Every once in a while, during winter, Steve and I do this thing where we find a show on Netflix and just go nuts with it. We did this with Breaking Bad a couple of months ago – we had our time of recounting its best moments and grieving its departure, and now we’re super-late-to-the-party-but-making-up-for-lost-time-and-lost-feels with Supernatural. I mean, it’s only been around 9 years now. It was bound to happen eventually.
We’ve never been people who enjoy seeing horror or gore or just general stuff of nightmares on our TV. However (so far), SPN has brilliantly managed to blend suspense, humour, intrigue, folklore, urban legend, campfire-style ghost stories, a heart-wrenching brother relationship, classic rock music and vintage cars into one glorious pile. Out of 8 available seasons online, we’re on #4, and they’ve started exploring the Book of Revelations, the Apocalypse, God and Angels and Demons, redemption – and of course, pie.
So yeah, this show was pretty much made for us?
Anyhow, as with any TV show and my gets-attached-easily heart/brain, I am always needing to check in with myself to make sure I know that this is not reality. I think it’s a little easier to make that distinction here because ghosts. Which I don’t really believe in, in the supernatural sense, anyways. I do, however, believe in the ghosts of memories. I can attest to the fact of feeling “haunted” by someone’s words or actions towards me, or mine towards them. I don’t hold grudges, but I’m oh so good at holding onto what if and what could have been and maybe if I’d just done that instead, everything would be different. Regret and re-calling follows me like a Hellhound, and I’m only just now realizing it. Some nights, sleep eludes me because my brain just. won’t. stop. And these people I’m obsessing about? Probably haven’t given their possibly-negative encounters with me a second thought. To them, I’m a chapter in their history book now closed, while they’ve started another book. Why would I keep reading the old books, with an eraser in hand, looking for any sign of a pencil mark I can eradicate when everything is clearly written in pen? Why am I not okay with this?
Anyway, as crazy as it sounds, I’m slowly waking up to the fact that life is too short to do this anymore. I’m no longer okay with waking up feeling like crap after having a dream that involved a ghost of my past. If I manage to live a long, healthy, outrageous life, I’m probably going to make a few more ghosts, and pretty soon, I’ll have a closetful. And I’ve got better things to do with my time than waste another decade (DECADE?! Oof da.) wishing I could start over. As my boy Eminem says, “You don’t get another chance, life is no Nintendo game.”
So I’m gonna take a lead from the Winchester boys: face the ghost, find its bones, apply salt (the purest mineral on earth, apparently – which I’ll call “telling the truth” here), burn it up and say goodbye. Complete with Dean and Sam and the angel Castiel to help me tell the story. And then, I might eat some pie.
The Ghooooosts of Asssssbutttttssss Paaaaaasssst
I may have briefly mentioned here before that, from ages 8-12, I was sexually abused in some form or fashion, by both genders, peers and strangers, young and old. I tried to tell my mom what was going on a few different times, but with my peers, I think she thought it was just a weird phase or game that all kids do. And as for the pervy old man, well, let’s just avoid him and hope he goes away. Either way, I didn’t feel quite believed or validated or worthy of the RIGHT kind of attention, for a long time. It’s taken some therapy, a real Jesus and a good husband to reclaim and reassure me of my worth, my rights and my believability.
But it was a long road to get there, and I met plenty of Assbutts along the way, including myself. I am about to reveal to you Hurricane Carly and the trail of guys (maybe a gal too?) she left in her wake from 1999 to 2011.
The year was 1999. I was 12, on the brink of puberty and insanity as I waited for the approaching doom of Y2K. And that summer, at camp, I met someone who I’ll call Mr. McDonald’s. He was a short little cutie with tanned skin, brown hair that had blonde highlights, and when he smiled – ooh them dimples! We spent our days reading Calvin & Hobbes to each other, driving quads through the woods, praying…it was a match made in Heaven.
Until one day, I realized this cute little shit is lazy as f***.
I was accustomed to the farm life, lifting hay bales and gathering water, chopping wood and chopping chickens, while Mr. McDonald’s could barely be bothered to lift a finger. I tell you what, when the Apocalypse drops, ain’t nobody got time for that!
