The universe has me on a spiritual road trip today and it awesomely lead me to one of my favourite albums, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
If there was such a thing as a Magnum Opus (the peak of creative work you express to the world), then this is it. (Rolling Stone lists it as the top rap album on their 2020 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, tenth on the entire list.) It’s a work that an artist has put out that is so perfect, it’s almost cursed. Many artists fear this, peaking too early.
I, like many writers, could die happily if I achieved the “truest sentence” to encapsulate a feeling, to express LIFE through words in a way that you, the reader, might feel exactly what I felt or experienced in a moment. A photographer seeks to do the same with their camera, a painter with their brush, and so on.
I was fortunate enough to go and see Lauryn Hill with bestie a few years ago. And the experience was uncomfortable. And today I had a breakthrough in coaching that sort of unlocked why, and I wanted to explore my assumptions and their intersection with my own life.
The concert was a Rock the Bells show. Nas went first and blew us away with his start-to-finish performance of his quintessential album, “Illmatic.” Then we waited. For nearly three hours we waited. And what we got was a mess. Such a mess that we left early. What I witnessed was that Ms. Hill did not want to give the audience what they came for: a record-perfect repeat of the greatest and only album she’s recorded. No, she was in pursuit of something higher and much more frustrating. Her inability to reach what (as of today) I believe to be her ultimate goal was what made it unrelatable for the audience. I now know that I will never hear one of my three “desert island” discs live and I am OK with that. I’m sad and disappointed, but I respect it so much.
Why do I say that? Because what I hear as perfection in that record is likely not enough for L-Boogie. In that specific live performance and in other live recorded video performances I’ve seen, Ms. Hill is attempting to go for something that is nearly impossible to achieve: She’s trying to take excellence further. She’s trying to turn it up to 11.
I know this feeling. Others have said you’ve done a good job, maybe even an incredible job, but it’s not enough for you. You feel like there’s higher you can go. Like the truest sentence has escaped you. Because the truest sentence or the truest song arrangement is touching God. The pursuit of this has ruined many artists. It’s a dangerous slope.
I do this in my relationships now. I tell men, I’m looking to climb Everest. Are you strong enough to climb with me? The air is thinner up there, you have to work harder to stay up there, but the views… almost no one gets to experience them or the energy that accompanies them. Are you willing to accept that you might die trying?
In every other arena of my life, I’ve played it very safe. I am noticing where I keep myself small. I am noticing where I haven’t mustered the courage or found something I believe in enough to risk life energy attempting to reach it. I’m working through this now so I can teach it to others. I think it’s a very powerful life lesson. What do you feel so passionately about, what feeling or experience do you feel will get you that close to the TRUTH, that you’re willing to risk everything and work so hard to get there?
Here’s what I admire about Ms. Hill. She wrote the perfect debut solo album and for whatever reason has not released another. She has chosen to mostly zipline out of the public eye and there are many conversations around mental health and motherhood at play in there. But there’s also another POV, which is that she summited very early in her creation path, finding the road that to TRUTH, and yet not accessing the truth as deeply as she knows might be possible.
The pursuit CAN make you mad, I’m sure. There’s an alternate story, one where Ahab gives up on Moby Dick and finds a nice beach somewhere to enjoy his family and breathe and decide who he wants to be in this life, rather than chase the whale down to appease his ego. He’s got his three desert island discs and abundance and someone to keep him warm at night and things to nurture and it’s enough.
Welcome to my new path, Maria fans. I’m working on a new space to write. One that is all me, no pseudonym. Reclaiming my power, reigniting my spark, redefining my path. More to come.
My world, it moves so fast today The past, it seems so far away And life squeezes so tight that I can’t breath And every time I’ve tried to be What someone else thought of me So caught up I was unable to achieve
But deep in my heart The answer, it was in me And I made up my mind To define my own destiny
I, I look at my environment And wonder where the fire went What happened to everything we used to be?
I hear so many cries for help Searching outside of themselves Now I know that His strength is within me
And deep in my heart The answer, it was in me And I made up my mind To define my own destiny
And deep in my heart
And deep in my heart The answer, it was in me And I made up my mind To define my own destiny
Good evening, Maria lovers. It’s the final night of the past decade. The decade in which we all grew up together and shit got real. The decade when we learned how horrible human beings could be, but also how kind and how much we need each other.
I don’t have a definitive song for this post, which is odd. My mental jukebox is playing loops and nothing seems to convey the optimism, hope and inspiration I feel going into the new decade.
I’ve mostly been off social media, but popped in today to find everyone is posting notes on their decades. So oblige me a bit as I reflect.
Dr. X reminded me yesterday that just over a decade ago I was freaking out about a job interview, worrying that I wouldn’t be any good at the job. I thought about that woman, the one who didn’t know her own mind at all, the one who was riddled with anxiety and panic attacks. A decade ago I had a two-year-old and a five-year-old. I was somewhat happily married, though the seeds that would grow into the weeds which choked out our Eden were starting to take root.
I was STRUGGLING. I had so little self-confidence that I gave all my power to a garden-variety narcissistic white man, one who espoused “I’m one of the good guys,” but gaslit every single experience of sexism I was starting to flag as a burgeoning feminist. And in that experience, I also became an angry, ugly, horrible person. In trying to make myself fit his ever-changing demands to make our marriage better, I tarnished my heart of gold. In trying to accept his pessimistic view of the world as my reality, I became monstrous.
In fairness to him, I was also a bit entitled. Like him, I was sold a bill of goods about what a marriage and a life were meant to be. And when we began to have fundamentally differing opinions on what that life should look like, we grew resentful of each other. I kept lowering my bar and asking if he could perhaps start moving up a bit so we could meet in the middle. Nope. My expectations were also all over the place. You can only grit your teeth and say, “Fine, fine” for so long when you don’t actually mean it.
In 2012 his depression really began. He was drinking and smoking a lot of pot. He was struggling to hold down a job. And we were spiralling down fast. Sometimes I wish that I knew about thought work then, about the kind of mindset that could have maybe turned our trajectory around. But I didn’t and maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway.
We each own our own behaviours. I know now that I was an enabler, rushing in to fix everything rather than letting him learn from his own mistakes. He asked for space and I gave him a wide berth. I made my own life outside the marriage and he resented that, although when I would scale back to give him my attention, he resented that too. I could not win. I loved him though. Seriously. Still do.
Then our child grew gravely ill, was diagnosed with a rare, progressive and deadly disease, survived a major surgery and the complications that go with it. We walked through fire together and came out the other side, but as different people. The years of triggers and processing that trauma… well we only just figured that one out this past year, thanks to the help of some key friends who read this blog. The journey to healing was long and tough, emotionally more so than physically. Tough love helped us in the end. So has compassion. But I’d also like to commend myself on providing a strong foundation and surrounding us with a community of caregivers and people who love us dearly. It’s only in this past decade that I really learned how to be a good mum.
The aforementioned wide berth given to my partner of the time meant getting into debt so he could go back to school. I was proud of him when he graduated. I know how hard he worked. I was hopeful it was a new start for us. But alas, he decided his new profession was not for him. While all this was happening, I was taking on more and more at work, pushing myself into uncomfortable places so that I could get a foothold or grab the next rung on the ladder.
If I’m honest, I was also pacing myself, holding myself back a bit. I was worried I was surpassing him by a mile. I knew his “pride” did not like how any of this was going down. If you watch my fave show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, my ex is a bit of a Joel, but without the family backing to make his dreams come true. His “pride” kept him from truly supporting and helping to fuel the one career in our household that was taking off. Misogyny fucks with us all.
