Monday, February 18, 2013

One Step Ahead of the White Tuxedo Army

Some Say - Skydiggers

I haven't written anything in a long time because I don't like to write with nothing but dark thoughts running through my brain. When all control of life is gone there is only one way to find peace and tranquility. For me, in the depths of the bathtub filled with salty tears there is peace. Sometimes you just want the pain to stop. These last two years of my life have been the hardest I have ever dealt with. And if you know me, that is saying a lot. 

I know and understand desperation. I know and understand loss. I know and understand pain. But this is different. Hope is gone. Hope is that one singular thing that can keep you going above everything else. With hope, you can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. With hope you can see a brighter tomorrow and you can garner the strength from deep within to wait for that day to come. I had hope...once...not anymore. And that hurts. 

I was that annoying optimist that could always find good in everything. I grew up without a father but I had an amazing mother who ensured we were happy and well-adjusted despite that. I felt my fathers love and I was barely 2 years old when he died. When my Mom and 2 sisters died, I concocted an explanation in my head as to why they left me and my brother behind. It made sense to my 12-year old mind and gave me peace. Besides, I wasn't alone, I still had my brother. Even in the extensive burn scars I suffered I saw positive aspects. I didn't lose my sight, I had all my limbs and full mobility. No matter how bad things were, they could always be worse. That attitude and a stubbornness that worked tirelessly to ensure that bad things within my control were turned around did indeed flip to the sunny side of life and outlook.

Control is a key concept here. If you leave your circumstances to chance or in the hands of others you lose control of your life. I think that fundamentally what we seek from infancy to adulthood and beyond, is not so much independence as it is control. What we wear, eat, do and who we hang out with etc. It's a battle with our parents. And to be considered successfully reared, we have wrested this control from our parents and used it for the good and benefit of ourselves and others with whom we may connect. Having independence really just means you can do it on your own. Being as most of us have a burning desire to find a mate to share our life with, I don't think we really want independence. Co-dependency is what we really seek.

I had indeed achieved success in my life because I had that control. I had survived and thrived despite a decidedly traumatic early childhood that beat on me until my mid-20's. I made a lot of bad choices in terms of my personal relationships but I was smart enough to get out before too much damage was done. And ever the optimist - if it weren't for the genetic input of one specific relationship, I wouldn't have the beautiful children I have today. Nature vs Nurture, I will take some credit for the people they have become despite my lack of the y-chromosome :)

But I digress, back to the idea of my personal success. Just living and breathing is not life -that is existence. I carved out a happy life for myself and children despite some rough economic times and times when the support of a secondary parental figure or family member would have been beneficial. We didn't have it all but we had each other. Just recently I found myself scanning 19 photo albums filled with memories before packing them up for storage - and with every page I turned and digitized  I found myself smiling and thinking "We had a good life!" Besides a few camping trips, there aren't a lot of vacation pictures in that hoard of albums but rather Life Pictures. What we did, what we had, where we lived was my decision as the soul parental influence. I think I was successful because I had everything I needed including the essentials of life but also two children I was fiercely proud of, a job I loved and above all else - peace, contentment and happiness. That's success - to me.

Did I want more? Of course, that is what dreams are made of and what keeps us reaching forward to improve. One day that European vacation or re-doing the hardwood floors would be a reality. Just like it took time to get the new fridge and car. If a magic genie popped down in front of me to grant a wish, I would naturally by-pass all the material crap and bring my family back for one more hug and to introduce my babes to them. 

People/professionals who have met me since my breakdown can't believe that I was so happy. But it is the truth. To me life was too short to be sad. Unpleasantness was cast aside. The adult game of Peek-a-boo. If I didn't see it I could pretend it wasn't real. So when people at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board attacked me - I didn't fight back. I believed in the honesty and good will of people. I believed that the truth would reveal itself. I believed that I would be protected if I spoke honestly. But no, it wasn't to be. Eventually, I voiced my allegations of bullying to people who were in a position to investigate. They didn't. But I became a liability with information that would set nobody free and hang a lot of people from the crucifix without their Savior to bail them out. I had to go. Relentless in their attack until I broke. And then to add insult to injury, my traumatic past was used against me. In layman's terms, I wasn't bullied by my supervisors, I was reacting inappropriately to people because I was still traumatized by my past. Neatly absolves them from mistreating an employee by bullying them. Something like blaming a back injury as a result of a work incident on a fall off a tricycle as a toddler. Yes, it's that stupid!

