11. Try Again

I went to a full moon ceremony. Was okay, but did not feel connected to anyone; maybe one of the elders, she talked about meditating with her, could get into that. We were to think about what we need to gather to get through the winter. Knew I need to gather friends, make peace with my family, replace spiritual, have fun, find purpose and direction in my work, and protect myself.
 September, 1998. I kept the new house non-smoking so in the morning I sat on the step and thought about the previous week. Was it the stabbing across the street bothering me? Was it the continual sirens night after night going back and forth to the hospital a block and a half away? Was it my son hearing the woman screaming “Help me, help me” two nights before this? He said he was panicking. Was it my walking to work, seeing the dead man’s blood on the sidewalk and now the yellow-tape was gone and I was stepping over the blood.
My daughter was moving out of the province this week and as if I’m at a total loss as to what to do to make things better.
 I went out and cried in a park and a flock of white gulls came down and surrounded me. I wrote: “A mother and daughter have a special relationship. Being a mother is hard work trying to keep your kids safe and sound. I wonder sometimes what parenthood is all about. There are so many steps and stages. I know I took better care of my kids than I was taken care of. Kids are so clever and creative and I became creative in bringing my best to them. I tried to build a circle of love from birth on. I have such good memories of them as kids and buying their notebooks and getting them off to school. Their life is a miracle to me. I became a woman through my children and they became part of my life journey. They gave me energy. Sometimes parenting felt long and as if it would never be over but it was about real life and the crisis’ that go with living real life. The variety of experiences because of children enriched my life. For better or worse applied. Being a Mom was an enlightening experience. The smile of a child brings out my natural instincts. They are like angels, profiles in love with special needs. Our world is special because of children. Are we as parents ever ready to understand that their comes a time when they need their own space, and as they have children of their own, the realization dawns that the future is in their hands. It has been a pleasure being a mother. It has been a spiritual experience.”
 My son leaves for University and I cry. He jokingly says, “Aren’t you going to take a picture of me with my back pack.?”
I went to a workshop about working through change. What connected for me were the questions. Where am I in the process of change? Endings? What is over? What isn’t? How could I express this symbolically? What am I taking with me? What have I gained from this part of my life? How can I build in time and support for grieving these endings?
A song comes into my head:

From here I am calling
From here I am calling
From here I am calling,
Calling home to me.
I was in deep stuff; in a deep fog about my existence here. I tried to explain to the guy I’d been seeing, how deep the darkness around me was and he asked, “Would it help to come over here?” meaning his place.
 The next day I wrote: Well where am I now? Laid beside him on his bed, no sexual touch; but spooning some would call it; and it’s all different. Went out in the country and walked for 2 hours; then I lay on the ground in the sun. I went home in utter peace. Where did the peace come from? A whole day of peace. Was it the human contact, the connection that gave me such peace? Was it the country?
The next day I received two phone calls. One from a nun from my home town who ordered eight books and the book store out there wanted five. I went out there. The store couldn’t believe I had sold 500 books. They told me what makes a best seller but like I couldn’t take it in.
 I talked to Mom and Dad and gave them a copy of comments people had made. I went home and I went back into the darkness; like I was lost.
 I gave a book reading for a nurses’ association and one for a native reserve’s wellness day. My car was running so rough, concerned about driving out into the country.
 Collage September 17, 1998
This pain in my head is more than a state of mind. It’s cruel when the emotion keeps coming and coming. 1998 will be a year to remember. Lots happened. My head feels in another world as if I’ve left ordinary reality and I see the cost of it all, the damaged one and where I’m still tied to it. All this because authority ruled always. As if going out in the world right now is open soul touching ice. Expect nothing. Let go of attachments. My baby’s going to the ocean. She is a woman now and what’s more she’s real. I guess grandmother role is next. Light is appearing over the horizon of mud and sludge. Brown emptiness. I’m okay.
 A plane ticket is for sale from Saskatoon to Halifax return for $299.00. I go check it out. Same to Charlottetown, where my daughter was going to live. Had to pick a day. So I picked December 3, 1998. Figured I could get one of the women to work a couple of shifts for me and could go for 8 days.
 Having no hope is hell. In the blackness again. Trying to organize a retreat for October Thanksgiving weekend. I wanted a sign that there was a point to my existence.
I learned something. As soon as I’d leave the area of the inner city where I was living; say, in my car, the bus or I’d get to a certain point away from there; as if the band around my chest left. Knew I was in something big. Awake lots during the nights.
 The theme of the retreat we were designing was Finding Our Spirituality. I was reading these books and one said find the name that resonates with me. I made a list, God, Holy Spirit, Deepest Self, Spirit of Life, Universe, Nature, Healer, All that is, All Protective Presence. I am not alone. I have someone/something working with me, inspiring me, co-creating with me.
 Tamara’s House wanted clarification on some issues regarding safety at the retreat. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to address. I went and looked at the van I had rented; a four seater plus the two bucket seats in the front. I figured I could drive it for sure. Ten women had registered. Would the luggage all fit? I had booked a retreat centre one and a half hours from Saskatoon in a Saskatchewan small town. The town had turned a newer hospital that had been shut down into an eating disorder clinic and I had rented it for the Tamara’s House retreat from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Thanksgiving Day Monday at 2:00 p.m. I had chosen a co-facilitator and she had accepted.
 I realize I was getting more comfortable in my house in the west side of the city. Believe the last two to three months was the most fear I have ever experienced. Every few days I would go lay on the earth for a few hours. Chest pain band would go away. Back in my house or the store; it would all be back. What would I do when it snowed? The guy I had been seeing said he would never want a long term relationship; he just wanted to talk and share ideas.
 I realized I was working full time at the drug store for minimum wage. Others were always phoning me to come in and do their shifts. Besides that, I was organizing the whole retreat experience, doing this non-stop emotional shit and going anywhere I was asked to speak about my book or sexual abuse.
 Collage October 4, 1998
Love lessons, raising kind and caring kids; what I can and can’t do for my little girl. I am seeking answers. I am living out the story of friends, family and other disasters. I feel hurt and bruised; wasted, barren and desolate, because of the damage. I am seeking power; a way out of the desolation. Did it matter to speak out, to write my book and put it out there. That was a big dream. Hear me out is what I’m still seeking. Mothers and daughters. Thought my kids would always be around. I have to bring warmth home to me. Time is best medicine of all.
