you’ve got your whole life to do these things

this is the face of someone who is trying SUPER hard to fight off a virus that is totally trying to get all up in my biz-nass

last night, katie and i ate dinner in my bed and we gushed over matters of the heart. “i’m having feeeeeeeeelings” – this is what we say to each other when our hearts hurt but we don’t necessarily know how to articulate what the actual fuck we’re feeling.

so basically, always.

she’s been sick for two days and my face has been hurting in that weird sicky way your face would hurt if you were about to catch something. i went into a tea & narcotics coma early last night, trying to focus on the episode of animal planet i’d chosen. i feel pretty alright today, but it’s raining out and i have bootcamp tonight which likely means death.

i know i was on this huge happy kick (which i totally still am), except i’m feeling a little off these days. i think i’m just used to having someone around that i can care about and makeout with and text stupid things to. and i mean, i obviously have katie who is basically my new life partner, and dan still calls me every day for little chats and to make me laugh- which is wonderful and lovely and all that other cute and sappy shit, but alas.

i guess i’m lonely.

which is basically the dumbest thing i’ve ever said, and part of me wants to go right back up those few spaces and delete that sentence entirely, but ugh. i am constantly surounded by friends and family and humans who totally love me, and that has definitely been the key factor is dealing with breaking up with my best friend in the whole entire universe, but still.

one of the first nights me and dan had moved into our apartment together, we spent the whole night getting really drunk, listening to my subhumans records, and playing hockey in the apartment with our empty beer cans. things got sloppy and he shot a can right in my mouth and hurt my lip, but i just couldn’t stop laughing. we were rolling around on the floor, laughing so hard we were crying, and kissing between sentences.

that’s the best thing about young love- the laughing, the comfort. the fact that i probably had a fat lip and looked like a stupid idiot, and he could not, for the life of him, stop kissing me and telling me how much he loved me.

i constantly worry about the future. i worry about the same things when i’m expected to start over because i am so, so scared i’ll never know love again. when i left m for the last time- when the highs couldn’t ever possibly make up for the lows- my biggest fear when leaving him was that i’d never know that kind of unconditional love again. and of course i was naive, then- likely the way i’m being naive now, but that’s beside the point. i had spent four years loving a man who abused me, and despite the fear and the awful lifestyle i was living with this person- i was afraid i’d never be capable of opening my heart again.

… when i left m i was scared i’d never meet someone who would wash my hair for me in the shower, make me breakfast in bed, or paint my nails for me early sunday mornings- naked in bed. i was scared i’d never kiss someone and have my heart drop to the tip of my toes.

i was scared i’d never meet someone who would play beer hockey with me in our new apartment. someone who could make me laugh so hard i cry- instead of the opposite. i was scared i’d never be at ease with the feelings in my heart.

and of course that is fucking ridiculous because obviously i’m a lot softer than i let on…

but as much as i love being single, and independent, and strong- as much as i love relying on my own two hands to figure out how to use power tools, or change light bulbs i can’t reach, or cook dinner for two only to save the second half for the following night… as much as i love giving into crushes i’ve harboured for years, or spontaneously kissing handsome men in back rooms at crowded parties, or getting giddy over holding hands on a walk home in a foreign city at 4 in the morning- as much as those things bring out my youth and freedom, and all those other awesome things i shamelessly enjoy- there really is absolutely not one thing in the world that could even compare to how alive i feel when i wake up to the same person day after day. nothing could possibly compare to how it feels to share your life with someone.

it’s beautiful and it’s twisted and it’s fucked up to feel that kind of ecstatic desparation for someone, but it’s true- i once read somewhere that love is everything it’s cracked up to be… it really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.

and i believe that now, more than ever.

i wasn’t so sure when i’d left m, and i certainly had my doubts when dan left me- but in loving dan, i proved to myself that i have more strength and peace in my heart that i never thought i’d get back. i had this ugly void- this big black hole in the red of my heart for so long. and it isn’t by filling that void with distractions that i healed – i never used dan as a bandage to cover old wounds. i loved him in new and stellar ways i didn’t even know i was capable of. i see the courage in that, now.

 i suppose this is what healing is.

when the darkness sets in

a few years ago i lost a baby.

not physically, per say. i wasn’t walking around a super market with my child when, WHOOPS! i totally lost them in the dairy aisle when i was busy comparing yogurt prices.