The fateful day came when his mom asked us to weed a bit of her garden for her, and while I was enjoying the chore together, he was grumbling about how unfair everything was, and he just wanted to go see the new James Bond movie. Trying to be persuasive in a friendly manner, I said, “Well, it’s good practice…for some day…when you have your own family to take care of…”
And he goes, “Nah. I think it would be a pretty sweet set-up for my wife to work all the time, and I’ll take the kids to McDonald’s all day. Or she can cook for us, whatever.”
And that’s when I dropped him like a hot potato. (To be fair, I sort of didn’t help matters by calling him a shithead and an asshole in the days to come, without explaining why I was actually angry, but I’m a better person now.)
Not long after that, I got acquainted with another boy I’ll call the Swiss Mister. He was beautiful. Like, related-to-Elizabeth-Taylor beautiful. Jet black hair, eyes like pure chocolate, surrounded by eyelashes longer than mine. Also on the shorter side. (I think that was part of my problem. They distracted me from their real selves because I just wanted to put them in my pocket and take them home with me.) We played card games, watched movies at his house, had sleepovers (Uhh yeah! But NOT in the same bed, okay? Jeez.), baked bread and drove snowmobiles and found excuses to hug each other, like, all the time.
And then, one day without warning, he stopped talking to me. Just completely turned off the tap that made him the lovable Swiss Mister, and I was mystified. It took me a couple weeks to hear from one of his sisters that he was now hanging out with another girl because he randomly decided he wanted to give blondes a try.
To this day, we have not spoken. (Not for my lack of trying…believe me…if there’s anything I know how to do, it’s try.)
The next one was a little weirder. I was 13, going on 14, and Y2K’s arrival date had come and gone with a big, fat nothing. Mom and I were just hanging out in the wilderness, waiting for the ball to drop, surviving each of the challenges that living on a farm in the middle of nowhere with no electricity brings.
And then one day, we got neighbours. A family actually moved in as caretakers for a tourist ranch about 10 minutes away from us. Previously, there hadn’t really been anyone there, so this changed our world quite a bit. It was even more of a surprise and delight to discover that they were ALSO waiting out the End of All the Things AND they had a 16-year-old son.
Could it be? Had I finally found my Prince who would protect and provide and love me through the Apocalypse?
Eh. Turns out that I actually found Mr. Touchy-Feely. Which, I mean, he WAS a 16-year-old boy, so I don’t know what I was expecting. But after a couple of months, I started feeling guilty – not just because I let him be touchy-feely with me, but because I was starting to want to be touchy-feely back. And I was pretty sure that a 13 year old and 16 year old shouldn’t be getting to know each other that well, quite yet.
So I told him I wanted to take a step back in our relationship. And he, like the candy-bereaved baby, refused to be my friend or talk to me again.
Which is great when he’s the only neighbour you have in the middle of nowhere, and your parents are still dreaming up scenarios like Braveheart-themed secret weddings and Apocalypse-survivor babies.
Ahhh, age 15. I am now out of the wilderness and ready to re-join civilization in the worst way. Unfortunately, it was 2002, and some things had changed without my knowledge or permission.
So when I joined the youth group at my local church, I was eager to make friends, but had no idea how to do it – and yet had no clue that I had no idea how to do it. I was completely oblivious to my awkward and companionship-leeching ways. So when I met Michael W. Smith Jr., I was all over that.
Again, he was littler. (I was steadily becoming aware that, at my age, there was a good chance that I was going to be taller than most of the boys I came into contact with.) But he had the fiercest blue eyes I’d ever seen (at that point in time) and an already deep, gentle voice. Best of all, he was nice to me. My poor little starved heart took it and ran wild.
And by “ran wild”, I do mean that I started a xanga blog. Oh Lord, XANGA. Does anyone even do that anymore? So yeah, I took non-existent social skills and a monstrous crush to the interwebs. I poured out my heart. How I felt about him, how much he meant to me, how nice he and his family were, and how badly I wished I could just be a part of it.
It went on for a fairly long time. I don’t remember exactly. I do know that I wasn’t quite stupid enough to make my xanga public, but that I was stupid enough to log onto it while I was at Michael W. Smith Jr’s house one night.
Now what happened next and how it did so was never made quite clear to me. Which is the worst.
One entire month later, I got an upset email from his parents saying that they’d found the blog and they were not okay with it and could I please delete it. They’d always been warm and friendly with me, but somehow, even through written text, I could tell that their tone had completely changed. I was beyond mortified when I learned that MWSJr. had read every single word of that damn xanga.
