Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Lost & Found

I went shopping with my sister tonight. You might not think of that as a luxury in life, but for me it was. Dad called just before I left the house. Mum FaceTimed while we were out. 

I'm honestly the happiest girl in the world right now. Our lives are far from perfect. I was telling my sister how scared I was last weekend, in the hospital, thinking I might actually die this time. 

Her: Did you think of calling your family?

Me: No. 

I don't live in a world where that's always been an option. So I go it alone and thank the Universe all my friends are functioning alcoholics and help is always just two floors away at the bar downstairs. :)

My lovely friend cleaned up the blood and took me to the hospital. For a gay guy that's a lot of love.

I think the best thing about life is creating your own family, which I have. But if you can hold on to your real family as well you're really, really lucky. It might take...um...5 years, but if you can get there, you're one of the lucky ones. 

Lizzie was here today and we sat on the floor, smoked a cigarette and planned out the next stages of her life. She's my sister as much as my own sister is, but my little sister will always be someone I need, to have in my life, to take care of, to make sure she's ok. 

I'll tell you this: if the JWs try to interrupt my life again I have no reservations in exposing them, discrediting them, in telling the truth about how cruel they can be. They have no right to control love. Or family. 

And with the internet the way it is these days, those guys are just going down, down, down. There's too many of us to silence. Join me? Let's end their rule. 

I'm here for the long run. I promise. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Jaybird

Y'all know I'm notorious for staying friends with my ex's. And that I've been through not the greatest time lately. I've been sleeping with a teddy bear, for fucks sake. 

Friday night it started all over again. My friends were downstairs at the bar, I called them, they came up, cleaned up the mess and took me to the ER. 

I have amazing friends. JJ showed up with a bottle of wine for the crew and ordered us all pizza while we sat in the waiting room waiting for someone to do something. They didn't. If you have a medical emergency, do NOT go to St. Mike's hospital. They would rather let you die than do anything to help you. 

Around 5 am we left and went to a real hospital, the kind that actually wants to help you. By lunchtime, I'd lost about 40% of my blood and they were talking about blood transfusions. For an ex-JW that's scary stuff. It all turned out okay though and eventually we came home. JJ was making me a steak to try to up my iron count after the incident, and I walked over and gave him a hug. 

Me: I would have died without you. 

Him: I know. Died in a pool of your own blood. 

Which is a gross way to die. Instead, we got back, he flipped over the mattress, washed the sheets and cooked me a steak. 

I don't think I've been grateful enough for the support, the unconditional love I've received from him and my other friends as well. I totally understand if you want to stop being friends with me, I've been a bit of an inconvenience lately.

But try to stick it out with me. This past month or so has just been a glitch and I'll be back to normal soon enough. I need you. I appreciate you. And I love you oh so much. 

Sullivan out. 


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Hot Mess

Thank you everyone who commented on my last post. Y'all are the most awesome readers a girl could ask for. 

I'm happy to report I am finally, after so many weeks, feeling better and able to leave the house - not just for doctors appointments. I've missed having Cat around, she was always good company when I was not well. My girlfriend decided to loan me her dog this week while she's at work. Being a dog walker wasn't really in my career plan, but for now, it gets me out of the house a little bit every day and I'm finally, more than halfway through July and summer, starting to get a little color and feel a bit more alive. Animals really bring so much joy and comfort into our lives. At the end of the day, they give us so much more than we give them and their love is unconditional. 

Unconditional love. Quite the idea, isn't it? That no matter what we do, how many times we mess up, that love is always there for us to lean on. I'll be the first to admit I am one of the most imperfect people out there. I bet we all feel like that at times. 

I know it's an uphill battle for so many of my friends who have been through the same or similar experiences as I have. Being cast off by friends and family for choosing a path they don't agree with is traumatizing. 

It's funny, I've been seeing doctors all the time since I've been off work, but I decided I should make an appointment with a different doctor I haven't seen in awhile. He's very good, very expensive. I went to his website to look up his email address and I noticed he'd added something new to the list of issues he works on with his clients. Religious Trauma Syndrome. It's actually #2 on his list now. Well, I'm happy I was able to help build that into his experience. And a little bit surprised there's actually a name for it. I looked it up, it's a real thing. 

