Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Ace of Hearts and New Years Eve

Love is an action.

I believe that now, with all my heart. I was madly in love once. I did everything I could to have a chance, a real chance, to be with Him. The problem with love, is that not everyone shows it through actions, sometimes it's only expressed through words, and words can be dangerously deceiving.

New Years Eve is upon us, and I've realized recently that as much as on the outside I've seemed to move on from Him, I really haven't. I've been pretending to move on, while on the inside keeping my heart closed to anyone new, reserving all my love for the person - I admit this to myself now - the person I was sure was coming back to me. How could he not? He said we were soulmates, that I was the love of his life. I believed him. I thought our souls were chained together and in the end we'd find a way back to each other. He told me over and over, hundreds of times that he was leaving her and going to spend his life with me. I believed that too. I did everything he wanted me to do, made the most difficult life altering changes possible. Then I thought all I had to do was wait. But I see clearly now, I've been waiting in vain.

So I'm letting go. Since all He ever gave me were words, it is time to get rid of them so they will finally lose their hold over me. So I started going through the letters, the emails, the text messages. Hundreds and hundreds of saved messages from Him. And getting rid of them. I read each of them before I hit "delete" or threw it out, and I wonder now how I could have ever believed those words - when most of them were written when He was with her. Yes, He said he loved me thousands of times but love is an action and his action was to choose her over and over again. Why didn't I listen to his actions instead of buying into his words? I feel worst about that, but I'm trying to forgive myself for being so foolish.

I have countless unanswered questions, I wonder things like why He would string me along for such a long time when he knew I hurt so badly every time he walked away? Why to the end - just a couple of weeks ago - He could still sit there and tell me adamently that I'm the one He loves? If He had just been honest two and a half years ago about what He planned to do with his life (stay with her) about how He really felt (He didn't love me), I would have healed from this wound ages ago, and without feeling they may have to actually remove my heart from my chest to make it stop hurting. But getting answers wouldn't change the course of the past, so I guess it doesn't really matter what He would say.

I'm not naive enough to believe that just because He is in a relationship, they are necessarily happy. Most couples I know really aren't. So they go on trips and buy things and distract themselves until they grow old, and they tell themselves they had a happy life, even if all they were doing was barely living. Just existing. But I do know for sure that I will never again be in a relationship just for the sake of not being alone, or because I'm scared of starting over or because other people think I should. I will only be in a relationship where I am valued and loved. Not where I am told that I'm loved, but where I see it proactively displayed. And that's how I will prove to myself that I love and value me. By making better, smarter, healthier choices, I hope I can earn back my own trust sometime soon.

There's something liberating about purging my life of old lies and starting fresh. I loved how I felt and who I was with Him, but I hate what loving Him turned me into. Erasing his words, letters, notes, messages and pictures from my life leaves me free to erase Him from my mind and heart and start over. Trying to convince Him to love me was exhausting and in the end it tore me apart. I will never try to convince anyone to love me again. If they do, they'll make room for me in their life, and they won't walk away.

The man I've with now, he doesn't say he loves me, and I'm grateful for that at this stage. But I really think he does. He shows it, every day. I honestly believe he spends a great deal of time thinking about ways to make me happy. Under those circumstances it's so easy to feel happy and secure.

Whether we are in a romantic relationship or not, I realize now the single most important relationship we have is with ourself. And if you can find people who love the you you love, well that's as good as it gets.

Happy New Years everyone. I'm finally going to wear that black sequined dress He gave me that's been sitting in the closet for two years. I wish all the love, peace and happiness possible to you in 2012. Yet another new beginning starts tomorrow. And tomorrow is always fresh with possibilities and free of mistakes. Let's make the most of it. :)

Sullivan out.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

La Belle Province

Well here I am back in Montreal and I can't sleep so the next best thing is writing. It's been an interesting holiday season to say the least. Sitting here now, completely stuffed from a leftover turkey dinner with my uncle Ken, and after a consecutive week of good times with family and good friends every single night, I finally understand why people love Christmas so much.

It seems to be the one time of year where everyone is able to actually, really relax, and take the time to make the effort needed to be with those whom they love. It's a time of year when people everywhere seem to remember how vital those connections are and how very much more important the people in our lives are than anything else.

After all, at the end of the day, it's not how big of a house we live in, or what we do for work, or how many "toys" we accumulate or even how popular or successful we think we were. If, when the whole world stops for just a little while, like it did this week, we can reach out to the people who we've chosen to have our life and who have chosen to be in ours, and make a connection, and that makes us feel happy and we have a heart full of love, then we are very lucky. And our life is a success.

Ps. There is one more perk of Christmas, besides the love and the family and the friends and the parties: presents. Presents are awesome.

My boyfriend made me this:


Steve: you are the fucking greatest!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Dying to be loved

Two years and seven months ago, everyone I was close to decided to walk away from me. My husband, mother, sister, every close friend I'd ever had, the man I was madly in love with. It almost killed me.

I think I could have recovered, if that had been the end of it. The thing that has almost killed me this time around, wasn't that one big blow, it's been the thousands of tiny blows in the 31 months since June 1, 2009. Because they keep coming back. And telling me they love me.

