I wanted passion and excitement this summer. Carefree, sensual enjoyment of the heat and the full, lush green, and the feeling of wet sand between my toes.
I wanted campfire hair in the morning. Bug bites in scandalous places. Freckles on my shoulders like constellations waiting to be mapped by someone’s mouth.
I wanted the opposite of last summer, and so, I got all of that. I’m grateful. I have no regrets. But I’m also embarrassed to be writing this post.
The last time we spoke, I was heading into fall with a burgeoning relationship to nurture, alongside all of the other beautiful things I tend. However, the wires were crossed. We put a label on something that cannot be defined, and I still don’t truly understand why or how that happened. This is perhaps a record for my shortest span of time in a relationship.
In many ways, the words we exchanged were matching up, but as I look at it all from over here, I can see that the truth was in action and intention. To me, it felt like the kind of polarity and parallel I’ve always wanted. Someone with a deep sense of purpose, driven to give and work hard and create a life of their own imagining. It was and is all of that, but we don’t want the same things. I want to build something with someone.
Always be clear on someone else’s intention before deciding how to invest.
What I want isn’t possible in this connection. I always knew this, but I started to believe that things had shifted. The irony, of course, is that this connection made me realize I want something I can sink my teeth into. Chemistry is a confusing thing, though I still maintain this isn’t just chemistry.
I can’t be sorry for wanting to build a partnership. I suppose I shouldn’t be embarrassed about that either. If you’ve been reading here for a while, heck, if you’ve spent an hour talking to me, you won’t be surprised that I want to fall in love and be loved.
We are great at communicating. He is so steady, and although so many of the things he said were hard for me to hear, he knows himself and his capacity and was transparent. Transparency, yet contradiction. It’s no wonder I get confused.
I know myself and my depth. I also know how hard I’ve worked to write a new story about me in love. So I peeled off the label, and I’m collecting my threads. I don’t want to spend any more time trying to imagine how this can work. It will either make sense, or it won’t and I’ve done all that I can to be clear and open.
I weave parts of myself into the dynamic I create with other people. Now I wonder if it’s possible to explore intimacy and keep every thread of me for myself?
I don’t know that this is over, but I’ve taken several steps back. I’m also adding reciprocity to my list of personal values. I hope that some space will bring clarity. I think we both need to feel what it’s like without our connection.
Here are the lessons, and they are always the same lessons. At least I can say I’m getting faster at learning them:
Be slow and careful as you observe what is unfolding. Don’t write the story, witness the moment. Ask vulnerable questions to try and understand what the other person is thinking and feeling. Watch how their action supports their words. Look for reciprocity. Trust your intuition. Know that when you worry more than you feel content and at peace, you’re back in the old story. Stay out of the old story and be aligned at the moment. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
I can take all the love I wanted to give and pour it back into so many worthwhile places where it will flourish and heal and thrive. I’m never worried about that part of the process. My well runs deep and so many facets of my life seem to feed the source. My heart is renewable energy and the beauty I cultivate is everlasting.
It’s Sunday morning. I wake up slowly, and the apartment is warm and full of birdsong. My big male cat, Taku, is doing the combo meow-purr that tells me he’s simultaneously hungry and itching to get outside. I am neither of those things, so I lay in bed for a little while longer and invite candle-lit flickers of the night before to lull me back into a kind of half-sleep.
I wasn’t sure it was a date. We’d done the dating thing briefly, years ago, and the only thing that stopped us from moving forward back then (as far as I was concerned) was bad timing. Ever since we’ve been friendly. I continued to feel interest and attraction. I suspect that he did too, but the timing continued to be off.
The night before, he came to see my new apartment. I spent a lot of time getting ready, and that ritual of preparation and pampering always puts me into the sweetest state of sensuality. We ordered take out. He looked great (he has impeccable fashion sense) and he smelled like fresh water and line-dried laundry.
I like so many things about him, and I’m curious to know about the way he thinks and feels through the world. It quickly became clear that it was, in fact a date. There were things about him I’d forgotten that I was delighted to rediscover. I had a thoroughly wonderful time, and could have made it a very late night. I did, in fact, stay up much later after he headed home.
And now it’s Sunday morning. I’m in the dreamy space of ‘what happens next’. I throw on a minimal amount of clothing because the sun blasts directly into the kitchen window. I fry some eggs, make some coffee and reheat some garlic naan from the night before. This feels like heaven; the birds, the warmth of the sun on my freckled shoulders, the ease of having nothing on the agenda today.
I wonder if I would have been happy to share this with him, or if I’m happier savouring it all alone?
