamed even though I know, deep down, I did what I had to do at the time and it was not me being frivolous or stupid.

Three years ago, when I was truly suffering and barely able to drag myself into work each day, I decided to go back on anti-depressants. Anyone who has been on them will know and understand that they do not make you feel "better," just numb. It is simply a Band-Aid that, if pulled off, will reveal the wound exactly as it was before. There seems to be this misconception that they make you feel great and positive. They do not. They simply take away the emotional extremes, which includes extreme happiness. You don't feel happiness on meds. They do not make you feel better; they make you feel nothing. The last thing I want to do is go back on them again, but tonight seemed to be the last straw for me and I thought about going back to my doctor this week and telling him I want to go back on them again. I feel like even my best friend does not want to deal with me anymore, as she never seems to want to call even on days where I am sending messages that even scare me. Even in person, I am trying to talk about something and the subject somehow gets changed. The only other 'friend' I have right now is on a streak of letting me down and never being there when I need him. He just forgets that I exist and then one day I hear from him again and he acts like he never disappeared. Beyond that, I really have no support system. I feel like that combined with the fact that I am struggling to find a job before my insurance runs out in a few months and all the financial struggles that come along with trying to survive on literally half your salary make this my only option right now. Maybe it is better to feel nothing right now. Maybe that is what I need. I have no idea. I know I don't want to do it but I feel like I am running out of options as I feel more and more crippled by my situation and the lack of love and support.

I have no idea what I will do. I guess I should just make an appointment and talk to my doctor about it. I suppose I can make a decision at a later point if I so choose.

I thought about something tonight that I have not thought about in a long time. Since I have been struggling with depression my entire life, even as a kid, I remember there being days where I would just shut the door to my bedroom and cry as quietly as I could so my father could not hear. I couldn't talk to my father. We had such a terrible relationship and he was so emotionally detached and cold. I never, ever felt like I could open up to him. So I would go into my room and just have these breakdowns where I would cry for hours until my eyes were swollen, my throat was sore and I could barely breathe. Back then, I had not been on medication and sometimes I felt like the crying would never stop. And I remember a few times throwing myself on to my knees and getting into a prayer position at the side of my bed, closing my eyes and whispering in the most desperate voice, tears streaming down my cheeks... not to God, because I was never religious, but my mother. I told her I knew it was not her fault but why, oh why, did she have to leave me with this person who did not even love me. I remember praying to her and asking if she could please make my life better and make everything stop hurting. Even back then I knew how silly it was, but I did it anyway on my worst days.

The reason I remembered this tonight is because I felt like doing it. I was thinking about how much pain I have been in the last five years, everything I have gone through, and it all just felt like too much. I also thought about how strong I have been and how much I have pushed through. I keep wondering why it all has to be so hard, even as a full grown adult. I just felt like talking to her again like I used to. I even used to write her letters hoping there would be some sign in the morning that she had read them. I know my mother cannot help me. It is such a silly notion. I just wish she was still here during these times because of all people, I know I would see her face more than her back.

I wish I felt better after writing this but I do not think I do. Oh, well. I am sure it somehow worked some magic inside of me like it used to. I still see writing as the reason I got through everything I did back then. It was the only therapy that ever worked. Maybe if I keep writing it will become that cathartic again?

God, I am so depressing.
carnivalnights: (qaf: i love you)
For the last two years, I have been single for the first time in twelve years and, for the most part, enjoying it. I was devastated after my break-up and went into a deep depression. But after living on my own for the first time I have found there are a lot of upsides to being alone and having space to myself, especially since the break-up forced me to pay more attention to myself and work on getting the things I needed in life. This has given me the chance to lose 50lbs and work on so many other areas of myself that I neglected while looking after so many other people first. However, I have found these positives are put on hold when I look around and realize, hey, I am the last one to settle down. What about my happy ending?

Most everyone in my circle is married. And if they're not married, they're engaged. I don't even know any single people anymore. Most of them already have children too, the majority more than one. The irony is that everyone always thought I would be one of the first to settle down because I have always been in long-term relationships and very much in love with and dedicated to my boyfriends. Even the friends who laughed in the face of marriage are now married. And I'm still here. Alone. Nowhere near engagement or settling down.

Recently, I found out my most recent ex moved in with and got engaged to the woman he started dating after me. Now, my ex and I talked about marriage in our relationship more than any other relationship I had been in before, and I truly thought that he was the one. I was convinced we were going to get engaged shortly after he moved in (at least that was the plan). The funny part is, this is the third ex in a row to get married to the next woman he dated. It seems I have just become everyone's layover on the way to real happiness. Some kind of stand-in. A placeholder. And let me tell you, it does not feel very good. A handful of months before my ex got engaged, I lost my job. I was laid off and I am actually still unemployed struggling to find a job, despite a double major honours degree and despite several years of experience in my industry - cliché, I know. I guess hearing the news that he also recently got a promotion to the exact job title I desire did not sit well with me for obvious reasons... and my second last ex also got promoted shortly after we broke up as well. It is unfair. And yes, I know, life is not fair. But why this amount of salt in the wound? Why are the last three people I dated happily married/engaged, living with their "soulmates," being promoted left and right... and I am here? I don't understand.

I feel like a brat complaining about this sort of thing because I know tons of other people are in this position, either looking for work or unhappy with their love life. I just feel very undesirable - to men and employers. And when I even suggest it could be me, of course my best friend says no, it's not you, it's them. But is it? When everyone else is married, and I am the only single one left, of course I have to wonder why. I know I am a good girlfriend. Even during break-ups, that has never seemed to be in question. I am not perfect by any means but neither is anyone else and they still have people who love them. I just keep wondering what could possibly be so repulsive about me that I am not worthy of the same.

I'm hoping this will all pass and I suddenly won't care anymore, but I know that is wishful thinking. I am just so tired of being everyone's layover instead of their direct flight.
I thought today was an important entry day because it is, hopefully, the start of a new journey for me. If all goes well, the journal will last beyond this month.

Yesterday, I started a 28-day teatox (Your Tea). I have never done a detox of any kind before, let alone a teatox. I had been scouring the Internet for a few months trying to find the one that best suited me, and I had no idea how popular teatoxes had become so there were plenty to choose from. I followed Your Tea's Instagram feed and saw a lot of people posting their results, and I was quite impressed. I had a few other teatoxes in mind but this one stood out the most. I also read that it was the only herbal cleanse on the market that does not produce a "laxative effect" (because - no, thanks). Your Tea is heavily based on Chinese medicine, both in terms of herbs and Chinese medicinal principles. The tea I am on, Tiny Tea, is specifically for weight loss and meant to cleanse the digestive system, reduce bloating, improving skin clarity and increase energy levels. So I finally bit the bullet a couple weeks ago and ordered the box of tea, intending to start September 1st, which I did.

I have to drink the tea three times a day, 30 minutes before each meal. Despite my love of tea, I was a bit scared about the amount I had to drink (on top of my daily liters of water) and that it would taste horrible. I admit, I am a bit of a tea elitist. I only drink fancy teas, usually only loose leaf tea, predominantly David's Tea. Bring orange pekoe near me and I will scoff at you. To my surprise, Tiny Tea does not taste like much of anything at all. It is an even lighter taste than orange pekoe and there is nothing repulsive about it. So I was definitely happy about that. I have not had a problem the last two days "scheduling" my teas, but I am wary that it will become a problem at work when things are less in my control (e.g. last-minute meetings, taking my lunch late due to a deadline, etc.). If you not eat close to your consumption of the tea, you start to feel sick (or at least I did). So regardless of my self-discipline, I am a bit worried work will try and knock me off track. I am so determined to do this perfectly though. I really, really want to do this successfully and follow the instructions properly. I even have daily reminders 30 minutes before breakfast and 30 minutes before lunch in my Outlook calendar so that I know when to brew. I need to stop worrying so much about the possible obstacles, I know, but I can't help it.

On top of the teatox, I have started a new exercise routine. The teatox works best when combined with exercise, which is common sense, but I have needed to start working out for a very long time. The last time I actually worked out consistently, and had an actual routine, was an embarrassing amount of years ago. For the last year, I have been threatening myself and trying everything to get motivated to do this but nothing has worked. I have spent several counseling sessions just whining about my lack of motivation and the confusion about this "plan" being in my head but being completely unable to execute it in any real way. I have plenty at my disposal: I have spent hundreds of dollars on every Xbox Kinect workout game in existence (Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, EA Sports Active, Nike, Adidas, Zumba, UFC, yoga). I am not a gym person by any means, so I choose to workout at home. I've had all these workouts for months, some of them years, all still in the cellophane. No matter how many times I swore to myself I would start, I never did.

Until today, that is.

Yes, essentially today was my first workout in years and yes, I almost died. I am heinously out of shape. I am starting with 30 minutes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Eventually - and who knows how long it will take - I want to get to 60 minute routines. But every warned me, don't overdo it or you'll hate it and won't want to continue. I listened! If there is one thing I have learned the importance of over the last year or so, it's baby steps. And every step counts, even if you go backwards and forward again - it all counts. I am going to start small no matter how embarrassing it is. I am a pretty big fan of boxing for fitness so I have started with that (yes, you can imagine me punching the air in the middle of my living room like a dumbass, it's okay). The routine is good cardio and will shed fat long before it starts building muscle, which is what I need. I have a lot of "fun" things that aren't even supposed to be workouts but actually are, for me, like certain activities in Kinect Sports (seriously, that table tennis can get intense). So I am sure I can keep myself occupied with various activities without getting bored. My main concern is just keeping it fun and manageable. I don't really care how I'm moving or what I'm doing - just that I'm moving or doing anything at all. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not competing against anyone and this is just for me. Eventually, when it comes to the boxing, I want actual equipment. I want to buy a freestanding heavy bag and boxing gloves. Pink ones! I really need proper workout clothing though. This much I have learned after day two. Must buy, next paycheque.

So there you have it. My epic plan. It's not really epic to anyone else, but it's epic to me and that's what matters. This could potentially change my life if I actually stick with it this time and I think I may finally be in the place for that. I wasn't strong enough earlier this year, but I might be now.
Sometimes I still feel so invisible. And it almost feels like the only purpose I serve when I am visible is as someone's punching bag. It seems like a harsh analogy, but it almost feels like I don't know how to swim and I'm flailing around in the water, trying to come up for air. I finally surface but someone is standing over me, trying to push my head back under. It doesn't matter what I do or where I choose to surface - there is always someone there trying to push me back under or push me into the currant. It could be my father. It could be a friend. It could be a boyfriend. It could be a near stranger, like it was today.

Do you believe in reincarnation? I feel like I must have been a horrible person in my last life and that this life is my punishment. That seems dramatic, but I feel like I attract everything I hate: drama, anger, fights, opposition. Completed enraged people who want to take their anger out on me. People with addictions who cling to me for help then throw it back in my face. People who lie, cheat and steal. People who want to cheat on their wives with me. People who have absolutely no class. People who just want someone to pick a fight with. I am a very relaxed, calm person. Exes have been infuriated by it when I sit there calmly during an argument, speaking in my normal tone and being rational. They want me to get upset, but that is just not who I am. I am not a fighter, and I choose my battles carefully. To me, if it does not affect me tomorrow, I should not care about it today. Forgive and forget; just one is lethal. I have forgiven the most brute people simply because anger is too heavy to carry.

