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. 

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.