Monday, December 19, 2016

Joybreak

This season I have felt completely overwhelmed.  I'm exhausted, emotional and negative.  I've been generally feeling like I should know better, I can be happier than this, why does it seem so hard?
After reading a blog post I wrote after being in St.John's (one of the most joyous times of my life) I realized that I wasn't tending to my own joy anymore.  I have this preconceived notion that when my schedule gets busy, I simply do not have the time to spend on my joy and instead it becomes damage control.  It's a matter of priorities, messed up, hand built by robots, priorities.

So I decided to take a Joybreak.  A week where I focus on doing things that bring me joy.  Here's what a typical Joybreak looks like:

Wake up, tell my kids I love them, send them off to school, have a mind blowing orgasm, choose my favourite colours to wear, put on make-up, choose a great music playlist, put on my headphones, dance in my room, go out still listening to music, walk to my favourite coffee shop, make my coffee with lots of honey, eat my favourite oatmeal, check Facebook, chat with acquaintances, make a list of yummy food to buy, write, write,write, head on out to do my shopping still with music playing, shop, sing along and dance while shopping, get home put stuff away, take a hot bath, nap before kids get home from school, cuddle them, make dinner with them and plan our movie for that night. After the movie send them to bed with kisses, Check Facebook, climb into my super soft covers, read a book, meditate, sleep.

I'm only part way through my day and already I feel more energetic.  I had forgotten that doing things that bring me joy, does not detract from other responsibilities, it makes them more than merely tolerable, as joy tends to overflow into all aspects of my life.

Update: when you search for joy you find it.

Today, while at the coffee shop, I talked to two great women, who always give off such warmth.  I got to stop by my friend's work and say "Hi.".  There was the amazing chocolate lab who was so happy to see me and let me pet him.  Leaving the supermarket, I saw a friend, who gave me a genuine hug and made my chest fill with warmth.  My housemate made dinner, my kids loved their new light up toothbrushes, we listened to Stuart McLean and I swear I heard a story that I had missed the last two years we were listening.  The Christmas puzzle was well received and finished.  Day one of my Joybreak was a success, with only one hitch, when I waited too long to eat and got a bit grumpy with my kids.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sharing Singleness

I don't want to be in a relationship.  Not the thing that most people call a relationship anyways.  I want someone to share my singleness with. Let me explain:

Typical dating goes as follows, meet someone, maybe chat on social media, go out for coffee, chat more on social media, go out on date, go out on more dates, start hanging out at each other's places, spending whole nights, do this for x amount of time, move in... On the emotional front it starts with two independent people with their own lives. Then they slowly integrate and their choices begin to become based on this integration and the understanding that they plan to spend the rest of their lives living together in full partnership, supporting each other emotionally, physically and financially.  This is great for many people, but not for me.  Not for the next few years anyways, maybe never. You see, I've got shit to do, and I can't be basing my plans on how it's going to affect another adult's future.  I need someone who also has plans and can hold their own if I need to go off to fulfill my dreams and in that, I will fully support their need to do the same: with or without me.

What does sharing my singleness look like?  How does it work? It looks like me living my life, as per usual, with travel plans and the knowledge that I plan on living all over this planet before I die.  I'll still go out on my own and meet new people. It means doing my favourite things, hanging out with friends and also hanging out with the person I care about romantically.  It's not like dating, as in the insecure "Do they like me?" Stuff.  However, the amount of time spent with each other would look a bit like dating. I've come to realize that I need a lot of "me" time, I cherish it.  The person I am with will know that I care about and love them, even if we are not in contact everyday.

I used to think of looking for a type of person and type of relationship as two distinct things. I could really like the person but hate the relationship. I've realized that the type of person you are interested in can make or break "shared singleness".

First off: to share singleness, you need someone who takes full responsibility for themselves emotionally, physically and financially.  They can't be needy, or else it will morph into the type of relationship where you find yourself under pressure to keep them happy, healthy and fed. If they are truly independent this won't ever become an issue.

The person has to have their own hobbies and things they are interested in that don't or won't always involve you.  As such, they are likely to respect your time to do the things you love and encourage you to do them.

They need to understand that some relationships don't last forever and that ultimately the relationship that is most important to you is the one with yourself.   If it is a matter of fulfilling a deep desire in my life: I will choose me and I hope that they would choose themselves in the same situation.  If the person is specifically looking for someone to eventually spend the rest of their life with, then, I am not for them, I refuse to make promises I cannot keep.

To tell you the truth sharing singleness, in my opinion, is just a really healthy romantic relationship and can even be done in marriage.  It's a point of view, a way of loving someone unconditionally, where neither of you base your happiness/your life's dream on someone else and their life choices.

Now here's the kicker:

It takes someone who is fully secure in their ability to be happily single, for this kind of relationship to really blossom and succeed.  This person knows you are with them because you really want to be, because they know you could be just as happy on your own.  You will know that for them it is a choice of desire and love that keeps them in your life, not filling a space of loneliness.

Wouldn't that feel great?




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Guilt and Art

I've been feeling really guilty lately.  Guilty for working so much before Christmas, guilty for being emotional and selfish with friends.  Guilty for making assumptions without communication.  Guilty for waiting on getting Joon's tooth pulled (she's not in pain, it's a crowding issue) because I don't know when her father will pay me back from his insurance company.  I've felt guilty for not fighting hard enough for their time with him and I feel guilty for fighting for it at all.  I feel guilty for not having all the gifts ready, for losing the mail key and missing a parcel from someone (probably one with Christmas gifts).  I feel guilty for not getting back to Children's mental health because our schedule was too packed and I was overwhelmed with the idea of more appointments, also Joon seemed to be improving greatly with theatre, but still... I feel guilty for not taking more shifts at work.  I feel guilty for going out and leaving my daughter in charge.  I feel guilty for quick meals and Mr.Noodles.

But I see now, that the guilt does not motivate me to do anything about these things (not that all of these things need to be fixed). Guilt is a paralytic.

So I overcome it by moving, moving things in my room, moving my body. Dancing and breathing. I'm reminding myself that I am not on this Earth to stand in one spot perpetually cementing myself to the ground with the heaviness of not doing enough.

I can feel that tingle, that joy that permeated my entire being this Summer.  I don't merely survive my life, I create it, I can and will do amazing things.  I'm feeling the need to express creatively through my daily endeavours.  I'm remebering that action is art, I am a walking canvas and my colours can seep into everything I touch, may everyone who experiences me get splattered with joy.

Guilt is the most effective prison someone can build for themselves.  Self love and expression is the path to true freedom.