I've always had a problem holding grudges and staying away from people I loved, no matter what happened or how much I got hurt. Especially if there was any chance they still loved me back. And obviously I've had a hard time letting go of the past. The past holds so many good memories for me, and a lot of love.

The problem with letting these people come back over and over and try to tell me they still love me is that they have proved over and over that their particular brand of love is toxic. It's been poison to me. I've been lucky enough to replace most of thse relationships, in a way, with new ones but I've failed to give those people the same space in my head and heart that my past relationships occupied. Maybe because the old relationships were still taking up most of that space.

I realize now though, that I shouldn't have to fight so hard for a space in someone's life. If they love you, they will make room for you. You shouldn't have to change who you are to deserve love, the people who really love you will accept you at face value. And you shouldn't have to always pretend you're strong, and everything is ok, because sometimes it's not. And people who love you for real are the ones still standing next to you in the bad times, as much as they do in the good ones, maybe even more.

I lost a couple of family members through that time. I have amazing family somewhere else, but it still feels lonely because they are so far away. So my best friend shared his family with me, and they've adopted me. I'm always invited for the holidays, and Sunday night dinners. His parents check up on me when I'm going through difficult times. His daughter tells me she loves me all the time.

Hands down, I have better, stronger, more loyal friends now that I ever did in my life. Even though I haven't been one tenth of the friend to them as I was to my old friends.

The man I'm with refuses to walk away, despite all the recent trauma, even though we haven't been together very long and he acknowledges the last two men in my life got to be with a stronger, happier version of me. He made me a coffee table for Christmas (this is apparently one of the perks of dating an artist). Here is someone trying to make my home a better place, when the last man I loved, the one who I believed was The One, just kept trying to tear my home apart. Which, in the end, he successfully did.

The say you can't pick who you love. But I'm starting to think maybe that's not true. Maybe it's crucial that we do pick who we love, intelligently, proactively and for the right reasons, because the wrong kind of love can tear your heart to pieces.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

coffee, cigarettes and crazy, crazy love

It's possible I wasn't completely truthful in my last post. I thought I was fine. I thought I could handle life, however it turned out. But reconnecting with a painful part of my past seems to have been too much...

It doesn't take much for a desperate person with a horrible addiction to become blinded to reality and end up back where they were not long ago.

Love is interesting. I know what true love looks like. It's the people who are there for you when you're at your worst, the ones who willingly spend their weekend in a "prison cell" at the hospital trying to talk you off the ledge, again, when you've turned your back on all of them, yet again, for the one person who will always lie to you, and never love you, never care about you more than they care about themself. The people who take time off work to come sit with you all day, just so you don't have to be alone during this horrendous time. The boyfriend who goes out and buys you a Christmas tree to cheer you up, after you've just hurt him so badly.

Did I ever really love Him? Or was I just addicted to the pain? The pain of always wanting to be loved by someone so unattainable. Was it because I lost my entire life trying to hold on to "us" in any way I could? Maybe I can't accept the fact that I lost it all for nothing, for something that was never, ever real. Maybe it's just that I need to make it all mean something to make my life now make some kind of sense.

Or maybe I'm just crazy. Whatever the truth is, I'm completely free now. For the rest of my life. But there's nothing comforting about that.

I have learned one thing from all this: anyone who can make you hate yourself this much doesn't deserve any room in your heart, mind or soul. That is not love. No matter what he tells you.

Maybe people should come with warning lables. Like a package of cigarettes: "Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer."

"Don't love this person - if you do, it could kill you." Literally.

I've hurt a lot of people lately myself. For that, I'm deeply sorry.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

A glance in the rearview mirror

A good friend used to say the past is like a rearview mirror. It's critical that you glance in it from time to time, to make sure you're being safe and heading in the right direction. But if you stare into it for too long, that's an accident waiting to happen.

If you think about it, that's very good advice. Very good advice that's hard to implement though, because as we all know, our pasts can have an extremely powerful hold over us, our present and our future.

I've been battling an addiction from my past for almost a few years now, one I seem to beat over and over again, only to run into him on the street or at lunch or in a coffee shop and my heart beats faster and time seems to move in slow motion and I realize I'm right back where I was in the beginning.

For the longest time, I couldn't get past the three month mark. I could feel it when it was getting close, something unconscious but noticeable, like when you've left it too long to get a haircut. You know something's wrong but it usually takes a few more days before you look in the mirror, have your a-ha moment and book a much-needed appointment.

This time I went nine months. NINE. Before I found myself in an all too familiar spot - standing in front of his office. I literally couldn't help myself anymore. I had to see him, talk to him, know he was ok. Feel out if he still hated me as much as I had once hated him. Or, on the other hand, if he still loved me. It didn't help that it was his birthday.

I knew I was cheating on all my friends and allies by being there. The ones who had held my hand, watched me cry and talked me off the ledge so many times over him. The ones who would probably take a swing at him if they ran into him on the street. Not to mention my absolutely lovely boyfriend.

I took a deep breath, walked in and smiled. "Happy Birthday." He was surprised to see me. The last couple of times he ran into me on the street I wasn't very nice, I wouldn't even smile or make eye contact.

But for some reason, right now, my past doesn't bother me all that much anymore. The past that I used to focus on, obsess about, stare at endlessly in the rearview mirror, I've almost entirely made peace with it. Because the past is what has brought me here, to where I am, today. And where I am is very good.

