Here’s Where the Story Ends-ish, part two

Read Part One, here.

Crazy I know, places I go
Make me feel so tired 
I can see how people look down  I’m on the outside   
Here’s, where the story ends 
Ooh here’s, where the story ends   

The week after Thanksgiving, I was kid-free and looking forward to seeing a new exhibit at our art gallery. Should I invite Mr. SN? I knew he wanted to go, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask him. Because every time I ask him to do something other than have sex, he either ignores the invite or turns me down because he’s working. So now inviting him somewhere has become risky, and I feel vulnerable and fear rejection.

I type out, “Would you like to see the exhibit at the gallery Friday night” and delete it three times. Instead I text my Cinema Gay, “Whatcha doing Friday night?”

“Hanging out with you, obviously!”

Right or wrong, this is my expectation. I want a romantic partner to react the same way. I want to know that the mere mention of me having free time is cause for joy!

I went to the gallery with Cinema Gay and another dear friend, and the gallery happens to be around the corner from Bohemiatown where Mr. SN lives. And somehow I couldn’t let it go that I might be so close to him and not see him. So I asked him if he’d like to meet me around 9 to go see a really cool light installation.

His responses left me wanting something else. He wanted me to come over, told me it was his preference to spend time with my lady bits over looking at cool lights. I told him that I was menstruating and not in the mood for what he had in mind, but did he still want to see me.

“Sure.”

How to decipher that “sure?” I now detest communicating over text. Too much room for ambiguity and me attempting to read between the lines. In future relationships, I may try to avoid it all together. “Sure” is not “SURE!” I consulted a sage friend and decided I didn’t need to see him after all. I texted that I only respond to “sure” when followed by “!!” and I’d catch him another time.

“!!” and “I was working…”

OK whatever. Immediately after the text, I so wasn’t myself. I was looking at my phone and being all weird at the gallery. I was distracted at dinner. It’s actually unfair for my friends that I’m so in my head. It’s unfair to all of you to have to keep reading this NEUROTIC bullshit when we all know I should have cut this off months ago if I was going to go for heart. But I wasn’t ready for heart then, and I’m scared now, but I want to try for heart at least.

He suggests meeting at the bar across the street from his place. I tell him I have a gaggle of friends there celebrating a birthday. He says he’s not feeling social, to just come up for a drink.

I go there anyway.


It’s that little souvenir, of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
And who ever would’ve thought, the books that you brought
Were all I loved you for
Oh the devil in me said, go down to the shed
I know where I belong
But the only thing I ever really wanted to say
Was wrong, was wrong, was wrong   

We sit in his kitchen for two hours, drinking whiskey out of a mason jar. He reads me another chapter from his book. It’s all so familiar, but in a way that has me looking at the clock. If we are not having sex, and we are not going out to do something, is there any point in this? I could be having a drink with the Witches across the street, I keep thinking. Finally I get up and say, “I think I’m gonna go.” Is it disappointment I see on his face?

I use the bathroom (there is always toilet paper now), and when I round the corner back into his kitchen, he’s standing and looking at me like I’m a chocolate eclair. “Fuuuuck…” comes the breathy whisper from his normally guarded self. He is a giant man in a black t-shirt and I have no will power when he is looking at me like this. I am in his mouth, I am gasping for air. “Well,” I quip, “I think we were pretty well-behaved until now.”

“I don’t know,” he responds, “I don’t think I’ve been so well-behaved. Touch the front of my pants to see how I’m behaving.” And that was it folks. I was in his bedroom, making out and giving him pleasure in the blink of an eye, even though that wasn’t what I’d hoped for. I missed my birthday celebrating pals and instead let him drive me home. I left wondering if I’d gotten anything that I wanted and realizing I did in a strange way.

I want more, but not from Mr. SN. There’s more to this story, but I’ve already shared too much, and the new development is not my story to tell. It does, however, follow a pattern and the note in the previous post warns me to believe patterns. I want to keep enjoying Mr. SN on occasion, because what we have is sweet and spicy, but with full awareness that it lacks sustenance and nutrition. And when I’m finally ready to let go of Mr. SN, I think that a real meal will appear. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy some last bits of fun and exploration, enjoy being friends and lovers with someone who is delightful AF but with whom I cannot share my heart fully. It’s been a delicious ride and I’m grateful for the experience, but I’m truly ready to explore what else is out there. As my friend Brenda says, “When you find the right one, it will be easy.” I’m counting on that.

It’s that little souvenir, of a colorful year
Which makes me smile inside
So I cynically, cynically say, the world is that way
Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise
Here’s, where the story ends
Ooh here’s, where the story ends

Here’s Where the Story Ends-ish, part one

Soundtrack for this post: “Here’s Where the Story Ends” by the Sundays 

  People I know, places I go 
Make me feel tongue-tied 
I can see how, people look down 
They’re on the inside   
Here’s where the story ends

Mr. Saturday Night has gotten confusing as all fuck. Or rather, I’m confusing the fuck out of myself by not being able to read Mr. SN, nor being able to flat out ask him anything. At the end of September, on the day I found out my employee had cancer, I was bereft. He hadn’t so much as asked me a question in seven days and while I now know why, at the time I was so over it.

Normally on a week where my kid-free time was coming up, he would have made plans with me already, knowing I will fill my time otherwise (planners gotta plan). But that week, nada. I deleted his photos from my phone and tried to pretend that I didn’t care.    Then in the middle of the day, PING!

