A Different Dream

This is where I go when I need to process – when I need to learn about me.

I have been in a good place, and my life has opened up and lies before me.

I am now a student, part time, which challenges and stretches me and how I think.

My son is thriving and is a delight to me.

I am able to be a better Mom to him.

His dad and I even are getting along and co-parenting well together.

I have tried my hand at dating.

I have put myself out there.

I discovered what it meant to be valued and loved.

and now, I have loved, and lost.

I have cried more over this loss the past several days then I did over the loss of my marriage.

There is a struggle now.  In many ways, it would have been easier not to get involved, not to give my heart.  I wouldn’t be here now – I wouldn’t be sad, I wouldn’t be missing him, my heart wouldn’t be broken.  Yes, it would have been easier not to get involved.  My life was and is full; why did I need to add to it?

And yet….

And yet I have hope.  I have experienced much of what I was missing in my marriage; I have been loved; I have been cherished; I have connected with another in ways I didn’t quite realise were possible.  Yes, there is hope, because there is love.  So, if there is a next time, I will have the courage to put myself out there again – I will be able to choose to be vulnerable – to live – to love – to be in those moments, and to cherish them, knowing that they are wonderful, and perhaps transient.

When I started this blog, the dream was to survive – to move through and get to the other side.  The dream now is to live, and love, and even hurt.  To experience the fullness of loving, one must be ready to experience deep sadness of loss.

Mommy, I love her more

Well, it was bound to happen.

I have been downgraded because of numerous things, Little Mr. ‘loves’ more than he does me – Pokemon, his iPod, Olivia (the little girl at school that he is going to marry [because she told him so]). I am the mommy. I am used to this being put on the back burner.

Tonight, however, after swimming lessons, Little Mr. approached me and the other mom I was with, who happens to be his friend’s mother and his father’s new partner, and announced that he loves her more than he loves me.

My heart stopped.

Then, it broke.

He laughed, and hugged me and told me he loves me the most, but all I heard was the first part.

Three months ago, this would not have bothered me. Three months ago, she was my friend and the mother of Little Mr’s friend. Today, however, she is the partner of Little Mr’s dad, so all I could see was my ‘replacement’.

My head knows that even if Little Mr’s dad is looking for a replacement, Little Mr. isn’t. I’m his Mommy. He was being exuberant, loving life, and recognizing that he has lots of people in his life who love him, and he was wanting to show love for them. In the moment, he loved her more than he loved me. In the moment, he loves hotdogs more than he loves me (ok, to be fair, he always loves hotdogs more, but that’s the age).

I know in my head that I am the mommy, and that Little Mr. is going to love me and hate me and like me and not. This is the way it is between parents and children. He’s not always supposed to like me – or even love me. It was just really hard to hear him say that he loved her more – even just in the moment.

It’s important in those moments for me to hear the whole story….

“Mommy, I love her more….. Mommy, I love you the most”

Little Mr, I love you the most, too, now and for always, I love you the most.

The Reluctance Continues

It has been quite a while since I have written in this place. For a long time things were good, and I did not feel that my experiences were particularly blog-worthy or interesting. Lately there have been some experiences about which I should write, but my fear takes over. I’m afraid that if I write frankly that I will hurt people who have been close to me.

The next few weeks will be an experiment in my own independence, and my ability to tell my story in a way that will neither hurt nor offend those about whom I shall write.

This place has been and will be a place for me to explore the person I was, the experiences I had, and the healing that I have undertaken.

I am still both hurting and healing, and I am needing to listen to the wisdom within, and I am needing to trust that voice that spoke to me before.

The road sign on this path says, “Construction ahead – proceed reluctantly”

And, so I shall cautiously and reluctantly proceed.

Seeds of Hope

Yesterday was the anniversary of my wedding.  I wrote about how I was feeling as I began my day, and as the day progressed I had some high moments and some low moments.  The evening could have been a challenge; I didn’t have Little Mr. with me, I could have felt very much alone, and I could have wallowed in the mire of sadness and guilt.

I could have.  

But I didn’t.

You see, a few weeks ago, a friend had contacted me and she asked if I wanted to get together this weekend for a glass of wine, it had been too long, and she was just going to be finished some major proposals.  I said sure, and suggested that either night was fine for me.  She picked last night.  At first the date hadn’t registered, but when it did, I knew that this was an opportunity.  This same friend had suggested that we undertake a sweetgrass smudging of my space at some point.  I asked if we could do the smudging then.  She immediately agreed.  At that point, she was unaware that she had chosen my anniversary for this event.

