…be a hero.

It doesn’t matter how bad your problems are,

They will always tell you someone has it worse,

Nobody is going to care,

Til you tie that rope and kick the fucking chair.

I read this quote, and I started crying. I literally welled up and began to weep. It’s all too familiar. All to close. I’ve been there…sitting. Pondering. Contemplating. I’ve looked at my phone at 9:47 and played the “if I don’t receive a sign before 10:00, then that’s it. I’m done” This usually goes again until 10:15, 10:25, 10:45… The thing is, there’s only the potential outcomes to this situation. I’m going to either A-receive a sign…a phone call, someone finding me, whatever it may be. B-over the course of however many rounds of “let’s wait until” I chicken out or calm own and change my mind. Or C-carry out the task.

There’s always going to be those that tell you that “so-and-so has it worse”. There will be people that will think you’re being over-dramatic. There will be people that will flat-out call you a liar. And those are the people that will push you to that edge… to the point you just don’t know what to do. You feel like you’ve completely run out of options. But the thing is, that’s all bullshit!! There are people who care. It may not be your family, but if you open your eyes and look…you’ll find it. I’m extremely fortunate. I grew up in an amazing home. I have siblings that love me and care for me. I married into an equally amazing family where I have felt nothing but love. We live in a small community full of genuine, caring people. I’m blessed. I have it so good!! But on those days, when the darkness sweeps over and the chaotic haze sets in…on those days, none of that matters. I might as well be a castaway, left for dead in the street surrounded by strangers. I’m scared. I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m dying.

Here’s my problem. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I find social interaction can be stressful, awkward, and create huge anxiety. I prefer have everything bottled inside of me instead. I’ll try to act as if I’m the happiest guy in the world. And I’ll act as if I have the perfect life. I play that happy character so well, that even I begin to believe it. I’ll actually lose focus on my fears, with my fears losing grip on me. I’ll be so happy all day. But as soon as I lay my head in bed at night the thoughts come back. They always come back.

I have three children. Two living, one that passed away 6 years ago. They literally are my world. I cannot imagine life without them. It’s been extremely difficult figuring out and knowing when, where, and how much they should be let in to the truth. My daughter is 9…and smart. She gets it. She doesn’t understand, but she knows it’s there. She knows I cut myself when I’m “sad”. She knows I spent time in a Psych Hospital to get better. She knows I take “crazy pills”. My 5 year old, he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t attempt to get it. He doesn’t care. But kids are kids. They’re genuine. They’re honest. They tell you exactly what they think, tact-free. Do you know what my kids see when they look at me. They don’t see dark, empty eyes. The don’t see fear. The don’t see and anxious tremors running through my arms to my fingers. They don’t see a loser. They don’t see a failure. And they sure as hell don’t see someone who is better off dead.

No. The see me. They see Daddy. They see they’re hero. They want to be just like me. The tag along in the garage just to spend time with me. They curl up and snuggle to a movie. They literally borderline worship their dad. Maybe it’s time I start looking at the world…looking at life, specifically my life, from the eyes of a child. I am important. I am loved. I am talented. So tonight, when I tucked my kids in I couldn’t help but look at them through their doors and think to myself… “there’s my babies…and I’m there Hero!!”

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…there is hope. (**trigger warning**)

This is by far the most difficult post I’ve ever written, and I’m sure for many of you it will be a tough one to read. I’ve started this entry many times over, but it’s always too hard to try and put into words. To give you a heads up, it is my account of a suicide attempt. It may be a trigger for some, and it may be disturbing to others as well. I like to look at it as a testimony of hope.

…I turned back to see the tail lights disappear down the street. The day was long. The day was hard. I sat down on the front step. I looked up into the vast darkness. I pulled my hood up over my head, buried my head in arms, and cried.

