The Skin I’m In

Last night I dreamt that I was walking through a field and I came upon the enormous, shed skin of a python. According to the Internet, this means I am being reborn into something more suited to my growth.

I miss my family. The moments together, just being. A table full of snacks while we watched a movie. Spontaneous picnics in the park while the grown ups covertly sipped wine and watched the kids play, or lay on a blanket with a book. Sunday morning breakfasts with perfectly-cooked bacon.

These are the moments I have to re-create in my own little home. In my own little space with the children. These moments and more, uniquely ours. Things that only I can give to them. I need to make a list of all the ways we can share our time with meaning and connection. I want to be with them wholly in the precious space we have before they are grown, and gone.

What kind of mother am I as I parent alone? This incarnation of my mother-role feels completely different, now that there is only me. I have more stillness. More quiet space to think about what I want my relationships to look like with these amazing people who I am shaping. There is more weight to this role, because the balance is tipped. In the other house, there are two parents. I have to fill up that space all by myself. Who is this woman that I’ve become, who never imagined becoming a single parent?

She’s the woman who could take on a tent-camping adventure with three kids and turn it into a summer highlight.
Who wants very little time on devices and very much time sharing, and creating.
Who will teach her children how to cook.
Who is invested in the truth. In real emotion and expression.
Who wants to pass down the skills of her ancestors.
Who needs time in nature, all year round.
Who loves farmer’s markets and craft fairs.
The woman who visits pumpkin patches and maple farms.
The woman who loves books.
Who puts family first.
Who shows her daughters what strength, compassion and self-worth truly mean.
Who shows her son how to support and appreciate strong women.
Who will go to any lengths to protect her children.
Who only allows good people who are positive role models into the lives of her kids.
Who teaches her children the value of money.
Who teaches her children to be independent.
Who teaches her children to be vulnerable.

How do I create lasting memories with very limited resources?
How can I make a convertible sofa feel like a second home?
How do I grow from here, on my own steam, so I won’t always have to live in a one-bedroom apartment?
What do my children each need that I can uniquely give to them?
How can I trust that I am enough for them?

How can I forgive my children’s parents, and co-parent gracefully with them?

I didn’t realize how completely I’d have to re-define my life after this separation. Maybe I was too numb with shock to look that far ahead. Maybe there was a part of me still hoping that someone would realize they’d made a terrible mistake and everything would be forgiven. Maybe I didn’t realize how strange my reality would feel away from the shelter of my parents’ home, and the freedom of a summer schedule.

This life won’t be easy. These changes are huge, and unfair, but I’m clear and confident in the woman I am. I’ll make a home for the children, anywhere I end up. We’ll make new memories. I’ll keep finding ways to pay the bills, and make strides towards continued stability and security. I will thrive, as I have, and fall deeply in love with the person I’m becoming.

I’ll choose me, again and again and again.

The Light-Dappled Leaves

*Trigger Warning. Please proceed with your heart held close.

When I was a little girl, maybe eight years old, I was chased from the swing set on our neighbourhood playground and tackled in the bushes by a fourteen year old boy. Troy was pretending he was in a trance, and that he’d become possessed by a demon. He sat on top of me and wrapped his hands around my throat, and there was no pretending in the strength of his grip. Troy made me realize for the very first time that I could die.

The only thing I remember once Troy started squeezing was looking up through the branches of the bushes and watching the way the light played across the leaves. I left my body, moving towards the green and the sun, and suddenly Troy decided to let go, or someone pulled him off me. I don’t remember how it ended. I don’t remember walking home. I didn’t tell my parents until I was 36 years old.

Troy is the reason why I feel safest in the forest. Why I feel alive when I’m near a lake, surrounded by trees. I guess I should thank him for that.

I’ve been searching for Troy for years, and it’s only now that I realize why. I’ve been on a quest to try and stop him. To help him see that he could be interesting without having to hurt anyone. To show him that there’s a reason why he zeroed in on me that day, and that this reason is because I am good, and full of light, and not because he could see all the ugliness inside me.

For years I have believed that I am full of something ugly that drew Troy to me. A putrid fog that hung around me, and enveloped us both.

I didn’t have to look hard, because Troy has found me over and over again:

In the four strangers who tucked themselves around corners so that while I was walking home at night, or walking through the school yard, or riding at the back of the bus, or browsing the toy department, I would see their purple-veined penises gripped firmly in their hands.

In the twenty-year-old brother of a friend who grabbed me at a birthday party when I was 12 and held me on the erection in his lap until my friend threatened to tell their mom.

In the boy I dated in college who decided to strangle me the first, and last time, we ever had sex.

In the ex-boyfriend who lied about a simultaneous relationship with another woman for the entire four years we were together.

In the friend who I passed out drunk beside, only to wake up to him going down on me.

