Thursday, August 18, 2016

Up To Me

I've mentioned my email friend before.  Someone I met while I was at work.  He is and has always been a perfect gentleman in all of our communications.  He doesn't flirt or make any insinuations beyond friendship.  I'm traveling to Toronto next week and we've agreed to meet for coffee.  He asked what area of Toronto I'm staying in, in answer to me asking him to find a place with good mochaccinos (I have a serious mochaccino habit dating back to my first one when I was 12 at the Erin Mills Mall) that we could meet at.  I typed the name of the hotel and the address because I really didn't know what area of Toronto that would be considered.  Then this creepy sensation crawled up my back and the voices of many women I have known over the years said to me: "Is it safe for you to tell him where you are staying? How well do you know this guy? He could wait outside of your hotel, harass you, try to kidnap you... rape you." I can see them shaking their heads at me as if they are so disappointed that I would even consider giving out that information to someone I hardly know. It reminds me a bit of the boyfriend who told me not to get raped when I was going to go out for a late night stroll.

Well you know what? Fuck that. Here's some real statistics.

I'm not going to list them all but the general idea is this:

Most sexual assaults are committed by someone close to the victim.

I should have told my boyfriend, that statistically speaking, I was more likely to be raped lying next to him than on the late night walk I was planning...

This idea that it is mainly strangers that sexually assault women is incredibly damaging and endangers all of us.  The more we speak up about sexual assault and abuse within families and romantic relationships the easier it will be for victims to step forward and get help. As long as we point the finger at shadows in the dark the reality of sexual violence will not come to light.

I tried to explain this to a friend of mine and she immediately mentioned a rape on our local hiking trail.  Yes, rape by strangers happens. Yes, that rape got a lot of media time.  But really, incestuous assault happens every fucking day in our town.  People get coerced  by their romantic partners and though they feel horrible after giving in when their requests for their partner to stop are ignored, they don't realize that this was assault, because rape only happens to women who walk alone at night.

I get why we believe this as a community.  It gives us a false sense of control to believe these things.  It makes us feel that our friends, family members and partners won't be assaulted -if they just follow the safety rules.  But statistics say otherwise and burying our heads in the media-induced, culturally-accepted sand of ignorance is putting our love ones at risk and discouraging women and girls from coming forward.

It also gives the idea to young people that sexual assault is stalking a woman then forcibly taking her. Whereas the idea that they could be sexually assaulting their girlfriend/boyfriend by touching them in a way they had said "No." to but seemed "into" an hour later does not cross their mind.  All forms of
sexual assault need to be addressed by our community based on frequency of incident. No matter how
uncomfortable it makes us.  Our silence around the most common types of sexual assault is the
perfect set up for perpetrators to continue without consequence.  This needs to stop.


So, yes I walk alone at night. Yes, I will let my friend know which hotel I'm staying at. It's not up to me to police my (what should be normal) behaviour (walking at night by myself) to appease my friend's and family's fears.  I'm going to be straight-up with you all.  You may mean well, but you are perpetuating a false (and harmful) idea around sexual assault and abuse.  Instead let your loved ones know that if they ever feel that their physical/sexual boundaries are not being respected by ANYONE, that you are there to listen and offer support in whatever way they need it.

Let's face it:

Statistically speaking:  I'm less likely to be sexually assaulted walking home by myself  than letting a male I know very well walk with me.

That is truly scary.


























Thursday, August 11, 2016

Coward

Today I am a coward.  I'm completely giving into procrastination and fear.  To be technical, I've been practising cowardice around this particular situation since I left for St.John's.

Today was suppose to be my ultrasound on my breast lumps.  You may remember back to the post White Coats and Small Steps about me contacting the social worker and the ultrasound booking department... Well the booking department fucked up.  I was very specific that the appointment had to  be on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in order for the social worker to be there. They told me the 11th, I did not question if this was on one of the days I asked for because I believed they had listened to my request.  Well the 11th was a Thursday.  So I get a call from the social worker on my cellphone on the bus on my way to Toronto to catch a flight to St.John's. She can't be there.  Ugh, so she's trying to work it out with the booking staff but they won't let her, so there's three back and forth phone calls and I am getting more and more stressed out.  Finally, we agree to cancel the appointment and that I will rebook when I get back to town.

