It's hard, sometimes, the growing. Sometimes it's like I'm stunted and it takes effort, physical strain, even, to grow and stretch and leaf out. Lately, though, I've been feeling more and more like I felt before my brother died, before I had a soul-crushing year of college, before I believed myself incapable of anything worthy. I have begun again to thirst for knowledge, to want to fill my head with ideas and concepts, to want to explore new things and do exciting things.
I've shrugged off the shroud of anxiety I had when I began, that I remember so well from ski patrol, from trying to do a primary survey in front of Moko and being paralyzed with anxiety and fear. I've grown into an easy-speaking individual who thinks before she acts, who recognizes her failings, who is confident enough to admit when she doesn't know and then to ask, in order to learn.
It's been a very slow process. Slowly putting new ideas in my head, learning about places Elsewhere, learning about (and remembering) people, tasks I had put aside before to concentrate wholeheartedly on myself and fixing what's wrong. I'm far from done, and it's been a long haul. I'm only now feeling like I'm getting somewhere.
With this new, blossoming bone-deep desire to fill my head with things, has come the renewed desire to go back to school, to finish a BSc, to become a physician and write my own destiny. I've started doing things with a look towards the future... even going so far as to acquire books on purpose specifically because I want to have them in the future, to hand to children and to tell them "you must read this, you'll love it."
I've started thinking about parentage. My own, and my future. How will I prevent myself from making the same mistakes? How do I want children to grow, and how do I want to shape them? I want to instill on them values I hold very dear, such as being blind to sexual orientation, to gender, to race. I want them to value people, to value life as highly as I do, as highly as (who will likely be) their father does.
Are we getting married? The short answer, is yes. The long answer is, we will be when it's the time to do so. As it stands now, he's standing on the brink of a long haul of his own, the physically, mentally, and psychologically demanding task of earning his red serge.
I will be separated from him for the better part of a year. I've had a good six months to chew on that fact and swallow it. It will be hard for me, but I have some of my closest friends close at hand, and just the right mix of tough love, intelligent advice, pure affection, and comfort to make it work. I know I will miss him more strongly than I've ever missed him before, because we have never, ever been separated for this long. I've been dating him for six years, we've been together through thick and thin. We've done what many married couples never manage. He's held me through some of the most ripping grief I'll ever feel, and I've held him right back.
I'll miss him, this is true, but it would be selfish of me to ask him to put down something he's wanted so badly, for so long, because it'll be difficult for me. I will have lonely nights, and I will cry, and I will reach out for him and he will not be there. But the reason he will not be there is because he'll be standing up to a far greater challenge, standing up for a job that is-not-a-job, a job he was born to do. Once he graduates, once he wears that uniform that our country is so well-known for, there will be no turning back, no un-doing. He will never not be a Mountie, not ever again.
I know him better than I think anyone else does. I have seen him, and his blue eyes, and his calm smile, and his duckfeathers approach to difficult situations -- it rolls off him like water. Shit happens, we move on, we deal, we do what we have to do, we do our best and we must accept that. It's very matter-of-fact, and it's refreshing, because so few people are so head-on about life, the universe, and everything.
As much as I know I'll miss him painfully while he's gone, I know I'll look back at this period, the period where he literally gives his life away to the RCMP to change and give back to him, as one of the most fulfilling things we've ever done. I say 'we' though he'll be the one doing the hardest work -- I say 'we' because of the changes I'm sure this will have on our relationship.
I can't be separate for so long and not, in some way, learn to appreciate him more. Hell, I appreciate him more already -- remembering to thank him when he does things, to be gentle when I chastise, to always-always-never be deliberately hurtful, to cry with him, and to be honest, even when that honesty slices me like a hot knife.
I am experiencing pain, and I cannot anaesthetize it. To do so would be to do exactly what I fear doing -- to repeat the mistakes my parents make. I must bear this pain and let it change me, and learn to adapt. I must take it and do with it what I did when my brother died.
I haven't written much about it, mostly for fear of being a complete downer. I'm also afraid if I talk about it, people will think I'm fishing for sympathy, that somehow I want hand-holding and comfort for my whining. I think this stems partly from my own paranoia, and partly from having assholes in my life who told me three days after the fact to quit "acting like such a martyr." I think the first thing I learned was what makes an important friend, what a friend is, and when to savagely cut that tie without regret and without anxiety over making the wrong decision.