I've been following a lot of ex-JW chats and websites since Rosemary wrote my story for Canadian Living. I understand the hurt, pain, depression, anxiety that they all feel. Anger towards the Watchtower. I can't say I can tell any of you with any certainty that we will all ever completely get over that. I know I'm still a hot mess. But we can get close :)

Did I ever tell you that my favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip? (I do have a point and I will get there...) There's never enough chocolate chips. Yes, the mint ice cream is good but the chocolate bits make it so much more special. 

The happiness trap that I think we get stuck in is not appreciating "good" as being "good enough" and always longing for the special something. If everything were special, the word would not have any meaning at all. 

If we decide to stay stuck in the past, mourning the people we've lost, we don't have enough room in our hearts to truly love and appreciate the new ones who come along. We might not even notice them. If we decide to hold grudges against our families who may have shunned us but have come around now, we're the ones building fences around us to keep them out, the ones who are not able to show the unconditional love and forgiveness we so desperately wanted. 

You know, if you pick all the chocolate chips out of the tub of ice cream, next time you open it you'll be disappointed that you were so greedy. Maybe we need to realize that "good" really is good enough. The special stuff comes and goes and it should be that way. 

Just so y'all don't think I'm turning into a total softy here, I will criticize this article on jw.org (link embedded in the quote). 

Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned.

Ok, "not shunned" here is open to interpretation. It's quite a misleading statement actually. Because outside of immediate family (if you're very lucky), maybe they don't put their heads down and walk past you on the street like you don't exist, but they still "shun". You're not alive, you're not included in their lives. You may have been friends for a lifetime, but they don't check in. I run into old acquaintances sometimes, and they don't even remember who I am. Old friends cut you off. It's still shunning. 

jw.org is probably trying to soften their bad reputation. It's a different world out there than it was before the internet, people who got disfellowshipped then were alone. Now they build communities. And they are putting their stories out there. 

I was sure, positive that they would come after me for having succeeded in getting my story told to millions of people. I work in marketing and I know how big corporations monitor the PR about them that gets out there every day. I believe I got away with it because they don't want a follow-up article published describing how they disfellowshipped me again for simply telling the truth.

I've been feeling so bad for so long, the past couple of days, I'm just so happy to feel "good". I hope some of that special stuff comes my way too, but for now, this is awesome. I have a freezer full of ice cream and a puppy to hang out with during the day. Great friends and the peace of mind that comes with doing what I know was the right thing. Religious Trauma or any other trauma we've been through can be conquered by working on our thoughts, our outlook, our appreciation of all the great things in our lives. No matter what anyone else tells you, there is more than one way to be happy. And we're all a hot mess at some point or another in our lives, so don't be too hard on yourself. Eat some ice cream. :)

Sullivan out.















Saturday, 12 July 2014

A little help from my friends

To say the last 6 weeks haven't been easy would be an understatement. :)

It all started the long weekend in May. If you read me regularly you already know a lot of this but I thought I should sum up the whole story for those of you who don't. I had a bad infection. I spent the long weekend in the hospital about 4-5 hours a day getting IV antibiotics. My sister was also diagnosed with MS that month. I was on antibiotics for a couple of weeks and I hate hospitals and needles. I felt sick all the time. 

In swoops the panic attacks. I've been having them almost every day for about 2 years now, but they became so much worse. I'd be throwing up and having vertigo at work. It's a busy time for us and I was having a hard time keeping up, which made me panic even more. 

I decide it's finally time to end this nonsense and get some medication for anti-anxiety. I thought I'd feel better in a couple of days. Most people I've talked to who've tried it at some point (which crazy enough is most of the people I know), told me I'd feel great in a couple of weeks. Didn't happen. I couldn't keep food down, I was too dizzy to even stand up in the shower. I slept a lot. They made me sad. 

So I go back to the doctor and we decide to try something different. At this point I'd lost 13 lbs in the past month between the antibiotics and this new medication. I actually felt good for a couple of days and told work I'd be back on Thursday. They thought I should take a bit more time. Which turned out to be a blessing because last Friday an old condition flared up and I had to go to the hospital on Saturday and have surgery. Great, the hospital, again. More blood, more needles, more pain. More bloodwork. (I've had to do that three time in the past couple of weeks.)

I'm not sure which was worse, the constant side effects from the medication or the pain from the surgery but I'll tell ya, I wouldn't wish either on my worst enemy. 