Troy has found me, and I’ve always searched for Troy because for a long time I believed that I wasn’t meant for anything else. That the ugliness inside me was clear and obvious, and therefore I could only be met by a partner with the same kind of darkness in them. That the body and soul violation of lies and deceit were a part of love. That everyone was dangerous, and it was only a matter of time before their hands were around my throat.

I believed that those people who radiate goodness, sincerity, light; they made great friends but they could never really love me. Never understand me. I believed I couldn’t love them because I would tire of them. I would find excuses like ‘we have no chemistry’, ‘they aren’t deep enough’, and the one that really breaks my heart – ‘they’re too good for me’.

Every time a loved one lies to me, feeds me a half-truth, hides their real emotion, or avoids transparency, I am laying on the ground beneath Troy, fighting for my life. Deception unleashes the fury of a freckled little girl with spindly arms and missing teeth who is drowning in her loss of control. Because I’m not eight anymore, I fight back in a way I never could when I was too weak. I fight with words, I fight by shutting myself away, I retreat from love and light and allow the raging darkness to consume me.

Here’s the worst thing that Troy did, and what all the future Troys consistently tried to reinforce:

He convinced me that my intuition was paranoia, and my gut could not be trusted.

That the damage he inflicted would make me mistrustful and make me treat every future lover like they were Troy.

Troy, and all the future Troys justified their lies, their violations, by telling me they couldn’t be honest because I would react in a way that made it difficult to share their truth.

As if truth should have conditions.

As if my anger wasn’t justified.

As if I couldn’t feel the lies, or the unspoken realities swimming beneath the surface.

Now I sit beneath light-dappled leaves and I choose not to fight anymore. I don’t need to show Troy anything. I don’t need Troy anymore. Allowing the light to filter through doesn’t take a struggle. It requires stillness, and faith that those illuminating rays will reach down into the roots and feed what needs to be fed.

It’s not easy to move towards uncomplicated love. To allow myself to share heart space with someone who feels guileless and sincere. To silence the part of me that wants to run towards what I know is unsafe. To consciously move away from the stranglehold of the last Troy who tried to love me. But I made a promise to an eight-year-old girl that I would listen to her. She was the one who got the closest look at Troy. She can spot him from a mile away now. I promised her I would listen to her, and jump off that swing set. That I’d race home as fast as my legs can carry me.

Because I know it’s better to be alone than to be on the playground with someone who would take the breath from your body and then tell you that you’re overreacting.
That you haven’t even tried to see their perspective.
That you somehow asked for it.
That they don’t remember doing it.
That you shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
That you’re paranoid.
That you’re damaged and unclear.
That you have anger issues.
That your anxiety is taking over.
That they lost control.
That they were caught up in the moment.
That they couldn’t feel safe being honest.

I see you Troy, and you can’t hurt me anymore.

Join me for my next Facebook Live on September 24th at 9pm EST. Email me here with any questions or subjects you’d like me to tackle.

Introducing The Nightcap

At the beginning of September, I invited those of you who are following my Facebook Page to join me live, from my new apartment, for a nightcap to toast my new life.

Your response kind of blew my mind. I feel encouraged to keep going with these live hangouts with you. At the end of the first live session, I invited your questions on life, love, sex, parenting, polyamory, and relationships, and I have some juicy ones to tackle when I return on September 24th at 9:00 pm EST.

To comment during the live cast make sure you’re watching via my Facebook Page between 9pm and 10pm EST. If you’re new to Facebook Live, this link is an awesome primer to help you figure it all out.

I’m off to Frontenac. That sounds like an adventure, doesn’t it? I’ve got a four day writing retreat with my awesome writing group, and I’m going to post a little something here each day. I can’t wait to be near a lake, with my heart wide open.

It’s not too late for more questions for the next Nightcap! You can email me right here with yours. I promise never to use your name, and to respect your privacy.

Here’s my first edition of The Nightcap, in case you missed it:

The Colour of My Eyes

I remember what it feels like to fall for someone.
As they take up real estate previously occupied by mundane tasks,
until even mundane tasks seem joyful.
I imagine how they’ll look at me when they first see me again, after a little while.
How they’ll idly touch me because it feels so easy and natural to touch me.
How they’ll show me all the beauty they have found as they move through their days.
I’ll want to cook for them, and drink too much wine with them.
We’ll stumble into my bed and emerge only when we need a snack.
Slowly, they’ll become the audience I sometimes write for,
The person I think of when I discover something to share.
I’ll want to see pictures of them when they were children,
Ask them questions that I know they’ll find difficult to answer.
I’ll listen, and open up my heart so they know their fragile secrets are safe with me.
My own secrets will become offerings, my tender places rolling over like petals in a rainstorm.
I’ll think about touching them in ways they’ve never been touched.
I’ll help them realize what they never knew they wanted.
I’ll see the world the way they do, and imagine it’s so close to my own sight
that it was just meant to be.

And then what?