I struggle with self-hate. It’s the biggest hurdle that’s holding me back…by far. I’ve been told countless times now that if I don’t learn to forgive myself and start liking myself, I’m never gong to be able to “get better”. But it’s not going to happen. Not now. Not next week. Not ever. How can it? How can I forgive myself? Let me put it this way…everyone has someone that they hate. Or at least you have at some point. But for now, just think of someone that just rubs you the wrong way. They’ve lied to you. They’ve hurt you too many times to remember, and they actually seem to enjoy hurting you. They don’t even let you carry out daily tasks because they are constantly nipping at your heels. You try to be nice. You try to be polite. But they just don’t take a hint. Then you have that sense of relief…that feeling of freedom when you finally get home, close that door, and bask in the quiet calm freedom you have created. You all know that feeling of relief…when that person that annoys you doesn’t notice you and just walks by. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt it.

I can hear the kids through the door. I can hear my wife trying to calm them down…and I can hear her getting more and more frustrated with them. I flip open the calendar on my phone…hockey night. I can’t handle a hockey night. Not right now. Not feeling like this. I’ve spent the whole day at work reminding myself just how big a piece of shit I am. It’s pretty incredible, really, just how exhausting it is to beat yourself down. I am spent. Physically spent. Mentally numb. Emotionally dead. I can’t deal with them right now. I can’t deal with myself right now. I literally just want to be gone…

But what do you do when that person won’t leave? Or worse yet, when that person is actually you? Welcome to the world of self-hate. You hate yourself. You get yourself right worked up about how stupid you are. How useless you are. How much you just want you to disappear. To leave. To die. You try to busy yourself…to distract yourself. But you can’t hide. You can’t get away. You put on your headphones and pound yourself numb with music, but eventually the music stops. It always stops. And when it does, guess who’s there? That’s right…that slimy piece of shit you just spent the whole day trying to get away from. That, friends, is what I think I can very accurately call “hell”.

I open the door. I don’t even get the door closed behind me and I’m telling Sherry I can’t do it. I can’t go to the kids hockey. Not tonight. Not like this. Of course she’s frustrated. She’s spent the last two hours trying to get the kids organized after school. Getting them fed. Getting their gear together and having them ready to leave when I got home. “You should really come…the fresh air will do you good, and the rink is one of your “happy places”. My heels were firmly planted. I was not budging. My wife was frustrated. My wife was hurt. My wife was exhausted. So what do I do? Why, I lash out and make everything a hundred times worse, of course. She gives in. She takes the kids, and I’m alone.

My logical side can see how I should be able to work through this. My counselling really does make sense, but it’s like my mind refuses to allow things to compute at anything beyond an observation level. I firmly believe that I’ll get what I deserve. Like I said in an earlier post, I’m almost certain that I will end my own life at some point. The reason for that…I just can’t stop hating myself. I don’t think I deserve to be happy. In the ‘grande scheme of things’, I think the world would be better off without me. Without my mistakes. Without the hurt I cause. Without the influences I have in others lives. You can tell me all you want that that’s not true. That I deserve a good life. That I’m a good person. But at the end of the day, I won’t believe you. Even if I convince myself that I’m not so bad, when my head hits that pillow and my mind opens up, it’s pure hate.

I sit on the piano stool, face in my hands, crying…again. I look continually at the clock, then when I know hockey’s started and Sherry won’t be home, the darkness in my mind wins. Literally everything on the outside disappears. I remember the walk like it was yesterday. Moving snow pants and backpacks to get to the door. Right now the sound in my head is absent. Just like the sound of being underwater…muffled silence that is somehow deafeningly loud. I close the garage door behind me and sit on the floor. I don’t remember thinking. I don’t remember any internal dialog. I’m not processing, but I know exactly what I’m doing. On the floor is a towrope. I’ve many times come out and worked that rope. I’ve formed it into a noose so many times I’m sure I could do it with my eyes closed. I’d tie it, then sit on the floor, rope around my neck, until the feelings of hate lessoned. Then I’d untie the noose and go back inside. But today was different. There were no feelings. There were no thoughts that I was fighting. I made the noose the same as I always have, but rather than hang it around my neck, this time I secured it to the overhead door rails.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that life isn’t fair. I wish it was, but it’s not. When I was twenty-eight years old, I buried my son. I have never in my life prayed harder. I have never in my life been more supported. I have never in my life wanted anything as much as I wanted that boy to live. But I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t prevent what happened. I gave up on him. I agreed to have him taken off life support, then I spent a month in the hospital watching MY SON slowly die. I’ve spent countless hours at my boys grave…just laying there. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I yell and scream. Sometimes I’m terrified. But it’s comforting. It’s calming. It’s one of my most favourite places to be. And before I leave, I always apologize.