So, maybe I was an assbutt and forgot to log out (which I always double-checked out of paranoia) and his parents found it on their once-a-month History search cleanse later. But an entire month later? It would be locked down again, for certain. So either they discovered it right away but didn’t tell me immediately OR Michael W. Smith Jr. did some assbutt hacking and and read it for an entire month before his parents found it. Either way, I’m pretty sure it took us all at least 4 years to feel comfortable with each other again. Or maybe that was me. Yeah, probably just me.
Honestly, out of everything I’ve shared so far, I think this is the ghost I regret the most. (lolz) But now, 10 years later, I can say that I am actually STILL friends with this fine fellow, and I totally helped him find the girl of his dreams. His family is my family. So there’s that.
A few years went by and I remained pretty unscathed by the traps of cutie pie boys. The whole xanga fiasco really put me in my place until around 2007. That summer, I started traveling to Burns Lake to be a counselor at a kid’s camp for a couple weeks at a time. It was a good change, and I still have people in my life that I consider friends who came from that camp. There was, however, one embarrassing lesson that I learned my second summer counseling there.
Coming back for a second time was great because I was reunited with all of the former people I’d gotten to know the summer before. Including the camp director, Mr. Flag-Capturer. (What? He was really good at it.)
I mention Mr. Flag-Capturer not so much because I think he’s an assbutt (he’s not), but mostly because what happened is kind of too good not to share.
So, after hanging out for two summers together, I took the plunge the following Spring and sent him an email. After all, he lived a good two hours away and I missed talking to him. So, I started the conversation and it continued throughout the summer until we saw each other at camp again. Now, we had already established that we liked each other, that we were getting to know each other better “with the possibility of more than friendship in the future”, and that after camp was over, we were going to drive back to Smithers together in his truck so that he could meet some of my friends and family. They were even planning a big “Meet Mr. Flag Capturer BBQ.” This was the first time something had ever felt real and grown-up to me. I was 21, never been on a date in my life – I was pumped.
And then we actually hung out at camp again…and it was really awkward…and we couldn’t get past it…and I couldn’t figure out why? So finally, the night before camp ended, he started the conversation, saying that he believed we were better off as friends and he was sorry he’d gotten my hopes up. It was a little devastating, but here’s the best part:
“But don’t worry, I’ll still give you a ride back home tomorrow like I said I would.”
So, the day after I had my hopes dashed, I had to sit in a truck for 3 hours with the hope-dasher. Alone. Pretending like I didn’t want to just curl up into the fetal position all day. You better believe the AC/DC was blasting the whole way. And then he dropped me off at home, and I had to explain to the awaiting group why I was alone.
The following summer (2010) was probably one of the worst times of my life. Through a series of unfortunate events that included hacking, snacking and tears, I was blissfully reunited and then jerkingly torn apart from my dad in a matter of 9 weeks. (Fear not, really good things can happen in 9 weeks as well.) One week after this episode of Jerry Springer, I went on a hike/camping trip with a group of friends.
I was not okay with anything in my life at all.
At this point, Michael W. Smith Jr. was going to university in Prince George, but he came back to Smithers for the hike, bringing two friends, one named Mr. Missionary and one named Mr. Confused.
I was friends with Mr. Confused and the GIRLFRIEND of Mr. Missionary within a week of that trip. Somehow, we both just connected really well and were attracted to each other on some…level. He was my first
rebound-and-eff-you-to-my-dad boyfriend, I was his first girlfriend – it was pandemonium, folks. But he was also going back to university in Prince George when the summer ended.
What’s a girl to do?
Follow the boy, of course.
Our 5-month relationship was nothing short of a gong show. He was completely head-over-heels for me (yeah, sounds terrible, right?) and I thought that I loved him back. I thought it was normal to never “go out” with him, or feel nothing when he kissed me, or to decide overnight that – yes, dropping my life and marrying a guy who’s calling is to go to Africa as a missionary for life was a great way to deal with all of my familial problems.
Hint: I was numb and depressed and I used Mr. Missionary most abhorrently, to stall my path and band-aid a giant knife-shaped hole in my back. In the end, I knew it had to be me that broke his heart; I could not let him propose, could not keep up the pretense of being in love when it had only been a crush, could not keep lying by omission. It was a gray, cold November day when I told him, and I remember walking home feeling crushed but also…like the hard thing had been the right thing, and despite all the layers of dirt I would still need to dig through in the coming months, I had been strong enough to do that one right thing. And it was through this experience that I reached full closure with Mr. Flag-Capturer, since I had now traded places with him and walked in his shoes. I later thanked him for being so kind to me in his rejection, and he received this gratefully.
