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.

Try With Me

I started out the month of April deciding I would try to be celibate for 30 days. Things on the romantic front were more stressful than pleasurable. Worry and confusion about dynamics and intentions had taken over my brain in ways I didn’t like. I needed a reset before launching into Spring. I made it exactly two weeks, but in that time, I realized a few important things:

I can’t do casual sex. Maybe if I connect with someone once and then decide it’s best to keep it friendly and take sex off the table, it remains casual. Beyond that, I develop feelings. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, and lighthearted sexual fun will continue to have its time and place in my life, but I know to avoid trying to build space with people who prefer casual arrangements.

I’m getting really good at letting go of connections and relationships that challenge my boundaries in an unhealthy way. I’ve been clear and kind while telling people that the timing isn’t right, or that the chemistry isn’t working, or that I want something deeper.

In the past, I’ve tried to make pieces fit, or make concessions, and these relationships always end with me feeling hurt and mistrustful. I trust myself to choose well. I trust my intuition to illuminate things I should see while deciding whether or not to create space for someone.

Nobody is perfect. The later we are into adulthood, the more hurt and complexity we all carry around with us. It’s impossible to meet people without baggage. I think the key lies in choosing people whose luggage compliments your own. Our life experiences can create strength and support for someone else. These lessons help refine our awareness of what we need.

I’m deeply drawn to seekers who strive to understand their own minds and hearts. People who want to be better, and who want to live deeply in their emotions. Those people are going to be the ones who will at least try to weather the storms with their partner.

I am ambiamorous. This is a new term in the lexicon of loving that I discovered recently. Someone who is ambiamorous is equally as comfortable in a polyamorous relationship as they are in a monogamous relationship. If they meet a partner who is poly, they feel good about exploring that. If love leads them to someone with monogamous leanings, they can exist this way too. So, if y’all were looking to slap some labels on me, please make sure this one is included. (I’m a queer, cis, pagan, single mom, ambiamorous femme)

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted in the bedroom. I did not. If you’d asked me in March what my ideal partner could bring to the party when it comes to sex, I would have said something like, “I need someone who will lovingly dominate me and explore some kink with me”. Or, “I need a horned god who will worship me like a goddess and I will return this adoration”.

Recently, I had a revelation. I became aware of the affectations I carry into new sexual space, and was rather stunned by this. I thought I was genuine, but I think it was bravado. Now, I want someone who I can arrive with in sexual space and be entirely open; free of preset ideas around what I need, ready to discover what that moment, and that shared energy reveals. I want someone who will meet me at the fire, take my hand and walk with me through it to the other side, grounded and present, and ready to explore any place we desire.

It’s okay to be scared. I’ve been through a lot, and I don’t mean over the course of this last year. It’s hard for me to trust romantic partners. It’s scary for me to believe that they are sincere and invested in building something real with me. It makes complete sense that I’d be afraid to be vulnerable again, but I don’t think this means I’m not ready to try.

According to certain psychological frameworks, I’m an anxious attached person. This means I need reassurance. I may get emotional/weepy when it feels really connected and real. I will still have my own world of interests and things to do, so I’m not worried about being clingy, but I will need to be reminded with words and gestures of how cherished I am. I give a lot of that sort of thing, so I don’t think it’s a big ask. I need to know I’m safe.

The right person will understand this and will be okay with holding my hand until we’re through the forest of newness and uncertainty.

It’s okay to wait. Or not. I don’t know if we’re all like this, but there comes a time in the getting to know a potential lover when I really must know how physically compatible we are. I love good chemistry, and usually if it’s strong while everyone’s clothes are on, it continues to be strong in other circumstances. However, there are those occasions when this is not the case, and this disconnect continues to happen beyond that ‘first time’ which is often a little awkward and a tad uncertain. It’s okay to let that chemistry build before you see how it translates to naked time, but it’s also okay to arrive at naked time sooner rather than later in the interest of researching an investment.

I can ask for what I need. I’ve been seeing someone for a few months who I’m quite fond of. It’s low key, and he was really clear on his own capacity for relationship. We aren’t looking for the same thing, ultimately, but I enjoy his company and he’s become a dear friend. Before I declared my sexual hiatus, I asked him for two very specific things if we are to resume that aspect of our relationship. How I follow through with this will reflect how well I honor my boundaries. Those boundaries, I realize, are everything. They are subject to shifting, and changing, but when I know they are firm I cannot ignore them because they help me create the safety I deserve.

