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.

 

 

The Things I Do Instead


Instead of spending lazy Sunday mornings with a Paul Simon soundtrack while he fries up eggs and I watch from the kitchen island thumbing through magazines, I run. I tear through the streets of my childhood stomping grounds listening to driving beats, willing myself to run towards that place in the future where there’s more pleasure than pain. Sometimes I think I’ve arrived. Sometimes I realize there’s a long way to go.

Instead of stolen moments covered by iTunes playlists before a sweaty little boy clambers into bed between us, I now live a half-life with hours and hours to spend in bed, uninterrupted. Maybe some day I’ll be able to sleep through the night again. Sometimes there are interesting ways to spend those sleepless hours.

Instead of sending him that article I found, that new album I discovered, that crazy indie movie I saw a trailer for, I’m building a trove of treasure to enjoy in my own way, in my own time. My friends tell me that some day this won’t feel so lonely. That I’ll relish these new discoveries that I can enjoy all by myself.

Instead of texting him to tell him just about anything beyond pick up times and changes to the schedule I write it down. Occasionally, I write it here. Every once in a while I’ll send that text, but only if I’m sure I won’t regret it.

Instead of asking him for help, I am helping myself. I have more resources than I realized. Maybe it’s not always the best way, or the cheapest way, but it’s my way. It’s important that I realize that I don’t need anyone else.

Instead of wondering how she was able to completely erase me, not speak to me, not ask me about how the future should look, I sit quietly and wonder if I should still be waiting.

Instead of sobbing, I shed the occasional tear. There are plenty of reasons to be grateful and those tears won’t change a thing.

Instead of anger, I look at the worries I am moving away from. I’m responsible for everything now, and most of the time I feel like I can manage this.

Instead of wanting, I listen to new music at loud volumes while I drive. This fills me with the profound reassurance that just about everyone has felt the way I do, and many of us can turn that into something beautiful.

Instead of thinking about writing, I am writing.

Instead of fearing solitude, I sink deeply into it, like the way I settled into the cushions of that futon. The cover often slips off, but it’s easy enough to straighten it up.

Instead of getting everything all at once, I am combing carefully through thrift stores and garage sales for just the right pieces. Every time I get an itch to hit up the closest shop, I find a perfect something.

Instead of worrying and wondering, I am being. This is the greatest lesson from these last ten months. Life has tried to tell me how little control I have over anything beyond my own responses. I am finally learning to accept this.

Instead of wanting to change what happened, I am living my life. This new, strange life is full of possibility and enough shadow to make the light almost blinding some days.

Instead of mourning my family, I’m building a new one with my three beautiful children. The pack is smaller, but the love feels bigger somehow.

Instead of working, I lie on the beach sometimes.

Instead of dwelling on what has been taken from me, I am exploring everything that is now on offer. Some of it fits, some of it doesn’t, but everything feels worth trying.

Instead of feeling like I’ve failed, like I’m not gentle enough, or beautiful enough, like I’m not worthy of love, or family, or commitment…I’m folding my heart tenderly into me, managing it’s occasional fluttering before releasing it to the open sky again.

Sliding Backwards

I’m listening to Patrick Watson and you are everywhere. In every space I try to fill. In every breath I try to draw. Here’s another thing that was uniquely mine that I must reclaim. This music belongs to me. But then there’s a warm summer night full of rare city stars, the smell of you so close, your hand sturdy in mine and the haunting melodies that only you know how to love like I do.

How can you be gone?

No amount of running, or drinking, or kissing can change the fact that we have ended. I believed us to be limitless. Like mountains. Like the sky. I believed we were about to finally have a real shot, with all of the skeletons out of the closet. With all the truths told. I believed we both believed in us.

Now when I try to decide what to believe about us, I can’t find a single thread of truth beyond the untouchable fabric of our children.

That will be enough.

When I’m with my little souls, I feel like myself again. Alone, it’s like I don’t know this woman I’ve become. She’s like someone I once loved and lost touch with. There are wild places in those eyes, and fragility so intense I often feel like I have to hide her from the world. I know how to make her happy, and I feel intensely proud of that. It’s not as hard as you’ve come to believe.

Give her truth and transparency.

Honor her need for safety.

Feed her with beauty and natural places.

Never try to diminish her passion.

Trust that if you get even half her heart, she’s given you an entire universe, and she’s done so believing that you are worthy of such a gift.