He invited me in and we sat down. In seconds, it was just like old times. Only so much different too, because this time, I didn't want our past back. And I didn't want a future with him. I needed a reality check, and that's exactly what I got. After about an hour of catching up and some much needed healing and forgiveness, I was ready to get out of my past and back to my present reality. In what felt like just a few minutes, I forgave him, I forgave me and I forgave us. With a hug and smile, that horrible, toxic mess in my rearview mirror seemed so far away and so long ago.

If you're wondering, yes, he's still in love with me. The funny thing about getting what you want, is that sometimes, when you finally get it, you realize you don't really want it anymore.

I'm sure I'll still glance into the past from time to time, to remember where I've been and remind myself where I need to be going.

But for now, I'm happy, I'm at peace, and I'll keep my eyes on the road ahead.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Adele makes me EMO

"Nevermind, I'll find someone like you. I wish nothing but the best for you too. Don't forget me, I BEG, remember what you said: "Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead." I heard that you settled down, that you found a girl and you're married now. I heard that your dreams came true. Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you." - Adele

Two months ago, I met someone who, although I would never claim him to be the perfect man, has proved himself over and over again to be a nearly perfect boyfriend. Thoughtful, interesting, outgoing, funny, talented, committed. The list goes on. I honestly think he spends a good chunk of his days just thinking of new ways to make me happy.

So what would be the normal reaction of someone in my situation? Probably thank God they are off the dating scene and settled in with someone so great. What have I done? Celebrated the no drama, caring, nurturing aspects of finally being in a healthy relationship? No, all I do is push him away. Constantly. He tells me that's what I do. And I know his argument is valid. I met all his friends. His mom and her boyfriend at Thanksgiving. I was invited into his life with a VIP pass to intimacy and family.

But when it comes to me, all I do is think about Him. All the time. The one who treated me like shit and used me and disposed of me, like the Tuesday am garbage run in front of my apartment building.

Would it be easier to move on if I thought he was as alone, as miserable, as lonely on the inside no matter how many caring, loving friends are around? I think so. Yet deep down inside the Adele song lyrics (even though I slighly hate her) are a hundred percent true. I want him to be happy. But I want to be happy too. And I don't know how to do it without Him.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving. Being lucky enough to live in Canada and have a job, for most of the people I know, this particular long weekend means turkey dinners, drinking wine, washing dishes, spending time with family and friends. I'm actually trying to fit in three separate Thanksgiving dinners this weekend if you can believe that. Two years ago I would have laughed at the idea that life could come so full circle.

There are so many things we have to be grateful for, not just this weekend, but every day. Family, friends, health, home, money, the list goes on and on. We are very lucky.

But this year the thing I am most grateful for is Freedom. Freedom of choice, freedom of thought, freedom of speech. Things that people have fought for over the centuries, but I never really understood how absolutely necessary these things are to true happiness until recently.

I ran into a friend from a past life yesterday. She still lives the way I used to, being told how to think, what to say, who to be friends with, who she can talk to, who she can date, who she can love. She's not a very happy person.

But, because of how she's conditioned to think, she looked at me with a mixture of pity and condescencion. When she asked how I was, I thought for a second about all the things I wanted to say.

I wanted to tell her that with the barriers that kept me at arms length from my family removed, I have a closer relationship with them that I ever would have. I wanted to tell her that now that I no longer have to go through life secretly judging and trying to change people, people like me so much better. I wanted to tell her I finally have true, loyal friends who I know would never walk away from me just because someone else told them they had to. I wanted to tell her that I don't have to live in fear of that ever happening to me again.

I thought briefly about the fact that I don't have to be eternally single like her, because I can date whoever I want, instead of being forced to choose a romantic partner from a tiny pool of people who are "acceptable" to the group.

Thoughts ran through my head about how much I love my job, my apartment, my friends, my complete freedom to choose to live the life I want to live, not the life someone else is dictating for me. And how much more interesting it is to be able to bring anyone into your life that you want, just based on who they are as a person and not their religious views or lifestyle choices.

I wanted to tell her how strong I felt having been able to make those changes to my life and move on. But she never would have believed me anyway. So I just smiled and said "I'm great". And I am.

With a worried look that showed clearly she thought I was hiding my internal pain and suffering under a brave external smile, and a hug, we walked away from each other.

This Thanksgiving, I feel like the war I've been fighting the past couple of years is finally over. There are still a few battle wounds that will take a little longer to heal, but thank the universe, I am free. :)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Next Best Thing

I'm starting to wonder if the internet is slowly destroying our ability to be happy with what we have.

Every day, we can turn on our computer and immediately we are bombarded with options: what we could buy, what we could wear, where we could go to eat, who we could date, where we could work, the list goes on and on. And even if we are perfectly content with what we have at the moment, a little bit of online shopping - for people, places or things - and all of a sudden, we can't even help ourselves, we just want more.

I wonder, are we selfish or just fickle?

One of my friends had an almost perfect first date earlier this week with a really nice guy. Instead of the usually awkward beginning, the date she wasn't really looking forward to was instantly exciting - from the moment they both sat down and ordered that drink (the one he didn't actually even get to order right away) to the final goodnight kiss at the front door. With dark hair and bright blue eyes, she thought he was cute, interesting and easy to talk to. He thought she was sweet and fun and sexy. They spent the whole evening laughing, talking, bonding.