 I gave a talk to the Psych Nurses Association. I felt at peace. Thought of working in that Drug Store until Christmas gives me pain in the head.
 I received a letter from one of the women, who had also been abused by the priest, with a cheque for $240.00. for more books. She had been part of putting a newspaper article in Legend’s local paper.
The reporter suggested I give her some books that she would keep at the local paper’s office on a cost recovery basis and she put a short article in the paper indicating that child sexual abuse does happen and happened to young girls in the area. It indicated that Sharon Speaks wrote a book called Wanted: Someone To Understand. The reporter talked about me being an adult survivor of sexual abuse; the book was a way of bringing closure to my horrific experiences of childhood and a way to educate the public. I figured she read it and I felt supported when she said it chronicled intense personal experience, the search for truth, justice and healing.
I realize if I’d sell 5 books a week at $100.00, it would be the same as I get at the drug store, but as if too hard to contemplate how to do that. When I was journalling I wrote: “things in my life that are in order; my children; that I have a car, a house, money in the bank. I am physically healthy, I am grateful I can cry. I have friends who phone and I can be honest with myself and others about how hard it is. I have a deep sense of waiting but I don’t know for what. Rage; my rage feels spent, all gone, given it up for the pain underneath. There are layers and layers of grief stricken depression. Waiting for an outer show of love from someone, something, somewhere and maybe that’s what I need to accept, that it’s not going to happen on some grand scale. Maybe it’s the little things that count, have counted all along, the mysteries of life. I haven’t found any answers of whether there a God and why did this happen to me.
 I gave a presentation to a rural woman’s society. The newspaper editor phoned and we completed a telephone interview. At the end she thanked me and said she couldn’t finish my book.
I finished the facilitator’s guide for the retreat. I found out the day before the retreat that one of the participants just got out of the psych ward. A worry and yet not. Wrote: I know I’m not in this alone.
 The morning of the retreat, I wrote down a dream. I had been dreaming for months but after moving into that house, I couldn’t write them down but that day I could.
 From my journal October 9, 1998. “Here I am. I’m here. I drove a van with 10 women here. Little shaky but not bad. Things seem to be falling into place. The co-facilitator brought her car so got all the luggage here. The women seem okay to be here, even though so many things are issues, mirrors in rooms, a man being here to greet us (chairman of the board of the centre), snoring; will others hear, have body pain down the left side but not bad, feather pillows not okay for some, some need door open, some need light on. Briefly, had a tour of the building, went over agenda, will do it again in the morning.”
Friday evening agenda was arrival, tour, find room and a gathering. Saturday’s breakfast and a walk if desired; an opening session or gathering, lunch, free time, a gathering for an activity, and then could be part of yoga or shoulder massage prior to dinner if chose. We had a fun activity that night and Sunday was a repeat with decorating after dinner for our Celebrating Ourselves party. We had a closing gathering just prior to our lunch on Thanksgiving morning and then loaded the vehicles and headed back to Saskatoon. So glad for the Weekend Retreat Guidelines:
The following are basic guidelines to develop and maintain an atmosphere of safety and trust.
You may experience this retreat in a variety of ways; a variety of feelings may arise. You may feel angry, sad , panicky, bored, pain or nothing at all. Whatever you feel is okay. It’s okay to cry, be angry, to laugh, to swear or ask for a hug. We ask that you respect what others are experiencing and not pass judgement. There is no wrong way to feel.
 a) Absolute confidentiality. Who is here and what we say here remains confidential.
We ask that you respect the confidentiality of others. If you wish later to discuss something that someone has shared, please discuss it with the person who shared that information, rather than discussing it with other participants.
 Please do not “crosstalk” by interrupting someone who is sharing information. Please do not provide feedback about something you have said, please feel free to ask for it.
 Many survivors have issues around touching. No touching unless requested.
 You are not required to share information, opinions or feelings unless you wish to. If you are asked to contribute and do not feel comfortable, please say so. You do not have to explain yourself.
 To respect others attending this retreat, please arrive on time following breaks.
 During the day, periodically check out how you are feeling and ask yourself what you need. If you need to talk to someone, ask and we will try to accommodate the request. If you need time out by yourself, please let us know your plans. We want to know that everyone is okay.
We had an opening exercise:
What I most yearn for in this retreat experience is . . . ,
What I fear happening on this weekend is . . . ,
What I hope will happen is . . . ,
And on this retreat, I’m going to ask myself . . .
We also did an exercise about leaving a fear behind. The day went wonderful with relaxing time, meditating time, time for a walk, a fire pit and singing.
 The Sunday gathering went deeper with activities allowing freedom for women to journey to the centre of themselves through collage or meditation and writing a letter to self about one thing we didn’t want to forget. At our evening celebration, we spoke aloud things we had done we were proud of and then we blew party horns you get at New Years. It was lots of fun and ended with my idea of party food: angel food, ice cream and strawberries, as well as presents for each of us; something like a journal, a pen, bath soap, a candle, tea, bath beads, a cup and chocolate.
 Monday was us coming back into being okay about going home. The food had been awesome with extras like rice krispie cake and pumpkin pie balancing out the abundant healthy meals. We did a closing exercise to consider what would make the return easier to Saskatoon, to our home, to our daily life, to think about what solutions, habits, people, issues we might want to avoid for awhile, so the return could be pleasant and self-nurturing. 
 I dreamt lots all weekend. One dream was about being in a law class but others were all about back in church, singing, family all around, my ex-husband in a blue tuxedo, and then me putting on a yellow dress from my feet up and beginning to uncover myself.
 I had written: “my connection to all that is comes from my deepest self which is SPIRIT”
 I got home and Dad phoned that Mom was in the hospital. I wrote: I so miss my family, miss my kids; being married; the church, getting hugs and feeling loved and what I had, and the feeling that I had all that I would need. This journey has changed me and I can’t ever be a “Catholic Married Woman” and fit into that world again. Nothing will ever be the same again. I can never go back. Coming with me from my old are skills, abilities, experiences, the few people who stay in touch, the caring and kindness of so many now, my search for truth, my kids.