i was eighteen years old when i peed on a pregnancy test for the first time. and considering the unprotected sex i’d been having since i was young- too young… it was a miracle i hadn’t had to even experience that before then. i was actually running around my apartment, waiting for my hair straightener to get hot and for friends to show up. m had been gone for a month at least- what seemed like an eternity then. i hadn’t heard much from him actually- save for the two page love note he wrote me on a bus on his way to halifax, a note he scribbled in the middle of the night to tell me about everything… the things he’d seen, the fun he’d been having, the agony in his heart since leaving me. he couldn’t spell for shit, but i always knew he was a poetic writer- he sucked me back in the way he did when we first met.  

i’d been spending my twelve hour shifts at the smoothie bar, hunched over empty buckets of fruit, trying to hold down the little food i may have had in my stomach. i had spent so many weeks drinking to forget that i didn’t have any real idea as to how long he’d been gone, or what my cycle was even like at that point. all i knew was that he was gone, and i was sad, and this was how i dealt with things: by not dealing with them at all.

so i peed on that little pink stick, put the lid back on, and threw it on the bathroom counter. i tried to busy myself with other things- making sure the living room was tidy, or that the liquor was in the freezer.

there’s always those scenes in movies, where the room starts to spin and the narrator says things like “in one instant, i saw my entire life flash before my eyes” – that’s a real thing. that really does happen. and there must have been a moment where i blacked out because one minute i was sitting on the toilet looking at this pregnancy test, and the next i was on my stomach, hands flat on the cold tile floor, sobbing uncontrollably.

and if there is anyone in the world who knows me at all- they know how badly i want kids. how badly i want to be a mother- how i would drop this lifestyle in a heartbeat if it meant i could mother, and nurture, and love like that. i get dizzy when i think of a parents’ love for their kids- the courage and strength and determination. the unconditional drive to want and need to be better- so you can raise this little tiny human being and not fuck it up.

such pressure.

i guess that’s where the anger and resentment come from- i knew he’d fuck it up. the way his father fucked him up, the way he saw countless men fuck his mother up, and so on. the way the abuse in his life destroyed him and deteriorated him as a human being so hard, that he became that nightmare himself.

i must’ve been sixteen when we were sitting on a city bus, heading downtown. he looked me right in the eye and said “if you ever cheated on me, i’d leave you. i’d kill him, and i’d leave you”. my naive little brain then was so in love with that- the idea that he loved me so much that he could never possibly move past the idea of me being with someone else- that he would destroy anyone who had me, if it wasn’t him.

how heroic, i thought.

how brave.

how fucking cowardly.

i don’t think the shock ever really set in, after looking at the test. i slept with it next to my bed, waking up in the middle of the night to check to see if both lines were still there. i was so, so scared then. not for me- not once for me. i wasn’t scared about my financial, emotional, or physical state. i didn’t care that i had been on a drinking binge since god knows when- i didn’t care that my bullshit smoothie job could barely put food in my own stomach- i didn’t even care that my baby’s father wasn’t even around when i peed on that stick because he was too busy snorting blow off some dirty table in someone’s basement in a foreign city- that he was half way across the country when my world had stopped spinning on its axis. these were all concerns, of course… but what i was most scared of, was that my baby would have to grow up and know what it felt like to love m.

i knew what it felt like then, and i still know now. the shellshock of loving him still haunts me today. certain sounds, certain smells… places, songs, faces. anger and resentment i couldn’t shake from me if i even tried. the fear that makes my own bones vibrate inside of me if i know i’m in a part of the city he may be in. if i ever made someone else feel that way- what kind of person would that make me? how could i make my child live that kind of crippling fear on a daily basis? how would i explain to my baby, that papa just had his fists wrapped tightly around mama’s neck because he was angry- because the drugs had worn off and i’d said the wrong thing again, and this time he wasn’t going to show any mercy. this time, i was going to have to use every ounce of strength i had left inside of me, because papa wasn’t letting go- papa burried his thumbs deep into my throat until everything went back.

she would have barely been two, then.

i didn’t have it in me.

m‘s dreams of travelling crumbled at his feet immediately. two days after i’d made the appointment, he called me from his mother’s house. “hey, honey bee” – his voice awkwardly resonated on the other end of the line, and i was paralyzed. there was a moment of silence, of shock, of complete disbelief. he immediately asked me what was wrong- something triggered in him, halfway across the country, telling him to come home to me… for reasons he couldn’t explain. all he knew was that i was hurting, and he needed to be by my side.