They stayed out way too late that night and then, without any thought or delay, made plans to meet up again in the next few days before they even said goodbye. It seemed so promising, but, in the end, a second meeting never actually materialized. Initially engaged and persistent, he became busier and less communicative as the week went on.

Unfortunately, thanks to the internet, there was no mystery as to the reason why. The posting of new pictures and constant reworking of his online dating profile started to annoy her as concurrently his messages to her started trailing off and the dates kept getting reshuffled. In the end, she sent him a message letting him off the hook and went to yoga instead. I think she's finally become one of those girls who doesn't want/need anyone who doesn't want/need her. I'm so proud of that! I would guess that she's going to date the other guy she met that week, the one who adores her and treats her really well. She's been asking the Universe for him all summer, and now he's here. It would be stupid to say no.

In a world where people are so quick to throw away last years wardrobe, smartphone, vehicle, TV, Ipod, etc. in favour of the newest model to hit the shelves, it's not surprising that people, relationships, friendships, love affairs can all be quickly tossed aside by many who are in the constant search of the "next best thing".

For those who know what it's like to have been disappointed and discarded by someone who seemed so promising, be happy to know that not everyone is like that. There are more and more people who like to recycle. They search for what it is they know they want, and they'll put time and effort and hard work into it. And they are so excited to find something rare and unique and distinctive that when they find it, they polish it up and put it on a pedestal. They love it. The tear or scrape that may make something completely disposable to one person might just be the very thing that makes it so special to someone else.

Internet be damned. The "best thing" out there is simply the thing that is best for us. And we will know it when we see it. It's just up to us not to look at it briefly, get distracted by something new and shiny and let our "best thing" sit there unnoticed, unused and unappreciated while we pass on by, wondering why we never find our "happiness". :)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

An epic saturday, if there ever was one.

Ok. Trying to do laundry and clean my apartment while hungover is a pretty regular Saturday morning occurrence. But never, in a million years, did I think I'd be frantically cleaning and grocery shopping and and putting out flowers and getting everything ready for the houseguest who is about to walk through my door.

Monique was, until I met Travis, my best friend. We met when we were kids. Did all the sleepover stuff. The travelling stuff. Then we lived together on and off for about 7 years. We decorated apartments. We drank coffee together in the morning and wine at night. We wanted to date the same guys. We saw each other through hard times with work, with friends, with boyfriends, with family. We were bridesmaids in each others weddings. We were the best of friends, and the worst of friends because we were so different from each other, we each possessed everything the other one lacked. And that made us insecure (like girls in their 20s need anymore reasons to be insecure).

Eventually, something went wrong. I can't blame it entirely on the JWs, this happened so much earlier than the demise of that life. I don't even know what happened. Misunderstandings? Which we never talked about. But I felt hurt and betrayed, and for the next seven years, I never ran into Monique without feeling like I slightly hated her.

But life/the universe has a way of suprising you. I can't even put into words how interesting the past few years have been, the past couple of weeks in particular. I can't believe, looking back, that I almost gave up on life. Twice. The Universe and I haven't always seen eye to eye, but life has certainly never been dull.

So I didn't give up on life, and I've learned my lesson now to never give up on people. Sometimes, for so many different reasons, people will leave you. It doesn't mean they don't love you. I think sometimes people leave because they love you too much and honestly just don't know what to do.

And yes, it hurts like hell, I get that. But in the end, being alone can and will make you stronger if you let it. And if you're very lucky, the ones you really love will always come back. I'm still waiting on a couple of more key people to find a way back to me. I miss them, especially The One, (and she knows who she is) but right now I have all the patience in the world and all the faith that they'll find their way. Then, at that point, it's just up to us to decide if we will open our hearts and let them back in.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Goal Setting

I haven't posted anything on here since June. (Not that I think anyone has noticed.) It was a wonderfully self-indulgent, lazy summer with lots of patios after work (yay!), dating (ugh!), suntanning at the pool, spending time with friends and even having the best trip back home.

In all my hedonistic activity, I was under the impression that I hadn't accomplished much at all this year. That was, until I discovered scrunched up in a drawer the other night a list of goals I had written at New Years. Of the 13 things listed, I've actually, almost accidentally, accomplished more than half of them.

And as for the things that I didn't accomplish - like getting back into volunteering or working on my book or losing weight or deciding how/when I am ever going to get back to school...those are things I started working on over the last couple of weeks even before I found my list. I'll get there. :)

At work, we are all required to write up our goals at the beginning of each new fiscal year. We're in the process of "goal-setting" right now. Over the year, we're measured and assessed by our progress on those goals, then given a performance rating, which ties into how much of a bonus we get.

I think life, like work, can be very similar. Discovering that list of goals this week taught me that although you can't really chart a course to attain happiness, setting goals to positively gauge your progress in the pursuit of it is important. Your performance rating measured against those goals will give you a feeling of accomplishment where you've done well, as well as point out areas for improvement going forward. At the end of the day, the "bonus" is that you actually notice the progress you've made and appreciate the happiness that you've gained, whereas without goals how do you measure your success?