But there are times when the negative comments and the painful words build up and up until I have trouble breathing. I am a strong woman. I know this much. But I am not invincible and I cannot ignore absolutely everything. I cannot ignore the hostile words of someone who was outraged after only two weeks of speaking to me because I couldn't be what he wanted me to be to him. I cannot ignore the presumptuous and harsh words of a long-time friend who seems to make a hobby out of obsessing over my appearance, my diet, my life choices. I cannot ignore the rash decision of my best male friend in the world who ended out friendship last week and wasn't even going to bother to tell me why. I cannot ignore the accusations and abrupt arguments of an on-again-off-again friend who really only lives to serve themselves and their own needs. And I cannot ignore the lies of the friend I thought I was close to who keeps saying they are too busy for me. It all becomes too much. Too much to keep suppressing. And it’s too many to keep cutting out of my life. Why must it be this way? I always end up feeling so alone.

I do my best to be there for everyone in my life. I do my best to put positive vibes out into the world. I send a group of co-workers a funny photo every day just to make them smile and I created a "happy board" for everyone to post things on. I text happy things to people when they are in a bad mood. I try to stay calm in stressful situations so that others around me will hopefully benefit. I listen, I am supportive, I am understanding whenever someone has a problem. I am loyal to a fault and will never leave or betray a friend; if you so choose, I will be a friend for life. I don't know what it is I am doing that leads me to being met with such hostility from so many different people.

I'm starting to think the universe does not believe me when I am screaming here on earth that I just want to be happy and be surrounded by other happy, loving people...
Sometimes I forget just how far I have come. It always takes a certain person or a certain circumstance to remind me that I am too hard on myself. Every once in a while, we all need a good wake-up call.

Last weekend, my best friend, Alisha, was over for several hours. Near the end of the evening she said, "You know, you've been doing that all night." I raised an eyebrow. "Doing what?" I asked, genuinely confused. "Putting yourself down." I just stared at her, my mouth slightly agape, pondering. My initial reaction was to tell her no, that's not true. I don't know why I felt I should deny it. I suppose because that's a terrible thing to do to yourself and I didn't want to be guilty of it. Had I really? She stared back at me, knowing I was trying to place each negative comment. "Yes, you have," answering what I was not saying, "You've done it every time you've seen an opening." It was painful to hear, but I knew she was right. I had been putting down my physical appearance and I had been calling myself emotionally weak. And I don't know why I was doing it because, growing up, I did it to myself so that other people wouldn't have to do it for me. The defense mechanism had been 'make fun of yourself so that others don't have to.' And actually, it worked for quite some time. But as an adult, and sitting in a room with my best friend and one of my only friends, who exactly was I protecting myself from now? Was I that bruised from what has happened to me that I still feel the need to put those defenses up even when there is no need? Do I do it just as a precaution?

All week, I thought about what Alisha had said. I thought about where I was just a year ago, completely devastated for the third time by the same man, the man I was so sure I was going to marry. I thought about two years ago when everything started going downhill, right after the second break-up with him. Though it was not all solely caused by him, he was the trigger for my decline. He was the cause but not the effect. Depression had been laying dormant in me for a while, as it has most of my life. It just took an instance of severe trauma to awaken it again. At the time, I was just moving out on my own for the very first time. Or actually, I was taking over the lease and my father was the one moving out. I had just started a new job after a long bout of unemployment. Suddenly, I was entirely responsible for a new apartment, all the finances, getting up on ladders to change light bulbs. It was scary. There were a lot of very big changes happening and suddenly, I felt like I had no anchor. My father was suddenly gone and the apartment was quiet, more quiet than I thought it would be, and more lonely than I thought it would be. You don't realize how comforting it is just knowing someone is in another room, even if you're not talking to them. I was supposed to be moving in with that man in a month's time but I came home one day and everything was gone. There were no warning signs. He just moved out. It was the end of my most beloved relationship and a fifteen-year friendship. And I felt very, very deserted. By everyone.

I thought about the intense anxiety I had pushed through after the depression hit, how I was wasting hundreds of dollars every month on cabs just to get to work because, for whatever reason, I had experienced so much trauma that my social anxiety had come back with a vengeance and I could not face public transit without crying and hyperventilating. Cabs were the only way I could convince myself to go to work. Convincing myself to get out of bed was even worse. Of course, I could only afford a cab half the way, to the subway, essentially just skipping half an hour on a bus. And the subway was just as bad as the bus. On my way home, my sunglasses would be permanently glued to my face as I sat in my subway seat crying behind them, trying to do breathing exercises in a way I hoped no one would notice. Some days I would just have to get off at a random stop because I felt like I was dying, unable to catch my breath or just about to go over the edge. I would panic if anyone touched me. I was so confused why that started to happen but it did. If anyone so much as brushed my shoulder (and on the TTC, that is an inevitability because it is practically like Tokyo here now), I would whip around and back away. And on the rare days, I would stand closer to the edge of the subway platform and wonder if I would ever get the courage to jump. It scared me. It always scared me that my mind could go to a place that dark.

It also didn't help that I thought I saw my ex everywhere even though I knew his workplace was in the opposite direction. I was so terrified to run into him and I had no idea why. He lived only five minutes away, so I avoided any and all places I could possibly run into him. I bought everything online and had it delivered to my work just to avoid our shared stores and post office. It didn't help that everything in my apartment reminded me of him because even though he had not officially moved in, he was practically living there, especially after his mother passed away just over a year into our relationship. Then, during the last six months we were together, he lost his job and we were both unemployed together. He spent all day here job hunting with me. I had to wake up in the same bed we woke up in together every morning. It made me sick. I wanted to get rid of it.

I was having intense panic attacks again. It had been so many years since I had had one and I was so sure I would never have to experience them again because they had landed me in the hospital before and I swore to myself I would never let it get to that point again. But sure enough, they returned and they didn't even need a trigger. I would be sitting on the couch, watching TV, and one would hit. I would be flailing my arms and grabbing on to furniture, trying to catch my breath, desperately trying to breathe into paper bags because I had seen that in a movie once and it seemed to work. I couldn't even call anyone when this was happening. I was too ashamed and, more to the point, could not catch my breath long enough to talk. I gasped and gasped to the point where I was choking and coughing, ready to call an ambulance so many times. Panicking about panicking, let me tell you, is never a good idea. You are supposed to just accept the fact that you are having a panic attack, instead of trying to fight it, and stay still. Me? I flip out. I can't breathe and think I am either going to pass out or die, so I panic some more. It was awful. And it happened almost every day for months on end, varying in severity.

As depression goes, fatigue became my identity. Many nights, I would get home from work, get into pajamas and go to bed. Most nights, I would sleep at around seven o'clock, an hour or so after getting home. There was a point, right after the break-up, where I did not eat for two full weeks. I had no idea that was even possible to do, but it is because I survived. I drank water and tea but could not stomach any food. It made me deathly ill. That is very typical for me though. Thankfully, I am not an emotional eater. But no better, I lose my appetite completely. It took about a month of slight food intake here and there before I could actually eat a whole meal again. Unfortunately, I started to gain weight after that and I got depressed about that too. It was all a vicious cycle and I could not seem to escape any bad part of it. It was all coming at me at once. And this fatigue... it consumed me. I could not function. I have no idea how I even got to work every day. I guess because it was my livelihood I had no choice, but looking back, and even at the time, I had no idea how I did it because I was just exhausted. Every day. I felt like the life had been sucked out of me. I felt completely drained. I didn't want to do anything, ever. I couldn't even clean my apartment. Laundry went weeks without being done because I didn't want to leave my apartment, even just to go downstairs. When I did finally do it, I looked like a spy, peeping out into my hallway before I left to make sure I wouldn't run into anyone, peeking into the laundry room to make sure I was the only one there even though I purposely did it during odd hours and practically ran from place to place in order to avoid any other human beings. When I got stuck in the elevator with one, I would quietly seethe and panic, as if they had no right to be there. It was ridiculous. I was barely talking to anyone I knew, not even my family. I sat, alone, in my apartment for almost a year doing nothing but going to work, coming home, and going to bed.

My most beloved hobby, gaming, was poisoned. That is what we did together, my ex and I. It was 'our thing.' I had been a gamer before him, of course, but I could not bring myself to be a gamer after him. My Xbox collected dust for months. I didn't even turn it on. Just the sight of it made me sick to my stomach. About six months later, I did turn it on but only for Netflix. I still could not bring myself to game. A year later, I attempted PC gaming, in the hopes that switching the medium would help. And it did, a little, over time.

The only other solace I had? My cats. My best buds. My furbabies. I don't know what I would have done without them. Unfortunately, this past December, one of them died. Shadow. 15 years, half my lifetime, and he died. And it was a terrible year of illness and pills and fighting. Shadow got the worst kind of feline cancer you can get. They removed the lump and they said everything was clear, but then he developed pancreatitis, deadly in felines. We tried everything. Thousands of dollars worth of medications, pills. Endless vet visits. Trying to give him these pills while he fought and fought, with me crying and trying to explain to him I'm trying to help him. I went broke trying to save him. I went broke and I was broken. I couldn't stand to watch it. I couldn't take all the bad news. Even the good news turned out to just be the calm before the storm. At some point, and it was quite far in, I knew the vets were simply allowing me to prolong his life and knew he was going to die. They wouldn't tell me that though. But I knew. He stopped eating for weeks on end and he was rapidly losing weight. The vets were so alarmed saying they had never seen a cat lose that much weight that quickly. I was panicking more and more each day, not knowing whether to put him down or let him keep fighting because he obviously was... and I swear he was doing it for me because he knew I couldn't take any more loss. (Ironically, this is the first instance of tears as I have been writing this. I'm sorry, Shadow. Mommy misses you so much still.)

Eventually, it was time. It was a few days after Christmas. On his last day, he couldn't even walk anymore. I had decided I was going to take him to be put down the next day. Only I didn't have to do that, which I also thought he purposely saved me from doing because he knew it would kill me too. In the middle of the night, Shadow woke me up by using the last bit of strength he had to claw at the couch. He had been sleeping in his vet crate with the top off because I wanted to prevent him from trying to walk, so I put the crate right beside the couch and slept there, feeling like I was close enough to him to keep an eye on him. So he clawed and meowed and I was so confused. It seemed like he wanted me to pick him up and I had no idea why; he hadn't let me pick him up in years. He always squirmed. But he definitely wanted up this time, so I grabbed him and put him on my chest and I won't even describe the rest because it was the most awful, most heartbreaking experience of my entire life. It even beat out the break-up. In the middle of it all I remember sobbing uncontrollably and saying, 'I am so sorry, Shadow! I am so sorry!' I felt so helpless because I knew there was nothing I could do. Shadow died in my arms a few minutes later. I cried and I sobbed so hard I thought I was going to choke to death. I held him for four hours. I couldn't let him go. Shadow still in my arms, I managed to grab my phone and I called my dad. He knew, of course, before I even said anything because it was three in the morning. He asked me if I wanted him to come down, and even though he was almost an hour away, he did. When he got there, I still couldn't put Shadow down. I just kept petting him and crying. Eventually, I let my dad take him from me and put him back in the crate. He was so stiff. It was so awful. I reverted right back to a childlike state and asked my dad to sleep over, something I would never have done under any normal circumstances. I have been haunted by it ever since. I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that I was going to take him to be put down the next day. It's like he knew. It's like he wanted to go here, with me, rather than in some strange, clinical environment. And in the end, he was where he should have been when he died: in the arms of the person who loved him the most on this entire planet. I am grateful every day that it was just the two of us, in the place he grew up, in the arms of his loving owner, in the quiet of the early morning while everyone else was asleep and the earth was still. It was bittersweet. And it was definitely not how I wanted to start my 2014. On New Year's Eve, I hid. I went to bed before midnight and pretended it wasn't happening. I shut down and I hid because I did not want to ring in a new year. I wasn't even finished being traumatized by the old one.