So don't be surprised if next time you see me, I seem almost manic in my happiness.  Feel free to join me, we could all use a break from our self inflicted "we suck at life." feelings.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Blessings In this House

As we near the holidays, I find myself thinking about gifts, about blessings.  The things in life that turn out amazingly, like someone was listening to my inner most desires and delivering them right to me.  I desperately wanted a home for myself and my children, a real home, with safety and love... A feel of family.  A near magical house appeared, but what made it a home was my housemate.  She arrived with a flurry of friends, cleaning, organizing and decorating.  I mostly hid during this time as I was triggered by people cleaning around me (something I have since healed from).  I emerged a week later, to a home that looked like something out of a decorating magazine.  I didn't realize how empty our home was until she filled it with paintings, vases and wall hangings.  Mostly though, she filled it with laughter and song.  She filled it with the plunking of keys from an old piano, that is all the better for it's tin-like reverberation.  She filled our hearts with her empathy for her friends and family.  Some gifts are people and she is one of the best gifts our family has ever received.  She was the gift we didn't even know we needed.  We are very thankful for her. We love her very much.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hold On

As you reemerge into life and you venture into situations, you may feel like the situations you've experienced in the past are now viewed as "before".  Now you are trying to experience them in the filter of "after".  Your emotional reactions and fears can become overwhelming and confusing. I personally find myself questioning why am I so scared of this?

There comes a point where you just have to hold yourself.  When you are alone and all is quiet... Or you have locked yourself in the bathroom and let the iPad be your nanny.  Either way, there will be realizations, that are shocking to you. Part of you knows you should cry.  You can feel that expanding ball in your chest, you know the tears will be the release you need, but they won't come.

Now, pull your knees up to your chest wrap your arms around yourself, rest your cheek on your shoulder and rock yourself gently.  Tell the woman you were that she didn't deserve it.  Tell her that you love her and she is a good person.  Tell her to forgive herself. Hold her like she is your best friend, comfort her like she is your daughter and just let her sob until everything is spent.

I often think I've got my shit all figured out, because I am generally a very happy person. But I'd be a liar if I told you I don't live in a state of "before" and "after". Everything I try for the first time since feels like my first time all over again but with a lot more hesitation and reaction within myself I don't fully understand.  I just need to be patient and loving with myself, and keep on putting myself back out there.  It does get easier.  Keep going.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Abstinence

After a Summer of following every joy that came to mind, I have found that bliss is a bit overrated.  I realized that my search for all things joyful was being fuelled by a need for distraction.  Generally, I was not self-destructive, however there were choices that I made that, if facing the same ones today, I would choose differently. I learned about boundaries, my own limits.  I danced. I made art. I made memories. I embraced chaos and created some of my own.

Towards the end of the Summer, breathless and spent, I began to truly understand that I can plan ahead more than a few weeks.  Not only in activities, but in relationships as well.  My illness was not going to suddenly sweep in and rip my legs out from under me again.  My romantic relationships need not be whirlwinds of swirling insecurity pulling in while my fierce need of independence chased behind.  I could start building real relationships with the people around me with a feeling of safety and longevity.  I became relationship based in my goals.  I remembered that feeling of family, that my children and I felt when we moved to the shelter and the chaos was shut out. I wanted to expand that feeling to include many of the people in my life.

Peace is an inside job.  It really is.  So I looked at what desires were creating chaos in my life. Sex. That was the main one, way too much of my mental energy was spent on sex.  Alcohol, though I rarely drank more than a beer during a night out, made me feel irritable and anxious the next day.  Caffeine, same thing.  My diet had become unhealthy as well, lots of fast food.  It was time to give these things up completely, a fast of sorts, or a cleansing of the palette, if you will.

It has been 3 weeks of no sexual acts of any kind, no alcohol and I just finished weaning myself off caffeine completely 3 days ago.  I've cut out gluten and nitrates as well as other high histamine foods as a way to see which foods could be triggering my headaches.

You'd think I'd be fucking miserable.

I feel great.  I feel like I am more able to deal with stress, or perhaps it's best to say: I find less things stressful in general.  I'm calmer with my kids and I really do enjoy my time with them more.  I can feel myself growing spiritually.  I am learning how to be happy without anything beyond just having the people I care about around me.

For example, Halloween, I had vertigo so bad I had to have a bucket beside me incase I puked.  It was 3 good friends and I sitting around playing radio BINGO.  I felt genuinely happy the whole time.  My head hurt and the room was spinning. I didn't affect my mood negatively in the slightest.  I found I could separate my physical from my emotional because lessening my distractions helped me become more self-aware.  There is also something I find incredibly empowering about taking control of something that used to take control of me.

I'm not sure how long I am going to continue abstaining, but for the time being it's working for me.  It  may be challenging to do research for my sex blog, then bring my mindset back to that of celibacy. I think I am up for it though.




Friday, October 28, 2016

Warmth

Snow has blanketed everything.  There's an excitement in my chest, there's an anxiety as well.  I feel like I have so much to make up for.  Last year our Solstice was a success, we were sponsored by another family through the food bank and under the tree looked as full as it did before I was a lone parent.  Our house was bustling with family and friends coming in and out. However there was a bumpy few weeks ahead of time where some serious healing needed to be done around past holidays. Jack shared with me his heartbreaking experience of how his father told him there was no Santa.

I know that taking on the responsibility of another's feelings is not only damaging, it's futile.  It makes it hard for them to express their feelings around you.  So I'm not going to go out of my way to make this the best Solstice ever.  I'm simply going to love them.  I'm going to love my friends, my family. I'm not giving a lot of gifts, but I will give them the gift of peace and safety.  I'm going to prepare an environment of warmth and comfort by emanating those things from myself.  I will love them by loving myself.  I will let them see what a gift a loving community is. Also there will be food because food=love and I love food.

Over the last year the most beautiful group of people have come into our lives.  My friendships have deepened and family reunited.  I finally feel worthy of the amazing people in my life. Bless you all and see you at Solstice!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Peace

When we moved to the shelter, we were told it was a violence-free zone.  No violent tv shows, no violent videos and certainly no violence allowed between the families staying there.  I figured this was to stop women who were victims of physical violence from being triggered, but it was more than that.

The place had a quiet about it. The fridge hummed and the tv babbled in the background.  The doors opening and shutting echoed in the hallways.  Even shared dinners with all the kids we spoke softly to one another.  We were careful with our words.  We were careful with each other. No one asked why the other one was there. There was a respect, an understanding.

I didn't realize how much living in an environment like this would affect how I lived my life for months to come.  I had not expected this particular outcome:  I became sensitive to violence again, in all of it's forms.  In that I was able to recognize what is not acceptable because I knew now living without violence is possible.  The contrast between nonviolent and violent behaviour became more distinct.  I could point it out and say: No. This is not okay. I will not accept this in my life. It made drawing boundaries easier, it made enforcing them easier as well.  I had a taste of the good life and anything else felt like hell.

Life got stressful, and because I was not taking proper care of myself, I allowed myself to fall back into a habit that I find is violent.  I began to yell at my children again. For the first few months after leaving the shelter I didn't yell at all, we talked everything out and I found alternative/non-violent  ways to get my children to pay attention.  But here I was, in that pattern that seems easy at the time but leads to guilt and fear down the road.
One day I found myself yelling at my son after finding out he had lost his lunch bag, got in trouble at school, didn't finish his work and lost his pencils and erasers.  Then I hugged him right afterwards and remembered how good that peace felt.  I decided that once again we would be a violence free home.

