Monday, 31 December 2012

The Dream Lives

"Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." - Anne of Green Gables

Nails, done. Candles, lit. Taylor Swift on the stereo, check. Called my dad. New Years Eve is on track. I have a hot date tonight (and no, it's not my brother). Although you weren't crazy to think that. It's Lindsay. She made me promise weeks ago to be her date, apparently she wants to kiss me at midnight.

It's been quite the week. Christmas parties, spa day, birthdays. Surprise visit from the American. Old friends in town. A date with my mother...I brought flowers. I'm not all that attached to 2012, not really sad to see it go. Although I am another year older, I guess we all are. But we didn't die in a Mayan Apocalypse, so that's good.

I went to see Les Mis today with Linda. She's been Linda to me for a long time, but we're both working on getting back to her being my mom. I love Les Mis. Saw it twice on stage. It's super depressing, don't go see it if you're feeling sad.

For the longest time, all the words to all the songs were true. After everything I did in my past life, I didn't understand how God had been so unforgiving to me and I hated him for it. I used to think it was better if there wasn't a God at all, because if he was there, he was an asshole. "I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I'm living"...that line was so familiar I can't understand how I'm not the one who wrote it in the first place. But I know I'm not the only one who understands such deep pain. Lately, the little hell seems to be gone. And the dream lives.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Happiness Project

Side point - is anybody else sick of all my catchy titles stolen from songs and movies? For some reason I have a problem coming up with my own titles.

The rest of my content? Original.

My cat is sleeping in the sun. It's a beautiful day in Toronto. Sun is shining, snow on the ground. I woke up this morning with two other girls in my bed, another one on the couch. I rolled over and cuddled Linnea, before I realized who it was sleeping beside me. Monique is here, and somehow, that makes life better. My mother wants to go to a movie with me tonight. I have no idea how I got here.

But I did. And I think it's so so so so important that people out there know how happy and at peace I feel today. I won't lie. It's been three years of pain, tears, hard work, fear, anxiety, loneliness.

Taking the road less travelled is never the easy option. I had to work very, very hard at becoming happy again. The Happiness Project was a long, tedious chore. And I got scarred and bloody and felt like giving up so many times and just going back to the safe and familiar. It was literally hell on earth. But it's over. This "new beginnings" junkie is going into the new year happier than she's ever been. If you want to change your life, you can. It's not easy, but it's completely worth it...I love my family. I have the best friends. It's a success story.

Even with Travis getting married. Even with Adam at home having Christmas with his wife. I'm happy for both of them. They were such an important part of the journey that brought me here. Tapping into those memories from the past will always be part of my future. But the future, although sometimes it seems it will never arrive, is here. Today, tomorrow. Always. There will always be a chance to heal old wounds, make things right, fix relationships, show more love and kindness. Be a better person.

In my monster list of new year's resolutions, I am going to detox, finish school, figure out how to be a real writer. Life is a series of hills and valleys, but I'll try to hold on to this feeling of happiness as long as possible. Happy New Year!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Once upon a time, a few mistakes ago...

I had a lovely boyfriend. Despite what some people may think, I've actually been very lucky with love. The American is a good guy, honest, respectable, smart, well-adjusted. He always talked about getting me my green card, so I could come to the states and marry a lawyer. He wants to have kids.

So of course I messed it up. Long distance relationships are hard, even if you're not an ex-cult kid who was abandoned by almost everyone and has severe trust issues. I met an Irish and broke up with The American. The Irish lasted all of two minutes, and I was alone again. Not that it was a bad thing, I think being alone is probably all I'm good for right now.

Last night I was home having a girls night with Red, eating dinner, drinking wine, listening to music, and someone knocked at my door. And there he was. With flowers. After all this time. He drove to Canada in a snow storm to see me. After making fun of his outfit, Red left us alone and The American, who is deathly allergic to my cat, took 3 Benadryl and passed out.

I texted my mom and said you wouldn't believe who just showed up here. She said "Even though I hope it was Kevin, I'm guessing it was Irish or Adam, one of the asshole players." But it wasn't. :)

So I guess now I believe in second chances, redemption, all that stuff. Usually, I just wait for it to end, and if it doesn't quick enough, I help the process along by being crazy. But I'm not crazy. Even with all the shit that I've had to wade through, the broken hopes and dreams and aspirations...truth is, I'm surprisingly normal. It was great to see Kevin.

I didn't have to lose myself to love him. He took me "as is" and never expected anything more than what I was capable of giving. Even though I was damaged goods. I was fine, just the way I am. To be honest, "just the way I am" is good enough for me right now too.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The Story Girl

I do like a road because you can always be wondering what is at the end of it.

