Friday, 27 April 2012

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Ex-Husband

At my recent yoga retreat weekend, one question that was prompted was to think about a love you had and what you would do differently if you had it now.

I don't write much about Travis on this blog, mostly because I know he would hate it! :)

(The internet is evil, right?)

But in the interest of finally getting past all the past, I'll talk about him tonight.

I met Travis when we were really young, maybe 15 or 16, in PEI. His family had moved there from Ontario, and I was friends with his sister. I still remember going to their family's home, and watching him spend hours outside in the cold, fixing his basketball net.

He was tall, lanky and blonde, not my type. He was hansome, no doubt, and one thing Travis had always working in his favour was the mystery factor. He was complex, that was obvious. In a room, he was quiet, not one to try to get his voice heard above others, he was content to sit in the corner and strum on a guitar. And that was mostly because he didn't really need anyone.

Travis is probably one of the smartest people I've ever met. I worked so hard to learn to speak Vietnamese, he just picked it up. (Seriously, has anyone ever just "picked up" Vietnamese? And they say he is the best they've ever seen.)

He's a scratch golfer, good basketball player, very athletic. He also plays a mean electric guitar. On the flip side he has a weakness for junk food, loving Wendy's and McDonald's. And coffee with lots of sugar in it. And cinnamon rolls. And candy.

I've gone off topic. The question was, if I had this love back in my life now, what would I do differently? There are a lot of things. If Travis and I were dating now, I would be more honest about who I am. And I would be more honest with him about what I needed from him, instead of just accepting the "support" role and watching him be brilliant from the sidelines, while I secretly resented the fact that he never helped out at home.

I would have told him that while I was ok with the golfing, trips to Ottawa to hang out with his dad, working as an elder in the congregation, tv watching, sports...I needed something back from him at the same time. I needed to feel at least as important as those other things, and not like an inconvenience.

And I would have told him how unimportant he made me by the end of it all, and how I felt I never measured up when I was around him. And that if something didn't change, I would have to leave.

Things spiralled out of control, and in the end, I didn't have a chance to say that.

A lot of people never understood why I married Travis. There was a whole side of him that was sweet and funny and really cute that most people didn't see. Sometimes I wished he would show it more, sometimes I felt special that it was reserved for me.

I will always agree with something he told me a thousand times, "people who are in love hold hands".

If I could talk to him today, I would tell him how much I still miss him and how he's the only part of my past life I sometimes still cry about. I would tell him that although he really wasn't very good at being a husband, I think he could be. Travis is always good at the things he wants to be good at.

I don't regret marrying Travis. At the time, it was the right choice and I'll always have a million memories of us laughing, because that's what we did. I'm not sure how we got to the space where we were out of touch, we fought too much, how did we ever get so messed up?

One thing I know, there problably haven't been many divorces that ended with so much sadness and so much love.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Kyla's birthday/You can make your own family

Today is Kyla's birthday. My other mom, Helena, posted this on Ky's facebook page: "The bond that links your true family is not of blood but of respect and joy in each other's lives."

And she would know. Having accepted three kids who were not her blood offspring as her own, and then a few more strays like Kyla, who just needed a second mom somewhere, she's speaking from experience.

Kyla has always been like a sister to me, and my Dad has watched her grow up, albeit from a distance. Our families have been a strange blend over the years with her parents stepping in for me at times when I needed them, and mine stepping in for her at other times. When the opportunity presented itself for them to step in and step up, for her, they did.

Amoung many, many things, this is one thing that makes me look up to John and Helena. That complete ability to put themselves out for someone else, and see it not just as an opportunity to help another, but one that enriches their own lives. Kyla was invited into our home and family, no questions asked. And there have been others, Vivian predominantly. But there were people who came before her as well. I'll never forget the summer one of my friends, who is from Grenada, came home with us for summer vacation and my dad told everyone he ran into "these are my three daughters". We got some strange looks in PEI...