Taku is perched in the window, taught as a wire and chirping at the birds. He wants so badly to get out there. To be fully immersed in the wild wonder. He never hunts, but he loves to feel and smell it all. We both want something we can’t quite put our finger on.
My new place is coming together slowly and sweetly. It’s a personal sanctuary from corner to corner. I received the best compliment the other night: it looks enchanted, like the set of a fairytale. That whimsy and quirky elegance is exactly what I’m going for. After my first mug of coffee, I pad upstairs and collect the evidence of my maybe-definitely-date. Will he message me today? Will we do any of it again?
I know I won’t reach out first. It’s part of my commitment to me, and my commitment to living as much in my feminine energy as I can. I am soft and open. I am ready to receive. I’m here to witness what is meant for me and observe how it shows up in my life. I will not chase, but I will gladly yield when it feels sweet, and soft and safe.
Maybe what I want isn’t the way things are done anymore? I see a trend towards brief encounters at a certain level with a variety of participants, even in the midst of this pandemic. I’ve done that. I find it lacking. I want deep, and real. I want something that will compliment my expansion, where I can carry on my spiritual exploration on a deep, physical level. I can only do that with one person at a time.
Dating when you’re full to overflowing is the only way. Fill yourself until you’re spilling over before you look to add to the well.
I settle at my desk and work on my novel edits until the French press is empty. Then I walk along the river for an hour listening to an audio book. The day is like a dream; I am beholden only to my whims.
My good friend Paje, introduced me to Human Design way back at the beginning of this COVID life (I’m a 6/2 Reflector). Learning about my design type has been nothing short of life-changing. Paje tells me that in order to live authentically in my design, I must release expectations and open to surprise. At first, I believed this to mean I had to release my expectations of other people.
On this particular Sunday, I realize that I must, first and foremost, release my expectations of myself. I may know where I’d like to end up, but it’s impossible to know exactly how I’ll get there, or with whom (if there’s to be a consort in this story). Sunday is a surrender to surprise, and in this exercise I learn that the unexpected can only appear when I release my desire to know the outcome and surrender to the divine feminine flow.
As I’m building my journal therapy practice, a big part of this work has been articulating how I came into reflective writing. With the help of my new marketing goddess, something has really struck me; my whole life has been about creating a safe container for story:
My personal story, the stories of the characters I inhabited, the stories of my performers, the stories of our audience, the stories of my imagination, the stories of the authors I work with, and now I’m creating a safe container for the stories of my clients.
I’ve accomplished this with a fair measure of grace in my professional life. I’m humbled by the ways I’ve seen this emerge with the work I’ve done.
In my personal life, I’ve really missed the mark.
Intimate space is so much more vulnerable, isn’t it? We’re stripped of the filters and layers we create with fourth walls, professional detachment, suspension of disbelief.
There are no characters in intimacy. Nothing to hide behind, except the generations of trauma and the patterns of behaviour we create in response.
This last month has been a practice in integrity. I’ve said all that I can say. I’ve moved in true alignment. It’s been incredibly painful, but I’m okay with that because I know it’s a necessary step in my evolution.
At the end of September, I began a series of posts exploring my recent breakup through the lens of Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief. As always, the writing was a powerful tool to help me move through the emotion.
It’s been an intense experience, moving through this loss and change without all the usual distractions I would seek out. COVID has made it impossible for me to plan nights out with friends, to date my way through the heartache, and I don’t dare try to drown my sorrows with alcohol, because there are just too many reasons to keep drinking these days.
I made the conscious choice to sit with the difficult feelings, and see what they would reveal. I recommend this to all of you. It’s painful, but I’ve learned so much.
I accept that my intuition and higher knowing responded in the best way to lead me to that which is meant for me.
I accept that it is too painful to try to pursue those places, people, and things that are very clearly not meant for me, not able to engage with me, and not interested in me.
I accept that my actions and reactions will always have consequences.
I accept that both people need to be aware, accountable, and willing to change and grow to be able to move through relationship difficulty.
I accept my part in things, but I also accept that it wasn’t all my fault.
I accept that we didn’t create a safe container. I also accept that it’s time now to move ahead with all I’ve learned.
I accept that when things are meant for me, they will be clear to understand and they will fill me with joy and purpose. They will reinforce my potential and my goodness while challenging me to continue to grow.
I accept that no matter how I have wanted things to be different, or how long I’ve wanted things to change, things are exactly as they are.
I accept that it is a bad idea to build my future with anyone but myself until I know, without any uncertainty, that I can do so.
I accept that my own autonomy and independence are the keys to the security and stability my son and I both deserve.
I accept that the kind of deep, connected love that I want is out there.