Halfway through the decade, my ex-partner moved to another city for space and a possible job opportunity, eventually came back to try and work things out, but found he still resented me. When I think of me during that time, I feel pathetic. I feel sorry for that woman who listened to the man she loved (but was always furious with) tell her he didn’t love her anymore. I think of her going on a summer island vacation with friends and kids and how she still tried to work on it, because he was too cowardly to end it and she was still trying to be a good wife. In sickness and in health, she thought. He’s just sick with depression and taking it out on me. I can be stronger than that. Each time he broke a piece of the marriage bond, she changed, until she barely recognized herself.
Eventually, through therapy and homeopathy and journaling and meditating and all those things, I woke up. It took YEARS, but I am so grateful to the past decade for that eventual alarm bell. The one that said, “It’s OK to say, ‘enough.’ Being kind to yourself and ending your suffering is OK.” The one that said, “You are not the horrible person your brain is telling you that you are.” Accepting the death of my marriage gave me new life. Accepting 100% responsibility for my part in it forced me to push myself harder to examine my self! To learn who I am, what I want, that I’m worthy of love and good things.
Despite this story of woe, I’ve never been more grateful for my ex. Much like Midge and Joel on Mrs. Maisel, Theo and I have a mostly solid co-parenting relationship. It’s evolving all the time. As I learn to let go of my control freak ways and let him take on more, even if it means he screws things up, he takes on more responsibility, easing my load. Watching him grow as a person, alongside our children, has been rewarding. He’s getting better. He’s finally learning to have compassion for others, how to consider others before himself. It’s not something that comes naturally for him. He comes from a family of self-obsessed individuals, where I come from a family of loving, but co-dependent abusers. His weaknesses forced me to be stronger, and we are learning how to be better people, together-apart, as really good friends.
I am pushing myself harder and higher. More kindness, more compassion, more forgiveness, starting with myself. I am starting to believe in my birthright, that I am someone who can make a difference and makes a difference in people’s lives regularly. I’m openly embracing my gift instead of downplaying it. I am good with people. I have the kind of heart that can love the world. My career is an important one to the well-being of humanity. I am learning to make it count, all of it, to monitor my energy but to use it wisely. As the Christmas card from my deeply introverted employee wrote, “Your enthusiasm and energy are infectious.” I’m owning that!
I’m a hype girl. I rally. I get people to feel and to share and to care. I believe this will be an important gift in the next decade, as we need to rally together to stop the horrors we’ve been facing in the past decade — the decimation of the environment that sustains human life and the subjugation and marginalization of groups of people that are not rich white men.
In the past decade, I’ve raised two children into the double digits. I cannot be more proud of the absolutely kind, compassionate, caring, funny and smart human beings they are blossoming into. I know the next decade could see them outgrowing the family home. It’s already changed once as we know it and we survived and are closer than ever. I’m not worried. It will all be beautiful in its own way. Every phase of parenting has been the best (although I never want to live through 2013 again).
In the past decade I met my business partner, but only built our business this past year. I can’t tell you the feeling of how she loves me. It’s inspiring. It gives me the power and the courage to do great things for others, to love freely and openly. I’m looking forward to how we will grow together and help our community of clients grow too. We are candles who light other candles. Sometimes we drip wax on the birthday cake, but we light up the room together nonetheless.
In the past decade I built my village with my bestie. What an amazing village, seriously. My people love me and take care of me, and boy do we make each other laugh. She is the centre of it all, that round middle part of a kid’s drawing of a flower, from which all the petals emanate. She has supported me through my DARKEST days. She’s had a shit year, I’m sending her so much love. I want good things for her, that hardworking badass queen that she is. She is the first person who taught me true, unconditional love. There is nothing I can throw at her that makes her love me less. I am blessed to have her.
In the past decade, my bestie and I (along with a friend) ran a secret feminist Facebook group for 3300 women around the globe and that became the Women’s Studies education that I never got. I learned about White Feminism vs. Intersectional Feminism and realized that while I don’t identify as white (I’m not actually Greek like the real Maria Callas), my skin is light enough that I have benefited from white privilege and thus it’s my responsibility to do better to make the world more just and inclusive of all people.
In the past decade, I made several A+ clusters of female friend groups. Insanely wonderful covens of fucking hilarious, courageous women. You know when you’re watching a show like 24 (shows that are inherently racist to Middle Eastern people, but make Westerners feel like they are gods who need to protect the gates of heaven) and they show those overlapping cells of terrorist organizations? It kinda looks like that in my mind, but with lovely human women who share their resources, their victories and their losses with humour and grace and love.
In the past decade I’ve travelled. I’ve learned to jump in every lake I come across, because there are only so many swims in a summer. I learned the universe has my back when I lost my wallet on my way to my first trip on my own of life. I have been to my mother’s hometown and to the country of my ancestors. I found a future home in a warm country in Europe that has my heart and gave me a feeling of possibility when all was lost. And when all was lost, I was found!
In the past decade I’ve learned to love my body, as it is. I’m learning to see it as a home for the space that contains ME! I’m learning to respect it and care for it, to allow it to experience pleasure without guilt. Learning to loosen the tight spots and tighten the loose spots, but love them fully even when I don’t look like the patriarchy told me I should to have worth. My hope is that I can teach my children this lesson now, so they don’t miss their more flexible years and ruin their future mobility by sitting still for too long, but also so they can love themselves as they are, where they are. Learning to connect mind, body and spirit has been a gift, a skill I’m deepening by the day and one I wish for all of you too.
In the past decade I’ve had more lovers than in the previous 2-3 decades combined. I’ve written about all of them here. While I’ve chosen to take a six-month “fallow” period (my lady-fields have to rest before they can flower again), I’ve had a lot of fun in the past three years. I’ve learned how wrong I was about so many things. Finding out how wrong you are is fun too. I feel prepared to learn some things through dating again. I’m confident that I’m ready to get back on the proverbial horse. Giddy up! I’m ready to build the future with someone and I feel his vibe out there. I can’t wait for the magnetic pull of the universe to bring us together.
In the past decade, I’ve met famous people and politicians. I’ve become friends with every woman I ever had a WCW for. I am the first woman in my family to own her own house (though props to my sis for buying a condo solo). I have had my name printed in proper publications, next to work I felt truly proud of. My actual life has exceeded the dreams of my immigrant parents. I have so much and so much to give. Now I just have to practice reciprocity.
In 2020, I’m releasing shame and transforming it into vulnerability. Honesty without tact is cruel. Vulnerability without compassion can be aggressive. Practice a bit at a time. Read Brené Brown. Embrace your imperfection and then learn how to own your mistakes, how to forgive yourself and love yourself through it all. Remember it’s all just an experiment. We are travelling to places without a map (not one that any of us are wise enough to read, anyway). We are baking without a recipe. It’s all trial and error. Every decision gives us a data point.
2020 is going to be about re-writing your story and not getting attached to how it might turn out. It’s about letting go, letting go some more, giving away, shedding, releasing, trusting that you are held in the palm of a hand you cannot see. It’s about assuming best intent. It’s about examining your own privilege and thinking about ways you can share your privilege and use your gifts and your “too much” (whatever that is) to help those who have less. It’s about smoking out the lies we’ve been fed for generations as women. It’s about telling them who’s boss. It’s about saying sorry and meaning it. It’s about doing better next time. It’s about staying with yourself like a faithful dog. It’s about opening up wider than you ever imagined and letting people in, because people are good and this world is worth saving.
You know some of this, because you’ve been here, following along the whole way. I got sucked into a bit of a work hole this past fall, but I’m digging myself out now and committed to getting back to the writing practice that fuels me.
