Blog / Mental Health

Feeling Like A Stubborn Recluse on Vacation with My Partner’s Family

In a car along the 401 I’m sitting in the back seat. We’re heading east. My partner and his mother discuss potential work, hiking the trans canada trail, cyber bullying and anti-bullying efforts, child rearing limits in China, and crossfit stories. I interject with thoughts when they consume my mind and conversational pauses invite them out. It is sunny; the sky is a bright blue and the clouds are sparse. I think about the cloud diary I want to keep and how I should start by, well, starting. Photographing, I suppose.

When I was in grades two to five I had a babysitter who would tease me for my looking down when I walked. I’d be counting the sidewalk cracks or something similar, pretending I was invisible for whatever reason I was uncomfortable. She’d have this giant grin on her face like it was a joke or something. “How are you gonna know where you’re going if you’re always staring at your feet?” she’d say loudly. I didn’t get the joke, but I’d tilt my head way back and look up so high that all I could see we’re the clouds. You want me to look up? I thought. Well I’m looking up.

We stopped at the Harvey’s in Cornwall before crossing the border. They had a 2 burger special for $5 and Brian’s family made a big deal about only ordering veggie burgers because of it being Good Friday. I felt really uncomfortable with the whole exchange despite being raised Catholic. Thankfully my burger was delicious and seemed to amend all insecurities shortly after consumption. I don’t know why I’m so sensitive about religion in public, but I am. It makes me feel so uncontrollably uncomfortable.

Once through the border toll we stopped at the duty free where we quickly found out it was only for those coming back into Canada and, thus, we were unable to purchase anything. I wasn’t buying anyway, though I wanted to and immediately felt nostalgic for the roadtrips I took with my friend Marika. Marika and I were all business and a lot of fun. We got things done: driving, eating, drinking, laughing. We were really good at it all. I missed her a  lot in this tiny moment and wondered how I ended up with a family of five and all their partners instead of drunk in Tennessee. I’m not complaining, just wholly recognizing the difference in circumstance.

Driving through upstate New York after crossing the border I joked about the houses being Brian’s and my’s dream homes. The houses were dilapidated; window borders falling apart and paint peeling from neglect. Rundown but still livable. I learned of my love for these places in this moment, and the people who lived there. I’ve always been fond of neglect and what others would regard as unkempt or unfit to live. I come from a place like this, and I harbour a sense of belonging in them.

The road, County Hwy-1, turned into a two lane winding and quite bumpy throughway where the trees are tall on either side of the road and the mountains are visible at times out the right windows. I’ve been resisting feeling happy due a number of pre-existing factors (majority due to my urge to travel alone or with one other person), but keeping this entry going will help me cope. There are a lot of photos I’d love to stop and take but I’m just the girlfriend in the backseat. I just want to go out in my new hiking books and walk into the middle of a lake… again.

I stopped writing this post because I had a long internal talk with myself about choosing happiness. I was wallowing in a sadness I couldn’t define for any reason and decided to cast it aside for the day and a half I would be there. To describe this depression that comes over me is difficult to anyone willing to understand. It’s a feeling of stubborn reclusiveness that I see all so present in my entire family. I fight it though, whereas they give in. From my perspective, it seems like they give in. Maybe they’re fighting it too… who am I to say?

This stubborn reclusiveness is a little devil, though. It ruins good moods all over the planet and, to get rid of it, I picture it physically leaving my body. It’s like a gas that bungs up my lungs and I exhale long and deep as it pours out my nostrils. I hope, in these moments, that someone else doesn’t suck it up with the air they’re breathing. I would hate to bestow this on another individual.

In any event, I breathed out the little devil and had an incredible time. I practiced gratitude all weekend and it actually went well. I am grateful for these opportunities. For the ability to accept my emotions, write about them, and let them go. The most powerful choice we have is to change, and I’d say I’m half-decent at it.


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