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.

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.

A Letter to Present Me from Future Me

Dear Catherine,

(I’m sorry, I just can’t call you Cat. It’s absurd.)

You don’t think you’ll make it through this, but you will. You’re right about one thing, however. You won’t be the same. Nobody is ever the same after grief like this. It’s okay though. Remember how the other grief you experienced made you really learn to appreciate the fragile beauty of life? This will make you appreciate the fragile beauty of holding someone else’s heart. Most importantly, it will help you appreciate the fragile beauty of becoming the keeper of your own heart.

All of those things you’re doing that make you feel better? Keep doing those. Also, be prepared because you’re going to start having to do other things too. Those things you’ve been scared of. You know they’re going to help you get better as well, and if you take a long hard look at the present, you’ll see the time has come. Trust deeply in your ability to survive through this. It’s not going to kill you, and I’m not going to spout any more cliches than I already have.

Your children love you, deeply. If you keep on loving them the way you always have, this love will continue to thrive and flourish. Don’t pull away because it’s complicated. It was always complicated, and now it’s actually simpler in ways that matter more than you can know right now. You may not have the paperwork to prove you are ‘mother’ to all of them, but those two young women have the fiercest, most passionate fairy godmother in the history of guardians. You’re going to rock that role, and they will always be grateful for your persistence.

Stop trying to understand why. You can see how crazy-making that is, and you know as well as I do that it doesn’t matter. Remember that sweet, handsome soul who told you that you’ll feel normal ‘when you can let go of the story of wrong/right as an identity piece’? That particular little nugget will be a game-changer for you. Let go of the wrong/right narrative. It just was. And it was totally different for each of you. Nobody was completely right, nobody was completely wrong, everyone did their best, and everyone lost something that cannot be replaced. See? There really are no winners. Just people, trying to heal and be whole. Stepping away from the story is stepping towards your wholeness.

Start writing a new story. The story of you, taking care of your finances, your children, your heart, your body and mind. Of you finishing books and putting them out in the world because you aren’t paralyzed by anxiety and sorrow. Of you connecting deeply with old friends who know each line on your face. Of road trips to visit new friends. Of adventures with your three munchkins. Of meals that you cook, to thank all of these beautiful people in your life for their kindness and compassion. Plan a trip for the fall when wedding season winds down. Somewhere that connects you to nature. Where your loneliness will feel more inspiring than crushing. Where you might kiss a stranger and learn something new about yourself.

Only you can make this better. Stop asking for the pain to go away. It doesn’t work like that and you know it. Hold that pain like an angry child until it settles and shifts into something else. Hold it while you reach for a different sensation. Send all the feelings on their way and wait for the next ones to arrive. Repeat, over and over until the feelings fall into a new pattern.

Write it all down. Share what you can without making things harder for yourself. Choose only that which truly serves you. Accept this hug and feel it across the miles and the years whenever you may need it.

I’ll see you sooner than you think.

xo