Mindfully speaking

Here’s to going with the flow this week. Going to start posting more regularly and also sharing my experiences through presence and mindfulness.

  1. This book and its author. I could read When Things Fall Apart over and over. I listen to Pema Chödrön’s beautiful talk, Coming Closer To Ourselves: Making Everything the Path of Awakening, on Apple Music on repeat. She is not your average Buddhist nun. She’s been married and divorced twice. She swears. She knows what a hangover feels like. I can’t endorse repeat readings or listenings enough. Go fill your heart with truth and peace.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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?
  5. 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.

Mr. Saturday Sometimes

So you’re probably wondering about Mr. Saturday Night. I mean, I’ve been seeing him for nine…? ten months now, and it’s been delightfully challenging in terms of learning. But didn’t we always know this wasn’t ever going to be the real deal?

I don’t know why for certain. When we are together we are thoroughly engaged in one another’s company. But perhaps it’s because from the beginning, it was always just for me. I didn’t want to see this relationship through the context of the eyes of my cherished friends, because that would burst my romantic Bohemian bubble of an affair.

I ADORE him. When we’re together, when he has energy to give and is full of stories and curiosity, I drink him in. I ENJOY him, his company, his stories, the lines in his face, how his hands seem impossibly small for someone who can do so much with them. How his mind is always jumping to creative projects, how he’s passionate about his work, about what he can contribute to this fair city, his impact. What a devoted dad he is… but… well you’ve read various iterations of this hemming and hawing for months now.

I didn’t want to assume that a 56-year-old lifelong bachelor would not be ideal for coupledom. The thing is, until recently, I wasn’t sure I wanted I even wanted coupledom. There’s a difference between companionship and partnership. I had a companion and while I never got the chance to test out this theory, I still believe that if I had a +1 to an event, he would be lovely to take with me. He could charm the pants out of any room.

When we started out I’d asked him over text what exactly he wanted out of a relationship. He’d said something along the lines of, “If a person wanted something casual, I’d be into that. But I’m also open to the possibility of magic.” And that’s just what it’s been. It’s been casual AND magical. And while we are both kind humans who offer each other support, there’s been nothing, NOTHING, to suggest that the opportunity for partnership is there.

I get into these strange thought patterns where I wonder if he’s assuming all these things about me and that’s why he’s not able to talk feelings or give an generous compliment. But then I go over the facts. He has not shown himself to be someone for whom romantic generosity comes easily to outside the bedroom (where he gives his ALL). He’s in love with the history of our city and his telling of it. He has space in his heart for his adult child, his adorable dog, but does he want to make room in there for me?

And if he did, wouldn’t it just freak me the fuck out, because I know this isn’t right in the long run? But is it not right because he decided that, with a look, when we first met? Or is it not right because it’s just not and it’s time to let go?

Sigh.


I have other single mom friends who are now partnered up, and they all have a longing look in their eye when they talk about that one certain lover. “Ah, my Turk,” says one friend, recounting nights spent smoking pot and talk serious pothead talks about existentialism and the theories of the universe, before making love on his mattress on the floor.

So please don’t judge me too harshly that I went to see him on a Saturday after a month of only random texts. That I went to see Mr. SN, even though I’ve met Monsieur Magique and would like nothing more than to spend the rest of this gloriously new year exploring what that could be. See, I’ve spent a lifetime being taught to be monogamous, and while I do truly believe that I’m inherently monogamous, no one has asked me to be exclusive yet…

…But a boy did ask if he could hold my hand while we crossed the street to a bistro on one late December night, causing a shiver up my spine. And I do REALLY, REALLY want that to be more than just the most magical first date I’ve ever experienced (and a pretty great second date in January). But in the meantime, I’m guarded, I’m cautious. Is Mr. SN like a lottery ticket you know probably isn’t a winner, but you keep in your wallet anyway, just in case it might ferment into a winner the longer you hang on to it?

How do I say goodbye? All my past breakups were messy, teary dramatic affairs. And usually someone had really wronged me. But Mr. SN is a dear friend now. I hope he is always in my life in some way. I feel so blessed that I’ve gotten to know him a bit. He has done SO MUCH, without realizing it, for me on my road to self-acceptance. To embracing my sexual self free of past scars, free of patriarchal religious ideals.


