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.

Hope Drew a Path and I Followed

The birds sang so loudly today they drowned out the music in my earbuds. A light dusting of snow covered the trail like icing sugar, yet my neon-salmon trainers beat the path with more certainty than I felt. Sometimes my feet know better. My heart can sit back and let them take the lead. It was a sub-zero morning, but the sun was shining. The air was crisp with the fresh smell of the earth yielding to the warming of spring. I chose hopeful music. Music that spoke of love and slow openings. His music, but today I chose it only for me. To fill me with a sense of potential unattached to anyone but myself.

In one year I have patched together my soul, and it feels wider and more wondrous than ever before. 

When you hit a milestone like this, it’s hard to imagine how you’ll feel. I was bracing myself for the darkness, and of course it’s there. I remember exactly how I felt that night. How I could see the cyclone on the horizon. How I knew it would tear my home to shreds, because the people who lived there conjured that storm. We called it down from the heavens with years of unspoken truths and unrealized needs. I remember begging that night, shamelessly pleading. I remember knowing exactly what I’d see before I saw it. I was so certain of how things would go, that the entire experience was a deja vu.

I remember how it felt to be ‘managed’ through my grief and shock. I remember having to maintain the lie for seven whole days of vacation, in the midst of my mother’s broken foot and a stomach flu that hit nearly everyone. I remember feeling like I was stuck in the worst kind of nightmare. How I felt like I did something to deserve this. How I felt like I should have known better. How it felt to read a barrage of text messages never meant for my eyes.

I’d never felt so unloved, unwanted, undesirable, undeserving, worthless.

One year later, I know each of us have felt that low at some point in the life we tried to make.

My great mistake in my last relationship was not honoring my boundaries. Staying when I should have left. Burying my truth instead of owning it and moving gracefully towards what was next. Instead, I hid it, thinking I could rise above. It festered, and sometimes when there were late nights with too much to drink it spewed forth like poisonous lava. Sometimes when the house was too messy or the kids too contrary it felt like my home and children were a minefield. Because I denied my truth, because I didn’t protect myself, I was in fight or flight for years. I was angry, and anxious.

But if I’d left I wouldn’t have had my son. Or my daughters.

Today I feel the love of an army of friends. Today I feel blessed to have a little brother who held my hand through some of the darkest pain I’ve known. Today I’m grateful for my parents who have sheltered me, fed me, and held me when that part of their parental duty should have long been over. Today I continue to pray that my daughters won’t be lost to me in the fallout of this breakup. Today I feel full of grace, patience, empathy and wisdom. I know my heart is big and worthy of real and lasting love. Sometimes I even feel beautiful again.

I can sleep through the night without waking in shock and grief, wondering if I will soon wake up from the nightmare. I can listen to many of the songs without shedding a tear. I don’t feel like my son is the only reason I must go on living. I can settle comfortably and well into my own company. I can sit down to family dinners and sometimes even spend the night in my old home. I can imagine real conversations that lead to healing. I can see her on the school yard and not feel like I’ve been drop kicked in the stomach.

I didn’t choose the path I’m on now, at least not consciously, but I’m so deeply grateful that I’m here. To feel this resilience, to recognize my own power, to own my value, to master my destiny and know deeply and profoundly that I can take care of myself, and my son – what a reward. I won’t say it was worth the pain I have felt, and sometimes continue to feel, but this new path is the gift of a lifetime. All I can do is follow it with fleet-footed, open-hearted hope. 

I love, I will love, I am love.

I am loved. 

Glad Tidings

I’m toasting these shadows, those ghosts of Christmas past, with almond eggnog and spiced rum, and I’m doing the best that I can. This holiday is bittersweet, but I’m pleased to tell you there is greater emphasis on the sweet.

Two of my kiddos trimming my tree.

2018 was a year of surprises, the greatest of which is how I have surprised myself. With my strength. With the depth of my love. With my fierce dedication to reaching for the beauty that exists in every frame.

I want to turn all of this pain and transformation into something beautiful.

I’ve had a week of self-imposed solitude and it’s been exquisite. I love my friends who have been filling my days with warmth and goodness. I love those undefined people in my life who send me hope and light in a variety of ways. However, I’ve come to realize that I need to fall deeply into a time of reflection and creativity. Repair and rebuilding. I need to take everything I’ve learned and shape it into a way forward for anyone who arrives at this place of grief and change.

My ex and I have been able to sit down and begin some difficult conversations. I’ll talk more about that later on, but the outcome has been the decision to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together with the kids.

‘You’ll make new traditions’. This is a mantra that I hear over and over again. Here are some of the traditions I’ve tasted, or will taste this holiday season. I’d like to embrace these and add to them for years to come:

Decorating my home and my altar with boughs of fresh evergreen.

Putting up a real tree.

Crafting decorations for my tree with my children, so there are pieces of them to keep me warm when they are at their other home.

Giving my time to charitable organizations. 

