After that break-up you need to take a full year off to heal.

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Auntie Says…You Can Do Anything for a Year.

A few weeks ago my nephew came over for a visit. He’s 27, handsome beyond words, and very gregarious. He’s just one of those guys you want to be near because his energy is welcoming and positive and his smile always genuine. We chatted and got caught up but I knew he was circling around something that he wasn’t quite sure how to say. 

After a while, he couldn’t hold it in anymore. “We broke up,” he said referring to himself and his girlfriend of five years. He let the truth lay there on the floor in front of him—by now he was slouching and the energy that normally radiated from him had waned.

I could see the heartbreak behind the bravado and knew I needed to tread lightly. With the painful truth out there, we decided to go for a walk. The dogs (pets are such a good distraction, aren’t they?) were running and we chuckled and asked a lot of remember when? We have so many memories between us. His dad (my younger brother) died when he was six. After that, he  and his brother spent an extended vacation with me every summer.

“I’m not sure it’s over,” he said out of nowhere. “I think I still love her.” His voice was a whisper and he was staring at his shoes. 

Oh man, I could see how much he was hurting and I wanted to tell him that it would be okay but the physical pain is palpable. It’s been said that you can’t die from a broken heart but anyone who’s ever experienced it, sure feels like they’ll be the first to prove medical science wrong. The gut-wrenching agony is real whether you’re thirteen, thirty, or seventy and it takes time to heal.

Five years together is a long investment of time, emotion, and self and isn’t something to simply brush off without thought and careful consideration. I could see that he was struggling to make sense of it as he tried to lighten the mood by talking about his new job. The sadness in his eyes remained though.

“I think you need to stay single and celibate for one full year,” I told him. “Take the year for yourself to explore what direction you want to pursue.”

“One full year? I can’t date, or be with anyone, for one year? Seriously?” He was incredulous that I’d suggest such a thing. 

“Yes, take a full year off and concentrate on yourself. By jumping back into another relationship (or even the previous one) before waiting a year, you’re not 100% committed to the new person because you’re still wounded.”

He didn’t answer me. He didn’t have to. His eyebrows were raised in question, a smirk plastered on his face, and the continual nod—it was official—he thought I was nuts. I had to laugh because he obviously didn’t get the point. We continued our chat about his future plans and dreams.

To him, taking one year away from the dating/relationship world sounded daunting and impossible but it’s a period of time easily measured and one that can be committed to. It’s long enough to be significant and life changing, while short enough to be manageable. You can do anything for a year.

The pain and emotional toll of a break up should never be trivialized by rushing into another relationship or even back to the same one. The one year commitment to yourself can slow your impulsivity and shows maturity in dealing with your own issues before getting involved again.

“But what if I meet the love of my life before the year is up?”

“If she’s the one, she isn’t going anywhere,” I said. “Be friends and get to know each other. If she respects you and your decision to wait a full year, your future relationship will be stronger.”

He gave me a big hug and the smirk was replaced by contemplation. I think he heard most of what I said—time will tell.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com or www.fayeearcand.com  

U.S.A. Student Activism–March On!

Auntie Says…My thoughts are with the American students. March on!

Columbine. That word pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

It was April 1999 and I’ll never forget seeing the images of terrified high school students running for their lives. I, like everyone else, was horrified and sickened, but It got worse—much worse. School shootings in the U.S. became, I hate to say it … commonplace.

While for the most part I don’t talk politics or religion, my heart and voice are with every student in the U.S. marching and protesting for a safer tomorrow. I’m optimistic as I witnessed the planned walk out one month to the day after the Florida school shooting. It was an illustration of choosing a course of action in solidarity and it makes me proud.

The young people of today are the voters of tomorrow. Getting angry about the abhorrent gun laws, political rhetoric, and the seemingly lackadaisical attitudes surrounding school shootings is not only necessary, but required, for change. It takes a lot of courage and tenancity to take those first steps against the status quo and I applaud these young people for what they’re doing.

Like many, I’ve wept as the body count rises in the name of U.S. democratic freedoms. Even from a  distance where I don’t feel the same physical (gun violence) threats, I can still understand the grief faced by so many —too many. I seriously don’t know how they all cope and carry on after such harrowing circumstances.

In Canada, we don’t face the same fears about school shootings, but we still feel our neighbor’s pain and the aftershocks of grief and anger. For every individual that dies, there are survivors—the other students, the family, the teachers, staff, and first responders—forever changed in a way that we can only imagine, but there’s also the public. Let’s not forget the average person watching the tragedy unfold on TV and how it affects them. It’s a mood of uncertainty and helplessness suffered by millions of people in both the US and Canada. It’s a sad truth of the day.