Sweetgrass has long been a part of the traditions of Indigenous peoples; the website nativetech.org says:

Many Native tribes in North America use sweetgrass in prayer, smudging or purifying ceremonies and consider it a sacred plant. It is usually braided, dried, and burned. Sweetgrass braids smolder and don’t produce an open flame when burned. Just as the sweet scent of this natural grass is attractive and pleasing to people, so is it attractive to good spirits. Sweetgrass is often burned at the beginning of a prayer or ceremony to attract positive energies.

 

 ….Sweetgrass is used to “smudge”; the smoke from burning sweetgrass is fanned on people, objects or areas. Individuals smudge themselves with the smoke, washing the eyes, ears, heart and body. 

I was using the night to purify my space, and not only my space but myself.  I would be taking yet another step on the road to reclaiming and owning my life.

I set about the task of deciding who would share in this event with me; almost immediately I realized that I wanted women who had somehow been instrumental in my life to be there.  A few of these women were immediately obvious: the woman who had acted as the Honour Attendant at my wedding, who has been my friend for over 20 years, her partner,  my running buddy.  A few others were not quite as obvious, but as I saw people, I invited them.  Some could come, some could not.

As we gathered last night, I took a good look at the women assembled.  Each one had either knowingly or unknowingly reached out to me in a time when I needed it.

Wine was poured, and it was decided that since introductions were required that each woman would tell how she knew me.  I was overwhelmed with the memories and the stories.  Some were old, and some were newer, but each woman’s story reminded me that no matter where I was in my journey, I had been supported and loved.

Then it was suggested to me that I should tell everyone why each woman in the room meant something to me.  I hadn’t consciously done this before, but I set out to share my own recollections of how every woman had touched me.  There was the woman who first used the term abuse (far before I was ready to) – the woman who was concerned enough that she sent her husband to walk by my house to make sure everything seemed ok.  There was the woman who (again, long before I was ready to hear it) had hugged me and told me that when I was ready to be happy I could come stay with her.  There was the woman that had encouraged me to keep doing things for myself at a time when neither she nor I was aware that I really wasn’t free to  make those choices.  There was my longest standing friend who has been by my side throughout the whole process.  There was the woman who I really only knew through work, and as a result, she never had seen that most of me was hidden most of the time.  There was the woman whose energy and life force drew me out at a time when I needed it most.

There were so many ways these six women had supported and touched me in both difficult times and good ones.

The energy in the room was beautiful; it was electric, and calming at the same time.  It was exciting and healing.  It was women coming together to help claim the space of another woman.

As we came to the ‘formal’ part of the evening, my friend who had initiated this told us that as Indigenous Peoples come together, they always provide the context of where they fit into the community and we had intuitively done this.  Everyone had identified how they fit in relation to me, and I had told each of them how they had impacted my journey.

 We began the process of smudging.  I was told that first I needed to purify myself; I needed to draw the smoke over me and to me.  I drew the smoke over my head, then to my eyes,  to my ears, to my mouth.  Finally I drew the smoke to my heart; I held my hands to my chest for a few extra seconds.  I cannot exactly explain how I felt while doing that, except to say that as I knelt on my floor in front of these women, I felt a new beginning, I felt loved and surrounded and supported.  I felt whole.

We then went from room to room and door to door drawing the smoke around the openings to cleanse and purify my space as mine.  This was not done with complete solemnity; at one point I was told I was doing it wrong, and if I was ‘gonna do it, I should do it right’.  So, I did; I learned from these wise women.  I went back over some of the doors and cleansed more thoroughly.  Then we went to the second floor so that I could cleanse the bedrooms, and my bedroom specifically.  And, just like that, real life struck, well, perhaps not real life so much as the smoke detectors went off.  There was giggling and someone grabbed the board from a game and the tallest woman waved it vigorously to stop the sound.  It was not perfect, but it was wonderful!

We finished the smudging, and someone asked if there was a song with which to celebrate.  Garnet Rogers has played a fairly large role in my healing process, and I immediately knew which song to play.  

