I'm getting out of my comfort zone writing this text.
I realized how much people see me as «an emotional and passionate» woman. It's true, I am. I said to 2 Conservatives MPs this week: «When I'll leave that door, I want to make sure that you know that I am not some kind of crazy bitch». I don't know if I was able to convince them with such words: Since tears were running down my cheeks gently as I said it, maybe I convinced them that I was not a bitch..but as for the «crazy» part, I am not so sure.
But it is mostly a message from a veteran, who didn't know me «personally» who informed me that I was referred to as « a flash in a pan». I understand that, in English, this is not a compliment and the way it was expressed was not meant to be a compliment either.
But since I'm French, I like the sound of it. «Flash in a pan»: this is exactly how I am...who I am.
«Pan»..as a caregiver...it sounds like my environment, it reminds me of the Hill too.
«Flash»..for my red hair, my extravagant nails....A «flash» is something sudden, brief, disturbing, noisy. A «flash» is seen and felt by everybody at the same time, no?
Then, the flash ends.
And the pan stays.
I love it: this defines me in every ways. This is who I always was all my life. Even my husbands calls me «his Tasmanian Devil» because he says that when I get into somebody's life, «I shake everything»..I'm like a tornado. You can believe him or not but just know that he served 20 years and he saw a lot of destruction in his life time.
Or maybe it is his PTSD that makes him see me «more» than I am in reality.
Oh well. It doesn't really matter, right?
We all agree, me first, that I am a «flash in the pan» and that's all I have been for the past 8 months. Even a veteran leader told me that I would be forgotten very soon and reminded me that my first priority was to go back home and take care of my husband. He told so last July, if my memory is correct. Coming from such a credible person, I understood that my time was very limited: I might be naive but coming from someone who knows the rules of engagement so well, I took the advice very seriously.
Makes sense with a «Flash in a pan» reality: this gives me very little time to take every opportunities that are presented to me to try to make a difference and contribute as much as I can, in my own and personal way.
It is this week that I briefly resume my activities to a journalist and cc'd the veteran who put me in contact with her that made me see, for the first time, a little bit about my global action.. the «flash thing». The veteran's reaction was almost overwhelming in terms of «really? you did all this?». His reaction was actually felt like an honor inside of me, coming from someone who didn't know me at all.
I understand that in the matter of «veteran advocacy» and for the advocates -the real ones on the Hill- , I don't have much credibility. Anyway, I don't feel I have much myself. It's just that listing a part of my activities made me realize how much I have changed since I ran after M. Fantino.
And it's all related to the opportunities that came from the fact that he didn't listen to me in the first place. Would only his staff have contacted us to make an appointment -or anything-, the journalists would have never given me the opportunities to be heard, both in French and English. The media attention I received confirmed massively the fact that when I ran after M. Fantino, many ran with me. And all of that together gave me a certain credibility when it came to meet people on the Hill. It opened doors.
I became interesting for many reasons. Sometimes to be heard by people who were really touched and really wanted to make a difference; sometimes to buy «a political peace», if I may say so. And I found friends too.
Those friends -from so different areas- are so precious. They are limited in numbers and I don't tell them everything. They are the ones who understood that I'm not looking for an advice..but more into listening to their honest opinion on a specific question. They know that I am aware of their «professional uniform» too but they made a huge difference in my adventure: I own them a lot.
Without mentioning specifically everything and naming names (or a few..), here's briefly my curriculum vitae of the past 8 months:
I was invited 3 times as a panelist... talked to or personally met with 134 MPs...developed «good relationships» with players/partners/deciders.... was/am involved on different levels with «developing a new program for caregivers» and/or «improving services»...visited MFRCs, met I don't know how many «coordinators» from different services from DND and VAC but as well with high level of authorities from Ottawa. Gave I don't know how many interviews in English and French.
I took every opportunities that were presented to talk about us: we were part of two videos for Military Family Services, 1 for Liberal Party, and 2 others from different organizations should be released soon. And when the NDP offered me to meet with the press after I talked to the caucus, I accepted. It's my husband who realized a week later that I had translators talking over me when I was talking in French and it was presented «live».
I didn't know. And I was truly grateful for it. But if I would have known, I would have done a better job. I really thought the journalists would take some quotes only...and I was (positively) drained from my presentation to the caucus and the emotional wave we received. Prior to the presentation, I gave 2 or 3 interviews and I was getting ready to talk on Rock the Hill in the afternoon. It was a big day and everything was going fast..very fast. So I'm not so proud of the final result considering that I was talking to the entire country, as some level.
