Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I think, actually I'm pretty positive, that it was almost exactly one year ago that I ended a four year relationship. I stayed at our home for a couple of weeks, which is completely inadvisable, and shortly thereafter, which is EXACTLY one year ago today, I moved out. I left my old life, my home, and my dog behind and put everything I own into storage, moved into the basement of my friends' house, and slept for almost a month on an air mattress. Then I moved (during the TTC strike) the air mattress and my suitcase to my cousin's apartment where I house-sat for a week. From there I flew to Paris, jacked up my credit card, and came back a new woman.
And here I am. One year, and a whole lot of debt, later.
I didn't realize it was my anniversary of freedom until my ex text messaged me today regarding the dog. It wasn't an unpleasant exchange. It actually wasn't much of an exchange at all, but he made it very clear that he was feeling the impact of this date in a not-so-positive way. I am feeling like it's the celebration of a great milestone.
Despite ongoing financial white-knuckling, I have survived. I am paying my bills, living on my own, and free of the stress, the drama, the complication, and the pain of my former life. I've still got a long way to go, but I've accomplished a lot in terms of saving up emotional currency. I have learned more about the person that I am in this last year than I have in most of my life. By removing myself from a less-than-ideal situation, I have been able to sort through and process so many HUGE life-altering experiences, and I've come a long way in coming to terms with these things.
And yet, there is an element of sadness. Despite the toxicity of the relationship, despite its dysfunction, there was real love there, on both sides. True, some of us were not so good at demonstrating this love most of the time, but I cannot believe unbridled masochism kept me there for four years. I loved this man deeply. I loved the hope that I saw in him, I loved his brilliance, his talent, and his moments of raw vulnerability. I believed (sometimes against all reason) in the potential in him, and in us. I do myself no service whatsoever if I continue to beat myself up for that. The mistakes I made had everything to do with not seeing greater potential in myself, and believing that I did not deserve love that was uncomplicated and easy.
I believe that such love can exist. Perhaps not all the time, perhaps not consistently, but it exists. I see it every day in my relationships with my friends...
Of all the things I have learned in my life, the most important is that if I don't have romantic love in my life, I will be o.k. True, I will feel a little strange. True, I am used to having someone else there. An interesting thing has happened now. I'm comfortable alone. Really comfortable. I sit in my living room, with Arthur curled up beside me as I type this. The wind is howling outside something fierce. I'm sipping wine and writing these words, and even though I'm a little emotional, I feel good, and safe. I'm not lonely.
I am so aware of everything I have. I am so grateful for all of these blessings. The last year has been spent in stasis. A still place of healing; of listening to my heart and my soul. I feel like there is so much more of this to do, but I feel now that the time has come to set goals for myself. Goal-setting didn't really feel possible before now. It sort of felt like basic survival was all I could focus on. Now I feel like it is my duty to myself to map out a path for the next year. I feel like this could be exciting for me.
What is important is to continue to seek out pleasure in the every day beauty of the world to temper the pain I have endured in the last six years. To be gentle and kind with myself, and to honour my accomplishments in order to alleviate the guilt and shame that I still struggle with. To embrace all of the love I have in my life to arm me against those moments when I wake up at night afraid I will die alone and childless, or stranger still, when I wake up in terror that someone I may have feelings for might become a large part of my life and betray me and lie to me again.
On March 16th 2006 in the year that I turned 30, I went to see a psychic in Peterborough who completely rocked my world. Tonight, for the first time since the visit, I listened to the recording of my 45 minutes spent with him. He told me some really, really beautiful things, and he knew some very specific things about me that he couldn't have possibly known. If what he says is true, I must hold it close to my heart and let it serve as fuel as I take these next steps towards realizing my path in this life.
Each day, I seek to know myself better. At first I thought it was because I am narcissistic, but now I believe it is so I may use my insight to help other people. To step into the world with my eyes open, and use my unique sight to shed some light into other people's corners of the universe. I think this is the "why". I'm eager now to explore the "how".
Thank you universe, for an incredible year.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Tonight I am cooking a romantic dinner for two that has absolutely nothing to do with my dog.
It's not just dinner. It's a romantic dinner. For two.
It has been approximately one year and two months since I last did that. In the meanwhile, I've cooked romantic dinners for friends, romantic dinners for families, and just plain dinners for two sans romance.
Tonight is romantic. And I'm cooking.