That wasn't my first experience with cancer in the last couple years. My ex's mom... that's what she had died from just a year earlier. She had a very severe cancer and I grew very close to her. At the time, my ex had his job still and I was unemployed so I offered to take her to all of her hospital appointments, waiting for hours until the chemo was finished, and pushing her in her wheelchair to get groceries or get her medications. I spent hours every week with her, just talking and keeping her company. We really bonded because we had a lot in common, much more than just her son. She told me I needed to take care of him, and I promised her I would, always. Her death was the hardest thing my ex and I had to get through together. He is an only child and his father had left before he was born, and his mother was his world. It tore him apart. The fact that he had been struggling with alcoholism only made things worse. I was terrified. I did everything in my power to help him. I helped plan the entire funeral. I got the music together. I prepared a speech. I never left his side. It was so hard for the both of us, in every way. She was the first woman I almost called 'Mom.' After losing my own mother when I was two, she was closest thing I had to a mother. My ex and I used to call her Momma Bear because she always worried about the both of us, endlessly, even when she started to get really ill.

Eventually, the hospice worker told her that she needed to check into the hospital. They never told us these would be her last weeks, but eventually, we knew. My ex and I visited her in the hospital every day for a month. Every day. We watched her decline and hallucinate. It was so, so terrible. He cried. I cried. But never in front of her. At Christmas, we cooked an entire feast and brought it to the hospital. We cooked for an entire day. We cooked a huge turkey breast, I made my special stuffing, he made some special Polish recipes that they ate every holiday season. We were so excited. But when we got there, she couldn't eat. Eating made her nauseated most days. I had a lump in my throat knowing this was probably the last Christmas we would ever get to spend with her and it was in a sterile hospital, and she couldn't even keep food down. One by one, other patients were disappearing from her room. During her last days she was moved to another room, and I was frank with the nurse one day when my ex was not around. I asked her to please just tell me how long she had left. I know it is against policy to tell people that and she could get into a lot of trouble, but she could see the pain and panic in my eyes and so she looked at me, heavy-hearted, and said quietly, "A few days." I walked down the hall toward her room and I felt the tears coming. How was I going to tell him? I had to tell him. I had to let him do whatever he needed to do before it was too late. As soon as I walked into the room, I burst out crying. I keeled over and almost fell on the floor. He grabbed me asked what was wrong. I told him we needed to go outside. We went outside the hospital in a small area, but there were lots of other people milling about and I was scared because I didn't know what he would do. I could tell he already knew. Soon he was clinging to me so hard it actually hurt, burying his face into my shoulder and crying so hard and so loud that it actually shocked me because I have never heard anyone cry like that before, not even myself. It didn't matter that people were probably staring. We were at a hospital. They knew why. I held him for about thirty minutes there, not saying a word because nothing - nothing - I could have said would have helped. He took my hand and we walked back upstairs to her room. He spent the night there with her, sleeping in the chair next to her.

The funeral was beautiful. We had arranged it all ourselves. We did our speeches. Mine made my dad cry and hug me. That is the first time since I was a kid I had seen my dad cry, and it was the first time he had hugged me in about fifteen years. I couldn't believe it. He told me my speech was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard. A small part of me wondered if it was so heartbreaking because I would have said similar things about my mother if I had been old enough to speak at her funeral. It didn't help that my ex's mother was being buried in the exact same cemetery as my own mother. What were the chances? We'd both be going to visit our mothers on Mother's Day... in the same cemetery. It was bizarre, to say the least, and it brought my ex and I closer together at the time. It was less than a year later that my aunt, a strong, healthy, athletic woman, was diagnosed with breast cancer. 'Oh, come ON,' I thought. I prepped myself for yet another long haul. It was as close to home as the last experience, only this time I was severely worried about my grandmother, also a breast cancer survivor and also in poor health at the time, and her being able to handle it too. My aunt had both her breasts removed and she then had reconstructive surgery. It was the only way she felt 'safe' from it coming back. She wasn't taking the chance, and I completely understood her decision even though a lot of people were shocked. The pain she was in and the side effects from the pills... it was awful. It's still awful even today. I tried to be there for her as much as I could. Thankfully, she recovered and has been in remission.

So much loss. From 2012-2014 there was so much loss. So many endings. So many close calls. So many painful situations and terrible thoughts. A lot of my friendships had fallen away too, but I think I have delved into enough this evening! Just like old times, me writing novellas instead of entries. I can't say I have fully recovered from all of the above. I haven't. But I think the cleansing part of this entry has been that those things are over now. I'm working toward recovery. I've been in counseling, trying to work through things and somehow gain my strength back. Alisha reminded me that I need to stop beating myself up for things beyond my control, or for things within my control that any human being would struggle with at any time. I'm allowed to fall apart. I'm allowed to cry. I'm allowed to have bad days. I'm allowed to stumble back and stumble forward again. Grief and recovery are not linear. That is the most important lesson I have taken away from this. And everyone requires different things to feel better. For some it may be going out all the time. For me, it was just being with myself. It has been painful and lonely, but it has been what I needed. I needed to learn to love myself again. Forgive myself. Forgive everyone else too because walking around with anger is too hard, too heavy. I started reading up on Buddhism, mindfulness and meditation. It has sometimes helped me get through the day. I sometimes wrote in an offline journal, which also helped. And now here I am, still standing. Somehow.

I'm still not where I want to be, but that's not important. What's important is that I'm not where I was.
I thought seriously about starting up my LiveJournal again today, after briefly discussing it with a friend. No one is really left here though. It's a bit depressing. I come here and watch the tumbleweeds, so desolate compared to the early 2000s when this was THEE place to write and make online friends. I still keep in touch with many of them over on Facebook now, but actual journal-writing seems like a lost art these days. People keep blogs, sure, but I always felt this place was different... more intimate, more dark, more open. This was the place to really be honest. Or at least, that's the way it was for me and the people I knew on LJ.

There are always new friends to make, I suppose. Perhaps it is time to do some rooting around and see if I can find any like-minded souls...

Okay, so here is what I am learning: I give too much. I expect too much. And I am horribly bad at friendships because of it.

Something tonight just 'clicked' for me while I was talking to a 'friend' of mine. This person does not know me incredibly well, and that is actually a good thing in this case. The 'click' I heard was the maximum number of people saying something until I finally believed it. I have had so many people tell me that I expect too much from friends and that is why I always feel lonely or like people are not really my friends. Family has said this, friends have said this, my ex has said this. And now I am thinking it must be true. I admit that the amount I talk to someone indicates the level of friendship I feel with them (with offline friends). (Online friends are different and will not even be mentioned here. Expectations are different. I can somehow feel close to an online friend I do not talk to every day, perhaps because conversations are longer and more honest via e-mail or IM. For whatever reason, I do not take issue with online friends unless I truly feel the friendship dwindling.) If I talk to someone once a week, that is a decent friendship to me. If I talk to them more than once a week, that is a close friend. If I talk to them every few months, that is an acquaintance. I have been told this is wrong and that I should not expect to talk within certain timeframes. Unfortunately, this is always how I have been and I will likely never be able to talk myself into thinking differently.

I had this friend tonight tell me, as I have had other people tell me, that you can remain close while not talking often. I have no idea how to do this and I do not really want that in my life. If that person has the ability to call me and hang out with me, why are they not taking advantage of that? I am told that I have to accept this as being the way things are. I feel like if someone cannot make time for me, they are not really a friend. I know people get busy, of course, and that is fine. But should you not be talking to these people regularly in order to remain 'close'? How are you close with someone you only talk to every few months? Imagine being in a relationship where you only talked and saw each other every few months? That would be hell and eventually, one or both people would tire of it. (I say this based on experiences with long-distance relationships. They never work.) I just do not know how to equate 'closeness' with 'talking every few months.' To me, that is not a good friendship. That is more like an acquaintanceship. Time, unfortunately, matters when you do not have consistency with people in your life. Time does not matter to everyone, but it matters to me.

The second part to that is... yes, the type of conversations are also indicative of how close I consider myself to that person. If we discuss superficial things like work and movies, they can be a friend but not a close friend. If we discuss personal issues, self-esteem, relationships and things of this nature, I would consider that person a close friend. Typically, I do not have those discussions with people who drift in and out of my life (I term these as "acquaintances"). I have never felt like someone I discussed those superficial things with has been a close friend, even if we talked about those superficial things every day. Close friends open up to each other about their feelings and are able to have friendly debates or intellectual discussions. Close friends are able to be vulnerable with each other and discuss personal flaws they would not discuss with just anyone. There is some sort of line, I feel, between an acquaintance and a close friend in that respect. I do not discuss personal relationship issues (if I am in one) with an acquaintance, for example.

So yes, the way I define a good friendship is two-fold: intervals of communication and topics of discussion. Obviously, included in topics of discussion would be having that person care enough to listen when I am having problem or offering me help when I need it. This would include me being able to be there for them in times of need as well. In other words, the person is around often enough to know when you are going through a rough time and need some extra support. I would call this a third point, but it should be a given. A close friend should be there for you, and you should be there for a close friend... any time possible.

I am told, time and time again, this is all wrong. I have been told by friends and exes that I should not expect anything from anyone. I love how I am called a cynic by so many people, and yet I seem to have the most optimistic (and I am told stupid) outlook on friendship. I believe you can have a friend for life. I believe that you can connect with someone so strongly that you are able to overcome every bumpy road and every challenge the friendship faces. I do. I also believe, even if not from experience, that a couple in love can get through anything together and survive a lifetime (or close to a lifetime) together. I believe that type of love exists. In fact, I thought I found it once and it was the most earth-shattering thing to admit it was obviously not it. I just believe in these things. And people keep telling me I am so foolish and that I expect too much. Why? I think I see other people have these friendships. I feel I have them for certain periods of time. I feel I have been really, really close to people for a long time... and then it usually ends terribly with them completely betraying me in some way. I am never the one to let go first, and maybe that says something about my determination... or something about my foolish optimism.

This is just making me more and more depressed, all of these people telling me that what I want and what I (believe I) need does not exist. I am starting to believe them though. Tonight, as I said, I felt like, 'Okay, this is the x person to tell me this. This is obviously reality and I am the one who is wrong.' But I mean, really? I just want someone I can share everything with, someone I am not afraid or embarrassed to talk to about anything. I want someone I can talk to on the phone or hang out with and have it be equally as meaningful. I do not want someone who is dependent on me, but I want someone who feels like they need me or at least really want me in their life. Is this so weird? I think I see it all the time. I feel like so many people have those friendships. In fact, I feel like the majority of people have someone like this in their life. Am I wrong? Am I watching too much Sex and the City? I joke about that, but in all honestly, that is sort of what I am looking for in a friendship. I want people I talk to every day or every other day... or at least weekly. Is that honestly bizarre? Is there something wrong with me for wanting that?

Everyone has told me that I need to change my outlook. Everyone has said I expect too much. Am I? I want to know the answer. I want to know if there are friends out there who talk every day and are very close and share everything with each other. I want to know if this is some fantasy I have made up in my head or if I actually did witness people having these types of friendships in life. You read about them, at the very least, these people who have been friends for years and years and still do a weekly brunch... or still maintain some sort of ritual that they do every year or every month. Friends who know each other's families. Friends who will offer you honest advice. Friends who will be there when you really need support. I feel like this does exist. But everyone keeps telling me to get my head out of the clouds.

