Thursday, July 05, 2018

Aftermath and Canada Day


Emotional experiences mingled with sadness, memory, fear of change, uncertain future (political, global, environmental) is stressful for many of us, not just elders.

I'll be interested to hear Grandgirl's take on it when she arrives to spend nearly 2 weeks with me tomorrow.

I know many are talking of the 'Good Ol' Days' and going back to them. I call BS on that. I turn a cold hard eye on my own past and would not revisit it for anything. Well maybe a quick revisit to the occasional short sweet times with my mother. But the rest of it? I was a religious refugee from the land of my birth, a victim of the judgement and condemnation of an unplanned pregnancy that would have shamed both my former husband and I along with my family in the eyes of the vicious Catholicism then. I've written about it many times. Escape to a welcoming Canada was our only option, far from the counting fingers of all around us. If we hadn't married, I would have been sentenced to a Magdalene Laundry in Killarney where my cousin was the nun in charge of it and have my child sold out from under me. Friends were caught in this horrific situation. They still bear the scars to this day.

More Good Ol'Days had endless repercussions in my new life in Canada. Isolation from family was a constant gnawing anxiety. Post partum depression after Daughter was born was something unrecognized then. I knew I was depressed. I had made only one friend who was supportive and loving. Father of Child couldn't understand what was going on and busied himself out at night partying and making new friends. I struggled on very much alone with Daughter and thought often of suicide, I was so utterly despondent and frightened by how my life had turned out. As my people say: "I'd lost the run of myself."

I had a supportive doctor for my baby and he recognized what was going on and told me it would pass. It was all hormonal, try and get out in the sunshine, make more of an effort, go swimming (our apartment building had a pool) or walking. I did. But I've never forgotten the awful gloom of that first year in a strange land, how I felt robbed of my family, my homeland, a supportive community, the familial joy that should have surrounded Daughter, a first great grand-child and grandchild to both our families.

So what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. Stronger in the broken places.

I am grateful beyond measure to Canada, who accepted two young emigrants back in the day and helped us establish a life in this great country where I was able to blossom and grow and become my authentic self. This would not have happened in Ireland in that era where women were subservient to the church, surrounded by rattling rosary beads and the gossip of neighbours and who lost their careers upon marriage or unplanned pregnancies. Memories of any "transgressions" lived long and hard in the minds of neighbours and co-congregants ("Ah, she had to get married back in 1957, no wonder he runs around on her, who's to blame him?"). There was no moving on then. If your father was a communist, you were unemployable and judged so harshly one of my classmates joined an order of cloistered nuns to escape community condemnation, her brothers emigrated. I could write more. A very dark place it was then, finally coming into more sunlight now with abortion rights and gay marriage but still a long way to go.

Not that Canada is perfect, but it is a country, still, where health care is excellent and universal, where the social safety network is in place to help the least advantaged of our citizens and women are equal in the constitution and dying with dignity and legalized
marijuana make us the adult in a house where in the basement a screaming orange toddler with a lit match holds us all in terrified thrall to his tantrums.

7 comments:

  1. You made an excellent choice of new homeland, WWW. My own was a choice of person rather than place. I have to rely on the thought that "1 out of 2 ain't bad." ;-)

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  2. We do have a pretty good life here, don't we? - Kate

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  3. Wish it was possible for me to move there...

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  4. I can relate to your getting stronger in a new place as, though within the same country when we settled down in Pune where we have now lived for 28 years, we too had to adjust to the new environment, people, language for my wife, college for our son and so on but in retrospect, despite many setbacks, we weathered the changes and dare I say, flourished.

    My wife is no more but, my son and I would not like to live anywhere else in the world now.

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  5. You’ve certainly had more than your share of challenges. If going back to the good ol’ days meant getting only the good parts I could see the attraction, but most of us are smart enough to know it wasn’t all good. Hope to goodness we can get the Orange toddler out of the basement and out of the house!

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  6. Up until last November, I was happy to be here in my country. Now... I can only hope we return to sanity one day.

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