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:

The Colour of My Eyes

I remember what it feels like to fall for someone.
As they take up real estate previously occupied by mundane tasks,
until even mundane tasks seem joyful.
I imagine how they’ll look at me when they first see me again, after a little while.
How they’ll idly touch me because it feels so easy and natural to touch me.
How they’ll show me all the beauty they have found as they move through their days.
I’ll want to cook for them, and drink too much wine with them.
We’ll stumble into my bed and emerge only when we need a snack.
Slowly, they’ll become the audience I sometimes write for,
The person I think of when I discover something to share.
I’ll want to see pictures of them when they were children,
Ask them questions that I know they’ll find difficult to answer.
I’ll listen, and open up my heart so they know their fragile secrets are safe with me.
My own secrets will become offerings, my tender places rolling over like petals in a rainstorm.
I’ll think about touching them in ways they’ve never been touched.
I’ll help them realize what they never knew they wanted.
I’ll see the world the way they do, and imagine it’s so close to my own sight
that it was just meant to be.

And then what?

I don’t need any more babies.
I have a family.
I don’t want a provider.
I like waking up alone just as much as I like
lazy mornings with company.
I want to explore without limits.
Share whatever I want, whenever I want to.
Keep my meager treasures safe.
Guard this fragile heart.
Make my own decisions.
Kiss the occasional stranger.
Love on my own terms, which I’m only just beginning to lay out.

So perhaps it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what colour my eyes are…

Yours are a clear and golden hazel, flecked with shards of amber.
In them I see fireflies, and shooting stars,
and the reflection of me, exactly as I am in this moment.
And I am falling.

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.

 

You Don’t Need Me

You don’t need me to tell you what loneliness feels like,
How the yawning silent void can sound like the loudest roar,
Or how the vast expanse of solitude can be crushing.

You don’t need me to show you how it hurts
to watch yourself grow irrelevant to the one who matters most,
to reach for the family you’ve built as they slip away.

You don’t need me to hold you, and run my fingers slowly
along the map of your body,
the constellations across your shoulders,
the granite slopes of your thighs…

You don’t need me to make hotel-crisp corners
of the bed we unmade
in the morning, while you shower.
Or to forget my earrings, little pieces of me, on your side table.

You don’t need me to coax out your secrets,
curl up in the scent of you,
to listen to this, to watch that
or to do that thing, that up until now,
you’d only imagined.

You don’t need me.

We are two trees rooted in possibility,
our branches touching briefly
as we bend with the wind that moves us.