I’ve changed some names and details, because I’d like to continue the anonymity of this blog, even though it offers a false sense of security. The truth is many people who read know who Maria Callas is, and I don’t mean my fave diva from the opera world. But anonymity protects some of the people I write about from the greater public, even if this blog will never be as famous as the original blog I started 15 years ago.
The was much funnier and more poignant live. I have struggled with public speaking my whole life, but yesterday I found my voice and my power. It was magical. I wish that for you, to experience the joy of sharing yourself so completely with a group of strangers, and to have people laugh and cry and feel like they know themselves better because they now know you. If you’re interested in coming to one of my live events, leave me a comment or send an email and I’ll reach out if I believe it’s safe for me to do so.
What is it that you don’t see? What is it that you don’t want to see?
I’m going to tell you a story. I’ve had 20/20 vision my whole life. Every July, right around my birthday I go to the eye doctor. On my 39th birthday, my attractive optometrist, Dr. Mike told me I had the eyes of an 18 year old. I thought, “Oh yeah.”
“Don’t get too cocky though. Come back and see my when you’re 40 and we’ll talk then.”
Sure enough, like a fairy tale curse, by 40 I was struggling to read tiny pill bottles. At 44 I was wearing a +1.5 drugstore reading glass but still had close to 20/20 vision. But this summer, at 45, boom! “You’ve got the eyes of an 81 year old. You have Narrow angle closure glaucoma and you’re at risk of going blind.” What. The. Fuck?
Suddenly faced with the possibility of not being able to see anything was eye-opening (pardon the pun). Assuming fate was on my side, what did I hope to see in the next 40-50 years of my life?
My past hopes of sitting on a porch swing, reading books with my husband playing guitar next to me, were dashed three years ago when we broke up after 16 years of marriage.
What did I want to see? Top of Everest? Nah. But Rome? Athens? Tahiti? This beautiful world?
My mother’s aging face? My father’s work-worn hands? My kids becoming adults? Finding love? Maybe having children of their own?
The sight of someone looking into my eyes with deep love in his eyes?
Ugh. When I thought about that last one, about finding a romantic partner, my belly churned. It was like someone in a movie snapping a thick book shut. We’ll get to that in a sec.
My choices were wait it out, but risk having an attack when not close to a hospital, or have a laser iridotomy: A simple procedure where a tiny hole is zapped into your iris to release the pressure in your eyeball.
So I waited. I waited all summer. Because while I was wondering what it was I wanted to see, in the background I was also doing the work of uncovering some pretty ugly stuff from my past that I did not want to look at. Even writing this part of my story was tough.
A lot has happened in the past year. I started a business with Rock n’ Roll Coach, almost exactly a year ago. We threw one event on a whim and fell in love with the idea of working together, which is how our super cool business was born. We now coach groups of incredible women on their mindset, teaching our program over three hours a week.
In April, the company I’ve worked at for 10 years sold my division to another company, and I’ve spent the past 365 days leading teams through change. I’ve learned to silence Imposter Complex, stepping into myself as a valued leader in the company, something that didn’t feel comfortable for me in the past.
In the past two weeks, I was given two new teams that I had little to no experience with, because, to paraphrase my new boss, they needed my energy. It’s humbling to be the rookie at my level after over a decade in the business!
In the fall, I successfully transitioned my two kids to new schools, middle school and high school. If you’re a parent, you know that September and October are full of big feels, and getting through this seismic change fairly smoothly has been a huge win.
One of the biggest things that happened to me this year was I started to fall in love with a man we’ll call The French CEO. It was significant because it was the first truly emotional relationship I’ve allowed myself to experience since the end of my marriage. I’ve had a lot of fun.
The French CEO has an adorable accent, is a devoted dad and works 80s hours a week, so getting time with him was super challenging, even for a busy single mom like myself. I didn’t mind only getting to see him once every other week, but there was a real lack of conversation in between hangs.
Simple texts here and there, usually initiated by me when I’d feel insecure due to days of not hearing from him. Always me sharing a lot and him unable to share much more than how busy he’d been.
We spent a beautiful weekend away together a week before I turned 45. When he missed calling me on my actual birthday, I was a mess. The relationship was bringing up things in me that I needed to understand. A lot of the coaching work we do is about understanding and managing your own mind, so I knew it was my responsibility, not his.
I started to explore why I felt so insecure when I hadn’t heard from him in a few days. And what I realized was that in my childhood home, if my father was silent for a few days, it meant all hell was going to break loose in the form of violence. As it turns out Little Maria feels very frightened when she’s ignored. It means she’s done something bad or disappointed someone. Whooooo.
Through therapy and meditation, I was able to go back in time and see my parents with compassion and forgiveness. They say forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. I found this to be true in terms of my healing process.
But what also came through loud and clear is how much I was willing to put up with before I could confidently say it wasn’t working. The subtext to all of it was that subconsciously I felt I didn’t deserve more or better. Love to the little bad girl was conditional, and if she wasn’t perfect, she wouldn’t get it.
I didn’t want to SEE my life story as it had embedded itself in my psyche. I couldn’t see it for fear it was too painful. But let me tell you, when I finally had the courage and felt desperate enough that I had to get to it no matter what was in there, the clarity and peace I found was the opposite of scary.
For the first time in my life, I was able to say to a man, “If this is going to work, this is the bare minimum I need to feel secure.” The bar was surprisingly low. The French CEO chose not to reach for it anyway. But I walked away with all my power, something I had no idea how to do before.
In fact, managing my own mind and accepting my responsibility in doing the work has lead to powerful change in all aspects of my life. I didn’t realize, for example, that my own anxiety and stress was leading to my kids’ behavioural issues at home or performance issues at school. Learning how to separate facts from feelings has been something I’ve been able to share with them as well.
The outcome to my story: I had the surgery on October 30th, and I’ve had the good fortune of learning that my recovery is better than the expected result. Meaning I’m back to an average person’s eye health. While I need reading glasses now, I still have pretty great eyesight.
But having solid eyeballs is not the same as having a solid vision for yourself. Today we are talking about 2020 vision in a different way. A proper vision guides your daily life and provides the direction necessary to chart the course of your days and the choices you make about your career, life, and family.
All a vision asks of you is to come at your self and the world around you from a place of possibility. We’re going to ask you to imagine the future while staying firmly rooted in the present. Those deep breaths we took at the beginning, how’d they make you feel? [MC: I started the event with a meditation and Indigenous Land Acknowlegement]
If breathing mindfully relaxed you, you can always come back to a single in and out breath to come back to present.
When you find yourself shutting down ideas that pop into your brain, jot down the thoughts to explore later. Steph will guide you through a workshop and you will leave feeling inspired and engaged and empowered as the captain of your destiny.
In The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, author Bessel van der Kolk says,
Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.
Consider this your safe space.
Then we did all kinds of fun stuff. Workshops, lessons, panel, a talk about sex with a sex educator. My business partner is so good at what she does and it was incredible to see the progress she’s made as a mindset and life coach this past year. It was so rad. Typically I sit on the sidelines of our events during Q&A, but I found myself taking the stage. I’ve done the material for long enough that I know how to answer people’s life questions, when they struggle with guilt or time or what idea to chase. And I continue to improve as I read and study and learn new perspectives and modes of teaching.
I find the ticket sales part so challenging, but the content is so good. We helped so many people yesterday! Here’s hoping that word of mouth helps our business to grow. Would love to do this full-time. Oral storytelling was so important to my culture, getting to do it for a living would be magical. Putting it out to the universe.