 Collage October 15, 1998
As if I’m having a breakthrough. Where I can trust myself, my experiences and the creativity to get through the many stages of healing. I have craved physical connection and got through with honours. I want to be able to take my struggles in stride as I reconstruct a fuller life. As I travel to see my daughter and as I replace the past I will find the serenity born of the confidence I was meant to have.
 Wrote a once upon a lifetime there was a girl story: “Once there was a girl who grew up on a farm, went to school, had lots of happy times, playing ball, playing football, playing piano, involved in 4-H, church, playing at church picnics, sports days, weddings, serving at catered meals for the Catholic Women’s League, company all the time, playing music for them, card games, puzzles, board games, at Christmas and holiday weekends, the family gatherings, and church celebrations were very big and Mom always had big meals and it was like celebrating all the time. I grew up expecting I’d have a big family and this would all continue. The world seems to have changed so much. My marriage was quite a bit like that first world – with the gathering and being active in church and yet there was always something wrong, who our friends were; never feeling like a family unit and the day came when it was all over. I’ve been trying to hold on to it, that those days would come again; that I’d have the community, the church, my family and maybe do have bits and pieces of it;maybe if I go to Mom and Dad’s for a gathering, but I don’t have the marriage, the family, the fun, the belonging. I don’t have that and it’s like I don’t know if I want it. Every year I thought would get better. I’d have a career, enough money and I feel like I have nothing. Pissed off my car is in bad shape, bald tires, it’s running as bad as I am. I don’t have any energy; biggest thing is, I don’t have the hope it’ll get better.”
 A week after the retreat I walked into work and before I even started my shift, I just got calm and told the owner, “I am quitting this job. I will work until the end of October.”
Even though the boss said my working three weeks in November when someone was scheduled for a holiday wasn’t going to kill anybody, I simply said,” I can’t do it.” I said again that I’d work until the end of October if he wanted me to. I knew it was the right decision even if I didn’t know what I was going to do.
I wrote: “I know I have to fight for my life, fight to make a career, a living for myself, even if I have no idea what that is going to look like. I will do it with other people. I don’t want to do it alone. Tamara’s House will be like a community. I fit with women who were on the retreat with me. They are all at different places. I have skills nd abilities. I can lead. I can teach that it’s okay to heal, okay to cry, to spend months, years healing, crying; to speak out and that healing will make a better world. I have more than most; choosing a path with heart is what this is about.”
 My car had been running so rough and when I quit my job, wrote, “I think it’s sinking in that I quit and I feel better. Feel like I’m in the flow again. Car is running good this morning.”
I can’t believe the car, the difference and how much better it’s working.
 I watched a show about right to die issue and unsure how I feel about it. The person has the right to do what she needed to do, but I’m still mixed up on whether I could do it. I know I couldn’t be the doctor. I could be with her maybe.
 A woman who had been at the retreat phoned and while we were talking, she asked how did I come to be so comfortable with my sexual orientation and when I told her I was unsure what she meant, she said, well maybe you are bi-sexual, but she saw me as a lesbian. I simply said, “I didn’t think of myself that way.”
 I am going to be a grandmother in about 6 weeks. Thank goodness for SaskTel bundle. We could talk as much as we wanted. I quit phoning that guy and I was very lonely. A woman interviewed me about my life for a writing class assignment. Heartbreaking she said. Mom was still in the hospital.
I was having coffee in the donut shop when the guy that lives next door to the drug store asked to sit with me. He told me he was an ex-convict from 20 years in jail. He said twenty lifers live in the area; and pointed one out to me. I didn’t feel fear. We had a real conversation. He said the Federal government pays him well to stay out of jail and not go back to Calgary where he killed.
 I went to Prairietown for the weekend and Mom got out of the hospital. Two of my sisters were there and we stayed up past midnight. I tried to explain and try to tell them what my life is like. Back home and I’m wailing as I write: “I feel like there is something wrong with me. I enjoyed myself at Mom and Dad’s and I was able to cry and feel safe and feel part of the family again and I talked a lot about what I was going through. I feel like I have my family back again and I can count on them and I will survive. Two of my sisters bawled so much. That was healing. Trying to explain to them that I tried so hard to build community through all this and now as if I’m alone.”
I went to a two day workshop entitled “Changing World of Work”. Wrote: I want to do what makes my heart sing.
An editorial of Prairietown’s paper was titled: “Recovered Memories Are Real”. It went on to say that my experience with recovered memory syndrome is vitally important as the tide is turning against victims who suppress memories of their abuse and remember them later as adults. It said my book details the physical and emotional effects of recovering traumatic memories. It also spoke to the fact that I, as a victim of a phedophile had a confession that the abuse happened and how that rarely happens. It spoke to the fact that my book might balance out those who say recovered memories are not real.
I read the article and knew I did not want it called syndrome. Also in the inner section of the paper, were excerpts out of my book and comments I had made to the reporter about a neighbour burning my book. I was glad they said I want to be a part of creating a better place where people are there for each other. They saw what I was doing as a quest for justice.
Tamara’s House offered me a contract. I had been asked by Tamara’s House to co-ordinate/facilitate two workshops. It would give me money. I was shocked. Wondering if I should get a job that had nothing to do with abuse but then feel like all I had done was in vain.
 Collage October 28, 1998
Publishing the book was wild; a joyful experience of community and connection. A spiritual high and I believed it would be the shape of things to come but what came was agony of the mind as I couldn’t find a road in life that felt like I had a place. My sexuality is there but not wanted. The Sun is breaking through. My character calls out: I know I am unique and special. No more foot dragging or fear allowed. The truth needs to be spoken.
 One of the women I knew over dosed and ended up in the psych ward. Nurses told her not to write such negative stuff and not to cry.
 I made the last payment on my old car.
 I felt like there was no community support.
Months back while talking to the guy, I said I need a job and he said, “You’re in the right area” (meaning prostitute). I thought I am not talking to you again.
 At the career workshop, was to write out an ideal day. Wrote that another book was first on my list as it was being written every day; but by the end of the workshop knew I need to get one area of my life stabilized.
