Friday, February 25, 2011

My Journey Back to Myself

Yeah, it's been a ride
I guess I had to, go to that place, to get to this one

~ Not Afraid - Eminem

I don’t know how to start this so I’m going to jump in and just tell you all this last year sucked ass. In fact, it’s bittersweet that I’m posting this today because it was a year ago today that my grandfather passed away, holding my hand.

Let me tell you about this year and the shit I went through because depression sucks and I felt very much alone even though in reality I was not.

This year sucked so badly that I looked in the mirror one morning and could barely recognize my own reflection. For months after my granpa died, I spent the days in bed and withdrew from the world, disconnecting from my friends, my family and most of all, myself.

It was a dark place that I didn’t know I was in until I looked in the mirror that day. I felt awful about myself, my life, what I was doing, what I had done, what I wasn’t doing, how I looked, how I behaved… the list went on and on.

As I came out of that darkness, the light didn’t shine for me right away. It was like waking up from a deep slumber; everything was blurry, I could barely open my eyes or move my body. It was the end of June and I knew I could no longer live that way, hiding in bed all day, getting up only because I knew I had to make supper and at least wash off the counters so that my husband didn’t know I had stayed under the covers all day. I stopped taking Lola to school, I drank way too much, I didn’t care how I looked or whether or not I ever put out another issue of MOM magazine. I literally left Ron to take care of everything, the kids, the house, and our lives. I emotionally disconnected from the Ron and the kids; it was like I left for a year. I can’t explain it, other than to say they were “three” and I was “one.” I’m so lucky Ron is the man he is because he took on such a burden without hesitating or even questioning it. I never saw that, though. At the time, I didn’t see him being supportive at all. Looking back, I realize just how lucky I am to be married to such an amazing man.

Is anybody out there?
It feels like I'm talkin to myself
No one seems to know my struggle
And everything I come from
Can anybody hear me?
I guess I keep talkin to myself
It feels like I'm going insane
Am I the one who's crazy?
So why in the world do I feel so alone
Nobody but me, I'm on my own
Is there anyone out there
Who feels the way I feel
If there is, let me hear just so I know I'm not the only one

~ Talkin’ 2 Myself, Eminem

I remember my first foray back into the “MOM industry.”

YummyMummyClub founder Erica Ehm was coming to Edmonton in June and I offered to host a tweetup for her. I remember feeling resentful and miserable and not at all like myself. In fact, I know I wasn’t myself but Erica got to meet the unhealthy me; the sad, depressed, angry Tamara who had almost given up on MOM Magazine and was resentful of anyone who was succeeding in the industry.

The sad thing is, I’m not that girl who doesn’t like to see other people succeed or be happy. I’m the girl who cheers at her friends achievements and encourages them to be better. I’m the girl who listens to people without judging them and makes people laugh when they don’t really feel like laughing. I’m the girl who chats with everyone and tries to make people feel comfortable in awkward situations.

It was at that tweetup that I met Tanis Miller (@redneckmommy) and reconnected with Connie Peters (@modern_mama) but it wasn’t the REAL Tamara they were seeing, it was the worst version of myself I had ever been. But Tanis, Erica and Connie never got to meet that girl. They never got to meet the charismatic, goofy, inappropriate and off colour Tamara.

They got to meet someone I who hated everyone. And that isn’t me.

Admit you got a problem you brain is clouded you pouted long enough

It isn't them its you you fuckin baby
Quit worrying about what they do and do fuckin Shady
I'm fucking going crazy

Talkin’ 2 Myself, Eminem

I neglected my health, my vanity, and my well-being for nearly six months. I stumbled out of the depression because I knew my kids would be home for the summer on school break and I couldn’t let them see me like that even though I’m sure they sensed I hadn’t been myself.

I felt alone the entire time I was depressed. I felt like no one understood and that I couldn’t burden any of my friends with my problems and even if they did listen, I didn’t know what to say. I would brush off get-togethers and avoid meeting anyone for coffee. I hated my life, I hated myself and I hated not knowing how to cope but I was so full of hate that eventually, I didn’t care.

I was indifferent to everyone around me and that was atypical of my usual passionate self. When I’m ME, I’m charismatic and goofy and love life. But that “ME” was miserable and broken and full of black emotion.

I feel like I’m losing control of myself, I sincerely,
I apologize if all that I sound like, is I’m complaining…
But I can’t, why do I act like I’m all high and mighty,
When inside, I’m dying, I am finally realizing I need help.
I can’t do it by myself, too weak, 2 weeks I’ve been having ups and downs

~ Going through Changes, Eminem

I’m writing this, telling you this about myself and opening myself up to you because I needed to find my way back to the light and tell you where I’ve been and what I’ve been going through.

And I’m crying now, not because I am afraid you will judge me but because I never wanted to expose this side of myself. I take pride in being a strong woman who battles through problems and never backs down from a fight but the scars are still fresh from this latest fight.

Towards the end of the summer, I started to come out of the fog I was in. I would tell myself every day that I was “back to good” but it was never true. I tried convincing my friends that I was “fine”. I told my husband I was “fine.” I hate that word, fine. Fine is NOT fine. Fine means there is a problem. Fine means HELP. But I was too proud to ask and I honestly didn’t think I needed help.