 

Seeds of Hope

 

Take my hand and we will walk together

Take my hand you will not walk alone

Take my hand this night won’t last forever

We’ll harvest seeds of hope we’ve sown

 

In your eyes I see you feel uncertain

In your eyes I see you feel alone

In your eyes I see your heart is hurting

You long for rest and hope and home

 

Take my hand and we will walk together

Take my hand you will not walk alone

Take my hand this night won’t last forever

We’ll harvest seeds of hope we’ve sown

 

Dry your eyes there is an end to sorrow

Dry your eyes there is an end to night

Dry your eyes we will shake this shadow

The dark will run before the light

 

Take my hand and we will walk together

Take my hand you will not walk alone

Take my hand this night won’t last forever

We’ll harvest seeds of hope we’ve sown

 

So the season follows season

There is no love, no prayer in vain

The hardest heart still looks for reason

as the driest earth still welcomes rain

 

Take my hand and we will walk together

Take my hand you will not walk alone

Take my hand this night won’t last forever

We’ll harvest seeds of hope we’ve sown

 

This song has been almost like an anthem for me; and tonight, I knew that while I was hurting and alone and unsure, that while I was longing for a home of my own, these women had been there. This night was the culmination of those words, as I am no longer hurting, or alone or unsure, and these women were here to help me claim my home.

As the evening wound down, and the women left, I was truly content to be in the moment.  I was a bundle of energy; it was a day I had been dreading slightly, and then I didn’t want it to end!  I looked around my space and felt wonderfully alive and truly at peace; this space is my home, and it is safe and sacred space.

Last night was not only sowing new seeds of hope, last night was also a harvesting of the seeds that had been planted over the past several months.  These women, and many, many other people in my life, helped me sow those seeds, helped me tenderly nurture the young tentative plants that poked through, and helped those plants blossom, bloom and explode with beauty. Each one of those women could have been singing that song to me over the past many months; each of them took my hand and walked with me through an incredibly difficult time, and each of them has seen the changes and the beauty emerge.

 

 

Rain, Rain…..

This morning I awoke to the gentle sounds of rain.  At first it was a soothing patter, but then it exploded into the sounds of thunder and the flashes of lightning, and I was struck by the volatility of mother nature.   I am feeling a certain emotional volatility of my own today.  You see, today is my wedding anniversary.  Today was the day that I made a commitment in front of my friends and family to be someone’s life-partner, and yet I am alone.

It was last night as I was chatting with a friend that I realized the personal impact of this day.

It should just be another day, right?

I’ve completely moved on, right?

All of a sudden, I was overcome with all the old feelings of inadequacy, of guilt, and of failure.  Had I really done everything possible to save my marriage?  Of course there must have been something else I could have done.  I had committed myself to this person; I had done so with the intent of it being for the rest of my life.   Those feelings of failure and inadequacy were overwhelming; it was supposed to be a day of celebration, not of sadness.

I was firmly reminded that I was not to blame for the breakdown; that if I had truly had a ‘partner’ that this day would look very different.  I was reminded that my level of commitment was not in question; I had gone far above what most would have to try to salvage what was left.   His level of commitment was, however, in question, and I was reminded that I could never have become the person he wanted me to be, there would have always been a sliding scale, and I would never have been able to attain that perfection for which he was looking.  After the conversation, I still felt sadness at the loss, but I also realized that my friend was right.  I knew, deep in my core that I am on the right path, that all of this work of rebuilding and renewing is not in vain.  I also knew that this day, although difficult is another step on the road of new life.

When I awoke to rain this morning, I smiled.  I have always loved the rain; I love the beauty of thunderstorms.  The volatility of mother nature really is indicative of life.  Emotions are volatile, life is volatile; it’s uncertain and always changing.  There is beauty there, if one takes the time to find it. It is unfortunate that in so many ways we are taught that rain, like change, is a nuisance, something to “get through”, rather than an opportunity to experience the beauty and to fully participate in life and the world around us.

Most people don’t like the rain, but I always have.  I have been known to go outside and walk, run, sometimes dance and even play in the rain.  Rain is cleansing, it takes away the dirt and the grime.  Perhaps even more importantly though, it is through rain that the earth is nourished; without it the earth and all that she supports would surely would perish.

Today will be a day of rain for me, not only in the weather, but in my life.  I, like the earth, will be nourished by this day, I will be cleansed by it, and I will continue to grow through it.   I will celebrate this day for the rain that has fallen in my life.

Emancipation Anniversary

Today is the day that one year ago I declared my life to be my own.

I was brave and tentative at the same time.  All I really knew was that the way I was living and the way I was treated were no longer what I wanted.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  It was also one of the best things I ever could have done.

My journey began then, my awakening you might say.