 Social assistance letter came saying I owed $3220.00. My sister phoned to say my Mom was back in the villa and was dying. I felt so removed. I was really grateful I didn’t have to go into the drug store, that I had the job at Tamara’s House getting workshops ready and the Sexual Assault Centre to go to if I need. The Canada Council Grant didn’t look to me like I fit. The director of the sexual assualt centre was so affirming; calling in a dark night of the soul; saying knew someone who cried for eighteen months. 
 I realize I can’t live on $750 a month. I talked to a social worker at social services, said I can’t owe them money; that I had always claimed everything. She said come in and meet with her and I started bawling. Made an appointment. Tamara’s House were hoping some grants would come through that they could offer me work as an Education Co-ordinator in the New Year.
 I went to my uncle’s funeral and catholic prayers the night before. Realize that Christianity is not going to fit. Too much father, male everything. While I sat through it, realization that if memories hadn’t come back and nothing had changed; probably would have been the lay person leading the prayer service.
 For weeks I am sick, as if a head cold, pain in my lungs, sore throat like I have pleurisy/bronchitis/pneumonia. I went to the Doctor who said lungs are clear but are hyper-inflamed because I smoke. It’s the beginning of emphysema. Had meeting with social assistance. Their mistake. I didn’t owe money. Gave a presentation to a United Church women and a University class. The United Church women gave me a card. The professor gave me a $100.00 honorarium.
 November 28, 1998 Woke up and wrote a song:

I just want to scream and yell, have someone to tell
What its been like to me
I don’t want to wait, I want to create
And pull up the shades of being me
I can do it, I know I can, I’ll tell every nation what’s been my creation
And its okay just to be me.
Not only just, it’s not really just. I can do whatever I can
I’ve lived here and there, it’s not really square
Or ended what happened to me.
When I give to others I give to myself
A new concept I haven’t previously seen
It was nothing; well I’m worth something
I’m worth more than who I have been
I’ve listened well to my father as well
The father that’s inside of me
It’s time to tell, it’s time to tell
The inside and outside of me.
I can sleep easy, knowing it’s freaky
What all happened to me.
Knowing it will not be sitting still
It’s working its way out of me
It’s not easy, I feel kind of queasy and part of me just wants to run
Letting it out, getting rid of the doubt
Will allow me to lay in the sun
I’m happy here, I’m not very clear
What all needs to be done
My throat is hurting, my lungs are bursting
It’s time to give up the drug (Smoking)
I’ll be okay on a summers day. I’ll have nothing from which to run
It’s okay to say what I need to say
If I need to pray a little each day I’ll do whatever I can
I need to be heard, I’m no longer blurred
I have reason to live again
I’m not really clear what’s happening here
But better than being half dead
Or being here, just being here would fill me up with such dread
It’s time to awaken, new steps to be taken
On this the journey called life
It’s time to listen but also to glisten
And enjoy these steps of my life
Be my own best wife
It was like I was out of the darkness.
 I did a workshop for health care professionals. One woman said her husband, who wrote for the media, had read my book and said, “Now that’s a writer”. Phew. I felt complimented.
 Two days later, I woke up at 5:30 in the morning with my nightgown wet. My left breast was leaking. I received the phone call; being a grandmother was imminent. It was the day I was flying to be with my daughter. Before I got on the plane, I had a grandson; and words can’t describe how great it was to be there less than twelve hours after he was born.
 While there I contemplated getting out of survivor/social work. I felt inadequate while I was there; whether it was my clothes, making a salad or the money thing. I didn’t smoke much – only on my out walking times – but in that pristine setting, I could smell smoke on my body, on my clothes.
 Collage December 11, 1998
Another milestone. The first 12 months are so important that he feels the love around him. I want to renew my commitment to my kids and now him, that I am there for them. Natural is how I want to live my life. I feel like two different women: one moving from the torn and tattered past, to one who is still in it and I’m seeing how it is passed to the third generation. We have to look for ways to support each other and I’m unclear whether my work is still part of this. To have a long and healthy life, I want to quit smoking and build a quiet comfortable home where I can be casual. This can be the beginning of a new place of my life where my energy comes from the light within and I let out the darkness a little at a time.
 December 14, 1998 From my journal. I think I made the decision not to take January contract educating about abuse. Even though I looked at jobs and none of them interest me, as if I have a quiet confidence that I will find something. Actually looking forward to the challenge of finding a professional job, good money that I deserve.
 I tried out the United Church a few times. Belief system doesn’t fit.
 Kept remembering the maternity ward experience with my daughter. In the hospital a woman in the next bed had a baby whose heartbeat kept stopping. The woman would hold the baby and be crying and kept saying, “You have to stop it” to the baby and I thought, the baby is doing what it’s told.
 Another non-government organization phoned. They had my resume from the year before and wondered if I was interested in a job working with people with mental illness in a group home setting. Interviewed and offered job. Orientation training was to begin Christmas Eve. Had a dream not to take it. I decided to follow that. When I’d think about asking for others help in January finding a job, a beautiful blue light comes through my inner eye.
 I spent Christmas dog sitting for one friend and house sitting for two others. My son and I were invited to my cousins for the day. I read a bunch of books about creating a career you want and made a list of what I would do: 1)redo my resume 2)act on it 3)make 4 phone calls a day 4)dress professionally 5)get a job to lead me to what I want to do 6)start applying 7)SaskTel 8)want ads 9)Sales 10) Co-op 11)SGI 12)WCB 13)E.I. 14)New careers 16)Radius.
For most of January, that’s what I did; handed out resumes and phoned non-stop. Many places were government front line jobs. Thought sometimes about writing a second book but hard to take myself seriously that it would be worth reading or I had anything to say. Was reading books about Masters/Spirit guides, and when I read that Masters come to us in a blue light, I cry.
 I re-did my Values:
Interdependence, Connection to self, Others, and Universe: love, spirituality, universal light, caring, parenthood, grandmother, friend, quality relationship, sexuality, family of origin/heritage.
 Peace with self, all earth: nature, mind, body, spirit, emotions, personal development, openness, honesty, integrity, accept my uniqueness.