One of my best friends had given me Louise Hayes Meditations to Heal Your Life and at the time, I thought she was nuts. I wasn’t going to admit to anyone I was into something like that, even though I really was.

One day, during the summer, I opened that book at random, like she had said to do, and read the affirmation. I started reading them every day after that, setting my intentions for the day and after a while, my mindset switched like a light dimmer going from dark back to the light.

You're lying to yourself, you're slowly dying, you're denying
Your health is declining with your self-esteem, you're crying out for help

~Talkin 2 Myself, Eminem

Emotionally, I was healing but physically, I was still a mess. I had started attending networking events to try and get my head back into the game, and it always seemed like such an effort to look half decent for them. My grandmother would have been horrified with me and my inability to present myself in a professional manner since she had always exuded class and style wherever she went.

Not me, I felt good about myself if I had managed to put on something other than yoga pants. In October, I was introduced to Crystal Armstrong, manager of Phoenix Renewal Salon & Spa in Edmonton, at one of the networking events. She invited me to check out the salon and try out a facial. I agreed because the idea of reclaiming some part of my vanity appealed to me but had she offered even two weeks earlier, I probably would have declined. I was taking baby steps back to ME and this facial would be the beginning.

The day of my appointment, I was rushed and running late as usual. I didn’t have “time” to take for myself, the final preparations for our first-ever FIERCE awards were underway, I had to start thinking about what to do with MOM Magazine and I didn’t deserve to have a facial.
OK, so I didn’t feel that I deserved a facial, there was a big difference but in my mind, at that moment, I told myself that I didn’t deserve it.

The experience at Phoenix Renewal Salon & Spa was absolutely magical, from the time I walked in until the moment I left I felt pampered, cared for and emotional, as odd as that may sound. I remembered feeling the exact same way about 11 years ago when I went for a massage and really began to feel depression slip into my life. I remembered lying on that table, sobbing quietly and not wanting the masseuse to hear me. Why something so physically wonderful evoked so many emotions, I didn’t understand at the time. Eleven years later, I knew what was happening and that it was REALLY time to stop pretending everything was fine.

As the aesthetician magically transformed my skin from tired and puffy to healthy and dewy, I felt my spirit transform as well. I’ve had facials before but this one was different and I’m not just talking about the state of mind I was in. The treatment was blissful, relaxing and rejuvenating, and I left Phoenix Renewal and Spa feeling like I had taken the first step back to my old self.

“And I just can't keep living this way
So starting today, I'm breaking out of this cage
I'm standing up, Imma face my demons
I'm manning up, Imma hold my ground
I've had enough, now I'm so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now”

~ Not Afraid, Eminem

The facial inspired me to start taking baby steps towards reclaiming my self-esteem. Over the course of the month I started tanning again, much to my aestheticians horror, got my nails done and even decided to get Lash Extensions. I had admired the lashes of my good friend Amanda Babichuk who is the owner of d’lish urban kitchen & wine bar owner in Edmonton and she recommended a Flirt Lashes, which specializes solely to lash extensions.

I love the girls at Flirt. The lash extensions made me FEEL beautiful. I’ve had lash extensions before and actually tried out a few other places in Edmonton to see if they would be any better but they weren’t. No one compares to Flirt. A full set of lashes is $60 and last anywhere from 4-6 weeks. I’ve seen lash extensions cost upwards of $200, something I just can’t justify.

So with the physical changes I was making to myself, my self-esteem started to come back and I started to really FEEL like my old self. After the FIERCE awards, I dove head first into re-launching MOM as an online magazine.

It wasn’t easy, I won’t lie. I struggled with my demons every fuckin’ day.

"I've come up to make it up to you no more fucking around
I've got something to prove to fans I feel like I let em down
So please accept my apology I finally feel like I'm back to normal
I feel like me again, so let me formally reintroduce myself to you for those of you who dont know
The new me's back to the old me and homie I don't show no
Signs of slowin up, oh and I'm blowin up all over

~ Talkin 2 myself, Eminem

And I knew today was coming. I knew that the one year anniversary of my grandfather’s death was fast approaching. In fact, since I took him to the hospital last Dec. 13, I’ve felt myself slip back into that dark place but oddly enough listening to Eminem’s Recovery CD helped me stay focused.

Whether you like Eminem or not, you should respect what he’s been through and where he is now. He is so honest about his struggles, owns his addictions and never backs down from the haters. I not only respect that, I relate to it.

There is nothing about me that I keep secret. My life is literally an open book and this last year is just another chapter in my story.

Before my grandfather died, he told me I was “just like those rap guys, always offending someone.”

Bahahaaha yup, he had that right. And you know what? I couldn’t have put this post together without the lyrics from the Eminem songs that helped me through this.

“So there it is.
Damn. It feel like I just woke up or somethin.
I guess I just forgot who the fuck I was.
Hey yo, to anybody I thought about goin’ at, it was never nothing personal. Just some shit was going through.
And to everybody else… I’m back!”

~ Talkin 2 Myself - Eminem

And you know what? It feels pretty fuckin’ good to be back!