Even if you don’t think your kid is aware of the news and current events, believe me—they know. The kids talk about it to each other and in class. They watch YouTube .It’s not a secret and yet as far as I know, the schools here don’t do anything like security drills or heightened vigilance. Who knows how much all the school gun violence south of the border is adding to the anxiety and depression for teens everywhere?  After a televised incident, I’d bet that all the teachers and administrators walk back into the school with a heavy heart. How could you not? It doesn’t matter where the incident occurs, it affects us all.

When I see the anger and determination on the faces of those young people marching, it gives me hope. Hope that there will be change. Hope that someone amongst those students, is a strong and forever leader—a compelling voice—that will bring about positive transformation. I also hope that the protest continues until it’s voice is so strong that it can no longer be pushed aside or ignored.

We joke about having ‘first-world problems’—school shootings should not be one of them. Let’s pray that the students voices raised in protest will be heard and acted upon. #NationalWalkoutDay #StudentsForChange #EndGunViolence #AuntieSays

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com 

Dating Abuse and Manipulation

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Auntie Says… A different kind of bullying. You’re not alone. Be Aware.

If you ask any kid what the biggest problem in school is, they’re likely to say bullying. It’s one of those insidious things that sneaks in and shows up in the hallways every single day. Campaigns, like Pink Shirt Day, bring much needed attention and awareness to the problem as students, teachers, and communities work together to make the situation better. 

One facet of bullying that’s rarely mentioned though, is the reality of dating domestic abuse/manipulation among young people. Like school yard bullying, it can no longer be swept under the carpet and ignored, otherwise it’ll grow and fester in secrecy and those entrenched in the ugliness will feel alone and forgotten. A strong message needs to be embraced—namely, love should never hurt, be about jealousy or control, and domestic violence can (and does) occur among young dating couples—believe me, you don’t need to be old and married to be caught in an abusive relationship. 

Usually the relationship begins like any other but can end up feeling suffocating, controlling, or even dangerous. It doesn’t necessarily happen quickly and the subtle nature of it can leave you in doubt. Just keep in mind that a loving relationship is a partnership of two, not a dictatorship of one. You always have a right to discuss your concerns and have them heard. Sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Life happens, but when the negative behaviour is escalating into nonstop bullying you may need to put your pink shirt on and find some help.

Here are some things I want you to be aware of, for yourself and your friends—and guys listen up—we so often think of domestic/dating abuse as being against women but it happens to guys too. It’s not okay to have a girl dig her nails into you, pull your hair, kick you or blame you for being late etc—nope not ok. You should be able to say ‘I don’t like that…’ or ‘please don’t do that…’ and be heard and respected. 

Signs of an abusive relationship:

Excessive isolation and manipulation. If your partner takes up all your time and attention, always wants to be with you (not your friends and family—just you), is very possessive, doesn’t want you to hang with other people, and makes you feel bad for having any type of life independent of them— that’s not normal. If your partner threatens self harm if you don’t comply with what they want, this is a huge red flag (and a scary one) and an indication that you need to seek advice or help.

Does your partner always have to have their way? Are they really bossy and demanding? Moody? to a point where you feel threatened if you defy them. If your partner forces or pressures you to do things and you comply just to keep the peace—that’s not love.

Is you partner hyper critical and always putting you down? If they tell you you’re fat or stupid—dump them—now. If a partner tells you how to think or tells you that you’re opinions/beliefs are wrong…that’s not love. 

Is your partner controlling? This could be anything from being told what to wear, who you can talk to, or what you can eat. Is your partner deceptive and sneaky—do they cause you to be late for work? miss an exam? show up just as you’re about to leave with your friends because he/she needs you? This in not ok.

Is your partner jealous or insecure? Do they get angry when you talk to other people? Do they want to know who you’re with, or who you’re talking to…all the time. Do they check your phone without permission and accuse you of things you didn’t do? This is not love. It’s controlling and will escalate over time.  

Does your partner have an explosive temper? Is everything always your fault? Do they give you the silent treatment or punch walls? Are you afraid of them? 

Is your partner physically hurting you? Call 911 or if necessary attend your local hospital emergency. 

For confidential victim service information for yourself or a friend, call VictimLinkBC, 24/7 in British Columbia and Yukon 1-800-563-0808 

If you think you, or a friend, may need this number in the future, put it in your phone under Auntie…no one but you needs to know what the number is for. There are also many local resources available. Your school/college counsellor, and local police being two very public and accessible ones.

The message of Pink Shirt Day is that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. No one should ever live in fear. Embrace the message. Be safe. 

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com #SignsOfAbuse #RespectNotFear #AuntiesSays 

Faye Arcand

faye.arcand@icloud.com