The strength that I had buried for so long began to emerge that day.  The woman that I once had been looked out from a tiny hole in the wall she had built to protect herself, and together she and I have been breaking that wall down, stone by stone.  The wall is still there, at least parts of it are.  The process of excavation and the clean-up is massive!  Sometimes it feels like the biggest boulders are simple to remove, yet the pebbles trip me up, causing more injury.  But everyday a little more of that wall disappears, and I am able to live that much more freely.

The journey has not been easy, but my load  has been light.  You see I have many people who love and care for me who are helping me.   There are so many, and I have been blessed by each of them.  Some have been a part of my life for many years, and some are brand new.   I am who I am because each of them has touched me in some way; each of them has reached out to the woman behind the wall and invited her out.  I am who I am today because I accepted these people into my life, and have journeyed out with them.

To all of you who have touched my life, I wish to say thank you! 366 days ago, I had no understanding of exactly what you would mean to me, but today I am glad that I have this anniversary to celebrate, and that I have you all as a part of the celebration!

Peace to each of you, as you have helped me find peace.

The Beauty Game

Our society has a very specific view of what constitutes beauty, particularly for women, but for men too.  If you are not proportioned a certain way, if you don’t fit into the nice neat categories that are clearly, yet tacitly laid out, then you are not attractive, not beautiful.  Now, I am fully aware that beauty is much more than what one looks like; at least I am fully aware in others.  As with many things, I seem to hold myself to a different standard.

I have never felt that I fit into what the social norms dictate beauty to be; I’m not tall (far from it!) or willowy, or thin or blonde.  Generally, I don’t allow that to control my life, but there are times when I look overly critically at myself, and wish that I could fit into those neat boxes.

I was chatting with a friend recently, about dating and the like, and I suggested that I wouldn’t be someone’s “idea of the perfect woman” for a sexual experience.  I thought my friend would leave it at that, but I was pressed… “Why not?”

My heart stopped.

Wasn’t it obvious? (it certainly was to me….but now I had two choices: either I could just say that I probably wasn’t the ‘right’ partner, or I could expose my truth – the truth that I think is obvious – that I’m not an attractive woman.)  I’ve been trying to be out there and honest, so this is what I said, “I just don’t think of myself as attractive, and have a hard time thinking that others might.”

 

There was silence for a brief moment, my friend recognizing how difficult that was for me to admit to anyone. The response came shortly thereafter:  “wow.  Thanks for sharing.  Of course you are beautiful with a killer personality to boot.”

There it was.

Except now I felt as though I had been fishing for some kind of compliment, so in my usual fashion I didn’t take it well.  It must have just been the polite thing to say, right?  People don’t actually think that about me.  Except that this friend is not the first to say things like this.

I lived in a world where to be attractive was a threat to my former spouse, and, as I’ve said before, I made myself as invisible as possible.  Part of that invisibility was gaining weight, and as a result I still feel that people look past me instead of seeing me.  I know this not to be true most of the time, but I still have trouble seeing that someone might want to be with me physically.

I proceeded to try to explain this to my friend.  I was met with incredulity and the comment “Your former husband was a real ass”.  I was also met with the promise of continued support and friendship.

Garnet Rogers, a Canadian folk singer wrote and recorded a song entitled “The Beauty Game”.  In this song, he bemoans the fact women can’t live outside what little girls grow up believing is beautiful.  The final words are indicative of many, many women:

“she phoned a friend up to commiserate and talk about what might have been…

Why can’t a man just love me for my humour and my strength and my heart and brain?

Worst of all it’s she who can’t accept herself and live outside the Beauty Game

Worst of all it’s she who can’t accept herself…..”

 I hope that I am not that woman; I know I am learning to accept myself and I am learning to see the beauty that others see.  I think, however that I don’t want to “live outside The Beauty Game”, but rather I want to change the game.   I want to embody what those around me see, and I want to live in such a way that I share that beauty, and the beauty I see around me with others.  The Beauty Game sounds like something that should include all, not exclude most.

What the woman in Garnet Roger’s song fails to understand is that there are people out there who recognize true beauty – that beauty that lies outside society’s “Beauty Game”.  There are those who are looking for a beautiful mind, a beautiful heart and beauty in the whole package.  Many women in today’s world are like the woman in the song.  Many women  can never look past what they see in the mirror.  And, as a woman who is learning to look past the mirror and indeed reflect the beauty that others see, I wish to show others that it’s possible for the Beauty Game to be a much more universal thing.  We all struggle with our images, and it’s time we look for, find and share the best we see in others.

A tall order, to be sure, especially for a short woman……