 Living Life to the Fullest: Independence, career, work, life has value in itself, money, recognition, house I enjoy, Car, Beauty in surroundings.
 Pleasure/Joy: Beauty, heart, music, singing, theatre, dance, education, continual learning, good food.
I tried to write out 20 things I’d want to do before I die:
Own my own house
Ride a horse
Have a committed relationship
Play with my grandson once a week or more
See both kids graduate from university
Wear dresses regularly
Walking distance to the country
Frame my daughter’s cross-stitch embroidery
On a down-day, a woman said I should write out what should have happened. I wrote:
Secure job
Book became a best seller
Supported me or someone managed it
I’d get a rest
I’d have a vision of what is next in life
Something in place for me at Tamara’s House
I’d be really comfortable in house I’m in
I’d clean it and make it beautiful
I’d have energy, bright ideas, creativity
There would be a job I’d be excited about
I’d be able to buy new clothes
At the end of January, I found out I could get into the career program called Radius.
 My cousin asked if I’d go support her as she was going to a Shaman for a Soul Retrieval. It didn’t do anything for me but was interesting to watch as chants,drums and visualization were used to assist her in finding a piece of her history.
 I was reading some books on spirituality. It talked about apparitions people have; holes in people’s feet. I tell my sister. She said Mom has puncture wounds on her wrists. Dad is putting salve on them.
 I met with the director of the career program this morning. “Do I want to work?” she asked. “Everyone wants to write a book,” is what she said to my attempt to tell her where I’m at. She is a wonderful woman. Helped me to realize I want to write a second book for myself. Her questions were good. Am I able to go to work? I cried there. That was okay. I left wondering if I could write every morning from 7:00 – 8:30 a.m. and then go to their school. I liked the classrooms, the energy there, like that there are tests or something to go through right way. These are helpful people and I like that there are men there, have to get comfortable with men somewhere along the way. Feeling better. Is it knowing I can get $310.00 each week for the next 3 months. Maybe I could save enough to move and get off 20th Street. On Monday, I had an interview at a radio station,did not get the job. The next day I put on a one day workshop at a small Saskatchewan town. I put my name in to volunteer at live theatre as a valentines present to myself.
 After two weeks of non-stop assessments, I completed the career agency’s version of the twenty four jobs I am most suited for. Number one: a symphony conductor….oh yes! I laughed but didn’t really find it funny.
Then I get a letter from my lawyers saying no movement on the supreme court case and wanting to know if I could let them know what we had decided about the psychological assessment.
My nephew asked if he could live with me while taking a 10 week course. I said No. Completed a values exercise at school. Bugging me that the world does not recognize artists, authors, etc.
 My values now: healing myself, sense of peace, not worry about money/future, respect myself, feel good about myself, know I did well, in charge of my own life, independence, fun, close friends, trust, close family ties needed, social life, know what I’m supposed to do, balanced versus busy, steady work, feel good about my work, earn good money, use what I already know, same hours every day, work in own way. For a week my back went into muscle spasms. Back to a chiropractor.
 I went to welcoming gay and lesbian training to be an affirming person last night at Unitarian Church. Not sure why.

 Collage at school. February 28, 1999
Starting a new life, new ways. A changed context. I want to be in the game of life using my creativity. Everyday I’m different. It’s time for more. A life in art, beauty and colours. New things to try. I am assertive. I can grab life. I am searching and want to make the right choice. New ideas are everywhere and I’m in the environment to make them happen. I am learning new things on computer; the Internet. Diversify. I am as big as I want to be. I love who I am, the friends I have. Love and compassion. I can take charge of my life and who I am and I can free the writer in me.
 Spent an hour with the Unitarian Minister. I had gone there quite a few times for Sunday Services and then 6 months previous had been asked to speak of my survivor experience and Tamara’s House which I did as part of their service. It went well and I never went back. Now was saying I think I felt too vulnerable; didn’t want to be hurt again. I said probably scared they would not be there for me; like my experience in the Catholic Church; would they accept me as I am. She asked who wasn’t there for me and I had to admit, the version of God and Jesus I had accepted, the people who couldn’t hear, the hierarchy. I talked about the silence; how little I heard from anyone after the book was published. She spoke of agnostic. I didn’t know what that word meant but left there feeling better.
 At school, made resumes, cover letters, tape recorded practice interviews. Looking for a job placement. Had an interview and offered job of Administration Assistant for the Shakespeare on Saskatchewan theatre. She said I had a gentle, calm aura, an arresting poise, a charisma, an approachable person. Felt like an extreme – 6000 volunteers. During my interview, I was thinking about another job. A sign of my interest?.
 Went into my lawyer’s office. In reviewing the file, I still had questions about what church will do with an assessment besides related to ongoing future needs like pain, suffering, and loss of income. If the B.C. Supreme Court case won, it would be favourable to our side. My lawyer questioned whether I had out-of-pocket expenses. No, because I have no money. Still going to counselling. Quit job, as can’t live on it; was making $750.00 a month, now looking for work, going to school. Will have to start something new. My back is in spasms; told her what I deal with is grief, no hope and spirituality issues. A counselling agency was seeing me on a sliding fee scale, which I never felt great about.
I receive two letters from my lawyer; one asking if I’ll review the other one prior to her sending to church lawyer. The other one said her client’s present treatment needs were being met; wasn’t wanting any further treatment and would delay assessment until supreme court decision.
I phoned my lawyer saying I did not agree with that letter going to the church lawyer; that I do want an assessment as treatment I’m in costs money and is now being subsidised by the service agency.
Collage. March 4, 1999 Like I want a job with no responsibility. Know I am a strong woman; a spiritual woman but can’t get rid of the blah feeling; want some colour in my life; bloom. I know I am experiencing a lot of changes; need beauty and colour and nature and vibrancy and something in my life that gives me a renewable source of energy.
I gave a half hour talk at a Catholic Women’s League meeting. I took resumes to art galleries, flower shops, book and art stores. I left school early about three days in a row; so down; so lack of hope; depression or what. Laid on the bed and bawled.