life is funny like that- connecting you to people you want so badly to separate yourself from.

all i know is this: i didn’t walk into that old cement building. that young little thing, with sweatpants on, and a tear-streaked face… that girl who had enough strength in her to walk into that clinic, fill out that paperwork, and go into that room… that was not me. there was a force inside of me, making me do this awful, gut-wrenching thing. i remember that day so clearly, it makes me sick. it’s like i’m floating and i can see myself going through the motions, and i keep yelling, “STOP!”, “GET OUT!”, “RUN!”.

.. but i can’t, and i won’t, and i didn’t.

my shaking fingers slipped that sedative under my tongue, and i waited. a young woman brought me to a dark room with curtains everywhere. it was sterile, and cold, and i fucking hated that room more than anything i had ever hated in my goddamn life. i remember not hearing much, then… i was sobbing so uncontrollably, my ears were ringing. the technician gently lifted my gown, and told me i had pretty tattoos on my hip bones.

it hit me then, like a ton of bricks. this woman was looking at a tiny little screen, looking at my baby, this distorted black & white  image of my own flesh and blood. i caught my breath, if only for a moment, and demanded -“show me”. i must have caught her off-guard because she looked horrified.

“show you?”

“my baby, let me see”

“i’m so sorry… it’s against regulations”

“turn your screen and let me see my fucking baby”

she hesitated for a moment, looked around quickly and turned the screen to face me. i don’t know what i was expecting to see- some beautiful image of a pale-skinned, coffee bean-haired, black-eyed little girl bouncing around in clear, fresh, blue water. a perfect mix of her father’s best features and mine: a vision i’d had in my silly little head since i was sixteen years old. he was a handsome man, that fucking asshole. lips pink like cotton candy, and a smirk that still makes my heart drop to the tip of my toes.

what i saw was so, so much more, somehow. this little black & white bean floating in the pit of my body. my own little creation- perfect in its entirety. i’ve never experienced anything more painful than seeing that.

the drugs must’ve kicked in then because i don’t remember getting back to my chair. a nurse peeked her head into the hallway and called my name. i looked her dead in the eye, walked up to her, and collapsed in her arms.

“i don’t want to do this”, i whispered.

i don’t think she had experienced a patient like me, then- a young spitfire so determined to do the right thing, the only thing i’d ever done in my life that felt selfless. she caught me mid-fall, held me against her- the way a mother would, and apologized, endlessly. she lead me to a room of metal and latex. a room so devastatingly cold. she helped me out of my little black underwear, lifted me onto the table, and held my hand- i cried, and cried, and so did she. we looked at each other knowingly, and she didn’t leave my side once. i don’t remember her face- all i remember is the sincerity in her eyes and her heartbeat pumping against mine between my fingers.

the extra drugs i’d taken, and the gas i’d demanded before the procedure kicked in just as it was ending- i don’t remember much then, but my nurse helped me back into my underwear, and more or less carried me into recovery. she left me with a “care package”, stayed with me awhile, and left. it was the last i’d seen her.

i’m still angry.

i’m angry with myself for taking that route, angry with myself for being angry with myself. it’s a pain i don’t think i’ll ever be free of. i haven’t cut myself a break about this since the day it happened.

people joke about it sometimes- the thought of me putting down the beer bottle, to pick up a baby bottle. i get it- it’s funny, i’ve fucked up so hard for so many years… but truthfully? it stings. it pierces through the only good pieces left of my heart because i know if there was one thing i could do in this fucking world, and not fuck it up beyond repair, it’s motherhood. i want to do it, and i will, and i will be the fucking valedictorian of it because i am so, so meant to be someone mama- a feeling so fierce i can’t shake it.  

a feeling so fierce i won’t shake it.

not ever like it was

for a long time i wanted to leave this city.

i wanted to pack up everything i own, hop a bus to my favourite place, and forget. i wanted to work easy jobs, and live in tiny little apartments with my best friends, and finally let go. i was living alone, then. sitting on a fence between wanting so badly to leave, and managing my emotions enough to stay.