“Can you come home?”

“Ok”

“I’m in the garage”

As I put my head through the noose I never even felt any fear. There was no second guessing. No questioning what I was about to do. I was calm. Calm and focused. It’s not that I wanted Sherry to ‘find me’…but that I didn’t want her to open the garage with kids in the car to see their dad hanging there. I knew the kids were at hockey, and she’d be coming alone. I had 10-15minutes before she’d be there. I closed my eyes, everything went quiet. I tipped the stool over and dropped.

Panic!! Absolute panic. Intently all air was gone. I was able to get my fingers on one hand in the rope, but the more I moved, the tighter it got. I desperately reached for anything with my feet. I was able to reach the fallen stool with my toes and take a little bit of the weight off, but the rope was tight and there was no breathing. Everything started getting cloudy. I closed my eyes and everything went red. I opened them to see my wife running towards me. I remember the garage door opening, and then I was sitting on my knees on my garage floor in my wife’s arms, sobbing. 

I was flooded with emotions. Still looking back, I get bombarded with emotions. That minute or so of panic was the scariest moments of my life. Absolute helplessness. I am thankful to be alive. But there’s also anger and frustration. I failed. So often now I get down on myself and the thoughts of “if you would have just done it right” fill my mind. But I do know that I’m alive for a reason. It’s not the first time I’ve been “saved” from suicide in one way or another. You see, Sherry wasn’t at the arena like I thought. I never got the 15 minutes I planned on. Sherry was upset over how things left off when I got home. She was out driving with her dad. She was literally at the end of our street when she got the text. She was there in a matter of minutes. Now I am a man of faith…and I believe this was no coincidence. And even though my demons have me convinced that one day I WILL take my own life, it’s those times that I was saved that I cling to. They are my hope.

There is always hope.

…battle wounds

“I think scars are like battle wounds – beautiful in a way. They show what you’ve been through & how strong you are for coming out of it.”

– Demi Lovato

I Instagram’d this quote earlier today. It’s a quote that i read quite regularly…I’ve got it saved on my phone, it’s shared often on Mental Health sites, and you google “mental health quotes” and it’s sure to pop up. But as much as I love the quote…I love the triumphant overtone amidst the soft and subtle almost romantic undertone. It’s a beautiful quote by an equally beautiful advocate for mental health. But where I get hung up…I’m not there. I’ve got scars… I’ve got hundreds of them. And they are most definitely battle wounds. But there’s nothing beautiful about them. I haven’t been ‘through’ anything. I am stuck in the midst of a battle that has no beginning and no foreseeable end. There’s no ‘through’ on the horizon, no matter how distant I strain to see. The idea of strength and perseverance is what I have, and the hope of coming out is what I cling to. Persistence. Perseverance. Hope.

