The name of the blog
"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.
Monday, 27 January 2014
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness," - Brene Brown. So why do I feel weak when I tell the truth and I act courageously? I think I am reacting to the reactions I get, which are not generally positive thus far.
I am struggling with loneliness, shame, and my worth. I have had an emotional set-back that I wasn't anticipating. More specifically, I don't think I was ready for the reality of internet dating. I am not reacting well to the rejection and impersonalization of it, and I have realized that I am only attracting men who are looking for a booty-call. And I don't want to be that to anyone. I am so much more than that, why can't these men see that? Why can't anyone see me? I am practising my new "wholehearted living" as taught by Brene Brown, and I can't say it is going particularly well for me in the early weeks. Perhaps it is saving me from making mistakes with men I may have made in younger years, and protecting my heart and sexual health from surprises months down the road, but it is a lonely existence right now.
What is wrong with me? Isn't that what we ask ourselves when we feel shamed and unworthy? What is so different and unappealing about me that I don't deserve someone in my life to care about me in that special way? It is so hard to tell myself continuously that I am worthy, to hold steady and be true to myself, and have faith that the right man will come along, when all the evidence points to the contrary. It is very difficult for me, when I think about what happened between my ex and I, to tell myself that I am worthy of love. He had me in his life, married me, told me he would love me forever, and then found someone he would rather be with. People tell me, and I try to tell myself, that his deception was about him, not me. I heard that very sentiment again today. That is a lie people tell me out of compassion. Of course it was about me. Stacked up against her, he found her to be more worthy of his time and attention. And I feel ashamed of being the discarded one, the unchosen, the unloved, the unworthy. I fight the feeling of shame, but it lurks always in my mind waiting for me to feel low and vulnerable and then it comes out to play and torture me.
I miss my family. I want to be in a relationship where I can connect again. I want to be seen and accepted. I want the inclusiveness of belonging to a family unit, with all the messiness, hardships, and joy that brings. I want to snuggle on the sofa and watch TV after dinner, take the dog for a walk and hold hands with someone, or talk about my day and bounce ideas off someone. I want to be in a kitchen clearing the dishes and hear about someone else's day. I want to support someone in their journey, with their challenges. I want someone to want me in their life. I want to be respected and desired. I want, in short, to replace what I have lost. And that is proving to be no easy task for me. Yet my ex replaced me so easily. So what is the problem with me? I know in reality that the level of inclusiveness and comfort I seek is way down the road, but it needs to start with a serious date, not just a booty-call.
And really guys, on the very slight off-chance there are any guys reading this, why do you want a booty-call? I have made the call myself, and known I was the booty-call, but that was back in my twenties. I learned long before I was married that sex with intimacy and friendship is a million times better than a booty-call. Having sex, and then being able to talk and giggle, or share a midnight snack in bed, is so much better than getting dressed and going home, or kicking him out and then sleeping alone. I fail to understand why someone my age would even want a booty-call? Surely by this age most of us have been blessed to have the touch of someone who cares about us beyond the urge to mate? We were all created with the ability to touch our own genitals, so isn't masturbation a legitimate alternative to dragging someone else into your life to fulfill your hormonal urges? Furthermore, I can't speak for all women, but I ran my two cents by a friend and she agreed with me: If we have casual sex with you, it means we don't really care that much for you. We don't respect you, we aren't interested in your life, and we don't see a future with you. If a woman, meaning me, is actually interested in a man, I will wait. Not because I don't want to have sex, but because I want to have lots of sex over a long period of time, and have a good memory of our first time to think back on, rather than simply a lustful and less than graceful first encounter. And perhaps it is exactly the same with men; if they want a relationship and see a future, they won't be asking for a booty-call. So, a few days ago, I added this to the beginning of my Match.com bio: "Hey guys, if you're just looking for a booty call, move on. Wasted my first two dates on someone that had no interest in me as a person. Don't waste your time, or mine. Thanks." Since then I have received no new emails.
