get out alive

I let his opinion of me dictate my behaviour for so long.

he would tell me I was insecure; I was weak, and broken, and the only reason I didn’t trust him was because I was unhappy with myself.

and that’s bullshit.

it was all so meticulously calculated. the way he would strip my layers and poke at the wounds. the way I would feel naked, and cold in his presence; the way that didn’t bother him. he once told me his ex-wife accused him of being emotionally abusive, and for the first time in a year, I felt sympathy for her. because holy shit, yes. so much yes. so much emotional damage, and so little care for how it made me feel. suddenly, I remembered what it felt like to wake up next to someone and feel more alone than ever. I remembered what it felt like for it to hurt to say “I love you”. I remembered the taste of bile in my mouth every morning when I’d wake up, and how the only way for that feeling to go away was to sleep it off, but lord knows I still haven’t learned to sleep.

I try to remember the good days, the early days, when he looked at me like I was the only person in the world. when I would wake up to his mouth on my neck, and his arms wrapped around my ribs. I remember the way he would kiss me, and I wonder what happened for him to fuck me with his eyes closed. I wonder what I did to make him jump out of bed the second he was awake. I wonder when he stopped calling me Lulu, or why it hurt so badly when he did.

I wonder a lot of things, really. I wonder why I was willing to sacrifice so much of my happiness for somebody so negative. he blamed a lot of that on me, but the second we severed the ties, that little black cloud above my head disappeared. and so did the heartburn. and the nightmares. and the feeling of waking up empty. it all went away when he did, and it all seems so perfectly clear, now. I stopped losing my hair, and I stopped crying myself to sleep, and I stopped feeling like the biggest piece of shit on the planet.

I opened my heart to life, and to love. I enjoy the sunshine, and the unknown, and the simple pleasures. so many simple pleasures. I finally feel free to be the human being I know I am, and I’m finally lucky enough to get to do that with somebody who appreciates me. all of me. my neuroses, my heavy heart; my light, my need for adventure. he says “yes!” when I said “let’s do this!”, and he puts his whole heart into every single thing we do. he wants to go places, and do things, and meet people. he wants to wake up next to me, on top of me, inside of me. he looks into my eyes, and he kisses me with his tongue, and I had almost forgotten how good it feels to have a person. I almost forgot that your person should never make you feel the way he had made me feel all those days, all those months, over a year.

moving on has been the easiest thing I’ve done to date. letting go is always the hardest thing to do, until you do it. and then it becomes the easiest, most natural thing in the world. there isn’t a day that goes by where I want it back. there isn’t a day that goes by where I miss the blue of his eyes, or the taste of his skin, or the smell of the home he threw me out of because he needed independence- because he was too proud for love.

I think he may expect me to be sad, or hurt, or jealous. the truth is I’m just happy the nightmare is finally over and I have his hands off me.


there’s a sadness that lives in my chest.

you’re a knockout, he said.

and I felt every little piece of me crumble.

the love of my life has come in and out of my world four times. we have picked up pieces and packed up memories. we have said our hellos and goodbies so many times I forget how to mourn the loss anymore. I’ve said goodbye and I’ve asked him to stay away, finally. I’ve asked him to stop coming in and out of my life if he isn’t prepared to love me indefinitely, unconditionnally. I am incapable of giving myself only to have nothing in return, anymore. loving him was the loneliest I’d felt in years, and every night as we slept, I could feel him drifting away.

I love you, but

I love you isn’t enough. love should never be enough.

happiness has always been an uphill battle for me. I wake up broken every single day and it takes everything out of me to put my pieces back together only to fall asleep and have to start over again. I am aware of this. I work on this very, very hard. I absorb other people’s pain so they don’t have to, but I can’t save everyone. I can’t love someone who doesn’t love themselves.

I have come a long way.