I haven't yet.

I really dislike that hospital.  I have had so many horrible experiences in it.  It is one of the reasons I have white coat syndrome.

So I could have called today to reschedule my appointment... but I just don't have it in me. I'm seriously considering asking my Nurse Practioner's office to send a requisition to the hospital 30 minutes down the road so I can deal with them instead.  I think that a major part of my anxiety is that I simply do not trust the staff of my local hospital.  I know that not all of them are bad or incompetent...

Fool me once...

We'll just say that I am a few bad experiences beyond "twice".

So today I forgive myself for being a coward and instead I will label it "self care".  The lumps aren't going anywhere, trust me, I can feel them.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

By Comparison

St. John's both exhilarated and exhausted me.  I really did fit in what would normally be a month's worth of activity into 1 week. I got home tired and began my increased work hours.  I broke up with my boyfriend and that is draining in and of itself, as was the roller coaster of trying to maintain a friendship afterwards. I was napping any afternoon I could.  I was looking for ways to make nutritiously balanced meals as easily as possible.  I stopped allowing the kids to help me make dinner simply because it was faster to do it myself.  I became increasingly angry with them for not picking up after themselves because I simply did not have the energy to do it for them.   I was starting to yell again.  I felt horrible.  Worst of all, I felt them being "clingy" and that irritated me, a lot.   Instead of doing what needed to be done to make them feel loved and secure I sent them off to leave me alone.  Then the guilt set in.  Guilt leads to a worse mood and so the cycle begins.

I have this email friend (he lives in Toronto and we only communicate via email) and he was telling me about all the things he does with his daughter during the Summer.  I fell into the comparison trap. Man, I was sucking at parenting.  He's a single parent too, so I couldn't claim that as my excuse. I called my good friend Kyle who pep talked me.  He reminded me that it wasn't about grandiose gestures, it was about me spending quality time with my kids.  It didn't have to be a lot, it didn't have to be perfect, it just had to be loving.  I'm paraphrasing but I'm pretty sure that's what he was trying to get across.

So this afternoon I decided to start with a clean slate.  I would pretend I wasn't a bitchy mommy for the last few weeks and just  do something small and not too tiring with them tonight.
So I picked them up after work, brought them home, then took them out for ice cream, a walk on the docks and a peek at the fish in the lake using a flashlight.  We walked home holding hands and I savoured it.

Sometimes we set our expectations too high and we get tired of always being let down or letting down others.  So we give up.  I'd like to call it taking a break to re-evaluate. Either way, I've got it now.  I don't have to be an awesome mom/woman/writer/friend/daughter all the time. It's okay just to be good and sometimes not even reaching that standard is alright.  My children will learn that they don't have to be awesome all the time either and that's a good thing.  I think some mornings when I am grumpy and they are not doing as they are told I might just announce in a loud silly voice:

"Today we are not awesome and that's okay! Say it with me folks!"

And have them repeat after me in their own silly voices.  Heck you can say it with me too:

Today I am not awesome and that's okay.

Doesn't that feel better already?


Monday, August 1, 2016

I Give In

I thought I knew what I wanted.  I thought if I named it, labeled it, looked for it...
But really I was just trying to find some sort of control, where there is no control. 

I wanted a relationship in which I could have both a boyfriend and a girlfriend.  The ultimate in non-commitment, and emotional and physical fulfillment.  

But tonight I spoke with a beautiful and honest woman, and she described to me a relationship that was so perfect... 

It seemed impossible.  Everything she described spoke to my heart.  It was what I wanted, but recently given up on.   She was incredibly brave, she was willing to believe that was possible enough to desire it.  