Baking gingerbread cookies and eating too many of them with good coffee.
Thoughtful gift-giving. Next year I’m making gifts.

Honoring the Solstice with ritual and celebration, and teaching my children about the meaning of this special time.

Finding the perfect nativity set and stable.

Giving books on Christmas Eve.

Spending Christmas Day in my pajamas.

Feasting with family.

Watching my favorite holiday movies.

Holiday parties with wonderful friends.

Kissing someone on New Year’s Eve.

Spending a whole day/week dreaming and goal-setting during the first week of January. Someday I’m going to do this from a winterized cabin or a resort. All.By.Myself.

Here’s how I want to feel this holiday:

Full of light. Deeply illuminated with the knowledge that I am good, and that I have a lot to offer the people in my life.

Rich with love. Aware of my ability to love deeply and profoundly. Comforted by the knowledge that I am loved deeply and profoundly.

Strong. Able to sit with difficult emotion and listen to the teachings therein. Aware of my power to transcend that which doesn’t serve me, and to reach for that which makes me whole. Proud of how I have survived. Clear on what I need to thrive.

Joyful. I believe in the magic of the season. I want to see that reflected in my son, and my own child-like heart. I want space to play and dream and laugh.

Cherished. I want to be with the people I belong to. Who love me despite my faults. Who see the value in me and feel proud of me. 

Beautiful. I’ve struggled here, especially through this time of change. I want to attach more beauty to my inner light. I want to be loving and kind to my body. I want to believe that the change and the sorrow that now seems etched on my face makes me seem wise and sacred rather than tired. I want to feel like none of this matters. 

Grateful. For my healthy children. For the many people who have lifted me up in the darkest moments I’ve known. For my own health. For having my parents and my brother so close. For the universe continuing to provide me with what I truly need. For everything I see now that I couldn’t see before.

For all of you who are reading; I wish you profound peace during this sacred time of light and love. May your hearts be full of the knowledge that you are important, and valued, and needed. May you take comfort in food prepared by people who matter to you. May music and laughter surround you. May the people who you consider family be blessed with good health and prosperity. May you truly feel that your presence has made a difference.

It’s made a difference to me; to know that you are listening, and feeling many of these things that I have felt, had made me realize that no matter how my love may shift, I will never truly be alone.

Blessed Solstice
Merry Christmas
Peace and Light 

The In Between Moments

It’s not that I’m afraid of being alone.

I don’t despair about the notion of getting old without a husband. I don’t worry that I’ll choke to death and nobody will come to my rescue. I don’t fret about my beauty shriveling up or my vitality fizzling out if I cloister myself for a while.

It’s just that when it’s me and these four walls, the pain floods in. The wasted, reckless ruin of my love sits like a specter in the corner. Time can tick, death can loom, it’s the grief I can’t make peace with. I don’t want to. But I can’t feel like this a moment longer, and this feeling lurks just beneath the various masks I wear to get through each day.

How could I love like that, feel that way about someone, and end up where I am?

Why would I ever try to love again?

And so I won’t. I can’t right now. I could stand in a field of poppies and still not believe in the colour red.

I performed a wedding this evening. An intimate gathering of nearest and dearest in the home of the bride and groom. Their love was palpable. Every few weddings, I get to see that. Real love. People who might actually make it through the insane shit storm that is life. People who understand how rare and precious that kind of connection is. People who can transcend their own mess to meet where they each feel deserving of that kind of love, and unafraid of their ability to give it.

I yearn for that, and yet it’s so clear to me now that I have a long way to go before I’ve transcended this mess. I’m not being dramatic when I say that I may never completely transcend this. There are those lessons in life that we carry around forever.

I can’t give my heart away in pieces.

I don’t know how to put it back together.

So here I will hibernate, applying gentle pressure until the bleeding stops. Until the seal is affixed. Until the bond is secure.

I spoke to a friend last night, on the phone, old-fashioned like. My brother and I refer to this friend as ‘The Wizard’ for his uncanny ability to peer inside me, and for the way he seems to feel a disturbance in the force every time I think about him, or need an ear.

I’d drafted everything you’ve read above just before calling him, and here is what he said to me, without reading any of this, of course:

“You gathered up the pieces of your heart and put them in a bag, which you moved to that pretty little apartment you so love. The bag has been on the floor, and now you are unpacking those heart pieces, re-assembling them slowly, discovering where the pieces fit. You can’t rush that.”

I’ve stopped being gobsmacked by his ability to pick up on my consciousness. Instead, this idea gave me the image of a beautiful jigsaw puzzle, half-completed, on a table in my apartment. I need to spend some quiet moments, working on the puzzle. Sipping wine or tea, watching the snowfall from my panoramic view, that YouTube channel with the holiday music and roaring fireplace lighting up my television screen.

That’s all I really need right now. The in between moments. The space to make friends with this pain, who no doubt knows exactly how this puzzle fits back together again. As always, I’ll tackle the outside edges first and work my way into the middle once the framework is in place.