Has this caused a strain on current friendships? Absolutely. Has it caused a strain in new friendships I have built this year? Yes. I have had friends scream at me for complaining. I do not consider myself 'needy.' I would never describe myself that way. But when I go without hearing from someone I consider myself close to for weeks, I will ask them what gives. If it is someone I have known for a long time, I can be a little abrasive about it, which I know is wrong. But yes, I have confronted friends I feel I do not speak to enough or ones where I feel the conversations are getting into 'neutral' territory. For example, I recently had a friend I was very close to for almost a year. All of a sudden, he stopped telling about anything personal going on with his life or expressing any feelings that could make him vulnerable in any way. All we talked about, suddenly, were superficial things like movies or video games. When something was wrong, it was like pulling teeth trying to get it out of him. There was this drastic change and I confronted him about it, angry and upset, asking if I had done something wrong. I cannot stand people that I am close to cutting me off or the contact suddenly dwindling for no apparent reason. Let's say for example a close friend has a baby. Would I be understanding if that person suddenly talked to me less? Yes. It is when there is no real reason for a drop in contact or personal conversations that I get upset. Back to the friend above, I had no idea how to handle it. At that point, I just kind of felt the friendship was over. Or at least, the close friendship was over and we had moved into acquaintanceship territory, so certain things were off limits. Again, I was left devastated. This always happens to me. Once in a while, I will get what I need out of a friendship... but then I lose it for either no real reason or a bad reason, like the friend betraying me.

I seem to spend a lot of time trying to define my friendships with people, and this is likely because I do not know what is okay and what is not when people do not draw me a line in the sand. If I only talk to someone once every few months, do they even care about something that happened to me a month ago? When I have a "close friend," I do not have to worry about that. We catch up all the time, so of course I am going to be telling that friend what happened. I will likely talk to that "close friend" the same day or a few days later. It only makes sense to tell them. Not only do a spend a lot of time defining my friendships, but I spend a lot of time trying to turn them into what I want. I do not do this in a selfish way, but I just assume certain things will happen when things are going well. Like, if I am having great conversations on the phone with someone, I assume we will likely hang out somewhere in person. And this is where all the disappointment comes in. No one can ever tell me flat out that they do not want 'that' type of friendship with me. I suppose people think I will get really upset, or perhaps they are lying and trying to spare my feelings. Once I start trying to turn the friendship into this, things start going terribly wrong. 'What's wrong with not talking for a few days?' they will ask. At that time, it seems like "nothing" would be a good answer. But in reality, it bothers me. Why not? Why can we not that often? Is there something wrong with that? Do I bore them? Do they not want that type of friendship with me? I start feeling insecure. And I start feeling disappointed that the friendship is not going where I thought it was going. In this way, it is sort of like a relationship/lover. You expect it to evolve and grow, and when it does not, it just sort of fizzles and you go your separate ways.

I do not try to turn every friendship into a "close friendship," of course. I only start having expectations when things have been consistent for a long time. I just kind of expect it to continue (if nothing else, like a baby, gets in the way). When friendships in high school did not survive graduation, I did not take it badly. That was something I expected. It is when I do not see a real reason for communication to seize or become more spread out that it starts bothering me. So I do realize that I suddenly expect people to start living up to expectations we have not blatantly discussed. I just feel that if a friendship going in a certain direction I remain positive about it, feeling confident that we will grow closer and continue communicating regularly. This, yes, might be wrong. But how the hell do you know when you are both on the same page? The only way is to ask, and if they lie to spare your feelings, you will continue having those expectations and not have them met. I am not trying to point a finger at the other people, but I really do not feel like people are honest with me when they should be (which is always). I am then left very confused and sometimes hurt. I suppose I see potential a lot of others do not.

I have no idea what any of this means. I could be some intensely needy freak and not even know. I feel like people are trying to suggest this even though I am perfectly happy with a lot of alone time. I just also, in addition to being alone a lot, want some close friends whom I can depend on and call over for dinner and go out with on a fairly regular basis. I want my phone to ring sometimes. I want to text someone and receive a reply that same day. I want someone to go to when I am really upset, someone who does not feel it is a burden to comfort me (which acquaintances usually do). I just want everything I am giving or willing to give. But if what they say is right, then I am giving far too much to everyone I know. How do you just stop giving? I suppose in one respect they are right: I cannot expect what I give if I give excessively. In most ways, I honestly do not expect everything I give back. I know I give a lot and it would be hard to keep up. Sometimes I just do things because I am a nice person, and I do not expect anything in return. But with close friends, I sort of want them to want to spend the same amount of time with me that I want to spend with them. I do not always want to feel like I care more than they do. But I always, always do. And this is another reason I feel like these people, who are telling me this is a stupid way to live, are right. If I am always left disappointed or feeling sort of empty, perhaps the fault is mine.

I almost hate myself for being as giving as I am. At some point, no matter how selfless you try to be, you want something back. You want someone to care. You want someone to really like spending time with you. You want someone else to initiate contact for once. I do not expect much from most people. But when I really, really connect with someone and open up to them--and they open up to me--is it so wrong to want that to continue? Am I only allowed this in small doses? I just... thought other people had these types of friendships. Maybe I am wrong.

The worst part is not admitting these people are right in that I expect too much and those friendships do not exist. The worst part is that after I admit that, I am not sure I can live with it. I am not sure I can live with mediocre friendships or just a ton of acquaintanceships for the rest of my life. I like friendships that last years and years, and even better if it is for life even though I realize that is rare. I am, in a way, dependent on these to be happy. If I do not have at least one person I talk to consistently, I feel angry, resentful, depressed and lonely. Like right now, for example. I feel like there is a constant void within me, and that void is due to a lack of meaningful friendships... friendships that stay even when the love of your life does not.

I am not sure I can settle for what people are offering me. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. In my eyes, I do not feel it makes me terrible. I just want something really meaningful. I want some of what I give back. If this does not exist, I am going to be really unhappy in life. Friendship is important to me. No matter how much I tell myself that I am fine alone, I am not fine being completely alone or only with people who drift in and out of my life whenever they want. Eventually, those drifters stop talking to me all together, and I suppose that is why I need to know if it is that sort of friendship or not. I need to know how much to invest.

Even tonight, when I was talking to my friend, I realized I am probably going to get really hurt again. We have been really close over the past few months and I really want it to continue, but he drew the line in the sand. First of all, he said that I will likely never hang out in his social circle. This hurt. A lot. He said I would probably not like most of his friends (because they are superficial party animals) and that he is not the type to bring new people into the circle anyway. He also said that at some point, the communication might die down and he is perfectly fine with that. Already, I know I am too invested in it because I am not okay with that like he is. And it hurts because I feel like I really have something good with him. We have such amazing conversations and debates. We can talk for three hours on the phone and not run out of anything to say. We see each other every week, for the time being, and it is always great fun. But he seems terrified to make any sort of commitment to this friendship, suggesting that we may drift but that is okay and we would still be friends even if we barely talked. (And I do not mean in a relationship sense because we both agreed we do not want to date each other. I realize this entire situation has a stigma attached to it because he is male and I am female, but I assure you, it is not like that.) Like, why? Why is it that someone cannot ever say to me, 'Hey. You are worth having around for a long time. I hope we stay friends.' What is so wrong with that? I am starting to think it is wrong to feel this way and that I should never expect anyone to tell me those things. I am starting to feel that asking someone for commitment to a friendship--not a lover--is wrong. Is it?

I know, I know I am going to get terribly hurt with this friend. I absolutely know, after that conversation, I am far more invested in it than I should be (or than he is, whatever way you want to look at it). I thought things were going really well. He has assured me time and time again that he really likes what we have and that he really enjoys spending time with me. But on the flip side, he also says there is a good chance this will not last. Why? Why? Why? How does he know? Has he already decided this? Why even say that if you are not sure? It confuses me. He did say he wants to remain friends, but he also said even if we drift, oh well. I just do not take the "oh well" approach when it comes to people I really enjoy. And I suppose that is a huge flaw. I have to approach everything more casually. But I am incapable of doing this. I want everything to be lasting and meaningful, fun and inspiring. I hate the superficial. I despise it when it comes to friendship. I despise social networks like Facebook (admittedly, I do have a Facebook account but I bitch about it on a weekly basis) where people just write about meaningless garbage and where "liking" a post means you read it or even cared what it said. Bullshit. It is all such bullshit. I want more than that.

The truth is, even though I now have to prepare myself to lose yet another friend, I am glad we had that conversation. It will not stop me from investing in the friendship or prevent me from being there for him in any way I can. But the conversation felt like the beginning of a new chapter in my life, the chapter where I either have to get help for these feelings of loneliness I experience when I do not have a close friendship in my life or the chapter where I somehow accept a variety of mediocre friendships in the place of one or a few very meaningful ones. I have to decide what I can live with. And right now, I think I am going to opt for getting help because I do not feel like I can live happily without close bonds, especially now that I have lost the love of my life. I feel like the word to describe what I am feeling is "suffering." I feel terribly, terribly depressed about this on a daily basis, and I have for a very long time.

If anyone was crazy enough to read all of this, I would be very interested to hear your critiques on what you think my problem is or how you view friendships. Feel free to be as critical as you like. I am open to hearing anything on this subject.

It is so sad. I was going through my friends list today and it seems the majority of people have also stopped writing. :( How awful. Is blogging becoming a lost art?

I have not posted here since July 21st. Next week, that makes it two months. A lot has happened during that time, and I felt I needed a break from everything and everyone.

I guess the biggest news goes first...

On August 7th, 2010, my seven-year relationship with Sean ended. I honestly did not want to deal with it or write about it for a while. Although I am okay now, the first two weeks after the break-up were a bit of a whirlwind. I basically did not speak to anyone for a month, family included. In fact, most people did not even know we broke up for weeks on end. For some reason, silence was finally the best way to deal with a problem. Usually I am writing the second something happens, or I am making a couple calls or writing a couple e-mails to friends. It only makes sense to lean on someone after a break-up, especially to this degree. This time, however, I did not want contact with anyone and I just completely shut down. I suppose it is just as well because the people who did know did not bother to check up on me anyway.

I am the one who did the breaking up, but I felt pressured into it. In the end, I knew it was what Sean wanted and he was just too cowardly to do it himself. He admitted this the following week, and he apologized for making me do his dirty work. Sean just got too impatient. He said I was holding him back from living the life he wanted to live. It was one thing to be stuck in a contract job that was coming to an end, but things got a whole lot worse when I became unemployed. Plans kept being moved into the future, and he eventually got fed up. These "plans" included moving in, which was supposed to happen this summer, travelling together and--after moving in--getting married. We lived too far, we did not see each other enough, and the Internet chat and phone calls were not cutting it. (In hindsight, we both could have made more of an effort to see each other more often. Sean will blame me for this, but he was equally at fault.) Although I was getting annoyed too, with all of my bad luck, I was nowhere near ready to just give up on a relationship I had worked hard on for seven years. But again, it is what Sean wanted.

