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A Broken Compass and a Folded Map

As I lay on the kitchen floor crying, I say out loud: “I hate this. I hate myself. Somebody help me. Somebody tell me what to do. Somebody please fucking help me.”

I continue to cry as I begin to write this.

I don’t know what I want them to help me with. There’s nothing anyone can do. That’s the fucking problem. I don’t know what to do, and neither does anyone else.

It’s my third day in Campbell River after going back to Victoria for the long weekend. I’m staying in the house of someone I met on Airbnb. He left this morning, so it’s only my first night alone. I knew this would happen – my reaction to being alone – but I didn’t know it would come so soon and so hard.

On Tuesday my wildfire course began. For now, we’ve only been doing theory for eight and a half hours a day. Tuesday was fine. But on Wednesday I was already starting to question things. At one point during class, I caught myself in the middle of a negative thought, breathing short, shallow, gaspy breaths.  I caught it, and calmed myself down.

Today, I started telling myself that I’m doing the wrong thing. This isn’t for me. I can’t be a wildfire fire fighter. I can’t drive three hours to Campbell River when I get called for work. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a cell phone. I can’t afford a car. I can’t even really afford the gas. I can’t go on deployment for two weeks at a time and live in a tent. I’ve never done that before. And worst of all, I’ll be lonely.

I’m telling myself what I can’t do. That’s all I’ve been doing for ages.

Sitting in a class room was nice last week when I was learning first aid. I was learning stuff I’ve always wanted to learn, plus it was cool outside. Now the weather has suddenly changed, and I want to be outside in the sun. I want to be going for group rides in the heat. I did the Oak Bay Ride on Saturday and got shit-kicked, but I loved it, because it was hot, fast, and fun. I loved hanging out with a bunch of cyclists.

Whatever it is I’m going through, I thought it was done. I thought I had found a solution. I would use my time off cycling to explore other interests, namely firefighting. But as I sit in class and have these doubts, and cry as I explain them later on to my girlfriend, I start to question whether I’m fit to work. I question whether I’m fit for anything. The more I hear about the job, the more nervous I get. It’s not the dangers that I’m afraid of though, it’s the making of the decision.

When it was cold and wet outside, I wanted nothing to do with the bike. I stayed inside most of the day. Now that I have a reason to be inside all day, it’s finally hot out and I want to ride. I don’t know if this desire is true, or if it’s simply a result of wanting what I can’t have; I’m losing trust in my own wants, as they seem to undermine whatever it is that I am doing. If it’s a busy fire season though, I won’t be able to ride. And, it won’t be ideal for preparing for Canada Games, if I go. I’m afraid that firefighting could take the option of going to games away from me. I wonder if this is something I want- the removal of my freedom to choose.

After class today, I called Bryanna and told her what was going on. I cried to her for the first time in a while, but then felt guilty for bringing her mood down with my own. I feel embarrassed by my absolute dependence on her. I’m also ashamed of how I’m feeling right now. I want nothing more than to feel capable and confident in what I’m doing. My plan was to go outside for a spin or a walk in the sunshine after our call, but instead I paced around the empty house with my hands pressed against my forehead. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. My stomach felt ill and I sort of wailed. I cried and fell to the floor and said what I said.

Almost three months after hanging up my bike, this chapter isn’t close to being over. I wish that it was. I’m trying to be at peace with the process, and try to remind myself that I am not depressed forever, it’s only temporary. I try to be open-minded and as relaxed as possible, giving into and exploring my desires. In school we’re learning to navigate with a compass and map, and it’s an unpleasant reminder that my compass is missing, and my map won’t unfold.

Bryanna took this. You don't always need a map and a compass to find something beautiful.

Bryanna took this. You don't always need a map and a compass to find something beautiful.