Violence free doesn't mean stuffing down your anger. It means using coping techniques, but more so it means building your relationship with your family.  Talk to them, find out what they are going through, play games with them, laugh and blow off steam that way. It gets easier as time goes on.

So, here's once again, a thank you to the Women's Shelter.  Your support and positive influence continues to improve my family's life even to this day.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Step Up

I'm trying to think of an analogy for my guy friends to understand what it feels like to be harassed by a male in a bar.  Okay, so imagine there's this guy, he's at least twice your size. As soon as you walk in to the bar, he looks you up and down, he's sizing you up.  He's got this look in his eyes, this look that says, "You and me, we'll be taking this outside later."  For some reason this guy has it out for you specifically.  You wonder if it was something you wore. Is your t-shirt offensive? But you're out with your buddies to have a good time,so you shrug it off.

You are standing at the bar waiting to order your drink, the big guy comes up behind you and stands uncomfortably close, orders a drink over your head then bumps into you with his body.  You don't turn to look at him because you know this will just invite more interaction and you just want to get your drink and sit down at the booth.

You are trying to enjoy the conversation with your friends, but this guy keeps shooting you looks.  You have to take a piss, but you are pretty sure he will follow you to the bathroom and try to start something.  So you sit in the booth uncomfortable, trying to ignore him and your bladder.

The guy starts walking towards your table. You get this sinking feeling in your gut.  He makes jokes with your friends, they seem to like him and now you feel like you have less support.  Then he leans into you and jabs you in the side, laughing.  He messes with your hair, tries to give you a bear hug. Basically he is proving to you that he can do whatever he wants to you. The whole time you are pushing against him, but you are worried if you really take a stand it will get violent and then you'd be in some serious trouble.  This guy could break you.  So you take it and try to make light of it, humiliating as it is.  Then when he finally has to take a piss you excuse yourself, pay your tab as quickly as possible and get the hell out of there.

Now add to this fear of physical pain, the knowledge that this man wants to shove his dick up your ass to pleasure himself. Welcome to the world of the average woman being harassed at the bar.  So please,  if you see a man disrespecting a woman's boundaries, instead of avoiding interfering out of fear of it becoming a nasty situation, realize it is already a nasty situation for her.  Step-up and you guys who are watching a guy step up for a woman who is being harassed, you step up too.  Because this isn't between two men fighting over a woman, this is about behaviour towards women that we should not accept in our society.

Monday, October 10, 2016

I'm Doing It!

Where to start...

I get into relationships quickly, I click with someone and I just feel this "thing".  That "thing" I feel takes over my common sense. It's like I don't hear what they are telling me,  I just interpret it to fit my imagined idea of who they must be in order to feel this "thing" I feel.   Sometimes I'm dealing with other stuff and my insecurities colour my view of what is going on.  Mostly though, I fall in love with the feeling of the "thing" and not the person themselves.  I will ignore signs that it might not work out. I will be the best girlfriend ever.  I would make that person feel like they are the most important thing in my life.  Though, really it's maintaining the feeling of the "thing" that was most important.  My partner would feel loved, adored even, but when they did something to disrupt my view of the "thing".  I would get annoyed and frustrated.  I was in love with the feeling of love. Not the person themselves.  This didn't happen in all of my relationships, mostly just the ones I entered not feeling whole.  Sometimes it started out with me loving the "thing" then moved past into loving the person, but not without struggle. I have a great imagination, and who I imagine people to be can be very hard to live up to.

I love romance and dating.  I love the idea of going out with someone and knowing there is something there still not acted on.  However, I rarely make it past the second date.  I need spark.  I look for the "thing".  I've come to realize the "thing" is a mixture of hormones and traits I find sexually attractive and don't necessarily make for good long term relationships.  The "thing" is further intensified by every fantasy I choose to focus on about this person when we are not around each other. In other words it's not truly reality, and it's not fair to the person I am dating.  Lust is a large part of the "thing" and lust is a good thing, but I recently found that when I take that aspect out, it's easier for me to truly love someone.  By that I mean unconditionally love them.  To want them to do what they feel is best for themselves because there is no "thing" for their choices to interfere with.

I met this woman.  She is beautiful and cool and smart and... I want to hang out with her.  I want to get to know her slowly. For the first time in a while I really understand that the feeling I have around someone, is not necessarily who they are. When she texts I feel a genuine warmth in my chest, when she doesn't I'm not disappointed.  I don't hesitate to contact her if I have something I want to share, there are no communication games or rules that I'm basing that on. There's no pressure on either of us. The urgency of the "thing" isn't there.  I'm in no rush.  In fact, tonight as I planned what I was going to buy for food to bring to her house on Wednesday night, I paused and asked myself:  Do I want more than friendship?

Yes.

Am I ready though?

I didn't ask myself this because I was afraid of getting hurt (which is my usual motive behind that question). It was because I didn't want to hurt her.  I didn't want to start something with her that I couldn't emotionally commit to and create something negative in the future for us both (Some of my readers who are also close friends will see the dual lesson in this).  This time it's not about me, or the "thing" or loneliness.  This time it's about the opportunity to  build something worthwhile, there's potential for an actual healthy relationship with interdependence vs co-dependence. This is territory I haven't explored for a long time.  I may just stand at the edge for a while.




Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fear Dressed In Wisdom's Clothing

I have this friend, we meet for coffee and talk for hours.  I always always leave those conversations with massive lessons.  This one was huge.  I wrote a blog post months ago about being a lone parent. I was very much in the mindframe of never wanting a romantic partner involved with my children. I thought this stance was practical and pragmatic....Funny, how we can dress fear in a costume we call wisdom.

I was scared, angry and devoid of hope.  I'd rather go without the warm feelings of sharing my family with someone I care about romantically then risk letting someone in who could hurt them.  I never thought of how fucking selfish it would be to not let this person be involved in such a huge part of my life.  To expect them to forgo the hope of feeling like a family with me, to keep them at a distance and to only share the small part of me that exists between bedtimes, wake times and mommy days.  I didn't realize that this is only a partial relationship, a stepping stone with nowhere further for my partner to step.  Even the word "partner" can't apply.  I couldn't see that.  I couldn't see a future with anything beyond a boyfriend/girlfriend in it and with that, I couldn't see the true validity of their concerns for the future.  I simply didn't see my children as a factor in my relationships, because I didn't want the worlds to mix.  Yeah, they may run into each other occasionally, but no plans together, no dinners or outings.  My children were MINE and my ex's, no one else need be involved.

I'm still not looking for a co-parent, but I'm no longer closed to the idea of someone I care about becoming involved with my children (slowly) after a substantial amount of time seeing each other. I can see now how this mindframe held me back in many ways.  Here I am, nearly six months from a point at which I thought I was ready for a relationship, realizing how much I wasn't.  I feel like I'm ready for one now... We'll see if the woman I am in 6 months agrees.




