I am a fraud

Lately, I’ve felt extremely tired. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. And yesterday I finally put words on something that had been unconsciously bothering me, imposter syndrome. I feel like a fraud, even though I am part of many communities, many labels. I still feel like an outsider trying too hard.

In the writing community, where I have met wonderful people, even some I would call friends, I feel like a fraud. I can’t write anything more than a few tweets and lines here and there. I have a hard time sitting down to write, I fear the white pages, I fear myself. What right do I have to call myself a writer? I have yet to produce anything. Only trails of abandoned novels; ideas and a few short story contests. My words fail me, they sound stupid, they lack depth, personality. I am just one amongst the many. I lost sight of writing for the sole pleasure of doing it and it paralyzes me.

In the disability community, I have a really hard time owning this label. Not because I am ashamed of it, but mostly because most of my struggles are invisible. I am functional enough. I don’t struggle with chronic pain or physically limiting illness. I keep thinking that some have “worst conditions” and I hate myself for thinking this. I also don’t think it’s how the community works, but I have this fear of being called out; for not being enough. The chronic pain is in my mind. I have yet to sleep restfully. I have a degenerative eye disease that was caught early and that in all likeliness, will remain like this. I have other health problems that while bothersome, makes me hard to tailor my place in the disabled community. I feel like a fraud.

In the LGBTQAP+ community, I struggle to own my queer label. I am a cis white woman married to a cis white man. While my sexual preference definitely puts me in the spectrum, it doesn’t change the fact that I am a boring married woman, in a traditional relationship. My marriage is not open. Polyamory is definitely not for me. I am comfortable with my assigned at birth gender. I am in no way marginal and I have a hard time relating to the queer community where everyone looks so cool and beautiful. Perhaps my vision of the community is warped, but I have yet to relate. I feel like a fraud.

In my beloved fat community, while fat and very vocal about our issues, I feel like a fraud. I don’t have a plus size fashion instagram account. I don’t look as pretty or cute or marginal as public figures. I am not as cool as Roxane Gay. I can’t relate to anyone in the community other than by ideas. I am not fearless, I won’t wear a crop top because a) they are fugly and b) I still hate my body. While I preach fat and body acceptance, I failed to internalize these ideas to myself. I wake up every day hating myself, disgusted by my body. I am a fraud.

In the mental health community, I feel alone. It would be presomptuous to say that I am the only one living with said conditions or loneliness, but I fail to find role models or individuals with whom I share a true connexion, that makes me feel understood. While I am a fearless advocate, I still put some of the stigmas on myself. It’s okay for others but not for me. I would dare to say that at some point, everyone in the community feel alone and misunderstood and I dare not pretend I am unique in this regard.

I am tired. I feel the pressure to perform, to please, to impress endlessly. To feel accepted. To have a sense of belonging. Seeking validation. But it’s all ephemeral. I think about changing my self, but it’s only in superficial terms. I doubt having half shaved pink hair and a septum piercing will make me feel magically belonging somewhere.

I seek an ethereal coolness that doesn’t exist.

Where do I belong? I try to take these labels, the communities where I share interests, beliefs and ideas, but at the end of the day, I feel alone and exhausted. I put so much pressure on myself to be someone I am not, someone I wish I could be. Unrealistic expectations weigh me down, but I can’t shut these voices in my head.

I am not looking for solutions or fishing for compliments. I just realize that even though I have nearly reached my 30s, I am still this little girl longing for acceptance and love. Thinking she has to compromise herself to belong somewhere. I may be trying too hard. I may be looking at the wrong places. My vision is probably skewed. But to shut down this mind chaos, with all these voices that reminds me constantly that I am not enough, that I am a fraud, requires a strength I have yet to gain. Today, I can’t fight them, it’ll have to do for now.

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Coming out

I wondered for a few weeks now how to present this.

I have known for about two months now, but the diagnosis was confirmed yesterday. It felt like a meat clever on a butcher block.

 

My name is Catherine, I am 28 years old and I have glaucoma.

 

A simple yet, fear loaded word.

For those who don’t know, glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease that affects the optical nerve and can lead to a loss of vision including blindness.

As a writer and avid reader, this diagnosis is hard to digest. The idea that at some point in my life, I can lose my sight is frightening. I can lose my windows to the world, what I use to do the things I love the most.

I’m sure most of us have thought at a time or another about what we would do if we were to lose our vision, a fearful idea, but we brush it off. Most of us are born with this privilege. The thought of losing it, like any other privilege, is dreadful.

I can’t brush this off. While unlikely, it is a possible future.

In my case, it is very early onset. I have no loss of vision, since my other eye is compensating. I was lucky enough to have a cautious optometrist who took the extra step to refer me to a specialist, ‘’just in case’’.

This ‘’just in case’’ revealed a case. One that can be treated early on and prevent further damage and loss. I was told not to worry. Easier said than done.

