Even When It’s Right

I did it right this time.  I stepped into the possibility of love with all of my centres wide open. I listened to my heart and my gut. I made changes in my life to create space for this new relationship. I communicated my needs and my insights as clearly as I could. I owned my mistakes as soon as I saw them (again, I’m sorry for that alarming 3:00 am text). I didn’t hide the love I was feeling. I allowed the whole person to emerge instead of keeping them on a pedestal. I nurtured. I gave. My anger was held until I could see the fear and hurt that fueled it, and so my words were always delivered with unmistakable love. 

I dropped all the pretense I could detect and connected as deeply as I could. I slowed down when I was asked to. I gave the space that I was asked to give. I gave space that my gut told me to give. I saw the deep potential for loving in this person, the beauty and wonder in how their mind works, how deeply intuitive and sensitive they are. I was wholly prepared to let this be big and real and long-lasting if that was really what it was going to be. In the first month, I had glimmers that it could be that kind of thing. Then, I did the hardest thing; I allowed myself to see what was actually happening, instead of what I wanted to happen.

I am single again.

Love is not enough. Seeing the beauty in someone and feeling grateful for the gifts they bring is not enough. Unless both parties are arriving, and speaking their intentions in a language that is clearly understood by both, there will be a failure to launch. The old me would have stuck around, hoping. Aching. Wondering what I could do, or say to make a difference. Present-tense me knows that we are all complex beings full of fear and pain, and if someone isn’t showing up, you can’t do a single thing to inspire them to arrive. Or to stick around consistently, if they aren’t able to be there.

And so, with as much love as I have ever had in a moment such as this, I let go. The brittleness had started to set in. I can’t ever let myself get hard like that again. I let go of this beautiful soul, and my hope is that he will find whatever stillness and peace he needs to be able to arrive. I realize this will likely mean he isn’t arriving with me. That’s the fear that keeps people holding on, isn’t it? The fear that someone else will get to see it through. A funny fear for someone with complex views on monogamy, to be sure.

Holding on to a love that isn’t flourishing is a stranglehold. It will kill love, just as surely as the fear of losing love will result in…well, losing love. Hang on to something that isn’t quite there and it will get crushed under the weight of your expectation and fear. Stay distant because you’re afraid that this person will leave you, and you will push them away for good. One of us was trying to grab onto it, the other was pushing it away.

The hopeful (delirious?) romantic in me wishes that this isn’t the end of the story, but I know that if the story continues, I’m not the one who needs to write the next chapter. And so, to keep this heart of mine soft, I look for the lessons.

Here’s what I learned, this time:
I see people very clearly, in the way they want to be seen when they first arrive in my life. 

There is a lot more to people than this first impression.

I can communicate with love through frustration and difficulty.

I have an ability to help people open up and look inside themselves.

Opening up and looking inside themselves is something that other people are not used to, and often not comfortable with.

Helping them do this will often make them want to withdraw from me, or more correctly, make them want to withdraw from the magnitude of feeling this can unearth.

People’s actions or silence may be hurtful, but are usually not a reflection of who I am, or of my worth.

I can end my time with someone with more love than I began, and accept their humanity while still protecting my heart.

This hurts a lot because I felt a lot. I was deeply moved by the potential I felt, and the depth of this person I encountered.

I don’t have the capacity for any more romantic conflict, and I need to focus on my studies, so I need to withdraw from pursuing that kind of connection for some time.

And so, as the summer gets rolling I will get lost in school, my children, my girlfriends. In hiking, in nature, in writing. I will feel what it’s like to not think about dating or finding someone. I’ll keep my own heart at the forefront of everything I do, and fill it with love. 

This heart of mine is unbreakable. It keeps stretching and growing. I don’t give it away, I share it, but for now I’m going to hold it close.    

On Love and Boundaries

My baby mama and I were commiserating about romantic relationships under the blazing noon heat of our son’s baseball game. “You need to get better at protecting your heart,” she said “You fall in love too big and too fast.”