Monday, September 26, 2016

Purge

I got the family iPad when I left. My mother paid for half, we paid for the other.  I took a dive financially for it, but whatever, I needed it for business and communication. Problem is it's in my ex's name and iTunes account.  Although I can get into my iTunes for music, I can't update a damn thing without his password.  Every time an update would pop up I'd see his Apple id and I'd feel nauseous and/or anxious.

So today I am transferring my favourite photos, videos and documents to a new computer, then wiping this one clean and staring fresh on my iTunes account.  This is pretty much the last tie between us, and I would have done it earlier but my little computer is dying and couldn't take the load.  Thankfully, my mother and father gave me a gently used lap top with plenty of memory space.

So here's to a fresh start.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Love: It's Not About You

Pain and discomfort after a break-up is usually due to the feeling that you can't have what you want.  It's selfish and all encompassing, but with time and space it wanes.  Soon you are less melodramatic and your friends aren't rolling their eyes at your Facebook posts anymore.  Then you run into the ex and that little bit of sadness creeps back in.  Perhaps you spend the afternoon imagining that s/he pulls you off to the side, pins you against the wall with their body and explains between passionate kisses how they've realized how perfect you are together... Ahem... or something like that.

You know you are torturing yourself.  You wish you could just get over it.  You wish you didn't still want them.

Here's the deal though, if you truly love someone, it shouldn't be about what you want from them.  Wanting them to love you/want to be with you, is essentially asking for them not to feel the way they feel, so that you can feel good.  That's not love.  If you truly want them to follow their heart, do what they think is best for themselves, then it is impossible to want them to be with you at the same time.

Want to know the best way to get over someone? Love them. Fully, unconditionally, love them.  Wish the best for them and the rest of their journey wether or not you will be a part of it.

Love isn't about you, it's about the other person.

Friday, September 16, 2016

I've Been Selfish (an exercise in compassion)

Something shifts when you feel the need to protect yourself emotionally all the time.  Your self-worth disintegrates and it takes a while to get it back.  You have to fight the voices in your head telling you that you are selfish and even delusional for believing you deserve better.  Like you are not being grateful for what you do have by wanting something different.  Most of the time those voices are not your own...

So you do it.  Every morning you get up and you tell yourself that you are worthy of wearing your favourite clothes.  You deserve to enjoy your breakfast, you remind yourself just as you were about to stuff something in your mouth in order to be there for someone else.  Next thing you know, you are taking the time to fix your coffee just right and buying jeans that fit.  You are letting go of conflicts and letting go of the people who always seem to be in the middle of them.  You are beginning to do more than just dream of the things that bring you joy; you are doing them.  You surround yourself with people who make you feel good.

Then you look around one day and ask yourself, do I make the people around me feel good too?

Because for so long you focused on just you, that you forgot how to think of others.  Maybe you thought that it would come naturally.  Maybe you thought that if you were happy you'd simply bring others joy... And you do.  But are you kind? Are you considerate? Can you now turn back on that part of yourself who thought about other's feelings before you said or did something?

Because to leave, you had to turn that off didn't you?  You had to put yourself first, you had to ignore the pleas, the explanations, the tears of those you knew  would only bring you harm.

You also know that this loving part of you is what got you so stuck to begin with.  You feel like your empathy betrayed you, your compassion made you a target. You blame your naivety for this last traumatic disaster.

Maybe it's time.  Maybe it's okay to look back into another person's heart, to care about how they would feel about your actions.  It's okay that you turned cold to get out of a hot mess.  It's okay that you built this wall of ice. Now try to remember: you chose these people carefully, let them in and care about them.

Trust yourself.

Trust your heart.

The last step in complete worthiness is knowing you are worthy of the joy of giving without fear.

You are safe now.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

I Didn't Mess Her Up

One of the heaviest things I have carried about my unhealthy relationship was how it affected my kids.  The common belief is that you and your partner teach your children how to treat their partners or what to expect as treatment from their partners.  Well on the first day of school, my 10 year old girl was asked "out".  She came home and told me this boy wanted to be her boyfriend.  I took a deep cleansing breath and asked:
"What did you say?"
"I said I'd think about it tonight and tell him tomorrow."
That was promising.
"Do you like him?" I asked.
"Yeah, he's kind and compassionate. He showed me around, introduced me to his friends and played with me at recess."
I liked her criteria for liking him.
"Well, what do you think you are going to say?"
"I think I'll say 'yes'. "
And so it begins, I thought.

I walked into the kitchen tonight and she was writing a letter. It was a break up letter.  I asked her why she wanted to break up with him.  She described a scenario where she felt her personal boundaries were violated. She said:
"I didn't feel like he respected me."
"Do you want to talk to him about it, and see if it gets better?" I asked.
"No. I want to break up with him.  I don't want to hurt his feelings because I know he really likes me... but..." She looked lost for words.
"...But your boundaries are important and you need to do what you know is right for you." I answered.
She nodded emphatically.
I told her I was proud of her and managed to hold back the tears of relief until I got into my room.

Tonight I was going to click "publish" on my first sex blog and toast myself with a glass of wine.
Instead, I shall raise a glass to myself as a mother and woman.  She did learn how a relationship should be, the relationship with herself.  She learned that her boundaries are to be respected and how to uphold them even when it's tough and the amazing thing is...

She learned it from me.

She's going to be alright. I didn't fuck her up.

 I think I'll be sleeping a lot easier now.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Little Herstory

The other day I had a friend over and I mentioned something that I thought was common knowledge about myself.  He looked at me point blank and said. "I don't know anything about you."
So here's a brief history:

Born and raised just outside of Toronto, in a relatively small town. I have two older sisters and my parents were together until I was in my 20's.  Incredibly independent, head strong and intelligent, I was that kid who got in shit all the time for finishing her work early then talking to everyone while they were suppose to be working.
My parents were in scouting so I was often an unofficial boy scout.
I Irish danced.
I rode horses, including my own, Cowboy.
Kissed a boy for the first time, last day of grade 6.
Jumped out a second story window suffered from amnesia, last week of Summer grade7.
Ended up in an abusive relationship in highschool, got out of it.
Dated the captain of the senior boys basketball team. His mother died. I became Buddhist as a result.
Parents moved away when I was 17.
Promptly got hit by a GMC van.
Suffered another concussion.
Got my first on the books job at a European Deli.
Lived in various friends' homes, got an apartment of my own at 17.
Moved back in with parents to finish semester.
Started an alternative 'zine for my high school
Began apprentiship piercing. Quit.
Had a meth addiction.
Kicked a meth addiction.
Kissed a girl for the first time: St.Patrick's day grade 12.
Moved back out at 18 to become full time bong shop worker and part-time writer.
(By moved out I mean couch-surfed)
Got my very own non-basement apartment at 18.
Met a woman, fell in love. She broke my heart.
Acquired stalker: a convicted rapist.
Transferred to St.Catharine's bong shop to escape him.
Met boy, fell in love, he broke my heart.
Met another boy, married him.
Got two other jobs, pizza dough maker and organic sprout farmer.
Moved to Huntsville.
Had two kids.
Became a doula, then childbirth educator.
Big blur for a couple of years.
Got a divorce, well a separation... Not sure if we are even legally married... That's a whole other blog.
Met another boy, fell in love.
Got sick, left boy, got better.
Now I work at a Toystore and write a couple of blogs.