Once again my female friends are coming to the rescue. This morning I woke up to the sweetest email from an unlikely source who had picked up on my mood last night. She wrote: "I can't help but think of you being lonely. It sucks I know, been there done that… But way WAAAAY after everything was fine. Easy to look back and say you survived … I know. Anyway, … I will tell you this, you are pretty awesome. You are fun, pretty stinking funny, and have so many friends that have known you for years. You are so lucky......not to mention very confident and beautiful. Right, not the size two anorexic supermodel, but you are a looker!" And another friend wrote on my Facebook page: "Rebecca, remember you are a strong remarkable woman, the only person who needs to accept you that matters is you." I wish I could choose my sexuality; right now I am not pleased that I am heterosexual. I would like to choose to be a lesbian. Women are just so much more in-tune with each other and supportive of each other emotionally.
I read a few interviews yesterday in Brene Browns Daring Interview Series on her blog which you can find at http://brenebrown.com/my-blog/. The three interviews I read were all women, two authors and one artist, and all were married. And all credited their husbands somewhere in their interview with contributing to something special in their lives. As is, and as does, Brene Brown. Is it possible to be vulnerable and authentic while single? Can you even get to the point of a deep and meaningful intimate relationship with someone if you are honest with them in the early stages of friendship or courtship about your ugliness? Isn't that where our shame resides, in the ugliest, muckiest and deepest reaches of our memories? And doesn't claiming your worthiness and combating shame mean taking our ugliness out of the dark shadows, holding it up to the suns warmth, really assessing it, and learning to comfort it and love it? According to Brene Brown, and I will likely misquote her here, shame is "I am wrong". And I feel like I am wrong inside when I objectively look at how the last couple of men have treated me. It is very difficult for me to tell myself I am okay, I am loveable just the way I am, I am enough, and all those other positive affirmations, when I seem to be alone in this thinking, barring my friends and son of course.
I am so much more than my vagina and my ability to make someone feel good sexually. I am complicated and fun, silly and serious, inquisitive and frightened, playful and aloof, intelligent and immature, compassionate and bitchy, empathetic and self-centred, consuming and philanthropic, materialistic and hippy'ish, sexual and childlike, giving and demanding, independent and needy, loving and difficult, a mother and a sexual being, and a great friend and lover. I am a wondrous and gorgeous creature with great cracks and depths like every other woman. I am so much more than a booty-call.
Sunday, 26 January 2014
You can read the full article at http://blog.ted.com/2014/01/23/10-facts-about-infidelity-helen-fisher/
Love isn’t so much an emotion, says Helen Fisher in her TED Talk. No, love is a brain system — one of three that that’s related to mating and reproduction. Helen Fisher: Why we love, why we cheatIt’s those other two systems that explain why human beings are capable of infidelity even as we so highly value love.
We see infidelity on big and small screens all the time and, on occasion, we see evidence of it in real life too. And yet, hearing that infidelity has something to do the way our brains work is a shock. So 3 million views later, Helen Fisher is back to explain more about infidelity — why it occurs, how common it is and how a study shows it could potentially correlate to a gene — along with further reading. Below, Fisher’s notes.
Thursday, 23 January 2014
The other day I had my first, first date, in 12 years, ten months and two weeks. And I had a great time. And now I want more. He woke my libido up, washed the blues away, and I suffered from a low grade sexual frustration for about 36 hours. Hence, the ecstasy part of getting back into a dating and/or sexually active single life. I got a taste or a tease of what could be coming, and Lordy do I want it, bad. The Offspring say it best in I Want You Bad: "I want you all tattooed, I want you bad, … complicated, x-rated, … want you to be, bad bad bad …. really really bad". Even though I have been technically single for over seven months now, I don't think anyone comes out of a 12 year relationship that had a rotten ending and feels like they are ready to jump back on the horse. I went through my grieving process, and in the last couple of weeks I have felt stronger and more ready to share time with someone new. It was like a switched flipped in me a few weeks back.
So let's say I've been ready to date for two weeks. My girlfriend D had told me months ago that when I was ready, it would be exciting to get back to meeting new people, having that first kiss, and learning the differences each new person would bring out in me. And she was right! And when I expressed to another girlfriend some time ago that it was scary to think about having another relationship, she reminded me that when I got to that place, I wouldn't be scared; it would exciting and I would know the person by then. And I think J was right too! Thank goodness I have surrounded myself with wise women. When I gave my girlfriend B the play by play of the date, cheeks flushed and giggling like a school girl, B said she was jealous; that she loved the anticipation of waiting for the next phone call.