I didn't realize until now that I had given up on finding a beautiful meaningful relationship.  That I was purposely just skimming the surface to avoid getting my heart broken....again. 

I've experienced a few things of late that have proven to me that I am a hopeless romantic who finds sexual acts without love to be unfulfilling, perhaps even soul-damaging. That I really enjoy being in love.  I fall fast and I fall hard.  I love giving and receiving affection and gifts.  I love showing someone that I love them and I need someone who wants to be loved.  Why do I feel like these are bad things?  Why do I feel like wanting this is foolish? So many people that I know are looking for the opposite, so many people preaching non-attachment and taking it slow.  After a few experiments and this talk, I'm realizing that simply is not who I am. No matter how much I try.

And that's okay.  
I now know that there are others out there like me.
We will find each other, if we haven't already...



Thursday, July 28, 2016

I Ain't Got Shit

I have always considered myself to be a non materialistic person.  That being said, my room is stuffed with materials; mostly tulle and wool.  I always had a bit of pride in my lack of things. That somehow this made me superior to those who spent money and acquired boats... Televisions, laundry machines that work...

 I've never had to face the feeling of shame for my obvious lack of financial wealth.  Probably because the majority of people I am surrounded with are in the same or just slightly higher tax bracket. I thought that I would never be uncomfortable letting anyone see my living space.  Turns out I've never had to think about it.

I recently met a very cool person at work (I work in a toystore).  His daughter and my kids got along really well, and he struck up a conversation about the music I was playing.  Turns out he's a huge Canadian Indie music lover and we totally hit it off.  We shared the names of the bands we loved and he gave me his card.  Which I glanced at briefly then shoved in my pocket.

So I remembered a band I REALLY wanted to share with him (Lady Brett Ashley) took out his business card to email him. I read his title, then I read it again.  This guy, no doubt, makes a lot of money.  I instantly felt bad for noting that.  I felt shallow for letting that matter.  I also realized that for some reason, there's a small part of me that didn't feel like we could be friends.  I had a belief system about class that I never noticed before.  I'm not as open minded and zen as I thought (I had such an ego based on not having an ego).

I emailed him none the less, and we have had some great back and forth and lots of cool music has been introduced into my life.  Which I am always very thankful for.  However, I woke up this morning and cleaned my room and took a look around it.  I have one piece of antique furniture, a futon and I sleep on the floor.  I do have a guitar and mini drum set, photos and art galore... I wondered what he would think if he saw my room.  Would he pity me?  Should he?

For a second I wanted nicer things.

Then I thought about having to put them in storage while the kids and I travelled. I thought about how I couldn't sleep in a bed anyways.  I thought about how they would tie me down.  How I'd rather just put the money into my next trip.

This thought process further solidified my priorities in life.  Not that I would mind making more money, but spending it on things to decorate places I don't plan on spending too much time in is simply not a priority for me.  My home represents me in that it is messy, colourful, filled with half formed projects and easily packed up for another adventure.

There is nothing to pity in that.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Migraines Over Matter

Today I got hit with a whopper of a migraine.  I caught the pain part fairly early, but the exhaustion and neurological symptoms just kept coming.  So I had the embarrassing task of calling my manager and slurring and stuttering through the explanation of why I can't come in.  I'm not embarrassed about the slurring and stuttering itself, it's that I know it's alarming to hear, I know it creates pity.  I hate pity.  I'd like to assure them I'll be okay, but as you can imagine, it's just going to lead to more slurring...  and less reassurance.

So I was forced to lie down in bed.  No Netflix, no reading, no music, no facebook and with a stomache just upset enough to keep me awake.  In other words; no way to avoid looking at my messy emotional life.  I think this migraine was planned by the powers that be.  I have been the queen of avoidance for the last 3 weeks.  It has been extremely fun finding new ways to distract myself.  Live music, new friends, flirting, swimming, dancing, writing, movies, art and work.  But there have been things eating away at me.  I had to let go of my ex.  Fully, completely, let go.  A part of me was limiting myself to casual sex, because I was thinking that I couldn't possibly start a meaningful relationship with another man while still being attached to my ex.  That I would just be reminded of him whenever I was intimate with someone else.