“Whatcha doing?”

My heart pounded, why does he have that effect on me? Deep breath. “Struggling to work through emotional distress. You?” Did I need to be so honest? When would I learn to hold back?

He was sympathetic and caring, “Would a chat later help?” He’d been in my life for six months and had never called me on the phone. Not ever. I said it would be lovely, but didn’t hold my breath. I went home and had wine (and a Timothée Chalumet movie) for dinner.

Then my phone rang.

Instantly I am teenage Maria. OMGOMGOMG he is actually calling me. Hyperventilate. Miss the call. Do I call back?

He calls back. “Hi, it’s Sam. Just wanted to see how you were doing. You sounded like you needed some support earlier.” What? We had a nice chat that I don’t recall the details of. I think I was so surprised that he’d actually called that I just graded the whole call an A+.

It left me completely confused. Did he care? “All it proves is that he’s not a sociopath,” a friend said, probably my divorce and sex guru, Colette. Later that evening, he texted to check on me again. Was I wrong about him? Who goes from not asking me a single question for a WEEK to being so lovely? Why are men so confusing?

“PAUSE, breathe,” my therapist friend said.


People I see, weary of me 
Showing my good side 
I can see how, people look down 
I’m on the outside   
Here’s, where the story ends 
Ooh here’s, where the story ends 

Thanksgiving came and while last year I’d spent it with Theo’s family, this year I wasn’t there. I wasn’t invited. And while sometimes I think there might be a day where we could all be one big family, Theo is moving on (ish) and she is not going to want to have to meet his family AND me in the same go.

I had planned on spending it alone, working on my budget and other painful things that would feel good in the long-run, but then Mr. Saturday Night reached out, “Thanksgiving plans?”  I made us dinner (a failed mediocre attempt at Thanksgiving dinner) and answered the door in a wine-coloured negligee. Because I could. And because there’s nothing like dulling the pain of holiday traditions you have to say goodbye to like feeling sexy and having good sex. (I’m sure hiking alone or something would be on the list, but this works for me, k?)  He was 20 minutes early though, so I didn’t have on a stitch of makeup. I did have a new hairdo, which he noticed right away and complimented me on. He’s not a man of many compliments, so I took it.

He kept his hands to himself and we chatted and ate appetizery-snacks, while I OVERCOOKED the turkey. He was complimentary on the food and we enjoyed one of our typical great chats and eventually he said, “Let’s go get that p*ssy of yours licked,” or something to that effect, and really, if you could argue with that offer, then you are a stronger person than me and should go hang with Pema Chödrön in a Nova Scotian monastery or something.


It’s that little souvenir, of a terrible year 
Which makes my eyes feel sore 
Oh I never should have said, the books that you read 
Were all I loved you for 
It’s that little souvenir, of a terrible year 
Which makes me wonder why 
And it’s the memories of the shed, that make me turn red 
Surprise, surprise, surprise 

Mr. SN revealed something intimate to me that week, that a former lover had died of tragic causes, and I knew that might mean he’d retreat. Or maybe it’s just that my expectations are out of line with how he shows up. Maybe what I view as “retreat after reveal” is just him not even thinking about it, because he doesn’t seem to need as much connection as me. But either way it just doesn’t line up. Something sad had happened and I wasn’t the person he immediately sought comfort from. Just like how I didn’t call him after I smashed my car.

With a bit of distance (and a bit of therapy), I can see the gaps in the affair. They are the same ones I flagged in this post over the summer. Red flags matter, because over time they become giant landmines that you can’t diffuse. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted the story to write itself differently. But why?  I can’t seem to separate sex and the desire to love. I wonder if it comes from a super Christian upbringing, where girls made rules to get around not feeling slutty about wanting sex. Some girls had anal and called themselves virgins. Some of us thought that if we just married the guy we lost our virginities to, then we were still living “under His eye.” Is there a part of me that wants to love the person I sleep with? In that desire to make my lover worthy of my love, I start to fill in the blanks with things that are not there, but could be there if I just wished them hard enough, no? NO!

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 9.35.49 PM.png

The list above was posted on Instagram and I loved it instantly, because who of us hasn’t been guilty of at least one of these items? Pick any past relationship and hold this list up to it.

  • Theo: Adorably charming and loveable, but all of the above apply to him.
  • Ali: 1, 2 and 4.
  • For Mr. SN, 2 and 3 jump out the most. And as a result, 4 and 5 scream at me.

I wanted this to be a summer lover thing, and now it’s fall and it’s lingering, because damn I am so attracted to him and he’s an incredible lover. And also, we are probably both lonely and get along well enough to fill time and scratch itches with each other. However I’m getting incredibly tired and bored of the sandbox. I’m a girl with an explorer heart, so I keep walking around the edges of the fence he’s put around what this can be, or rather the fence I’m perceiving he’s built, based on our interactions. And the truth is, maybe this is all he can give right now and so keeps reinforcing boundaries. So the question becomes, is it enough for me? And what is enough for me?

“Don’t fall in love with potential,” should be tattooed where I can look at it every day. I keep thinking, “Oh but this could be so great if he’d just let himself fall and start treating me the way I’d like to be treated.” I want to be adored, as the song goes. And Mr. SN, he doesn’t do “adoring.” And that’s not a slight on him, if that works for him, great. No this is about me and what I want and what I’ve always wanted. This is about the fact that what worked for me last spring and summer isn’t going to cut it for much longer.


