Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I am so full of shit

I talk so poetically about no longer feeling fear, then I turn the corner to walk into my favourite coffee shop and he is sitting in there.  I freeze, then I quickly retreat to where he can't see me.  My heart is in my chest, I tell the kids we can't go in there.  They know why. Then I pause, breath, and ask them if they would be comfortable waiting outside while I get my coffee.  This is my opportunity, I tell myself, to prove that I am safe in his presence.  The kids both shake their heads no. They are worried he may come out to talk to them.
"Okay, not today then." I say to them.  Then I take 15 steps and my knees start giving way,  just like last year before I left. I put out my hand and catch the flower bed to slow my fall.  
"This is crazy." I tell myself.  Then I wonder how I'm going to get home if this keeps up.  I consider sending the kids to the house to grab my cane. Then my eyes fill up with tears as I realize that my subconscience doesn't give a fuck if I have forgiven him.  Then my daughter puts her hand on my shoulder and tells me that everything is going to be okay.  I realize that there are bigger issues at hand here.  
"Yes, it is." I tell her.  Then I take 3 deep breaths stand up and walk 5 wobbly steps. The more I walk the more stable my knees become.  Then I list in my head all of the things I am grateful for in that moment.  I also begin to realize that my belief that fear impeeds compassion  has been disproven.  I still felt compassion for him, I was not angry, I did not replay past hurts.  Which is good, however my sure fast way of healing didn't quite go as planned.  Forgiveness is just a part of the healing process, not the whole of it.  On and off I have considered that I may have PTSD, I don't think there is any doubt now, however I noted how quickly I recovered from the shock and reminded myself that this will only get easier over time.  

So we went to the gellataria, Then to the docks.  I stripped down to my bikini walked right into the water, floated on my back and let the cold take me back to the now in a way that only Muskoka River water in May can. 

So, small steps.  I am glad that I saw him before I walked in.  This was a safe and gentle way for me to have him reintroduced into my life.  I can do this.  

Solids and Liquids

When I put something in print, it's like that piece of me is solidified.  A snapshot taken on a particular day.  Interestingly enough, the days I write are the ones in which I am working through emotional transitions.  Like an open shutter photograph with blurred movement.  Ani Difranco put it best when she said she didn't take good pictures because she has the kind of beauty that moves.  So as people peer through my snapshots of the year past, they may see 20 different women in various states of undress.  If they run their eyes over them fast enough they may see her dance to personal victory.

I give you today a snap shot of a woman smiling.  She is cross legged on the wood floor, back straight, her face tilted up to the camera.  Her eyes are dry and her heart clear.  She has taken a moment to pause from her dance and her legs are the good kind of shaky. She is radiating gratitude.  She's grateful for the music that came into her life over the last 6 years, because it has shaped her steps, made her muscles lean and strong.  It has given her something to share and use to connect with the new people in her life.  She has remembered the good stories and no longer fears their effect on her heart.  She knows that her past dancing partner is as ever evolving as she and wishes him nothing but the best as he too moves through his own melody.  Though they will never resonate again, she hopes he has found harmony in life with others.  She has removed the greatest obstacle to compassion; fear.  Though, she happily accepts that dissonance creates character in music as well as life.

Moving forward to the parts that cannot be captured in full as of yet...I am learning to love unconditionally.  I love so many people in my life, giddy-hard-to-contain-myself-when-I'm-around-them love and deeply-relaxed-lean-into-them-love. Romantic love is no longer a looming threat on the horizon, but a billboard in the distance with peeling sun-bleached type stating the number of kilometres to the beach.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Little Wine...

About two months ago, I decided to stop drinking alcohol.  I thought I was seeing a pattern of irritability and depressive moods within 24 hours of consumption.  I also noticed that I couldn't keep my big mouth shut and my opinions were suddenly VERY important and that was before I even finished my first drink.

So lastnight I had half a glass of wine with some friends.  I saw imediately why I don't drink anymore.  I noticed I was talking louder, I could feel the strain in my throat.  I felt this need to be heard, I found it hard not to interupt the person I was talking "with".  I put the word with in brackets because really it was more like I was talking at them.  I needed to sober up.  I dispised this feeling.  I went out for ice cream and sat at the docks and allowed the cool air to refresh me.  A headache came on and suddenly. I was exhausted and just wanted to be alone in my room.

I had nightmares, nightmares I haven't had since I was with my ex.  I woke up hugging myself and reminding myself that I was safe.  My side hurts like someone is stabbing it with a spoon.  My head has seen better days.  All this from half a glass of wine.

I'm glad for this experience, I'm happy for the time I spent with friends, but I can't help but feel that the time would have been better spent if I had been completely sober.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Self Compassion

3 days of a migraine later... I was fortunate enough to have caught it in the early stages.  By this I mean, when it was simply an aura and not painful yet.  I took my 4 painkillers, caffeinated drink and Gravol right away.  Then I kept up on my pain management regiment. So the pain didn't become too much.  However my migraines also bring on extreme exhaustion, slurred speech, confusion, limb weakness and by the 3rd day, extreme irritability.