As I discussed my discoveries about my childhood self with Dr. X, she asked me to investigate why my father did some of the incredibly hurtful things he did. Eventually I hope to find the time and space to ask him before it’s too late. After writing down a series of questions from a place of curiosity in my journal, I got a message from another single mom I know telling me she’d been reading about Attachment Theory, specifically this article. And boom, there was my father in all his flawed, deeply pained, unrealized self. “A child with an avoidant attachment attempts to meet their own needs, because it is too painful depending on others who consistently fail to respond to them. They develop a sense of shame, thinking, ‘I am not worth paying attention to.’ They then disconnect from their needs in an effort to avoid feeling this shame.”
I know little of my father’s upbringing. Much of it clouded by editorializing from my mom, who despised her mother-in-law and confronted her in-laws in such a disrespectful way that my father was emasculated and didn’t talk to his parents for many years. By my mother’s accounts my father was left alone much of the time, ignored in favour of his younger sister, etc. I often wonder about my father’s appalling social skills, whether he would be diagnosed on some sort of spectrum if he were born now. And if that undiagnosed neurological quirk made him a difficult child, therefore causing small town rural parents with little resources to deal with him via neglect. I will never know. But I know that my father’s distance has to do with his feelings that it’s better if he’s not around, he does not feel worthy of love. We’ve had to work our way up to hugs and kisses and occasional I love yous.
They say there’s nothing more damaging to a child than a parent’s unrealized self. Let that sink in. For those who know my real identity and know how much I do, it largely comes from this place. Life is full of experiences and opportunities for joy. All we have to do is say yes. I’m also learning that my energy stores will dwindle as I age, and that despite my desire to do and try all the things, I have to be selective about where my energy goes. My children provide me that checkpoint: What am I modelling for them? One of my most favourite things Dr. X ever said to me was when I was speaking about my parents, talking about how I don’t want to live like they do. “Aren’t you lucky to have such great teachers in how not to be?” Game changer. Positioning and perspective are everything.
As I learned more about attachment theory, I learned that people who grow up with an avoidant attachment parent are also prone to insecure attachment and that can show up as avoidant or anxious attachment where you may seem needy or jealous. So boom again. Guess what I am?
This article, also by Lisa Firestone, PhD really spoke to me. “An anxiously attached person assumes they want closeness but engages in patterns that actually leave a certain amount of emotional turmoil and distance. Although they may perceive themselves as feeling real love toward their partner, they may actually be experiencing emotional hunger. Their actions, which are often based on desperation or insecurity, exacerbate their own fears of distance or rejection. When their partner does come closer or gives them what they want, they may react in unconscious ways that push their partner away or create distance. They may find that their true tolerance for intimacy is much smaller than they thought because real love and closeness would challenge their core beliefs about themselves and relationships. Therefore, while they may believe they want security, they actually feel compelled to remain in a state of anxiety.”
WHOA! Wait a second. I’m actually attracted to the conditions which make me feel shitty and then I do shitty self-sabotage-y things to keep me in the shitty feeling state that I’m used to because that equals love to me? HOLD MY BEER! Why am I, as Glennon Doyle says, not “speaking my insides on the outside?” Oh, because my brain is used to this weird dance of “Come here, go away! Gah! Boys are so confusing! No one will love me the way I waaaaaaaant!” BOOM!
What I love about this kind of deep work is that once you become conscious of your behaviours and patterns, you have to stay conscious. Because it’s no longer a reflex, now it’s a choice you’re making. I’m not saying this work is easy folks, but much like how my body hurts whether or not I exercise but only one of those choices keeps me healthy, staying in a place of self-harm and self-sabotage hurts worse than doing this kind of excavation. Also, I’m not suggesting you should do this on your own. Much like having a trainer or a yoga teacher, having a therapist, homeopath or life coach can help to make sure you’re figuring this stuff out safely and correctly. (I have all three.)
So now I know what’s going on. Now I have compassion for 12-year-old Maria and I meditate while giving her a hug in my mind. I’ll take care of you, I tell her, we will overcome this together. You don’t need to be scared anymore. You don’t need to crave the affections of a man with the same desperation any longer. We are safe. We are resilient enough to stand on our own no matter what comes. We will figure it out together.
It still took some courage to speak my insides on the outside. I chose the liquid form. While day drunk on sangria this weekend, I decided to send a simple text that amounted to, “Hi! Haven’t heard your voice in three weeks. So are we doing this or taking a break? I can roll with whatever, but I have zero influence over this right now. If we’re doing this, here are my minimum requirements:
I see your face every 2-3 weeks
We talk on the phone once a week
You share with me what’s going on with you. It has to be a 2-way conversation.”
Couldn’t get more basic. That is the bottom of the barrel as a single parent. This is where I need to start. The baseline. We build from here.
Meditation and journalling gave me the insight to see I was suffering and I could end it, simply by asking for what I needed and risking losing someone in the process. Because real love comes from within, not from something or someone outside yourself. You can know it intellectually, but knowing it in your soul takes some work and consistent practice until you form the spiritual equivalent of muscle memory. 12-year-old Maria needs me to take care of her and she needed clarity.
Monsieur Magique responded with a typical for him slew of “I have all this stuff going on right now and I tried to see you last weekend but got shut down.” PETTY SIDEBAR: hilarious because when I’d initially asked him for that date he’d responded with “Bastille Day…” which — what the fuck does that mean? Are you storming something? Can I come? Also why do I have to make myself available when he wants? And why does he feel rejected when I have to say no? That’s for him to uncover, because he doesn’t give me enough time for me to ask. He went on to say that what I proposed made sense, seemed like something we could both handle and sorry. Pfft.
My response to his overwhelm was good and true to me, and came from a place of compassion for us both. I said: “I’m sorry too. You have been going through a ton, and I get it. I hoped that I could be someone you could lean on during this super intense time. I honestly don’t need much, because as you said I’ve got my own things going on. Unfortunately I feel like my minimum threshold for feeling secure in this relationship was below the red line, and it just doesn’t feel good. I just want to be your person, Magique. I don’t want to be put on a shelf like a box of old photos. I want to fight your fights with you and vice versa. But it’s too much right now and I understand.”
I felt free. Hugely free. (Like I even went dancing and smiled a genuine smile the whole time, and I happened to be five minutes from his house). Because I could finally see what I was resisting. The truth. This is not someone who can make me a priority right now. He’s said it countless times, but also enjoyed keeping me shelved to take out like a toy when he was able, and that’s not enough for me, but I was scared to admit it because he’s so amazing in so many ways. He had asked for patience until September, but I couldn’t reduce my expectations any lower without compromising myself. The person he was asking me to be meant I had to fight my brain daily to accept things that made me feel insecure.
This has been a truly positive experience because now I KNOW. He has been a gift, because he lead me to truly see what I deserve, both through positive and negative interactions. I’m not afraid anymore. I know what I want and I will no longer apologize for it. I want my person. As I said to a friend yesterday, “I have four vibrators, a great house, an amazing career, two incredible children, a body I take good care of, a mind that I’m constantly working on and a spirit full of love and energy for anyone who wants to bask in it. I need nothing. I’m basically a cactus. This is a turnkey property. You just move in and enjoy.”
I don’t know if this is the end of Monsieur Magique for good. I use au revoir in the title, because it connotes that you hope to see someone again soon. But what I know is that I still have a few things to get my shit together on, and he has to do his work on his own. I’m not his person. He isn’t ready to make me his person. But you know what? I AM MY PERSON! And while it feels lonely in situations full of couples, or when I notice the foundation of the house crumbling and look around to see who knows how to take care of that (which should not be gendered, I know), it’s also liberating as fuck.