 Collage March 11, 1999 I am in such pain. Ravages me. This depression has gone on too long. Would a pill help? Maybe time to break the smoking habit; but more important; how to get out of the descent to hell. I’m tired of fighting reality, career and money. It’s been a blank space and it’s time to pour my heart out; enough of the analysis to find a place; I would like a place for life; where I could colour me happy , see or believe in a light at the end of the tunnel. How much do I need to live; colour, flowers, a good life; finding little highs, simple solutions, work that replenishes my creativity. Birth of a gramma and some balance in my life being a woman who is all of me and creating home for myself; light, style, creativity and living how I deserve.
 A rural Saskatchewan library asked me to speak about my book. I do. Ten people: six women, three female teens and one male priest. The young teens disclosed sexual abuse and one handed me a note asking me if I would talk about committing suicide.
 I was accepted for a one month work placement at an art store. I went to Mom and Dad’s for the weekend. Mom was a diabetic and I saw her just spooning the brown sugar into her mouth. Had a dream about suicide. I went to Mass and walked out after the sermon.
 A non-profit organization that worked for the aged, phoned and asked if I would resubmit my resume as they had a job opening. I did the same day I started work at the art store. Framing all day was hard on my back and my feet. Had a dream that I was crawling up from the basement.
 From my Journal, “Rotten experience this morning; walking downtown on 20th; white truck parked in bus stop. White guy trying to pick up about a thirteen year old native girl. I stopped; stood to her left; stayed there and he still kept nodding at her to get in. When bus was coming he finally left and she said, “I was so scared.” She said he had gone around the block three times as he followed her and she was disparaging of herself as she said , “ I should have got his license plate.”
I said to her, “I wasn’t brave enough to do that.” I felt so intimidated as it was happening. It was like I lost my voice as I could not say a word or tell him to get lost. Called it a rotten experience but it was a criminal experience at 7 am.”
 Stress level is high. Thinking about whether to try for the job; with the group who work for the elderly; at 18 hours a week; can’t live on it; unsure why I’m going out every morning for coffee; why I’m writing in this journal. Didn’t go to my niece’s bridal shower. Didn’t phone either or buy a gift. What is important here? Have been doing some nice things. Went to a reading night of the writers guild. I don’t write like they do.
I went to my son’s wind ensemble concert. Volunteered again at the Persephone Theatre. A catholic couple who were there asked to take me out for dessert and coffee after the play. Felt patronized and irritated when he told me to go to City Hall and practice writing out a job application. Listened to a native woman explain her culture at the Unitarian Church. That church’s bulletin says freedom of religious thought; I can go with that but don’t even want to be in a church. I nearly cried when the native women spoke about the babies in her culture; from her home reserve anyway, wear an amulet around their neck of the umbilical cord so they never feel lost.
 The Tamara’s House Newsletter came out and in it a book review of my book.
 I had been working two weeks at the art store. It was going fine but I hated it. It was better than the drug store but all I could think about was moving; getting out of that house on 20th St. I feel like there is something wrong over on that side of the city; the energy or something; is it pain and powerlessness; oppression or all of the above?
People are making changes over there. A drop in centre opened a half block from me. I have no interest in dropping in. Why did I move there? Was it an ideal; thinking we are all brothers and sisters on this earth plane; but do I even want to be with people? It hasn’t been like that. I have kept to myself for months. Would I feel different if everything was settled with the world? Would I know where I want to live; what I’d want to be doing? How do I give hope to the kids? Maybe I have to do what the masters say; embrace this confusion?
 My counsellor is ending meeting with me and abandonment shows up. Her, my mother; mother church; God.. My mind accepts some things. My child is letting go of the belief that someone will help me; be there for me.
 I went to the interview for a community development worker that was wanted to develop a resource centre for caregivers with that organization for the aged. For a few seconds it was like I could see a bigger picture. Care giving is what I’ve been doing. I can give this job meaning; make it fit into my belief system; every moment is spiritual. Wonder if it’ll be the same shit as Tamara’s House; no money and I will juggle too many balls; sounds like lots is administrative and that might be good.
 I gave my notice for my house the next morning. Reading about power, energy and spirit. Is it all the same thing?
 April 2, 1999 “Good Friday. Thought about Jesus when I woke up. Jesus died trying to do good. Change things in society. Got the Job. A half time contract for three years. Don’t know where I will move to.”
I am finished my work placement at the Art Store.
I spent $100.00 to go to a workshop in Moose Jaw called a Breath Workshop. Huge gymnasium type room; windows all blacked out with garbage bags; huge speakers and sound system; mats lying all over the floor; booming music; room totally darkened; no lights and music is kind of like chanting; weird; and people were crying or yelling or screaming or moaning. Everyone was in teams; about 25 or 30 people; actually we were in pairs most of the time; and continually taking turns going deep within and releasing whatever showed up.
I went with a woman from Saskatoon and first I would sit with her as partner while she was into releasing deep stuff and then she would sit while I went into this deep emotion. I was all over the place. Deep grief over growing up on the farm; then gratitude that I grew up on a farm; in touch with the land and next minute a disappointment bordering on hatred of men and men’s actions and then in deep stuff over can’t find the divine and every time, I went outside for a break; seeing the crows and the magpies. Is divine in them?
 April 6, 1999 Started new job. Should make about $800-1000 in a month. In April I have enough in bank to move if it only costs about $200. Pretty scary. Will feel a lot better when I have a place and a moving company booked. Last time they did it for $110.00.
I review my letters from lawyer which are two; first one asking me to review the two enclosed; second one from my lawyer to church lawyers saying I am prepared to go for an assessment with the woman psychologist they recommended to assess future treatment needs with understanding church would pay for it and future treatment needs. My lawyer suggested they send a letter of engagement for review by us.
I phoned my lawyer saying I”m okay it being sent as is.
Early April my lawyer sends me a letter saying enclosed is the letter of engagement which she asks me to review and says I have more expertise in this area than herself. She does suggest that it be noted in the engagement that Allinblack was charged and convicted of the assault against myself as well as of other women for similar offences.
Enclosed was what the church lawyer’s letter to us with their enclosure of what they called a letter of instruction to the psychologist we had agreed upon. They wanted a signature from us endorsing the letter of instruction; which they would send to the psychologist and said I could then make the appointment.