I’ve built a home out of a tiny little house. it’s lonely, it’s quiet. it smells like coconuts, and I wrap my faux fur blanket tightly around me to stay warm, in the evening. the air is cold these days, and the french doors that lead to the balcony aren’t insulated. but I haven’t felt a peace like this for a long time. I haven’t felt safe or free until now. until I said goodbye, forever this time, and felt the weight lift from my shoulders, from my heart, from my home. I loved him, I did. but in loving him, there was a very palpable, very dark cloud looming above me, and it exhausted me to wake up to him every day. I know this, now. I understand the weight of my sadness, finally.

when I look back and think of the sound of his belly laughs as we lay on the couch, or the way his voice sounded when he told me I was beautiful, it hurts. it hurts in a way I was not at all prepared to hurt. I miss our drives out of the city, and drinking coffee in cafes, or how safe it felt to fall apart in his arms. but a very important person once told me I had to stop looking for happiness in the same place I’d lost it. fuck, that person is smart. and thank goodness for them because had I not had a safe place to run to, I’m not sure I could have made it out when I did.

I’m still learning so much.

I’m learning that it’s okay to walk away if it doesn’t feel right. that I have the right to demand what I want for me in this life, and to feel confident in turning my back on it if it isn’t. I should never compromise my happiness because I’m afraid of starting over for the millionth time.

2014 was a big year for me. I’d experienced more loss in twelve months than I have my whole life. I have to stop blaming myself for that. I wouldn’t take any of it back. I never knew love like this. it was real, and it was intense, and it ripped me apart- and my god, was it ever worth it. I have a better sense of self, and more clarity. I feel good, and strong, and able. I loved with every ounce of me, and found the courage to leave when it became toxic. if my past has taught me anything, it’s to acknowledge the strength I have inside of me, and to not ever let someone dim my shine.

don’t dim my fucking shine.

the hunger comes in waves, these days.

i’m sitting in the dim of my bedroom, exhaling loudly- it’s been too quiet. my heart’s been elsewhere, everywhere, nowhere. i’m aching for lovers passed and moments gone. i’m romanticizing and agonizing. i’m meeting people. i’m crushing on everything with legs. i’m drinking four cups of coffee and dreaming of hot air and vans sneakers without socks on. i’m not sad, i’m angry. i’ve been incredibly angry for days, and weeks, and months. i’m sleeping like shit, and i’m eating like i give a shit. i’m drinking wine on sundays and mondays and most of the days that end in Y. i’m distracted and distant and i’ve forgotten how to cry. i guess that’s part of my pattern, though. feeling too much, or not feeling a thing. teetering between numb and alive. forgetting where i stand, half of the time.

i’ve been sleeping naked. my teeth chatter in the dark and i rub my own arms and legs for comfort. i miss sharing a bed- all limbs & blankets & sweat. the grease in our hair and the cracks of our winter lips when we kiss at six in the morning. the curve of your spine and your hands hanging loose, draped over me like skeletons. my frozen little toes searching for the bend in your knee- my mouth on the nape of your neck. the way i’d stare at the ceiling and roll over to see you watching me, quietly. “good morning”, you’d whisper, and i’d pull the blankets over my head, as your fingers reached for my ribs.

i miss you all wrong.

i miss everything. mornings, specifically. shitty coffee & comfortable silence, mostly. naked legs and over-sized t-shirts. the smell of you on the stretched collar. the way you’d chew on your lip or how you’d rub my feet, without even noticing. the way you’d remind me you love me. the way you still do. the way i know you always will.

i’d get home late and you’d be sitting on the side of the tub, running my bath water. running our bath water. i’d hug my naked knees, and rest my chin on them as you’d rub my back. i’d close my eyes and you’d kiss my shoulders, softly. i knew it was over, then. i knew i had to leave you, and i knew you had to go home to her. these things can’t last forever, and i know that.

we’re better than this, but this was bigger than us. i’m a smart, accomplished woman. but there have been times in my life where there was no reason. you were the answer i’d been searching for, and dreaming of, and i’d fallen head over heels stupid for you and your complete sentences. for your proper use of your and you’re. i fell for the way your tongue would slide over your teeth when you spoke in metaphor. i fell for the light in your eyes and the way you’d lace up your boots, or how your pants would hang on your hip bones. the way your hands trembled when i walked into the room; the way my heart pounded against my ribs. the way you’d breathe me in when you’d rest your face on my collarbone. the unhealthy amount of coffee you drank before noon. the wrinkles beside your tired eyes, and the rose in your flushed cheeks when i’d kiss your forehead before leaving, in the morning. we both tried to fight it, but there was a magnetic pull between us- ripping you from the life you’d built and the home you shared with someone else, throwing you towards the reality i was pulled from.

i’m not sorry.