I have a love/hate relationship with my scars. I don’t hide them. I want to hide them. I want more than anything to just cover them up and pretend they’re not there. But I’ve made a point to not hide them. You see, I did an amazing job of keeping things together. I’ve really struggled with depression/anxiety for as long as I can remember. It got really bad when I went away to boarding school for grade twelve. But I was always able to keep things under wraps. I made it through all my years of high school, two years of college, and ten plus years beyond that keeping everything bottled in. I found my ways to cope. To blow off energy. But mostly I hid. Sleeping in as long as possible became routine. I stayed up late at night because thats when I could most easily be alone. I had friends, but no close friends. I never allowed anyone to get close…that might result in me having to open up. I learned early how to appear social. Extremely social even. If you look at your story as a book, I had a theory. Say your book is twelve chapters long. I very easily opened myself up to say chapter five without any prompting. This usually was more than enough to satisfy any questions people had. I opened up quicker and easier than most, to that point, then the book closed. I let very few people read beyond chapter five. Like count on your fingers few. You got it…it’s depressing, but I’ve had single digit close friends. Everyone else I kept at a safe distance. I do it to this day. It’s something I’m working on, but I have ridiculous trust issues that I’m just unwilling to get past. Hopefully in time…you know, when I “see how strong I am for coming out”.

But I consciously decided that I wasn’t going to hide my scars. As much as I was able to bottle things up and cope, the thought of suicide has always been there. It actually goes beyond that…I’ve dreamed of suicide many times. It scares the shit out of my wife every time I say this, but I am 99% confident that that is how I’m going to die. I don’t know why…it’s not that I’m wanting to go off myself tomorrow or anything. This isn’t my “note” or farewell or anything like that. It’s just that’s where my belief has always been. It’s a seed planted deep, I guess. Last spring was when the thoughts started becoming more and more prominent. My dreams were getting darker, and it was getting harder and harder to manage and block out the chaos in my mind. I made many late night drives out to the bridge. Some with intention, others just to scream. (screaming does help, by the way). I ended up spending some time in the mental health centre after I had gone a little excessive with the self harm. It was coming out of the hospital that I decided that I wasn’t going to hide my scars. My kids were aware of them, and I didn’t want them to feel they needed to hide or lie to people about their dad because I was trying to keep private. The scars aren’t going anywhere. It’s live with them, or spend my life continuing to hide.

So I bare my arms. I don’t do it proudly…quite the opposite. I am very much embarrassed and ashamed of my arms. I hate the fact that my daughter is already having to explain to her friends that her dad cuts himself when he’s “sad”. I’m terrified that she’s going to see this as an acceptable way to deal with pain. But at the same time, what do I do. I feel like people are staring at me all the time. I go crazy trying to figure out what they are thinking. Just today I got asked to look at my tattoos. I turned around to show, and her eyes locked on what are five not yet healed cuts. She didn’t know what to say…I didn’t know what to say. SCARS SUCK!! I hate them so bad.

BUT…ready for this? I love my scars!! Confusion…but you just went on for 915 words (according to my word counter in the corner of my screen) about how much you hated your scars… Yes. Yes I did. But many of those cuts came when I wanted nothing more than to end my life. I fought and wrestled with my demons to not take that drive. To put away that rope. To lower the blade from my throat, and to turn over that wrist. Cutting has literally saved my life on multiple occasions. That’s not to say I don’t need to find better ways to cope… I most definitely do. But when I look at my arms I can remember the moments that drove me to cut. I remember the battles being waged in my mind. And I remember how that cut made all those thoughts go away.

I hope that one day I can look at my scars romantically beautifully. A testimony of what I’ve been through and come out of. But for now they are just battle wounds. Affirmation of the mental hell I’m trapped in. A reminder of my minds desires which my heart and my will have to this point prevailed. Yes, my scars are battle wounds…but they are a far cry from beautiful.

#mentalhealthawareness… Please share.

Some of you likely read my Instagram rant today… I’m not even going to apologize, it’s something that really eats at me and pisses me off. I’m actually going to run with that a bit and see where we go. I usually mention at the end of my posts to share with anyone you feel could benefit. The response I’ve received has been amazing. I am constantly blown away by the amount of people that are affected by mental illness and are bravely living life ‘flying under the radar’. It is because of this that I’m going to flat out ask you to share this blog post, or the link to my Facebook page. (you can click on the word ‘Facebook’ to directly link to my page.) I know theres so many people out there that are getting by undetected. I did this for 20+ years. Stepping out was the hardest thing I ever did, but I was at the point I really felt that if I wanted to live… if I wanted to be a father and a husband, it’s what I had to do. I’ve been blogging some of my thoughts as I’m working through my life with Narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorder with clinical depression and severe social anxiety. I’m hoping in doing so I can help some of you that are fighting your own demons, and for the rest of you I hope to maybe help you understand what it is we go through that makes life so challenging. Again, please share. And please respond, whether by comment or direct message. I want to hear from you.