The actual letter of instruction to Saskatoon woman psychologist is about them representing the diocese of Big City; they don’t represent Allinblack, that I allege sexual abuse by Allinblack and he was charged and convicted of similar offences. They let her know they assume no liability and that my lawyer disagrees with that; that they will faciliate this assessment and treatment regardless of legal liability. They want her to conduct an assessment and report to them; that there is no confidentiality or privelge to the information she provides and raw test scores can only be obtained on court order. They ask her to conduct such tests to report my current psychological/emotional health; summary of my subjective complaints, her objective findings,comments and analysis on those, detailed recommended treatment program including nature, frequency, duration and estimate of total cost.
It went on to say if findings indicate reason for treatment required other than Allinblack, then to proportion amount required due to Allinblack. Any communication in writing between the psychologist and them or us will be copied to all concerned. It ended saying that my lawyers signature on letter deems approval.
I think about the letter from the lawyer about the assessment. Don’t feel like going for that. I found two apartments to choose from and made two lists; the one new and different; central Saskatoon; sunny affordable; free laundry but a basement suite. Other one; close to my grandson; close to a park; walk to the donut shop. I know the area; bus; hill for sunrise; paddling pool; walking; sounds of kids playing. I chose the latter.
 Having awake dreams. As if wanting mom to see the apartment before she dies; seeing a piano in my place; and another awake dream about me buying art.
 My left side went into body pain for weeks. The art store said they’d call me for casual work. Wrote: Really concerns me; as if I hate men; have a contempt for them. Having a massage and wonder if I will ever get over the fear that things will totally overwhelm me; that I will go off the deep end. Is there a point in trying to figure out what counselling cost the province; society to get through this? Should the church pay for that retroactively? Do I just wait and then this civil suit just dies and nothing gets paid? Do I get an assessment that only the church gets the results of the tests and myself or my lawyer doesn’t get to see them? Do I leave all decisions up to them? How do I bring closure? Do I phone my lawyer and talk to her about the letter when I’m not clear?
For the first time when someone asked me if I was still fighting with the church, I was able to say; I believe the church is responsible when they put a man in a position of power.
 At work; I am doing a lot of research and setting up a survey to determine what caregivers want.
Thought for days and days about church lawyer letter and how to respond. Want to say NO; terms not acceptable; that I feel re-victimized when the church doesn’t even admit I was assaulted by their client’s employee while he was executing his duties. What a word! EXECUTING.! They don’t even acknowledge that he was convicted of a criminal offence.
 I phoned my lawyer. Said I didn’t like it. She said she’d write a letter saying on hold until Supreme Court Decision and that they were insensitive.
 I was figuring out my money to pay bills and said to someone really close to me; “What can I do in a week to make $200.00 and the person said “Be a Hooker” and then like so many say after they abuse, “it was just a joke”.
Was I going to quit talking to this person for the rest of my life?
 The next few weeks I was going to work half time and to career school the other part.
I had a potluck party with seven friends to say goodbye to my house and living on 20th St. When I tried to explain to them my job, I said it’s similar but different to the last one; and this time adding ageism to the other issues I’ve been dealing with like the racism, classism, sexism and spiritual. As soon asI knew I was getting out of the 20th St aboriginal inner city area; as if I can start speaking about what it was like. Sometimes I was feeling like it was my fault people in the area are hurting; deep down I feel Catholic and white; as if I have been part of their oppression and in another sense; as if I am one of them and wonder what generation it will be when healing between nations will take place.
 As part of my career school I went a government insurance agency called SGI, wrote a clerical test and had an interview. I was phoned about contract work with Young Offenders. Turned it down. Trying to decide if I could work mornings or afternoons only somewhere and the other half time do the caregiver coordinator job? And there I was trying to figure out what developing a caregiver resourse centre would entail.
 APRIL 29,1999
Moving today. Wrote “Everything on schedule so far except my plants tipped over in the back seat. Hadn’t planned on that. Have to phone the SGI manager this morning. Unsure what I want to ask for; eight weeks of mornings or afternoons for a trial work placement. Phoned. He was really flexible. He will check with their Human Resources department and get back to me.
Hysterical reality. Trying to think of a slogan for the caregiver project. “Creating a caring community” came to me but I don’t think it’s original. Does it matter? I had the weekend to clean my house . I did get the work placement to start that Monday morning at SGI; do that every morning and work the caregiver project every afternoon.
 Had a memory about my thirteen year old catholic confirmation. I was to get all these spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit. The teacher assured it would sort out vocation. I was to be called a soldier of Christ! What a word! Soldier!
 Monday going to SGI felt like the first day of school. I couldn’t decide what to wear; wondering if I’d fit in with what I’d seen when I went for the testing; seemed like white, middle class workers.
Had a letter from my lawyer the day before I moved and deciding how to answer it. Loved that she said their lawyer is trying to cover his butt in case in case it goes to trial. It also said they understand I am not in a position to provide receipts.
May 7, 1999 Phoned my lawyer and told her I have $3500 in receipts. She said in court or our legal justice system, they won’t pay for what therapeutic community might recognize as treatment such as massage. She will think about what disclosure might mean to me.
 I made it through one morning of work at SGI. Got a paper cut.
Walking to my other job at noon hour, found the brightest peach coloured bird feathers on my path. Day went fine.
 One thing, since living on the east side; as if I relaxed. The band around my chest went away. So quiet. I’m in no panic to do anything; just love the quiet; no street noise. I’m wondering do I want a job like the SGI job? Seems so sterile. What am I doing there? Do I believe in insurance? I do want to have money and the benefits of a job.
 On the weekend I pulled out costs and receipts. Do I send in the treatment costs to the church lawyers. Why would I give them all the information about where I was, what I did; who I saw. It was Mother’s Day.