And I've benefited from their example, not just in the people I've taken in over the years who needed a "mom/sister/aunt/cousin" they didn't have, and the joys that came with being that person to them, but also in the fact that I believe the Universe evens things out in the end.

I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about Chris and his amazing family, but it's possible that the reason they have been there to step in as "family" for me, was something in the Universe thanking dad and mom for doing the same for others, and helping them out with someone they were worried about. But less worried about, once Chris and his family came along.

I believe it's true: we can make our own family. I have so many amazing people in my family, it feels selfish to want more, but the addition of Kyla and Jordan and Chris and Liz and so many others has just made a good thing that much better. And having people who live in visiting proximity makes a difference too. Love can be sent across the distance, but sometimes you need someone standing right in front of you, to give you a hug. Or a place to go home to on vacation.

Remember, rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof. :)

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Exorcist

My perfectly charming BFF#2, Liz (sorry Liz for the #2. I love you lots but Chris is my man!) bought me a yoga retreat for Christmas.

We finally booked it and headed off to the country for the weekend. It started bad, we were both hungover, we showed up late and apparently that put everyone off.

Then I smoked a cigarette, and got caught. We were definitely in the bad books. Not quite zen enough for what we'd signed up for. Slowly, slowly though, things started to change. As Liz tapped more and more into her spiritual side, the other guests started to find her quite interesting. And spending some one on one time with the owner/spiritual teacher, he seemed to understand where I was coming from, and the pain I've been carrying these past few years, and he cut me some slack.

Then came the thai yoga massage, which is not the kind of massage you're thinking of. Basically, you go into a little room and he beats you up. I'm still sore. But all that tension I've been carrying around in my shoulders seems to have melted away...

He also did reiki, my first experience with that. After those treatments, I felt brutal and probably had one of the worst night's sleep ever. I even woke Liz up screaming (yes, screaming) in my sleep. Throw in some yoga and meditation, and by the time I got home I was a mess.

The teacher seemed to be able to see right into my soul. He told me things about myself that only Chris seems to have figured out about me. Sidepoint, I was with Chris on Tuesday night and all the things he was saying were repeated to me by this stranger on the weekend. The same exact messages, and he doesn't even know me. Even though I completely had my guard up, at some points I felt like crying at the things he would say. We got home, not really knowing how to feel about what we'd experienced over the past couple of days. We both knew we needed a hot bath and a glass of wine.

The funny thing is, I almost feel like it was an exorcism of sorts. I'd been having nightmares constantly, and did all night after the treatments, but now I feel calm and at peace. I slept like a baby last night, and today I feel, once again, at peace with the Universe.

One more thing Andre gave me before I left was some quotes from another spiritual healer. He said that we could give thanks to all that has caused us pain, knowing that we needed that pain to learn how to forgive.

I've never been bad at forgiveness, except to extend it to myself. I can forgive others easily, myself, not so much. But how can we really love others, if we never love ourselves? Accept who we are, the good and the bad, while always striving to be better. Because if we judge ourselves so harshly, as much as we can say we don't judge others, we do. We only have the ability to share the love we possess and without loving ourselves, without realizing we are part of something much bigger, much more divine, we can't reflect the love that a divine being would have for their creation.

Are my demons banished completely? I doubt it. But they have receded into the shadows for awhile. And next time they come back, I'll be ready. :)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Relaspe

I went to a writing workshop on the weekend. I was terrified a) because they were all strangers b) because they were all writing real books and c) because my blog is pretty...what's the right word? Brutally honest? Touchy-feely? Sometimes embarrassing? Silly?

Plus, it's not some crazy figment of my imagination, with made up people and places. It's all 100% true. I haven't even changed people's names!

I received more positive feedback than I expected, some constructive critism, and everyone agreed that it would make a very interesting novel. It's always strange to have to explain to someone new (quickly!) how everything came about - the religion, the marriage, the affair, the starting over almost completely alone. But I came home feeling happy, then had my brother and some friends over for a nice dinner for his birthday. It's been forever since I've had a dinner party, I was happy to be back in the kitchen for an evening.