It was a great summer, but I'm happy it's almost fall. I don't know why, but to me fall feels like somewhat of a new beginning. And once you've made peace with your past, the future can seem so much more exciting! Bring it on.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Vietnam War

Apparently it's been said that people who escape a cult are just as traumatized as those who have survived war.

My own personal "Vietnam" was an escape of sorts. A horrible, disabling, traumatizing, depressing escape from ideas and beliefs that were indoctrinated in me since I was a child. It honestly was a war, and I'm not sure if the battle wounds will ever fully heal.

The guilt, anger, sadness and resentment could literally kill you, or push you to want to kill yourself. But survival seems to be what human nature is all about, and two years later, life doesn't seem all that bad.

The only real truth is that we need to love each other. We need to be kind to one another. We need to stop judging, stop hurting others. "Love each other or perish."

If you're unhappy, and blindly following something that's being promoted as "truth", you don't have to continue. You can get out. And we can help.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Dance

"My life is better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss The Dance." - Garth Brooks

Is it better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all? A question that is constantly debated. For me, the jury is still out on this one.

For most of us, each and every relationship we embark upon is part of our journey, and usually gives us something we need, or are looking for at the time we made the choice to enter it.

Sometimes that really was the right choice for us at the time we made it. Sometimes though, youth, inexperience, insecurity, proximity, and or chance are what led us to that choice.

Does that mean it was the wrong choice? Sometimes yes. But not necessarily. Sometimes a friendship that ends badly brought us years of laughs and good times. Sometimes a romantic relationship that we'd rather forget about now brought us many good years before it went bad or perhaps brought a child into the world that we wouldn't be able to imagine life without.

Sometimes I believe love never really ends. Where does the love go when the relationship falls apart? Underneath all the hurt, is the love still there? Were we better off for having had it in our lives for a period of time? Or would it have been better not to have gone down that road in the first place and now have to deal with the pain that comes with loss of love?

I don't have the answers to any of these questions. I do know that not all love stories are novels. Some of them are closer to being short stories, but that doesn't mean that there is any less love involved.

And at the end of the day, the only person we know for sure will be with us come what may, is ourself. So whether we have a love interest in our life or not, whether we had love and lost it, or if we are still looking for it for the first time, we might as well learn to love ourselves. As Oscar Wilde said, "To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance."

Saturday, 16 April 2011

What a difference a year makes...

"Will the future ever arrive?...Should we continue to look upwards? Is the light we can see in the sky one of those which will presently be extinguised? The ideal is terrifying to behold, lost as it is in the depths, small, isolated, a pin-point, brilliant but threatened on all sides by the dark forces that surround it, nevertheless, no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds."


Three old friends had dinner together on Thursday night at Milestones.

For the past couple of years Milestones was "their place", ever since two of them met up for that first summer patio lunch, spent catching up and drinking red wine and blackberrytinis, after they had both suffered devastating loss.

The third member of the group was there for the next Milestones visit, and three friends who hadn't seen each other in a long while were reconnected. Every second Friday became "therapy night" and the rest is history.

It was the perfect idea really, having a group of friends close enough to tell your secrets to, yet far removed enough from your life to alleviate any worry of your own personal hell being leaked to the masses.

During the past two years, at different times, one or the other of them has lost family, friends, relationships, a marriage, a baby, faith, jobs, homes...it was probably one of the hardest times in their lives, although we know there are always many more challenges ahead that will demand to be met.

But I think it's a testimony to the human spirit that even after all of that suffering, on Thursday night, they could sit there with their 1) Bellini 2) Blackberrytini 3) Red Wine and Laugh.

And look at the progress they've made this past year: there has been one wedding, and one beautiful baby girl. Another relationship was solidified, and a house has been bought so they can build a home there together. As for the third member of the group, we're not sure where she'll land just yet. But things are getting better and she's moving on. She's meeting new people, taking on new challenges and apparently she looks really, really happy these days. She's finally ready to stop crying and start giving back again.

The funny thing about the future is that it will be what it will be. Some things we can control, some things we can't. But the future will come eventually, and it is always filled with possibility for something better, brighter, happier.

Two years ago, this - this good place right now - was going to be their future, even though they had no idea at the time. All they had to do was keep moving forward, even when it was so dark that it was impossible to see a path forward, and trust the sun would shine again someday soon. :)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

For my friend

When disaster strikes, a city, a country, a people, we are often amazed at the efforts that tie people together to help those in need. Heroic, self-sacrificing efforts, at times even putting themselves in the line of fire to save others.

Imagine if we had the same line of defense for emotional crisis. If, when we saw someone drowning, as it were, in the tsunami of life, we would jump in and save them the same way we do for someone who is actually drowning, in a real tsunami. Clinging to a tree, holding on for dear life.

The problem, of course, is these victims are not as easy to spot. They might be covering their physical bruises with makeup. Or covering emotional pain with external smiles. They might pretend to hate the very thing they are, unable to look life in the face and love themselves. They might show love to those who constantly hurt them, reject those who could be of service, and in the end, wind up alone and unhappy.

