My Sovereign Story
A reflection piece on my journey to sovereignty - largely focused on my experience of the last three years, in honour of the one year anniversary of the freedom convoy.
Acknowledgement: My gratitude goes to Sarah Swain (), whose courageous leadership has been a huge source of inspiration that has changed my life in more ways than one. Thank you for writing The Sovereign. Thank you for showing me there’s a different way.
When I heard the trucker convoy was due to arrive in Ottawa on my birthday, I remember thinking there was something serendipitous about that timing. Like a new hope was sparked having such a monumental undertaking coincide with my favourite day of the year. I kept the thought to myself, but it felt like the universe was giving me the gift I didn’t know I needed, and I didn’t know why. What I couldn’t know until later was the disillusion that had begun to root itself in the pit of my stomach a number of months prior was about to come roaring to life.
The day I began to understand the meaning of sovereignty was the day I integrated the understanding that who I am and what I’m capable of all comes down to choice. It’s liberating to feel the power accompanying what it means to take full ownership over myself. It’s intriguing to contemplate that the extent of how I show up is bound by the awareness I have for the common themes threaded through the moments that comprise my whole.
Moments I can’t change, but can choose how I continue to relate to if I’m receptive to changing the meaning those moments hold.
Moments from an early age, when I was most wholly myself. When I’d be sent to time out but instead of crying, or complaining, or getting my act together, I’d proudly proclaim through the closed door that I was perfectly okay with this consequence because “I liked myself” and “I liked time out”.
Moments when I would interject into conflict between others because I had a strong sense of what was right and wrong even though my child self couldn’t possibly discern between the nuance needed to adequately understand both perspectives.
Moments in my formative years when I began to adjust my behaviour to reflect how I felt in my immediate environment - tiptoeing around the unpredictability of certain family members and licking my wounds in silence instead of speaking up after callously being dismissed when all I desperately wanted was to be seen.
And then moments in the COVID era when I practiced becoming myself again. Notably when I questioned the vaccine my manager was encouraging the team to get and the appropriateness of disclosing our medical status. The conversation was promptly shut down as “not one she was going to discuss”. Similarly, the moment when I was threatened, coerced and lied to at the border because I didn’t want to sign the release of my personal information as a condition to return home.
Moments where I had a choice. Moments that have held profound impact because in each and every one of them my body spoke louder than my words ever could, begging me to listen.
Not just about what didn’t feel right. But what it boldly told me did.
Like in the difference I felt between sitting on the edge of a mountain soaking up the Earth and it’s awe-inspiring wonder compared to the bodily sensation of standing on the train station platform as I would head to a job I didn’t want to do in a city I didn’t want to be.
The feeling between leaving for vacation and returning home.
Between moving freely in the fresh air and tied to my desk chair.
I began to experience shifts in how I viewed “the system” shortly after entering the workforce full time. But the noticeable stirring from my 30 year slumber began to escalate in the summer of 2021. I had become acutely aware of the growing rules, behaviours and messages that raised serious questions and concerns about the real purpose each served.
I hadn’t yet fit all the pieces together, but the pieces were beginning to fall faster and harder until everything eventually came crashing down while watching supporters cheer on the trucks rolling through Alberta - long before the mainstream media reported on the convoy’s journey.
When the pandemic first hit I didn’t really believe it. My gut said global, deadly and rapidly spreading viruses only happened in dystopian movies. Nonetheless, I was excited to work from home. I spent the “two weeks to flatten the curve” relishing in the extra time saved from my daily commute.
For the two months after that I tried all sorts of new things - baking complex (for me) meals and desserts, painting, regimented workouts, playing games with friends online. As a self-dubbed anti-social introvert, I was made for the lockdown life.
By mid summer the novelty of staying home had worn off. The isolation became tiresome. I reluctantly canceled my one month dream trip to Yosemite and Zion National Parks. Conversations had become monotonous. My family missed our monthly dinners. Eventually, I got in the habit of parking behind my parents house and entering through the back gate so as not to risk the neighbours calling the authorities when I visited against “the rules”.
