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. 

No Choruses to Hide Behind

The post-flood apartment renovations continue, and I remain transient. I’ve got my sweet little Airbnb until the end of this month, and then it’s a whole lot of ‘we’ll see’ until I can move back home again. It shouldn’t take much longer. My best guess is mid-April. The beautiful thing is seeing how grounded I feel. How at home I am in myself. It’s a good thing too, because there’s an anniversary approaching.

Last year at this time we were set to embark on a family vacation. On March 19th 2018, on said vacation, I witnessed something that made it clear that my life was about to change. That nothing would be the same. That I would have to re-define family, and re-discover who I am. I wanted one last hoorah with my parents, my brother and my partners and kids while everyone was able-bodied and able to enjoy such a thing. Instead, it was the catalyst that sent me into another orbit. The start of an excruciating journey that continues to unfold.

The light is hitting the path these days, dappling the fresh-smelling muck with cheerful patterns. I’m learning to trust my gut, which means making huge decisions. In May, I’m beginning a five-and-a-half year journey. I’m going back to school full time (online) to become a psychotherapist. I’ve fantasized about reinventing my life and going to university. So many times, I’ve wondered how different my career path would have been if I’d used even half of this giant brain of mine.

Friends, I feel called to be a therapist. When I imagine my future practice, it’s devoted to relationships and sex. This has been a dream of mine for ages, and only as a single mom could I lean on government funding to make it come true. Some real-life lemonade that I’m squeezing with these relentless hands. I’m both excited and terrified, and all the best things feel that way at first.

The flood/homelessness has freed up enough funds to finish publishing that novel I’ve been working on for years. I hope to have it finally out in the world by the fall. I’ve found a cover designer, and will begin the design process next month. I also plan to start recording an audio book version of the final draft.

My romantic dance card is empty at the moment.

Polyamory, at least in the sense of maintaining multiple relationships, feels like too much for me to manage. I want a big love. I don’t want a square dance, I want a single partner. If I’m going to test the boundaries of monogamy, I want someone by my side to explore that with. I continue to trust my gut as I encounter new people.

There was a world-traveler with eyes like a husky who taught my body new tricks, and seemed enamored of me, but had a lot on his (emotional/life) plate. The timing was way off, and my gut was never really clear.

There was a rogue of an artist who made music and told stories and helped me make some magic in the bedroom. He inspired some of my best poems, and I gifted him a hand-written collection for his birthday. He didn’t have any real space for me amidst some complicated personal relationships and a whole bunch of other stuff rattling around in the atelier of his mind.

I know exactly what I’m looking for in a ‘someone’, and I’m able now to step away from anyone who isn’t that. I am excellent and gracious when it comes to ending things. I was never really very good at this before. There was a lot of ignoring my gut and benefit of the doubt and sticking around when I really shouldn’t have. I wasn’t afraid to be alone. I was afraid to be unloved.

It might be time to take a break from dating and sex. To take a more passive stance in the pursuit of romance. I could do well to rest my heart for a little while, and I’ve got plenty of people who love me. I love me more than ever before, and that often feels like all I need.

In the background of these real-life dating trials, I’ve built a connection with someone that I will only describe as magic. He’s a creator, a storyteller. Our entire bond exists in text messages and the occasional phone call. Is that crazy?

I feel like he speaks my language, despite never sharing a conversation in the same physical space. Like he sees the world in the same kind of dazzling light and velvety shadow as I do. I hear this in his voice, in his words, in the notes he strikes. We are mutual fans of one another’s work. That’s a beautiful feeling. I was humbled the first time he told me he’d been following my writing. Following, like I’m leading him somewhere.

There are some enormous barriers to being able to explore what this connection could be. Several hours of driving. Same country, same time zone, but children for each of us who are anchors to the places where we live.

Does that matter when you aren’t looking to make babies and raise them with someone? When you each have full and busy lives? If this connection is real, what’s a few years of long distance until one of the kiddos is adulting? (I’m shaking my own head, don’t worry.)

But…but…You know I’m a hopeless romantic. In my work as a wedding officiant, I hear stories about the circumstances that lead people to one another; losing religion, disobeying family, challenging culture, waiting for the laws to change, reassigning their gender, living continents apart for years, meeting in their twenties and reuniting in their forties and finally finding space for one another. I married a couple in December who each had to travel to Hong Kong from their own corners of the world to meet each other. When they did, ‘they just knew’.

Shouldn’t we at least see what it feels like to be in the same room, with nothing to distract from the conversations we could have? If it’s as good in real life, what happens next?

We met on my writing retreat in 2017, by a complete fluke. I got to see him for the first time in his element, which is a beautiful way to encounter anyone for the first time. I guess the same could be said for him, because he first discovered me by reading these posts. We started chatting a year later and here we are now, but where are we? We’re scheduled to meet in eleven days, but who’s counting.

I don’t believe in coincidence. Master Oogway was not shitting when he said ‘There are no accidents’. I think people come to us like offerings from the universe to teach us, or gift us, or help us grow.