that’s always been my problem. it was never indecision or nerves. i wasn’t scared to fall off the map, no. i was afraid to sever the ties for the last time. i was scared i wasn’t independent enough, or happy. i was scared i’d make all these big plans, and have them crumble at my feet. i was frantically searching the internet for little apartments i could share with my friend. a place we could lay around in our underwear, reading comic books and listening to dykie folk rock. a place where we could wall-paper the bathroom, he and i. a place where i’d cook and we’d read books, and watch old films, and things would finally just be quiet.

because that’s just the thing with 2009 and the year i lived alone. the silence was so deafening, i surrounded myself with noise. there were always records spinning, or the tv blaring, or friends in my bed drinking wine from the bottle. and when i left him, finally and i couldn’t even muster the courage to put on some fucking pants and leave the house to buy groceries, the static and noise of the blatantly obvious became too much. the empty bottles of liquor scattered in every room, the cat litter over-flowing in the kitchen, or the piles of dishes i hadn’t touched in months. i didn’t have to worry about the dirty laundry on the floor because i couldn’t remember the last time i had clothes on my back.

christmas rolled in, and it was the first time i’d bought a real tree. january came and went as fast as february and by march i no longer had a fir, but a weeping willow. my father eventually came to my rescue- removing the decorations and storing them carefully as i sat quietly on my sofa. he dragged that thing through the kitchen and out the back door, and the only thing remaining was a trail of green needles.

it kills me to think of that, now.

by spring i’d come alive again- the weather and the hum in my heart had made it possible to breathe. i was still hiding his secrets- flushing his drugs when he asked me to, and crying silently when he’d leave. it all seemed new and yet so, so fucking the same. i guess it was the first time in four years that he’d been honest about the poison he’d been snorting and the people he’d been seeing in the nighttime. maybe that made it easier. he was so open about his indecencies. i was so young then- so naive. i would carefully unfold the foil, staring so angrily at this white powder, before i’d flush it down the toilet, again.

i didn’t have many words then, but i just remember thinking “how?” , over and over. how could he possibly choose these four bumps over us? over our lifestyle? over the family we nearly started- the family i was so quick to destroy, so quick to give up on.

…i could feel my heart pounding in my chest so hard i could hear it- the ringing in my ears blocking out his sobs from the other room. i remember laying there for hours after wondering when the fuck it would get quiet again.

in the years we’d been friends, and the months we’ve been dating, dan and i have never gone to the movies together. aftera particularly angry blowout on friday (where i’d been accidentally locked out of the apartment for over two hours without shoes or my phone), he’d promised me a date. a few friends joined us on a double-date as we walked the quiet streets last night. we live in the heart of the city, and yet by dusk on sundays, the streets are deserted. it’s my favourite part about living here. dan paid for our tickets as i bought us the biggest bag of popcorn they had- dan whispering to me, making sure i was asking for extra butter, “the real stuff!”, he kept saying. we saw a particularly gory movie, that had us roaring in laughter (as i hid behind my own hands). he kept rubbing my leg, or kissing my head- right on the temple. i close my eyes when he does that. i can’t help but get sentimental when he’s so gentle, like that.

“this is our first movie together!” he eagerly whispered, as the lights dimmed. i nodded and smiled the kind of smile only he can effortlessly get from me.

we walked home in separate directions- he was going to meet with a friend, and i was going to collapse into bed. i had forgotten my ipod at home, next to our bed, so i walked quickly, hands in my pocket. the final stretch of the long street before turning onto ours seems so much longer than it really is. i slowed my pace only briefly before being so thankful for dead of night. not a car in sight, unless it was parked. the yellow dim of the street lamps accentuating everything so perfectly. the leafless trees motionless, like skeletons.

i used to look over my shoulder at every sound, every footstep behind me. but things are different now- they’ve changed.

i exhaled a long, audible sigh, as i smirked and thought of a line from one of my most favourite comics…

(…) i should be scared or angry, the newsfeed says, but the sky is so empty and quiet and beautiful.

i finally, finally feel safe here.

a piece of the puzzle

i have a horrible memory.

there, i said it.

i can’t remember people’s names, or how we met, or what their siblings’ names are. i can’t remember where i left my keys, or if i took out the chicken for dinner, or if i fed my cat before i left for work. dan remembers our first kiss when i was fourteen. i didn’t even remember that it happened in the basement at my house. it’s really frustrating but i can’t help it- my mind goes a million miles a minute and i can’t even keep up with my own thoughts.