This isn’t always the case, but when I love someone, I don’t hold back. Is this foolish? Maybe. Does it open up the potential for hurt? Sure. But let’s be honest for a moment, shall we? If you have those deep feelings for someone, even if it’s the easy-to-confuse infatuation and chemical response that sometimes feels like love, does hiding that emotion make the hurt any less if things don’t work out? Does hiding the hurt really make it disappear? We all know the answer is a negative. We all know that emotions are powerful, whether or not we think we have them in check.

I will not stop falling in love the way that I do. I’ve even started expressing that love, when I feel it, with zero expectation of reciprocation. My motivation here is the fact that we all seem to need love, now more than ever, and everyone seems terrified of vulnerability. My other motivator, which frankly is the strongest motivator in my life short of my awesome children, is having seen death up close so many damn times. 

I love you. You have a beautiful soul. I’d love to share my life with you, because it’s going to be much shorter than I think. I need you to know that I love you because you deserve that love, and we never really know what might happen.

Giving this love away costs me absolutely nothing. It feels beautiful to put it into the world. Into someone else’s heart. The well of love is bottomless and the pain of trying to love doesn’t come from sharing love without fear. It comes from sticking around when safety isn’t created.

Let’s not confuse safety and danger, friends. I’m not talking about abuse or neglect, though those things are obviously going to make loving space unsafe. I’m talking about those challenges to your personal boundaries that don’t feel okay. Are you familiar with your personal boundaries? If not, it’s time to get real intimate with them. 

Personal boundaries are formed when you have a clear sense of what you need to feel safe in romantic space. I’ll give you my list, so it can inspire you to contemplate one of your own:

Transparency
Emotional awareness
Honesty
A desire for clear communication
Responsibility
Self-care/ a health-conscious mindset
Strong family values
Respect
A deep appreciation for sexuality
Kindess
The ability to express how they feel about me
Affection (in private and in public)
Personal passions/goals and space for the other person’s
Presence
Humour

This list forms the touchstone that I will now use anytime I try to build space with someone. These are the boxes that have to be ticked. It’s pretty basic stuff, but it’s the stuff that makes me feel like my heart will be treasured in the way it deserves. When any one of things is missing, I know to pause and tap into my intuition and my logic to see what’s happening in the space I have created. This is when difficult conversations happen, and when difficult decisions have to be made.

Sometimes boundaries get tested by good people who are in complicated places in their lives. Or good people who have created walls around themselves because it is devastating and often traumatizing to have your heart broken. My mistake in the past was to excuse the breach of those boundaries out of sympathy for the other person. It’s a confusing situation when you can feel someone’s inherent goodness, yet see them behaving in ways that are hurtful. However, a truth in my life is that it does not serve loving space to stay when my boundaries are challenged. I grow brittle and hard, and behave in ways that are not authentic.

This week I did something I have never done before. I asked someone to step away and take some space to listen to their heart and know what they truly need. This was a scary risk to take, but my intuition was as clear as a girlfriend admonishing me over coffee. ‘You are going to get hurt if things continue like this.’

I approached this conversation with all the love I have. Whatever happens next, I regret nothing. The gift of my heart is one I will never apologize for, or feel badly about giving again because now I can give that gift, and take care of myself. 

There is some pain, and some fear in the waiting. I hurt for the amount of complexity this person is dealing with. I’m afraid if they decide to move on, it will bring up some feelings of inadequacy in me. I feel some loss over the potential I felt that hasn’t been realized. But this is nothing like the kind of heartbreak I have endured. I know I have done what is right for both of us. I know I’m honouring myself in this.

Do yourselves a favour dear ones, and make a list of what you need to feel good and safe when you share your heart. Get real clear on which lines cannot be crossed, and pin your loyalty and commitment to those boundaries first and foremost. Your heart deserves to be treasured and cherished, and I think that only happens when you learn how to do that for yourself.

A Higher Purpose

This chapter of my life seems to be all about adaptation. Adapting to the demands of school and realizing that my entrepreneur lifestyle of week day lunches with the ladies has come to an end. Adapting to realizing the process of learning, and studying. Adapting to being a mom and a full time university student. Adapting to building space with someone who seems committed to creating space with me. Adaptation is hard. And scary. I’m not sure I’m doing a great job most days.