I don’t need any more babies.
I have a family.
I don’t want a provider.
I like waking up alone just as much as I like
lazy mornings with company.
I want to explore without limits.
Share whatever I want, whenever I want to.
Keep my meager treasures safe.
Guard this fragile heart.
Make my own decisions.
Kiss the occasional stranger.
Love on my own terms, which I’m only just beginning to lay out.

So perhaps it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what colour my eyes are…

Yours are a clear and golden hazel, flecked with shards of amber.
In them I see fireflies, and shooting stars,
and the reflection of me, exactly as I am in this moment.
And I am falling.

This Broken Heart is Full

Yesterday I found a hawk feather on the sidewalk on St. Paul Street. Despite the gusts of wind, the feather lay in wait. I decided it was waiting for me.

Five months officially in this new life. I’m about to move into my tiny new home, and make a go of thriving on my own. I didn’t see these changes coming until late December, and despite how hard I fought against them, even then I knew they were inevitable. I wonder if the trees try to hold onto their beautiful leaves so tightly?

If you had told me then that I would move through this in all the ways I’ve moved, I never would have believed you. Back then, I thought I would die. I thought the only thing that could get me through such a devastating loss was the love of my children, their need for me in their lives. Back then, I thought that the end of this relationship would be the greatest failure of my life, and I would shut away pieces of my heart forever.

This loss has shattered me, but in this breaking apart, wide open spaces have been excavated and filled with torrents of love. I am surrounded by people who remind me of all the good in me. In the ways they listen, in their gestures of care and compassion, in their encouraging and uplifting words and messages. That love has bonded to me as I’ve pieced myself together, like molten gold that fuses to the sharpest edges of my hurt.

To my friends, my tribe, who have held my hand as I’ve cried and offered me shelter, food, wine, and even a captive audience for a particularly drunken night of angsty poetry; I love you to the ends of the earth. My home will always have space for you. My life will always be open to you. You are as much family to me as my own blood, and I am honored to be able to share this journey with you.

To my parents, who have fed me, given my children and I a home together, gifted me with some of the essentials that will make my own home more comfortable, and endured having much of their space taken over by my bins and boxes; you are exactly what I hope I can be to my own kids – dependable, safe, loving, and supportive in every way. I can’t wait to have you grace my dinner table soon.

To my children who know that I am steadfast and committed to them no matter how my relationship with their other parents has changed; the three of you are the most important people in my life, and you always will be.

To my aunties and my cousins who have stored my possessions, sent me gift baskets, sat with me and cried, sent messages of love, offered trucks and muscles to get me on my way, distracted me with brunch and bbqs; never before has family meant so much to me. I’m grateful to have you all, near and far and I love you very much.

To my far-away-Mary, a new friend who spent many a sleepless night with me, talking me through the twists and turns of the particular intricacies of a poly breakup, despite the fact that her own life was full of incubating, and then nourishing her two beautiful babes; I’m not sure you realize how you’ve cemented yourself in my heart with this kindness.

To Sav, for making a comeback; here’s to friendships that pick up where they’ve left off, and to the steady flow of good food, good drink and debaucherous conversation.

To my Niagara crew Chiara, Natalka, Andorlie, Sarah Y, Elisabeth, Samantha, Laura H, Joe and Merissa, Raine and Miguel; some of you got to see a lot more of me this summer, but each of you has given me something precious that has made this journey easier. I look forward to deepening our friendships now that I am close by again.

To the many, many people who have taken time to send me a message and reassure me, or thank me for my words; you are all precious to me, and when I write, I’m always thinking of you.

To Gordy and Michel for reaching out.

To Sally, Lena and Nancy; I’ve been shit at working on my novel these last few months, but the three of you have made me accountable to the other part of this experience that has lifted me and held me afloat – my writing. You inspire and move me, you fill me with determination and belief in myself. I love you, writer-sisters.

To my newest friend. You’re helping me feel like the city I’ve lived near for the last five years is actually my home by showing me all the best places. You give me new music every time I see you. You make me laugh from the depths of my belly. You understand both the space that I need and the closeness that I yearn for. You do so many things that make me feel light, and lovely, and like someone is seeing me for who I am, here in this moment in time. I thought our timing was absurd. Now I think it’s just right.

To my brother; you’ve now seen every single messy space I occupy, and yet you continue to be steadfast and solid. I wouldn’t have made it through Florida without you. I hope I never have to help you through a time like this, but if I do, I hope you know I’ll be there wholly and without hesitation.

It’s with a genuine sense of excitement that I step into this new life. The fact that I am beginning again as we approach Autumn, my favourite time of year, is a wonder to me. I feel like I’m stepping into my own turning of seasons, that I will blaze with colour, just before I turn deeply inward to find my own warmth.

This life I’ve lived, from the time we came together, to the tragic way we came apart, has truly taught me everything there is to know about love.