but every once in awhile a tiny, seemingly insignificant memory creeps its way into the back of my mind, and completely randomly pops up in my head. i can’t figure out why, or how it is that i remember it, but it happens. and it happened again this morning- when i was mindlessly brushing my teeth, and putting pants on for work.

a couple of years ago i lived in the heart of the city- on a hustling, bustling street in the middle of the market- minutes from fresh fruit stands, and seconds from the grimiest hookers in town. it was fun at the time- walking out my front door and stumbling into a bar, being only seconds from home when i walked those dangerous streets at 3 in the morning. me and jesse germs lived on the main floor of this tiny little house- barely big enough for the two of us. upstairs lived the market clown- he made balloon animals for strangers by day, and took care of his psychotic wife by night- just up the stairs from us.

a friend had told me about this house nearby, right behind the hospital. people called it the puzzle house. it belonged to the city and was scheduled for demolition sometime within the year. some friends of mine had actually broken into it once to take some pictues- i still get creeped when i think of how eerie and scary they looked. it didn’t have a regular floorplan- a hallway leading breaking off into specific rooms… your living room and dining room on your left, the staircase right ahead, and the kitchen at the back of the house… not this place. you couldn’t tell the back from the front on the outside, and on the inside, every single room was closed off. you had to enter one room, to get to the next, and so on. there wasn’t a hallway or multiple entrances. you had to enter the living room, to get to the kitchen, to get to the dining room, to finally find a staircase. and every bedroom was decorated like a nursery. it was totally freaky and really weird.

anyway, me, being the dillhole that i am, had to see it for myself. it was raining and i was taking the back streets toward the hospital. by the time i got there, it was dark and the entire house had been re-boarded and there was a sign for no trespassing. i guess the city had been informed that a bunch of degenerates were breaking into the house to take a peek. in any case we tried climbing everything and removing boards but we couldn’t- it was completely sealed off. which, at that point, freaked me out even more. why did no one want us to see this house? it was located on a nice street (all things considered), with established houses and big trees. you pay a lot of money for houses like these in the city, despite the hookers and drug dealers sharing your backyard. it just seemed off. i even googled the address to see if i could find news paper articles, but nothing turned up.

in any case, none of this is pertinent, really.

what did matter was when i was leaving the puzzle house, walking through the hospital courtyard, i completely randomly, looked back and up at one of the windows. there was a burn victim wrapped from head to toe in bandages, just looking out the window. i couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman, all i could see was their eyes- which were locked, completely fixated on me. we stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, and i just turned and walked away.

a friend of mine lived near the hospital, so every time i’d go to her house, for weeks i’d walk by, staring up at the window so me and the patient could see each other for just a second. i don’t know why i felt the need to, i just wanted them to see something familiar, other than the bricks of the hospital wall. and one day, on my regular walk, i looked up and they were gone. just like that.

and i don’t know if maybe they got better and were moved to another room, or if the died. and that really fucking bothered me- it still does to this day.

it completely wiggs me out and i get goosebumps when i think of them, even now, years later.

some girls do

you’re so my everyday
you’re so my sweetest love
you’re so the greatest change
i’m always dreaming of
you’re like my compass and
we always find our way
you bring your smile and
wipe away my shitty day

– ubiquitous synergy seeker

i don’t have an impressive book collection.

maybe ten, fifteen books. granted, i’m really picky with my reading material, but if i’ve bought it, i’ve probabably read it a good five times, at least. you see, i really connect with my books. they make me laugh out loud, or cry for hours. the book’s gotta be fucked up, or weird, or something i can relate to in some way.

i haven’t picked up a book since i was seventeen. can you believe that? how awful and sad.

i used to stay up all night waiting for m to come home… we didn’t have cable at the time, and the living room was haunted so i just sat in bed, reading stories about broken people and their subhuman tendancies… waiting for my abusive addict of a boyfriend to come home and ruin me. i couldn’t connect with anyone i knew, considering they had no idea what kind of life i was living, so i just drowned myself in these books about these independant, fucked up girls who did blow or sucked dick for money. about hippie girls, living with their mohawk-ed boyfriends on the beach, driving convertibles, and having babies with offbeat names like witch-baby.