There was a time in the recent past, when Mr. SN really needed a friend. I was someone he could confide in, so I couldn’t kick a man while he was down. But at the same time, staying put in this limbo relationship (where we’re not FB friends, we don’t ever hold hands, and I’m only ever introduced as a “friend”) is subconsciously keeping me from fully moving forward into the present and into the possibility of a future with Monsieur Magique.

I’ve been trying to “optimize my life” to such a point, that I’ve been head down and focusing on a lot of unsexy things like, “Make your bed every day,” and, “Pay off your credit cards by January.” Sure, these tasks will make me a more responsible human, but in talking to Dr. X I realized that I’d stopped dreaming. That in an attempt to stay in the present moment, I’d stopped truly imagining what my future could be.

Part of that is that I am a hopeful romantic, and I don’t trust myself. I worry, as do lots of my closest friends and family, that I will end up choosing another version of my ex-husband, another Peter Pan. I don’t trust that things are different now; that I’m not a 20-something this time and in the two decades that have passed I have learned a few things and have become a more fully actualized individual. Shortly after I met Monsieur Magique (MMmm), I wrote in my journal, “It’s too soon to tell if what I am feeling is truth or imagination, but something in me says that my sunny heart sees the sunshine of MM’s heart shining back. I’m curious about it.”

So I’m spinning a bit, which we all know I do. A friend asked whether I shouldn’t just “stop spending energy looking for a man at all right now. Why not spend the energy getting into the headspace you want to be in, then seeing clearly the kind of partner you deserve?” (Clearly some friends are getting tired of all the questioning… as am I, as I edit this weeks after first drafting it!)

The thing is, I’ve spent two years trying to get grounded, centred. I’m ready to explore groundlessness. Giving up on the idea of getting ground. As RuPaul says, we’re all just the universe pretending to be humans for a time. I don’t want to get hung up in my identity any longer. In labels and definitions and in using my great taste in ALL THE THINGS to define me. When I wrote all those paragraphs above, I wasn’t grounded. I can see that clearly now, two weeks later, after going through some major things. (A WHOLE ‘NOTHER POST).

I’ve lost the ending to this a bit, which is fitting, given I’m trying to determine how to close the chapter of Mr. Saturday Night. Even the super fun, super delicious in life gets boring if there’s no substance. If you decided to eat nothing but hipster donuts for a week because you felt entitled to that experience, you’d not be wrong, it wouldn’t be bad really. But in time, you’d probably be craving something healthier, something with sustenance that could fuel your body better. My next post will deal with the metaphysical more directly, because it matters to this story and where I’m at in my journey. In the meantime, I’ve decided not to reach out to Mr. SN at all and see what happens next. More to come.


When the time is right…

Sometimes, often, life happens when you least expect it. Like you’re chugging along, asking yourself if you’re ready to truly open your heart, and then you get scared so you retreat. And then your therapist gives you a good talking to, tells you that you need to enter the holidays with an open mind and embrace the fact that anything can happen.

And then it does. Boom. Right in your lap. Where did you come from?

I met someone special. He’d say the same about me. He HAS said the same about me. To my face. I went to a party with my hair and nails done and spent the night with a giant smile on my face, expecting nothing, but open to anything. And then I felt him. Before I even saw him. I knew he was there. And I looked up at the balcony and saw him smiling down on me.

I haven’t wanted to write about it, nickname him, anything. I don’t want to jinx it. Except I don’t believe in jinxes anymore. I believe in living with intention. And dating mindfully. He’s not perfect. Neither am I. We’ve been on two dates and I’ve already talked myself into some nutty places, and then out of them again (thanks friends).

I don’t know what kind of runway we have, in terms of time together. But I’m curious AF to learn how this story plays out, and how it butts up against the stories I tell myself that tend to be rooted in fear and not truth. My mantra for 2019 is “Uncertainty is exciting!” I am learning to surrender to the now and also in my practice to let go of trying to control the outcome. It’s tough when you’re a daydreamer like me.

So all I will say is that I met someone. Someone as romantic as me, who makes me laugh and whom I make laugh, who meets me at my level, who doesn’t play games and who is open with his heart. Someone magical.

Happy New Year, readers.

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.