A week or two ago, I won a radio contest where the radio station pays, the winner, his or her flight home for the Christmas period to reunite with his or her families. I thought, at first, to give this ticket to my mom as she have never travel outside of the province and she will never be able to afford it. She is living on the pension of my deceased dad. The plan felt through due to lack of fund on either side of my brother, sister and I. Therefore I’m driving back to her house after 10 years of absence in my hometown, north of Montréal.
I was apprehensive to fly back as my hometown is link to a load of heavy unpleasant memories. As I drive by, I feel more a tourist than someone who had lived here half of his life. A lot of things have changed over the years as it is expected after a 10 years of absence. The roads I knew so well 10 years ago, take their time to come back in memory. I stop, on the way, to grab a little bit of foods for my picky tummy and some flowers for my mom. I finally reach my neighborhood and drive down the streets where I grew up. The apprehensions I had, leave me quickly, I see now everything to a different eye. The way I see and feel now about my hometown and the memory attached to it, they have lost their grip and power over me.
When I get home, I don’t receive the welcome I will have hope. The welcome felt more like I just came back from a day to day work. Only my youngest nephew showed some excitement; the last time I saw him, he was only a baby. He barely knows me except by the voice he heard over the years on the phone. As I stand here in the house of my mom, where I grew up as a kid, everything seems smaller than what I remembered it. I’m feeling like a giant. Even looking at my mom and brother, I feel that I take too much room in comparison to them. But one thing I know and I’m certain is that I have successfully outgrew the child I was, I outgrew the teenager I was and my childhood doesn’t oppress me anymore. I only stayed 2 days there but it was enough to confirm what I already knew, I didn’t belong there and I had no attached here. I was free.
When I flew back in Vancouver, by the window of the plane, I see the Coastal Mountain and I feel a deep relief and joy. It was a relief and joy of being home, a home where I belong. I felt a deep appreciation of what I have successfully built here.
Growing up, I never felt at ease in my family with this strong feeling of not being desired or wanted (even my mom will deny it and I may hurt her feeling but it was how I felt it). I am the last of the three children with almost 10 years difference with my brother and sister. My brother, who is asthmatic, was requiring more attention as his asthmas was very strong when I was a kid.
Entering in my teenage hood, I was daydreaming that someone will come and say they have made a mistake at the hospital or something a like. My imagination was my salvation and a shield as I grew up. How many time, while reading books about explorers and adventurers, I imagined I could be one of them. Part of the unknown, part of going beyond the human limits was attracting me but also going away, far away of this house.
Don’t get it wrong, my parents provided me with all the essentials even if my family were not well off with money but neither we were poor. I didn’t have any problems with alcoholic or drugs addicted parents. My parents were simply not present emotionally and also my father was very strict.
My parents were the typical product of their generation, men provide, women stay at home. Men don’t show emotions and provide the punishments. I feared my dad as he was well built in muscular mass, despite his small stature his hand was enough good to keep me stand up for a good period of time after he slapped me on my derriėre. Another of his punishment was knee down on the wooden floor for a period of time, which did no good to my knees. My mom also prove me, once, that she could equal my dad in the “to be fear department” when it comes to punishment. My dad had denied from me any good qualities. Nonetheless I wanted to learn, I was never good enough for anything he was doing where assistance could be helpful. The last time my dad roses his hand against me, I was 14, when I finally kept my ground and dared him to come outside of the house to give me my punishment. He never came out but to come back in the house afterward was terrifying but he never raised his hand against me after that. The fear I had for him never went away.
My mom prove me she could not be a trusted confident at a very young age. She will either belittle me or used any of my own mistakes or mishaps to slap it back to my face when I need it more some uplift. She was also very indifferent of any success I could have achieved. When I graduated from my college, the first in my family, the news had at the same effect as a feather falling in a feather pillow’s factory.
I tried for many years, with of course no avail, to attract the attention of my parents, especially my dad. In my twenties I even tried to communicate with my dad but he received my attempt like I was in my teenage crisis. When my dad passed away few years later, we never unfortunately succeed to connect. He was a complete stranger to me and I didn’t felt any emotions upon his death, no hatred, no sadness not even compassion or love. My dad was a man I never knew and still today I know very little about him.
I was a skinny sensitive kid, and in school, I got bullied and also I learnt I was not wanted in school either. I was always the last one to be choose in any sport teams and the decisions to take me was seen as they were choose to be team with a slimy alien. I quickly closed my shell and I remained reserved and shy all during my childhood and teenage years and spoke very little to people at school. I met a few acquaintances but I never made real friends during those school years. My trust in people was weak and any kind of kindness was received with suspicions as a lot of it had a hidden agenda and I got bitten back multiple times.