Let me say it louder for the people in the back (and shout out to my friends who are right now thinking, “Girl! I told you so!”) I DO NOT NEED TO SETTLE! I’m so proud of myself for finally figuring it out and speaking my truth. My horoscope on Co-Star yesterday said, “Climb to the top of the mountain, from there you will be able to see everything.” So friends, I’m rising higher. Today’s horoscope said, “Clarity is the same as transcendence.” Breathe that in. Is that not just beautiful enough to get a tattoo of? The air is getting thinner, so the work to keep going is getting harder… but the view, the vantage point, the perspective… it’s worth it.
I am at peace today. I was making excuses to get out of my favourite bike ride of life. It’s a long, winding, thrilling 10K from the cottage to the next town over, first through this town with its mix of cottages (both rustic and modern), trailers, tennis courts and trees, then along the shores of a mighty, majestic lake. You can feel that these shores were an Indigenous sacred place, that those wiser and more in tune with nature than zombie colonial consumerists respected its power and its grace for more than just a bit of sunny summer fun.
It was nearly 40 degrees Celsius with the humidity. It felt foolish to attempt it, but my daughter insisted. “You should go. It’s something you love to do, mom.” She was right, of course. I rode to the tennis courts first and watched the boys in their tournament, listening to the chatter of privileged white teenagers, the girls discussing tans and salads, the boys discussing the gym and submarine sandwiches. Ridiculous that so much has changed and yet nothing at all. If I think about it too much I will feel depressed, so I shrug it off and just accept what is.
The boys mostly suck —that’s my boy! Takes after his uncoordinated mom, who was one-half of the losingest tennis doubles team in her 13th summer on earth. I vow that we will play this summer, all three of us. That we will not wait for things to happen to us. That we will go and make them happen. I will remind them time and time again that sustained effort and consistency are what deliver improvements in life. And that you have to want it badly enough.
I have come here alone, with my children and one friend of my son’s. I will celebrate a birthday up here, another rotation around the sun, reaching a possible mid-way point to a number that sounds both reasonable to me as a logical person, and unreasonable to me as someone who loves life. I am trying to avoid pride, while also being somewhat self-celebratory that I can do this, that I AM DOING THIS, this thing alone. This thing called life.
I left the boys mid-play, cycling away from the town and my children and pedalled towards freedom. “It’s going to be hard,” I remind myself, “There will be times you want to quit, but you should push through. There will be times when you want to rest and you should take a moment. The goal, the intention, is presence. Experience how your mind and your body battle it out and reunite them with your spirit.” It didn’t take long for the glee to kick in, for the gratitude for a body that works, for a mind that gets out of its own way some of the time, for the abundance and wealth and privilege of being able to come to a place like this.
Beach towns are in my blood, culturally this is how my ancestors would escape their oppressively hot ancient cities. My mother has many tales of summer enjoyment on an island or at lakeside escape. My father did not give her a lot, but he knew she loved a beach and would try to make that happen for her on occasion, even though we didn’t have much. You don’t need much to experience paradise, just the right environment and the right company, and often not even that.
I weep at the majesty of the enormous lake, its waves lapping gently in places and threateningly in others. I have worn my bikini under my tank and shorts. I have promised myself a solo swim. A woman on a beach alone is a tragic figure among the throngs of families, but I like that I will have an air of mystery. A woman happy to be alone is something to fear.
At the end of the trail I stop for a rest. I’m not completely cured of my desire to connect outward, so I send a few texts to the strong women in my life. The end of the trail is the beginning of the way home, I say. Earlier in the week, while cycling with my daughter, I tell her that bicycles were the beginning of women finding freedom, that men could make rules about who could drive, but a bike ride was the first time a woman could ride away from everything on her own. I’m grateful but have mixed feelings about the extreme safety and freedom I feel here, on this land occupied by many white-haired white people, land that sits next to a First Nations reserve, but where you barely see any Indigenous people. I try just to observe and not judge, though I can’t shake the uneasiness of the inequity.
Dr. X writes back, “You’re living the good cake!” The good cake refers to a statement I made about Monsieur Magique, whom I almost took a break from recently. I decided my life is like really good cake, and he is lovely but complicated icing. “I could scrape off the icing,” I’d surmised, “and be perfectly happy with really good cake.” (MM was overwhelmed with life, when I suggested the break to let him off the hook, but instead he leaned in harder and took me away for a delightful weekend, but that’s another story, and I think I may keep it just for me.)
I cycle back listening to Krishna Das, then pausing to listen to the waves and the birds. I stop at the beach and write most of this after a cold, refreshing swim. I emerge from the water, proud, strong, independent. ALIVE.
I will no longer make apologies for my need for solitude. Instead I will continue to build my life around space. I am a good mom, I don’t need to question it. I am living the good cake. Not everyone likes cake, so it’s not about me when they don’t like me. I will no longer allow the perception of others to make me question myself.
I will be my own best boyfriend, my own true love, my own steady partner. I will not let her down, I will not let her go. I will stay with her when she is sick, when she is sad, disappointed or in pain. I will look her hurt and tragedies in the eye and I will not flinch, nor will I try to fix it. I will just stay and hold my own hand.
I am whole. I am made in the image my creator wanted. I am flawed but my flaws make me beautiful, unique. I am always learning, parts of me dying to make room for new growth.
I’m nearly halfway, if I’m lucky. No more apologies. No more hand-wringing. No more doubt. Just a cautious hurtling forward, clumsy but with moments of grace. It’s all here for the taking. The only thing in my way is me. I start today.
It’s been so long since I’ve typed that I don’t even know where to start. Lots has happened, and nothing’s happened, ya know?
I went on an epic, multigenerational trip of a lifetime and I have so many thoughts about that. But they are not yet for this space. And things with Monsieur Magique are… the same? And yet everything is different.
I’m not going to drag this out in the typical way. I think I will just summarize, because I’m tired of myself. I keep getting stuck on the same parts of myself, the parts that needs attention and validation, which I’m well-versed in Buddhism enough to know is my ego. I, like 99% of people on this planet (in the west, at least) am trying to fill a hole somewhere that doesn’t actually exist, because apparently none of this is real. It’s all projections of our minds. Huh.
If you’ve been coming here a while, you know my sticking point. I’d like the men I’m dating to text me and say that they are thinking about me. Or to pick up the phone and call me. My love languages are Words of Affirmation, Touch and Quality Time. My custody arrangement is such that I only really have every other weekend to myself overnights, and even that often gets eaten up by my ex’s work schedule or the kids having events that a mom should attend.
But most men are unitaskers and compartmentalizers. They don’t talk to four different group chats all day long in the middle of work. They are not wired that way. I, on the other hand, am co-dependent with everybody. Haha. I have bazillion group chats, plus robust social media friendships where I am constantly communicating all day long. Writing stuff down feels good to me. However, I think it’s all a bit much sometimes. And in working through a new relationship, you can’t compare one method of communication to another.
I am dating someone who works 80+ hours a week, super-parents his kids, and hardly sleeps. And somehow, despite this, he is trying to make a wee corner in his schedule for yours truly. And yours truly has a lot of trouble just accepting this. She gets restless and makes up stories about her time being disrespected. Or that maybe this dude is so scared of his past mistakes that he is keeping her at arm’s length.
All of this turned out to be right, but it’s also wrong. When I feel like MM is disrespecting my time, I’m also disrespecting his. He works A LOT. It’s unsustainable and he knows it, as we discussed when we last hung two weeks ago. I tried to get to what would his life look like if he was working 40-50 hours a week. And after some deep heart to hearts, I think I both confirmed what I already knew and asked for what I needed, as did he. I will paraphrase somewhat.