I, however, am not particularly enjoying the anticipation so far, hence the agony. Anyone who knows me knows damn well that patience is not my personal virtue, and it is a trait I have worked very hard during the last year and a half to develop and nurture. It takes mindfulness for me to calm myself and accept everything will happen in its time. And today I was reflecting that my coffee date was probably the first "real" date I have been on since my early twenties. It is the first time in a very long time that I have gone out socially and spent time with someone I don't know. It is the first time in my life, at the age of 42 minus 13 days, that I have not just become almost instantly entangled with a man. In all four of my previous relationships, I knew the men I ended up involved with. They were either friends, a very good friend, or we had a mutual friend that was setting us up so it felt like we knew each other after months of her going back and forth between us. And in all four of those relationships, we crossed the line into boyfriend/girlfriend overnight and were pretty much inseparable thereafter. I don't know what it is like to go on a date, go home and wonder how that person perceived your time together, and then wait to see if the phone call will come for another date. My girlfriend D calls this adult dating.
My date was with Sean, who I wrote about recently as having the not so great phone call with. He did not call the next day as promised, but then called the following day. And that conversation went very well. I got my friend J to answer the phone, she donning a hillbilly twang of her own volition, and when she passed the phone to me I told him he might have been trying to sell me some carpet cleaning and that one can never be too careful. He thought that was funny so we were off to a much better start. We talked for about 20 minutes and it went well, ending up with us setting a date for a late morning coffee three days later.
God was I nervous the morning of the date. Point for him that he chose Starbucks and didn't try to meet at Tim Hortons. Before I even had my fancy coffee in my hand he said "You are nothing like your profile." I said, "Oh, do tell? Wait, never mind, I don't want to know." He brought up his observation several more times throughout our hour and a half together. He said I looked better in person than I do in my pictures, and when I said I thought my photos were quite an accurate representation, he said "it is all in the eye of the beholder." He also said that my profile comes across as reserved, conservative, and straight laced. Note to self to go and spruce up the profile. Conversation was easy and flowed well, although he asked a lot of very direct questions. I felt a bit like I was being interviewed, with some stories from both of us in between. And he was very direct, and flirtatious, to the point that I felt uncomfortable at times. When my ex-husband flirted with me or made sexual innuendoes, I usually laughed. With Sean it was nervous laughter. Sean was extremely witty and sassy, which I love! He said that he really enjoyed that I could give it right back to him. We had a very awkward moment when we were talking about relationships and he was hitting a sore point, and wouldn't drop it when I said it was a sore point, so I gave him the Coles notes version of why my ex and I are no longer together. He said, "Wow, I have never even heard the word polyamory. That was worth the price of the coffee alone." Bless him for not reacting and moving on, another point for him. He had to go to work that afternoon, but invited me to join him for a quick lunch. While we were waiting in line for lunch we were talking about Vegas, and I told him I was going in a few weeks for my birthday. And then he slapped my ass! He said it was my birthday slap. I can't imagine the look on my face, because he instantly said something like "I am just testing you." And I think I said, "I am just grateful to be touched." In hindsight, I wish I had the balls to bend over and say slap me harder and pull my hair.
I spilt food on myself twice while eating lunch. I did give him fair warning that I probably would, and he was very gracious and comforting about my inability to eat like someone who is over the age of three. I tried to joke about it and hoped I wasn't blushing too much. He walked me to my car, which was parked next to his truck. And then the magic happened. Confined in that small space between the two vehicles facing each other, I felt the chemistry and it made me giddy. I wanted to swoon, but was too self-conscious and nervous to actually let on what chemical reaction was happening in my body. We were talking about my volunteer work, and that I wanted to go to Africa to do a build for my volunteer organization when he said "I want to go to Africa too." And then he said, "I feel the need to do this" and grabbed my hips and pulled me in close to him. I couldn't bear being within inches of his face, so I gave him a hug, and then stepped back and pushed him away. I am open to feedback on my dating behaviour. He asked if that was a message and I said no. We then talked about when we could see each other again and he said his week was busy. I tried to invite him to a volunteer activity I am attending this weekend, but he has his young twins and it is not a child friendly event. So we said our goodbyes, hugged again, and he said he would call to set up our next date.