Any questions?




Monday, August 29, 2016

What Happens in the TARDIS Stays in the TARDIS

So I met my email friend for coffee.  Well it was suppose to be for coffee, then it was pouring rain so we had to switch to a closer coffee shop, then that coffee shop was closing, so we ducked into the nearest restaurant where I promptly broke a plate. Seriously, I ate before I left so that I wouldn't slop food on myself or break anything while I was out with this guy.  This is the kind of restaurant where the tables are already set.  If I had any sense I would have turned around and walked out the second I saw that. Then I ordered a coffee that they didn't have the ingredients for, so the barista (gorgeous young man) came over with caramel he made ON THE SPOT and asked me taste it so they could add it to my cappuccino, except it was on a stick and it vaguely made me think of fellacio and I didn't want them staring at me while I tested it... So it was kind of awkward.  Did I mention it was the opening night?  No? Well it was.  Also, I'm pretty sure it is a TARDIS.  It was way bigger on the inside and well look at the picture.  I just realized though, that if I had smashed the plate in a restaurant outside of the TARDIS we (the doctor and I, of course) could go back in time and he could catch the plate, and order a normal cappuccino for me. However a TARDIS cannot travel through time within itself.  So what happens in a TARDIS stays in the TARDIS.

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.  



Sunday, July 17, 2016

Options

My mornings in St.John's look like this:  wake up, get kids dressed, head to Coffee Matters, drink a cafe mocha and have Joon map out our walking journey that day.  One day my sister took the kids and I went for a walk on my own.  Something said to me, "try that little cafe on the steps you saw the other day."  So I did.  Though I couldn't remember exactly where it was I figured I would just walk wherever I felt like and I would find it.  I did.

I tried to sit outside, but the tables were sticky. I looked for a napkin to wash the table off, but I couldn't find them in the cafe. I was getting frustrated.  Looked like I would be sitting inside during this beautiful day.  So I chose a seat in the back of the cafe.  There were 50's style Jesus paintings on the walls, such a strange feeling of nostalgia I had while looking at them...

Then he walked in.  Laptop in hand, eyes searching the walls.  My headphones were on and music was blasting. But I caught his attention and motioned to the hanging extension cord at the next table.
I had all the recent albums I purchased spread across my table, my journal was filled with scribbles about the show I had seen the night before.  I immersed myself in my writing again.  Then a tap on my shoulder, he's offering me a bite of his chocolate something or other.  I kindly turn him down with a shake of my head and a smile.  Refusing to take off my headphones and break this amazing creative space I am in.  So 15 minutes later and I am finished my first draft of my blog post.  That's when I come back to reality and realize, he  probably was the reason I was told to come here.

So I started up a conversation to see where it goes.  Turns out he's a digital nomad.  Someone who does his work via the internet and travels wherever he wants supporting himself all the while.  This is exactly what I want to do.  I want to find work that will allow me to travel freely.  Not only is he a digital nomad, but he also hosts a meetup group to help other digital nomads share information and tips on how to do this successfully.  I told him that I need a skill that travels and makes money (I can write, but there hasn't been much money coming in from that). So he asks me: what do you like?
I told him that I love human rights, particularily when it comes to medical situations.  I describe to him my doula work.  Then he says: I'm sorry but I have to interupt you, I just had a flash and I need to show you this:

It was one of his client's websites.  They sell TENS machines and they are looking for sales reps.  You choose your target market, you choose where to sell them.  I could travel anywhere there are healthcare facilities and sell them... And yes that is right up my alley.

After another hour of conversation I had to go, I thanked him for the exchange.  He gave me his email address to keep him informed on how it was going for me.  I haven't emailed him yet, nor have I looked into the TENS sales opportunity.  I feel like I need a year to sort things out, maybe during this year I will begin to look into those options.  I try not to think of obstacles, but there is a fairly large one when it comes to me travelling with my kids.  Making sure they get time with their father.  They are not old enough to fly on their own yet and that only would come into play if their father was willing to change up his schedule with them.  So instead, I am planning a 3-4 week vacation next fall and perhaps a few small excursions in the meantime, just to lightly scratch my travelling itch while my kids get older.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Diamonds In The Rock

Okay, back to the wild and wonderful world of self-exploration via travel.  In the immortal words of Ani Difranco "I just got kinda....distracted."

So for months before I left, my desire was to immerse myself in the St.John's music culture.  I wanted to see a new band every night, I wanted to converse in order to understand how this musical community thrived on an island so harsh and barren it is known as The Rock.

Apparently the answer was in the question.  Almost every musician/artist I talked to had the same theory, which I am going to paraphrase using a Dylan Thomas quote:
 "Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
They described the colourful homes as a way to counter the thick St.John's fog.  
The music to drown out the gale, and to forget the drowned.
The dancing to prove that their bodies were not still...yet.
Harsh conditions can create such beauty...
And resilience.

It's no secret that Newfoundland is having some serious economical challenges.  With oil prices so low and the over spending by the government during the short lived "boom"; there is much unrest.  Posters are everywhere in the city, calling the Premier to resign.  Unemployment is rising and those with jobs often need more than one.  Darnell, a thickly accented musical theatre actor, explained to me over a pint of Quidi Vidi's 1892 that he (aside from his theatre work) needs two jobs.  He's a chef at a restaurant down the street during the day and a bouncer at a pub at night. "I know you can't tell looking at me, but I get punched 3-4 times a night... Guess eventually the bruises stop showing up." 
A lack of resources is the best way to become resourceful.  That is the grit that you can sense in a Newfoundlander.  We are soft and reserved here, in our comfortable food-only-a-few-hours-away towns.  They are hard and wild and beautiful in their expression of rebellion.  They rage like the ocean and unapologetically dance on their watery graves.  Listen to the music of the Newfoundlanders and you will hear the sorrow and the never ending fight.  I give to you this beautiful example from The Fortunate Ones, introduced to me by Alexi, the Coffee Matters Barista who came out and shared a beer, his musical knowledge and other musings... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xj8IlanhTQE 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Shouldn't it be Harder than This?

If you imediately thought, "that's what she said..." Then you are awesome.

Now back to my serious musings:

Really though, it should have been a more painful experience, according to my memories of past break ups.  I went to go see my ex about a project we are working on together for the radio station.  We had a discussion about the inevitable awkwardness ahead of time on messenger. We agreed to high five at the end of said awkward discussion.  Because that is how fucking awesome "we" are...