“I get the sense that you want more, but right now I work 80 hours a week. The limited time I have free I want to spend with you. Alone. I’m this close to burning out and can’t take on more right now.”
“Of course I want to meet your friends and I want you to meet mine, but I just can’t right now. I do want to plan a future at some point but I’m still finalizing my separation and trying to close these deals at work, so it’s not clean right now. And that’s not how I do things. You’re not seeing my best and I don’t feel good about that.”
So basically he’s a grown-up. I can’t have all of him right now. Maybe never. And vice versa. I don’t want to give up my lady friendships or my writing time. Or my concerts, which I get the feeling he would not enjoy because his love for cheesy pop doesn’t jive with my passion for alternative bands and singer-songwriters.
However, if I’m truly honest with myself, this isn’t working for me. I’m being asked to stay cool on ice for four months. I’m subtly being asked not to text or send photos. The issues here aren’t that different from the ones I had with Ali, Mr. Saturday Night, or even Theo. The men in my life aren’t showing up the way I need them to. My expectations get called into question and I end up vacillating between wondering what’s wrong with me and feeling gaslighted or disrespected. I get told I should accept the male need to chase, but I detest playing these games. They are not true to who I am, which is raw, honest and excited.
My favourite Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, asks us to stay with ourselves in times of discomfort. Don’t act. Sit still in the eye of the storm. And I have been trying that, but with varying degrees of success. I’ve realized, it’s OK to have limits. I’m not a Buddhist nun. I have wants and needs and desires. I’m human. I’m not ready to give it all up to live in the grace of the universe 24-7, although the Buddhists would have you believe that the love of source energy is better than sex. I want to have my cake and eat it too.
But perhaps, this experience will lead to my final act of total surrender. I can’t control life or love and neither can you. I can imagine a future, dream of it, try to manifest it through beliefs, but at the end of the day all I can control is how I prepare for a moment and how I react to a moment. And I’ll admit I haven’t been too graceful at reacting to being ignored. Being ignored is my trigger. And social media makes it so that I never have to feel ignored, not even for half a day, unless I don’t need it or care about it that day.
So much meditation and thought work still to do to clear this hurdle. And maybe an acceptance that I never will. All my important relationships with men have been “Do you love me?” exercises, stemming back to things that happened with my own dad. The difference is: I’m quite certain I love myself now, and yet, perhaps not fully. Perhaps the “Do you love me?” exercise is really one I have to apply to myself? Time to do a Wild style walk in the wilderness? Or hit a silent meditation retreat? I’ve got no problems being alone, I even crave my solitude. But perhaps I have to go cold turkey with my addiction to people and the internet?
Let me ponder this some. Am I looking at this all wrong? Am I right to express my disappointment about how this is going after six months? I welcome your comments and suggestions (scroll back up for “Leave a Comment” feature).
It’s hard to believe it’s only been two short months. 70 days at best. And yet I feel as though I’ve always known him, Monsieur Magique. I feel so SEEN, because although many of our interests are different, our spirits, our energy, our values are so aligned. He seems to just GET me. Sometimes it’s like looking into a mirror and seeing a smarter, more logical version of myself.
Except there are things I have mastered that he aspires to. I bring something to the picnic too, big time. Through hard work, focused learning and constant dedication to prioritizing what fuels me, I’ve got my stress and self-care in check. His desperate need to make time for relaxation means that my desire to reduce my tendency to overschedule myself is addressed through our time together. My planning brain doesn’t need to change drastically. On the contrary, its enhanced by creativity, trying to find fun new ways to rest or create de-stressing. It’s self-love partnered with caring for this man, who fell from the sky and anchored me to the universe. It’s less about doing and more about being.
I’m going backwards through time at the speed of light I’m yours, you’re mine, two satellites Not alone No, we’re not alone A freeze-frame of your eye in the strobelight Sweat dripping down from your brow, hold tight Don’t let go Don’t you let me go
I listened to a great podcast this week called Unf*ck Your Brain. The host specializes in thought work. And she blew my mind a bit, although there may be more enlightened schools of thought that disagree with what I’m about to break down. But hear me out. Basically, love is just your thoughts that create positive feelings. So loving someone is just for you, really. You can go ahead and love someone as much as you want, as long as you are being treated with respect and it feels good! Love is not a finite resource. We can make as much love as the love thoughts we have the capacity to generate. You do not need to ration it or budget it. You can spend it, assess if where you spent it served you well and decide to keep spending it there or withdraw and spend it somewhere else.
But start with yourself. Because negative thoughts are just that—THOUGHTS! And you have the power to change or re-write them. If you’re not feeling it with someone you’ve loved, examine YOUR thoughts first. Start with yourself. Is the issue deeper, a past hurt or trauma perhaps? Or is it simply that you chose to love someone/spend love thoughts on someone who can’t meet you at your level?
We all grow at different rates and paces, not just physically but intellectually, cognitively and spiritually. You can wake up one day to find you’ve outpaced the person you started out with, be it your parent, your friend, your spouse. Or that they couldn’t keep up with you. And that’s when things get painful. Because you either start holding yourself back for the person you love to catch up, or you constantly feel like you’re not enough to keep up with the person who got there before you. You don’t understand why the other person doesn’t see the world the way you do. And it hurts, because our instinct is to think that one of us is wrong, when often we are both right.
When you start tuning into where you are vibing, when you pay attention to your pace and your steps, the body that houses the spirit and the mind that often gets too much power beyond running the order of operations of that body, THEN things do fall into place. The only two things we have control over is how we prepare for a particular moment and how we react to a particular moment. Once you spend some time with that, little by little, you let go of worry and fear, one act of surrender at a time.
In that regard, I see falling in love as a choice and staying in love a mix of choice and actions, small surrenders and kindnesses done on the daily—by choice.
And I never was smart with love I let the bad ones in and the good ones go, but…
I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before I’m gonna love you like I’m indestructible Your love is ultra magnetic and it’s taking over This is hardcore And I’m indestructible
Monsieur Magique was an hour late. I expect him to always be 30 minutes late—that’s the basic buffer I mentally put in as a safety measure. He’s a European stereotype with those things and also has an extremely intense job, so I understand his dedication to his work to-do list. So I just physically prepare on the off-chance he will be on-time, but mentally prepare for the fact that I have 30 minutes to tweak things like my makeup, my food presentation, or the arrangement of pillows on my bed. I put music on, I pour some wine and a just float through the house. If it’s a restaurant and I’m waiting the 30 minutes, I flirt with the waiter. But by the time he arrives, he expects me to be angry. It’s like he wants to be punished for being a naughty boy, and I think he might be disappointed when I’m completely unfazed.
I was irritated, and he’s right, I should be mindful of that. I think that this is me choosing not to be angry, but also I’ve learned that expectations matter. That if we don’t say something is unacceptable when it is, the person trespassing will continue to trespass and offend and you will keep saying, “It’s fine,” but not really mean it and then 20 years later you will wake up and hate the person for not knowing it’s not OK and not being able to read your mind after 20 years.
But also, do I need to sweat the small stuff? No harm, no foul. He usually let’s me know he’s running late in plenty of time and so we’re good. But on Friday night, 30 minutes became 60 with no notice. And the thing that irked me was I had gone out of my way to make him dinner, because I knew he was coming from work and probably had little but cigarettes for dinner. He has not been great at taking care of himself in the time I’ve known him, though he manages to go swimming or to the gym when he can.