#BorderlinePersonalityDisorder. It’s actually kind of relieving to have a ‘label’. As much as I HATE being labeled, I at least now know what I am. I’ve known I’ve been depressed. I’ve known that social settings make me anxious and uncomfortable. I’ve known I’m moody and emotional. I just didn’t know why. Yes I’ve hurt myself in different ways… it’s always replaced the more unbearable hurt that is the demons in my head. But I was a hockey player. I wasn’t weak… and only the weak hurt themselves when the can’t handle it. So I handled it. I bottled things in. I swallowed the pain. I recluses. I dissociated. I lied to myself each and every day that hey, you’re alright. This is normal. This is what everyones going through. And do you know what? I believed myself. Right up until the day I imploded. Looking back, I don’t know how I was so stupid. So gullible. But then, I do know. I wanted so badly for it to be true. I wanted so badly for those words, “You’re normal. Everyone’s going through the same thing. Everything’s going to be okay” to be true. I gripped that false sense of hope with every fibre in me. I beat myself blind of such glaring truths… truths I just couldn’t figure out. It just didn’t add up…

Why the hell is everyone so happy all the time? Seriously?!? Does no one ever have a bad day??? This is still how I feel… some people are just so damn happy it makes me uncomfortable. Like seriously, if you don’t stop laughing you’re going to wear your pumpkin-spice-latte (I detest that drink, by the way.) I don’t want you all to think I’m just miserable. But what I do want you to know is that there are many times that I am being extremely brave, extremely courageous. Putting myself out of my comfort zone and into complete vulnerability. It’s exhausting. It’s terrifying. Yet I willingly do it day in and day out, for you. For the ones I love. For the ones I care about. For the ones whose faces I want to see donning smiles, and enjoying their non-pumpkin-spice-latte beverages. Seeing you happy makes me happy, and it really does give me a feeling of normality. I enjoy time spent with friends. Very much. Close friends become a comfort zone. A safe place that I can let down my guards. And oh, I have guards… I have guards that have guards I’m sure.

Social anxiety and depression are the two main avenues my BPD chooses to occupy. And they completely feed off each other. My anxious spikes turn into bouts of depression. They often travel back and forth multiple times a day. My depression reminds me of laying in a pitch dark room with a smoke detector. All you can see is the smoke detector light. You know it’s the smoke detector light. There’s no surprises. Nothing to worry about. But you can’t stop thinking about the smoke detector light. You can’t stop looking at it. It’s occupying 100% of your thinking. But the light hates you. And it tells you it hates you. It won’t let you believe anything else other than it hates you, and you should hate yourself too. That’s the difference between depression and a smoke detector light… a whole lot of hate. Likely a stupid comparison. Anxiety is like the most difficult game of mental wack-a-mole. Thoughts pop and before you can hit them their gone. You try desperately to find some focus, to reign in those thoughts. To make sense of everything. But the thoughts keep popping up and down. It literally physically drives you mad. And then it’s like your thoughts are dumped and scattered like a spilled cereal box. Thoughts everywhere. No idea where to start. And now you’re depressed. This is the emotional yo-yo that is my life. That I’m supposed to just suck it up and get over.