That, my friends, is bullshit.

I totally deserve the potencial for something better than mediocre sex.  Because sex without a great connection is mediocre, I don't care if the guy can go all night in all positions: if I don't really like him, the sex is still lacking in something fundamental and therefore mediocre.  That's not to say that I won't scratch an itch... I just know I can and will have something better very soon.

So I did it.  I reviewed everything in the relationship from beginning to end.  I saw where it could never work, I acknowledged and felt gratitude for the lessons I learned.  I fully accepted it's inevitable demise and without blame or anger (okay there was a bit of anger/hurt, but we all need something to jump off from).  Five hours later, a feeling of inner peace came over me.  The guilt I had been carrying for wanting to scratch an itch was gone.  The negative belief system of not being ready for another meaningful relationship a thing of the past.

So, here's to new beginnings and the blinding pain that forces us to look at ourselves.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Stains that Fade

Adrianna came over to do a henna piece on me.  It's a Phoenix.  There's no doubt that I have risen from the ashes.  Last year at this time I could feel my insides shaking.  My stomache muscles were tense at all times.  My shoulders hunched forward in a protective manner.  Deep breaths were an act of courage.  I cried in class during the chest opening yoga poses, because they reminded me of how much healing I would have to do and the vulnerability necessary to do so.

Here I am sulking in my "heartache".  Wanting what does not exist, feeling an ache of loss in my chest... A chest that can fully expand, a rib cage that revels in deep breaths. I got so wrapped up in these infrequent moments, I feel as if I had been feeling this way the whole time.  Then I glance at my Phoenix and realize how transient it all is; How pain is relative and even in the worst time of betrayal and heartbreak it has it's own mortality.  

I laugh at my melodramatic emotional thought processes.  Then I take a good look at my coping mechanisms.  There's a bit of cringing.  There's a bit of head shaking.  There's a soft smile that spreads across my face. People are my coping mechanisms.  I love people.  I love what they say and do.  I like seeing them be silly, I like seeing them bloom when I focus on them with my heart.  I see a person and I think: Hey, I like you.  Let's have a good time, even if just for a few moments. 
I pass a stranger with a cool t-shirt while crossing the street and I give them a high five.  We connect and light up for that moment and it is beautiful.

Though right now, don't think I am capable of the same connection with someone as I felt (feel?) with my ex...  I have this ingrained belief that you can't feel romantically about two people the same way  at the same time.  There's this deep shame about that, it seems to block my ability to connect with another person of the opposite sex in the same way. 
Like: sorry, I can't really like you or have a meaningful sexual experience with you because I still have feelings for my ex.  
Is it my feelings for my ex (knowing full well we can't be together) really what is stopping me? Or is it just self-inflicted guilt and shame?  I tell myself that I'm a thirty five year old single woman who wants and deserves a decent sex life and to go out there and get it.  Who knows? I may even find a meaningful connection along the way... I tell myself it's societal conditioning that stops me.  But I am lying. 

When another man touches me I remember him touching me and the emotional contrast between the two... it hurts. It's as simple as that.  There's no patriarchal conditioning to blame, no complex slut shaming cultural bullshit.  Being with someone else makes me miss him more. 

My ovaries tell me to just keep trying new guys and it will get emotionally easier each time. 
My heart... she flashes a glimpse of that woman I met in front of mac's and tells me not to fuck that up.
And a voice, a voice that has been getting quieter as each day passes says to me: He might want to get back together... don't ruin that just because you want to get laid.  I compassionately explain why that is not going to happen, it can be hard being compassionate with the vulnerable part of myself.  The part I'd rather just call foolish and dismiss as ridiculous.  How embarrassing that a part of me is putting itself out there to be rejected... again.

This crazy world of dating and relationships, it takes it's toll on a woman who scares as easily as she falls in love.