Monday Rainfall

I’m stealing a few quiet moments this morning. There’s a steady drip of rain on the windowsill and the sunrise turns the sky to a milky gray, clouds heavy over the tops of the trees in the ravine. The leaves are slowly starting shift from verdant green to hues of mustard. My heart feels simultaneously heavy and full.

I will never recover from his betrayal.

I will never understand her silence.

I will wake each morning and hold this heart of mine, so full of abundance and hope. I will hold it, because I am the one who holds it most carefully. I’ll meet new love in all of its forms with gratitude. I will quell the terror I feel as I move closer and closer to someone new. This fear will be tempered with careful, measured steps instead of the headlong plunge into love that I have grown used to.

The summer was the easy part, as I lived in the limbo of the comfort of my childhood home. Now, as I start my life here in this tiny and cozy apartment, the familiar routines of school activities, rehearsals, birthdays and Hallmark holidays are a fresh new wound. Each moment is so completely different than it was last year. Each moment has me standing on the outside, watching my family carry on without me. Each moment will never be the same as it was.

There are parts of this story that you haven’t read. There are truths that I haven’t found the courage to tell. They are raw, and blistered, and they may never completely heal. There are apologies and confessions that I will never hear. There’s a scab on these wounds that I’ve built out of believing the good parts of the man I loved made me my beautiful son.

My own child-voice moves her mouth to my ear and tells me what she wants me to do:

“You should allow yourself to fall in love. You should enjoy the way your body feels with someone who is safe, and sincere. You should walk this path and see where it leads, because there is wonder here.”

She says:

“You should do all of this, but you should also make space to love yourself. In quiet moments listening to the rain and the clicking of your fingers across the keyboard. With nights sprawled across the whole bed by yourself. Create that silent space where loneliness feels like a kind of companionship and you hear with utter certainty everything your heart desires.”

And then she says this:

“You must try to love those who have hurt you. It will make soft again those pieces of your heart that have built a barrier against the love you deserve.”

I love you. I’m learning to love you. I will love again, and again, and again.

The Love I Want

I’ve been tucked away in a gorgeous lakefront home in South Frontenac since Tuesday night, on a writing retreat with three dear friends and colleagues who inspire me each week with their talent and tenacity.

This space I’ve created for myself has given me room to tackle a couple of chapters on the YA novel I’ve been slowly piecing together. I’ve also filled a journal and started a brand new one. And of course, I’ve been posting here as promised.

Creator friends, I cannot tell you the value of a few days of uninterrupted space where the intention is only to ‘make’. Sure, I’ve also filled the time with hiking, running, yoga, meditation and paddling, but I cleared my work schedule to focus on my writing and here I am. It occurs to me that I need to do this seasonally. What a healing experience this has been. What a way to recognize myself again as a writer.

Maybe it’s because I’m moving slowly and breathing deeply that I seem to be excavating and articulating things I haven’t quite had the words for yet. This tells me something vital about the pace with which I’ve been living. This tells me something about slowing down and making more space.

And so, in this spirit of articulation, today I’m going to tackle love. Not self-love, not a mother’s love, but the kind of romantic partnership I envision for myself when the time is right on my journey.

I’ve learned that it is futile to try to shape or control other people. I’ve learned that it’s all too easy to project things on lovers that I wish to see, but are not in fact, actually there. I’ve learned that I can ignore the clear indicators that alert me that someone is all wrong because I’m dazzled by attraction. I’ve had friends suggest I make a list of exactly the kind of person I wish to attract, and the qualities I want in my next partner. This doesn’t feel right anymore. Instead, I’m going to list the qualities in myself that I would like to have supported and illuminated by my next romantic partnership.

Phew. I’m actually feeling nervous…

I want to move in softness with gentle conversation, soothing touch, sympathetic listening, curiosity, and empathy.

I want to always be connected and searching for what is true to me. What my real feelings are, where my essential needs lie, how moments, touches, revelations feel deep in my bones. I want to understand my impulses and reactions and if I don’t immediately make those connections, I want safety and stillness until I can discover what they are.