i was never once sorry for the way i loved you. for the way my limbs would fold into yours between my messy sheets. for the way i needed to hear your voice and see your face and kiss your lips every single day. or how i’d have to see you at work even though i knew you’d crawl into bed next to me later that night. i think it’s important to live that kind of selfish desperation for someone. to give in, and to need each other the way we did. i needed your voice on the other end of the line, and your fingers between mine. we skipped the honeymoon phase, and the dates, and went straight to chinese food on sundays and sleeping with the tv on. i’d known you five days when you told me you’d fallen in love with me.

i see your name flash up on my phone, sometimes… and i can sense your words are nervous. they’re uncertain and scared- like we are, now. i never know what to do; how to swallow the lump in my throat, how to fight the tears in my eyes.

but i’ve moved on, of course, and so have you.

i mean… you wear a wedding band now, whatever that means.

i built you up so high your head was in the clouds (too bad you never looked down)

pain is seeing your abusive ex-boyfriend’s newborn baby nestled quietly in his fiancée’s arms.

that could have been me.

thank god it wasn’t me.

what if it had been me.

i count my blessings : health, family, friends, income, coming out of this alive.

that last one gets me. alive is one thing- unscathed is another. relationships are hard. they certainly can’t beat his worst, but they’ll never come close to his best. everything is a comparison, and everyone i meet has the unpleasant misfortune of attempting to meet my imaginary checklist’s standards.

a few months ago, i’d fallen (hopelessly, madly) for a man. his behaviours were manic, he was a recovering addict- on a steady diet of ephedrine and energy drinks. he slept like shit, and he ate like shit. he was arrogant and obsessive. vain and evasive. but he was eloquent and spoke in metaphors and he’d been everywhere and seen everything and i’d fallen in love with his mind. i fell in love with the life he’d lived. he’d been in the army, and he was a chef, and he’d been tree planting, and he’d lived in Scotland when he was a twenty year old skinhead in the nineties. he liked good music, and we wore matching fred perry shirts, and he was clean shaven and smelled expensive. he drove us around on his triumph, and he had his face tattooed, and jesus christ, i was sixteen all over again- falling for the bad boy with a broken heart and awful habits. and he needed me- he needed my home, and my money, and my heart.

and i gave it all to him.

and i lost everything.

the steps i’d taken forward, and the path i’d finally paved for myself… all of it was destroyed. he came into my life as quickly as i’d thrown him out of it, and i wasn’t at all prepared for that kind of damage, that kind of heartache.

i play it over in my head… removing his clothing from my closet, putting all of his shoes into garbage bags, packing up his books into boxes, placing all of his fedoras and paper boy hats into a brown paper bag… i never thought the relief of watching his things leave my home would hurt me like it did. i never thought i’d miss his dirty socks on the bathroom floor, or the smell of his cologne as he’d come through the front door. but i did, and i do. and it is really hard to disassociate those feelings from my new life. it’s hard to fathom any of it- how the only men i’ve ever loved in my life could be so incredibly wrong for me. how i easily it was for me to fall into old habits. how these tattooed men on motorcycles keep stealing my heart so they can break it into thousands of pieces. how i keep letting them.

he is trying to make sense of it all- how i could end it, how i could leave him to fend for himself- homeless and broke and without wheels, because he crashed his motorcycle, and i wasn’t there to pick up the pieces. he’d made his bed, and i wasn’t about to sit around and watch him die. i wasn’t going to let myself become who i’d been.

things have been constant, if not stagnant. i am not unhappy, but i am not elated either. i am in this very obvious, very real state of just being, and surprisingly enough, i am completely okay with that. i am often bewildered by my state of mental sobriety- so very sober from this sickness that is my weakness. maybe that’s why i associate myself best with addicts- me entire past feels surreal : how did so much happen in such little time? how were the most important years of my life plagued by sadness and hurt and regret? how were they plagued by such hatred and misfortune and unhealthy lifestyles?

i was fourteen when i started fucking, fifteen when i’d seen crack and ketamine for the first time, sixteen when i started drinking heavily, seventeen when i moved in with my junkie boyfriend, eighteen when i aborted my baby, nineteen when i had the shit kicked out of me by said boyfriend, twenty when i was raped, twenty one when all of those years finally started to sink in, twenty two when i hit bottom and contemplated a way out, and twenty three when i’d risen from the dead.