When I met D later that day to give her the play by play, she laughed and said this guy has your number. And boy does he. God help me I am attracted to bad boys. I know they don't make good husbands, but I don't want a husband. Moreover, my husband was a good guy and still fucked me over. This could be wild; if he calls. Or I call him. I want to text him and be witty and flirtatious. The new patient me is waiting for him to make the first move though. And I hope he does call. I really did enjoy my time with him and would like to spend more time getting to know him. In fact, he doesn't know it yet, but I have a date planned for us in about ten days, so it would really be unfortunate if I have to find someone else to go with, because he is perfect for my devious plan.
The day after my date I found three new emails in my Match.com inbox which is another first for me! I can't help but think the Universe is providing for me, or I have finally got my vibrations fixed or something mystical. One email was irrelevant, one an ongoing conversation that is likely going nowhere fast, and one new response from someone I had emailed. He is cute and smart, I am really impressed with what he has done with his career, on the surface we have a few commonalties, and I am very interested in him too. Oh my, this is virgin territory for me. I definitely feel my feminine power increasing, the way you feel a flu coming on, and the hunter in me is waking up and feels like tackling some big game. With a little more work, my self-esteem will soon be back to its full strength and I will shaking my ass as I walk, smiling, and confident in the knowledge that I am a force to be reckoned with. I can't wait for that day! In the meantime, I will enjoy the journey and the learning experience of what it is to date in this day and age, at my age. And I will enjoy being single and living alone so that I can blast the Black Eyed Peas and twerk around my small apartment in my pyjamas at 11 pm or loudly screech out the lyrics to an Offspring song.
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
I need to applaud my ex-husbands positive outlook on his dating future and his optimism in general that he won't have any problems finding women who want to be in a loving, somewhat committed, non-monogamous relationship that requires her to share him with god knows how many other women. That really struck me today as I was thinking about the disastrous first phone call I had with someone I had been emailing with on Match.com. I wish my ex-husband well, but I think he's nuts based on my limited experience recently in the dating world. It is tough out there, for a gal anyways. I can barely find anyone interesting to talk to, let alone date, and I am certainly not fighting off hoards of men who would make sacrifices to be with me part-time, such as their self-esteem, future planning, security, family matters, end-of-life care, etc.
Maybe the polyamorous have their own dating website's like the gays? I should google that. Wait, I am going to google that. Yup, there are; I found six websites on the first link I looked at, which was a question from a couple wanting to add a single female for a "monogamous triad". The answer on dating.about.com to "Walters" question made me laugh: "You've got a lot of company in your search for a single gal to join you and your wife for a long-term, monogamous partnership Walter, so while I'll share the websites that I know of to suit your needs, there are few guarantees you'll actually find what you're after. Why? In the polyamorous communities, single women wanting to join a couple for an exclusive triad are often called "Unicorns," as they're both rare and beautiful to behold. Having said that, I know of a significant number of partnerships with this kind of dynamic, so it's more than just a fantasy you're chasing."
Do you know what I think? I think love is rare, and precious, so I certainly don't understand wanting to dilute it or cheapen it by inviting others to share in it. Nor do I think it is easy to find, or comes along so frequently that you should dismiss it. I think love is beautiful, and what makes life worth living. Sex creates the children that propagates our species, but I think without love there is no worth in continuing our species. And I guess those are the reasons a polyamorous person would tell me I am not right for their community. I guess someone who is truly polyamorous, like my ex-husband, doesn't see it in that light. They think it is "beautiful" and fabulous to be in love with multiple partners at the same time. I just hope for my ex-husbands sake he does a better job of introducing the concept to future partners than he did with me.
I have written previously about the miserable results my online dating forays produced. Being ever the trooper and optimist, and growing more lonely and more ready for a special friend, I have been back at it, with results much the same. I have now been on Match.com for 24 days. There was a short lived flurry of activity when I first joined, followed quickly by deafening silence. I have been emailed by a total of 4 men, two of whom I corresponded with, one lived in New York so I just thanked him and deleted the email, and the other I responded to and nicely said I didn't see much in common but was happy to go for a drink and make a friend. And to clarify, I am not even expecting to find a soul-mate on the website. I just want casual dating, friends, and activity partners, which is what my profile says.