To be continued…

Releasing the weight of expectation

After a helluva a month, I turned a corner about two weeks ago.

I spent that morning with my anxious child’s therapist and my ex, working out how best to support her through this troubling period of constant panic attacks. (Answer: quiet compassion and tough love.) Then I was faced with an unpleasant email from my other kid’s teacher about how homework isn’t getting done (RAGE!). My employee was having cancer surgery and my other employee was sorting out a major sensory issue. Work was generally sucking and I was completely overwhelmed.

Then they screwed up my lunch order and the new order never came after waiting an hour, and so I tried to call into my 1PM meeting because I wasn’t going to make it there in time, but couldn’t get on because technology isn’t perfect and… WHOOSH. I was desperate and completely saturated with the weight of it all. Walking towards my office building, I cried, defeated. I looked up at a tree and prayed to Gord for something to change because I couldn’t take much more. It was extremely windy, and I know to be careful of what you wish for, because sometimes the Universe can’t be specific when you’re not, so I whispered, “But don’t like, drop a giant tree branch on my head or anything.”

I’m not entirely clear as to what changed in that moment. If a vessel cannot carry anymore, it has to let go or it will sink. So the vessel called Maria somehow let go. I decided in that moment that everything would somehow work out. A kind young colleague brought my revised lunch order to my desk and then sent memes to cheer me up. I successfully steered the panicky kid away from her fears via text. I went home and coached the homework kid until he had a major breakthrough. The universe just somehow tipped a quarter degree in my direction. I felt like myself for the first time in six weeks. Fun Maria is back, I thought.


All this recent hardship has made me really miss Theo and wonder if we could get back together. There are nights where I rush in and start to make dinner before even taking my coat off. The therapist suggested texting the kids on my way, telling them to put on the kettle, and then sitting down in the living room for a cup of tea before I start making dinner. I must remember to do that.

Then there’s the stuff that happens while I’m making dinner. One kid needs emotional support, the other needs homework support. Ah fuck, I burned the garlic. Wouldn’t everything just be better with another adult human next to me, sharing resources, sharing the load? What I constantly forget is that Theo is like adding a third child to the mix; a petulant teenager who wants his independence but can’t do the work to secure it. Why do I always forget this? Why do I always forget that I wanted it to work so badly, that I tried everything from micromanaging his part of the to-do list, to taking most of his responsibilities off his plate to just completely accepting him as he is and ALL OF IT added up to an unequal distribution of labour and emotional labour that left me completely in debt to myself.

And yet, when I feel completely bankrupt emotionally and energy-wise, I think, geez, it might just be nice to have him here to put the dishes away after dinner. So what if he NEVER wiped down the counters? Was that the deal breaker? I long for a hug, to have someone hold me, or to lie with my head on the chest of a man while he strokes my hair and kisses my forehead. Surely that must be worth it? In my loneliness and despair, I forget that I was lonely in my marriage as well.

“He did not love you the way you needed to be loved,” comes the voice, the story that I repeat in my head. The narrative must change, this I know. But to change it to, “He loved you the best he could and it wasn’t enough for you,” is a different kind of pain. Was the alternative to let go of the little things? Was it to accept his resentment when Fun Maria was nowhere to be found, her mind a giant pile of to-dos and post-its?

Was it to ignore that I was a growing feminist married to someone who couldn’t accept his misogyny or acknowledge his male entitlement or his privilege? How was I to continue to exist like that? I’d left Plato’s cave and seen the truth. How could I stay and watch the pantomime of shadows in the dark and pretend it was OK?

Leaving was painful, continues to be painful, but it doesn’t mean it was wrong. Sometimes I forget that it hasn’t even been two years yet.


Theo and I have had lots of heart to hearts of late, because we’ve been triaging our treasured anxious child. I think he wishes things with Mr. Saturday Night were better, that I had someone to cherish me. I want that for me too. It’s painful when he sees me spending time with someone who does not want to do the work to be with me. He knows, because he was that person. Or rather, to quote Theo himself, he did not “have the capacity” to love me the way I wanted to be loved. Neither does Mr. SN.

He tells me about his lady. I know a bit about her, because I’m a master digital sleuth. I know that Lars and Zofia introduced them. I know she has no children, but a great career and a thousand-watt smile. I think she’s smart and has the bandwidth to make him her second full-time project. They go paddleboarding together. She’s nurturing, by the sounds of it. It’s not a wild, passionate love like he and I had, but it’s a comforting stew on a slow simmer. It hurts, but I’m happy for him. She would be good for the team.

It is bittersweet, the tender way we are saying goodbye, in fits and spurts. We will need each other for a long time and it’s better to be nice to each other and to honour our 20 years of loving each other this way.

On the weekend he came over to sort the last bits of our car that is no longer, winter tires and storage racks hiding under the deck. He was going to help me build a tool shed, but we ran out of time and he made us all a chicken soup instead. The feelings of wanting him to stay were quite strong. We shine in fall when he’s not complaining about the heat and I’m not complaining about the cold. There is harmony in a season where things are ending, when the trees let go in the most beautiful way. We had dinner and so many laughs, and so many times I had to resist reaching out for him. I wanted it to be just “us” in that moment.