Okay, anyways... I get there and it's not painful at all.  In fact I'm so excited about the project that I hardly notice any discomfort.  This may sound strange but (aside from when we were in bed)  this is the most at ease I felt around him since we got together.  It was like the pressure was off.  When we were involved I always felt like I didn't know where I stood with him.  Now it's quite clear exactly where I stand and we can just be awesome "us" again.

When I was walking toward the station, I focused on the trees around me.  I told myself to come from a place of love for him, not of the love I wished to feel from him.  I wanted him to feel happy, I wanted him to feel comfortable, I realized that what I was feeling was unconditional love.  When I stopped making it about me, it stopped hurting.

So, disaster averted and a strong sense of relief has come over me.  Not bad for the first relationship after a serious one.  Though, I think that I'm only going to seek friendships with men for awhile.  While I decide what exactly it is that I am looking for.



Sunday, July 10, 2016

Throat

My throat hurts.  Usually this stems from exhaustion and not saying what I mean. A lack of communication.  But how can one communicate what they feel or want if they don't know?  I hate making decisions out of the need to avoid pain and discomfort, but I'm in a spot where either way, it's not going to be easy...

Then something beautiful happens and I am reminded this too shall pass, and for a moment it feels like it already has.  My hands are relaxing more and more, the dread of something slipping through my fingers is being replaced with the relief from my tight muscles and fingernail-imprinted palms.

My friends near and far are randomly arriving via messages and car to be with me.  I spend the majority of my day content, even joyful.  I am meeting other creative people and making plans. I am beginning to see how my extra shifts are going to make way for my next travelling adventure and I am stoked.

I'm putting together a radio show and hoping to have it done ASAP, while my memories are still intact.  They say that you just keep working on your own joy and the rest will fall into place.  So I have decided to come from a perspective of pure faith.

I look back at where I was last year at this time and shake my head at my unfounded fear of heartache. I have come from so far; I have kicked fear and grief's ass, all while broke and disabled and without the help of alcohol or sex.  I got this.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Goodbye Canes

It is with a strange bitter sweetness that I give away my canes.  I remember when I reluctantly began to use one, I had so much pride, I was so insecure about being seen with it.  The day that I made it all the way up my hill from downtown, I learned that pride had held me back from so much.  What I had originally saw as a symbol of confinement was actually my access to freedom.

Though my legs and vertigo seemed to only get worse and eventually a wheelchair became necessary for many out of home tasks, they paved the way for my acceptance of the wheelchair, or at least for not being embarrassed to be seen in it.  

All trials are teachers, this I believe.  So if I could be candid with those I love, I'd really like to share some first hand knowledge with you:

I don't wish to speak for everyone with an assistive device, but I think it is safe to say this:
We are generally tired and in pain when we are out, that is why we have the assistive device.  It is draining to explain our medical situation to people who sees us, it is also draining to find ways to politely not tell you our medical situation, mostly because we know you are coming from a good place and we do not wish to hurt your feelings.  A simple: Hey how are you? Will suffice.  If we feel like talking about why we suddenly have a cane or wheelchair we will.  Otherwise, please carry on as if nothing is different.  For my part, I was acutely aware of how different things were for me and I really appreciated any sort of normality I could get at that time.

I am so grateful for the lessons I recieved during my time of disability.  I know it's time to let go of my fear of ever needing to hold my canes again.  Faith.  I'm crying right now because I truly have faith in my body to be healthy and strong, and I feel for that woman who was me who thought she may never walk unassisted again.  

I am a miracle.  I forget that some days, but not today.



Hands and Knees

When I am grieveing the loss of a relationship, I'm always tempted to drink one too many beers and make out with that pretty drunk girl in the bathroom... I don't.  I may show up to the bar have a half pint, smile at her but when the opportunity is right there in my face I make the good decision... Or maybe the safe decision... Either way, I go home alone, lipstick-smear free.

In the mornings I wake up spread across my bed, I try to tell myself this is better than the alternative, but I can feel the permanent divet he has made in the other side of my impressionable futon.  So I look towards my gorgeous windows and the cedar shaped shadows made possible by the year of dust and I thank God for the sunshine.  I try not to think about what my ex would think of my dress as I slide it over my head, I dress for myself now, funny, I thought I was always dressing for myself... The clothes that have been strewn across my floor in laziness rather than passion, I kick aside.   I drink out of that cup that he has used so many times (I have a sink in my bedroom) and decide that I need to bring a new one up that is a different colour.

So the day goes on, not sure what would be worse seeing him at the coffee shop or not seeing him there.  I know that this is not a permanent state;
You can walk in, but don't bother taking your shoes off...
I tell this to these thoughts, they are not insulted, they know how this goes.  I realize that there will be little muddy footprints, but I am not afraid of getting down on my imaginary hands and knees and doing a bit of hard work.

Now that I am not daydreaming of the night before, I have time to catch up on the things I let run amuck.  Emails, appointments, phone calls, messages, writing, E minor guitar scale and drum rudiments.  I even sing some of my original songs to myself, imagining that next jam night I will
share them with my friends. The more I get on top of these things, the better I feel and I scold myself
a little for letting this happen... again.  Next time, I tell myself, I won't let this happen. Then I laugh out loud, because I know better.

This steady productivity isn't better than the blissful state of a new relationship, it's just a different kind of good and I'll take it.  So I'll pick up my clothes,  make my futon into a couch again then roll out my sleeping mat in the space made.  They say: You made your bed you have to lie in it. God knows I'm trying desperately to unmake it... for now while I let go of expectations, I'll simply get used to sleeping on the floor again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

All Good Things

I had exactly what I asked for.  I wanted a relationship in which commitment was impossible. I was so scared of getting attached, falling in love and having sex (in fact I actually doubted my ability to do any of these things) that I drew that into my life.  God brought someone to me who was perfect for me in so many ways and completely unable to offer anything dependable.  I learned a few things about myself through this:
1. My heart still works.
2. I really like "loving" people and doing small things for them.
3. I don't spend enough "me" time at the beginning of a new relationship.
4. I'm no longer scared of sex, in fact I'd very much like some. (This is not an invitation).
5. There are good men, who can talk through things and be incredibly understanding.
6. I can leave someone I am attached to if my relationship needs are not being met.

The last one is huge for me. One of the biggest fears of a person who has left a long term unhealthy relationship is that they will unknowingly get sucked into another and not be able to leave.  I'm not saying my last relationship was unhealthy, it (despite what I thought I wanted) just wasn't what I wanted and I could see myself becoming unhappy in it.  Rather than expecting/waiting for the other person to change, I decided to move forward on my own.  

It's been hard.  We get along very well.  I miss him.  

