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."

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 use a Dylan Thomas quote to describe:

 "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 that he (along with 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.  Central Ontarians are soft and reserved, in our comfortable food-only-a-few-hours-away towns.  These islanders are hard, 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.