He went upstairs to get one kid’s bath started and his phone began to ring on the kitchen counter. I glanced over and her name was there. Our kid grabbed his phone to take it to him, “Dad! It’s your girlfriend!” We laughed awkwardly.

And then I cried, a super ugly cry. I’m a fool, I thought. I’m a fool to keep thinking that he’s ever coming back. I was ashamed. I’ve put everyone through so much and yet I would take him back if he asked in the right way.

I sought emergency counsel from my text chat with the Mommy Mafia and the plain truth came from no-nonsense Brenda. While her abrupt way of telling me what I need to hear often stings, I knew she was right. “No more playing house,” I texted Theo, “I can’t anymore. I keep hurting myself. Please let’s separate for once and for all so I can close this and move on.”

He apologized for lingering, he expressed concern that this might mean he sees the kids less.

“If it means anything, I’m TRYING to move on,” he replied, “I don’t know that I’m doing a very good job.”


But then I had a puff or two after he left and the kids were asleep (it’s legal today – woot!), and fell into a delicious sleep. There was a man in my dream, with dark hair and glasses. He was flirting with me, putting his arms around me and we were falling for each other in the dream. And the thing was that there was no fear in this dream, the falling was a feeling of butterflies but there was no ambiguity about the feelings of this man. I woke up feeling like he’s still out there, whomever he is, and remembering that I have no clue where he will come from, or when this might happen, but there is something yummy in trusting that it could happen when I least expect it.

“You are not responsible for my feelings,” I apologized to Theo. He sat on my steps while I did my hair. “But I need boundaries. I can’t count on you to do stuff for me, and you shouldn’t feel you have to. She may be cool now, but she’s not going to like it.

We are not getting back together, ever. It would make no sense. We tried that, for years, and we don’t work. I need to stop entertaining the thought.” Not speaking out loud is not my strong suit, you might have guessed.

“What if I do stuff for you when you’re not here,” Theo offered. He can’t seem to let go either, and truthfully, the well-being of the mother of his children is in his best interest.

It’s a weird fucking So You Think You Can Dance routine where we tear ourselves apart and run to the other side of the stage where we take turns freestyling, then freak out and run back to each other until one of us turns away. But the song is ending now and we need to decide what pose we are gonna finish this on, when they turn the spotlight off.

I love him. I will always love him. But he is no longer mine. And it’s time to truly let go.


dead_things_leafquote

“I can tell you’ve changed,” Theo said with a smile as he got up to leave one night.

“Thank you. How do you mean?”

“You seem… lighter,” he offered, shutting my front door behind him. I took it in, sitting under the glow of a new lamp I’d bought, another totem to mark how I was moving on and bringing in more light.

I’m no longer carrying you, the voice in my head reminded me.

WHOOSH… freedom.

 

Bridge of Sighs

Welcome to my pity party!

Take your coat off, grab a drink, get comfortable!

The emotional labour of September always catches me by surprise and this year it seems more exaggerated than ever. My ex started production on a show he works on, putting in unconventional hours and making our co-parenting schedule difficult to manage. Guess who does the managing? Guess who sends out the weekly “operations” email to try and wrangle it all? Guess who suddenly has one fewer night a week to herself now?

I actually don’t mind having only one weeknight off (which I dedicate to writing). It’s getting darker earlier, so my desire to meet new adult humans (and even friends) is starting to dwindle. But more importantly, my beautiful, unique, quirky-brained children need consistency, and homework struggles is where I shine. What I didn’t expect, or remember to expect, is that with those homework struggles come an emotional whirlpool, one that has proven extra difficult to swim out of this year. Calls and texts all day long, because they need mom’s help navigating the world, because their own overwhelm needs to go somewhere, and because they don’t quite know how to manage their own tasks and time just yet. Nightly heart-to-hearts, hugs, tear-wiping, reassurance. I’m weighted down by carrying everyone’s feelings, by suddenly making therapy appointments and reaching out to professionals to see if they can help.

But it’s all work, isn’t it? Scheduling, corresponding, remembering to pay, remembering to submit invoices to insurance, checking in? Holding your children while they cry, being grateful that they still run to your arms for solace, while simultaneously worrying that you are somehow enabling anxious behaviour or learned helplessness. If my sister and I freaked out as kids, my mom would dismiss us, tell us we are being “silly” and send us back to our rooms to get homework done. There was no “talking about feelings,” instead, there was a heavy dose of guilt and disappointment. I’m probably only doing marginally better in that department. There’s only so much you can take on before you yell at them to snap out of it and send them back to their rooms to get homework done.

Do dads just get out of it? Do the kids not go to them with their feelings because their fathers have taught them that this is not in their skill set to deal with in a cosy, compassionate way? I know I’m HUGELY generalizing here, but in every family that I know, it’s the mom who carries this all.  It’s the mom who gets the panicked texts from the school bathroom, the mom who helps come up with the strategies, the mom who books the appointments. And eventually, your own mental health slips under the weight of it all and you are snippy, bitchy, teary mess (and sometimes referred to as crazy). Sigh. I’m so tired. Do households with two moms have the same dynamic or do they get double the capability?


Since splitting up, Theo has taken more on. It’s like he’s determined to prove to me that he is capable, and as such, I’m remembering to hold him capable and let him own it when he screws up, just as I do when I’m the fuck up. We’ve divided the labour between Physical (him) and Emotional/Mental (me). Physical is everything from making sure they are getting enough exercise, to booking dentist appointments. Emotional/Mental is feelings work, social work, homework, raising adults. I still wrangle most of it, but he’s getting better at it, even being proactive on occasion.