Now this may seem like a complain-y blog but it's not. I believe once you've been through a "triple threat" you're probably in the clear for awhile so I'm hopeful the rest of my summer will be absolutely fabulous!

I know for a fact that I wouldn't be feeling so optimistic without the help I've received from my friends. And it's funny, because as a JW, they really convince you that the world on the outside is selfish and scary and the only place to find true friends is with them. That is NOT true. 

Over the past month, I've had people here every day. Stopping in for a visit, bringing me food (even though I couldn't keep most of it down, it's a lovely gesture). My brother and sister came over and made meals. My work colleagues have met me in the park across the street to chat and cheer me up (and get me out of the house in a 3 minute walk). They've also been covering for me at work and that I'm sure is an added burden for them, but I really, truly appreciate it. 

My mom Facetimes to see how I am and my Dad checks in by phone. JJ and Lizzie have been here pretty much every day making sure I'm okay. I was a few months behind on my phone bill and Lizzie paid it for me because they were threatening to cut it off, no questions asked. 

My "Toronto mom" took the subway down from North York and held my arm (walking is painful) and took me around the corner and bought me lunch. Her and "Dad" check in every day too.  

My friends indulge my new hobby and let me read their tarot cards, do my dishes, call and text to see how I am and distract me from the boredom of being home. One friend even sent me a beautiful teddy bear, "Ted" (you know I'm not very imaginative when it comes to names, Cat was "Cat"). He's been a good cuddle buddy. A friend I don't even know very well offered to help pay for a ticket if I wanted to go home for awhile.

The most important thing I want to say is THANK YOU to all of you. You know I'd do the same for any of you when and if you need me. 

I've always considered myself a good, loyal friend but in the past, with my old friends, I felt often I was the one that had to support everyone else. Now that the tables have been turned, these people have proven I can expect to have that reciprocated. I believe the Universe gives us what we need, when we need it. 

I needed all of you. You know who you are. I feel very blessed, very loved. In the past, after being disfellowshipped, I didn't let anyone in for a long time. I was so afraid of getting hurt again and I just felt like my heart couldn't handle any more breaking. So I went it alone and refused to ask for help for a long time. Which was stupid of me. Y'all are helping to heal me. As much energy as I've put into healing myself, we just can't do it alone. I needed your energy too. 

We can get by when things are rough...with a little help from our friends. :) I can't wait to be back at work, back to real life (the bar downstairs probably thinks I died), back to normal. Thanks to you. xo

Sullivan out. 






Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

My family has been having a difficult time of it lately. I worry about all of them. I worry about me right now too. We've all come so far, through extremely difficult periods of time, sometimes because of our own mistakes, sometimes because of circumstances that were out of our control. 

My new hobby has been learning to read tarot cards. You're supposed to pull a "card of the day" and 5 days out of 7 I pull the Five of Swords. Cups are good, I kinda hate the Pentacles and the Major Arcana cards are always interesting. But the Five of Swords is always there. It means change, and the more you resist it, the more difficult you make life for yourself. You need to adjust to change brought on by distress or loss. It's an uncomfortable process but a necessary one. 

One I've been going through for five years now. 

They're right you know. It's a difficult process but a necessary one. I know I am more lucky than most of the world's population and I do not discount that. Y'all know I've been off work for awhile though and that's not easy either...gives you too much time to think. Then I had to have surgery on Saturday, I was at the hospital alone and that's no fun for 9 hours. Apparently I'm a bleeder so if I end up back in there and call you, please pick up. :)

I have to believe though that somehow this will all make sense. I don't believe in an afterlife heaven or hell, I think they are both here, in the present. 

I can't really make sense of death or suffering, but at least I no longer just believe that Jehovah knows best. Any God who would take people we love from us, or force us to undergo suffering for the sake of making us better people, I don't want to know him. Suffering does make us better people though, if we learn from it and use it to help others. I wish I could go home right now and be with my family, whatever small comfort that would bring. 

But I can barely walk and I'm broke. 

My spirit is still hopeful that things will improve. And that somewhere over the rainbow, we'll all find peace and contentment. In the meantime, I have the best friends in the world taking care of me. I'll be fine. For now, I'm sending as much love as possible to my family down East. 

Sullivan out.