What we don’t talk about in our every day (By: Mary Proulx)

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6 years ago today, life as I knew it changed. My world was shaken, and in that shake up the way I thought changed, the way I loved and the way I hugged, the way I acted and the way I reacted, it all changed. I changed.

6 years ago today my dad passed away. The man who lectured me about being late and who taught me to cook. The man who made me laugh the hardest and called me out on my shit. The man I loved and respected and admired was no longer a physical presence in my life. Holy shit.

The people in my life through the days, weeks and months following were amazing. They supported and talked and cried and loved me through it.

In the 6 years since, a lot of life has happened. I’ve graduated and started my career. I’ve continued to date guys that weren’t right for me and have started to enjoy (maybe even too much) red wine. I’ve cut my hair and grown it out again. I’ve moved apartments and cities and countries. I’ve become an aunt again, and again, and again and again.

But today, on the 6-year anniversary, I am in a different country and a different time zone than my whole family. Today I wasn’t surrounded by the people who knew my dad and who knew how losing him had changed me. Today I woke up and went to work and smiled and laughed and updated my timesheet like this was the me that had always been. And it’s on days like today that being away from your most beloved family and friends makes travelling feel like the most lonely thing in the world.

Because the beauty and the curse of travelling, of setting up somewhere new, is that no one knows the you from before. Yeah, they know the you that worked at that agency in Toronto that you (still) won’t shut up about, and the you that lived in that van for a few months, but there are certain things that they’ll never know, because those aren’t the things we talk about.

And then, in thinking about this I realized, it’s not just travelling or being away that makes this the case. It’s the fact that there are certain things in general life that you just don’t typically talk about. There are certain things that after a certain amount of time you’re expected to (or feel like you’re expected to) just get over. To move on from. Loss and death and heartbreak, these are huge things in our lives that define who we are more so than our job titles, but these are the things we talk about the least.

So why is it that even when we want to vent or cry or question ourselves to our very best friends, we feel the need to pre-apologize for coming to them with a real and raw feeling rather than the VSCO’d version of our day? “I’m so sorry to bother you with this, I’m just feeling so down.”

As a friend, I’m honoured when the people I love feel that they can talk to me about these events or issues that are having such a big impact on them. I want to thank them for being brave. For having real conversations that aren’t perfect. For being honest and real and unfiltered.

I’m guilty of keeping it topical too. Because yeah, sometimes it’s just easier to act like it’s ‘all good’ but that doesn’t help anyone. You feel like shit for keeping all of these thoughts and emotions and feelings in and your relationships suffer from it too. They become these superficial interactions that don’t have meaning (okay, wow, maybe that’s a bit much, but you know what I mean).

And no, I’m not saying go tell everyone about all these life events that have shaped you into the amazing, strong, crazy person that you are today, but let’s stop being scared to talk about real life. And real emotions. And real shit.

Let’s not be scared or embarrassed to say that after 6 years, my heart still physically hurts when I think about losing my dad, but today, on the 6 year anniversary, I want to tell you a story about this amazing man who raised me and loved me and moulded me into the person I am today.



  1. Kristen says:

    Such a poignant piece… food for thought for those who don’t travel and a precious reminder for those of us who do, and spend a large number of days wondering how life can continue on around us when we are back home in our minds.

    Thank you for this. As a fellow ‘wanderer’, I needed the reminder. Speak up, share and seek out those who make you feel you can do this, no matter where you are in the world.

  2. E.T. says:

    Yes, well said. To be real and authentic is brave and important, and I don’t do
    it enough. Thanks for the reminder Mary.
    Sorry for your loss; your rel. with your dad sounds like it was really special.

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