I see now that for a relationship to work and last, the two people in it must commit to their roles as well as to each other. “There are two types of people. Are you a flower or a gardener,” my QUEEN, Allison Janney, asks while playing Tonya Harding’s mother LaVona Golden in the film, I, Tonya. Is there something to that? Perhaps it’s more that one person is the Planner and the other is the Entertainer. But both have to see their roles as valuable, and the Entertainer has to support the Planner, to keep him or her up by making them feel loved, appreciated, valued. The Entertainer also has to remember to make space for the Planner to have fun by taking on some tasks, because wearing out the Planner is in no one’s best interest. But what I see time and time again is that the Entertainer takes all the fun and the Planner gets exhausted and is accused of not being any fun any more. Just me?

For the garden to thrive, the gardener must get energy from the fruits of her labour. The flower must bloom, attract visitors, put on a show for the gardener. Janney’s LaVona says, “I’m a gardener who wants to be a flower—how fucked up am I?” And maybe that’s my issue. I want to be adored, I want to blossom and bring joy through my mere existence, but I’m so capable at taking on the tasks of gardening that when the gardener doesn’t work fast enough or do things JUST the way I would like, I just march out of the dirt, shove aside my petals and pick up a hoe. And then I resent the fuck out of the other person. Sigh.


On Sunday we had a photoshoot, just the three of us. A friend is trying to get her photography business off the ground and asked if we would sit for her. I want to embrace the new family within the larger family, the Three Musketeers against the world, and having photos of just the three of us seemed like a great way to frame that for myself (pardon the pun).

I was feeling good that day, strong. Hair and makeup were looking good, kids were happy, we managed to get out to the suburbs in the car I rented like a grown-ass woman. I was feeling ready to start looking for a REAL relationship, one that involves EQUAL ENTHUSIASM (more on Mr. Saturday Night later in this post). I posted on Instagram, asking friends to start introducing me to a “healthy, kind-hearted, financially independent male who can handle a feminine, feminist mama who owns all her own shit (bull and other).” It’s time! Setting my intention! Putting it out to the universe! Bring me a Good Man. A Grown-Ass Man! One who dates WITH HIS WHOLE ASS!

But then this week shit the bed and I am suddenly faced with the realization that WE, the Three Musketeers, are a LOT to take on. That even their own father couldn’t handle staying with the person I am in tough times, which sometimes feels like all the time, and I was faced again with negative thoughts around being difficult, being unlovable. Who will I ever find that could love all of this? Who is going to be man enough to stand by me and prop me up and give me the love and encouragement to keep going? Who will love me on bad days? Who will also love my quirky kids on their bad days? It seems like an impossibly tall order. Sigh.


Mr. Saturday Night has not texted me since Friday, and even Friday’s exchange was initiated by me (as were Wednesday’s and Thursday’s exchanges). I woke up today and said to myself, “I cannot spend energy on someone who can go FIVE DAYS without asking me a question!” I mean, clearly he’s just not that into me. Sure, people get busy, but in busy times, we prioritize, and his actions say to me that I’m not a priority.

But let’s also be honest. If he messages me Thursday to ask about my weekend plans, I’m going to respond and likely find the time. Because it’s finally here: I’m lonely for romantic love. I sleep alone every night unless my daughter crawls in next to me. I miss being spooned and cuddled. I miss being someone’s sun and moon. There’s a longing, an ache, to give and receive. Last week, I came home early on one of Theo’s nights and snuck into my bedroom so as not to disturb them, crawled into bed in my clothing and wept. (Admittedly, I had my period and it felt like my ovaries were trying to cut my uterus out with a butter knife.)

Theo put the kids to bed and realized that I’d crept in. He texted me from a floor above to ask if he could come down to my bedroom. I said yes. He immediately saw that I was sad and asked if I was OK.

“I’m homesick,” I bawled, echoing the complaints of our younger child this past month. I miss being us. Somehow, now, on the other side of it, even though he’s often an inconsiderate asshole, some days it feels like maybe all of the bullshit of being married to each other was so precious and valuable and WORTH IT. Because this current state, while often fun and free and easy, it isn’t dramatically better. And then, whoosh, the wound opens and gapes and sputters and spurts. “He didn’t love you like that,” it hisses, “He didn’t want to stay.”

I know he’s out there, Mr. Real Thing, because I feel it. Deeply. I know this sounds hokey, but sometimes I connect with his energy. Sometimes I acknowledge his presence in the universe. I whisper to the wind, “I see you. I know you’re here.” I imagine what it feels like to love him and be loved by him. I thought I didn’t believe in The One anymore, but maybe it’s like trying to shake my Christian upbringing: My rational brain thinks religion is bullshit, but my heart likes believing in the idea of God. Of course there is probably more than just ONE, so maybe this faith is in knowing The Next One is out there (and feels closer than I think on tough days).

I don’t want to be a person who doesn’t believe in magic or miracles. That would be counter to who I am. And I’ve worked so hard to love myself, exactly as I am. It’s still a struggle sometimes, to accept myself and not see negatives, flaws or faults, but to realize that it’s all part of this beautiful quilt that is me, Maria. I hope, even though your stories are different than mine, that there are bits in here that speak to you exactly where you’re at right now. And if so, all I ask is that you send me a thought, a hope, some energy or a prayer—bonus points if you know a man that fits the above description and could love a flibbertigibbet like me.

