Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Respect and Kindness .. I am not your Halloween costume

My people were required to attend church run residential schools. I've been told stories of how they were beaten if they tried to speak Blackfoot.

I have been called a "Dirty Indian" more times that I would like to admit.

When I was 7, I was at the local playground with my younger brothers whom were 3 and 4 at the time. We were minding our own business being kids and playing with each other when these two older boys who were 8 and 9 said "Hey! Where is your whiskey?" When my mom picked me up I asked her, "what is whiskey?" When I told her what was said to me she was furious and went to the boys house and got upset with his mom, I remember being embarrassed and not really sure why.

Before moving to Newfoundland I grew up in Mormon town. One day my best friend wasn't in school and I asked these girls if I could play with them, they said "No, because my hair was too long, and my skin was too dark",

At that point in my life, I felt I wasn't enough, my skin was too dark, my hair too long, my eyes too brown ...

Children are sponges and soak up every word, every vision. Children look to people for how they should feel about themselves, of how they should feel about others. As a child I was taught I wasn't enough.

I didn't start being vocal about my views on racism or prejudice until after university. After I found a group of friends who loved me unconditionally, who thought I was smart, intelligent, funny and beautiful. I found a group of people who taught me to love myself for everything I am.

Just before Halloween I saw an advertisement for a costume. There was a witch, a fairy, and the last, a lady with a headdress on with a painted face and a headdress!

People's comments to me when I say people should not dress as First Nations are always "I need to adjust my attitude." "I need to be more fun and have a sense of humor."

People will say to me "I am friends with a First Nation, or my great, great grandmother was First Nation." Like it is supposed to make me feel better! Like because you have friends, or you're great grandmother was a First Nation that your feelings or more valid than mine.

It is my fault that I'm too sensitive and easily offend.

I should feel bad because of a tasteless advertising that targets my people, race, and culture.

Mocking another person's culture and race is not right. Kids see that. Kids hear that. We pretend that it is wrong to be culturally sensitive to people. We pretend that racism doesn't exist, because we don't want to take responsibility for encouraging negative stereotypes. We pretend that having FUN is more important than being kind.

These are my people.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Silent Suffering

Anxiety... It is a disease that you can't see, it isn't like the cold where your head is stuffy, your nose runny and your eyes puffy. You can't see it. You can’t touch it. You can’t smell it. But I can feel it on every inch of your body, consuming me, and grabbing hold of me and pulling me in, pulling me under.

It shows its ugly face at the most inconvenient time. It's a parasite that without permission finds its way inside my brain. It’s the monster under the bed, it won’t go away no matter how many times I try turning on the light. It’s the scariness lurking in the dark waiting for me to walk by, wanted to instill fear at the worst possible moments.

Not even in m dreams do I feel safe; it'll appear, taunting me and telling me I'm not enough. It'll whispers as I fall asleep telling me, You are worthless. No one likes you, just give up.

A new day doesn't just make it disappear. It'll whisper to me, making my brain run in a million different directions. It makes me want to sleep. It makes me want to hide away. It makes me want to give up, because I'm worthless.

If you pay close attention to me my anxiety appears through the wringing of my hands, and the casual way I bite the inside of my cheek so hard it'll bleed. It shows up through the way I tap my foot almost as if I'm getting ready to run. Running away from the anxiety, from the pain, from the way I view myself.

It appears in hundreds of unanswered questions all at once that pound at your head without warning. Am I good enough for him? Am I good enough for this job? Do I look pretty today? Is this mistake going to cost me my career? What if I never succeed? What if all I ever do is fail? Am I good enough? Am I as pretty as she is? Am I smart enough? Do I make enough money? Am I tall enough? Am I too fat? These questions sit in my head and taunt me everyday!

Anxiety shows up in my constant yawning, in a desperate attempt to get more air into my collapsing lungs. It shows up in the weight on my chest, making me feel like an elephant is standing on my heart. Making me feel like I'll never take another breath of air.

It creeps into my life, at the happiest of moments. It starts so quietly, almost like it'll be a day without it. Out of no where I begin to get consumed by it's raging fire. 

There are the day I wake up and I don't have the elephant on my chest, I feel happy, I feel free. I think it is gone, gone for good! But it comes and goes in waves. When the waves come they'll consume me once again.

Anxiety is EVIL. It'll attempt to hide away for months at a time, out of nowhere it is back, consuming all of me, eating my soul, eating my self love, eating my dignity.

It shows up in the way I look into the mirror one too many times before leaving the house. Through the swinging of my foot. Through the tears that show up unexplained. Through the picking of my hair. Through the sleepless nights. Until all I feel like is death warmed over.

Anxiety is all consuming. And just because it can't be touched or examined. Because I'm not having panic attacks everyday or other people don’t notice it written on my face, doesn’t mean that it’s not there. And it doesn’t mean that it doesn't scare the shit out of me. I've learned to live, I've learned to deal

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Your reflection feels like the villain right now

You’ll avoid looking at any mirror you pass. You'll divert your eyes and quickly as possible.
You’ll brush your teeth with your eyes carefully focused on the sink,
you will not check to see if the dress you threw on flatters your figure, or if it hugs too tightly, if it gaps at curves where you wish his fingers were touching.