When things get tough for a partner, I am there for them. Sean was never supportive about it. He just got impatient and kept reminding me of all the things I could not afford to do. He claims he was supportive, but he was just not. From day one, I had to keep explaining myself to him. I got blamed for everything. We got into countless fights how my job issues were interfering with us moving forward as a couple. Although I agree the job mess for the past three years was interfering, I do not see why that was cause to give up entirely. When things get hard for your partner, you stick it out if you really care. It is unfortunate that my employment issues went on (and still continue) for three years, but as my long-term boyfriend, I figured Sean would be supportive and understanding. Instead, he decided he had waited too long. The resentment I have toward him about this will never fade. In the end, it was his choice and he is allowed to move on with his life. But I still feel, to this day, he would have stayed by my side if he truly loved me. That is just what you do when you are in it for the long haul. You do not just abandon your partner when things are not going your way or as quickly as you would like them to go. In my eyes, it was wrong.

We had a lot of good things. We had enough good things to keep me dedicated to the relationship for seven years. He was certainly my best friend. Although my social anxiety prevented us from doing a lot at first, I came more out of my shell as the years went by. By the end of the relationship, we were going out fairly regularly. We were going to get togethers. We were going to restaurants. We were going apple picking. We were going on vacations (just not internationally due to my job/finance issues). He was at almost every family dinner we had, multiple times a month. He spent Christmases here, and I spent Christmas in Ottawa with his family last year. As far as I am concerned, we shared a lot despite not living together. I suppose a lot of people found it strange that we did not live together, but the timing was not right. I was still in university when we first met, and I was nowhere near ready to move out while doing a double major full time. And it was only two years ago that we actually talked seriously about moving in together anyway. That is when we started buying things for our new place (which we now have to split like some sort of mini-divorce). For me, it was a long wait too... but it was one I could handle, given the circumstances. It is not like I wanted to stay at home, but I could not just move out while I was temping for a year and had a different job every week. One thing after the next prevented the move from happening. I was impatient, but I never lost my faith like he did. "Love is patient, love is kind"--my ass.

So really, the break-up was caused by my job situation. I do not feel were just simply not compatible or that things would have fallen apart anyway. I feel like we really fucked up by not moving in together. Now it is just left open-ended. What if we did move in? Would it have worked? What if I just took the chance and moved in with him while on unemployment like we talked about just a week before the break-up? It would have solved a hell of a lot of the issues we were arguing about. Now I feel like we will never know and that is bad because that means regret. I regret never moving in with him and at least seeing if it would have worked. And I will never forgive him for taking that chance away from us. Just a week before the break-up, we had booked a trip to Montreal together. The car was booked, the hotel was booked... and then suddenly we were broken up and I was so confused. Sean claimed it was not because he just fell out of love with me; he said it was because the issue was always there, in the background, and it just finally came to a head and he could not take it anymore. I want to believe he loved me to the end, but I honestly do not. I think he fell out of love with me somewhere along the way, even though he was still acting like a boyfriend. And it sure as hell did not seem very hard for him to move on. There were no tears, which is not shocking because he never shows his emotions. But man, after all we have been through and how long we have been together, a tear or two would have been nice.

I saw him again the following weekend to discuss some things and get the closure I needed. The visit was fine, and Sean said he wanted to stay friends because it is not like it was an ugly, horrible break-up that ended in a screaming match. The evening of the break-up was surreal. It felt like someone else's life. It was just so nonchalant and passive. "Well, I guess the only thing left to do is break-up!" Sean argued with me at first and said, "So you don't even want to talk about this?" Yeah, okay. I knew he did not want to work anything out by the way he was conducting himself. He was presenting all of the "problems" he had with the relationship in a very direct, these-are-things-that-cannot-be-fixed sort of way. It was clear, by this, that he did not want to fix anything. I was so angry that night. How dare he give up now, seven years later. I was in this for the long haul and here was being a lazy-ass motherfucker who was just too impatient to hang on to a good thing when he had it, simply because there was some waiting involved. (I am not saying I feel this way now, but it is how I felt at the time.) I was furious, but I kept my temper and I did not yell. In fact, I was fairly monotone and just going through the motions instead of being overly emotional. I shed some tears, but I was not crying loud and hard like the last time we broke up. This just felt so final, and getting upset seemed pointless. He had clearly gotten what he wanted, and there was nothing I could do to change his mind.

The only time I have cried about this break-up were the two days I saw him. I did not shed one tear beyond those two evenings. It was kind of scary. The three people who talked to me or saw me the most after the break-up--my aunt, my father and my grandmother--said I handled everything amazingly well. They talked about my strength and said it was unbelievable to see me doing so well. My aunt, especially, kept saying how proud she was at the way I was handling things. It reminded me that I am a very strong person, no matter how many people want to dispute that. I remember thinking, while with Sean, that I would just die without him. Not literally, no, but like... I would just not want live my life without him in it. I do still feel that way, to an extent, but I am still okay and I am still alive. I really do not know what got me through this, but I am grateful. I thought I would be a huge mess for a very long time, but I honestly have not been a huge mess at all. Inwardly, I am saddened by it and still think it was the wrong decision on his part. But in general, I am functioning and I have been social again lately. It was really just the first two or three weeks where I shut everyone out and did not feel like talking to anyone or going anywhere. I stayed in bed for about three days, but that was it.

As I mentioned, the people I did tell did not seem to care or think it was a big deal. I guess that weeded out some people whom I had considered friends up until that point. Oh, well. My aunt, at least, tried to connect with me every day. She was very worried about me and I am grateful at least one person cared enough to see how I was so often. My friend James served as a distraction. Although we did not talk about my break-up much at all (he is not really comfortable with emotional issues), I spoke to him even when I was not speaking to anyone else because he makes me laugh. The only thing I wanted to do after the break-up was laugh really, really hard for as long as possible. It is strange how close we have become, and I am glad he was there at that point in my life. (I have never met him, but I met him online about seven years ago and I have been speaking to him pretty much every day since April. Ironically, we are meeting in person tomorrow.) I had another friend, also named James, who did allow me to talk about the emotional stuff.

What next? Who knows. I am still job hunting. That is enough to keep me distracted for now, and that is what needs the most concentration. I know I will not want another relationship for a very, very long time... or maybe ever again. When I think about doing that all over again, I just do not feel it is worth the effort. I almost feel like being alone would just be better for someone like me. Just finding someone who can see beyond my appearance is too much effort.

I gave Sean everything. I really did. I let him see every part of me. I shared everything with him. I dedicated so much time to him and the relationship. I spent so much time picking out the perfect gifts every birthday and Christmas, spending hundreds of dollars beyond my budget just because the look on his face, the goofy and surprised grin, was reward enough. I was loyal to him. I never did anything to betray his trust, not once. I tried to include him in every single activity outside our relationship. I wanted him there for all of the important moments, like university graduation. I was so accepting of who he was and who he wanted to be. I put up with his crazy antics and his insane, random, ADD personality. I tried to encourage him to be more social and make new friends. I kept him in line, as his mother would say he needed. I forgave him even for the things I should not have. I helped him make-over his hair, his wardrobe, his accessories and turned him into a more fashion-conscious person (that may seem shallow but it was a lot of work and he always thanked me for that). I just feel like... I gave him so much. I was so forgiving. I was so dedicated to making our relationship work. And it still ended. Such is life, yes. And that is why I am not sure I want to do it again. What if I put in another seven years and it ends again? I will be 33 by that point. I do not want to be looking and looking throughout my 30s and 40s for the right person. I really do not. I thought I had already found that person, which is why I stayed with him for seven years. I just cannot see myself doing it all over again. I am not going to find someone better. There is no way that another man will find me attractive and accept my personality. But enough of that self-loathing. I just cannot see myself in another relationship.

I feel like the past seven years were such a waste. I had dated a lot more than Sean, so I already knew a lot about what I wanted in a partner and a relationship. I knew I needed someone head-strong, passionate and funny--like Sean. I knew I needed someone I could be immature with sometimes, and I knew I needed someone who would help bring me out of my social shell--like Sean. I knew I needed someone who could debate without an argument, and I knew I needed someone who accepted the abrasive and dark side of my personality--like Sean. I knew I needed to date someone who would be able to learn from me, and I needed to be with someone who would teach me new things too--like Sean. I just felt we meshed well together. Thinking about it, I do not see how I am supposed to find someone who offers all that and more. I just do not believe it exists. Hearing "the right man is out there" is just not enough anymore. I need more reassurance than a trite statement like that. I need to know I will not be wasting my time, love and energy again... but relationships do not come with a warranty.

I guess time will tell.

So, there you have it. That should explain my absence from LiveJournal for the past two months... or at least, why I needed a break from the Internet.

I cannot do this anymore. Seriously. I have had enough. Everything is so messed up right now and it keeps getting worse. I feel like every time I try to catch my balance, the volcano erupts again. What will it take to catch a break?

i. Things are really messed up with one of the two people I have left. Our friendship is falling apart and I have no idea why. I feel physically ill every time I talk to him because we are not really talking. My stomach is just in knots over this, and I am walking around feeling like I am going to throw up any moment, all day long. Something changed overnight and he is distancing himself from me more as each day goes by. I am always, always the one to initiate contact now; he used to initiate equally and then it just stopped. We are barely talking. The communication we do have consists of useless online exchanges. I am not sure if he is just trying to let me off easy (ending the friendship) or if maybe he is just going through something right now that I cannot help him with. I have tried. I have tried to fix it but nothing is working. If there is one person I cannot lose, it is him. I knew this would happen. It always does. And yet my lack of preparation suggests I will never learn, no matter how many times they leave.

ii. My father might have cancer. We are waiting for the biopsy, but the doctor was concerned enough to request one. He said he saw something that could be the beginnings of cancer. Colon cancer runs in our family with two previous male family members having died from it already.

iii. The job hunt is still miserable. I have next to no motivation left. I am depressed, I am angry and I have no idea how you continue to job hunt feeling that way. I wonder how much longer I can press on with it. I am clinging to the last bits of motivation I have to keep applying for things, but I feel impending doom and I still cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. What will this take? What will it take to find a job? I am going insane. Literally. I think there is something warped with my mind. I feel like my brain is fried. This situation has made me question so many things I was sure about before. I keep thinking, this is all setting me back. I am a few years away from 30 and I do not even have a job! How long is it going to take now to get into an actual career? Am I going to be 40 before that happens? When will I ever move out of here and into my own place? I need to start saving for retirement. I need to get this student debt paid off. All because of this job issue, I am so worried about my future. I am terrified. My life is just wasting away.

iv. I am not even going to start with my relationship. That would take all day.

v. I quit my exercise routine. Again, this depression has a domino effect. I am not motivated to work-out anymore despite my appearance being one of the main things causing my depression. I have gained weight since I have been unemployed, and that is obviously not good. I need to be taking the weight off, not putting it on. I feel inspired watching others get their routines together, but I am still lacking the motivation to start my own. I was doing so well with it for a while. I am so mad at myself. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and start over, sticking with it no matter what.

vi. Talking no longer helps. Nothing and no one can pull me out of this. It feels like drowning. I am still open to advice or recommendations though.

Sometimes I really have no idea what the point is. Excuse me for playing victim, but I feel like I spend most of my life not getting what I deserve or having my character and appearance assassinated. I feel like I am constantly defending myself or trying to explain myself. I feel like there are too many people who want to fill the position of tearing me down and insulting me. People I barely know feel entitled to fill it, especially lately. But you know, that position was filled a long time ago. It was filled by my father and I can barely take his constant criticism, forget everyone else's. Somehow, I have ended up in the exact place I was when I was thirteen: depressed, unmotivated, resentful and completely hating myself. This downward spiral looks and feels so familiar. I am back here for different reasons this time, but regardless--the feelings are almost identical. I am getting the nagging feeling that I need help.