Be kind to yourselves. September is a cruel month.

Reflecting on fear

Dr. X is a dear friend and also a homeopath. But she’s not a regular pill prescriber, but more of a therapist that uses homeopathic remedies to help you get to where you need to go, healthwise. The researcher in me knows that I can’t sway any skeptics here—the science doesn’t hold up. But anecdotally there is magic that happens, and I know because beyond my own experiences, the two therapists in my family’s life take their families to her too.

I got a UTI two weeks ago, from getting too cocky (pardon the pun) and forgetting that I should go pee after fun sex with Mr. Saturday Night. So I called Dr. X to help, because she has in the past and I hadn’t had one in a decade or so as a result (and while my marriage was broken and I felt we didn’t have sex enough, we still had sex more than lots of couples, so don’t try to pin that on abstinence). After prescribing something that worked almost immediately, I called her to check in about the weird sensations I was still experiencing. There’s been a dull ache in my lower back, on the left side, and it feels like energy is stuck there or something, or maybe it’s actual back pain. But my panic and anxiety is back after maybe 18 months of nothing. (And so, I’ve got an appointment to rule out anything more serious this week.)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are affected by fear. So the belief is that any issues with your kidneys are impacted by deep, prolonged fear. I’ve been anxious my whole life (though anxiety lives in the lungs in TCM), but there’s something deeper in me, a fear that makes me make decisions that aren’t in my best interest. Dr. X said I should use the Jewish holidays to reflect on my transgressions (I’m not Jewish, but we often joke that I’m “Jew-ish”). So I’m going to try to meditate and journal for the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

So this is a meditation on fear. (Those who come here just to read about the sex might want to move on.) What exactly am I afraid of? The same things as everyone else: death, endings, making wrong decisions, getting sick, missing out. But what fear and anxiety have always robbed from me is the ability to live fully. Now, I’m getting better at living fully, for sure. But every time I think I’ve got it, fear creeps in to remind me that it’s going to take more than an eviction notice to get him to move out permanently.


Saturday was an evening where I was crushed by epic grief. My daughter asked if I could host her birthday party at my home, even though it was her weekend with her dad. We all agreed that it could work, but as parents we were mindful that the transition back to his place after the party could be tough.

Theo and I collaborated on the party, though of course I did most of the planning as I am the planner. I gave him things to do and he did a lot to help out. And after the guests all left, the four of us hung out for a bit. I hugged Theo a beat too long as we congratulated each other on a job well done. Suddenly my men were dancing in my dining room, the way they used to when my son was small, and I felt the fissure in my heart (that I could swear was healed) erupt. I was overcome by a desire to have them all stay.  This was exacerbated by our daughter quite vocally announcing that she couldn’t bear to leave her home to go to his place. It was painful. But then I remembered she’d been given new books and used those as a way to get her excited about going to dad’s. They said goodbye, I closed the door and I wept.

There was a knock on my door. My mom! She’d missed the party (because they are terrible at timing), but showed up right when I needed her. I hugged her and revealed my sadness. I don’t like putting that burden on a woman in her late 70s, but I needed to and she was there, just enough, short and sweet before her comfort turned to unsolicited advice. But then she left and there were Anxiety and Fear, best buds, hanging out in my head.

The thing is, they are so damn convincing, that I believe I am at death’s door. It’s always been this way. But because I don’t actually trust myself to make a true judgment call on a health issue, I don’t do anything about the ideas they are presenting, except wallow in the fear. Conceptually, I know that my ego wants to make me feel so important, that my fear around death is that I’ll miss out on important stuff and that everyone who loves me will be so terribly sad, especially my kids who may never recover. Isn’t that really what everyone fears about death? Missing out on stuff, being missed yourself and being forgotten over time?

Conceptually, I know that there is no future, only the now, and that there is no death, that dying means only the death of the human form and that the spirit returns to the ocean, the master spirit, the life force and so I should not fear it. But try explaining that to a brain that’s irrationally afraid in that moment! Hoo! Good luck! I know it, but I don’t know shit. And that’s the practice, my friends: remembering that you don’t know shit about shit, but that you can get there with plenty of curiosity, a clear head and an open heart. That’s what the Buddhists call Samsara, I think. (But as I don’t know shit about shit, don’t quote me on that.)

So, my curious mind now wants to know why I’m so afraid of dying. But also, why am I so unable to accept joy in the moment it’s offered? Finally, the clincher, why can’t I just stay in my discomfort? Why can’t I watch it, without judgment and just wait for it to pass? Not always, but often, in my quiet moments, I take something that’s mostly good and THINK IT TO DEATH. Kinda ironic.


On Sunday, I ended up scheduling a yoga date with a girlfriend. I knew I needed yoga to set me right (in addition to a homeopathic remedy to support), but I knew myself enough to know I needed the buddy system to get me there. The yogi spoke of the new moon and of deciding what we wanted to invite in. I asked for Peace, Confidence, Serenity and Love. I started to feel greedy as my list expanded, but then she asked us to move to our right/masculine side and talked about how our masculine energy supports and defends our feminine energy. I realized that I am afraid of men and masculine energy, and that comes from a mix of childhood physical and mental abuse, and the sexual assaults I’ve written about in the past. There is so much to explore in this one little fear nugget, but it’s getting late and I’ve committed to sleeping better in order to get my anxiety back in check.