This girl has been having a hard time lately. The anniversary of some difficult times last year is not happy. It's not just hard for me. My whole family worries. How could they not?

But it's Christmas. We have so much to be grateful for. Thoughtful friends. Loving family. Good times of cheer and laughter. My brother came over last night. It was just us, starting our own new traditions with gifts and panzerottis and mass. He laughed a lot telling stories of so many midnight masses over the years with his brothers, the singing and music and family, while I had a slight panic attack over actually being in a church again after all this time. Michael held my hand though and we had a lovely evening.

Reflecting back on the past year, it's gone by so fast. The days are long, but the years are short. So much has changed, yet again this year. I could really go for a nice long dose of boring familiarity. But I'm not there, yet.

Starting new traditions is a good way to bring the normality back into your life. This was my second Christmas with my brother, my cousin Tara and her fiancee Chris, with Liz and Steve, with my other Chris' family. Three years ago I was home for my aunt and uncle's Christmas tradition - a walk along the beach with the dogs. We almost died, but that's another story...

People complain that Christmas is too commercial, but I think it's a great time of year. People telling each other how much they love and appreciate them, thoughtful gifts (someone actually painted me a portrait of a Blackbird this year!), a time out from work to focus on family and friends - the important relationships we sometimes neglect when we're too busy.

I've seen exceptional kindness and care for others who might be alone, "orphans" who will band together so someone else feels love and community. Going into the New Year, I have a list that's pretty long again of all the ways I hope to change and become better. Again. It's a constant process of self-reflection, self-improvement and if we're very lucky...eventually self-love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! May you be filled with Faith, Hope and Love. And Ken, where ever you are, we love you, we miss you and wish you Peace.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Being Brave

Re-post! 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.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Coming full circle, ending up somewhere completely different....

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." - T. S. Eliot

I've never been big on exploration. I love routine, I had the same friends since I was in elementary school. I liked doing the same things, with the same people all week and every weekend. I had never even quit a job until I was 32. (There were a great many things I had never tried at 32.) I would just stay until the company downsized, or my position was no longer necessary, and I'd move on then. Not before. I liked going to the same restaurant for a weekend date, ordering the same thing I always got there. I stayed with my first real boyfriend almost 10 years. I married him, even though we were never really in love. Change terrified me.

There were a certain set of beliefs thrust upon me at an early age, and I bought into that one hundred percent. I accepted what I was told at face value, and worked as hard as I could to make a success of that lifestyle. I did everything I possibly could to further the cause, to the point of breakdown, exhaustion and disillusionment.

Once I rejected those beliefs, and ended up broke, homeless, jobless, friendless and divorced, it was a shock. I had no idea who I was anymore. What was I without my friends, the group, my special position within it? So reluctantly, I started exploring. I'll be the first to admit a lot of that "exploration" was actually just self-destructive behaviour. Once you leave an established way of life, with a rule for everything, and you realize you don't believe it anymore, all of a sudden there are no rules.

So you try new things. I'm probably lucky I didn't end up dead (or worse). It wasn't for lack of trying.

But for all my pushing myself outside my comfort zone, within the past year, I've come almost full circle. No, I'm not back at exactly the same place I started. I make the rules now for what is "good" and "acceptable" for my life. But it does feel familiar, a lot more like the old me than the "interim" me I'd been exploring. My moral compass is not pointing in exactly the same direction it used to, but it's pretty close.

I watched a movie yesterday about a girl that went through the same experience I did, being shunned by her family and friends for deciding she loved someone who had a different faith and belief system. It was so familiar, yet the whole story seemed so crazy, so controlling, so completely against every fiber of my morality today that I almost couldn't believe I used to be one of those people. Not bad people, just so completely misled.

I understand those who have a deep devotion to God. But it's sad that so many people who say they love Him, live a life so completely opposite to all the values history tells us Jesus taught and lived by. He never shunned anyone, but spent his time with the sinners and downtrodden.

I don't know how this post became about Jesus. It wasn't my intention. :) I'm not even sure I believe in him anymore. I just know that despite how drastically life has changed, I'm happy I made it through the fire and managed to land on my feet. It helped having a few people who believed I would. And Eliot is right, once we come full circle, we are back at the same place we started, but it looks entirely different. And different is good. :)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Miracle

Something wants to come out tonight, not sure what it is. I keep coming back to this page, closing it, re-opening it. It was my last class for one of the classes I'm taking, so I went, did a presentation, came home and worked on the paper I have due for tomorrow night's class. The last last class of this year.