Collage May 9, 1999
Coming from a tangled web; a mess; a chaotic inner and outer life that left me raw; more masculine than feminine; depressed from holding so much in. Getting in touch with my feelings allows me to be more of who I truly am; to speak my truth. I did it; published that book; rattled a few cages; united more of myself; So much still a paradox – battle for peace – my struggle to heal or is it to have faith? Still part of court system; would there be a fair trial. I’m at a new time in my life; young and innocent; know there is deep suffering/oppression I’ve come through but like at the baby stage and I can’t put into words; it’s all fragmented; blurry and leaving me unsure of who/ what I am in my inner /outer world but knowing I can fit if I stay with my authentic spirit flowing through wherever I am – knowing we are never more beautiful than when we are natural. I am investing in family life; a grandparent bond. All so fleeting – here and gone. I want the best for myself and them- career and money may be where I need to go but don’t want to leave the sensitive side or the lessons I’ve learned about oppression. The aspect of me that feels burned, alone, rejected by the group feels out in the cold but know I am so far away from that reality. I can’t see clearly from where I am. Feels like no one cares that I am in a barren wasteland. I care. I am going to listen to my cries. Fill me up with sun, beauty and colour to breathe new life into me and my home where new ideas keep flowing and pamper myself everyday; romancing my body, eating good food and living in harmony; making room for an honest relationship as I lighten up about life.
 A friend wrote asking me where is the second book? I told her I’ve always known since’96 that there was another book. As I was typing that first book into the computer it was as if a second book was being written and there was a day I knew it was finished and I’d call it “ As Long as I Understand”. I told her writing the first book was the best thing I had ever done because it freed something in me and as if I can be more of who I am. It brought up every issue that I’d ever dealt with once it was out there; and my family not taking it well; left me feeling bad; as if I had done something wrong; but it was the silence; over 400 people I know bought that book and very few said anything to me about it; I’d see them around and the silence was hard to take. I couldn’t put it into words what that was like. I know I couldn’t promote my book. Part of it was from that silence and part felt like I would be selling myself and women have had to do that to survive.
Abuse has been part of my framework for so long and it did not help that because of lack of money; no job; I moved to 20th st and I lived there for those months and every day or every other day, I saw child sexual abuse in action; not only the prostitutes being picked up but the amount of white middle class men who were over there attempting to pick up young native girls. It sickened me and I guess I was shocked into silence. I could not tell people what was going on for me I could not put it into words. It was a lot deeper than that actually. Now it’s like I need to say it over and over how horrible it was. I think I was freaked all the time; in a state of hyper alert or something. Not a thing happened to me while I lived there but it was like culture shock; the poverty was atrocious; the addictions; the violence; a man being stabbed across the street; the constant sirens; ambulance and fire sirens on a daily basis; more than daily; back alleys full of overflowing garbage because of the amount of people living per household. The city doesn’t come there more often than it does in the fancy neighbourhoods where you never see garbage. Little kids; lots of little kids always playing in the park behind my house; many wouldn’t call it a park – black dirt – no grass; and constant fear for parents whether they’ll get poked with a dirty needle. I think of the manicured lawns and fancy parks across the city with no one in them.
 I told her that because of the oppression, poverty and abuse I’ve lived, I felt like them; and yet on the outside; I have always maintained an appearance and my experiences are white middle class privilege. I guess I am part of what oppressed the native population for the last century. Anyway, it has been horrible and I know that my being Catholic didn’t help here; because Catholic has a history of domination; better than; superior; and inside in many ways I still felt Catholic. A nightmare in the daytime to live over there.
I have been out of there for about a week and a half and just now starting to be able to put into words what I saw and experienced. I know it’s not sorted out yet. Some days mad at myself for moving there. 
 I told her I didn’t think I had allowed myself enough time to heal from the sexual abuse before doing anything at Tamara’s House again. It seemed bizarre to even me, that I designed a workshop about spirituality when I was questioning what mine was. My heart was no longer in to education work and wondering if it was because I had moved from wanting others to understand to accepting that no one will understand. It wasn’t their reality. Realizing many don’t want to know.
That fits for a lot of the work I did in the last six years: confronting my ex-husband on behalf of the kids; confronting Allinblack, the church, my family, this community; people I knew and it’s been like trying to get out of that mentality that it was my purpose in life; to do for others before yourself but I’m realizing it is a big part of who I’ve become and it’s hard to separate what is the real me, authentic spirit, and what is personality, ego, old beliefs, etc.
 I talked about giving myself the last three months to try to find permanent part-time work at someplace like the government insurance company called SGI so the other half time I could write a second book. That last part is like an inner dream that sometimes I think is so valid and other times I think is stupidity or that old mentality. There is still some part of me that is longing to be heard, to be understood so I know it is valid because as I write, it is painful but in the writing, I come to new understandings and by the time it’s done, as long as I understand; that’s okay. Nothing will ever be as powerful or hard hitting as that first book for me or anyone else.
We discussed how I didn’t do it alone. Sometimes I felt like a force bigger than me was part of writing that book. Nearly every time I write, I learn something; understand something and it’s better; have more compassion for myself.
 I went to my niece’s wedding; her father being one that had abused me. I had been deciding whether to go. Wrote, “I’ve been trying to rise above it all but it hasn’t happened. Night before wedding slept from two to four am in the cabin I had rented, in some pretty heavy stuff. Real fear. As I looked at my brother the next day; kept thinking, “he’s a shrimp,.” He’s not very big. It’s the first time in seven years I’d been around him and was seeing him as he really is; through adult eyes; instead of a child who thought he was so big.
It’s pretty sad. Had been reading in a book; that in telling and retelling a story, regarding traumatic memories; you transfer it from iconic memory to shamanic memory and there you can deal with it and it doesn’t rule your life. In that cabin, felt like something was still ruling my life.
 Back home sorting papers; realize I had nine different employment type positions; moved twice; became a grandmother and went to school in about a year. No wonder I call it hysterical reality but amazing that I’m still making sense.
 I met a woman from the injury department at SGI and thought how glad I am that I’m in the auto department right now. I think less stress.
I liked the creativeness of the caregiver project employment; the gathering and sorting resources, making up a pamphlet for caregivers. I’m still filling in applications to get permanent work, wondering what would it be like to work at SGI for 20 years? I’m 45 years old now, have 20 years left. Could I work there, all day, every day, full time. I don’t know. Is a government job better than a city job?
My lawyer writes early May saying has had the chance to think about whether submitting receips to the church lawyer and does not think it would bring any harm and we will submit all of them as it will be a trial issue anyway if it proceeds to one.


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