The journey starts here.
Born and raised in Toronto, blessed with loving parents, three brothers and a sister.
As a pre-teen, and well into my teenage years, I spent many hours on the phone, socializing was my forte. I loved talking, sharing and listening, but mostly talking. A very sensitive child, often feeling left out or forgotten, my friends were my lifeline, but when I was 14, that safety net all but ended, by unconventional means.
Having spent four years at a performing arts school, favoring singing and theatre arts, I managed to cultivate some rather deep and sincere connections with a few classmates. Where I couldn't connect with my siblings, I received strong support through my girlfriends. Special times indeed.
My parents built a 57 ft sailboat that took several years to complete, and at the end of their weekend project, they decided that we should let go of our rental house, minimize our personal belongings, and sail from Canada to the most southern islands in the Bahamas. Those of us still in school were assigned correspondence courses, and we'd spend the next year of our life living on the ocean blue.
This may sound like a dream, but for me it was the beginning of a long bout of disconnect and depression. I craved relationships, they defined me, they kept me in check. My siblings and I got along on very rare occasions, I was mostly misunderstood, or found to be too much of a "cry baby." I was just getting ready to enter into the 9th grade, I'd be joining the likes of other high schoolers, excited about the pending friendships, and meeting older students. After all, this is meant to be the most defining year for adolescents, but I was now missing it. My world came crashing down around me, while resentment towards my parents swiftly built.
We moved through the eastern costal states via various waterways, our GPS system was a map and compass, there were no cellphones, the internet hadn't even been thought of yet, we were left to our own devices, pen and paper, postal services and really expensive long-distance calls. Did I mention disconnected?!
Time flew by that year, eventually I resurfaced, and experienced all kinds of age inappropriate things. I dated men far too old for me, I tried drugs and alcohol, smoked my fair share of cigarettes, and even had sexual encounters that I was not mature enough to handle or participate in. Those months taught me very little at the time, I was rebellious, and had found my calling, self-exploration, which was disguised as self-sabotage and self-destruction.
By the time we returned to Canada, I was almost a full year behind academically, but socially, I was years ahead. My childhood friends and I no longer had anything in common, I had worldly experience that no one could relate to, and I also had a longing for men. It was insatiable at times, and almost the only thing that filled an emptiness in my unstable life.
School became more and more complicated, defending myself from rumors had me transferred to another high school. Homework was not a very high priority, having a boyfriend was, and having the right outfits to wear when we were together was important, especially if I wanted to keep him. So when I turned 16, I marched myself to the guidance counselor office where I officially (and legally) dropped out of the 10th grade. I was so far behind, with no incentive to stay, I did what my gut told me to do, and it was a pretty good decision.
I held a lengthy employment selling shoes at a local mall, worked my way up to managing my own store within a short period of time. I had money, and with this, I discovered freedom of choice. The rule in our house was, as long as you were in school you could live at home for free, so now that I was working, and paying rent, I could dictate my own rules. This was an appropriate fit for me, as I no longer felt like a child, I had blossomed into responsibility and womanhood.
Life was groovy! I had an income, a boyfriend, and fake I.D. Over the coming years I explored different occupations; childcare worker, retail sales, the restaurant industry. But nothing was turning up to be very fulfilling, and I knew that I was worth a lot more. A long time coming, I enrolled in a secretarial program at a business school, it was challenging yet enjoyable, and I was about to reap all kinds of rewards. I landed a great job, which paid well and allowed me to finally move out to live on my own. Life was getting better by the minute. I was seemingly quite happy, independent Sara was truly unstoppable.
Well into my 30's I discovered a taste for partying, and an ability to pick the most broken men to fix. I had a waitressing gig that initially was tops, drinking with my fellow servers until the wee hours of the morning was great fun, but little did we know, the restaurant was on its way out, shifts were dwindling and money was becoming scarce. Pragmatism was not my cup of tea. Fortunately I had convinced a coworker turned boyfriend to move in with me and share the rent, midtown Toronto was fairly expensive but there was no where else I desired to live, appearances and convenience was crucial. After about eight months of the high life, I could no longer make ends meet, I picked up the phone and asked my parents for a job.
My folks had started a graphic design business with my middle brother in the 1990's, it grew to be quite successful, they took on partners to create a one-stop graphic and printing shop, this was cutting edge in the industry at the time. My brother and his partner interviewed me, I remember them asking me how long I anticipated working with them as they weren't prepared to bring on a flake, I recall telling them that I could commit to at least one year. With my secretarial skills, they hired me to answer the phone.
How quickly a year turned into 13, I went from answering the phones to being the operations manager. Many changes took place, my parents retired, the printing presses were sold, my brother left, and the company re-incorporated a couple of times. I was there through it all, the ups and downs, new employees and locations. I had my talons dug in, and the money tree was fruitful.
And then one day, it all came to an end. The company downsized, and I found myself out of a job. My thirties were now my forties, and I had very little to show for all of those years.
A lot can happen during a ten year period, I had been in two very tumultuous relationships, both men were quite volatile, and were addicts. I had grown very codependent, and lost my self-worth. On the outside I did my best to keep up appearances of strength, but my insides were churning, and I had developed and catered to my anxiety ridden complexities. I allowed myself to be played, I was a doormat, and constantly walking on eggshells. I was convinced to cash in my retirement savings plan to feed and appease the appetite of my diseased boyfriend and his hefty narcotics addiction. I was down to eating a tin of tuna a day for sometime. But no one knew the fear I was living through, I was embarrassed and ashamed, and terrified to end things. I did though, and in doing so, my life started to improve, as did my bank account.
I was finally free again, free to be myself, and that girl was a jokester, witty, into aesthetics, shopping, socializing, and loved getting wasted. I discovered a passion for the party, and found myself more lost than ever.
This new lifestyle went on for sometime, until that dreaded day when the company downsized from two to one, and I wasn't number one on that list.
To learn more about my old story, please read the "Indo Expat" magazine article found under my PRESS section.
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