My teachers were in any way good to help me to thrive. Many of them belittled me and were predicting me a very bleak future, even if my scoring was fairly good except in math. Because of my poor scores in math, one of them was certain that I would end up, at the most, pushing broom to clean the street of my town.
It is no surprise that during my teenage hood, I thought days and night about suicide and tried couple times but never carry it enough far to end up in the hospital. Ironically even I desired to end my life, I was scare shitless to hurt myself. With the years those thoughts faded out but I remained with dark thoughts for a long time. I knew tough to keep myself far away of any alcohol or drugs, as I knew, if they were mix with my thoughts, they will destroy me even further.
With the emotional stress I was experiencing, I developed a post-traumatic stress that evolved into Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The IBS brought his load of painful and shameful moments and frustrations that deepened further my isolation. IBS was a problem I only was able to name and understand in the recent years.
Reserved, shy with a self esteem shattered and IBS that bring me shame, I could only or allow myself daydreaming and imagining myself around the world exploring the highest mountains, going where no man ever gone like an explorers of the New World.
My parents were comfortable to stay at home in the evening or during the weekend. It was a burden for my parents to travel outside of my hometown even it was only a short drive. My parents didn’t have any friends and having their respective family for dinner was a moment they had in horror so those occasions happen rarely. So travelling neither outdoor outing was not something I was exposed as a kid.
When I finally moved out of the house of my parents, in my first almost not furnished apartment, it was exciting and scary as hell and I had to learn everything from scratch.
One Saturday bored to my skull, I want to do something, moving, something that will make me more active and at that time, I was ready to step out of my shell so I was hoping to meet new people. I had started already to bond with a guy at work, Gabriel, but I was still on my guard about him and his intentions. It took me a few years to fully abandon my guard, trust him and accept his friendship. I had bought a book that piqued my curiosity. The book was about hiking and decided to give a try that Saturday
To pass the time, I was driving a lot around to discover new route to get to a point to another and the longest was the best. The hiking was allowing me to combine my passion of driving around, reading road maps and discover new places.
Although the mountains in Quebec were more like a speed bum for the wind, it allowed me to discover a new passions and I hiked almost every weekend. I didn’t knew nothing about camping so I only did day hiking. Few years later, with the encouragements of some colleagues at work, Gabriel and his mom (she became a second mom for me), I decided to finally going out West, something that was among of my most cherish dreams. With that decision, I decided to cut all communications with my family, in hope to try to find who I was. It was a challenge that I was very excited but also apprehensive as my English was almost nonexistent and I never lived outside of my home province before. I woke up early in the morning and leave a little after but my parents never woke up to say goodbye, no profuse tears, no fatherly advises.
I took some of my belongings in my car and I drove all the way to Banff. I lived there for 6months; 6 months of the happiest moment in my life to that point. To quote Gabriel, he was the first moment he heard me talking with joy. I also discovered what really meant hiking some serious mountains. I got my mind blown away in my first hike; snow deep, beautiful lake, prey bird, majestic peaks. I got quickly addicted to hiking and I wanted more.
I returned to Quebec after that and the gloom received me back like an old friends. For the next four years, I did my last attempt to attract the attention of my dad by studying dynamiting and drilling. I tried in vain to work in that field but construction was certainly not a world for me. The appeal of the mountains out West was calling and pulling me strongly. I had to admit to myself I was never happy here in Quebec and I will never be. The pressure of my friend Gabriel, who was tired to see me whinny and gloomy, added more fuel in my decision to leave. After 4 years back in Quebec, I decided to move out West for good but this time my goal was first Vancouver and than Whistler.
I knew as soon I arrived in BC, I found a place where I fell that I belong, a feeling I was longing for a long time. This new safe home has been a haven where I was able to grow mentally and be at term with my past. I was honour to meet some remarkable souls and an handful of them became my friends, my little family.
I am beholden to my friend Heather whom had put me in contact with Judith, a counsellor. After a stint living in UK, I returned to B.C. but to find myself, after a few years back, in severe depression. I was senseless and emotionless at the life I was living. The days was blending with the months without passion or excitement. With Judith, I was able to safely go deep inside of me, a terrifying but rewarding journey. I was able to bring to conscious any of my unconscious actions, understanding where I was coming from and finally be free of this oppressing past.