However, standing outside and watching my relationship habits unravel has been very eye opening.  I truly think that the next one will be all the better for what I have learned from this one.  I am grateful for the experience, which opened my heart up.  I couldn't have chosen a better person to join me in navigating my fears and insecurities of the first relationship after an unhealthy one.  I feel grateful and blessed for having had him in my life and look forward to our friendship once the ache has subsided.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Myth

There's this myth, I was raised on it.  It has propaganda-like proportions.  It's that (romantic)love conquers all, that if you really care about someone it will work out, YOU will make it work. If it doesn't work out then it couldn't have been true love and you were just a fool for believeing it was. This is such a harmful belief system.  Not only for the worst case scenario of men and women staying in abusive relationships, but even for those staying in sub-par resentment-building ones. Where both people are in love with each other but want/need different things. So they struggle to carve out a little peice of what they want within their partner's wants and they tell themselves that this sacrifice is necessary for love.  Compromise is a big part of a healthy relationship, I was taught.  I've learned that falling in love with someone who doesn't share your passions/belief systems leads to a lot of compromise should you choose to remain in a relationship with them.  I learned that loving someone does not mean you should BE with them at all.  I love several people at the moment, none of which are a good relationship match, so I enjoy them as friends instead. I fall in love quickly, I generally see the best in people and can be quite blind to "flaws". Next thing I know I've invested myself; time, emotions and sometimes money.  Then I notice the compromises...at first they are small and easy to shrug off. They are hard to see in that fog of oxytocin and endorphins, but as time goes on I begin to feel uneasy, like something just isn't quite right.  That's when I start taking note: do I spend more time happy than I do any negative emotion when it comes to this relationship? If happy outweighs the negatives I generally stay it out.  If it starts tilting and communication is not helping then I am gone. Too many years I have wasted expecting others to change, how unfair was that to both of us?

I do set boundaries when dating, such as: no borrowing amounts of money larger than a meal or so. No getting drunk (for me) in the first couple weeks of seeing eachother.  The first time sex must be sober, planned, safe and emotionally significant (I can't just kind-of like someone, I have to feel a potencial for love). There are deal-breakers for me too.  Things where as soon as they do this thing I
know I have to end it.  It can be hard to stick by these, but they are worth it.  For example for me a
deal breaker is telling sexist or racist jokes: they are huge indicators that this is not a person I can succeed in a relationship with, or be near, or seen with...

There are other types of boundaries which are harder to set.  There are things you just have to feel out. Do you feel like you are constantly telling yourself to stop making a big deal out of something in the relationship?  Are you telling yourself that you are just being too sensitive? Are you letting your responsibilities go? Have you stopped doing the things that bring you joy to make time and space for this new person?  Do you spend more time worrying about the relationship than enjoying it?  All these are signs that despite how attracted you are physically/emotionally to this person this is not a healthy relationship to continue.  Now stick that if-you-really-love-them-you-will-make-it-work belief system in there and you usually end up with two miserable people who just think they are doing the right thing.  You end up with resentment and drama.

It's hard not to take it personally when someone doesn't think a relationship will work, honestly though if one person thinks that than it's simply true.  Thank them for saving your precious time and go back to enjoying sleeping diagonally across your bed and not being self-conscious of your morning breath.


A Ways To Go

A year may not be enough.  They say take a year before starting a new relationship after ending a serious one.  Who knows how long you should wait after a traumatic relationship?  I thought because I was happy on my own that I was going to be fine dating someone.  However light is being shone in places that I have kept dark for a long time: there are cracks and the structural integrity is questionable. For example:

I can't accept compliments.  I don't mean that I imediately compliment someone back or say something silly.  I mean that I can't accept them, like they feel like ticking timebombs.  It's not as if I think the person is trying to flatter me into getting something out of me... it's that I'm scared to believe them then have the exact opposite said later in a moment of anger.  So the joy of watching someone feel good when you compliment them is not something that my boyfriend (I'm very hesitant to call him that, but more about that later) gets to experience.  Infact I often break into a line of intense questioning about the compliment that would deter anyone from saying anything nice about me to my face again.

I both desire and fear commitment.  The desire to feel wanted is normal, the desire for stability as well. However whenever I feel like I am getting too attached I look for signs that the relationship is unhealthy.  By looking for I mean with a magnifying glass and fine toothed comb.  Whenever something happens that looks like a step in the direction of commitment, at first I feel all warm and fuzzy (for 5 seconds) then part of me wants to run for the hills.  In defense mode I sort of make a passive aggressive joke to let him know how uncomfortable I am with the thought of commitment: "You want to keep an extra set of clothes at my house? That kinda sounds like commitment to me. Next thing you know you'll want a drawer" (Wink, wink) The worst part?  It's completely equal, I want the (small) commitments just as much as I don't want them.  Needless to say, he hasn't brought over that extra set of clothes yet, and who can blame him?
He called me his girlfriend to my face, which filled me with warmth.  Yet, I am completely uncomfortable calling him my boyfriend, not because of shame, I am proud to be seen with him, we are publicly affectionate.  Rather it is admitting to believing in his commitment to me, even if it is a small one.  I don't want to trust him.  I don't want to trust anyone.  You can't be betrayed if you didn't trust in the first place.  

I don't go to him when I am feeling emotional stress.  I feel like a burden, that somehow me having a rough day is going to put too much on him.  I'll confide in others first then talk to him later, after I've dealt with it... almost in a "this is what I did today" manner.  If I do confide in him, I'm often apologetic while doing so and I hold back the most painful details.  This lowers the amount of vulnerability I feel and it gives less ammunition for the future.
Yeah, you read that right.  I still base my behaviour on what may or may not be used against me in an upcoming conflict...

So, yeah, there's some unresolved shit there (for lack of a better term) and it affects me negatively. However, I think these things can only surface during a relationship.  No matter how long I abstained these issues would be  waiting for me when I started dating again. So I'm just going to try to be aware of my fear filter when those hills start to seem mighty attractive.
He really has been patient with me.  Perhaps he has no idea that I feel this way and just thinks I have a very sarcastic sense of humour and a great base of friends that help me through hard times.  He'd be right.  I have both of those things.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Lovers Be Warned: St. John's Holds My Heart.

 I was reading one of my posts from my last trip, the one where I woke up and felt the reality sink in that my ex was gone forever.  I was alone, and the thought of that future seemed so daunting.  Immediately afterward I opened my journal to my most recent entry.  It was written at an open mic.  I realized quite suddenly that right now the idea of a future with a romantic partner feels surreal: maybe even impossible.  How could I expect a lover to follow me around the world, or patiently wait until my wanderlust is spent and I fall breathless, exhausted back into his/her bed? Who would want to fall in love with someone whose ultimate goal in life is to leave for weeks at a time? To find intimacy (though not physical) with strangers?
I have been feeling an undefinable inner conflict with my most recent (and very new) relationship, but I didn't understand why I bounced back and forth between wanting to keep it casual and nurturing the possibility of love.  It's because I gave up the life I wanted to be with a man who simply could not travel the way I wanted to.  I won't do that again.   St.John's solidified that for me:

This island with it's steep sloping fjords, covered in trees so wind-battered that they grow entangled with each other to survive... She is like me.  She falls fast and deep yet stands high above sea level, her heart bursting with colour, her pulse the music that drowns out the gale, her light that draws many a sailor into her bay...