My mother dropped by to drop something off, we had a nice exchange and a hug. And then I don't know what happened, but I definitely had a relapse. I don't know if it was talking about the past at that workshop, or seeing my mom or the premonition that I would run into Adam this week (today, at lunch). Whatever it was, all that old anxiety, sadness, fear, guilt, anger came back. With a vengeance.

I cried all day yesterday, didn't sleep, had about a dozen panic attacks. My hands were shaking, I was sick to my stomach. I think I even had a fever. The worst part of when these "relapses" hit, I can't control them. I can't even put my finger on what triggers them in the first place, it never happens because I'm sitting around brooding about the past, it comes seemingly out of my self-conscious, usually in the wake of a couple of bad dreams.

I was sitting at lunch with Chris, who was holding my hand for the millionth time while I completely melted down, when Adam walked in.

Living/working/existing in a two block radius of the man who completely shattered your heart can be exhausting. If I run into him on a good day, it's really ok. But on a bad day, watch out. I'm not sure what message the universe was trying to send me, but I'm grateful to have had someone who loves me by my side when it happened. Lots of talking and hugs later, the anxiety is almost completely gone. Two days isn't bad, considering I used to have panic attacks every day, and spent the majority of my time crying. You can be much more efficient at work if you learn how to cry quietly at your desk, instead of in the washroom. :)

I talked to two of my good friends this afternoon who walked away from the religion like I did, and both of them are still dealing with bouts of anxiety and depression, deep seated from the shunning and abandonedment and the "conditional love". But we're all getting better. And at least we're in it together now.

And I have Chris, who told me today he's sure there was some important reason we came into each other's lives. He said he had to make a decision a long time ago whether to walk away or work through all my crazy. And he decided to stay (I imagine he understimated how much crazy I had to throw his way). And it's been more than a year now, and I finally trust that he's not going anywhere, no matter what I do at this point. Undeconditional love, what a novel idea.

He said today a big part of the problem is just not having the ability to do that for myself. He said that part of me that I still hate has been through a lot. And is still healing, still hurting, still scared. I need to find a way to stop being ashamed and instead learn to love that part of me as well, so I can protect it from any further harm and help it heal. Not completely, because I think the big ugly scar will always be there. But maybe instead of being ugly, someday I'll feel pride and respect for the epic battle it survived.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Believe in me...because I don't

It's been building up for awhile now. This is not going to be one of my shiny look on the bright side kind of posts. I do that a lot. I keep thinking that if I just try harder to be happy, it will happen. I try to be optomistic.

But maybe this is just how life is. I got an email last night from an ex, saying he/we never had a chance, because I was obviously still pining for Him, after all this time. It's been three years since Adam. THREE. Maybe we only ever really fall in love once, and if we do, we're worse off than not knowing what it would have been like.

What am I supposed to do? I still feel like there's a hole ripped into my heart that doesn't heal, jesus, it barely ever stops bleeding.

Not to mention the divorce, the cult stuff, I still wake up a lot of days and look in the mirror, not really knowing at all who I am. But I show up. I keep trying to move on. And that's what most people do. I know there are people everywhere who feel hopeless - people who live in third world countries, who are poor, who are disadvantaged, who have lost people they love in death.

I feel guilty that my life is as good as it is, just getting back from a trip to the Bahamas with a good friend who loves me more than any man except my dad has ever loved me. We have workout nights on Tuesdays, so last night I walked home from his condo, lit a cigarette and wondered why I felt so unhappy when I should have felt more grateful.

I am grateful. I have a wonderful family, a great guy in my life and his amazing family, a good job and a fabulous apartment with the best cat ever. I am fine. But I don't believe anymore. It's not like me, I'm the hopeless romantic who writes down poems and keeps a journal and believes true love exists...or at least I was that person. I miss her.