For those of you who don't understand the significance of this, you must note that I was born with an over-developed nurturing bone. The easiest and clearest way I know how to demonstrate my affections is to care for someone. My favourite way to care for someone is to make sure they are well-fed.
This is not to say I haven't cared for anyone in the last year and two months. I have. A few people, in fact. Something prevented me from laying it on. I cooked one or two intimate meals during that time, and realized almost as dinner hit the table that it was perhaps a bit hasty of me. In one instance, it was a simple "thank you". I realized what cooking means. What it can represent, and so I've held on to that one, mostly. Until tonight.
From this you can conclude that I am lowering the drawbridge a little. Just a little. It feels like the thing to do, in a simple, easy way.
Dinner will be served at this so-called "Earth Hour" when we are asked to kill all the hydro. This will force us to eat by candle-light. I've always thought that the most important things are easier to see by candlelight.
So there it is. Dinner for two. At the Fortress of Solitude.
Monday, March 23, 2009
I tend to write more when I'm angsty or blue or distressed. That is most certainly not the case this last week. It might have a lot to do with the seasonal shift. It might have a lot to do with something else. It might have a lot to do with my fabulous job. At any rate, I don't want to be a one-note blogger, so I'm making an effort to write from this currently very happy place...
Today I happened upon this while eating some fiercely delicious leftover pizza concocted by my dear friend Joshua Hind. It made me smile, and it made my heart sing a little, and I wanted to share it with you:
From the Globe and Mail 'Lives Lived' section
Wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, nurse, inspiration. Born March 20, 1909, in Winnipeg. Died Oct. 20, 2008, in Winnipeg after a fall, aged 99.
March 23, 2009
At 75, Brownie was tap dancing. At 80, she was playing tennis. At 991/2, she was planning her 100th birthday party. Nobody loved a party like Brownie - especially if it was for her.
She wore bright colours and wouldn't leave the house without lipstick. No Winnipeg winter day was too cold for her regular walk, and she was into healthy eating long before it was trendy. She overcame breast cancer at 54 and again at 71 without slowing down.
Until a month before her death she read two newspapers a day, watched CNN and read fiction voraciously.
Her real name was Claris but she was born with dark hair so she was called Brownie. It stuck.
Brownie graduated from the Winnipeg General Hospital as a registered nurse. She nursed there and also did private nursing. In 1927, the quiet, studious Sam Freedman asked her out. She was his first and only date. They married in 1934, although he hadn't saved the $25 he felt he needed to get married.
Their marriage was fabulous until Sam died in 1993 from Parkinson's disease. Brownie and Sam adored each other. They had three children - Martin, Susan and Phyllis. Their spouses, plus 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, expanded Brownie's inner circle of love. She was always on their side, no questions asked.
Brownie hosted parties with great style. As Sam's star rose - he became chief justice of Manitoba and chancellor of the University of Manitoba - Brownie was always the power behind him. He knew that. We were never sure she did.
Brownie and Sam had a great life together. They travelled annually to Israel for Hebrew University meetings, were involved in their beloved Winnipeg and spent summers at Clear Lake, northwest of the city.
This past year, Brownie reread the love letters Sam wrote during their courtship and went over the countless scrapbooks she'd made, reliving more than 60 years of life with him.
Brownie outlived most of her contemporaries but had many friends, some younger than her children. Her devoted friend Veronica Mensforth took her to appointments, shopped for her and eased her later years.
A month before her death, small strokes left Brownie sometimes confused. Then she broke her ankle - she chose a hot-pink cast - and faced a future in a wheelchair. "This is beyond a joke," she said. One afternoon she refused nourishment, and within 12 hours died peacefully. She left life as she lived it, on her own terms.
Brownie had a long and terrific run, inspiring family and friends with her positive attitude, her intelligence and her amazing zest for life.
Susan Freedman is Brownie's daughter.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
When the light is pure and clear, and the sky an unmatched blue,
I walk in silent woods, I squish softly over the gently yielding earth,
The newly-supple earth made wet and heady from the thaw.
I breathe, slowly, tentatively. That ever-present hand rests gently against my chest,
(to steady me? to ready me? to still me in my tracks?)
I breathe deeper, and this hand, this halter slips through me.
My eyes crinkle against the return of the sun, but I cannot, I will not shield them.
The winter has been so long, and so dark, that the crisp, golden glow is welcome
A friend who has gone on a journey, and has so long been away
That their homecoming is like discovering them all over again.
I am discovering all over again...