Six months later, I found myself flitting and fluttering around Mr. Confused. One way to describe him is: that’s one year I’ll never get back. It was like riding a roller coaster of emotions and I felt like screaming more than once, never from exhilaration. He was my “texting till midnight, catching long stares across the room, introducing me to his family and having them say, ‘Oh, so THIS is Carly. You look even prettier in person!’, going for walks and sharing life struggles no one else knew about”, and then “I don’t know how I made you think this, but I don’t like you like that.” boy.
We had somehow created a fantasy of intimacy that only existed to myself and my imagination. So, in an attempt to break the fantasy, I gave him some distance. After a couple of months, we were friends again. And then the roller coaster ride was back in service, ending with another declaration of “I think we’re better off as friends, somehow you keep misunderstanding me.” So that time, I asked for a lot of space. He wasn’t very good at giving it.
Finally, one day, I got my Sassy Pants on, and played a game of Apples to Apples with him, and a bunch of other people. We played the version where whoever’s turn it is, you give them a card that YOU think describes them. It can be serious or joking, they just have to pick the one they like the most and if they pick yours, you win the point.
So, whenever it was Mr. Confused’s turn, I didn’t hold back. I gave him cards like “hypocrite,” and “self-involved” and “two-faced”. So when he read them all out loud, of course having no idea who gave each card, he ALWAYS CHOSE MINE because everyone else’s were “so nice” and “not realistic” and “too flattering”, according to him. That’s called a self-therapy win.
And while that did feel awesome, true closure didn’t actually come until over a year later, when I re-visited Prince George with my brand new husband. Mr. Confused met him, shook his hand, said he was a lucky guy, and then hugged me, saying “I’m really happy that you’ve found such a good guy. You deserve it.”
And now, for my final ghost.
She is someone who has been there, in the background of all these stories, who has faded significantly in the past two years. Her name is Pretty Pretty Princess. Growing up, she was my closest in-person bestie. (L’oreal, you know you’ve always been my far-away bestie!) I’m pretty sure we re-defined the term “sleepover”, as we had them practically every weekend, all weekend long. We choreographed dances to our favourite songs, we played the Game of Life, naming our husbands according to our current crushes, and children according to our favourite names. We’ve laughed together, cried together, prayed together. We did buckets of things, together.
But somewhere along the way, Life intervened. We’ve misunderstood each other, been angry and hurt, said things we regretted but couldn’t admit it. Lost touch and made choices that took us further and further apart.
We were going to be in each other’s weddings. In reality, we didn’t even attend each other’s weddings.
We vowed we were going to jog together pushing strollers so we could regain our tight figures. In reality, she’s having a baby this summer, and my tight figure has already been vacationing down south for awhile now.
Maybe things would have ended up this way anyway, regardless of geography and time. I don’t know. But I do know that I dream about her at least once a week. I dream that either we are hanging out together laughing like we always used to, or that she hates my guts and isn’t afraid to tell me so. Either way, I wake up mourning and regretful, all the while knowing that she’s probably carrying on just fine, not missing me at all.
But I have hope. Hope that someday, the air will be clear and the fellowship will roll on into sweet intimacy again. We’ve had these seasons before; it could just be another one, or it could be time to let go. That scares me a little. I am such a golden retriever of loyalty when it comes to my relationships. And deep down, I have this feeling that when push really comes to shove, we’ll find each other again because there is so much history we can fall back on and be safe within. I just can’t stop hoping that things will change.
And…that’s it. It’s 1:45 in the morning, and I’ve been telling my ghost stories for roughly 12 hours now. A blogging record, for sure. Maybe nobody will actually care, or maybe someone will only read this for the Supernatural commentary, but you know what? I don’t mind. I feel so free right now. Secret-telling has always been incredibly liberating to me, and now I’m ready to burn these bones and walk away. Every time I’m tempted to beat myself up again for the eighty-two-thousandth time, I’m going to tell myself, “Now now, girl. That’s over. It’s out in the world, you are a forgiven and attempted peace-maker, and it’s okay. This is a new day.”
Because it’s true. Those demons no longer have any say. I’ve ganked them good.
Today, I win.
Hoping your yoke is easy and your burden is light,