The thing with labels is that on the flip-side there’s often ‘product information’. What we are made of. Dreams, hopes, ambitions. Hurts and struggles. Warnings and Advisories. Stats and figures. The stat that scares me, and actually is a major driving force behind me working my ass off in therapy is this. One in ten people with BPD will successfully commit suicide. Let me say that again. If you have ten people standing in front of you with BPD, one of them will commit suicide. Still not getting it? I come from a small town of about 1500 people. If all 1500 of us had BPD, 150 of us would SUCCESSFULLY commit suicide. Who knows how many others would fail at trying. Those stats are staggering. STAGGERING. But you know, stop seeking attention. Stop milking it. I never really understood stigma. I always kind of thought of it as a marketing gimmick. A way of raising awareness. #stopthestigma. Yes, it’s a way of raising awareness, but stigma is also a very real thing. And the thing is, it 100% of the time comes from the uneducated and the ignorant. So many people have told me they were unaware of the complexity of mental illness. That they simply had no idea. Most still don’t get it, but are making efforts to understand. Some simply have no idea or desire to know. It doesn’t affect them. They have their bubble, and until mental illness penetrates that bubble, they have no desire to walk that path. And that I can respect. It’s foolish, but I get it. It’s the ignorant people that I have literally absolutely zero respect for. Those that belittle the fact that your ‘illness’ is anything more than a gimmick. A gimmick for attention. A gimmick to avoid taking accountability for action. A gimmick to manipulate and persuade for a more favourable position or outcome. Those are the ones that aren’t worth the time it takes to even curse them. I, fortunately, haven’t had to deal directly with stigma that often, but I have had to. And I’ve also had to on fairly personal levels. And because of this I have gained a whole new understanding of the hurt. The pain. The literal suffering that many of us trudge through. The murky hate-infested waters we find ourselves drowning in. It sucks. And it’s so avoidable. SO AVOIDABLE!! Please pass this on. Follow my blog either directly through my WordPress blog (<-click ‘wordpress’ for link), ‘Like’ and follow my Facebook page (<-click ‘Facebook’ for link) Follow me on Instagram (<-click ‘instagram’ for link). The unknown, the unsure, the confusion and the misunderstanding of mental health is where lies the problem. We have to start looking past the labels. Seeing whats inside the package. Learning how to properly handle the product. If we can help clear the confusion. Make known what we deal with, and give understanding to those wanting to help, then we can go a long way in breaking the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Help ME – Help YOU!!

“Bloggers…don’t they have anything better to do than sit on their computers playing Candy Crush and writing their stupid feelings? SERIOUSLY…get a real job!!”

This was me. And not even that terrible long ago. I never ever saw myself a blogger. I’ve always found writing to be fairly easy, and after the passing of our son I had aspirations of writing a support and encouragement book related to that. That idea’s still in the plans, but placed on the top shelf for the time being.

But my blog. I’ve really come to enjoy it. I find it therapeutic. Most people with mental illnesses are encouraged to journal. To keep an ongoing log of their progress or decline. And it’s a great idea. I journal as often as I can, but there was something that always bothered me. The day to day stuff was easy. What did I do…what made me happy…what made me sad. No problem. It was the actual issues. The hurts. The struggles. Those are the things that were/are extremely difficult. My whole life has been hiding. Bottling emotions and feelings. I’ve worn a mask that became not some much comfortable but reassuring. With the mask I was safe. With the mask people couldn’t hurt me, but with the mask people couldn’t know me either. Journalling the heavy stuff opens some pretty deep wounds. Difficult times and haunting memories. It brings out all this pent up emotion, gets written on paper where I can see it. Read it. Relive it. It all becomes fresh and painful all over again. Then you just close the book, swallow it all down, and bottle it tight.

I suffer extreme social anxiety. I scored very high on my screening test, and I start group sessions for that in a couple weeks. If you know me you’re likely thinking “But you’re so social, how can you have social anxiety?” Well, I’m really good at hiding it. To me, throwing myself to the wolves sometimes helps. I can’t shut down. I can’t dissociate. It’s hard. It’s trying. And it’s exhausting. I often have to go ‘debrief’ in my bedroom when I come home just to clean out the mental cobwebs that were being spun by that spider that is chaos in your mind. I don’t like talking about my BPD. “WHAT??!! But your blog…?” Yes, talking about my health is hard. I’m forcing myself to do it, but it’s still very hard to do in person. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders, but the social discomfort is unbearable when talking BPD at times. That’s where the blog is a perfect fit. I can vent, let out emotion, let out hurt. Be vulnerable and open up without seeing anyone. Without feeling the fear, and the judgement. I don’t have to close the book and bottle up, but instead I can post and breathe that sigh of comfort in knowing that I did it. I shared my heart. I went out of my comfort zone to influence others. And that’s where the purpose of this blog comes in.