i’m twenty four now.

i’m twenty four and i have an incredible job, a beautiful home, and a retirement fund. i’m not over exaggerating when i say i died and came back to life. i was given a second chance to start over and not fuck it up beyond repair. i was given new hope and a breath of air and i kicked my own ass into gear to get here and finally do it right. falling for devon was a momentary lack in judgement. it was a moment of weakness. he was the apple and i was very, very tempted. briefly.

i’ve stopped bending over backwards for people. whatever goodness that’s been left in my heart is going entirely into getting back on the horse i was shot off of. i am a victim of my demons, and i am my own enabler, but for the first time in my life, i actually have too much to lose to be reckless. there’s too much at stake to take such absurd risks. i’m worth more, and i deserve better, and i owe it to myself to use this second (third) chance, and do it properly.

this is me letting go

turning the leaf

m was recently arrested.

a friend called me to tell me the news, and i cried, and screamed, and swore. maybe this is the beginning of the end. while my sleeping patterns are off, and my mood shifts constantly, maybe this finally means putting some of my demons to rest. it means tattooing a tombstone to my elbow, and sleeping with the lights off, and opening the pieces of my heart that i’ve cut off for so many years.

i have officially been living in my apartment for one year. no overnight moves, no roommates, no sketchy activity, no drugs, no arguments, no yelling, no fear. i haven’t packed up my belongings, and i haven’t rented moving trucks, or storage locations. i haven’t fallen off the wagon, or gone to work shitfaced, or let someone hurt me beyond repair. i’ve had the same job since february 2012, that’s almost fifteen months. i’ve gotten significant raises, and benefits, and a new office. i’ve lost weight, and i’ve changed my eating habits. i cook to relax and unwind. i plan meals, and i buy organic, and i don’t eat meat or dairy. i spend weekends with my family, i go dancing with my friends, i watch documentaries, i bake pies, i do weekly crafts, i sew my clothing, and i buy new furniture. i treat myself, and i do it often. i get tattooed, and i go to the salon, and i buy clothes in smaller sizes. i have clothing swaps, and i cook for two, and i mop my floors, and change my bed sheets, and paint.

the seasons are changing.

i am paying off some debt, and i am working hard, and i am living honestly. i’ve been smiling, and i have felt weightless and light. i can’t remember the last time i felt so hopeful. and most importantly, i can’t remember the last time i felt this good about me. about my progress. about my ability to move forward. people constantly told me that i am independent to a fault- that it is ultimately the downfall of my relationships. but i am finally realizing that maybe the men i have been dating were too insecure to see the bravery in that. the strength and the will. they were too insecure to understand the damage of abuse and the hope in survival. they were too insecure to ask me what happened, and more importantly- to accept what happen without seeing me as damaged goods. and fuck that. fuck all of that, because my independence is not a flaw, and i am not broken, and i will be stronger and better than this, and them. i will talk openly about the hell m put me through, and about my ups and my downs, and shamelessly so.

because that is healing, and that is healthy, and THIS is progress.

loving them past morning

my father recently told me i can’t save everyone.

he said i’m fragile and sensitive, and i crack and break easy, and it just isn’t my job to fix people who can’t be fixed. and i get it. i want to give all my money to homeless people, and adopt every kitten on the planet, and mother and nurture and mend. i want to sew patches and kiss boo-boos and wrap up leftovers and remove stains. i want to tuck in, and iron out wrinkles, and tell someone everything is going to be okay, and then do everything in my power to make sure everything will be okay.

a friend of mine recently stayed overnight. he was in town for the weekend, and he showed up on my doorstep at one in the morning, and we took off our pants, and got into bed, and wrapped our legs around one another. we kissed slowly, and he ran his fingers up and down my spine, and as we were drifting to sleep, he told me he was afraid of moving home… of coming back to this city, and starting over, and what if this was taking steps back, when all he wanted was to move forward?

i don’t know.

i rolled over, and sighed deeply, and he kissed me three times, softly, on the back of my neck, and that was it. we fell asleep, and woke up still holding on as tightly as we had been, hours before. i usually hate that, but there is just something about his fingertips, and the scent of his chest as i watched the time pass slowly as the sun poured into my bedroom.