Having a disease that commonly affects the elderly and diabetics made me reflect on my own aging and vulnerability. I feared fatmisia from the doctors, knowing they often put together larger body size with diabetes and high blood pressure. I have none of those, but it’s irrelevant.  I always had a shitty vision, but I never anticipated it would get to this point.

Yesterday, I put anti-glaucoma drops in my right eye for the first time. It is supposed to lessen the pressure in my eye. The thing is, I have normal eye pressure. I had no indicator that it could be glaucoma. Just a bad visual field on the left side of my right eye. I don’t know what this treatment will do.

Regardless, I am grateful my condition was caught early. I am hopeful a treatment might exist to cure this disease before I die. We often assign some diseases and illnesses to elderly. The more I talk to people, the more I realized there is no set age to develop it. I am lucky to live in a country where healthcare is universal.

Still, I am only talking from my own perspective, projecting my own fears, from an abled standpoint. Individuals dealing with partial or total loss of vision can and have full and rich life. People are resilient and if I am ever faced with this reality, I sure will roll with the punches.

I think it is time we open this conversation to end ageism toward diseases and disability. I am a young adult and I have glaucoma. It doesn’t change who I am. And if I ever get to the point where I lose my sight, then I’ll just do erotic audiobook.

The silver lining is that the drops will apparently make my lashes longer. Only on one eye at this time. Oh well.

No matter what your health situation is, your age and the diseases/disabilities you carry, they do not define you. You are a warrior that slay every day. Even when you stay in bed. Stay strong. Take care. Reach out.

Brain fog on head city

My body is betraying me and I feel helpless. I am exhausted. My body hurts. I am physically uncomfortable. My brain feels to big for my head; like it will ooze out from my ears. I don’t usually feel like that and it worries me.

My mental health status has never been a secret. I struggle from chronic depression and anxiety on a moderate to severe level. I don’t think I will ever “heal” from it and testimonies from celebrities who “overcame” their mental illnesses deeply aggravates me. It invalidates my reality. It erases my experience. One that doesn’t have a happy ending. At best, a good enough for now; and I am okay with it. I have an chronic illness that requires treatments and management. It is also invisible. Some days are harder than others, but I know I am not alone with these illnesses.

Until recently, my mental illness stayed in my head, with typical physical symptoms of tiredness and medications side effects.

Lately, my body feels uncomfortable. No amount of sleep will find me rested. I keep waking up from nightmares, a bit lessen by a lot of nighttime medication. I spend most of my spare time sleeping. My body hurts, most likely from oversleeping. I feel hot; cold; groggy. I feel my body has left me down.

Canadian winters are extremely hard on mind and body. Harsher on sensitive people. I also have to remind myself that the past two months have been extremely challenging and stressful; between upcoming emergency relocating from water damages, relationships problems and obsessive thinking.

Perhaps I just need to give myself some time. But I don’t feel I have time to spare anymore. For the first time; I realize how physically challenging mental illnesses can be, having been mostly spare this far. I have never felt this uncomfortable, restless while lethargic at the same time.

I want to write, and see a lot of prolific writers around me, struggling with mental illnesses and I feel like I failed. Why can they do it and not me? Perhaps I am not trying hard enough. Perhaps I let my fears overwhelm me.

But this thick brain fog is leaving me walking in the dark. Struggling to find the words, the ideas, the outlines. Between working and daily life; I am an empty cup. I have nothing else to spill on the hungry paper.

I am lucky to be surrounded with kind, understanding people, who tell me to take care of myself, that it is okay, to take some time. But I feel I stuck at the same place for so long, it makes me sad. I feel so lonely.

I wish I could finish on a positive note but I’m not sure I will ever be a writer. I am uncertain this brain fog and fatigue will ever leave. As a social worker, it is easier to give those advices to others than to ourselves. But today, I don’t want people trying to find solutions, I just want to be heard.

Aces and Aros: More than a card game

Until recently, I have to shamefully admit that I did not know asexuality and aromantic inclination were a possibility. I have to humbly say, it blew my mind. That some individual have little to no inclination to sexuality or romantic relationship was a totally foreign concept to me. Having dedicated most of my life to ponder on the great matters of love and sexuality, it seemed surreal. Why? How? To love and be loved; To desire and be desired were my life purpose. Obviously, I knew about the spectrum but had yet to be confronted with this reality before. I was simply not aware.

On my part, I consider myself on the opposite side of the spectrum. I want it all. Sometimes, it causes problems. I wish I thought less about it. I envy the free space it would liberate in my mind to focus on something else than my emotions, my desire, my feelings. Not to say that those on the other end of the spectrum don’t experience feelings or emotions, but I have a hard time envisioning what it feels like. I can’t help but feeling envious. In my mind, it seems so freeing. I am probably wrong and understand everything badly and please correct me if I do, but liberating one’s mind of such trivial subjects may lead to greater discoveries. Again, some of the greatest writers dedicated their life to write about trivial matters, but in this day in age, it seems we have much more to do than spend days writing poetry to a blond virginal beauty.