i picked up one of my favourite books last night and ran myself a bubble bath. i read until the water became too hot and i couldn’t find a comfortable position to lay in. so i got out, dried off, changed into a ratty tshirt and my most comfortable sweater, and kept reading in bed. dan called to let me know he was coming home, and i just wanted to burst into tears.

are you sad?
yeah…
why?
i don’t know…

i just wanted him to come home and hold me and let me breathe him in. he’s not really one to cuddle if we’re not sleeping, or lay there doing nothing… but he let’s me when he knows i’m being crazy.

which is pretty often, actually.

by the time he got home i’d already been asleep a few hours, so he just kissed my head and turned off the lights. i woke up at one in the morning, walked to the mancave and pouted.

what’s wrong?
i wanted to cuddle all night but i fell asleep.
well come here!

we were each wrapped in big blankets, sitting in our lawn chairs, watching the encore of jersey shore. we kissed a bunch of times and i went to bed. i woke up to him pulling my arm over onto his stomach so we could be a little closer. i barely slept all night, but any time i woke up, we’d be completely wrapped around one another, and i just kept thinking about how much i love him.

i have this feeling our lives aren’t going to pan out exactly how we want them to, and anytime i’ve had that feeling before it used to freak me out. i would panic and wonder how the hell i’d make anything work- i’m so young, i’m so poor, i’m so fucking broken.

but i’m not anymore. my life makes sense, actually… and the idea of the unknown and unexpected isn’t really freaking me out. i’m calm, even. eerily calm. i just feel like i’m lucky enough to be with someone i share a love so raw with. the love we have for each other, and the life we live together is anything but conventional, but it’s perfect for us, and we make it work. granted, we work really hard together to make it work, but at least it does.

so last night, i was reading my usual fucked up book, listening to my brother’s wedding song on repeat, and just kept reminding myself that my life is NOTHING like it used to be…

“(…)and trembles on the edge of a breakdown. her body is used to hangovers and it only takes a few minutes for the sugar to hit. then she washes the smell of everyone’s cigarettes out of her hair”

“she still loved him a bit, and it was a pretty horrible feeling”

“she made him think of the beautiful girls from high school who drew intricate artwork on the covers of textbooks and dated bikers on the weekend. girls who looked like they were born bored.”

“sometimes it’s good to look at something beautiful, and think of the ways it will be destroyed”

“he had depth when everything else in her life was surface”

“i don’t know what to say, but i promise i won’t tell anyone you cried”

“it was hard to believe the sweetness hadn’t gotten beaten out of her, all things considered”

“she was amazed that two people could feel so alive right there in the heart of the city”

…and am i ever fucking glad for that.

sink vs. swim

do you ever miss it?

i don’t know, really. yes? no? of course not. sometimes. obviously.

it fluctuates, i guess. with my mood, with the season, with my fucking outfit. sometimes i look in the mirror and i’m startled by its reflection. when did i become so tired? or when did i learn to smile again? it’s weird, i guess, to be wrapped up so tightly in a world of wretchedness and hide it so well. i don’t know how i could flee with such ease- how i could disconnect like that.

maybe i was young- it was so easy to fall and get wrapped up and just… be with someone. but things happened and i escaped myself and i may have just been a shell of a person- someone i once was. someone i’d never be again. maybe i glorified all those meaningless fucks because i wanted, more than anything, for them to be more than that. i wanted to prove (to myself) that i was capable of love again. not being in love. just… loving. i knew how, i thought. and it didn’t matter with who, i just needed to settle this bet with myself.

but his skin felt different, and his neck wasn’t comforting and i closed my eyes if he looked at me. i was sure not to touch his face, his shoulders, his chest, his hands- nothing that would connect us. i knew how to fuck without love. and i got better at it as time went on. hike your skirt and don’t look back.

men like that, right? when you drink them under the table, pound shots back while you’re dancing. when you have no fucking limits, no end. at some point, i couldn’t even tell when the night began or when the sun rose. i became so drunk off power, off lust, off getting away with all of it. i was secretive enough to keep them on their toes, yet open enough to have them back for more, if i wanted to. it became easy, i became cocky. they were afraid of me. i’d become a fucking liability because no one wanted to hurt like that. no one wanted to push those limits or feel so awful day after day. my body became my own punching bag, and i grew accustomed to the pain…

rolling out off someone (anyone)’s couch at dawn, naked and frazzled. my kidneys in so much pain i couldn’t even cough. stumbling through hallways to a bathroom so i could shit my fucking brains out, hack up a lung, and whimper in the shower. cracking a beer for breakfast. chewing gum all day to mask the taste of malt liquor. fighting the fatigue, fighting the urge to sleep forever because i knew then that if i’d give in, i’d give up forever. one more night, i’d say.