The third day was awful.  I had no patience.  I needed a lot of personal space to just rest, and I got snappy when it was interrupted.  I also yelled after asking my son to clean up after himself for the third time.  I got way angrier, I gave the kids "the look." The look you get when you are about to blow up and you are just barely holding it in.  At one point my daughter was in tears, my son was in tears and I was in tears.  My children are not used to me yelling.  The yelling didn't  last long and was always immediately followed by apologies, hugs and breathing together coping techniques.  I had nightmares.  I felt horribly guilty. I felt like this was who I was as a parent and I was awful.  It's so easy to immerse oneself in this train of thought when you are tired.  All the excellent days of team work, good communication and patience disappeared from memory.

I woke up this morning headache free.  It was like a whole new world;  all bright and shiny.  I felt my mood drop for a moment when I remembered the day before.  Then something occurred to me: I was doing this on my own, most people have a partner to take on some of the responsibility of the kids, laundry, dishes when they are sick.  Yeah, I wasn't perfect by any means, but I recognized my actions and took responsibility for them. I also got them fed, bathed, kept them safe from harm and worked two shifts.  I needed to cut myself some slack. I wouldn't judge a friend in this position so harshly, why was I judging myself in this way?

Self compassion.  I'm getting it now.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


I forgot.  I forgot what I really wanted in my life.  I began to focus on the necessities and day to day living. My zest for life was fading, and so was my energy.  Little (and not so little) stuff was becoming consuming and though I could find small joys through out the day I knew I had lost something.  I meditated for an hour or two a day.  I worked through some emotional baggage from my last relationship (man, I'm getting good at that).  I realized I was beginning to focus too much attention on the possibilities of a romantic match.  Dating is fun, don't get me wrong, but it's best done when you don't feel you are lacking in some way.   I kept putting out there this desire to have an adventure with someone.  I forgot that someone could be me.

I'm not even sure what triggered the thought of taking off early and heading East rather than West, oh wait... It was that I had left my sexy leather jacket in Tofino.  My cousin told me to come by and get it.  I was like, why not take a trip earlier?  It might actually work out for the best that way.  So my kids and I gathered around the iPad and began to look up flight costs.  We decided that this vacation we would visit my sister in St.John's  instead of my cousin on Vancouver island.  Both Coasts in a 9 month span... not bad.

I promised myself that I would never take my freedom to travel for granted again.  That my work would not become my life.  Granted, having a job with a company as flexible as the one I work for is one of the reasons I can travel, yet another reason why my toy store job is awesome.

I stopped treating life like the miracle it is.  I forgot my purpose here is to experience, not to simply "get by".  When I first left my last relationship, I knew exactly the kind of life I wanted to live.  My focus was going to be on travel and rebuilding my bond with my children.  It was going to be about freedom.  I went out today and bought an even sexier leather jacket, I hear the wind can be chilly coming off the Atlantic in June.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A year.

So it was in late April that I moved to the shelter.  As Spring swoops in around me, I can't help but look back, even just to compare the weather.  I remember the first day at the shelter with such vividness. I remember being so kind and gentle with myself, it was like a small part of me had been hidden away and allowed to re emerge when I felt safe.

Of Lambs and Lions

Looking Out the window
There are ducks on the pond
Ducks mate forever
A cruel reminder,
For those of us in the shelter.

Oh, God. I've fucked everything up.
He'll never forgive me
It's truly over
We'll never come back from this
No more going back,
This time he won't take you
Not after this.
I think I'm going to throw-up.
Why haven't I cried yet?
It's the adrenalin,
Let it carry you.
Did I make a huge mistake?

Replaying scary moment before realization and decision.

Remember how determined and brave you were?
Find that again.
Find that woman who told herself: No more.
Did you find her?
Now, take your kids for a walk out the back way
So no one sees you coming from the shelter
Hold their little hands
Let them help you pick out flowers at the shop.
He was horrible at picking out flowers
Yes, yes he was.
He always gave me Gerber daisies.
They were his sister's favourite, not mine.
Now you can choose whichever ones you want.
I can, can't I?
Put the bouquet in your window
And look at them
Instead of the ducks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

To Whoever is Reading My Eulogy...

Now someone HAS to say this at my funeral, but only because it's a meme on facebook and it would be like an inside joke between the eulogy reader and my dead-ass self. It will still be awesome many years later because most of the crowd would be like "WTF? Are we at the wrong funeral? The only couches Amber ever owned were futons or procured on big item garbage pick-up day" (I always checked for syringes, cuz I'm safe like that).  I have had extraordinary footwear though. My favourite being the glittery platform ruby red slippers I purchased with my sister in TO while visiting her at university. I like my stuff. I like it because I never got it thinking about impressing anyone but myself. It represents me, or the stage of my ever evolving self in which I brought it into my life.  Material things can be so demonized in our society.  However, perhaps all we need to ask ourselves is: Am I buying this because it makes me feel better? Or am I buying this because it represents the awesomeness that is me?