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.

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:

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.

Everything I Need

I took my children into the wilderness, and we left knowing that we are campers for life. I’d never tent camped before, but this trip was the only sure thing about the last ten months. I needed to show them, and myself, how capable we are. How we could tackle hurdles together, and still see the beauty that surrounds us. This trip was exactly what I needed it to be, and I know my kids needed it too.

I lay awake for hours our first night, huddled together against the eight degree cold. There are still moments where I can’t believe how completely my life has changed. At how fragile and unstable the relationship I had, the one I’d decided was forever, actually turned out to be. The sleeplessness doesn’t come from being afraid of being alone. I’m excellent at keeping my own company. I don’t feel lonely. I have friends of all varieties to fill up my time, and family who love me. I don’t worry about my relationship to the children. I’m very confident in my ability to provide for them, and consistently show them how precious they are to me.

The sleepless moments come from shock. I feel like I can’t trust myself to make good choices about who and how to love. I feel like I’m not cut out for that sort of lasting, domestic partnership because I always choose people who aren’t right for me. I get dazzled quickly, and I want things to work, and I close my eyes and ears to all of the warning signs I can so clearly see once the whole thing collapses.

Is this because I haven’t loved myself enough to insist on what I truly need? Is it because I’ve allowed myself to believe that my life experiences have made me paranoid and mistrustful, instead of trusting that life has actually made me deeply intuitive? Even now, as I type this, I’ve been ignoring signals I’m getting from my ‘deep within’. Signals that say ‘slow down’, ‘switch focus’, ‘put your energy here’. I’ve dismissed this as unnecessary worry, but if I break that pattern, I can see that I should be listening.

My inability to choose partners has nothing to do with not knowing what I want. I’m very clear on that, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to make a list for myself so that I can make sure I’m checking off these boxes first and foremost, before I even begin to consider someone’s ability to contribute. Because that’s it, isn’t it? We can’t ever rely on other people to check these boxes for us. We need to make sure we provide for ourselves. Maybe it’s only then that we can draw the right people to us.

Everything I Need:

  • Care and respect for finances and financial health. Enough money to provide for myself and my son, with some left over to spoil my daughters when I want to, and to take the occasional trip.
  • Friends to fill my home with laughter, wine and good food.
  • My family close by, and connected to my life.
  • The space to enjoy my solitude, and to get comfortable with the occasional lonely moment.
  • A clean and beautiful home that is ready for drop in visitors at all times.
  • Trust and transparency. The ability to hear my inner voice and trust that it is honest and pure.
  • People who believe in my talent and abilities and support my efforts at exploring those.
  • Health and wellness, and conscious choices about food and exercise.
  • Creative outlets.
  • Time in nature.
  • Music, film, theatre, art, food and words and people who love those things as much as I do.
  • People who love to laugh, and are good at making me laugh.

It’s hard to imagine myself in a future relationship. I can’t bear the idea of opening my heart, allowing myself to be vulnerable, only to deal with the same issues of anger, anxiety, dishonesty and betrayal. To feel so weak that I deny what my soul is telling me is wrong, for the sake of staying in some sort of false sense of domestic security. To love someone despite always knowing that they would never really love you the same way.

Could there be another way to approach romance? To take what you need, in small doses? To feel wholly available and present and connected when you are together, and to have utterly separate and satisfying lives when you’re apart? To approach monogamy with the understanding that it’s likely a constraint that is doomed to fail, and give each other permission to explore what other people have to offer, while respecting the sacred space you are building together with some parameters and ground rules? Is there anyone out there who could be so self-aware and transparent that they could love me and not lie? Someone who could honour and delight in my most-important role as a mother? Someone who can see all of me, and still love me anyway?

I can’t stop believing in love. I feel it everywhere, and I see it in every frame. I know I’m worthy of all the love I have, but perhaps the romantic love that I need doesn’t really exist? It may be that instead of ‘a person’, (a concept that now seems less possible than waking to find a unicorn on my lawn) I will have ‘people’. Some who I can drink a bottle of wine with and laugh till I snort, some who will comb through thrift stores for hours and not ask me if I’m done yet, some who will take me dancing, some who will curl my toes, some who will cook for me, some who will make me feel like I’m soaring just in the way they look at me, some who have known me since I barely knew myself, some who won’t be afraid to hold me if I get sick, some who will let me smell their babies’ heads, some who see me and won’t be afraid.

And as those people come and go, I will remain the one constant. I will be everything I need.

On Monday, September 3rd at 9:00 pm EST I will be live on my Facebook Page. Please join me to toast my new apartment and catch up.

 

Let Me Go

Guess who is about to embark on four days of tent camping in Algonquin Park, with the company of her amazing children? I’m ending this insane summer on the perfect note, because I am most myself under a canopy of trees. Here’s a little something I banged out this afternoon in Starbucks, when I was supposed to be finishing up my work.

 

Let Me Go

Let me go into the forest,

and let the lake-fed rain wash clean these sins.

Let the fresh, rich scent of the pines clear my soul,

and the light of a million stars restore my faith.

 

Let me go into the forest,

My sweet babes in hand.

The babe I birthed, the daughters I forged,

And let them see me as I am;

Whole, and wholly capable.

 

Let me go into the forest,

that I may howl like the wolves,

tread lightly with the the fleetest fox-steps,

Leave no trace of the sorrow I have carried all these many years.

 

Let the dapple-leaf sunlight illuminate

this fire in my heart,

this whisper in my ear,

this yearning, so fathomless that I shall never be full

of this sweet and serendipitous life.