I’m adapting to my truth in relationship. I was committed to exploring non-monogamy on my own terms. This was an interesting experiment that largely taught me that I’m not cut out for casual sex. Now, I’ve met someone who is monogamous, and I’ve been excellent at monogamy most of my adult life. It was my choice to abandon my experiment in multiple lovers. There was no outside pressure of any sort. It felt right to me to shift my attention to one person. It continues to feel like the choice that best serves me, and the choice that will help me be present and authentic enough to build something meaningful.

At the end of the day, my commitment is to my truth. I will continue to advocate for everyone’s right to explore love on terms that are meaningful and true to themselves. I am not sworn off any singular path, but I am doing what feels right for me, and for us.

For us. 

I thought I’d just cruise on in to the idea of ‘us’. I’ve been so hungry for something deeper than that physical connection. The idea of ‘us’ has been a bumpy ride, and the potholes are the by-product of the hurt that I’ve recently experienced. My greatest challenge in this new space is to remain present. To not let my past create barriers to the ease and joy I deserve to feel in these early days. I take some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one battling the past in this equation.

Is relationship anxiety a thing? If so, I can easily succumb to it sometimes. Fortunately, I’ve got a few tools in the kit that are helping. One of them is talking. He’s not always a talker. More adapting there…

He’s very wise. Wise in ways that indicate his soul’s been around the block a few times. He told me one of the greatest lessons he’s learned from love is that relationships need to serve a higher purpose beyond romance. A purpose like building a partnership, a home, a supportive connection. This isn’t news to me, of course. If you’ve been reading this blog over the last decade or so, you’ll know that. It’s just nice to hear it from the person you’re currently spending time with.

My life has taught me that no matter how good I am at crafting stories, I can’t ever know the ending. Why bother to worry about that now, when things are just getting started? 

Why bother worrying that I won’t be able to give the right things? Why not just give wholly and unflinchingly and let this move in whatever direction it will? 

What is certain right now is that the immediate present feels serene and positive.

What’s also certain is that the more I buckle down, the more I am kicking ass at student life.

My higher purpose continues to be this quest for elevation. Taking what I have and making more. Of me, of my potential, of my capacity for wisdom and experience, at the depth and breadth of my ability to love. 

I’ll see my way to becoming a therapist. I’ll raise brilliant humans. I’ll be an excellent friend. I’ll be an honest and reliable partner. I will leave a legacy of love.

What is your higher purpose?

Was It Worth It?

My tiny apartment smells like flowers. Freesias, to be exact. They gift the most beautiful fragrance. I wake each morning to a riot of birdsong, and sometimes a light shroud of mist hovers over the tops of the trees in the ravine below my windows. I am at peace, I am filled with gratitude, and my heart is full of love.

On Wednesday, Beltane, I began university full time. A seed I planted, an investment in my future. Careful steps towards a career.

I’m back in my apartment, and though I managed just fine while I was out, I can’t tell you how good it feels to be home. I feel safe. I feel cozy. I feel like cooking, and puttering and just breathing. This is another seed; building a home for me and my children and opening that home to the people I love. 

There’s someone in my life. It’s so new, not even a full moon cycle has gone by yet. I want to preserve the space we’re building and not share too much, but if you could see me, you would see an ease that has settled across my brow and a peachy flush that with just a thought will spread from my cheeks to my navel. I am in awe of the certainty I feel, not about the future, (because I’ve learned how foolish it is to try to predict that), but in how I feel each moment. I do not want these moments to end, and this sweetness spills into every facet of my rich and rewarding life. It’s like a beautiful, flowering tree that suddenly reveals that it can also bear fruit. 

I want to eat this fruit slowly, for as long as I can.

One morning over coffee and a rainy sunrise in my apartment, this new person told me about how he would come home with various injuries as a kid, and he credits his mom with only ever saying ‘Was it worth it?’. 

Last year, my life fell apart and I was hurt in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The anniversary of that cataclysm happens this Saturday. Nine years of my life with my ex partners came to an end.

Was it worth it?