You know what I hate most? Even when I am having a good day, someone or something has to ruin it. I can never just have a great day. I can never just feel good. At some point, before twenty-four hours is up, something ruins it. Always, no exaggeration. I am constantly asking people, "Why are you trying to spoil my mood?" Whenever I am happy, I have to be punished. I know that is not actually how life is, but that is what it feels like to me.

Somehow, after I lost my job (this time around), things fell apart. My relationship, my few friendships (which have dwindled down to one), my motivation, my self-esteem. Everything that could possibly go wrong has. Oh, sure, things could be worse. They can always be worse. But as for the things I had, say, last year... compared to what I have now... all of that has gone wrong. Everything has withered away into nothingness. I fooled myself into thinking the people in my life actually cared about me, and that was my biggest mistake. How on earth, after the life I have had, could I have let my guard down? It always amazes me how forgiving I am and how many chances I am willing to give people. I have no idea how I got to be this way. On the one hand, it is nice to possess such qualities. On the other hand, I put up with too much.

Sometimes I rant to an online friend I have who does not know me all that well, and he is always so confused when I tell him the things that other people say to me. "These people are your friends?" he will ask. And I step back and ask myself the same question. I am confused too. For example, if you are dating me, why are you calling me a 'fucking liar,' a child, chickenshit, an emotional blackmailer and a manipulator? Or if I am your daughter, what the hell are you doing telling me I am "lucky" there are men who will date me and that I make it hard to love me? Or if I am your niece, what are you doing saying I am not a strong person? If you are my friend, what are you doing ending the friendship without so much as a goodbye or explanation? If you are my friend, why do you never call and rely on pointless Facebook comments to communicate? If you are my friend, why do you cancel every single plan we make at the last minute? If you are my friend, why did you say 'let's get together' a month ago and never follow through? If you are my friend, why did you ignore me for months without explanation and then expect us to pick up where we left off when you came to your senses? What is going on?! And predominantly, what are these people doing claiming that they treat me well and that they will not apologize for any insults they have tossed out? WHY?

I am pretty much at my breaking point, to be honest. I am almost ready to wipe the slate clean. That would involve me cutting off contact with absolutely everyone in my (offline) life right now. None of them are supportive. None of them offer me any sort of motivation or positive reinforcement. Instead of being there for me through this job hunt, my boyfriend looks for ways that this could possibly be my fault. Picking apart my cover letters, saying that maybe I am doing poorly in interviews, saying I am not working fast enough, saying I am not doing enough, saying my approach is all wrong. It could not possibly be the economy, bad luck or employers just not giving me a chance. It has to be something I am doing. How about, "Keep going"? How about, "You are doing a good job under the circumstances"? How about, "What can I do to help?" How about, "Is there anything I can do to make it easier?" How about, "You will find something"? How about, "I know it is tough but just keep sticking it out, it will eventually pay off"? How about anything positive? All I hear about is what a fuck-up I am and how I must be doing everything wrong or poorly. Despite being such a hard worker and entirely capable, I have not been snatched up. No. So? Suddenly I am unworthy of a good job because of something I am/am not doing?

What in hell does it take to please people? No one is ever satisfied. I feel like I am always putting my own wants and needs on the backburner to try and please the few people left in my life. I am clinging to these people for dear life, making sure they know I love and care about them... and what do I get back? Nothing. These people constantly insult me and make me feel like garbage. And somehow, everything is turned around on me. No one wants to take responsibility for anything. No one would dare admit they might be wrong or that perhaps they were being verbally abusive. Hell, my father still says, to this day, that he feels I deserved to be assaulted by him a few years back. No apology was ever uttered and it never will be.

I feel like I had more self-esteem even just a few months ago. People have tried really hard to snatch the bit I had left these past few months. I claim to be a strong person, but if I am, what in hell am I doing allowing this to happen? Sometimes I rationalize it by saying people only turn their back on me after a long period of time. In terms of friends, this is very true. After ten years, someone will flip out on me and end it for no reason. This has happened several times in the past few months alone. It happened to me again just last week! I am not saying longevity is all that matters, but these are people I cared about and thought cared about me. They have not all been 'best friends,' but they have been close friends and people I talked to on a regular basis. And bam, it ends. There is no fight. It just ends. And almost every single person refuses to tell me why.

The person last week? Their response when I asked what the deal was? "Meh." And that was it. They will not speak to me anymore. I have no idea what I did or what went wrong with any of these people. Do I really want to keep living my life this way? No. But can I control it? No. The only thing I can do is get out of a friendship that I feel is doing more harm than good. And despite my good judgement, I almost never see it coming. I cannot predict people and their erratic and irrational behaviour. I cannot get out before it is too late because all of these endings come out of nowhere. Several years ago, I had a six-year friendship end and they told me it was because we were too different and that it was just a surface friendship. Hm. Here I was investing everything I had into that friendship, thinking it was fantastic, feeling like we had so much in common, having a blast sharing secrets and sharing laughs... but nope, I was told that was actually not the case and it was over. It must have all been my imagination.

Maybe I am actually crazy. Maybe these people were never even friends to begin with and I just made the friendships up in my head. That would explain a lot.

So, just like the "clinical depression" that hit when I was thirteen, my problem seems to be the same this time around: people. That is why medication never did a damn thing. Of course, the job situation sucks and the lack of motivation sucks... but things would probably be a lot easier if I had some sort of support system. It might help to have just a few people egging me on or telling me I am a capable person. We all need that. But unfortunately, I have never had that. Even when things are good or okay, I have never actually had any cheerleaders. My online friends have done a far better job with support than anyone I have ever known offline. (And I do not discredit that.) Unfortunately, I need people offline too. I need people to hang out with and I need people to support me. In turn, I will openly offer my support, my respect, my understanding and my open mind. No problem. It is not like I am asking for something I am not giving. But yeah, the problem is people. It is not some chemical imbalance. The problem is people being a) abusive, b) unsupportive, c) irrational, d) insulting, e) hurtful, f) disinterested and g) presumptuous. That is the problem. Not just one or two people but pretty much all of them.

So, who knows... I have no idea what I am supposed to do. I have tried making new friends. I have let old friendships go. I am almost completely alone now. And soon, I will likely lose my relationship too. Then I will be even more alone. Depression aside, thinking rationally about things, maybe that is best. It seems kind of jaded to believe there are people who are just meant to be alone, but maybe that is the case for me and I should just accept it. Maybe I am just not meant to get married or have solid friendships. Maybe I am just supposed to drift through life not really knowing anyone. There are others out there like that. I am not saying I would choose that lifestyle, but maybe it was already chosen for me and that is why nothing is working with anyone.

I feel like this is all a series of head games. People string me along for so long. They say one thing and then do another. The odd time, they will apologize and say they want me in their life. Shortly after that, they are gone. What the hell? So many of these people continuously tell me they want to be in my life. And then they disappear. Why bother? Are they lying? If so, there is no need. Just get what you want and be on your merry way. Tell me you used me. Are they telling the truth? If so, how does someone's mind change that quickly? One minute we are great friends, the next things are ending. Or worse, for ten years we are friends and then it ends for no particular reason... or for a reason I am just not told. Head game after head game. It is like the only want to leave when they have genuinely made me believe they care about me.

I put in excessive amounts of effort. I am humorous. I am loyal to a fault. I am a good listener. But people just do not want to be around me. Or, rather, they want to be around me but only for a limited amount of time. And god forbid I want to know the reason it has to end--then I am really a pathetic loser. I have my faults too. I can be stubborn. I am very self-critical. I can complain too much. It sometimes takes me a while to come around with things. I have social anxiety issues. And I know, for a fact, that sometimes people just want to tell me to "shut the fuck up." But why do I find it so easy to accept flaws in others, and yet people are so opposed to accepting them in me? I guess I am just asking too much.

If people hate me, fine. At least tell me why. Maybe if they did, I would have more of this figured out instead of being dumbfounded and confused. Maybe I could actually address and work on things if people told me why they either treated me like absolute shit or ended things out of nowhere. It would be nice to be even slightly more informed. Despite my low self-esteem, I just find it hard to believe that I am so intolerable that just no one can stand me. Am I the greatest person on earth? No. Am I endlessly awesome? No. Am I someone who never makes mistakes? No. But I figured I was tolerable. Unfortunately, feeling tolerable has gone out the window. It is clear to me that I am not tolerable. No one sticks around. What other explanation is there? I am obviously not what anyone wants. (Hm, I was told that once too.)

And again, this goes back to whether or not I should just accept that and live my life alone. It is not something I want to do, but at this point, I may be forced to. I would rather go through life alone than continuously lose people for no (explained) reason. I realize there is constant loss in life, but there cannot be this much. It is just not acceptable. I would rather just have no one than have everyone just eventually leave. There is no room to feel this desperate all of the time. And there is certainly no room to feel this unloved and despised. I cannot keep accepting people defacing my character, tearing apart my personality or insulting the way I look. I really cannot do this anymore. It is just too much. Most people have no idea what it is like to walk around hating yourself this much. And more to the point of this entry, most people have no idea what it is like to be constantly disappointed in everyone else too. I really envy all of those people with solid friendships, family relationships or partners. Without those, life just does not seem worth living.

Last week I was basking in the afterglow of one amazing artist, and this week I am enveloped in the darkness of mourning another.

One year ago today, the world lost a musical legend and great humanitarian. The loss was not felt across a nation... it was felt across the world. When he died, the world cried. It is hard to believe one man could touch the lives of millions in just fifty years. And it is sad that he was only given fifty years in which to spread his knowledge, kindness and talent. All ages, all races, all genders, all creeds, all sexual orientations. He was somehow able to reach out to a completely diverse population of people, over several generations, and they reached right back. He made us cry, laugh and smile. He brought happiness to so many people for so long. I grew up with him. He was in my Walkman and my Discman. And now he is on my MP3 player and in my DVD player. It all seemed to easy for him. Churning out hit after hit, continuing to grace us with his phenomenal and unique style of dance. And at the same time, he never stopped donating his time and money to charities, caring for underprivileged children or supporting important causes. And despite all he had to endure, he never, ever forgot about his fans. Whether he was trying to shop or coming out of the doctor's office, he always stopped to hug a fan or sign an autograph. He gave free concert tickets to children in poverty so they could see his show. Never did he turn his back on his fans, and never did he stop telling them he loved them and was grateful for their love and support. At every concert, there was an "I love you." And never has the world seen such dedicated and loyal fans. Once you become a fan, you are a fan for life.

He may have made brilliant music and been the best dancer we will ever see... but he gave us more than that. He reminded us of things we always seem to forget, about nature, about animals, about human beings. On his journey to heal the world, he inspired so many others to do the same. There are people right now carrying on his legacy, giving instead of taking. Projects like "We Are the World," Heal the Kids and the Heal the World Foundation existed because he cared more about others than he did about himself. He stopped at hospitals across the world to bring sick children toys and spend some time with them. Most of his music was written to inspire us to be better people. It lacked the self-indulgence we see in today's music industry, though he still sometimes wrote honest songs about his struggles: "Childhood," "Scream," "Stranger in Moscow," "Tabloid Junkie" or "Leave Me Alone." Most of his solo career was spent writing beautiful songs that encouraged people to think more about environmental issues and humanitarian issues: "Heal the World," "Black or White," "Earth Song," "Keep the Faith," "Gone Too Soon," "Man in the Mirror," "They Don't Care About Us." He wrote and produced almost everything he released. He had so much influence over so many people, and it never stopped at self-improvement for him. It was always about worldwide improvement.