Because of my BPD being hidden for so long, most of my family and friends were completely caught off guard with the diagnosis. They have done lots of ‘google’ research, and have lots of questions. My blog started out as a way for my family and friends to read and stay involved with my ‘journey’. But the response has been huge. I’ve had people who suffer mental illnesses contacting me to thank me for putting the words out there. That they can relate, and that it’s nice to know they’re not alone. I’ve had family members or friends contact me thanking me for bringing some understanding to the subject. I feel a great deal of honour and privilege to be able to have the platform and the opportunity to use my “illness” in a positive and influential way.

With that, I have a request. Please share my blog. I think the movie with the most well-known movie quotes has to be Jerry Maguire. I’m going to steal one more… “Help me, help you… Help ME Help YOU.” So please, If you’re on Facebook, share my link. Twitter, retweet. I believe very strongly I have a good thing going, and the more people I can reach, the more effective this can be.

Thanks…
Dave

that unexpected curve…ABANDONMENT!!

i love the mountains. Everything about them. The shear magnitude of the towering peaks. The smell of air so fresh you cane help but close your eyes and breath it all in. The wildlife. It’s all… perfection! My dream is to live in the mountains. My Shangri-La . But for now I’ll just have to settle for getaway camping trips… a very acceptable compromise. But last time we went camping was a little different. There was a bit of an unexpected curve… and that curve would not leave us alone.

Being “flat-landers”, it’s always exciting entering the mountains. From the time we leave Calgary we are watching this mountain peaks get bigger and bigger as we get closer and closer. For the kids that one hour drive seems endless. But ten we get there. We are swallowed up by nature at it’s purest. Faces are pressed against the windows trying to take in all the mountains have to offer. Once in Banff we go to the campground to set up camp. We pull up to the registration window and pay for our site. Just as we’re about to pull away, the curve is throw,,,

“I almost forgot to tell you, there’s a bear in the area, so keep your site clean and your food locked up.”

Then come the questions. Is the bear in OUR campsite? What do bears eat? Do bears eat people? Can I sleep in the truck? and on and on. You don’t want to scare them, so you make sure all of your answers reinstate comfort and safety. We get the campsite all set up and head in for an early night after a long day of driving. So we all crawl into bed. We do a little visiting… ok, truth is we spent about an hour just to convince our kids to stop talking, and the only way to do that was to tell them the bear would hear. So there we were. Four of us all cozied up in the tent. Beautiful silence. The smell of fresh air. My happy place. And that’s when it happens. You hear a noise. Was it a branch snapping? What snapped the branch? Is that breathing I hear? I think I can hear its claws scratching a tree. I’m going to die!!

After finally convincing myself that those noises were nothing more than the trees blowing in the wind. It seems so simple when you look at it in daylight. The darkness truly hides a lot.

The fear of that bear, however, is a very accurate analogy of my fear of abandonment. And I mean very accurate. My wife, like the mountains, is magnificent. She is my happy place. I love living with her. But one day I got thrown a curve. My mind gave me a word of caution. Not “There’s a bear in the area”, but rather “She’s going to leave you”. I fight it every day. I come to the ‘camp ground’ and the park ranger that is my mind warns me of my possible abandonment. I try desperately not to worry and stress over it, but like snapping branches and noises in the woods, fear takes the drivers seat. It’s unbelievable the panic and the fear that blankets you in these times. I can’t even function…literally. I crash. I recluse. I think too much. I panic. I think of ways to avoid the inevitable truth. But until you have proof that the bear is gone, the bear will continue to haunt and torment you

Still, soft voices…

The engine shuts off. You look in the mirror to see your faint reflection looking back at you through the soft glow of light rising up from the dashboard. You see those eyes. Dark. Empty. Emotionless.