Emotional safety is everything. What do I mean by emotional safety? I mean that I know I can trust my partner. I can lean into them when I need care and support. That I believe in my bones they are on my team and have my best interests in mind. That they will share their own inner world and their struggles with me. That they won’t be afraid to let me know who they are and what they need. That I can be exactly who I am and be loved for all that I have to offer, PLUS all that I have to work through. That I will work hard to be worthy of their love, by being as authentic and vulnerable as I can be, while trusting that they are doing the same.

The early stages should be fun. This period of discovering another person should be wondrous, and delightful. The only thing that should cause tension is the anticipation of that next moment. It should feel like forward motion, and delicious curiosity. It should be a slow burn until both parties are truly sure they want to sink deeper. It should not include anxiously fretting over where you stand, wondering why you have a weird feeling about the other person, wanting more and not being met, or reading text messages obsessively to try to decipher what is actually being said.

On Sunday I had brunch with my darling cousin Alex. How I love to talk with her. We discussed how each of us has our own mountain of stuff to deal with, and how life throws all kinds of things at us. How building relationship can really illuminate complex pieces of who we are. We agreed that at the end of the day, all we can really hope for is someone who will try. Try to create a home, with loving space to share. Try to face the hurdles together. Try to build each other up and see each other realize our dreams. Try to understand and offer loving support when the other person is struggling. Try, and keep trying because it’s a safe place to try. 

Not bad for two weeks, right? I mean, these things were already percolating in there, but there was suddenly more space for me to see what was swirling around. It’s like watching the stars sometimes, these little flashes that twinkle around in my brain.

This kind of clarity seemed sharper when I removed an element that was creating more of an energy drain than any kind of positive force. So much of my identity is tied to understanding sexuality, which I won’t apologize for, but it was kind of amazing to see what happened when I shifted that energy back into myself instead of out into the world.

Sometimes a great, big, inhale is all we need.

The Giving Hand

Snow in the springtime is not unheard of in this part of Canada. Still, when I woke up to a sparkling white blanket over everything, I gasped. The little buds on the shrubs outside were so ready to burst open. They were surely more shocked than I when the heavy rain of yesterday took a turn.

Timing is everything. The snowdrops are hardy enough to survive this. They’ve already made a cheerful appearance. Spring will find its way through the sub zero. The certainty of the seasons makes me feel okay.

So, I sit with my morning coffee in a little apartment that isn’t my own, and I watch the fluffy chunks descend. The tree branches are heavy with the stuff. I’m still not back in my home. It’s April tomorrow. That’s two whole months of being out after the flood.

In the last 48 hours I’ve had two more very clear signals that it’s time for me to pull up my own snowy blanket for a little while longer. The soil isn’t ready to yield anything wondrous or romantic just yet. I’ve decided to take April and be celibate. My friends all smirk when I tell them this. I know it won’t be hard, because I’m really tired.

I keep trying to plant in frozen soil.

On Sunday morning I had a Thai massage and Reiki treatment from a wonderful friend with incredible gifts. I learned that my giving hand is closed. I could feel how closed and resistant this hand was. As I set the intention to open it up, I burst into tears and there was a whole new flood to deal with.

My giving hand is closed. And yet, all this time I thought I’d been giving and giving. What can you give when you see the ground is frozen and yet try to plant something anyway? What have I actually been giving?

I’ve been giving my body, and some orgasmic energy and a few angsty lines of poetry. I’ve been tilling frozen earth because my closed giving hand knows that I wouldn’t know the first thing to do with fertile soil.

I am too afraid to actually give myself again. My beautiful gut keeps seeking people who I’ll never really get deep with. I couldn’t possibly get deep. I didn’t know this until I could feel it in my fingers. I can’t let go of how it felt to lose love. I’m not brave enough to risk feeling that way again.

And so, with so many clear messages from the universe, in what is perhaps the ultimate April Fool’s gesture, I’ve alerted any potential paramours; the thaw isn’t coming until May.

This heart chakra of mine needs some healing love. All the energy that my root chakra was dispatching is now on reserve. I’m going to set my intentions toward opening my giving hand.