I accept that I will find someone who has the capacity for me.
I accept that this time in my life is meant for me to love myself, and I accept how good it feels to be tucked away in my own company.
I accept that these new tools for working through my emotion are what I’ve always needed. That time, and space, and silence are what are required for my own deep healing.
We all have things in our lives that are difficult to accept. What happens when we arrive at the place where we can sit with all that is happening in the present and find stillness? We don’t have to be happy about it. We don’t have to create some sort of false ‘brave face’. We just have to be aware that the only thing we can control is our response and our ability to remain grounded.
The next time I enter into intimate partnership, I’ll strive harder to create what I offer my clients; a safe container for truth.
It’s the full moon. The first of two in the month of October. My friend Jenny Arndt tells me that this moon is in Aries and I know that means it’s the moon of my inner warrior. I always give things to the full moon. Things that no longer serve me. So in the interest of release, and for the honour of my personal battle, here’s the next instalment of this post series.
The bargaining phase of Kubler Ross’ stages of grief is described as the point when we struggle to find meaning, we reach out too often, and we tell our story. It’s the ‘what if’ phase. Have you ever tried this exercise in your healing practice? It’s a rabbit hole, to be sure.
I had to take a big breath for this one, and I put pen to paper first.
What if I hadn’t been the first to reach out? What if I hadn’t decided to be exclusive? What if I wasn’t afraid that I was running out of chances at love? What if I decided that he didn’t seem ready? What if I stopped making plans? What if I’d put my energy towards me instead? What if I wasn’t aching for a family again? What If I’d stayed away last September? What if I hadn’t offered to help launch that business? What if I was less attached to my son’s father? What if I could change my love languages? What if I were better at trust? What If I didn’t need to feel adored? What if I tried harder to feel him? What if I hadn’t panicked? What if I’d stayed in school? What if he hadn’t moved in? What if I’d invested my energy into my practice? What if I’d stuck to my guns? What if I was always running? What if I’d had more faith? What if I could have believed he’d be back? What if I’d done three more sessions? What if I was wrong? What if he was wrong? What if he has more to say? What if this is exactly what is supposed to happen? What if we’re both better off this way? What if I’ve found something I wouldn’t have otherwise? What if this isn’t the end of our story? What if it is?
To the moon I give all of these questions that cannot be answered, and I ask for peace and clarity as I move ahead with my journey.
There are days when all the walking in the woods doesn’t clear me of the desire to scream at the top of my lungs.
I was in an open, polyamorous triad in which we were raising three children when I lived in Toronto and I was never subjected to the kind of gossip and ear-bending that I’ve endured and witnessed over the last couple of months. This place is too small for its own good sometimes.
Writers write about the experiences that move them. How many songs have been written about break ups? Everyone reading knows my version is only one side of the story, and we’re all grown-ass adults. Sure, you can pick apart my words and try to turn them into something hurtful, but this space has been, and always will be a place for me to process my experiences and create deeper meaning. This practice of articulating my pain has helped a lot of people over the years. It’s probably helped you too once or twice.
My moving through the dissolution of this relationship doesn’t leave me blameless. I’ve written plenty about how I contributed to things going sideways.
When two people make the difficult decision to end a relationship, the most healing thing they can do is move on with their lives. To those of you who think it’s helpful to report on what you see or hear other people are up to, check yourself. If you actually have something to say, beyond the realm of hearsay and speculation, address these things with love and care. Tend to your own fires because when other people’s problems become so fascinating to you, I can bet your house is burning to the ground while you’re gawking out the window.
Oh, this anger is a ball of fire in my chest and a claw around my throat.
I am quick to arrive in this angry place when I feel misunderstood and unheard. It’s part of what sank the boat. Though I’ve come a long way in managing my anger, I still need to create space for it. When I’m angry and trying to protect myself, nobody else is getting in. This means they aren’t seen, or heard. It’s a vicious cycle, and it ended in a stalemate. It was something we both created and perpetuated, and there was no clear way for the light to get back in.
Someone needed to soften. To lay down their arms and open them instead. Someone needed to take the step forward and say “I’m sorry, I’m here, I want this and I want to walk through this with you.” It couldn’t happen. I was too tired of the cycle. I’m guessing he was too.
There are moments when it’s easy to be bitter about all the promises and hopes and ideas that will never really be fulfilled. There are moments when I just can’t understand why I wasn’t good enough to make it work. Moments where I can’t believe how I behaved, and feel such shame about the choices I have made for myself over these last eight months. The unfairness of it all is suffocating, and this place of disappointment isn’t one I like to dwell in, but it’s there.