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).
I missed a key part of the evening in part two! We had a pretty in depth discussion about exclusivity. It’s worth noting before I take you into the depths of my negative thoughts. I told him I was seeing other people when we were first dating, but then I stopped, because I realized that I wouldn’t like it if he were seeing other people. He smiled and said, “I’m not seeing anyone else. I don’t have the time, nor do I want to.”
Also of note, after recapping this weekend I’m writing about to my friend, she said, “It sounds like he’s in a relationship with you and you’re not aware of it. Like you’re still wondering if this is a relationship.” Whoa. Bang on. All this to say, I’m in a much happier, more grounded place at the time of this writing, two weeks since this all happened. And yeah, I’m in a relationship. Surprise!
I scrapped all my plans and went home to rest. Bath and a nap were what I needed to ground me, or so I thought. I was meant to meet my business partner, Rock n’ Roll Cowgirl, later that evening. She’s the one who introduced me to Monsieur Magique, and I think she’d been dying of curiosity to see us together, so we’d invited MM to join us.
My neck was in really bad shape, and so I did something I’d qualify as stupid. OK maybe risky is better. I had some edibles in a drawer and I took a quarter of a “relax” one and a quarter of an “uplifting” one, hoping to take the edge off my pain and at the same time give me some energy for the night. By the time I got to the bar, I was ridiculously stoned (did I mention I had never tried this before) and on an upper/downer roller coaster that I do not recommend. I experienced the entire evening as though behind a glass and was paranoid AF. I told RRCG that I was stupidly stoned, and we had a good laugh about it, because I knew I was going to be a total weirdo and I needed her to know, lest she think I was being rude or just a freak in general.
MM had been odd about the fact that RRCG’s boyfriend might be joining us. He thought of that as a double date and was opposed to the idea. I could give two fucks about it, tbh, I just wanted to see RRCG, whom I adore, to celebrate our recent event success — OK, OK, and maybe get her POV on MM and me. RRCG’s boyfie did show up and my paranoia had me thinking, “I don’t want MM to think this is a fait accompli!” So I texted him to say who was there as a heads up. I missed his response, which was, “OK, let’s not stay too long then.”
I ordered a salad, because I needed to eat to calm my nerves. But once MM got there I couldn’t relax. He was surprised that I was eating, because we were supposed to go out to eat and obviously this was sending mixed signals because I’d missed his text. I kept scanning his face for annoyance with me, something I used to do with my ex constantly. RRCG was on fire, talking to fill in the conversation gap that we’d typically share together.
“What do you like about Maria that’s different from your past relationships?” GAH! I wanted to crawl under the table. I have trouble with compliments at the best of times, but it’s safe to say that being on a THC-induced paranoia roller coaster didn’t help that.
MM smiles. “Well I can’t compare to past relationships, like it’s not better or worse, but I have to say that if there’s one word to describe Maria, it’s ‘easy.’ She’s just so easy to be around.”
At this point I became a melty liquid pouring under the table where I felt safe. I had been trying to stay ultra present, but the damn glass window of my mind that I was experiencing the evening through was making it so tough. Then RRCG asked the same question of me. I took a deep breath and tried not to fuck up my response.
“I love that Monsieur Magique knows who he is. He has a strong sense of self that is quite attractive. That’s really rare.” I can’t stress the importance of this enough. While at times he can be stubborn about it, knowing who he is and what his boundaries are gives me a really solid playground to explore.
I couldn’t shake my discomfort and because of my unclear mind state, couldn’t quite gauge if what I was seeing and experiencing was really how I saw it. When energy is stuck and reality is unclear, you gotta move until you get some ground. So I got up to use the bathroom and check my phone (my security blanket) and that’s when I saw his text. I was confused because he’d ordered a second drink, which made me realize we were missing each other’s cues all night. I made an executive decision in that moment and stopped at the bar and paid our tab. When I came back to the table, I touched the back of his head gingerly and said, “OK we should go. You must be starving. I settled up so we can leave whenever.” His face whenever I pay delights me to no end. He’s still so surprised by it.
We said our goodbyes and headed towards my neighbourhood for a bite. But it was late, 10PM and I knew in my gut that my neighbourhood is dicey after 10, notorious for closing early. In the car we debriefed on our evening so far. I apologized for being a bit out of it, told him I’d taken something to ease my neck pain and that it had made me light-headed so I’d ordered food to settle myself a bit. He teased me for a text I’d sent earlier that said, “Let’s keep lines of communication open.”
“What did you mean by that?” He was right, of course, there was a double entendre there in my intention, but I went with, “What? I just meant check your phone so that you know which bar we’re going to!” I love that he catches it and calls me on my shit. I can’t hide.
He looked at me sideways, “You still don’t sense me, do you?” Somethings get lost in translation, but it doesn’t matter, this question was enough to bring me out of my fog and into the present. Boom! I’d been so focused on exterior stuff, on expectations and interpretations, that I’d forgotten to sense him, to just enjoy his presence.
Like, for example, we’re dating, so my expectation is that we do “date stuff.” Or that we shag constantly. But can’t I enjoy him regardless of what we’re doing? Am I into him or just looking for a dance partner? As soon as I realized what I was doing and the thought loop I was trapped in, it faded. And suddenly our whole weekend changed.
After a few expected “Kitchen closed” conversations, we found a spot. It was a noisy BBQ joint, full of bearded white guys in plaid. He looked at me and said, “This is what we’ve chosen, so let’s just enjoy.” As if he knew part of my brain was calculating other options in the hood. So we ordered (freedom) fries and ribs and talked about our first jobs and laughed and flirted and basked in each other’s company.
The rest of our time together was delightful. And I’m happy to report that this past weekend offered more of the same, but deeper in a gentle simmer kind of way. This is a Le Creuset slow-cook bourguignon, not a BBQ. I dropped my expectations, committed to my choice (hosting him for dinner and Beyonce’s Homecoming documentary at my place) and just ENJOYED him. That’s a whole ‘nother story, but let’s just say, yes, I AM IN THIS THING! I AM GETTING WHAT I WANT NOW THAT I’M KNOWING WHAT I WANT! And what I want for right now is him. He holds me all night long and wants to talk feelings and laugh and cuddle… he can watch three-hours of Queen Bey and not even really be that into her music, because I want to. He ADORES me. He constantly asks me what I want, encouraging me past my comfortable-uncomfortable place of being accommodating, of “sure, sounds good.”
OMG I am falling and while it’s scary as heck (hence my past focus on all the perceived negatives), I’m doing it man! I’ve been hurt before and survived, and I’m certainly not the woman I was 2.5 years ago. I’m way stronger and more awake now. I’m as ready as I’m going to be. Clear eyes, big hearts, can’t lose. Let’s do this thing!
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.
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?
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.