I'm also trying to find time to write in French and English..the videos people are continuously asking me for..talking to veterans, spouses..the emails I should be writing...the people I should meet. The places I should visit.
I have no words to express how blessed I am to have a supportive husband...because even if he battles his own PTSD, he keeps pushing me to continue even if it has a price for him, for me...for us. The fact that my 18 years old cleaned the fridge by himself this morning «just to give me a hand so I can do what I have to do» caused mixed emotions: it's true that I'm not as active in the house as I should be. On the other hand, I'm humbled by his support and proud of the fact that I believe that he won't be a lost cause in the matter of «cleaning» after all. Hope is real.
For the past 8 months, my life has been 24/7 all about PTSD and improving the quality of life of serving members and the veterans.
And their families.
A LOT about the families.
Overall, that makes me a very small player in the advocacy league, especially for the «real advocates» and I perfectly understand why: a vet's spouse + flash in a pan + emotional and passionate = incompatible with true warriors who know how the game is played and what the real challenges are in terms of numbers, money..
They are the ones who are getting the results.
And don't get me wrong: I deeply respect what they do..their involvements..the price they have to pay themselves in order to do what they do..
...but their way of doing things and mine are very different.
Why? Exactly for the same reason: I am a vet's spouse + flash in a pan + emotional and passionate.
And I must admit that I don't always put a lot of efforts when it comes to being friendly with someone who lost my trust, for instance. I am the kind of person who will trust...I will listen and be very open to the notion of «prove me wrong» and I will present my excuses...but if you can't: you don't exist in my life anymore.
So you understand that with an attitude like that, it reinforce the notion of flash in a pan...
And honestly, since I am not representing anyone nor being paid by anybody, I feel no obligation too either. In my world, It is not a Sacred Obligation. I don't need the approval of an army of Gorillas. I don't need to be a part of giving a new definition to «ABC».
Why? I have the privilege to be a flash in a pan with no real credibility from the -real- advocates themselves. And that allows me to listen to my heart 100%..and do what I can do without justifying anything to anyone. Without pleasing anyone.
It's called «Freedom».
This week was such a big emotional week.
My meeting with one MP who is not involved directly with veterans in his functions was inspiring. He invited me in order to learn more about PTSD on a emotional level. His wish was to be able to have deeper conversations with the veterans of his constituency. He expressed to me «the wall» he is facing when he tries to know more than the «services or benefits» when talking to a veteran. I get what he means, since I see the same reaction from my husband when talking to a stranger.. or an MP.
Why me? Maybe because I am a vet's spouse + flash in a pan + emotional and passionate. Was it to be able to mark better points in the next election? Maybe. Did I talk to the man behind his political uniform? Yes. He made me feel like his interest was human. He talked about the impacts of the shooting in Ottawa, for him, on a personal level. His understanding was from the heart.
But also I met with 2 MPs from the Conservatives. Other meetings with other MPs from the Conservative are also scheduled.
You have no idea what it meant, meeting with «other MPs» from the Conservative. Why? Because I am a vet's spouse + flash in a pan + emotional and passionate. And no one, absolutely no one, will fully understand the past 8 months in our fortress. No one will fully understand what those 8 last months meant for me, deep down inside, behind my own uniform.
Of course, I met with M. Fantino. I also briefly exchanged with M. MacKay and with M. Blainey. I should meet with M. O'Toole as well.
But you know, when you get into an office, alone..and you know that you are initially perceived as an enemy...will meet people who has all the reasons in the world not to like you...that these people have a certain «power».. you don't know what to expect..In my world, it's called «stress». It wouldn't be the case if I was like the real advocates.
Why? Because I am a vet's spouse + flash in a pan + emotional and passionate. And yes, the meeting was tough, at some level.
And you know what?
It ended up well. And this is what I wanted exactly because I am not at war. I'm not looking to talk to politicians: I want to touch their heart.
I'm not at war.
You know why I am not at war?
Because my personal mission, is to create the bridges..facilitate the exchanges. I'm not there to talk about numbers, statistics, ELB and so on....Nope.
I'm trying to be the kitten that I am in a lion's world. Be the flash that I have to be. That I need to be. Facilitate the environment for the real challenges.. the real advocates.
Until the flash ends.
And the pan stays.
ici pour modifier.