The thaw brings the exuberant song of returning birds,
Brings mysterious green stirrings under the bed of long-dead leaves,
Brings the perfume of the cleansing rain,
the rushing of the streams and rising of creek waters
and the hope that was never very far away at all.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I am a bloated, anxious, pre-menstrual mess right now, and as luck would have it, I have a date tonight.
So what's a girl to do?
After three outfit changes, I found something that's cute, in a flattering colour, that doesn't make me feel like a street vendor sausage ready to burst out of it's casing. It's fairly shapeless, and has a plunging neckline, so I can at least work my swollen boobs in my favour.
This does nothing to change the fact that I will spend a good chunk of the evening feeling like Jabba the Hut.
Do men get to experience anything like this? I don't think I know a single guy who once a month looks in the mirror and wants to cry. Actually, it's not just looking in the mirror that's inspiring tears today. It's songs on the radio, subway ads, notes from friends. The wind.
I'm starving too. Like no amount of food can fill me up. I know in these moments to try to avoid sugar, because then I really spiral out of control. I get hyper, and babble like crazy. Then I crash in a heap, and need to be in bed, stat. This happened after brunch today. I couldn't stay awake on the subway, and then I slept for two hours with my cat on my head when I got home.
The plan is to have three top choices for dinner. All I can think about is a GIANT bowl of spaghetti with meatballs as big as my aforementioned swollen boobs. There is a PERFECT place on the way to the movie theatre too, but I know eating that many carbs will make me very sorry indeed.
Moments like this make me miss those blissful, domestic moments where I don't care about being seen in track pants, and I can just lay on the couch watching movies with someone, with the dog sprawled out unconscious. There are likely peanut M&Ms in this utopia too.
I have half an hour to figure out how NOT to appear like a total spazz this evening.
What I usually do in these scenarios is meditate on the ancient, pagan power of menses. (No, I'm not joking) I think of tribal women with flowing hair performing magical fertility rites by the light of the full moon. I think of Amazonian warriors, and how a little bloating and insanity would be welcome and celebrated with a roaring bonfire and the strapping young lads from the next island over. I try to find the power in something that has become so powerless and embarrassing in our culture, and I try to be grateful and easier on myself.
Oh, and I usually have a BIG glass of red wine.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Arthur and I went walking in the park. This activity is my one of my favourite things, and it is best done just Arthur and I. We notice things together; smells, sounds, new stirrings in the forest. The weather was extraordinary on this particular romp. Crisp, but clear. Not a cloud in the sky. Everywhere smelled like Spring.
Arthur loves me the most when he is free to roam, and to sniff things.
My heart felt happy, and hopeful, and fairly certain that this last year has been one of the most important.
On the way out of the park, I heard strange bird-sounds. Nothing I could identify. I looked up and saw high in the tree above two small hawks. They were perched on opposite branches, peeping away at each other. I looked for a nest, but there wasn't one. Yet. They were clearly courting; I could tell by the way the she-hawk tilted her head and listened to the male. I fell still and watched, unnoticed, feeling very lucky to witness these two very powerful creatures during such a tender moment.
I wonder what they say to each other?
I'll bet he isn't telling her he wants to fix her, or complete her. I'll bet he's not trying to rustle her feathers just to say he did. I'll bet he's not interested in getting in her head and breaking her down until she has no idea who she is anymore. (A she-hawk would claw the eyes out of anyone who tried such an audacious thing.)
I would bet, if I had to, that his courting sounds a bit like this:
"Hey there strong, free and fierce she-bird; capable of tearing the heads off of small woodland creatures and eating their still-beating hearts from their steaming cavities...I know that you can have your pick of any of the other hawks in this hood, but I think you're beautiful, and I think you possess an ancient wisdom that really moves me. I also think I'd hunt really well alongside you. I'd bring bits of shit to your nest that you would find really delightful and amusing, and I know I'd be fairly decent partner. Whaddya say we get it on for a while?"
Do you think, knowing that their talons could strike out eyes, and knowing that they can spot both predator and prey from miles away, that she-hawks get nervous when they like someone?
Sunday, March 8, 2009
What have we become when we must take the time to draw little faces using punctuation marks instead of searching for the correct words to convey our meaning and intent? What does it say about us when we must use abbreviations to describe a response, instead of telling someone that we are delighted or amused by what they have just said to us?
I am thinking about the way we communicate today.