How long does it take for this pain to fade? This pain of having loved you as wholly as I knew how, and yet still not enough? This pain of knowing you’ve found yourself reflected more perfectly in other places. This pain of what you have chosen over what you have turned away from. This pain of having to ring the doorbell of the house I once called home, where my entire family continues to live without me.

There is nothing fair about the end of love.

I will build an altar for the pieces of my heart. I’ll surround those fragments with flowers and honey, and treasures collected from the places I visit as I bleed out the memory of you. I will make an offering of the rest of my life. To move forward in truth, with love for myself, devotion to my children and the desire to wholly experience the few precious years I have left in this life.

Without you.

Without us.

Entirely mine.

If Animals Were Messengers

I moved all of my possessions out of my home on Saturday. A home I never wanted to leave. A home that all of the members of my former family remain in. I moved all of my possessions out of my home, into storage at my aunt’s house. Because I have no home to move those boxes to.

This is a scenario that would never unfold in a traditional marriage. The courts would decide who would leave, or who would stay if either spouse wished to remain in the family home.

My cousin and my brother helped me schlep a pick up truck and cargo van full of my belongings. I fed them pizza and beer, and my eternal gratitude. I didn’t cry, or get emotional. I just wanted to get out. Get it done. I’d packed everything a couple of days before. I’d purged mountains of my possessions. My ex helped me. That felt like a bad dream I couldn’t wake up from. The only thing I couldn’t handle was dividing up the Christmas decorations. I can’t begin to think about Christmas yet.

The enormity of the morning’s activities didn’t sink in until I was showered and made up and on my way to officiate one of two weddings I had on deck that evening. Then, it was another one of those drop kick moments. When my legs feel like they’ll buckle beneath me. When no matter how hard I try, I can’t believe this is my life. This is cataclysmic. Seismic. A catastrophe of epic proportion. Don’t cry, you’ll ruin your makeup.

Then, as I was stopped at a traffic light, a blue heron flew over my car. Blue heron brings messages of self-determination and self reliance. Progress, evolution. The ability to stand on one’s own.

My mind drifts to thoughts of her. How she’s in my home more than I am now. How she’s sliding so seamlessly into my place. Like a light bulb that gets screwed in when its predecessor sputters out. I can’t stop thinking of her, but everything I read tells me that’s normal. Given these kinds of breakups.

A monarch butterfly flutters maniacally over my windshield, in a frenzied effort to get the hell off the highway. Butterfly means that massive changes are afoot. She’s in your path to ask you to embrace those changes in your environment and your emotional body. Release any expectations regarding the outcome of the change around you and don’t try to control it. Allow it to flow through you and around you. Accept change with grace and eloquence.

I think of how little I am left with, and how much my former life meant to me. How much of my identity is rooted in the people I called home. How I never, ever imagined my life without him in it. To share the stories of my day, to hold and taste and adore. How I never would have wished to lose my son half of the time. Or see my daughters only every other weekend.

Two ravens squawk at each other before leaving behind a carcass on the side of the highway and flying up and over my car. Noisy raven urges you to speak up for yourself and heed the messages you are receiving. Raven is the keeper of synchronicity. You are in the right place at the right time. All things are falling into place for you. The people around you are reflecting to you the things you most need to learn about yourself.

I arrive at the wedding. The venue is a marina in Port Colborne. The weather is perfect, and everyone is in good spirits. I allow my own struggles to slide somewhere else inside of me, and surrender to the bubble gum pink beauty and the possibility of love. I unite lovers. I unite families. As I’m completing the paperwork, a blue dragonfly lands on my knee.

Dragonfly says pay attention to your deepest desires. Think your dreams into reality. Live your life to the fullest, change habits that need changing. A dragonfly landing on you indicates extremely good luck.

All of these messengers in one short afternoon. The most significant afternoon of my life, it seems. I think of days earlier. I was on a hike with a new friend, who seemed to know exactly what I needed and took me to see the fireflies. As dusk settled in, I watched a beaver slide into the old canal. I had no idea beavers lived this far south.

Beaver represents hard work and collaboration with others to turn your dreams into reality.

Then as we walked along the path, the trees looming over us like shadowy sentinels, the entire forest lit up with a thousand sparkling lights. Fist fulls of diamonds in the moonlight.

It’s this glow within me that will save me. This blazing heart that will fill me with love and illuminate the way ahead. It’s my own firefly light that will shine on all that is good and beautiful in this world, and no matter what I’ve lost, I will always see that there is so much yet to be gained.

I had lots of fun looking up the symbolism behind these creatures on this site.