it lasted years.

how? fuck if i know.

and don’t get me wrong… some of my best memories were created during those times- during the better days, with better people. but i have this way of spiralling out of control so fast i lose my grip almost entirely. and yeah, you know, there will always be a part of me that will feed off the ecstacy of that lifestyle. and i will still have totally out of control crazy nights, sometimes.

but i think i’ve changed.

in some ways, at least. how could i not? it became a matter of life or death, job or unemployment, food or starvation, love or hate. it was either get healthy and grow up or fall off the map forever. because no one wants a broken girl like that; damaged goods. no one wants a fucking drunk for a girlfriend, for a daughter, for a friend.

and maybe dan did have a small part in helping me. he wanted so badly to be good again, to find some sort of common ground. when we were just friends, he would escape to the comforts of my living room and sleep in my bed and eat my casseroles. and without even realizing it, we were living the lifestyle i’d always wanted, deep down. the lifestyle i wasn’t comfortable sharing with anyone else.

so when i was sitting in my friend’s living room, eating the shepherds pie we’d just made from scratch, and talking about her due date… and she asked me, quite boldly do you ever miss it? , my initial instinct was to respond, without faulter, no. no fucking way.

and i guess i’d been mulling it over because, really, fuck it’s easy to let go… but i haven’t wavered. the answer is still no. this lifestyle i have, with these people in my life, and the job i work hard at, and the bills i pay (on time, no less), and the expensive furniture i finally own, and the effort i am putting into my home with dan… this is living. and i may shiver when i take my first sip of beer of the week, and i may still get a little giddy when i get afternoon drunk on a sunday, but it’s getting better. it’s definitely gotten easier. and i think that’s what’s important.

i don’t need to be black-out drunk to take my pants off in front of my boyfriend. and i don’t need to eat once a day to sustain life- i can cook and plan meals and enjoy dinners with my family and friends. and i don’t need to force myself to feel any sort of emotion, because with dan, it comes as naturally as breathing. as blinking. it just is.

and maybe that’s what scares me, sometimes. here i am, just being. and i’m okay with it. and i’m falling in love with it, even. i don’t have to worry about anyone’s intentions or the burden of fucking being alive because i actually have purpose now. and it’s a tough place to be, when i realize the last few years of my life have been some fucking bullshit ride i wanted off of- a rollercoaster i just kept riding because i had no other choice, i didn’t know any other options.

but that friend… the one who always asked me how i was doing, who always flat out questioned my sobriety any time we talked… she created a life. this perfect, tiny, healthy baby girl… and she’s changed everything. everyone around me is getting married, or having babies, moving in with their significant others, or packing up to start somewhere fresh together. it’s beautiful. here i was, thinking we were just a bunch of fuck ups, a bunch of punks having a good time. and it’s like the seasons changed and we’ve all started building our own families. my old roommate, skinhead jesse, is flying halfway across the country to make hundreds of thousands of dollars so he can buy his girlfriend a house in a year. so he can marry her and they can have babies in the city. jesse fucking germs wants to be a man. he wants to build a life and be a father… and the best part? he’d be amazing at it.

these last few days… spent renovating my new home, and spending time with my close friends who are all doing the same sort of things… i’ve just fallen completely in love with this city again. with my friends and our new lifestyles and where we’re headed.

because for the first time, man, we’re fucking headed somewhere.

and dammit, does that ever feel good.

shrapnel

February 27, 2009 at 5:37pm

hey m,

today i swam with sharks! real live ones! and it was amazing. i got to go snorkeling, and the ocean is beautiful. everything is so slow paced- everyone drives motorcycles or mopeds, and no one gives a fuck. they feed us booze for beakfast, lunch, and dinner! it rules! our room is amazing- i wake up and have a perfect view of the ocean. it smells of spices everywhere i go. today i went on a cruise and drank rum in the ocean. we got to dance to bob marley and it was perfect.

everything here reminds me of you.

