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Pickle Me This

April 17, 2016

The M Word: Dear Me, by Nicole Dixon


This is the third in a series of posts catching up writers from The M Word, and finding out what they’re up to now. (Find out more about The M Word and read its rave reviews right here.) From previous weeks: “Kerry Ryan on Wishing and Washing“; “Heather Birrell on Talking to her (M)Other Self” 

In her essay in The M Word, Nicole Dixon ruminated on her choice to be child-free, considering the parts of the choice she was uncertain about and and those she knew for sure, one of which was that saying no to kids is not the same as saying no to life, to love. And in this follow-up piece, she finally steps into the sun. 


Dear Me,

Dear me! I have to warn you—you’re about to go through two years of hell, but you will get through those two years and on the other side, the side I’m on now, you will be stronger, more hopeful, more at peace than you’ve ever felt. Trust me.

Take solace in your garden, in books, in silence and stillness, in the life you’ve built for yourself in this worn-out town on this beautiful island. You can do it. You’ll get through this. Go for walks. Stare at the ocean. Breathe it in. Feel how big it is, how easily it swallows your sorrow and carries it away on its tides and currents.

Your M Word essay, rereading it, is about choices, and you are about to make plenty. You will quit your shitty job after fighting an abusive boss; you will choose to change the system until you realize how broken it is. You will then choose to turn your back on that system in order to build a new one. You won’t know how to do this or where to begin until one day you will stand in your garden and you will hear it: here. Start where you are. Grow where you are planted. Here—this backyard, this soil, this town, this island. Stay put. Stop moving. Root yourself here. The answer, a dormant plant, will suddenly bloom like spring.

But your hardest choice will be your decision to stop talking to your mom. You will turn to her for support during all your work shit, and she will once again rage at your choices and, finally, after years of fearing your mother, you will choose to step out from her shadow and feel the sun. You too, like your garden after winter, will thrive in the warmth of that sun.

And you will realize, in this choice more than so many others, how much your mother’s abuse has influenced your decision not to have kids. You can’t write about it now, can’t even admit it, but you will. And the darkness she inherited from her mother, the darkness she tried to pass on to you, is a trait you need to nip in the bud. Instead, you will make and nurture another life, other lives, your life. You will grow food in your soil, in a town that has weathered its share of abuses, and you will write about this, you will write and love the land, the earth, and it, unlike your mother, will love you.

Go to your garden. Feel and grow life there. Let it fill you. It will. Believe me, it will.

Be strong in your choices and enjoy the sunlight,



Nicole Dixon’s first book was the collection of stories, High-Water Mark. She lives in New Waterford, on Cape Breton Island.

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