The best we can do for these ones is NOTICE them. It doesn't matter if they accept our help or not. That is their choice, their journey. The most important thing is that it was offered to them, so they know that when, if, perhaps, they ever want a hand to hold, it's there reaching out to them. Not expecting anything in return.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

It aint no thing but a chicken wing

One of my good friends recently went on, what would go down in history as the best first date ever.

They met up at the distillery district (she was late but looked really cute).

It was one of those dates that was easy to get out of at one hour intervals - walk around a bit - still staying? coffee for an hour or so - do you want to go home yet? walk around some more - shall we do dinner?

So they ended up at a pub (where else would you go in the distillery district) with the "big platter" (or whatever they call it these days) with all sorts of messy things that should never be eaten on a first date. Quesedillas, onion rings, chicken wings, fries, the list goes on...

At this point the date was about 5 hours in, she thought she really liked him but wasn't sure yet...and right in the middle of dropping a messy, sauce coated wing all over herself, he leaned over and kissed her, right there in the restaurant. He said he couldn't wait any longer.

I'm not a big believer in love anymore, but it seems to still be out there, or at least some tiny slice of something that feels strangely like love. And to those people who can deal with starting over and trying to trust someone new - good for them! I'm not there yet...but maybe one of these days. :)

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Loss

So I put on my big girl shoes (4 inch heels) and a polka dot dress, red nails and lips and stood in my apartment thinking "I can't do this".

You know you have a really good friend when you're half an hour late, standing in your bathroom arguing with yourself about whether or not you can actually leave the apartment and go to this wedding, and he texts you from the car downstairs saying "If you are giving yourself a Liz Lemon pep talk in the mirror, wrap it up. It's time to go."

And I'm glad I did. My very good friend looked very happy, came over and gave me a hug when I walked in (I think everyone was taking bets on whether or not I'd show up) and then married a beautiful girl I introduced him to two years ago.

The funny thing is, all along, I had the whole thing wrong. Yes, it was hard to see people who used to be good friends who I haven't seen in a couple of years and feel personally betrayed by. Yes, it was hard sitting through a wedding, performed by the same man who married me to my husband.

By not all that hard.

The hard part about walking out the door, I realized, standing there in the mirror this morning, wasn't about anyone else. It was about me. It was accepting that this is my life now. That I'm divorced. That Travis isn't waiting for me in the car, won't be sitting with me at dinner or dancing with me later on. I'm single. My life will never be the way it was before.

And yes, I get all the reasons why I got here, and some of the reasons it's better this way, but the girl in the mirror this morning did not want to walk out the door and go to a wedding without her husband.

Ex-husband.

All those people there today, who used to be my friends, I loved them. But, I really, really loved Travis. I still do. And he's not trying to hold me back in any way. I'm the only one standing in my way.

What's next? I'm still figuring it out. While I'm at it, we'll start with dinner and dancing. :)

Being Brave

I would rather be a coward than brave because people hurt you when you are brave.
- E. M. Forster

Courage is a quality that is difficult to develop, because it forces you to look in the mirror and realize who you are, and then have the balls to go out there and be better than that.

I know many courageous people. And being brave doesn't mean we always succeed. Sometimes it just means we take on a task, not knowing if we'll be good at it or not. Not knowing the outcome. Maybe we even think we will fail. But we show up and try.

This happens in careers, in families, in relationships, in finding peace of mind, in overcoming addictions, in marrying someone with three messed up kids, in ending a relationship that's not working and being alone again, in confronting an important ex, in applying for a job you know you won't get, in pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and meeting someone new, in telling your family the truth about who you are, in going to your very good friend's wedding and facing 200 people who have labeled you in a negative way. In being true to yourself.

But we find courage and bravery in that part of ourselves that we didn't know we had.

And if we were never brave, no one would make friends, become lovers, get married, have children, follow their dreams, because we could fail. Sometimes it's our mistakes that shape our future and, in the end, make us successful.

And hey, at the end of the day, if our attempt at being courageous doesn't work, we have a friend who will give us a hug, a cat who will sleep at our feet, and maybe even a glass of wine to sip as we look out the window of our fabulous but very expensive apartment, and think about how to wake up tomorrow and try to be brave all over again.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Hope for sunshine, bring an umbrella

HOPE springs eternal...

Today started off really well. I met a friend for coffee this morning, who I've been doing some mentoring with and encouraged him to do something he was afraid of doing. Do I know if he'll be successful? Not at all. But I believe he should try and we worked out a game plan for doing that. And I HOPE. :)

Then I met someone I've never met before for lunch. I was nervous, but they turned out to be a really genuine person, we had a nice time and I'm happy I faced my fear of meeting someone new.

Then everything went to shit.

After lunch, all the work, meetings, events I had carefully planned since last week, slowly unravelled. IT problems, incompetent help, missing tickets to the AGO and yes, even not enough space for everyone to sit around the table at dinner.

Isn't there some saying about the "best laid plans"?

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

He was Scottish. And lived in the 1700's. English Translation:

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Robert Burns knew what he was talking about. And not just a planned field trip with one of you boss' teams. Sometimes things go wrong in real life.

You HOPE that you're making the right choices. You HOPE your choices will work out, your parents will be proud, your friends will approve, and everything will be perfect.

But if it doesn't, is it really that you made wrong choices, or is it just the Universe telling you weren't where you were supposed to be in the first place? Telling you not to take it too seriously, because after a couple of pints, Stuart will love you again anyway. :)

I did everything "right" for a very long time in life. But maybe it was wrong.