In short, I learned that I have value too, that I am important, and that anybody who believes otherwise has no business being in my life, taking up my precious time, and influencing my decisions.
I learned how truly small I really am, and how much difficult and passionate work it is to be significant. The world didn't stop because mine did. It kept right on going, and I had the option to keep up, or not.
Since picking up the ball again and moving with it for most of a couple of years, it's felt more and more natural, and I feel more and more like I should be feeling again. I've learned I'll likely be medicated for mental illness for the better part of the rest of my life, but if one pill a day keeps me from circular, hyperparanoid thoughts, I'm okay with that. I've started to feel more and more emotionally ready for more ... nevermind what that more means.
I've had to think, since Moko will be joining the RCMP and could be posted nearly anywhere in Canada, about my job prospects and how to maintain my portability. My job is only so portable, if I want to experience the kind of subject matter I want to experience. It also strips from me a degree of autonomy -- and anybody who knows me knows I want to be the one running the show. I've been getting bored where I am, and I'm starting to feel more and more emotionally ready to make the change I've been talking about on and off for years.
The prospect of getting that MD after my name, of becoming a physician, likely an Emergency Room physician at this rate, is daunting, since it involves around a decade further worth of education, as well as approximately $100,000 or more in debt. However, that debt means I'll never want for money ever, ever again, and will always, always have an interesting, meaningful job.
It struck me, today, what those two letters mean. I saw a commercial for Medecins Sans Frontieres (doctors without borders) today, and was struck dumb by the thought that "I could do that." I have a potential, an unrealized potential, I could be significant, if I chose to be. If I choose to be. If I want to be.
So I think back about the most significant people in my life, and who I surround myself with. One with a master's, who wants a PhD, who teaches at a university level. One who wants her master's, one who wants to teach, who wants to enable people, women, one who wants to change his world one person at a time, and so on, and so forth. Forward-minded broad-thinking highly intelligent people, capable of greatness. So am I.
Most people go through their life sifting through choices and trying to make choices that are easier, trying to avoid difficulty. This is a choice I'm making in advance, full well knowing that it'll be difficult. But I've done difficult things, and survived. In fact, I've become a better person for them. Why should I shy from a difficult thing, simply because it is difficult? Don't I chastise my own friends for such defeatist patterns?
Moko is certainly not shying away from Depot, even knowing full well that they will purposely break him down, to build him back up again. He knows that their highest attrition comes not from people deciding it's too hard, but from people being so physically exhausted from their rigorous physical training that they lack the energy and ability to succeed at the mental training. This will be like boot camp, except worse, far worse. He's standing up tall, agreeing to move anywhere they tell him to, agreeing to carry a sidearm for his country, and to use it in a deadly fashion should he be required to for the greater good.
It's a difficult thing, this not being able to ever un-be a police officer. And he's going to do it because he was born to do it.
As much as it'd be easy to shy away from my own challenge, I can't choose the easy way simply by virtue of it being easy. That's not how the right choices are made.
I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in, to be able to do this, and I'd be a fool not to do it.
In this process of self-discovery, I've been sharing my insights with some close friends, including a newly close one, who I am proud to count among my most-loved friends, who cherishes me as a good friend should, and I can feel it in his touch. I have so much love around me, and Moko is so deeply trusting to let me explore it -- a lesser man would be less perfect in his trust. I am therefore very careful to ensure I never violate it -- and I think the arrangement has strengthened our friendship and our relationship. I have no doubts that this is the person for me, so much so, that when someone makes a comment like "Something could happen and you'd no longer be with Moko" I have to shake my head for a second to understand what they're talking about.
I'm very proud, because I've become the kind of person I've always hoped I'd be -- somebody who's lived through difficulty, who's worked her ass off to get what she wants to have, and who doesn't piss and moan about a problem without having a solution in mind. I've grown real strength, and I'm never one to brag, but I'm so proud of this strength I've found, so thankful, so grateful. I don't know where I found it but I want to take it and be a warrior and a hero along with my warrior-hero himself.
There is so much love in the world, and seeking it out and loving it for what it is has turned me into a better person. I want to live the words I speak, and help everyone around me grow as they want to. I love them all, partly because they are like me, and want to grow and love. It's amazing, it's life-changing. I can do it. I just need to plan how.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
- Mahatma Gandhi