In the depths of despair today, after two years of battling the demons of S-L Corporation, I can't make anyone understand that this depression will continue until I am believed and able to regain control. For 10 years I worked and paid both my union dues and share of benefits so that I would be covered in the event of disability. So tell me why I have to now watch everything I worked so hard for slip through my fingers. My home, which I bought to secure my future and was not so extravagant that I could not afford it. Indeed it was completely affordable and I had far less than 15 years left until I was free and clear of a mortgage. Now, that home is a shell. Everything that made it a home is sold or boxed up. Without my income, without my Long-term disability, I can no longer afford to live here. Of course having done everything right and not sponging off the governmental system to raise my family, I have screwed myself. No one will subsidize me living here. Does anyone understand that I don't want that? I just want what I am entitled to.

Please tell me what I did to deserve to lose my house and everything in it. Did I skip a payment of my benefit package? Did I lie about my current medical and mental condition? Did 4 separate mental health professionals, my family doctor and countless other professionals I have encountered in the last 2 years lie on my behalf. I have supportive documentation that would fill the trunk of a mid-sized sedan and yet I continue to be denied Long-term disability. I wonder if the corporation stooges would like someone in my current mentally fragile state being responsible for the care, safety and education of their special needs children? I've said it before, there is only one way I'll feel safe at work, if I can bring my friend Smith and his sidekick with me.  

Someone needs to tell these insurance companies that it isn't fair to totally destroy a persons life while they sit back in their executive chairs pushing your file from one claims consultant to another. Am I asking for money from your personal bank account or money that I paid into the insurance? Why is it okay to allow this to drag on with no end in sight. 

Well, the end may be near. Professionals are trying to get me a new residence in the Rubber Room Hotel. Meanwhile the employees of the crisis center call daily to see if I am still breathing. And you have to answer their phone calls or they send the policing brigade to break down your door to verify or disprove your current meta-physical state. And the insurers continue to leave me hanging while I pack away the life I had into boxes not knowing where I am going. Maybe I am just getting my affairs in order. You see, I can't really go anywhere. Technically, I am still an employee, how far away can I go from my place of work before they say - you are fired. I wish they would fire me - because I promise you that a lot of information would be leaked to the public for the to draw their own conclusions. "Heels" would be named, so would the "Oh dear" ladies - the pain associated with the thoughts of these people is so great that I have to push them out of my mind. I am not strong enough right now to deal with that pain.

Did you hear about that Los Angeles police officer, Christopher Jordan Dorner,  that was fired and then went on a shooting rampage? When he snapped and began to seek revenge, his employer issued a statement indicated that they would re-open his allegations of racism as they may have been erroneous in their dismissal of him. Too little too late, I'd say. I sympathize with the man and I understand what drove him. I am sorry he died instead of his tormentors. These are his words from his manifesto. It sounds eerily familiar if you substitute DPCDSB for LAPD.

"I know most of you who personally know me are in disbelief to hear from media reports that I am suspected of committing such horrendous murders and have taken drastic and shocking actions in the last couple of days. You are saying to yourself that this is completely out of character of the man you knew who always wore a smile wherever he was seen. I know I will be villified by the LAPD and the media. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name.....The question is, what would you do to clear your name?"

I leave you now with a simple musing that I wrote trying to succinctly state my case:

"My childhood including...
                     - surviving the deaths of all 5 of my family members
                     - over-coming my grandmothers warped sense of child-rearing
                     - refusing to succumb to the typical teenage angst and tribulations 
...had NO bearing on the events that occurred during my employ with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board 25 years later. Nor did those childhood events give them the right to abuse and harass me in any way."

And finally, an insurance company that is set up and we pay into to be there when we need them should not be permitted to take our life and dignity to avoid paying what is owed. 

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Today Is My Mothers' Day!