An icon. A legend. A musical genius. No matter what label you give him, there is no denying his impact on the music and dance industries. The amount of other artists he has inspired cannot be counted. And there is no question that his music will continue being played on the radio, on music channels, on our computers and on our mobile devices for many, many years. Michael Jackson once said, "I want to live forever." And in some way, he will, through his music. Although he is physically gone, his music and legacy will live on. Perhaps on some level he is still with us, spiritually.

He left with more than hundreds of awards and world records. He hopefully left knowing how much he has touched this planet with his unique musical ability and his humanitarian efforts. We will never forget such an inspiring and caring human being.

We will forever remember Michael Jackson. The King of Pop.

So, this review is quite late but it was a lot of work. I had to gather my thoughts, get the photos together and then find some way explain, in detail, one of the best nights of my life. The following photos and videos were all taken by me. Please do not steal! If you are going to repost anywhere, I require credit. The photos are in chronological order, so I have posted them corresponding to the events I was describing in each paragraph.

So... Saturday, June 19, 2010. It was an exciting day for me. It was the day I would see Adam Lambert... in the flesh. I felt kind of nervous, even in the morning. It was hard, but I did not watch any concert footage on YouTube before I went to this show. I wanted to be completely surprised. There was so much anticipation. I had to add a little glitter to my make-up that day, of course:

We decided to skip the first few bands (Aleesia, Burnz N Hell, Spose, Fefe Dobson, Karl Wolf) and showed up at the stadium around 6:00. I do not listen to KISS FM and I hate most mainstream music, so it only made sense to go as close to Adam's performance as possible. We were told he was going on at 9:00. I was really not impressed with the line-up and failed to see how any of them were similar to Adam Lambert, but thankfully they allowed you to go in at any time. When we got into the venue, I immediately noticed the age diversity. I would say the majority of people were in their 20s, but there were some children, some teenagers, a lot of women in their 30s and 40s (Adam has a large cougar fanbase ;)), and I even saw couples in their 60s and 70s! I know Adam has a very diverse fanbase, but it was really cool to see all of those people at this venue.

I really wanted to see Orianthi, the female guitarist who was going to tour with Michael Jackson for his "This Is It" shows. She is a really amazing guitarist and her singing voice is not half bad! It was my first time hearing any of her music, and I liked what I heard. She had a male guitarist with her and he was really great too.

I patiently sat through a set by Danny Fernandes. I almost regretted getting there in time for Orianthi because I had to sit through an hour of Danny. I have no idea what they were trying to do, but it could not possibly be called "singing" or "dancing." It was so terrible. I was laughing more than anything else. Next up, however, was Kardinal Offishall. He is a Canadian rapper and is best known for his raggae-infuced musical styling. I had heard a bit of his music before, but he really made a fan out of me that evening. He was fantastic. He is just bursting with energy and I was smiling throughout the set. He managed to get almost everyone on their feet, dancing and singing along. I have to hand it to him--he is a great performer. I do not normally listen to a lot of rap or hip hop, but he is just great and I love most of what he has released (I listened to more this week). I am actually a huge fan of reggae and calypso, so his style really appeals to me.

Also, they did a small tribute to Michael Jackson since it is nearing the death anniversary. The band played some instrumental clips of Michael songs, and Kardinal was asking the audience if they were fans of Michael and to point to the sky and say hello to him. It was all very sweet and moving, and I could not have been happier that an artist was honoring his memory like that. What a sweet man.

The Adam Lambert part of the show started off with an audio-only "For Your Entertainment" remix. I would assume, by this point, Adam is sick of performing his first single. I think that is why they chose to give us this song in a non-performance format. The audience was getting more excited as the song neared its end. Shortly after, the lights went out. Almost immediately, my heart started pounding. I was actually shaking a bit and short of breath. This was it. I was on my feet. I popped the lens off of my camera. I watched the stage without blinking. The screaming was unbelievable. From the second the lights went out, I had no idea if I was going to have my hearing the next day.

Now, I had been praying that Adam would play "Voodoo," my favourite song of his next to "Fever" (which he always plays so I was not worried). And would you imagine my delight when I heard those first few mesmerizing beats? Adam, opening with "Voodoo." My heart was dancing, and I was screaming "Oh my god!" like a depraved school girl. I could not believe that my wish came true. Adam appeared, through colorful stage lighting, at the top of a staircase. It was god-like, a deity suddenly appearing out of thin air. He was decked out and I smiled from ear to ear as my eyes tried to digest the entire ensemble. He was all purple and black. He wore a top hat with purple mesh, an embroidered "A" and a few feathers. He appeared to be wearing the same hair piece, or a similar hair piece, as he wears in the "If I Had You" video. It is very long and braided with some blue hair pieces. He wore a thigh-length, bright purple jacket with fringes, at least a couple feet long, on the arms and back, complete with a protruding fur collar. Yes, yes. It was "so Adam." He had flared, snake-skin leather pants with a flat, laced up codpiece. And guess what? Bare feet! No boots; just bare feet. He wore his signature black, fingerless gloves, studded and rhinestoned, along with a black cuff bracelet on his left wrist. He had a black v-neck shirt underneath that revealed just enough of his chest, which was adorned with at least ten or more necklaces--some string, some beaded. His make-up was perfection, as always. A black, smoky eye with thick black liner on the upper and lower lash lines. Each lower lash line had a sprinkling of glitter.

As the song picked up pace, Adam descended slowly down the steps singing, "I was lookin' for love all over, you're the hunter and I'm your prey..." The song is so mystical and takes you into a trance. Adam was dark, mysterious and definitely in character for this song. I hung on to his every word, still having to remind myself that it was all real. The dancers posed like statues on stage until Adam stood next to each of them. Like a marionette, the first dancer moved to Adam's hand motions and then froze again as he walked away. Next, a male dancer who resembled Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd. Adam pulled back his arm and dropped it; it dangled like a toy doll's. I waited for my favourite drawn-out high note: "I'm so obsessed with your sexiness..." (He did not actually draw it out long at this show but he usually does.) As the song led into "Down the Rabbit Hole," he shouted, "C'mon, Toronto! I wanna see ya jump!" An obviously confident Adam commanded our attention during this song, repeatedly luring us with his index finger. He put his arm around Tommy for a few seconds during the song, and my heart melted. By the end, he was walking back up the stairs. He shed his hat and jacket and ran his hand through his hair.

Suddenly, I could not believe my ears: the familiar opening Middle Eastern chords and chimes from "Ring of Fire." Yet another song I was praying he would do, and here he was... doing it! As far as I know, he did not perform this on his media tour at all. I know he has done it previously on his Glam Nation tour, but regardless, this was my first time seeing a live performance of it and I was ecstatic. I adored "Ring of Fire" from his Idol days. It was, by far, the sexiest performance and really showed just how unique and interesting he could be with such a cool arrangement and reinvention. Again, more squealing at this point and my eyes were glued to the stage. He graced us with the same slow, sexy movements he did on Idol during this song... some which he did while on his knees. He reached out slowly to the audience and then withdrew his hand back to his body. His vocals were amazing, perfectly controlled. He remained at the top of the stairs for the song and slowly moved his arms and hands with the song's pace. There is just no other way to describe it: it was slow, sexy and hot.

No matter how many times I have seen Adam perform "Fever" live (in videos), I always get the same impression: he loves performing this song and he really lets loose while singing it. Something just overtakes his being and I see a completely different side of him, a side I love. He just becomes this theatrical, flirtatious, campy individual who knows how to have fun and get everyone screaming. Well, "Fever" was next and Adam finally opened up. Was it nervousness? Was it the audience response? Or was he just making us wait for 'the real Adam'? Whatever it was, Adam was finally here, in his element and ready to strut his stuff. And so were his dancers! But first, it was Adommy time! I was excited to see what he would do with Tommy because Adam always flirts with Tommy near the beginning of "Fever." The number opened with Adam getting a little friendly with Tommy on the bottom step of the staircase, and I tried to snap a few photos despite fumbling around with my camera due to sheer excitement.

The last time I had a 'shipping obsession this strong was Brian/Justin from Queer as Folk. And to think--these are real people! Adam's hand was on the back of Tommy's head. They were so close that there is no way Tommy could not feel Adam's hot breath on his face. But no kiss. Not even a lick. It was the biggest tease in the history of teases. As Adam usually does, he playfully pushed Tommy's head away with his hand and I saw Tommy smiling. He so loves it.

Next, Adam was sandwiched between two of his male dancers and the dancers started fawning over and worshiping him (as they should). The hips started moving. He started doing the synchronized moves with his dancers. I waited patiently for the chorus and watched as he did the famous "Fever" hand fan. So adorable! I also love the way he sings "'cause sweetheart" in this song. I squeed a bit more. The crowd went crazy as he twisted his body, moved his hips and thrust back his head. Think back to those Idol tour performances with all of that hip-thrusting and gyrating. He sure can move his body in a fluid motion. More synchronized dancing. Adam even sat on the edge of the one of the platforms for a moment and crossed his legs. He did the "Fever" head thrusts that I have grown to love so much. (He seemed to have far less product in his hair than usual because his hair was flapping all over the place when he did it. Yes, I pay attention to these things. So sue me.) I love, love, love this song and it is even more amazing live. It is just so much fun! He should release this as his next single.

Costume change! The band and dancers did a short interlude while Adam was off stage. As "Sleepwalker" started, Adam appeared at the top of the steps again, cloaked in a full-length black jacket with embroidery and rhinestone embellishments.

It only fastened in the middle so his pants were still visible when he walked, and he was still wearing the snake-skin pants. Still no shoes. You could see his bare feet. He kept a serious, pained face, communicating the somber mood of this rock ballad about moving on after a bad break-up. Adam never seems to stray from the characters he creates for his songs, and I really commend him for this ability. I suppose all those years of theatre come in handy, even as a musician.

The guitar solo was awesome, as always. I hope to see "Sleepwalker" released as a single. It is a great song. A little dark but certainly beautiful. I can definitely relate to it.

Time to slow it down a bit more.

Adam sat on a stool at the front of the stage for an acoustic "Whataya Want From Me." Adam started off by saying, sarcastically, "I think a few of you may know this next song." The crowd screamed. I do enjoy the acoustic version of this song much more than the album version, and he did do the acoustic version. The majority of the audience seemed to be singing along to this one, and it was a pretty cool sensation to hear all of those voices singing at once. (The Molson Amp seats 16,000 people, and the stadium was full.) I just kind of stared into his eyes through my camera lens during this number. Those deep, smoky, bedroom eyes. They were particularly beautiful as he sang this song. The crowd went wild as Adam pointed across the audience and sang, "But thanks for lovin' me, 'cause you're doing it perfectly." He smiled while he sang that line. It was sweet.

At the end of the song, Adam stood up and took a much-needed drink of water in preparation for the next number: "Soaked." Someone came to take the stool, and Adam stood for this one. The lighting was all blue and the spotlight was on Adam. It was very theatrical. I love "Soaked," and Adam's voice during this song is stunning. He did not disappoint me with this live version. His vocals were perfectly controlled and, truly, a thing of beauty. His vocal range during this song is just superb and really showcases his ability as a vocal artist. Adam did his usual hand gestures but kept a pained and sullen expression. A song about booze and loneliness, emotional and physical starvation, Adam seemed to feel every word he sang. His movements were minimal and that only gave you more reason to focus on the vocals. It is even more haunting live, being able to see and hear the suffering "Soaked" offers.