Part of me is a little sad, I really liked this term, the teachers, the classes. Part of me knows I really need a time-out, so this is a good thing. I bet y'all wish I'd go back to writing sappy blogs about silly guys I'm dating, this can't be all that interesting to read. The truth of the matter is - I've become boring. Not so boring that I probably couldn't shock you with a couple of recent stories, but boring enough that most of my life is just work and school and the odd date with my brother or my ex-boyfriend.

I do spend enough time at the downstairs bar with Krista that I won a football t-shirt the other night. So did she. We're fabulous, so we're never gonna wear those, except to bed.

Going into the holidays alone is a little scary. I wish my family lived closer and I could go home. I haven't been home in a long time. And this exact time last year, I was locked up for trying to kill myself. Not the best holiday memories.

But I've come a long way since then, and life will never seem that desperate again. To be honest, I could probably still take it or leave it. But it's getting better day by day. It feels like a shame not to get a tree this year, so I think I'll go for it. Decorating it is always fun (for the whole one year I did it), and I still have all the decorations that Steve got me last year and the xmas music cd.

I may still be in repair, even now. But since last December, I made peace with Adam. I have plans to see my mother. I have friends that I really like. No one has made it into the love category yet, except maybe Liz, who this time last year, tried to save my life. But I'll get there. I managed to keep my job (both of them), get straight As (in both classes), and although I might not really be in love with life, I'm extremely grateful for all the good things.

It still sucks to be home alone when you're sick, or walk through the grocery store and watch all the happy couples (I love grocery shopping, there's something about a grocery store that just calms me), but I almost don't remember what it was like being married and going to bed with the same person every night and waking up with them every morning.

Waking up with a few strangers is enough to convince you that's not who you are or what you want. I don't think I know what I want yet, but at least I know what I don't want. And that's half the battle.

At the end of the day, all of us are in survivor mode. The good times come and go, like waves on the sea. The storms will crash and beat you down, but if you know you will always survive them, there's nothing to be scared of anymore. And not being scared anymore, that's a miracle.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Spin, spin, spin

Last night was our company xmas party. After 3 years, I've accepted that I'll always be the strange girl who brings her brother as her date. Joke's on you, people with real boyfriends though, because my brother is awesome. And he's more handsome than your boyfriend.

One of the highlights of our childhood was going to the ex at the end of every summer. They have this ride, called the Tornado. I always went on it, always threw up. Needless to say, when we realized it was there last night, it was a challenge to be conquered. I almost felt like we were kids again, Michael trying his best to make me sick, spinning it as fast as it could go. I pulled through.

I've become pretty adept at living inside a tornado. I still feel a bit off this am, but I didn't throw up. And I did it wearing super high heels and a very pretty dress.

I think there's some part of us that never grows up, I could see Michael and I doing that when we're 70. I'm sure we'll still be together, but hopefully not alone together the way we are now. I know right now it's by choice, for both of us.

Part of me wants to call Travis. I want to yell at him, tell him we were together for 10 years, to not get married and seperate us forever. But the part of me that wants him to just be happy is stronger.

I was looking at the two pictures I still have of Travis in my bedroom. No wonder no one else who actually makes it in there ever stays. There's no room. Between him and Adam and the crowd of ghosts who follow me everywhere, I will always be single. But with all that company, I am never alone.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Let it go.

Relax.

The word relax in Latin literally means to "let go".

Easier said than done. Here I am at 4 am, doing relaxation exercises dictated to me by some guy on the internet referred to me by my naturopath. He does have a soothing voice.

Another technique I read about is to try to count to 10 without thinking of anything. Each time you let a thought come in, start over again at 1. It's not easy. So I'm trying not to think about the fact that I've been up since 3, or that I need to be at work at 8:30. Or that I have a paper due on Wednesday night that I haven't started yet. Instead, I'm trying to think about the good news - it's actually December 4th, and classes are finished on the 12th. 8 days. And I'm off work soon, supposedly on the 20th, but I think I'll leave on the 18th. That's only 2 weeks from now. Take a full couple of weeks of vacation, turn off my BlackBerry, watch movies, sleep in, paint my nails. I give it 3 days before I'm completely bored.

My job is driving me slightly crazy. I know, I know, I'm so lucky. But accordingly to the relaxating guru I'm listening to, Type A personalities are more successful in life, but they also get 90% of all heart attacks. I did his "Type A" test, and apparently anything over a 50 is "you need to chill out immediately" (my words, not his). I got 282.