You sit. You stare. A still, soft voice rises up from your heart. It enters your mind begging you to just start your truck and go home. you stop for a moment to acknowledge it. It brings with it photos in the form of memories trying to sway your decision and alter your outcome. It pleads, it begs. But it gets ushered out of your mind by the demons, leaving broken and rejected in the form of a tear.

The faint lights go dark. The music goes quiet. You, for the first time absorb in just how dark it really is. No moon. No stars. Complete silence. Your thoughts can speak clearly now… clearer than they ever have before. You reach through the darkness and feel around the back seat. That soft voice is trying again, and actually has you hoping you feel emptiness, but it’s silenced as your hand feels the harsh weave of the rope. You stop, momentarily, and take in a deep breath. Letting that final breath of reason out, you scoop up the rope and open the door and in one motion hop out of the truck before reason knocks at the door again. Your feet crunch down into the frozen slush of the March night. The cold, crisp air enters your lungs with a sweet sting, and exits with the warmth of fire. That soft voices teared trail freezes quickly to your face, being wiped away quickly as you begin this final trek.

Your feet crunch loudly through the snow and ice. It’s as if everything else stops and stands silent. The night is literally dead of all sound. Of all movement. Of all light. “How fitting” you can’t help thinking to yourself. You walk that path quickly. Partially the cold, partially the fear, and mainly to avoid the return of reason. The soft light begins to break through the trees ahead. You stop momentarily. Close your eyes and take a deep breath of that now comforting cold air. You open your eyes, put the rope in the other hand, and start walking up the slope to the road. You look up at that last light as you walk under it’s glow. You are half mesmerized by it’s rhythmic um that breaks the cold silence. The light flickers and goes out momentarily. Silence. Darkness. Then with a flicker it returns to light my final walk. You reach the centre of the bridge and look down at the jagged frozen river below. You can here the broken ice shifting against itself, a welcoming chorus of monsters waiting to witness this final act. You drape the noosed rope around your head and shoulder like a dark sash. Beginning to wrap the other end of the rope around the rail of the bridge the unthinkable happens. The silence is disrupted. The darkness is pierced. You turn to see headlights approaching the bridge. You pick up the coiled rope from the ground, holding the rope in your now-trembling hands you send out a prayer. You don’t even name a recipient…just the words “please-please-please don’t stop. I beg you”.

You lean over the rail of the bridge and just stair into the river below. You hear the engine slowing as it approaches the bridge. As it comes closer you hear the brakes squeal softly. Your head drops as the car comes to a stop behind you. “You alright?” a woman’s voice calls out from the car. “I‘m good.” you quickly reply. “Are you sure?” she responds. “It’s cold…let me give you a ride.” Your head drops in annoyance, but that soft voice begins rising in you – “listen to her“. You unclench your fingers and open your hands, the rope dropping down into jagged audience below. You wipe away what you’re unable to distinguish wether are tears of relief or tears of failure, and turn around to see the humblest of ladies in the car.. and baby seat in back. “Let me give you a ride.” she again offers.

You convince her you’re ok to drive yourself home and return to your truck. You make your way up the approach and turn onto the highway. You look in the rear view to see those headlights follow you from just of the bridge. Just like she insisted. As you drive home those feelings of hate and failure are slowly being pushed aside…pushed away. A small army of still, soft voices is raising up from with in, and pouring out of your eyes and down your face. Memories of those that will be WAITING FOR YOU at home clog your throat like a lump and you weep. As you approach home, the headlights of the angel behind you turn off on another road. You smile. You say another prayer. “Thank you…” and you feel that relief. But there’s that thought. That demon that will not let you be. And your shoulders once again drop. Your heart once again hurts. And the truth is revealed.

Until next time…” you think out loud…

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