One of the biggest losses I experienced in that time was my love and dedication to rock climbing. It was my social outlet. It was a main connection point with my partner. It was my main connection point to myself. For 8 years I dedicated my free time to climbing - planning vacations around world renowned climbing destinations. Competing. Training intensely. I was the fittest I’d ever been in my life. I was at the top of my mental game. Climbing taught me to expand on my problem solving skills. It taught me resilience because I faced failure more times than I experienced success. Climbing taught me the limits I held myself to were often well below what I was really capable of. Climbing encouraged me to break self imposed barriers, and the rush of learning what I was capable of was something I hadn’t found anywhere else before. A huge part of my identity was tied to being a climber.
Once gyms opened back up, I wasn’t prepared to wear a mask to participate in a physically demanding and breath intensive activity. I began to contemplate what meaning was left in my life without it. I began the grieving process of saying goodbye to the version of myself that I was never ready to let go of.
My gut said the restrictions seemed like overkill, but by this point I was less sure. I was only exposed to the side that supported the necessity of restrictions. The danger of being around strangers. The ease of getting sick.
When my eligibility for the vaccine came up I was still reeling from being blindsided by a breakup with the person I was prepared to spend the rest of my life committed to. One day we were ring shopping and putting offers in on homes and the next he was collecting his things and walking out of my condo for the last time.
Grief clouds how you see things. My priority was finding a new way forward for myself.
The vaccine seemed to come “just in time” as I reached the end of my limits. I’m a healthy, young person who rarely gets sick. More often than not, I honour my body’s natural processes and rarely take allopathic medication.
Bombarded by the persistent messaging that I needed the vaccine - that everyone needed the vaccine - it didn’t yet occur to me that I didn’t.
I didn’t know vaccines could make it to market and not actually work the way they were said to.
I didn’t know medication approved and administered by people in positions of trust could cause more problems than they solved.
I didn’t have reason to believe that my health could be or would be jeopardized by the authorities we were taught to trust and depend on.
If I were in a stronger place at the time, I like to believe I would have seen things differently than I did. I’ll never forget my brother commenting that I was the last person he thought would succumb to groupthink. I’m one of the last people I’d have thought to do that too.
Instead, I was picking up fractured pieces of myself and finding a way to fit them back together in a more resilient and intentional way the only way I knew how.
I really began waking up soon after I received my vaccination. I think back often about the inopportune timing. If only I had noticed the signs a little sooner, perhaps I wouldn’t be waking up each morning wondering if I was going to be okay. Wondering if every unusual pain I felt was a small symptom of a much larger, hidden problem within me.
The calculated nature behind the vaccine roll out and the continued commitment of officials to deny and bury the tragedies, side effects, and dissenting opinions is a more difficult truth to fathom than the initial possibility that in the beginning maybe they “just didn’t know either”.
The rabbit hole of opposing information I spent diving into once I fully realized the problematic nature of what was happening left me with one clear message: Public Health, the Prime Minister and various other officials were in too deep. They cared more about the backlash of admitting wrongdoing than doing right by the people they were meant to be serving.
Pandemic policy created a system where good, kind, caring, integral people were put into impossible positions, faced to choose between their livelihood, providing for their families and their mental health, or protecting the decisions they felt were best for their physical health.
The trust I once held in the system and those who uphold it has been so irreparably broken, I don’t think it will ever be repaired. I don’t even want it to be.
The pandemic created an environment where I could no longer ignore what was true in my heart. I could no longer outsource how I took care of myself to institutions who were complicit in something I believed to be terribly criminal.
As much as the handling of the pandemic took away from me, it’s also given me so much. I’ve gotten clear on what’s most important to me. I’ve uncovered new priorities and ways of thinking. I’ve found new interests and ways to support my health. I’ve been stretched beyond the brinks of elasticity and when I thought I couldn’t stretch anymore, I leaned into the expansion.
One of the greatest gifts to come from these years pertains to my personal growth. As most of the country settled into their divisive viewpoints, I became more open.
I’ve always been a values rooted person. (INFJ for those who follow Myres Briggs). My judgments of others had historically been based on the strong and righteous values system I held. But after a lifetime of vehemently believing I knew what was best, I realized I knew very little.
It was in the unknowing that I was able to open myself up. A previous version of myself would have seen a different perspective, disagreed with it, and moved on. The new version of myself that had so unexpectedly emerged saw the different perspective, held it, and tried it on.