I want to feel safe. To know that I am treasured and valued enough to lean deeply into trust. I want to be secure in the knowledge that my partner will be clear and truthful about any matter that affects my safety and security, and the safety and security of the space we are creating together.

I want to be clear and honest. I want to illuminate the beauty I see in the simple ways my partner experiences life. I want to acknowledge the ways in which they make me feel honored and valued and beautiful. I want there to be no confusion about how I feel about them when I look at them, when they touch me, when they share their vulnerable places. I want them to feel that I am safe and steady.

I want to stay connected to love and vulnerability when I am faced with conflict and difficult conversation. I want to feel secure enough with a partner to know that I am not in danger of being abandoned, deceived, or manipulated when things are not in perfect harmony.

I want to be a mother. I want to share my children’s lives with the deep awareness that the person they are sharing time with is someone who values them as people first, and then as my children who are the most important people in my life. I want those bonds to be strong, and honored as entities that exist beyond my romantic relationship with my partner.

I want to be financially healthy. To respect the value and energy of currency. To protect my wealth and grow it with intention and trust so that I may travel, and learn about the world, and someday have a home on a lake.

I want to live fully in my writing. To have space for the pursuit of my craft no matter how I may be earning money to live. I want to trust that I am supported in this, and that my partner believes in my talent and possibility.

I want to be alive in my sexuality, and by extension, in my sensual approach to the world. I want to be a sexual being until my body and soul decide that I no longer need to be connected to the life force in that way. I want my sexuality to be entirely mine, and something that I choose to share, that does not require another person to define it or unleash it. I want to explore, celebrate, understand, challenge, and revere my sexuality with a partner who is unafraid to take a similar, spiritual approach to their sexual self, with their own commitment to a healthy awareness and understanding of their sexuality.

I want nature whenever and wherever I can find it. Walks in the woods, through fields of wild flowers, on the beach, by the canal, quiet moments under trees, camping adventures. I need to be connected to the world in this way.

I want excellent food. I want to cook in a kitchen full of music, with a glass of wine on a slow Saturday, and then savor my efforts by candlelight. I want to wander through the farmer’s market, into cheese shops, visit local bakeries, splurge on impeccable restaurants, and I want to enjoy food from all over the world.

I want to be healthy. I want to move my body, strive for increased strength and flexibility, choose what I feed myself with care, enjoy physical activity with my partner, who I will need to help keep me motivated.

I want family. I want to share my happiness and abundance with my parents, my brother, my aunts, and my cousins. These people will always be an important part of my life, and my relationships with them are something I would love to share.

I want friends. My friends know me from all angles, and still they love me. I want to enjoy their excellent company with someone who will see exactly why I love these people.

I want books, and music, and art, and film, and theatre, and dance. I want to be in touch with my local artistic community and involved in contributing to its overall vibrancy.

I want magic. I’m not religious, but I feel connected to something larger than this life I’m living. I look for magic every day. Some people might trade the word ‘beauty’ for ‘magic’. Whatever we call it, I believe in it, and I need to always make space for it to find me.

As I write this list, I’m clear on the fact that as a lone wolf (which my son has taken to calling me) I’m actively living this. The wonder will be in finding someone who can see these qualities in me, and celebrate them. Someone who will never attempt to alter or diminish them. Perhaps the right person will even help me add a few qualities I’ve never considered. The next time around I will guard these qualities and never compromise them.

Now, as far as a list of qualities I want in someone else, I’d say the following is a pretty good marker. Again, the real power has been in identifying how to live these truths on my own. This poem came to me on this retreat, first in a conversation on the drive up with my friend Lena who told me about it, and then in an amazing coincidence as Lena spotted the book tied to this poem sitting on her writing desk on the retreat. Check out the dedication page:

The Invitation
By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesnt interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-invitation-by-oriah-mountain-dreamer

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.