Maybe this connection is meant to show me that men like this exist, and maybe it’s just a matter of finding those qualities closer to home. Maybe one of us will chicken out and the meeting won’t happen. Maybe my dance card cleared out just in the nick of time. Maybe I’m the only one who is feeling like this is a special connection. Maybe the distance should be a hard no, and this should just be a good friendship. Maybe I’m thinking about it too much. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping busy with work. I have wonderful friends who fill me with love. My children are thriving, and I look forward to a season of mucky hiking, discovering the wonder of nature unfolding. The solstice is coming along with the promise of spring’s renewal and regeneration. My family is close and connected. I have an abundance of riches, and an active imagination. I have love. So much love, and it feels like a chorus rallying behind me almost all of the time.

The Woman I Am

Last year, at this time, I could see the end of my relationship clear on the horizon. On the surface, I didn’t know how I would survive the pain, how I would start my life again from scratch. In the marrow of my bones, in the fibre of the universe inside me, I knew I would be okay. The legacy of the outrageously resilient women who are my ancestors whispered to me that I would rise from this in power and grace. It was their silent solace, and the tangible love I have for my children that kept me moving forward. Kept me.

And now, one year later, here I am. There are mornings (like this one) when I feel tired and tender. Like my heart is too big. Like my desire to love still leads me to dynamics where I’ll never receive the love I need. There are days when I tell myself that a loving partnership just isn’t in the cards for me. That all anyone will really value is the sexual currency that I trade like I’m on Wall Street. That being a wife means becoming boring and codependent. There are days when these lies feel like the truth.

I am mother, nurturer, healer of emotional pain. I am filled with fire, with a deep, raging passion. I am unapologetic in my love of sex, of bodies connecting.

I will dry your tears, fill your belly and feed your soul, all while seeing that my own oxygen mask is fully secured. My dreams will be relentlessly pursued while I bolster yours, I will eat this life, and I will happily feed you every morsel you dare to taste.

This is how I want to share physical/romantic space. I don’t want to just fill your need for good sex. I don’t want to pick up where someone else leaves off. I don’t want any part of your codependent mess. I don’t want to be claimed, tamed or named by you. I want to be me, wholly and fully and have you arrive, and see me wholly, and adore me as much as I do. 

Because I do. I love this woman I am. Love her ‘s’ shaped spine, her round belly, her alabaster skin, her tiny breasts, her epic ass. I love her ridiculously romantic heart. How she looks for beauty in every corner. How she wants to teach her daughters to be unafraid of their own glory. How she wants to teach her son to fill his heart with the Goddess and love each person he encounters with that light radiating from him. 

This woman I am wants to heal the toxic masculine in every lover I take to my bed. I want to empower the women in my life by reflecting back to them their divine power. I want to heal people’s hearts, ignite their sacred sexual fire, help them fill their lives with passion and help them find permission to explore the essence of why we humans are here.

I want to tell stories, create worlds, give people an escape (in story, in my bed), and help people believe in magic. 

I want to love, to be love.

And with each day that passes on this journey, I feel more ready to receive love. It’s coming, as sure and full of wonder as the spring.

The Flood

I thought the crazy in my life was over, at least for a little while. But crazy doesn’t care about timelines, it seems. Or how much you’ve been shuffled around, unsettled, displaced. Crazy finds you when it wants, and it found me again on February 6th, the day of the first of a series of ice storms.

My son was with his dad, home from school because it had been cancelled. I was under the weather with a cold, and was thoroughly delighted to be working in bed for the day. No interruptions, no need for makeup. Then it began to rain in my apartment.

What began as a small ceiling drip turned into a waterfall from the light fixture in the kitchen and the bathroom fan. The insides of the walls were running with water, which was wicked up by the carpet. It got worse and worse until there were no more buckets or bins to fill, and then I ended up fleeing because the carpet was soaked, the rain kept coming in, and I didn’t know what else to do.

The damage got worse. I’ve lost part of my wall in the kitchen, the ceiling in the hall, the wall in the bathroom. The wall-to-wall carpet is destroyed. The whole place smells like boiled cabbage from the moisture in the ceiling, the walls and in the carpet underpad. They’ve installed heaters and dryers and dehumidifiers. The damage is so extensive that I’ve had to remove the entire contents of my apartment so that when they do repair and renovate, nothing will get destroyed.

The only possession I lost was an art print I bought at Winners years ago. I’ve carried this print to every place I’ve lived in since graduating from college. It’s a miracle there wasn’t more property damage. Hopefully nothing will be mildew damaged. I’m insured, thank god, so the insurance company sent in people to clean and pack and store my stuff. I’m covered for a couple of months of temporary lodging.

It could have been a lot worse.

The cost is in lost work time, but my clients have been wonderfully patient. There’s an emotional cost too, with the sense of overwhelm that’s so easy to feel when your home is no longer your home. 

What am I meant to learn from this? This flood happened just as I was truly beginning to enjoy being alone. Beginning to feel at home in this new space, this new life of mine. Now, nobody can tell me when I’ll be back. They have to replace the entire roof first, which is no small task in February. My best guess is two months. 