Walking downtown I realized that I wanted to possess St.John's; I wanted to call it home, make it mine.  Then a voice says to me: can't you be happy just knowing it exists and that you got to inhabit it, even if just for a week?  That it will continue to exist as you do, even if not in your direct reality?
I realized I need to feel this way about my lovers as well.  The feeling of relief with this thought was overwhelming.  I felt gratitude for those I am blessed to be able to share my love with at this moment, all those in my past who still walk this world, the ones I shared a coffee "moment" with and
those in my future. I have been intimate with so many people over the last year, in conversation, art
and music, though only one physically...Why some of them I am fine with moving on from and others I want to hold onto... This is still a mystery to me.

St.John's is one of those I wish to hold on to.  She was my lover, my mirror image. However, for now, it appears we are simply not meant to be together. I do like to imagine that over the next couple of years I will find a way to be back with my beloved and I will curl myself  into her nooks and crannies while the damp cold winds of winter swirl around her coast.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Miracles in the Mundane

I unzipped the black pull along suitcase. Tiny shells like crumbled crackers were settled in the corners. The smell of ocean flowed over the sides and I leaned in breathing deep. I tried my best to scrape them out with my fingers, but in the end it just seemed right to let the east mingle west on the plane ride home. Perhaps one day a dusting of broken shells from yet another Ocean will be added to the mix. Now I could be finishing my packing, but instead I am drinking Beer at the pub and watching the sunset. I live in a beautiful part of the world. I have good friends and a great community in which to raise my kids. I am blessed. Sometimes I think I want more. Sometimes I try to push too much into a small space. I limit the happiness I feel from what I already have in order to fit in the joy from something new in. Problem is, the joy from the new is fleeting and unstable. I need to keep my gratitude for the miracles that may otherwise become mundane. The mundane is a miracle. We look for grandiose signs; burning bushes, angels and resurrection, but our own chests rise every minute with no conscious effort. Literally more than a miracle every minute takes place inside your own body. People are looking to connect with God, what they don't realize is that they're connected already. They expect God to speak in a big booming voice or in tongues. But God whispers in spinning poplar leaves, rumbles in your heart beat and laughs with thunder. Everything you experience with your senses is God telling you: I am here. I am here. I am here. Faith is answering back: I know. I know. I know. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hairdressers and Dating in your 30's

Even though I have been sporting a very easy to maintain hairstyle, it does require me to get a trim every couple of weeks.  I found a hair salon downtown that I really like, so I go there.  My last hair dresser and I had a great conversation about dating in our 30's.  It was so reaffirming to have someone on exactly the same page.  Here's what we noticed has changed for us:

1. We know right away if someone is not going to work for us. Guys rarely make it past the first date. "It's there or it's not. I don't waste my energy or his if there's no spark right away." She said.  Agreed.

2."I don't argue anymore, If I don't like how someone treats me and it continues I just leave. I don't tell them; don't do this it pisses me off.  I don't expect other people to change their behaviour for me."  "Yes," she agreed. "Expecting people to change just creates resentment."

3. I don't set rules in order to avoid situations in which I would feel my romantic interest would "cheat." If there's anything I've learned, it's that if someone is going to have sex with someone else, they will.  No matter how many rules are set.  The rules simply create stress in the relationship and a general feeling of "I don't trust you."  In fact, to take it a bit further, who am I to even expect them not to sleep with other people?  If the person I'm romantically involved with really wants to have sex with other people, then maybe they should be.  My only responsibility is that if they do sleep with other people, is to ask myself: Is this type of relationship a good fit for me? If no, then I wish them well and move on, if yes than okay, I'll continue. 

It's incredibly freeing having this outlook.  I had it when I was much younger, before the idea of marriage entered my mind. Marriage is no longer a factor for me, not that I wouldn't consider getting married in the future; it's just not my planned destination, the journey is what I'm interested in.  

Suddenly dating and relationships no longer seem so daunting.  Many single women in their 30's have warned me about dating at this age.  Yes, there were some awkward starts however, generally, I've quite enjoyed it and made some new friends in the process.  




Thursday, June 9, 2016

To My Dad

Amongst the many articles about rape culture and fathers perpetuating it, I want to take a moment to give a shout out to my dad.  To my father, who taught self defense (which I absorbed via osmosis) to the youth in our community, females and males equally.  While doing so enforcing the idea that no one should touch you without your permission, and vice versa.  To my father who didn't hang mildly pornographic magazines objectifying women in his gym.  To my father who focused on building self confidence via personal challenges and self discipline. To my dad who never uttered a word about women "asking" for it.  To my dad who never used the term "slut" or "whore" when describing a female. The sexual jokes you made (which were rare in my presence) were never degrading towards women.

I didn't realize until I got older, that my father was the exception.  That he was surrounded by a rape culture, yet never perpetuated it in my presence.  So, thank you dad, for being a decent guy and setting the standards for the behaviour I will and will not accept from men in my life.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

White Coats and Small Steps

I suffer from white coat syndrome.  Really though, I feel anxiety handing over my body to anyone who I percieve feels they are entitled to touch it.  Anyone with authority.  This is not just a childhood trauma thing, I have experienced and witnessed caregivers do horrid and disrespectful things to people's bodies through out my adult life.  I have seen coercion.

My last ultrasound I tried to go it alone.  I did okay, but I think I can make it easier on myself.  I deserve that. So I called the hospital social worker.  When I talk about my past and my emotional needs, I hate feeling vulnerable.  I hate the sound of compassion in the voice of the counsellor/caregiver, it reminds me that what has happened is awful and it makes me feel weak and weepy.  So I make sure that I approach it in a very formal way.  In other words I talk "shop".  I've read the books, I know the terms professionals use and I use them.  I told her I was looking for a trauma informed caregiver to talk to the ultrasound staff before my appointment.
"I disassociate." I tell her in a frank manner. "It's my coping technique, however I realize that can be hard to be around someone doing that.  So if you could please explain to them, that when I go blank, I am not in a bad place.  I'm simply not there.  If you could ask them not to try to pull me back with small talk or tell me to breath, that would be very beneficial as those things bring me back to the current moment which I find to be very uncomfortable."  She explains that she would be happy to talk to the staff for me ahead of time.  She asks if I want her to come in and sit to be there to remind the staff to not talk to me unless necessary.  I feel instant rejection to that offer. I know why: Firstly, she is sounding sympathetic and compassionate, can't she tell I need this conversation to be emotionaless? No, I tell myself.  She's not recognizing your formality and that's okay. Secondly, I didn't want to impose.  Ugh.  I roll my eyes at myself.
"Yes. That would be very helpful. Thank you."
I told her I would make the appointment for when she is working at the hospital and call her back and
let her know... But I tell myself I'll do that tomorrow because by the end of the conversation my hands are shaking and I just don't have it in me to do anything else requiring emotional strength on this particular subject today.  So I compartmentalize and begin to write my blog about it in my head as this gives me the feeling of control and purpose over the situation.  Then I throw on my sexy leather jacket and walk to my favourite coffee shop, and happily put aside that which can be dealt with tomorrow.