They still have HOPE for me. But only if I go back, and change my opinions, go back on all the progress I've made. They "HOPE" I'll see the light, I'll be ok.

But I already am ok, all by myself. I believe in who I am, and that girl, she HOPEs for the best, but brings an umbrella. Because even if this morning is great, this afternoon could bring the shit storm.

"Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them - even when you're in the dark. Even when you're falling." - Morrie

We're all doing the best we can. We love, but we hurt too. All we can HOPE for, really, is that we "land on our feet".

The Bible says: "there remains, faith, HOPE, love, these three..."

The greatest of course, is Love. But HOPE is important too. Without it, where would we be? :)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Peace & new shoes

As long as I can remember, I've been searching for peace of mind. I couldn't find it. I think now it's a product of trying to please everyone else and never thinking, trying, working on who I am as a person. I've met so many courageous people, who aren't afraid to put themselves out there as who they really are, no matter what society tells them is acceptable, and it's inspiring.

My therapist, and many other wonderful people, think I'm ok, just the way I am.

So we should stop talking about so many serious issues, and talk about shoes. I've seen red and turquoise out already, and it's not even really spring. Save your money ladies, summer is almost here. It's the end of a season, and a significant one. :)

Monday, 28 March 2011

The "Jack Gene"

One upon a time, in a land far, far away, I was married to a very fortunate young man whose parents LOVED him. They didn't just love him the way all our parents love us, they loved him for who he was. Didn't matter what choices he made, what he did for work, who he married (although no one was keen on me), what opinions he had, what sports he played, they just LOVED him. It probably helped that he was good at everything and had pretty blue eyes.

But he believed strongly (and told me many times) that this is just how the men in his family are. No possibility of change or improvement, and although he seems to regret a lot of things that happened between us (as I do) he can't change.

A correspondance from my mum on the weekend makes me think. Sometimes, our parents only are willing to show their love to us when we fall into the life they wanted for us and be who they wanted us to be. And it's hard. They've been messed up by their parents.

Did Jack show Linda how to love? My guess is not. And I know she loves, and I love her so much. But if you haven't been taught how to show it, is it possible to still really love? And are we destined to follow in our parents footsteps or can we step out and be different?

So much of us is conditioned by the way we were brought up, by circumstance, by our parents. And we can hold onto that, and choose to be a victim of our upbringing.

Or...we can say no.

I hope to be a mother someday. But, in the meantime, I had Vivian. I hope that she knows, no matter what she does, I love her. I dont judge anymore. I'm not my mother, but I'm a lot of my father, and for better or worse (mostly better), I need to realize that, and work with it.

I could have had the Jack Gene too. Some things in life are left to chance. But a lot of life is actually left up to us. And we can choose to blame our parents. Or we can choose to start something new. :)

SWF - can't bowl, bad at knitting

So my quest to distract myself from Divorce and find something I'm actually good at as a hobby is not going well.

Online dating was a mess. I had so much fun bowling, but I'm not very good. At one point (I was provoked) I actually bowled two balls at the same time, and one of them came back and I had to chase it.

Also this weekend, my ever-patient friend Liz tried to teach me to knit. After about an hour we agreed that was not going to be my new hobby. (Sorry Mike.)

What I was good at this weekend - getting a hair cut and drinking wine. I probably also would have been good at shopping, had I attempted it.


Sunday, 27 March 2011

Mad Men

Break-ups, especially Divorce (sorry, I have to capitalize it for some reason) usually give women a welcome excuse to indulge a little (or a lot) in something we all do from time to time (be honest!) - complaining about men.

They're insensitive, or they don't get us, or they never want to talk about "feelings", or they just want to give solutions, not really hear our problems...this is how many women feel. Personally though, despite getting Divorced, I feel this entire process has made me appreciate men MORE than I ever have before.

Truth be told, there is The Asshole who started all this. He's mean and he lies, and he's a huge part of the reason I feel like I need to wrap myself up in bubble wrap and stick on a label that says "Fragile" before leaving the house most days. (NOT talking about my ex-husband. He's a good person and I love him a lot.) But besides that guy, I've been really lucky.

Not to discount the women in my life who have been fiercely loyal - Viv, Kyla, "Mama", Tara, Jen, Noelle, Katie, Grandma, Liz...the list goes on...

But one of my best friends showed up last night, with pizza and red wine, which he picked out because the store didn't have any of my favorites and this one had a happy pink label, and it made me think. My whole life I've put so much emphasis on girlfriends. And they are great to have. But when the chips are down, and I've stood on the precipice of completely losing myself trying to deal with all this loss, more often than not, it's been a man who grabbed me and pulled me back.

And they are sensitive. They do get us. They talk about feelings. They can listen empathetically without just giving you a solution.

Over the past couple of years, the men in my life have spent literally hundreds of hours listening to me talk about my feelings. They've stood by my side when I was alone and held my hand when I cried. They've lived with me, loaned me money, been my date for important events when I didn't have one, given me honest advice when I was getting derailed and needed to be readjusted, hugged me, sat with me without talking, put up with me when I wasn't me at all, let me sleep on their couches, brought me food when I was sick, remembered my birthday, cheered me up when I was sad.