More often than not I wasn’t actually sure which view was “best”. “Best” didn’t matter any more. Only best for you. Best for me. I stopped trying to make the judgment all together. There was too much nuance to be found for it to make any kind of sense to categorically organize choices in to such broad labels.
The unraveling of everything I thought I knew was destabilizing, but I uncovered within myself the trust the system broke, only on a more deeper and intimate level than I’d ever felt before. Through my breaking open, I connected with people who had already reached the place I wanted to be - autonomous, liberated, sovereign. These traits always existed within me and I lived by them daily but not to the extent I wanted to.
With the unraveling I was introduced to a beautiful community, of mainly unvaccinated freedom loving friends. When I hear about how they were treated by some of the vaccinated it breaks my heart. With every new fracture I’m reminded of a distinct difference between them and me. But much like they were hesitant to reveal their status because of the differential treatment they knew they’d receive, I carefully chose who I revealed my status to as well.
So many of the messages I still see among the unvaccinated are general blame towards the vaccinated for their hurt, their loneliness, their struggle. It’s an odd feeling to be painted in to a group that I never fit in with. I know these people are hurting. I know they’ve experienced an unfathomable amount of rejection and pain and injustice. It’s out of understanding and empathy for them, and recognition for what’s on “my side of the street” that I hold space for their polarization which often seems to leave little room for nuance.
I take solace in knowing that not once did I share the views or beliefs that those who chose not to be vaccinated deserved any kind of inferior treatment. They never deserved to be outcast from society. They never deserved to have their rights stripped away. They never deserved the hate that was thrown their way, and they never deserved to suffer alone.
Not once did it occur to me to spew hate or participate in discrimination.
Many of the rules from the beginning made little sense to me. I was never a supporter of universal masking - but if it made you feel better to wear one it made no difference to me. I went out to dine twice that I can remember and both times it was a moral battle to partake in a system I didn’t agree with. I never adopted the vaccine passport and uncooperatively insisted to the restaurants who checked that my original vaccine receipt was more than adequate proof of what they were seeking to verify. I largely avoided businesses that required proof of vaccination - it’s a big reason why I didn’t return to the climbing gym. The odd time I did go places where the unvaccinated were unwelcome, I didn't do it in ignorance.
I’m glad those who “saw it first” had the awareness and insight to see it.
It didn’t take long after I got vaccinated that I gained the insight too. I’m not a bad person. I’m not a hateful person. Living through the last three years fast tracked my journey to shedding the strong judgements I held before covid was ever a thing. The judgements which kept me disconnected from connection. And for me, that’s a gift.
So in the days leading up to January 29, 2022, I watched recordings of onlookers across the country gathering roadside and upon bridge tops, cheering the truckers on, with tears in my eyes and hope in my heart. I was moved more than any other experience I can recall. The unity radiated through my screen. It was so clear. So unignorable. It was a stark difference from the experience we all lived through in 2021.
Once the convoy arrived in Ottawa, I continued to follow events closely. Numerous first hand accounts showed what it was like on the ground and it was clear to any onlooker that the massive gathering was a reflection of loving, supportive, and kindhearted humans banding together on behalf of the rights for all Canadians. When I saw how mainstream media and government sources portrayed it, it didn’t add up.
Vaccinated or unvaccinated, freedom fighter or rule follower, liberated or silent, all of us have been impacted. All of us have been pawns in a manipulated narrative - whether we realize it or not. As I’ve grappled with trying to understand the motivation behind why elected officials and governing bodies would represent our interests so poorly, I can only accept that it’s because as a society we’ve become so detached from what it means to know and be ourselves, that we’ve chosen to give our power away to those who are happy to take it.
The last 3 years I faced my own death many times. I’ve since learned to keep a loose grip so as to adapt with the changing tide. I’m learning to flow. I’m finding a new way to live in this world. One that’s rooted in connection and possibility. I want something different for myself. I don’t know how I’m going to create it but I know I’m already on my way.
If there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that whatever happens, my trust lies within myself first and foremost. This is my choice. Outsourcing solutions to others for problems I face will only lead to a different version of the same problem I’m committed to never finding myself in again.
That’s what makes me sovereign.
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