This weekend, I was reminded of how lovely it is to just discover someone while looking into their eyes, watching how the planes of their face change as they smile, and hearing their intonations and inflections as they reveal themselves through anecdotes and factual information. People only truly reveal themselves when they are face-to-face.
Email has replaced putting our hands to paper, and has replaced receiving actual letters that we can hold on to and cherish, or reflect upon later. Text messages have replaced phone calls. Facebook allows us to post as much or as little about ourselves as we like in the public domain. This blog has mostly replaced my journal, which I write in much less frequently.
Where is the romance in communication in our modern age?
You can flirt with email. You can send songs, and lyrics, and poetry. It is a new serenade I suppose. You can take photos of the world as you see it with your iphone, and instantly email these to whomever you are trying to woo. You can lay your heart out in Yahoo, and click send, offering up slices of your soul that may just find their way into someone's junk mail. You can create a profile of yourself on internet dating sites with carefully selected words, and photos, hoping that someone might fall just a little bit in love with you this way. Text messaging can become the new love note in your lunch box, or a prelude to a romantic liason.
Since just before December, I had been emailing someone I have never met in real life. He discovered me on an online dating site. (I have since deleted my profile, but that's another story for another time.) Our exchange has been fascinating, as we are both writers, and are both very comfortable expressing ourselves through our words. I'm now fairly certain that we will never meet in person, and part of me is very sad about that. Rather than dwell on the negative, I'm choosing to be grateful for what I consider to be an incredible kick-start to my writing. My letters were a direct link from my heart to paper, which brought my writing to a deeper level than what exists even here, in Schnooville. Because of this, I think I had developed some unrealistic expectations, but I'm mostly at peace with this now. Sometimes people just want to dip their toes into your soul. Getting their heads wet is not for everyone.
What is important here is the knowledge that real, true connection must happen in the physical world to be complete. This is what I need. My world has changed in this last year. I used to be able to speak about feelings and ideas. Now I am more comfortable to write about them. This is mostly true in a romantic context. Fortunately, I am still able to verbally communicate with my friends.
What would be wonderful, I think, would be to be able to look into a new set of eyes and say out loud some of the things in my heart. What would be wonderful, I think, would be for them to continue to look at me as they ask me to elabourate, and then tell me what is in their own heart. What would be wonderful, most wonderful, would be understanding and appreciation.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This stopped me in my tracks today, and I had to share it. It was posted on a hydro pole outside of my office. Here's a close up, which I hope you can read:
Imagine being so frustrated with the opposite sex, you had to post a public notice? If you had to write a PSA about your dating frustrations, what would that look like? I'm sure anyone who is reading this blog regularly would be able to draft mine, but here it is, just for the record.
An observation about the way women are often treated:
Men seem to really like to work their way into two things; a woman's pants, or a woman's head. Sometimes they try to get inside both. Very rarely are they concerned with getting inside a woman's heart or her soul.
Once inside either pants or head, they root around a little, pick up the odd personal effect and sniff it or shake it. They will usually leave a pair of dirty socks in a ball somewhere to find later, and the second the woman gets confused and tries to show them into the heart or soul, they vacate the premises immediately and then pretend they were never there in the first place.
If 85% of men are only interested in heartless, soulless connections with women that are only based on pants-less mambos, and cerebral canasta, and 95% of women are looking for a loving committed partner who will share their life with them, this will result in a lot of lonely, angry women. These women will probably never let you in their pants, and will act stupid and boring on purpose so you don't try to stick your fingers in their gray matter.
Most men make no effort whatsoever to ensure that women are being treated like they are more than novelty items or that women have opportunities to have their faith in the opposite sex restored.
In other news, in our country you can stab, hack up, decapitate, and eat chunks of another human being and never, ever have to serve jail time if you tell people that god asked you to do it. They're absolutely right, that IS criminally insane!
Seems to me like it's bed time. I think I sound a little cranky in this post.
(insert maniacal laughter here.)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Here is what I am learning about myself; my intuition is never, ever wrong.
If there is something about a person that is making me uneasy, all I need to do is close my eyes and I can hear things. I can hear little snippets of the truth, their truth. Their emotional truth. It's hard to describe, because it comes in impressions. They are quick flashes. Thoughts that occur to me suddenly, but on a deep resonant level I know they are truth.
So how do I get into trouble?
Reflecting on the last eleven months of my life, I can see how my eyes and ears and gut have guided me away from bad situations over, and over. After that last one, that really bad one, we'll never be asleep that way again. The challenge remains the same, however.