Ronald McDonald Clock - Dan Gleeson
If the YouTube link doesn't show up, this link with get you there Ron Sdraulig - McDonald Clock

Side Note: 
I have never met Dan Gleeson but he has through his words and music told a beautiful tale of the life of my brother. I share it in a story about my mother for the obvious familial reasons but also because it was a mothers love for her only son that impelled her to let him go far enough to experience the compassion and kindness of others through the Big Brothers Program. In this way, the piece of music speaks volumes about the kind of mother Livia Sdraulig was. She was a young mother who was widowed at the age of 24 and left with 4 children to raise between the ages of 3 years and 2 months old. And she did not only succeed but she jumped so high over the bar that I couldn't even dream that I could reach it. Who I am today is because of her. My morals and values, my parenting style, my personality, my character, my compassion...all her (and my dad). Genetics too, you know :)

I have to add that I am so deeply moved by the actions of the man that I want to share with everyone. It's too much for me to contain within my own soul. 


Today is my Mothers Day, it is her birthday. She would be 73 if she had lived. She died at 34 instead. As many milestones as she missed of mine, I missed as many of hers. 

In the past few weeks, I have been unfortunate to become aware of two deaths in families that were close to me, and they both got me thinking of my mother in two different contexts. In one instance it was the parent of a very good friend. He was likely close to the age of my Mom and initially I thought how great it would be to have them around that long to see them age, grow old and become grandparents. But with advanced age, can also come illness and dementia  Dealing with either of those options in a loved one is beyond my realm of comprehension. In my mind, my Mom is a perfect angel who never aged or had so much as a deep line on her face - except for the worry lines on her forehead she claimed that the four of us kids gave her.  But then again with maturity, I never got the opportunity to know my mom as a person. Her likes and dislikes. Her dreams and hopes. The other instance was the husband of a woman with whom she had spent more than 50 years married too. It made me wonder how it might have been for my Mom having Dad with her all that time in the earthly dimension. What occurred to me - like a slap in the face - was that I have never had anyone remain a part of my life for more than 25 years. These time frames simply boggle my mind. It's incomprehensible to me. Like saying Blue to someone who has never had the gift of vision.

The question that nags at me - is it easier to cope and deal with the death of a loved one early in life or later? Certainly for the majority of us the answer would be never, if we had a choice, but we don't have that option. I don't really think there is an answer, at least not that I can answer. I think you would have to experience both ways to understand, but I have compiled some pros and cons for both scenarios. 

If a parent dies when you are very young, you really don't know what you are missing as time passes. You have no frame of reference to compare what it is supposed to be like. It is your new normal and you deal with it because you have no other choice. That can be a real positive thing. If you never had it, it is harder to miss. Like a child born without the ability to walk. Your reality is sitting on the sidelines watching others run from a distance. All your life, you will feel different from your peers and society's perception of what family is supposed to be. In some respect you will always be mourning and most definitely alone. The holidays like Christmas, your birthday, their birthday will always be hard and you can't escape or hide. And along those lines, is the fact that there are too many anniversaries and days to augment the pain. The date of death, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Grandparents Day. Looking at photographic memories that they should have been a part of like a school graduations, wedding, birth of a grandchild. The list goes on. But while it can be said that not knowing what you are missing can be a blessing, it can also be a curse because you will always be wondering "What if?"

But if you are one of the "lucky" ones to have your parent(s) around for most of your life time you may not appreciate being considered lucky when they do pass on. While the case may be made that you were fortunate enough to have had a generation or two to get to know them as people, there is certainly that much more to miss. It would be infinitely harder to adjust to a new way of living after having them around to share decades of traditions. The first years have to be particularly difficult trying to break old habits. Picking up the phone to call them, to invite them, to share with them. And there would be so many reminders of them everywhere. So many pictures, so many times for their names to come up in conversation, recalling moments in life with casual conversation. I am sorry but I would be willing to give that pain a spin around the block just to try it out. 

I recognize that it is hard to break a lifelong habit. But I have to say that I would rather have the precious memories to hold onto rather than the blank slate that only my imagination can fill. But that's just me.