In nine years, and in the unraveling
I learned how essential it is to honour my boundaries and value my self-worth.
I learned how my behaviour impacts everyone around me.
I learned how to master my emotional response to triggers.
I learned how my childhood trauma affected my ability to be in relationship and to be a parent.
I learned how burying a truth can turn that truth into a bomb when it’s uncovered.
I learned how I love women differently than I love men.
I learned that each person in a relationship has a different experience of that relationship.
I learned that transparency and honesty are essential for me to create safety.
I learned that the best sex comes from deep emotional connection.
I learned what it feels like to want to be a better person because of those you are sharing loving space with.
I learned that I am often wrong.
I learned how dangerous denial is.
I learned humility.
I learned empathy.
I learned that alcohol and pot won’t make things better.
I learned that there is a difference between having anxiety and being in a triggered state most of the time.
I learned the wonder of my body.
I learned what a powerful and excellent mother I am.
I learned that I must constantly grow as a parent.
I learned that I am resilient.
I learned how incredible my friends and family are.
I learned that the people I built a life with for nine years are still my family.
I learned that I have spent much of my adult life afraid to accept real love.
I learned that I am ready to accept real love.

So, yes, I think it was worth it.

Our greatest lessons leave us with scrapes and gouges. We get “loose in the joints and very shabby” a la the Velveteen Rabbit. These chapters, when we feel like we are suffocating on pain, are the ones that deliver us to our higher purpose. They cure our emotional armor and strengthen the muscle that is our heart. 

I was made for love. Love is my higher purpose, and it spills into every facet of my life. My writing, my work, my relationships are all inspired by love. Love for my family, love for my sisters, love for my children, love for my partner. So I will show up, eager and in awe when I am met with energy that compliments my own. I will plant seeds and watch deep root systems grow where I am understood. I will give with abundance and accept a bounty in return when I am accepted. I will share the space within my soul when I know that I am safe.

There is nothing else more worth it in this life.

Have a listen to me on The Heather Report at 10:00 am (EST) on Sunday, May 5th. You can stream this at 4680q.ca

Nobody Told Me About This

Those of you who know me, or who have been reading these posts for a while, know that this year has been a year of recovery. I’ve learned so much about myself; what I’m capable of, what is truly important to me, what I need to feel safe and secure. I’ve built my life again from scratch. I’ve found new ways to understand myself and the people around me. I’ve even tried dating again, sort of.

There was a lovely relationship that happened too soon.

There were several wonderful and exciting people who didn’t quite fit.

And now, well…I’m not exactly sure what is happening now. It could be a brief glimpse of exactly the kind of connecting I want. It could be a longer, sweeter taste of the kind of connecting I want. It’s far too soon to know anything beyond how very different this feels. It feels safe, and good, and like stepping into a warm bath after an exhausting day. However long it will last, I’m grateful for this feeling, because I’m reminded that it’s possible.

But oh, what stuff this Is unearthing.

Just when I thought I’d resolved as much as I could, processed and unpacked what I needed to. Just when I thought I knew what to do to feel the ways I want to feel, the universe throws this new potential at me, and my subconscious has some surprises in store. I suppose I’m not actually surprised. After so much hurt, romantic vulnerability is justifiably scary. I look at that warm bath and feel relief. My subconscious thinks I could be stepping into lava. You can imagine the internal battle that ensues.

Would more time make this easier? Perhaps, but it could also create a wall so high that climbing it might feel impossible. And let’s not ignore the fact that the mysterious universe has delivered this radiant and wonderful person at this particular moment in time. If I’m going to occupy real heart space with someone, it’s not always going to be smooth. Trust is a real tricky thing for me, and I will need both the right person to build it with, and the self-awareness to separate my own insecurities from the truth that is unfolding before me.

I’m going to need someone who is patient, and not annoyed by having to offer reassurance. I’m going to need to first sort through the swirling mass that sometimes occupies my brain and heart space in my journal, before I bring it to the table. I’m going to need to stay in the present and see what is actually happening, rather than listening to my fear.

Does that sound like a lot of work? Perhaps it is, but it’s necessary, and the outcome is greater strength and command of my own heart and head. And I believe, down to the very tips of my toes, that with the right person, it won’t feel like work at all.

So whatever this is, let it unfold as it should; carefully and consciously. Let me trust in face value and gut feelings. Let me understand that there are two separate experiences of this shared space, each of value, and each with a unique set of needs. Let me trust myself to be brave enough to delight in this the way that I deserve to, for as long as it exists in my life. 

The next time I build a home, it’s going to have a strong foundation.