The yogi then asked us to move into fetal position on our left sides. “Your feminine side is your receiving side,” she noted. “Women are often taught that they are the givers, but giving is actually masculine energy.” In order to support our natural nurturing tendencies, we need strong masculine energy (not necessarily in the form of a man) to offer strength and support, so that our feminine side can receive love. It was interesting to consider receiving as nurturing, as loving, as a gift. So often we don’t think of ourselves as worthy of receiving, because of messages we’ve received from childhood to present day, but we must remember that these are just stories that have hardened, and they can be worked out like a kink in one’s back—with gentle perseverance.

At the namaste bit, the yogi remarked on the power of the new moon, of the unknowns in the complete dark of a new moon sky. We should be curious about all dark matter, I thought, it’s the majority of our universe and it’s expanding (which is the only thing we really know about it, because we don’t know shit about shit). We should be curious about the eternal dark and the darkness within, because it’s all connected, and I’ll bet if you followed it through it would lead you to divine light. And that’s not a bad thing. I piped up and reminded them all that it was Rosh Hashanah, also. A Jewish New Year new moon was surely extra powerful. It was for me.


On that mat I realized that in the times in between seeing Mr. SN, I freak out because I’m trying to control something. And that surrendering control is still something I’m working on. He’s driving it with his distance, or by just being a guy who is giving what he is able to at the moment and me being a woman who wants more, but can’t articulate it, because the truth is she doesn’t want to turn her whole life upside down to make time for more. Not yet.

I realized I’m looking for a Swiss Army knife, and missing the value of a tool that does one or two things really well. I have a full tool box of friends and loved ones. Why can’t I savour the orgasm tool? Why do we expect one person to be all the things to us? How unromantic and not-sexy does that become over time? I don’t have these answers yet, friends, but they are coming, in small increments. But what do I know? My desire to push him away and out of my life completely, my desire to retreat into myself because it’s nearly fall, that all comes from fear. Retreating into myself is about protection and control. It’s not necessarily out of love for myself.

In TCM, the seven ruling emotions are: Joy, Anger, Anxiety, Pensiveness, Grief, Fear, Fright. There is only one happy emotion here, people. The other six are unpleasant ones. So it’s safe to say that the majority of human life is spent in one of the bad places. Joy is not a given or a constant. Instead it’s a gift we must receive and when we lose it, we must remember that it will appear again. Often, if we stay with the uncomfortable feelings and watch/observe them rather than judge them, joy appears as the reward.

Too much joy can also cause problems, and in TCM overdoing joy can affect the heart. Overstimulation, insomnia and such, can come from too much joy.

So how to find balance? I welcome your comments.

Limit to Your Love

Another enchanting evening with Mr. Saturday Night… swoon. We made love in the late afternoon light, to the sounds of tango music that floated into his bedroom windows from the street festival below. He read me chapters from the novel he’s writing. I brought him funky beers from my neighbourhood and we chugged them when we’d good and earned them, washing down salty chips to get our electrolytes back up (it was hot and we sweated, a lot). We walked his adorable dog and then he made me dinner in his kitchen. He laid down on his kitchen floor and we talked until I decided to join him on the floor to kiss his handsome face. We made each other laugh out loud. And then he drove me home.

YEAH. IT’S LIKE THAT! FOR REALS! Sigh.

But parking for a moment the joys of sexual ecstasy, the history lessons received while snuggled down in the pillows, and the countless hours of delightful conversation, there are these moments of complete cloudiness for me. And in those uncertain seconds, I go to a dark place. I get frustrated by what’s NOT happening, instead of tuning in to what IS happening. But after stewing in my discomfort for a bit while alone in his kitchen, I got a little clarity into it as he walked me to his car (to drive me home) and told a story about a family member and her expectations.

Clouds part
Just to give us a little sun

There’s a limit to your love
Like a waterfall in slow motion
Like a map with no ocean
There’s a limit to your love
Your love, your love, your love

It’s too soon to even use the word “love.” That’s not what this is, and I’m often so certain that that’s not even where “this” is heading. But I’m using one of my favourite Feist songs as the inspiration for this post. Because if anyone knows the realities of love and pain, it’s Leslie Feist. If you’ve never listened to her, go and seek some of her music out now. She’s a national treasure.

There are times where Mr. SN is so closed, and if I focus on those infractions, then I miss all the times when he tells me something really personal and intimate. He can go five days without texting me, and then I think he’s just not that into me, but he always re-emerges and when we’re together I don’t get that feeling at all. He’s into me. He wants to spend hours with me. It’s in between visits that trouble brews, when there are these long lags where I don’t quite know what’s going on or where his head is at, and the writer in me is very good at filling in blanks with nonsense.

There’s a limit to your care
So carelessly there
Is it truth or dare
There’s a limit to your care

There are moments where it all feels so vulnerable and exposed that I want to leave and say this is over. I am still longing for him to truly HOLD me, for example, and when that feeling comes over me while we are naked, I want to run. And I think I want to run because I can’t seem to ask for what I need in that moment. I’m still wondering why I can’t say, “Do you mind putting your arms around me?” Sometimes it’s actually not so exciting, or the conversation lacks honesty where honesty would satisfy my curiousity, and in those moments where I feel one of our walls up, I want to leave. But I’m missing the bigger picture as a result.