So let's review the two I was in contact with. They both contacted me within 48 hours of my profile becoming active. They both seemed nice enough and intelligent enough. For the next week over Christmas we emailed back and forth regularly, and then I told them I was going to Vegas and would be in touch when I got home. Which I did, and in that email I told them I was sick. At this point, one had asked me out on a date, and the other had given me his phone number with an invitation to call. So I told both of them, separately of course, that I was unwell and would let them know when I was ready to be social. Phone number guy said ok to that, and date guy responded with "I'm very busy now and lots of work [peak season) but I'll contact you soonest I can. Sorry for any inconvenience." I took that as a blow off from date guy. Next I noticed that phone guy had disappeared completely from the website, so probably didn't even get my next email.
I discussed this with two close friends, one of whom had no idea about website dating etiquette, and the other of whom set me straight. D told me that these two guys are probably talking to 20 women or so and lost interest because I didn't jump when they said how high. She encouraged me to contact them both again and not make any assumptions about whether I was being personally dismissed. I thought about that for a week. In the meantime, I got a lovely notification every time date guy was online and had ignored my last email. When I joined this site I swore I wasn't going to contact anyone; I wanted them to come to me. I know this is the self-esteem blow back from the way my ex treated me, but it is what it is for now. When I lost my two email buddies and didn't hear from anyone else, I decided to be brave and take matters into my own hands. Or I was being dumb and looking to flog my self-esteem even lower into the ground. I have sent emails to 24 different men, and I have not heard back from one of them.
Which leads to the phone call. After thinking about it for a week, and not getting any results from my own efforts at connection, I took D's advice not to personalize the silence because really, what did I have to lose by trying to reach out again? So I called Sean. In my opinion, it wasn't the best first phone call ever. Me: "Hi, can I please speak to Sean". Him at the other end: "Whose calling?". Me: "Rebecca." Him: "Why do you want to talk to Sean?" Me, feeling very flustered and put off by the aggressive tone of voice and wanting to hang up: "Um, I was just calling to chat and say hi." Silence. Him: "Oh, I think I know who you are, I didn't recognize the phone number. I thought maybe you were trying to sell me carpet cleaning." Me: "Oh, so is this Sean? I would never try to sell you carpet cleaning. Why would you recognize the phone number? Let's start over again. Hi, I am Rebecca and we exchanged a few emails on match.com but then you disappeared. You had given me your number, and I wasn't sure if it was personal or if you were just taking a break from the website, so I thought I would try and give you a call." Him: "Of course you had to try. I am just taking a break, nothing personal." Me: "That's good." Him: "And now I have your phone number. Muhahahaha." Me: "Yes, you do." Him: "You caught me unawares, and I am feeling really beat up today. Can I call you back tomorrow?" Me: "I am sorry you had a rough day. Yes, tomorrow is good. I have a meeting between 7 - 9 because I volunteer, but around that is fine. And I am a night owl so I don't mind later phone calls." Him: "I will file that away." Me: "Okay, take care."
I felt like an asshole. It is hard to be brave and call someone you have never met, even if they did give you their phone number. It is even harder to keep your composure when they are aggressively refusing to let you talk to whom you have called for and challenging you. And then it became even more difficult when I found out it was him, and now I wasn't sure if I had passed the "test" or not of being allowed to talk to him since he cut the phone call short and that could be a dismissal, or legitimate. We will see if he calls tomorrow. I can tell you though that if he doesn't, I won't be calling him again. Or possibly anyone else, ever again! Until the next time my need for connection outweighs my fears.
I told another girlfriend B the story last night, and she commiserated. Apparently her experience on EHarmony was much the same, and she is a skinny pretty little thing, so that discounts my theory that me being overweight is the barrier to making connections. Her conspiracy theory is that these internet dating websites are companies that need to make money as the bottom line, so they have a vested interest in you not meeting Mr. Right too quickly. If you find the love of your life in the first month, they can kiss five months of potential profit away. B even called EHarmony to ask what the problem was finding her a match, to which they basically told her to give it time. It isn't that I don't have any matches, I already have 79 specifically. It is a lack of these men following up on our match, or my emails. And B thinks that is because they are looking for quantity, not quality, whereas a female is more likely looking for quality. These men are sowing their cyber oats so to speak. Today B emailed me to add to her conspiracy theory which made it all the worse. B wonders if the men have figured out that women on free dating web site are not as committed to finding a man, so they move over to a paid web site hoping for an even greater chance of a return on communication. She and I thought that if we paid for the service then the men would be more committed to finding that one person to date. What if that isn't the case, and these men are preying on the women who are serious and taking advantage of that vulnerabilty? That would be truly awful.