I am the type of person that can’t compartiment. I feel intensely most of the time. Sadness, excitement, exaltation, desire, love, hate. I wish I could feel nothing, but I don’t seem to have been programmed this way. The few times I can empty my mind is a time of great distress to me. It feel uncomfortable, suffocating. It seems there is always a million things running at the background of my head at the same time. Focusing is a hard thing to do. I wish I could empty my head just be able to focus on what really matters. Instead, I feel it takes so much place, it creates problems, unnecessary pain and troubles, disassociation, anxiety and depression.

This year, I want to pursue the work to distance myself from my emotions. I know it won’t be easy. I know most of my emotions are valid. But perhaps if I give them time to bloom, they might be something much more positive. Just the thought of taming my intensity makes me anxious, but this intensity also hurts me the most.

I definitely want to educate myself more on asexuality and aromanticism, it might teach me a thing or two about myself, about being a better person to others and how to relate to this big great world.

Losing sight

Ten years ago was my first year in university. I was a full-time student in French Literature. I dreamt of becoming a playwright.

That year, I met my idol, one of Quebec most famous playwriter’s Michel Tremblay. It was possibly one of the biggest high of my life.

My life back then was full of ups and downs, decisions blinded by debilitating anxiety and depression. A writing future seemed bleak, doomed to fail, fueled by a very rational entourage.

I changed my path to a more secure one, that would lend me a safe job with a pension plan and benefits.

Until about two years ago, I had totally forgot about this yearning to write, this dream that was so important back then. I still can’t explain it, but I can’t help but go back to it. Two years ago, when I hit the ground, pinned down by major depression and severe anxiety. Forced to take a break, reflect on myself, my goals, my dreams, my profond discomfort.

Today, I struggle between balancing my job, my dream, my mental state and daily life. I often fail. I don’t know if I will ever make it. Most time, I feel overwhelmed or guilty for things I do or don’t. I am still reflecting on the sense of life, the point of it all.

But today I saw a play celebrating the life and the immense work of my idol, who nearing his retirement, leaves behind a rich heritage all French Canadian can be proud of. That no matter where you come from, your family history and who you are, you can break the walls by being yourself and make your place in this world. That every story is worth being told. That success is not only a question of chance or talent, but also hard work and dedication.

Writing takes time. It takes patience. Starting is the harder. It is frightening. We all seek validation from our fellow writers and friends. At the end, we have to take the leap of faith, confront our fears and trust those who believe in us, primarily ourselves.

I will never be as great as Michel Tremblay, nor I will ever try to be. Having forgotten who I was, all this piece of myself, for so long is unforgivable to me. Time I will never back back. Drowning in the fog of anxiety and depression. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I hope I never lose sight of my dream, nor myself.

First chapters

In life, first times are difficult. In my experience as a beta-reader, I find this especially true.

In the first few chapters, the writer is in the dark, creating from pure emptiness and chaos. Finding a good pace, placing the setting and presenting characters in a few pages in a flawless flow is quite challenging.

Writers are especially harsh against themselves and each other. Every line won’t be perfect. Give yourself some time.

Usually, the first few times of doing a new things, months after a move, a new job. Those days, months, years are hard and stressful. You might be overwhelmed by anxiety and uncertainty.

We want everything and we want it now. Patience is a virtue I wish I possessed, but I have compassion and respect for others.

Seeing writers being harshly criticized for the first chapters they are introducing, harsh reviews after a new publications, quitting their art from fear of themselves is heartbreaking and rage-inducing.

Writing; just as life; is hard. Especially the first chapters.

Give yourself some time. Be patient. Surround yourself with patient, comprehensive, talented editors and beta readers. Make good friends. Invest your time in people who believe in you.

Above all; don’t let critics distance yourself from your art. Don’t let self-doubts drown your mind and take over. Take it in your stride, find the silver lining and roll with the punches. Rewrite everything, question yourself, let go of prejudices and preconceived ideas. If your foundation is solid, the rest is just words, letters, punctuation. Make it yours, find your style.

Write for yourself. Yuu won’t, you can’t please anybody. Put yourself out there, your authentic self and that is what people will want and love.

Don’t give up. It’s just the first chapter. It gets better. It gets easier.

Walking the tightrope

Stranded in the middle of the wire

Between two lives I dream and admire

Struggling to keep balance

To not lose foot in this whirlwind dance

Trying to see through the fog

Up in the air, on this single cord

In the darkness of indecisions

Which way to go for good fortune

Never was I meant to be an acrobat, a funambulist

Breathless, to skirt this mind chaos controlled by the artist

Life hanging by a single thread

As failing over may cause great dread

Feet burned by the cold metal cable

Flesh burned beyond aching trouble

As each passing minutes, bring more sorrow

To myself and the one I know.

I have to keep walking this tightrope alone

As no one can save me from my own.

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