i hadn’t kissed him since halloween night, and there is something incredibly unsexy about kissing a man in costume… and yet, this morning, as he buttoned the black plaid to his neck, and laced up his boots, i couldn’t remember the last time i’d been so physically attracted to someone i hadn’t shared more than a kiss with. his hair was a mess, and his eyes were tired, and holy shit, he could not have looked sexier if he even tried. he said he’d see me soon, although i know i won’t see him for months, and that’s fine. i have started being fine with wanting people i don’t have.

because that’s what i do. there is something incredibly romantic about kissing a man and sharing moments few and far between. of speaking to each other every few weeks, and every moment spent talking to one another, or holding one another is so insanely passionate. and i have to stop falling for these moments, and finding importance in these fragments of my life. because they are just that : fragments of a whole.

because that’s just it.

i have to stop trying to save everyone. i have to stop romanticizing these bits and pieces of my life.

and i have been. maybe it’s cynicism, maybe i’m jaded, or perhaps i’ve just run out of patience. whatever it is, there has been this apparent void in my chest, and this dull ache in my heart, and i haven’t quite put my finger on it just yet but i can tell you i’ve been crying. i’ve been doing that a lot, even… and i suppose it’s time to deal with some things. i was recently given the number to a crisis centre, but is it really a crisis if the situations in question happened five years ago, and spanned three years, and is it really even a crisis if half the time i actually feel okay about it?

maybe it’s time i start getting answers.


leaving is not enough

leaving is not enough.

there are pieces of an old me, of an old life, lingering still in the present- in my presence. he helped build a piece of me i don’t know how to outgrow. people still refer to him as mine, and i as his, and i hate it. there wasn’t anyone before him, and there hasn’t been anyone since.

i mean… there has.

but not like that.

he was hands, and mornings, and breakfast and sunshine. he was the only way i knew how to start my day if i wanted to finish it at all. he was daytime phone calls, and afternoon naps, and evening bubble baths. he ran the water, and lathered the soap, and washed my hair. when i sink to the bottom of my tub, sometimes i can feel his perfectly manicured nails grazing my scalp, as i slip into a daze, this half-slumber, numbed by the heat of the bath water i always run too hot.

he was farmer’s markets and healthy meals and drinking enough water.

i worry that i am incapable of loving anyone the way i loved him, once. before the anger, and before the abuse, and before he ruined the only good pieces of me i had left. i worry he broke the working parts of my emotional brain- the parts that allow me to feel, and to fall, and to be weightless in love, and in life. the parts of the brain that aren’t clouded by agony. and yet they are. and i can’t fix that.

i worry that strangers can see the tiny black cloud above my head, or the void in the ventricles of my heart. it shrank, that void. it went from gaping vortex to pinhole, and yet i can still feel the breeze. i can still feel the leak. and i worry that nothing could bandage that kind of loss.

people tell me they see independence. they see strength, and courage, and they see the battles i have fought, the struggles i am trying to overcome. they see a warrior. a fighter. a five-foot tall feminist… with eyes sharp like daggers, and words harsh like the first frost. and i feel that. i feel it in my bones. i feel tough, and i walk with conviction, and fuck with confidence.

but when i collapse into the comfort of my own home between my walls full of secrets- and i peel the layers of a me i’ve perfected, all that’s left is this damaged, sad, broken little girl, with eyes black like night, and words soft like clouds. my frail little limbs peeking out from t-shirts that have become too big. my knees bruised like peaches, and my lips cracked like january ice.

there are a few constants in my life.

in november i became an aunt, and everything i have ever known evades me. she (she’s a she!) has brought light to a life shattered by darkness, and i feel whole when she is in my arms- my brother looking at me lovingly, knowing that this little bean has saved me.

i almost left.

it was the summer, and i was in lust with a man in love with someone else. he was five hours from home, and i left a part of me in my city every time i went to be with him. when i finally left, and picked up my pieces back at home, she was born and i was saved. and that was that. my brother sent a message me, thanking me for being here. thanking me for coming home. thanking me for being a part of his daughter’s life.

it all sounds so cliché.

yes my family is incredible, and yes i am luckier than most, and how could a baby (that isn’t mine) change me? but she has, and she did, and that’s that. there isn’t an answer, only a reason, and for that i am grateful. this is progress.

this too shall pass.