All of this leads me to wonder how other cultures and countries deal with their singles? Are they cast away to a remote location? Is there a societal expectation that you don't divorce, no matter what happens, so there are no singles? I can appreciate how arranged marriages would take some of the heat off of being single. I would love to hear about other people's experiences being single in their forties after a divorce. In the meantime, I will just take my hat off to my very optimistic ex-husband. Perhaps as a man, he will have better luck getting lucky.
Sunday, 12 January 2014
My girlfriend D called me earlier this week at about 10 am and got me during the hour long process of dozing, contemplating my life, and trying to get my depressed ass out of bed. I rarely answer the phone during this time, but fate intervened and I groggily croaked out a hello. D told me to get out of bed and PVR Steve Harvey's show. All I could think at that moment was that Steve Harvey is a comedian, which is what I said. D said he had a talk show and they were going to be discussing the blessings of a break up. I told her I would get up, and I did. I got the TV recording and went to make coffee. A short time later I sat down and watched the show, and was I ever shocked to gain some useful insight from a talk show, a genre I am not generally a fan of. Who would have thought that on Steve Harvey's talk show I would hear the right message at the right time spoken in a way I could understand? Not I. I gained several good insights actually, from the host, the three women that were the guests, and psychotherapist Stacey Kaiser who was co-hosting the segment. First point, you cannot hang on and hope to move on at the same time; it doesn't work. Steve said this to the one woman who had not changed her phone number after a devastating break up where she found out her fiancee, two weeks before their wedding, he had never actually gotten a divorce or even separated from his wife. Second point, the psychotherapist said you need to move through the five stages of grief, and towards acceptance. And part of this process is to stop seeing yourself as a broken hearted woman and see yourself in a new light. I loved that message! The first step in such a process is changing yourself on the outside as a new look can trigger a boost in your self-esteem. The next parts of the moving on process are the mental and emotional journeys you need to undergo.The psychotherapist noted that women heal best when they bond with other women, to which I say Amen loud and clear. The psychotherapist wanted these three women to continue to support each other by checking in weekly and helping each other heal their heartbreak. Another great point from Mr. Harvey was, you haven't lost a great guy or your soulmate; your great moments and great memories were with a "complete butthole" who is now gone from your life, giving you your life back. Your soulmate wouldn't do these sorts of things to you, so the blessing of the break-up is that you are now free to go and find your soulmate, or receive the man you deserve. "You didn't lose a good man, he lost a good woman" says Steve Harvey.
I texted D right after I watched the show and thanked her for waking me up and telling me about the show. I then told her what I thought were the blessings of my break-up as they instantaneously popped into my head: I was no longer being lied to, I was no longer being cheated on, I had rekindled my friendship with her, I had booked a trip to Bali, and I was becoming more financially independent and responsible. Her response was something along the lines of, it is amazing to turn something negative into something positive and that I was clearly finding the blessings of my break-up.
I have thought on this topic a lot over the last four or five days and guess what corresponds to this thought process and searching out some positives? According to my gratitude journal I have only cried on one day since January 4th. That is an epic win for me as previously I was happy or felt relief to get two days in a row with no crying. I still had sad moments on some of those days, but not too many tears have been shed lately. I see this as a huge step forward in the grieving process. I don't know if all the hard work trying to rewire my thought process is finally taking hold, or if the time that everyone said needed to pass has finally come to pass, or if it is because some low grade anger has finally come to roost? Perhaps it is a combination of all the various forces at play that has stemmed the flow of tears. What I do know is I feel better about living a life without my ex-husband than I have at any other time during the last seven months.