It's hardly a surprise though, I knew I had a problem with this already. It's not new, I was never chilled out as a J-dub either. I envy the people who can come in late, leave work early and take an entire lunch break.

It's only in North America that we see this epidemic, in many cultures work/life balance is the norm, not the exception to the rule. And I do think, although many of those cultures have less than us, they are happier. They make more time for friends and family, they have more kids than we do here. My girlfriend said yesterday that teaching wasn't a great profession to get into, because there are less and less kids. Geriatric care on the other hand, you can make some real money there. That's sad.

Well, my boss is no doubt on his way to the airport, heading to the office for a busy week. I'd better try to get another hour of sleep. I've listened to this guy three times now, and I am feeling a bit more relaxed.

It's 5:30 am on a Tuesday. Let the countdown to Christmas holidays begin...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The non-boyfriend phenomenon

Do you ever feel lonely? Of course you do, we all do, if we are honest.

Do you ever wish he would come over, stroke you hair, cuddle, hold your hand, listen to City and Colour with you? Well not to worry. I've come up with the perfect solution. It's called the non-boyfriend boyfriend. Let's face it. I don't want you to be my boyfriend. I'm too busy to try to wrangle non-committal guys into a "relationship".

You probably don't want to be my boyfriend either. I'm too complicated. Then you'd have to really listen to me, and be supportive, try to understand where I've been and where I'm coming from, and we all know you don't want to do that either.

But you do want that connection, to feel like someone out there will answer you text messages, a warm body to cushion the fall from a hard week. You want to have dinner at our favorite bar, or go for a walk with someone you care about. Someone to fall asleep with on the couch watching our favorite show.

And I want that too. It's sweet and innocent and familiar. I'm not going to take you to my company's Christmas party. Every year, I take my brother. Sorry, he's earned it and you haven't. Plus, he's much more handsome than any of you.

But keep calling me when you want to cuddle.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Snowbird

It's snowing in Toronto. The kind of snow that actually sticks to the ground and stays. It's pretty.

After the week from hell, where I was at work at least 10 hours a day, went to all my classes, wrote a paper, went to a work dinner last night and had two days of all day meetings...it wasn't so bad. In fact, I kind of had fun.

In all my bitching about past lives and lost loves, the Universe has actually taken very good care of me. Yes, my job is stressful. But I'm surrounded by good people, who care about me, my development and career path. I don't think everyone out there can say that.

I am exhausted though. I went over to Krista's tonight, had one glass of wine, cuddled with the cats, and...fell asleep while watching Ellen. Woke up at 3 am with pillow marks on my face. Good thing she only lives across the hall. (By the way, Ellen, Hello!! I have more than 6,000 reads on my blog. When are you going to call me? Don't make me go to Oprah.)

I keep trying to figure out what I can cut out of life to make it more manageable. It appears...the answer is nothing. The only two things I could do without is the volunteer work and the weekend job. And they both make me oh so happy.

It was birthday week at work. Apparently half the CMO team is Sagittarius. After a season of Libras and Scorpios, this is a change. So on top of everything else, I had fun running around, buying presents and cakes and writing cards. Next is Krista, the Capricorn, then I guess, us Pisces.

I don't know who out there keeps reading this. Some random thoughts strung together by a girl who just had to tell her story. But if you are reading me, know this. Robert Frost wrote a poem about the road not taken. Two roads diverged. I shall be telling this with a sigh...familiar? He left the first one for another day. But knowing how way leads to way...you never come back. You are forever committed to the one you chose. Adam said to me the other day, why don't you just go back? I could, tomorrow if I wanted to.

Because Adam, and everyone else, I made a choice. It was my choice and I own it. It was the right choice. Will I always miss the ones I left behind? Who feel they can't have anything to do with me unless I come back to the group? Absolutely. Will I cry, write sappy blogs about them, get down at times? Yes. Will I ever meet someone who can handle all of this and love me anyway? Doubtful.

But I have some amazing friends. A great job. Good family. And I made my own family. People who I never really knew, but now we're all connected in the best way. And I can walk down the street knowing every single day, that I didn't take the easy road. Nothing wrong with those who do. It must be the right path for a lot of us, or else it wouldn't be so popular. And I'm happy for those who find it works. But this complicated, romantic, idealistic girl needs something different. She was stuck in a little hell for a long time, but has mostly found her way out.

As Oscar Wilde said, we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

PS - Ellen, call me!! (I realize my campaign to get on The Ellen Degeneres show is mostly crazy, but hey, once I do, everyone will read my blog, I'll get a book deal and I can go live on the coast in Italy and write the follow-up. Wait for it...)