Your reflection feels like the villain right now,
like she will mock you for every short-coming tugging at your spine, whispering in your ear,
“You always bend for the wrong people.” You don’t want to see how you look.
Plus, there’s an entire world that could eye you, could decide you are a vision and never let you forget your smile has lit up cathedrals before.

But those people aren’t him.

An entire sea, you’re still lovesick on one fish
who swims in the opposite direction.
You can’t hook-line-and-sink him
if his heart keeps looking for her
in every crowded room.
Her voice has been the only thing
to conduct electricity
throughout his body
even if you keep hoping
he’ll feel the magnetism,
the magic,
the spark you hold in your hands.
You can’t make him love you
like he loved her,
like he still does.
But you don’t want rationality,
to accept the only future you have together
is when you fall asleep
and you’re finally the girl he holds
without remembering the velvet of her skin.
He howls underneath a moon every night,
hoping she will come back.
You stand in the distance watching,
hoping one day....................

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Is this possible, I work on the Hill

I’ve been trying for a month to write my feelings, however, words cannot express how I feel. As I sit in my apartment in Ottawa I often find myself overcome with emotion.

I accepted a position this summer with the Liberal Party of Canada as a member of their Leadership program. This in itself is a HUGE achievement; they received 4,000 applications and only had 130 positions.

I’ve spent most of my life not feeling enough – not good enough, not smart enough, not white enough, not wealthy enough.

My mom essentially raised me as a single parent, my father was around but absent. He was an alcoholic who was extremely abusive so this caused my mom to raise myself and my siblings in women shelters. This made me feel ashamed, oh so ashamed.

I was the girls who always desired a career in politics but I felt that was so far out of my reach because of everything I lacked. Luckily I had people around me who saw my potential and pushed me to pursue my dreams, pushed me to be better.

I am the first Blackfoot to work on the Hill, I am the first member of my family to work on the Hill. This is only the beginning.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Choose to Love You

He’s not looking for a reason to leave, but if you continue to let your doubt overpower the feelings that you have for him, he just might. I’ve done this time and time again in relationships; created a scenario in my head, how I imagine him leaving, walking out of my life only to see him years later as a stranger, as a person who looks familiar, but doesn’t feel familiar. I’ve learned that this has nothing to do with him and everything to do with you.

He treats you the way you deserve to be treated, and you’ve waited so long for that to happen. To find someone who loves you for who you are, who sees your flaws as something to embrace rather than to hide, someone who truly wants the best for you, supports you when you’re at your worst, but more importantly at your best, because he loves without envy or jealousy or any other needless behavior that sours your taste of happiness. He brings you happiness rather than depleting the source of it you already have within yourself.

And because he’s everything you’ve ever wanted, you’re scared. You’re scared that if you haven’t already given him a reason to leave he will find one.

And then you begin to convince yourself that he’s searching for one, for a reason to leave you, but it’s you who’s searching. You’re looking for the reason as to why he’s with you. And when you can’t find it, you begin to think of every reason as to why he shouldn’t be. Why he shouldn’t be with you, and why he should be with someone else.

Because every insecurity you could ever imagine, his perfection brings it out of you. You think he’s too good for you, that he could find someone prettier, funnier, smarter, someone who would give him the world even if it meant giving away herself, but that’s what is so beautiful about you. That you’ve found someone you want to give everything to, and you still maintain every part of yourself while doing so.

You’re scared that someone could love you the same way you love them, but he’s not waiting for a reason to leave, he’s waiting for you to accept that he chooses to stay.

He chooses to love you, and he chooses to have you in his life. Everything he does for you, he chooses to. Because people choose who they love, and he chose you.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

There you were ...

I saw you today, it was an odd encounter. You were standing in my favorite ice cream shop and you took me by surprise.

I haven’t let you know that I moved here, I haven’t picked up the phone or sent you a text, I knew Calgary was big enough that I likely wouldn’t ever run into you, and then there you were standing in front of me with those big blue eyes that would make the ocean jealous and smile that once made me weak in the knees.

The last time we saw each other we were standing in my apartment on Thanksgiving weekend, and I was holding your hand as I told you I needed space and time, as I told you I needed to find myself and I needed to find myself without you. The last time I saw you I broke your heart. You were my life raft, you were my sanctuary, you were my refuge from the storm and I needed to learn to tread water on my own I allowed you to become too much in my life. I needed you too much.

We had just started dating when I was raped and you jumped on the first flight to see me when I called you in uncontrollable tears; tears that made me feel like I was drowning in my own grief.

You were more than I could ever ask for, you were more than what I wanted. You took a leave of absence from your job to come make sure I was ok, you drove me to therapy, to doctors appointments. You sat with me as I had a blank stare on my face as I looked into outer darkness. You wiped my tears when I would have nightmares and you held my hand when the emotions got too much for me. You assured me often I was going to be ok, you pulled me back from the brink of losing myself.

That Thanksgiving, three months after my raped happened, three months after you put your life on hold to help me heal, I realized I needed to heal on my own. I needed to tread water on my own, I needed to learn to breath on my own again.

Until that moment I never had anyone give up anything for me. I was always the one making sacrifices for everyone else. In that moment it was too much for me, in that moment I needed to learn to save myself.

As soon as you saw me you sprinted towards me, picked me up, spun me around, and looked at me like I was a rare jewel – in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald “he looked at her in the way all girls want to be looked at by a man”. 

You have so many questions for me and I had so little answers for you.