There are positives to be found among the wreckage of a broken heart and home if you look really hard. As I noted above, I am no longer living a lie and having a three way relationship that I wasn't aware of. And that offshoots to me feeling blessed that I am not being exposed anymore to sexually transmitted diseases. I am no longer blindly sharing a bed and a life with someone who cared so little for my health or respected my feelings so little. I have the blessing of independence. Which is not to suggest my ex-husband was in any way controlling of my time, he was not. I was very independent within the context of a relationship. Now I don't have even those minimal restraints or considerations that are the by-product of a partnership. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want, without checking in with anyone. Which has led me to Bali. I never would have been looking for such a momentous trip if not for the break-up, so that is a blessing. He and I had our vacation/travel plans, and Bali never made the list. I might never have sought out such a country, or planned such a lengthy trip without the heartbreak and the search for solace. Also, the flight only cost me a whopping $47 return thanks to the Aeroplan points he and I had been saving for our Europe travels that now had to be divided. So another blessing to be found in the break-up is the division of assets. One of the reasons I have chosen Bali as my restoration site is the country is primarily Buddhist and Hindu, so features mediation, vegetarianism, yoga, and generally all the spiritual practises that I embrace. While I was certainly heading down the path of seeking spirituality in my life prior to the break-up, another blessing in the break-up was the forced fast-tracking of searching for meaning in the universe, acceptance of the horrible thing that has happened to me, loving and forgiving within the context of betrayal, and coping with the depression and anxiety that I had just gotten under control only a few months prior to the break-up, which blew the lid off my mental health again.
Other blessings include the very conscious act of reaching out, being vulnerable to others, and creating my network of supportive loving women. I made some missteps along the way with some of the women I chose, but was blessed that those fickle friends bowed out quickly rather than hang around for a long time. My ex-husbands absence has forced me to exercise my friendship muscles; I had absolutely let a large number of friendships slide by the wayside. Thankfully, with a little investment on my part I was able to regain entry into my friends lives. And I have made two new friends during the last few months that I treasure; women that don't even know my ex and he doesn't know them. My Dad, even though his reasons and thought processes are a little antiquated and antifeminist for me, has been reaching out and checking on me which is a first. We had no relationship at all, and were essentially estranged from each other until my break-up. The rusty and fragile connection we are forging is a blessing as my father is aging, and I am at a time and a place in my life where I need to learn more about the family history. It is important to me to establish some familial roots before my Dad passes so that I, and my son by extension, can feel more grounded in this world. And then there are the many blessings of the many lessons I have learnt in the blogs, books, TED talks etc that I have devoured lately in my quest for acceptance.
And of course, there is the blessing of this blog and my writing. A long time ago, I wrote regularly, and for pleasure. I wrote poems, short stories, tv show plots, and essays on life. Or more accurately, I might say I wrote because I needed to, there were thoughts in my head that needed to escape. All through my childhood, teenage years, and throughout my twenties I wrote. And I let that part of me slowly go dormant over the course of the marriage. My ex-husband, bless his good traits, was not an artistically soulful individual. I think that best captures him at that time. For all I know, he is a painter or a poet now. Although he never dissuaded me from writing, I can't say he actively encouraged me to write, and I let writing go. I didn't feel the need to write, or I didn't feel like I had anything to say. My muse left me when my ex-husband and I were together. And I may not have come back to expressing myself this way if not for the break-up. In fact, I am sure I would not have found my way home. Not only is that a massive blessing unto itself, but writing will be my next career. I believe that this break-up was incredibly necessary as I was way off my life's path with no intended thought of getting back onto the correct path, which is what the break-up has helped me do. I can also hope that once in awhile I will have the privilege of writing something that helps someone else through a rough time, and that is another blessing that I know is possibly there, whether I am aware it has happened or not.
There will be more blessings to come. The blessing of a new relationship and the different experiences and knowledge I will be exposed to by that person and his friends and family. The blessing of freedom to choose where I live, where I travel, and how the rest of my life will unfold is no longer contingent on being agreeable to my ex-husbands plans; I am free to be me in whatever that entails.
In the meantime though, I would be amiss if I did not acknowledge the blessing my ex-husband continues to bestow on me during this awful transition; he takes very good care of me financially, and has kept his word on that matter. This may be the greatest blessing of all since the disclosure as it has allowed me the time to focus on myself and my recovery without being forced back to work under financial duress. Thank you M, I wish you love and light during your journey.
What positives can you find about the end of your relationship if you are missing someone and in the middle of the grieving process? I believe you will find some blessings, maybe not today, but in time. I wish you love and light during your journey.