I can’t figure it out, what’s holding me back, or what’s holding him back, but each time we’re together, eventually it’s like a tiny piece of the puzzle reveals itself. We each give the other a clue about what makes us tick. Two passionately curious individuals who are (maybe?) both wondering which one of us is going to expose themselves first. And often, during these moments of honesty and vulnerability, there’s a little window where I think, maybe, just maybe, we could fall in love. Which is bananas. Or is it? Am I fast forwarding rather than letting things unfold? Yes. Am I letting what others think, based on data I’ve given them (which I’m learning that I need to keep to myself) influence my thinking?

I love, I love, I love
This dream of going upstream
I love, I love, I love
The trouble that you give me
I know, I know, I know
That only I can save me
I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go
Right down the road

My friends and loved ones don’t want to see me get hurt again. They believe I need someone to take care of me, financially, emotionally… but I’ve gotten pretty good at taking care of myself. And truly, even *I* know that I need to find someone who is at my level. So when I do find myself wondering whether “this” is “anything,” the universe has a way of snapping things back in focus.

There’s a fake Kurt Vonnegut account on Twitter (actual Vonnegut is deceased) that posts some great life insights, in honour of the late writer. I read this today before heading out to see Mr. SN.

And isn’t there something profound in that? Should we not just be loving the aliveness we each see in the other? What does that look like?

Now the key to that quote is in “whoever is around to be loved” — this does not mean the person next to you, but it implies that someone is present and ready to be loved. I know, after today, that there are some pretty big heart hurts in Mr. SN’s life, ones that cause him to put up walls or give me a small sandbox to play in. Ones that make him wince and shut down if I ask something that brushes up against his pain.

There’s a limit to your love
Like a waterfall in slow motion
Like a map with no ocean
There’s a limit to your love
Your love, your love, your love

But no one controls our emotions but us. And if I do “fall” then that’s my choice. It doesn’t mean he has to love me back, though from experience that gets painful in a hurry.  And what I love about this slow, steady pace is that events and feelings can just happen, in their own time, like the flame of a candle rather than a bonfire.

No one knows the right path, because there isn’t one singular “right path” for any of us, especially couples. Instead there are a million opportunities to grow and to tune into the “now.” The key to a long relationship, if I reflect on it, is in the choosing of the partner. But it’s also in our expectations. If we continuously focus on what’s NOT happening (as I often did in my marriage and STILL DO in any interactions with Theo), we will miss what IS. Full stop.

I know I’m not “supposed” to fall for the guy with the roommates and the boho lifestyle. I know I’ve been advised against it by countless women whom I respect and love. And so I’m pacing myself, but trying not to miss the fact that every date we have leaves me with a HUGE smile on my face. I may not be spending time with someone who is filling up my heart, but I am sharing an experience with someone who is feeding my mind and, to some extent, my soul. There’s personal growth happening here, via this path I’m choosing to be on, and that should not be discounted.

I can’t read your smile
It should be written on your face
I’m piecing it together
There’s something out of place, ooh

On his end, I don’t get a lot. I have no idea what he’s thinking about all this. But I do know that in the moment, there is a mutual pleasure in being in the company of the other. I’m not going to spend much time agonizing because he never says I look beautiful (I KNOW I do) or because he never says more than, “I had a lovely time, thank you.” I’m not going to get an “I’m thinking of you,” but I might get an “I read this thing and think you might find it of interest.”  He doesn’t speak my love languages, but do I actually NEED him to right now?

And then, BOOM. My horoscope came through on Chatelaine.

“It doesn’t need to be perfect, or even what you think it “should” be in order for it to be exactly what you need. This week will confront you with a pretty simple situation that feels really complicated. Don’t confuse potential for reality, or the past with the present, Moonchild. Accept things as they are in the present moment and do what you need to in order to grow. Nothing stays the same, nor is it meant to. Actively co-create your life, my love.”

If I can stop my mind from spinning, and I can stay focused on all that he brings to the table RIGHT NOW, then I think I’m good. And for those who are doubting that I’m making the right choice, I hope some of this writing leads you to see that this is all from a place of clear thinking. I don’t want another man to makeover. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Even if this thing with Mr. SN is not a forever-ever thing, I’m completely OK with the fact that it’s a “delicious for right now” thing. And if that leads to feelings, that’s OK too. I want to explore who I am as a woman who is not afraid to take emotional risks.

Yes, I’m in love with love. Yes, that may get me hurt more than the average person. Yes, I should choose wisely when I finally decide to lay roots with someone. But dear reader, please understand that I am completely accepting of the impermanence in all things. I am no longer afraid of a man who may not be able to show he loves me in the way I’d like him to, because I truly love myself.  The end of a relationship doesn’t upset me anymore in the way that it did. Sure it will hurt, but I have survived it before and know that no matter what, I will rebuild and keep moving forward, until I have no life left to live. I surrender, completely, to what each moment will bring.

I love, I love, I love
This dream of going upstream
I love, I love, I love
All the trouble that you give me
I know, I know, I know
That only I can save me
I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go
Out on the road
Because there is no limit
There’s no limit
No limit, no limit, no limit to my love

Songwriters: Jason Charles Beck / Leslie Feist
The Limit to Your Love lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group