An open hand is a useful thing, even if I’m too afraid to sow another seed.

The Whirlpool

Remember the text and phone only connection I was about to experience in real life? It happened yesterday, over an epic lunch near the airport. I was so very nervous the morning of, but after thinking and writing and feeling, I settled into something that seemed more like first-date jitters.

He was sweet. It felt so good to share space with him. The conversation was easy. There’s this calm, introspective energy about him. Like a young Gandalf. He has such beautiful blue eyes – not the slightly creepy, startling kind. More like the broody slate of an autumn lake. He behaved like a perfect gentleman.

Too perfect. In fact, I quickly realized that he must not have been attracted to me in real life. That whatever whispers we’d exchanged were based on some notion of me, and not the actual me-in-the-flesh. I am well-versed on the subtle nuances of attraction and flirtation. It wasn’t there. So, I remained open, glad at least to have such an interesting and talented friend.

When he walked me to my car, I wondered what he’d do if I kissed him. How his too-long mustache might feel. I figured this would scare him off, and if he’d wanted to be kissed, he wouldn’t have a too-long mustache in the first place. So I settled into the hug he offered. I was genuinely glad that he set aside three uninterrupted hours in his insane schedule for me. I was happy to be clear on the fact that whatever fantasies we’d created, we were, it seemed, just friends.

Then he texted this morning. He told me the attraction was there. I hadn’t missed it, he’d just tucked it in a drawer so I couldn’t get at it. Things got confusing. He would have welcomed the kiss. Silly me – I put myself out there again by suggesting we meet up while he’s close by over the weekend, and he didn’t take the volley in any kind of immediate way.

I stopped. I felt my heart. I asked for the ball back.

A long distance relationship with no quick end to the distance is crazy. A ‘live in the moment’ exploration of friendship and sexual connection only works with two people who both want to navigate that with care and clarity. Neither of those things were on the table. I can’t fault someone for knowing what they don’t want.

I wished him well, and I meant it. Whoever gets to love that guy…she who cracks open that drawer and gets at the passion I got a tiny taste of…who inspires songs that aren’t about longing and lost love, well – she’s going to be very lucky indeed.

But here’s what my heart told me; whoever gets to love me is very lucky too.

I would rather not be valued solely for my ability to occupy sexual space with ease. I’m not saying that’s what happened here, but maybe it did, a little. This feels like the truth in all of my recent attempts at relationship. Did Marilyn Monroe have a boyfriend who brought her soup when she was sick, or who was content to rub her feet when she was bloated with PMS?

Maybe not the best comparison. I am, however, getting a sense of why she was so lonely.

Is it easy to confuse fluid ideas around monogamy with an inability to connect deeply? Because I may not be real clear about the ‘one person only for the rest of my life’ business, but I do want to sink deeply into someone and see where it goes.

I guess I’ve been guilty, once again, of amplifying things that may not have been real for everyone involved. Perhaps they were an experiment of sorts, or a way of trying something on. Like a hat you’d never actually buy.

I got an important reminder last week from a new acquaintance. I’d expressed hesitancy at showing up to an event solo, and he pointed out the fact that not too long ago, I’d declared myself my own primary partner. Why couldn’t I go anywhere I wanted with myself as my date?

I feel like such a great deal of my energy is invested in these connections with people. I wonder what would happen if I put zero effort into finding, chasing, or trying to nurture romance?

What if, for the month of April, I just stopped? No more dating apps, no sending the first text. No more circular conversations with my close friends trying to analyze the people I am seeing.

On my kid-free nights, I could take myself out on dates. Spend my money on pampering instead. I could buy fancy cheese and olives and enjoy some binge-watching with a glass of wine. There’s nothing confusing about smoked gouda and Queer Eye.

I won’t ignore or reject anything the Universe decides to send my way, but it’s pretty darn clear that it’s is telling me to stop chasing love. I’d be very silly, after the year I’ve had, to ignore the Universe.

When love shows up it will push through fear, emotional complexity, and distance. It will feel full, not hungry. Clear, not muddy. They will say “I love you,” and not just “I love how you feel”.

Meanwhile, I’ll embrace April and be the best primary partner I can be. I will dazzle myself with romantic gestures and loving caresses. I’ll dress up for myself and take myself out on the town.

When Beltane comes in May, I’ll be even clearer on my worth.

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.