Adam sat on the steps for "Aftermath," offering us an acoustic version with only Monte standing close. "Heartbreak sucks," Adam started off, "But sometimes you have to lift your head up and push on through." The lyrics may be simple, but I think this song has a lot to offer message-wise. "No more hiding, don't be afraid of what's inside," the song encourages. It is about not fearing who you truly are and remembering that you are never alone in the world. Adam really captures that feeling of being kicked down and having to force yourself to move on. Adam co-wrote this song too, so it is always nice to have such a personal piece of an artist you love. The setting was very intimate and very perfect for this particular number.

Put your dancin' shoes on!

Next, after a costume change, Adam was ready to belt out the anthem tune sure to inspire fist-pumping, "Sure Fire Winners." Love this song! He was geared for Glam Rock. He wore a black shirt and pants with blue stripes and blue rhinestones. The shirt was a buttoned, sleeveless vest with a pressed collar. The tight pants had blue stripes down each side. When he turned around, he revealed a glittery "A" on the back of his vest. He paired the outfit with matching black and blue boots. He wore only a single pendant necklace now. Adam had a strong, masculine persona throughout this song, full of confidence and swagger. The song is very climactic and empowering. The audience pumped their firsts in the air at Adam's command. I could not wait to hear my favourite lines: "I was born with glitter on my face, my baby clothes made of leather and lace." (I managed to get an image of him just as he pointed to his cheek and sang "glitter on my face," above.) I waited patiently for the high note he hits in this song, and I managed to even snap another photo at just the right moment:

Another semi-costume change as "Strut" began. He was wearing the same outfit but had the most beautiful and outrageous leather jacket over it, with the collar turned up like a rock star. It had black and white stripes on some parts but then blue leather on others. It was sprinkled with rhinestones and silver studs, mostly on the arms and back.

When he turned around, I saw that it was tailed and just about knee-length.

Adam takes on a new persona: master among minions. During the opening of the song, Adam was handed a regal staff, a bit smaller than the one we see in the "For Your Entertainment" video. (It was crotch-level, if you must know. I am sure this was strategic.) He used the staff forcefully, resting on it and jerking it with his arm. He did his usual move during "get on the floor, just let it drop." The crowd screamed, as usual. The chorus approached and he did his strut for us. He continued leaning on the staff and pounded it into the stage. He then threw it on to his shoulder and marched on the spot. The dancers were on stage with him, each with a staff, jerking and swinging to the beat. He did some interesting things with that staff about half way through, including swinging it around his crotch area and then pumping it up and down in time with his hips. Woo hoo! Shortly after, he did more of his catwalk moves. It was a very powerful performance and the fact that I absolutely love the song just added to my enjoyment. (I think "Strut" is my third favourite.) Adam has described this song about being comfortable in your own skin, and although I loved it before, hearing it live made me believe in its magic even more. This song just makes you feel so good; you forget about your self-esteem issues for a few minutes and get lost in the self-empowerment of it all.

Next up was "Music Again." ABBA meets Queen. You can tell Adam loves performing this song too. It is upbeat, fast-paced and Adam is always smiling. It is certainly a happy song with a positive message. Adam did not move around the stage too much for this number, standing front and centre with the microphone. But it did not matter because he was smiling enough to turn me into a puddle on the floor. I even saw Monte bopping his head along. It is just that catchy.

Now, let me just say... "If I Had You" is one of those songs that you may not like right away, especially if you are not a fan of dance/party songs, but it grows on you. But after seeing it live, I really do love it. I am not sure what came over me, or the rest of the audience, but the adrenaline was pumping and I was dancing and singing like nobody's business. As the chorus approached, everyone started throwing their arms in the air and jumping in time with the beat--including Adam! It was apparently time for some more Tommy love (and I was not opposed):

There was synchronized dancing with his dancers, rainbow lasers, smoke and, best of all... Monte, Adam and Tommy, side-by-side at the front of the stage. I was so thankful that one of the shots I took here turned out well:

I had a sinking feeling that this was the last song, but I continued enjoying it anyway. "You guys are so cute!" Adam said with a giggle, pointing to the audience. Everyone screamed. I wish I could imitate how he said that phrase. It was so adorable, the way he said it.

After introducing us to his dancers, he ended "If I Had You" and the stage was empty. Everyone was clapping, cheering and screaming. I actually had to plug my ears at that point. I knew there had to be an encore.

It was dark, and everyone was stomping and chanting, "Ad-am! Ad-am! Ad-am!" A few minutes later, the band was back on stage and I heard the familiar, haunting melody of "Mad World."

He did the up-tempo, acoustic version of this song that he had been doing on his promotional tour. To be honest, I prefer the original version that he did on Idol but I was happy, regardless, to see him on that stage again.

Adam and the rest of the band left rather abruptly after a quick thank you, blowing a kiss and then bowing. It was only seconds later that the lights in the venue went on and back to reality it was. I pouted. I did not want it to be over.

Adam had told the Toronto Star that he "would love everyone to come away with a new appreciation for the music on [his] album." Well, Adam, you certainly succeeded. Not that I ever had the opportunity to go to a live Elvis or Queen concert, but I imagine Adam's presence on stage--his complete understanding and execution of showmanship--resembles that of Presley or Freddie Mercury. Or at least, it does from what I have seen of their live footage. To be honest, I was rarely paying attention to the dancers or any of the other stage effects. I was so focused on Adam that I forgot there were other people on the stage, at times. He really commands your attention, though not in an arrogant way. He is just so fun to watch. His colourful costumes, his passion, his immaculate vocals, the way he moves his body. He reminds me of Michael Jackson in many ways. But Adam is his own person; I suppose I cannot rightfully compare him to anyone else. I just see parts of other great performers in him sometimes. Even though I did not think it was possible, I believe I love him even more now, after seeing him live. He really proved himself as a vocalist and performer... this time, right in front of my very eyes instead of through a screen.

I only have two qualms. First of all, it was too short. This is obvious. Because this was turned into a multi-band event, Adam did not get to play a whole set and I will never forgive KISS FM for sponsoring it and adding those extra bands at the last minute. Seeing as it is his first tour and show in Toronto, they should have just had Adam performing. I am sure the show would have sold out without a problem, especially in a big city like Toronto. It was disappointing and I am sad he did not play more songs.

The second qualm is related: Adam did not play "Whole Lotta Love." I guess it is just as well because I may have fainted right then and there on the concrete floor. I have seen him perform this song on his Glam Nation tour (and previously on his media tour) and... wow. Every time I watch a video of that performance, my mouth is dry as a desert (seriously, I have trouble producing saliva for minutes on end). He did the regular version of this song on the Idol tour, but he started doing a slowed down, sultry, acoustic version of it on his media tour (and now Glam Nation). It is just sexy beyond words. I guess I will just have to continue watching the epic Fantasy Springs performance of this song. But yes, it was sad that he never played it at the show here and I feel a small pang of jealousy knowing so many others got to see it live in the US. DAMMIT.

Overall, I felt like Adam was a bit reserved. I really enjoyed the show, of course, but it definitely felt like he was honoring his promise to be "family friendly" on this tour. I am so used to Adam pushing the envelope and doing his own thing. It reminds me of when Elvis was told not to shake his hips on stage. What gives?! Let Adam be who he is! He is a sexual being and the crowd goes nuts any time he does anything remotely sexual--so just let us have our fun. I suppose this sounds like I am trying to paint him as some sexual object, but I am just saying he is a very sexual person and that was clear even on Idol at times. I love that about him. After the American Music Awards performance, Adam made comments about male sexuality being suppressed and taboo in society, and I completely agree with him. Good for Adam for being so ballsy about his own. I just have a feeling Adam was told to "tone it down" for this tour. Regardless, it was still an outstanding show. Nothing could have changed that.

My hearing returned later that evening, but I think I left my heart in the venue. It was an amazing experience, and I am happy that I had the opportunity to see Adam live. I knew it would be an unforgettable event, and I really need to be grateful that he came to Toronto and that I was able to get better tickets than I originally had. I do not think I would have enjoyed myself as much had I gone with the old tickets. Being that close made it so much better, especially for photo-taking purposes. I took 289 photos, and most of them turned out wonderfully. A lot of the ones where I zoomed in are grainy (as you can see), but they look decent when not full size. I was zoomed in 71x for a lot of them, so that was to be expected. The quality also depended on the stage lighting at the time, which was forever changing. Regardless, I am happy with my photos. With my luck, they could have all been horrible and I would have been sulking and kicking myself. But, for once, the stars were aligned and things played out in my favour.

I did take a few videos but not of full songs. They did not turn out as well. It is just as well; security was going around and making sure people were only taking photos (which, of course, is completely stupid because Adam tweets fan footage from his concerts all the time). There are not too many on YouTube from this Toronto show, but I found enough to download and have as keepsakes. I did film most of "Ring of Fire."

Thank you, Adam, for giving me this. It will go down in personal history as one of the most beautiful and memorable events in my life.

Elvis Lip Adam!

On my way to the Adam Lambert concert!

Apparently cameras are perfectly fine, so I will be posting pictures and video either Sunday or Monday. I meant to write another entry mentioning that we sold our crap tickets for way better seats on eBay. And by "better" I mean second-freaking-row. We are not in the mosh pit area but the rows that start on ground level are Section 200, and we are 200, Row B. I have no doubt I will have a fantastic time now. There will only be one head for me to see through. I found out that the amazing guitarist that was going to be on Michael Jackson's "This Is It" tour, Orianthi, will be there. We are arriving a bit late to skip some of the bands but I am hoping we will get there in time to see her. She is so amazing.

Crossing my fingers everything will be okay and I will have a great time.

Lately, I have been hunting around Amazon and eBay trying to expand my cardio DVD collection. I find that the more variety I have, the more inspired I am because the less bored I get. I have come across several S.W.A.T. and military DVDs... and from those popped up some self-defense DVDs. It really got me thinking about how one actually goes about executing those lessons in a state of panic. When I think back to when I was mugged, I almost want to hit myself for freezing up the way I did. I could have attempted to run because there were people not too far away, but my entire body was frozen with fear. This is certainly a typical response to a terrifying situation, but it makes me wonder if learning any self-defense techniques would even be worth while. I remember not being able to function at all; I just let them rob me. I felt the knife on my back but I did not struggle or try to get away. I could not even speak. Do you ever have a dream where you are screaming but no sound comes out of your mouth? That is very similar to what it was like. My brain wanted to do things but my body would not respond. My motor outputs shut down.

It almost felt like an out-of-body experience, as if I had been outside of myself, watching it all happen. I still remember that feeling very clearly. I had never really felt that type of fear until that day, and my brain (and body) had no idea how to handle it or what to do. I just stood there. Of course, I would want to be prepared if anything like that should happen again, but I keep thinking, 'How would I remember what to do in that state of fear?' Your brain just shuts off when you are in a situation like that, especially a life-or-death situation when there are weapons involved. I am really torn about how I would react, should it ever happen again.

Has anyone ever taken self-defense classes? I know they can never hurt, but I am just skeptical that I would even be able to remember those moves or have the confidence to try them while in a terrifying situation. It would not hurt learning some basic moves but I just wonder, if it came down to having to use them, would I be able to?



March 2017

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