My note to you - “Where there is love there is life” — Mahatma Gandhi. The expression, I wish you love and light, is used within spiritual contexts. When I googled the expression to research its origins, I found a great blog article that articulates the thought behind it nicely, touching on science, Deepak Chopra, and that is where I found the above quote from Mahatma Gandhi. You can read that blog article at: http://cherieroedirksen.com/2012/11/29/love-and-light-what-does-it-mean/. And then I found another beautifully written blog on the very topic of letting go after heartbreak. B, this is for you and I: http://hannahbrencher.com/tag/wish-them-light-and-love/. Here you can read the "conversation" that occurs in the movie Eat, Pray, Love that nicely illustrates the use of the phrase "love and light".
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
Happy New Year and welcome to 2014. As one friend wrote in my Christmas card about 2013, "thank fuck it's over". I have a bit of a flu, or cold, so I slept most of the night away, but I was awake to welcome in the New Year before going back to bed for another 11 hours or so. And when I woke up this morning, nothing was different. The weather is pretty mild, my friends on Facebook are still there, my pets are well, my apartment is lovely, and I feel the same about my life, my grief, and my ex-husband. Yet, when I reflect back on the past year that ripped my life apart in almost every way imaginable, I am reminded about how much can transpire in a year. When I look back over my almost 42 years of living, it seems like I have lived about four distinctly different lives already. Not that it is clockwork or tied to a century, but every seven to ten years there seems to be a massive shift in my life's direction. This is just another one, although there has never been a year so significant in my life. There has never been so many major changes over such a short time span in my history as this past year. I made it, mostly due to a handful of good friends, and I will survive. I hope that next year when I welcome you into 2015 I will have many blessings to be grateful for, beyond what I already have in my health, friends, son, the privilege of living in Canada, the safety of being a female at this time in history, the sanitation and bounty of living in a first world country, my pets, my ex-husbands generous support payments, etc.
I intend to thrive in 2014. There is a reason the universe, fate, God, Buddha, whatever you identify with and however you wish to name your higher power, has done this to my life. I know now that I wasn't on the right path, I just wish I could have taken a few people with me as I corrected my path. The losses this past year have been excruciating. They damn well near killed me. I do feel though that the start of the New Year brings one blessing if nothing else; having survived my first holiday without my ex-husband and living on my own. I am reading Malcolm Gladwell's latest book David and Goliath and on my flight home from Vegas yesterday I picked up a very interesting message from the chapters I read. From dyslexic's, Martin Luther King, the survivors of the London blitz bombings by the Germans in WWII, the Doctor that made astounding breakthroughs in treating childhood Leukemia in the 1950s, to 12 of the first 44 Presidents of the United States of America, I was reminded of the saying: what does not kill you makes you stronger. When you have lost everything, or your worst fear is realized, and you discover you are still standing at the end of it, you gain a "self-confidence that is the very father and mother of courage". Thank you Malcolm for that message.
That is what I will search for in the New Year. The courage to live the life I am meant to live. The courage to love again, for I miss it deeply. I miss having someone to care about and cheer on and support, and I miss having a person in my life that will do the same for me. I miss intimacy. I miss sharing goals and dreams with someone. I miss planning a future with someone. I will work hard to cultivate peace and stillness in my life. I will work hard this next year to maintain the humbleness my experiences of the past year have bestowed on me. I will work hard to develop compassion for all human beings which was sorely lacking in my last life of keeping up with the Joneses.
In the meantime, I had been busy writing to close out 2013, despite the fact I haven't published anything. It is easy for me to write: it is cathartic, therapeutic, and the words just flow out of my brain through my fingertips. The difficult part for me is editing. I am a ferocious and meticulous editor, even if I don't catch every mistake, and I can easily spend as much time, if not more, editing my writing after the fact. If it takes me two hours to write a post, I will spend at least two hours editing and correcting. So, I have many pieces written to some degree of completion, but in my depression and anxiety leading up to Christmas I did not have the willpower or strength to summons the detail orientated individual who can spend hours editing. Over the next month I intend to work hard on my recovery so that I have the energy to put my thoughts and ideas out into the Universe.
During my recent trip to Vegas I was telling my girlfriend about a few ideas I have for my next tattoo, and the one I am leaning towards is the Sanskrit spelling of Namaste. My girlfriend did not know the expression, so I explained it to her. The literal translation is I bow to you, or I bow to your form. Namaste my friend. If you have struggled this past year in any way, appreciate yourself for surviving, and may the best be ahead for you. Happy New to you. I wish you many good things.