I tried to stay with my exes, and while it was so sweet to be with the kids, their was an emotional toll in being in my old home in its new state. There was also tension. We still need to have a few important, healing conversations, and those issues continue to exist below all of the love and goodwill that lives on the surface. I’m immensely grateful that they’ve taken my kitten though. He’s very happy there with the kids, and my middle daughter is madly in love with him.

Fate at least arranged for a good personal hook up. A new friend happens to have several local Airbnb options, and they were gracious enough to arrange a short-term-rental for me. The place is all kitted out with retro charm, and it’s cute as hell. Once my clothes are back from the cleaners, I’ll whittle myself a capsule wardrobe and live a minimal kind of life. It should be interesting to discover what it will mean for this new friendship, to shift into a landlord/tenant dynamic.

It’s quite a thing to look at all the crap one has accumulated and decide in a matter of hours what one might need for a couple of months. As I type this, a crew of strangers is going through and inventorying all of my possessions. There were so many people in my apartment today, I simply couldn’t stay. I rescued my plants and my printer and I ran away. I spent the day yesterday packing up all of my lingerie and grown up toys. My baby daddy was gracious enough to help me haul my bins and boxes up to the new digs.

What is the lesson? That the idea of home is not tied to stuff, or even a physical location perhaps. Home is a sense of belonging. A deep, comfortable place where you can be yourself without pretense or apology. Perhaps the lesson is that I am my own home. That a roof is irrelevant, because it’s a movable reality that follows me wherever I go. 

What do I require beyond this sense? I need a laptop, a notebook, some pens, a few articles of clothing, outrageously big earrings, something good to read, and my kids. So long as I have the above plus friends to sip tea with, have long conversations with, break bread with, share physical affection with, I’ve got everything I need.

What do you need to feel like you’re home?

Summoning Mythical Beasts

Photo by Igor Saveliev

What does love look like when you’ve exhausted every convention, and tried everything you knew how to do to make it last? Does one resign oneself to the notion that they ‘aren’t the marrying kind’? Do they give up on any type of domesticity with a person to share that with?

I see a path where I’m a lone wolf, only keeping company when mood and opportunity align. There’s something deeply alluring about that path. And yet…I just can’t stop chasing this notion that somewhere out there, a true Pegasus awaits. Some mythical, winged beast of a man who can land in my unicorn pasture and slay convention by my side.

Here’s what I know about love and partnership. Here’s how I’m working to define what love could look like again:

Truth and transparency is more important than monogamy.

Truth can only come from self-awareness. I need a partner committed to realizing their higher self and understanding and articulating their own needs. 

All we have is the present moment. I want someone who can occupy the present with me and who will strive to remain there.

My sexuality is sacred. My passion runs deep. In the rare instances where I’ve been met with chemistry and connection that seem equally balanced, my heart and soul get involved faster than I want them to. I need to learn to be the master of that powerful energy.

I want to cook with someone, nurture them and care for them. Help them articulate and realize their dreams while feeding my own fire and realizing my own dreams. I want to lavish them with love, and I want that kind of willingness to reciprocate.

My children deserve someone who will adore them and bring something beautiful into their lives. I want someone who will love my children as their own, while understanding that their role isn’t entirely parental.

My place of pain limits me just as anyone else’s does. I don’t want to be on a pedestal. I want someone who will navigate the dark waters with me. 

Family and my family of friends are deep and powerful connections in my life. I need someone who also knows what this means. I want to merge our tribes and have a house full of memory-making.

I want to see someone as they truly are and still love what I see.

I want a lifetime of playful, adventurous, sacred sexuality. I want to feed and nurture that with my partner with as much loving attention as we give to all of the other important facets of our life. I want to honor that space by showing up in my honesty and vulnerability, by exploring and experimenting, by challenging boundaries, and I want to do this as a unit.

I want a horned god that I can worship, who will fall to his knees before the goddess in me.

I want an intense and visceral physical attraction that is reciprocated. I want to know how much my partner loves the way I look, feel, smell and taste.

I need someone with true alpha energy, not that bullshit toxic masculinity, to create space for me to enjoy my alpha female tendencies. I want that primal shit, but back when they worshiped voluptuous goddesses. (Does anyone else feel like this is an entire blog post right here?)

I am an artist. I need someone who has their own passions that they are compelled to explore, just as I am compelled to lose myself in my writing. I need my partner to have tremendous respect for my artistic space and my talent.

I want a kind of hedonism that is tempered by consciousness, financial responsibility, healthy living, and self-care. Is that a thing? Can we start a movement?

As I type these words I find myself laughing. How could any one person tick off these boxes? Have I become so jaded that I’ve raised the bar to Olympian heights because I’m too afraid to be hurt again? 

Some of you will read this and say, “Why not be all of those things to yourself?” I am. I strive to be, every damn day. I’m really nailing this, as a matter of fact. It’s a good exercise; list everything you dream of in a partner, and then be all of those things.

I’m not lonely, and I’m okay alone, but to allow myself to imagine the kind of life I could live, with my flanks cooled by the powerful wings of a Pegasus? Now that’s the kind of magic that I want. 

Meanwhile, the grass is tasting pretty sweet in this unicorn pasture of mine.