His job is eating up his life. He works seven days a week AND tries to be SuperDad at the same time. From school to the airport or office and back again. And from our very first most magical date he made very clear that work and kids were the priority right now, so I accept that completely. But I CHOOSE to care about him, and seeing him constantly putting himself last (save those tiny smoke breaks), hearing him complain, seeing him look so stressed and tired… well it tears at my heart strings a bit. He’s a giver, but I wonder if he’s giving so much at the expense of himself. And then where do I fit in? What’s my part in all this? Do I need to define it or do I just go with the flow, filling in the gaps as I see them?
So I chose to welcome him into my home, to ignore his guilty look, and to wrap him up in my arms and hold and kiss his face to tell him it was OK. Because I wanted to create a safe, comforting space for him. This home was a battle zone and not a sanctuary for so long. I’ve worked so hard to give it new energy, and I want there to be something sacred in the space and time I choose to spend with the person I choose to care deeply about.
As I was flitting about the kitchen, getting everything reheated, he came up behind me and held me tight. “Smells so good,” he said, “Thank you. It kind of feels like I’m coming home.” My knees buckled a bit.
We ate and talked in depth about our kids and it’s never a problem because it’s both our favourite subjects and a great way to learn about each other. “You bought French wine!” he remarked. Indeed, I’d bought it with intention, thinking about how he told me that the good vintage is 2015. But I love Bordeaux, it’s one of my favourites (along with Rioja and Garnacha), so much so that it was the colour I had my toes painted this week (also with intention). “I often buy French wine,” I smirked.
Dinner was cold and not my A-game, and apparently I was a bit cold and B-game too, because he commented that I didn’t seem myself, that I seemed distant. I think I was just trying to observe what was happening, trying to keep an eye on how I was feeling and reacting to things, but he was convinced I was mad and holding back, not showing my Greekness enough. So I said, “Fine, I will tell you. This work stress is not your forever, but it’s your right now. And it’s OK right now, because it’s cold and icy, so hibernating is something I appreciate and a night at home is a nice thing. But come long, sunny days, I will resent you for being late. I’m very good at filling my own time with fun. Don’t keep me waiting. D’accord?“
We danced to 80s records again until late. But I was cognizant of the fact that he had to be up early to get his kids the next morning. “How much sleep do you need to be functional for your kids tomorrow?”
“Hmmm? Are you getting antsy to get me into bed?”
“No, well a bit, but I’m also respecting your time and your schedule,” I replied. “And don’t feel like you need to stay. If you need to be in your own house tonight, just say the words.” I was antsy, but only because the ghost of Susan FUCKING BOIL was back and I wasn’t sure how to address the fact that my ladytown was off limits.
“Five hours,” he replied, putting on Duran Duran’s “Reflex” and twirling me around the room. “Last song,” he said, and when it was done, he reshelved the record, then calmly walked over to his overnight bag. “I brought my jammies!” he smiled, tossing a pair of PJ pants down to my bedroom. I guess we were having a sleepover. Not gonna lie, I was giddy.
Hands up in the air like we don’t care We’re shooting deep into space And the lasers split the dark Cut right through the dark It’s just us, we ignore the crowd dancing Fall to the floor Beats in my heart Put your hand on my heart
I won’t get into details of what ensued (sorry pervs), but let’s say that some interesting things came up, all of which are promising and can be worked through with communication. He is a giver! And I think has a hard time with letting go, like he’s too wrapped up in his own head. I can work with this.
So I pretended I had my period to not get into the whole “maybe I have a staph infection” conversation. And as a result, try as he might to change the course of the evening, I did not have an orgasm. And I was totally OK with that. It was my choice, not due to a bad lover. You get to choose how you ride your ride. Instead, after we fooled around in other ways, I got another all-night snugglefest. And for the first time, I really fell asleep. I woke up a few times to adjust blankets, pillows, positions, the thermostat… but I learned how to accept his snoring as purring and let him white noise me to sleep in his arms.
When I called it purring in the morning, he softened. “You’re so kind to call it that.” We don’t have to make someone’s physical flaws a liability. We can be gentle with them. And we should be just as gentle (if not more) with our own. What I adore about Monsieur Magique is how he notices kind gestures and really expresses his appreciation for them. No one is perfect, but I get that some things are deal breakers, I have them too, and I watch for them like a hawk. Perhaps I should make a post about them, my makers and breakers, because I’ve put a lot of thought into them, but haven’t validated the breakers properly.
We shared a bagel and talked about our plans for the week. He thanked me countless times, apologizing again for his lateness. We hugged deeply, with meaning. “Text me to keep me updated on your adventures and I’ll try to do the same,” he said over his shoulder while leaving, eliminating the last niggling feeling I had about our inconsistency in texting styles. I had permission to text when I felt like it. I just have to accept that the response will come in its own time.
I went to yoga later and had a hard time setting my intention. I settled on choosing an open heart. My mom and sister constantly worry about how trusting I am, about how I give my love to everyone. But if love is a choice to think love thoughts, what’s the harm in that? I’ve proven that I’m not as fragile as I was lead to believe. “You’re just so sensitive,” my mom would say, mistaking empathy or heightened awareness for sensitivity.
I’ve been hurt before (or chosen to think painful thoughts about the end of something) and I licked my wounds (with the help of many MANY people, mind you) and moved on. Isn’t life just a practice of this? Love with abandon (as long as you’re being mindful throughout the process) and if it comes back to you, great! If/when it ends, accept it and move forward in your own time. Nothing’s here to stay anyway. Shouldn’t we all just savour the love when we can get it?
I’m going all in.
And I never was smart with love I let the bad ones in and the good ones go, but…
I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before I’m gonna love you like I’m indestructible Your love is ultra magnetic and it’s taking over This is hardcore And I’m indestructible
A few days after my last visit with Mr. Saturday Night, I felt a sharp pain on my right butt cheek. A closer look revealed that an ingrown hair was screaming at me, angry and red. I washed it, put some cream on it and went to bed. The next day, it had grown bigger, but I went about my day anyway. Having just injured my foot in a bout of mindlessness a few days earlier, I figured ignoring would be better for my mental health. I was having a WEEK!
That evening, I went to a book launch with my friend Champers, and I was in SO much pain. The bump had grown SIGNIFICANTLY, bigger than a marble in size. It hurt to sit or walk. So during the launch I stupidly went to Dr. Google to read up on boils (a malaise I thought died with my favourite nun on Call the Midwife) and promptly had a panic attack. Was I going to get sepsis? Necrotizing fasciitis? Thankfully, Champers acted like my therapy dog and got me home. I got Dr. X on it the next morning, went to the doctor’s office for visual confirmation that I wasn’t dying and then spent a weekend on the couch, getting up only to do warm compresses on my new third ass.
Everything with me is metaphysical. I know that this is an unpopular theory, because it can have a victim-blaming feel to it, but allow me dig in here a bit. I had seen Mr. SN on Saturday night, and I was feeling a bit guilty about it, because part of me was sending warnings about how going was akin to not honouring myself. I knew I was going there to have hot, dirty sex. I knew the chances of finding toilet paper were 50/50. I also knew I’d just met someone who flipped everything on its head and I wasn’t being totally honest with either of these men, nor myself for that matter. I felt entitled to have both men in my life until someone asked me to settle down or be exclusive, because I felt it protected me from getting too excited about either option. I’m a modern woman, dammit! I can date all the men!
