A watched pot never boils

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.

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.


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…

Bridge of Sighs

Welcome to my pity party!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Be kind to yourselves. September is a cruel month.

Reflecting on fear

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

So how to find balance? I welcome your comments.

Limit to Your Love

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

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

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

Clouds part
Just to give us a little sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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