Sometimes we just can't believe it is true.
It's common to ask questions when a deep, secret voice in your heart says things like:
"He feels like this was a big mistake, and now he's trapped and will resent you for this if you stay."
"She has kissed him and is currently trying to sleep with him behind your back. This will happen, and you will never really know."
"She is intimidated by you, and afraid of your vibrancy, so she needs you to be out of her environment."
"He will always love her, and will forever keep her in the picture, as well as try to keep you under his thumb because he likes this feeling of power."
"He was lying, and this lie has resulted in the same tragedy before."
"You are one of many who he has played this game with, and it's most certainly a game to him."
"He genuinely likes you, but will always be looking at the greener grass, and will never be content."
"He believes he could love you, but he knows that most of the appeal is in the distance and the mystery."
"He knows you're not really his type, but he still really wants to sleep with you, so he can speak of you as a novelty to friends and future lovers."
Of course, this intuition is a two-way street. Fortunately I can feel all of the love and good intention too. I'm very grateful for this, and perhaps I need to tune my ear to listen more carefully for these signals.
Right now, with no filter, it can be overwhelming.
What has happened? I'd like to offer an opinion or two:
a.) I behaved exactly as I was supposed to. I was like a ball of loosely wound yarn in the paws of a tired and battle-scarred alley cat. I unraveled fairly easily, (because that is the nature of yarn) and when the unavoidable knots occurred, the cat got bored; yawned and stretched, pawed again once or twice to test for signs of life, and then found a sweet, plump bird with a fractured wing. (likely on the other side of a chain-link fence with a perfectly cat-shaped hole.)
b.) I fell into my familiar guilty pattern of romanticizing situations and individuals. I attached feelings to surfaces with no adhesive, that really did not want any adornment, so fueled was I by my own agenda, overflowing with expectation. I completely and totally misinterpreted the context, and came away utterly dissatisfied with the ending of the story.
c.) All of thee above.
In other news, I have a friend who lives far away. This friend visits every now and again. We laugh a lot and it is lovely. Each visit makes me wonder why we are friends. There must be some explanation, right?
Monday, March 2, 2009
I will gather up my memories of you,
And with them I will build a tower,
Sweet thought upon sweet thought,
Until mine is a life of a dream-piler.
And in the spreading meadows below my tower,
The bees will know your name,
And fill the flower with happy nectar,
Until the valleys over-brim with ripened thoughts of you.
And I will whisper your name to the somber sea,
The hushed gray-lipped sea,
And it will murmur your name in low pebbled tones.
Your liquid name will roll upon ageless shores.
And I will sit in the deepening shadow-pool of my tower,
And grow numb in the fumes of the evening meadows,
And lift my face to the drowsy sea-breath that speaks your name.
All ancient children of my love for you.
I promised myself that I would come home from three days away with a different state of mind. As I am rocking towards Toronto, I am pondering what this different state will be.
There are some things that I must let go of now.
There are new ways that I must look at myself.
There are sacrifices that I must make.
I feel that my greatest strength will continue to come from being still, and from focusing on my physical environment. There are such direct connections between my physical environment and my emotional landscape.
I will clean, and organize, and fill my fridge. I will plan meals, and rid myself of two large boxes of things I don’t need or want anymore. I will launder and mop and place fresh candles around. I will get simple flowers to put on the lovely round table at the top of the stairs.
My strongest urges are consistent. I want to climb naked into clean, crisp sheets with my outdated glasses perched on my nose, and pour over a good book until my eyes are forced to close. I want to hear my dog snoring happily at my feet. I want to rent sweeping costume epics and watch them alone after a delicious meal that I cook from scratch just for me. I want to write things that have nothing to do with what is inside my head and my heart.
My friends have the same advice for me;
Stop wanting to find love.
Stop thinking about having a partner.
Stop being wistful when you see happy lovers on the street.
Then it will magically happen.
I’m not quite there yet.
It’s hard for me to stop hoping, and waiting.
I’m not there yet, but I’m close.
As the train paused briefly at a station on the way home, a woman paced slowly along the track, peering into the windows. She grew increasingly anxious as she realized that the person she was waiting for was not on this train, and would not be getting off to meet her. Her face grew pained and drawn and her pace slowed to a resigned stillness. She shoved her hands in her pockets and closed her eyes. I watched the prairie amber of the sunset create a chestnut halo on her head, and I laid my fingers gently on the window.