In Jerry Maguire (best movie ever by the way) she says "Maybe men are the enemy. But I still love the enemy."

So yes, I'm getting Divorced. But I don't believe men are the enemy. I think they are trying just as hard as we are, sometimes harder. I think men are great, just the way they are. :)

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Truth be told

Well, it's been a big week for "the truth". What is it about parents and children, that even when we're old enough to have our own children, our parents feelings, opinions, approval/disapproval still means so much? It seems that especially that mother-daughter relationship is so fragile, so full of complications...

Coming to terms with being honest with your parents is a huge task. One of my best friends was able to get there this week, and she inspired me to try as well. The problem with putting yourself out there, with finally being able to stop pretending you are who your parents want you to be and start being who you are, is...they might not like it.

I've talked to quite a few people about this. One of my friends said her parents cut her off when she moved in with her boyfriend without being married. Another friend lost her family for about a year when she told them she was gay. Their parents eventually did come back, but sometimes parents don't. Sometimes they are so unflinching in what they believe, it will always be up to you to make good with them. And if you don't, if you hold your head up, stand tall and believe in who you are, sometimes that forces you to create a new family for yourself.

And the opportunity, the possibility of that, although it never takes away the hurt of being rejected by the person or people who raised you, is something to be very, very grateful for.

I know from experience, there are people who will let you come home, even if you haven't been there in a long time. And they'll let you bring other people with you, who need a home too. And they will love them like they are their own, even if they're not.

Sometimes home isn't the way we envisioned it. But thank God, I've learned that it's there.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

New topic?

So a few days in and my new project "plenty of fish" is boring AND annoying. The only guys who actually seemed nice were all the different profiles my friend Jonathan kept posting to help me realize what a collossal waste of time this was. (But hey, pot, this is the kettle. You're black.) :)

So, if anyone was actually reading this blog, I would ask: What's another good project for a recently divorced, happiness-challenged, 30-something? Also, bear in mind that any life changing projects need to be cheap, not all of us can take off life for a year and travel around the world eat-pray-love-ing.

My girlfriend today suggested becoming a lesbian, but girls seem even more high maintenance then boys, and well, that's saying something.

Suggestions?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Giving up

It's been an interesting week. I wouldn't exactly say online dating is for me, I'm a bit too old fashioned. I'm not attracted to other races (sorry but it turns out it's true although I have amazing friends from every background and culture), I did get matched with my brother the other day, and the today I got a note from someone who asked if it was me they saw in the park across the street from where I live. He said I looked sad.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Dating in the real world

So my new project, Plenty of Fish, just matched me with MY BROTHER. This book I'm writing just gets better and better. And better.

What would my mom think?

I  love her. I do. But she thinks FaceBook is from the devil. Literally. If she knew I was not only on FB but also on Plenty of Fish (which by the way, not to offend anyone, does not seem that great in the last day and a half I've been on it) she'd FREAK.

I miss Adam.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Plenty of Fish

Ok so I've been on an on-line dating site for oh, almost 20 hours now. And it's like a car wreck, an addictive, can't look away car wreck. Ok maybe it's more like cigarettes or crack.

In the past 20 hours, I've received almost 100 messages with people saying things like, you have a beautiful smile. Yes, that's true, but seriously, there must be better opening lines when you send a message to someone you've never met. Isn't you have a beautiful smile a bit predictable? Or is this the reason all these people are doing it online now, we're too lazy to come up with clever opening lines or actually put effort into meeting people? My hair is in a ponytail right now so I can't really complain about people who don't make an effort...

Also, I already have a certified stalker, a 23 year old, a 50 year old and one guy I just talked to because he looks like Ray LaMontagne. (I have a weird geeky crush on Ray but I'm sure he's a bit strange.)

Stay tuned. I'm already bored with "plentyoffish.com" but it I'm a lonely insomniac, so we'll see what happens.

The lowest of the low

OK so I joined an online dating site. I wanted to go on EHarmony, have you ever seen those commercials? Everyone meets their soulmate and looks really happy. I've already met my soulmate, but you never know. Maybe some people have 2 soulmates. But it's like $50 a month.

So I joined Plenty of Fish, which, as it turns out, is full of people who don't sleep and who are online at 3 am. I don't know how I crossed the line from pretty & popular to online 3 am geek. But someone really should make a movie about this...

I know I'm short, but can Charlize play me pretty please?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Mistakes

OK, yes it's a mistake. I know it's a mistake, but there are certain things in life where you know it's a mistake but you don't really know it's a mistake because the only way to really know it's a mistake is to make the mistake and look back and say 'yep, that was a mistake.' So really, the bigger mistake would be to not make the mistake, because then you'd go your whole life not knowing if something is a mistake or not. And dammit, I've made no mistakes! I've done all of this; my life, my relationship, my career, mistake-free.

How did I get here?

Seriously. How?

I was raised very religious, I married my best friend at 25, I worked hard to help people. I was a people pleaser.

Now I'm in my early 30s. I'm divorced, I'm in love with a man I'll never be with. I have a pretty dead-end job, I cry on the weekends. I'm not sure how to turn it all around...does anyone, who has ever been happy or married or in love figure out how to soldier on once you're not?