Except in my heart, I am not that person and have never been. I am not one-night-stand girl. I am not casual lover girl. My overthinking brain prevents me from actually detaching my emotions from pretty much any activity I do. I even get the feels while brushing my teeth. It’s who I am. This is my curse – I HAVE ZERO CHILL. I’m working on it, I swear. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, coaching, journaling. I get glimpses of a quiet mind, but it doesn’t last. It’s going to take a LOT of practice. I’m addicted to chatter and conversation. I’m addicted to text messaging with friends. I know this.
I am hoping that through new chapter with Monsieur Magique I can build the practice of exploring that. You see with MM, there’s a cool confidence, a trust that if this is meant to be, it’s going to happen. I mean this sincerely. He almost fell from the sky into my lap when I first met him. When he’s with me he is crystal clear that I am the person he is curious about and wants to be with. We are ridiculously compatible. I am trying to avoid him becoming a story, so I don’t like even writing about him. With him, I just want to BE.
MM compartmentalizes his life. It’s something I’m having to get used to. He has work mode and dad mode and fun mode. Work mode means he also travels a ton when he doesn’t have his kids. And fun mode has friends in there too, so if I want to pursue this, I have to accept that he’s a man with healthy boundaries and I might get an eighth of his time for starters. He doesn’t check work emails when with me and so I imagine that he doesn’t think about me when at work. This is healthy. I need this in my life. As a lifestyle writer for most of my career, everything always bled into the other. Life was content and so work became life. I need to work towards more separation of work and life. I need to learn the value of separating the public and the private. Or not. As my bestie suggested last night, “Maybe you just need workarounds.”
I am not new to men who don’t text or call at the cadence I would like. Mr. SN was also very busy. We would only see each other once or twice a month. I think at most we made it to three times in a month. The difference is, Mr. SN didn’t want to see me more. He wasn’t puzzling over how we could make time for each other. I could not see a path to a time where he might ask me to spend the night, or go away for a weekend together. There was no opportunity for a future there, because he was so guarded, like Patrick Swayze/Johnny telling Jennifer Grey/Baby, “This is your space, this is my space.” And yet I kept trying to see one. I kept wondering, “Well is he just not going deeper because he’s waiting for a signal from me?”
The Sunday after the last Saturday with Mr. SN, I dropped a very heavy wooden barstool on my foot in a moment of mindlessness. Have you ever mentally poured the coffee while you’re still reaching for the mug? That’s the headspace I was in. I almost puked from the pain but shook it off, only to find that after hours of ignoring the foot, I couldn’t walk on it. Dr. X cured me to the point that I was just left with a bruise. But then three days later, the boil. My foot and my butt, the two points of groundedness and also two points from which one can move forward. Having a hurt foot can certainly keep you stuck in a place, and even if it’s uncomfortable, you know it, you’re bringing it upon yourself. The plateau is fine, you tell yourself, because you don’t know what’s ahead and going it alone is scary. I knew, deep down, that I had to end it. I’ve known this for MONTHS. But me being me, I crowdsourced how best to tell him. Did I have to do it in person? Would a text suffice?
The butt, the boil, was my body trying to purge itself of this toxic stuckness. Couldn’t sit, couldn’t walk. Stuck and uncomfortable. Something had to give. So Dr. X pushed me. “You need to tell Mr. SN that it’s over.” Sigh. There’s nothing that makes you stop thinking about the great sex you have with your bohemian lover like a flaming injury in your lady parts region (not to mention doing first aid in the work bathroom to prevent a staph infection from spreading!). She was right. It was time. I had to put on my big girl panties and do a hard thing. The sex and the fun are not worth the emotional toll of me trying to be someone I’m not. I prefer to leave most parties on a high note, just when they are at the precipice of good and bizzaro-world.
I texted him to see if I could call him. We have spoken on the phone once in 10 months and that’s telling. I called and his voice and charm were immediate, so I blurted it all out before I could chicken out. “Hey, so I, uh, met someone and it was quite unexpected. And, uh it’s been really casual with us and we’ve put a fence around what this could be, and I didn’t think I was ready for more but I am as it turns out, and I want to go explore this new relationship and can only date one person at a time.”
Mr. SN sounded surprised. I don’t blame him. Our last text exchange had been 10 days prior, when I’d asked him if maybe he’d given me and STI (JUST A BOIL, THANKS) and then said, “Just to be clear, you are the only person I am sleeping with.” To which he responded, “Just to be clear, you are the only person I am sleeping with.” And that hasn’t changed… yet. But what’s changed is that I’m listening to my heart, and it’s whispering what it has been afraid to say out loud. “I want to be someone’s girlfriend!”
His only questions were, “What does this mean for you and me?” (Or something like that. Answer: “It means I don’t think we can continue as we have been.”) And, “Can I ask how you met them? Was it online?” No, I told him, at a party before Christmas. Quite unexpected, I repeated. I told him our friendship over the past few months has meant the world and that my time with him was one of the best experiences of my life. “I’m going to miss you,” I said sadly. “I’m going to miss you too.” And that was the only emotional sentence he uttered over the whole call. “Keep me posted on how it goes and let me know over text if you want to hang out again sometime.”
It was lovely, Mr. Saturday Night. But I have to hop in a cab before they start playing “Rhythm is a Dancer” and doing bumps off the TV set. I have to go home to roost in my own heart for a while, before I go giving it to someone else.
My homeopath and dear friend, Dr. X, is a real human who helps countless people get well and move closer to themselves, which can be an uncomfortable process. (Pema says, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”) She has literally saved my butt this week (story forthcoming.) Dr. X believes in using homeopathic remedies to support your transformation and I just love having her on my team. If you’re interested in seeing if homeopathy could work for you, message me dreamingofmariacallas [AT] gmail [DOT] com or leave a comment below.
I am trying to reduce my drinking. My last official drink was Dec. 30th and I decided to aim for “Dry January,” but I did have a toast to my friend Janet on her bday, split a beer with Mr. SN on our last visit, and shared a bottle of wine with my French romeo. So this is what happens when I STOP drinking. I just wanted to see if I could try it and notice my habits. When do I reach for it? (Pema says, “Be mindful of what you reach for in times of discomfort.”) How effing much was I drinking before? More than I imagined, because I wasn’t doing it mindfully. It’s amazing how our society is built around drinking. “We should go for a drink!” It’s also shocking to me how much we enable ourselves. “You EARNED that glass of wine!” With the new health regulations suggestion that drinking is a health risk for women, I’ve mostly given it up and friends have been surprisingly supportive. It will be interesting to see how my French sweetheart reacts. I love a good sparkling water these days!
When you take one crutch out of the equation, you will see that you have power over your cravings and impulses. Two weeks after I (mostly) stopped drinking, I suddenly wasn’t so exhausted in the mornings that I was jonesing for a coffee. In fact, I’ve reduced my coffee consumption (without even really trying to), by 75%, by replacing it with herbal tea. I’m not a masochist (well I’m a writer, so maybe a bit), but again, in paying attention to what I reach for in times of discomfort, I realize I was drinking 3-4 cups a day, often buying at cafes and getting double Americanos. That’s a lot of caffeine. Coffee’s great but have you tried boiling ginger and turmeric and then adding honey and sipping it mindfully?
When I took out the alcohol (and then that took out the caffeine), suddenly I was making better choices about what to do with my time (meal prep? Read with intention?). I’m eating better and it’s not actually a struggle. When I decide to eat something crappy, it’s a mindful choice and I try to enjoy every chew. There are subtle shifts happening and I don’t know if they’ll last, but I’ve decided to make peace with my body this year, so here’s hoping it sticks.
Got transformative stories to share with me? Leave your acts of mindfulness, favourite books or podcasts, and attempts at caring for the body that houses your spirit in this world of form in the comments below.