elle
xoxo

i was going through old emails and stumbled across this one- the only email i have between me and m in four years of bullshit. i left in the winter of 2008: the first time his drug-fueled rage took everything over the edge and he became physically violent. i say violent because that’s the only way i remember it… so awfully painful. so terribly angry. we briefly reconnected that summer, but there was no trust and the stress of forcing myself to care about him became too much. we parted ways again, only to reconnect in the winter of 2009- two days before i left for my very first trip, to the dominican republic. he came back into my life as quick as he always left. while i should have been enjoying my first vacation in the sun, surrounded by people who loved me… i spent the whole time stressing over whether or not i wanted to go there with him again. it’s weird- how simple emails can remind me so vividly of exactly how i felt back then. so broken, so hopeful, so fucking vulnerable. i haven’t gone back any further to see if there were more from him…

when i got back from my vacation at two in the morning, i had barely dropped my suitcases on the floor before we were on the phone together. i spent days with him in bed talking, as he cried and cried. we both did. i don’t ever want to feel that kind of sadness again. i don’t ever want to be put into a position where i know i have to leave someone i love. it took me three years to walk away forever… what the hell does that say about my strength? fucking nothing.

this april will mark the two year anniversary of our final separation. it will mark the two year anniversary of the day i woke up, walked to his work, ordered him into a back booth, and ripped him apart. the two year anniversary of the day i called him a monster to his face, told him to eat shit and die, and that if he EVER attempted to contact me again, i’d call the police. it marks the two year anniversary of my sobriety- sober from his sickness, sober from mine.

two years of freedom.

in some ways it feels like such an accomplishment, such an insurmountable feat. in other ways it all still seems so devastating, so tragic. half the time it doesn’t feel like my own story. i have this awful way of remembering him before the drugs, before the partying, before the anger and abuse. he was so young, so pure, so innocent, i thought. i know now that i was blinded by youth, by young love, by the haze of a world i was spiraling into so easily. i was conned, and he knew just what he was doing from the very beginning- and that’s the scariest part. i see now, how calculated our love was. how conditionnal. how ugly. how sad.

so very, very sad.

in any case, he’s gone now. lost somewhere in the muddle of this city. shamefully hiding from everything- all the bridges he’s burned, people he’s fucked, friendships he’s destroyed. i’m okay with that, too. i’m okay with him being here because i know he’s so unwelcome.

i’m not even concerned about how awful and alone he must feel… and after two years of running, of hiding, of living in fear… i’m no longer concerned about what kind of person that makes me.

we’ve seen the sun rise with new eyes

i sat with my friend discussing her latest relationship qualms and her ultimate decision to finally leave him. she cried about it, for the first time, and her pain was so raw, so real. i saw a part of me in her, and it absolutely broke me. she wanted so badly to be angry, to find reasons to be mad at him, but all she had left anymore was sadness. the pain of leaving someone you want so badly to love- someone you want so badly to fix.

it’s weird, you know… to see a situation and be on the outside looking in. i sat there and gave her helpful advice and hints on how to move forward. it’s not easy to get over something or someone, but it’s always possible to move forward. why is it so hard to take your own advice? these are all tools i’ve acquired over the years, and yet it took so long to listen to myself helping other people.

people are so afraid to feel. when you’re hurting it’s so important to go through the motions and let yourself FEEL that pain, if you ever plan to heal. what good does it do to be tough? how are you helping yourself if you bottle everything up? it doesn’t matter how happy you are, or how easily you’ve moved on… we’re only human. and sometimes things happen and we have to relive these awful feelings just so we can be okay with everything again and move forward.

do i still think about m? sometimes. do i still get angry about it? sure. do certain experiences make me re-live past memories? unfortunately, yes. but just because i cry sometimes, or feel sorry for myself, or curse him for breaking me in so many tiny, sharp, irreperable pieces… does that mean i still love him? that i miss him? that i wonder how things could have been? absolutely not. the pain i feel is real, and it’s ever-present, and it’s not ever going to go away. i am human, and just like everyone else out there, if i’ve been hurt, chances are those scars will likely last a lifetime.

however… it’s important not to dwell on the past forever. it’s important to find yourself and learn to be happy again. it’s important to build walls in order to keep yourself safe, as long as you let those walls come down when you’re ready to feel again, to live again.

people ask me what it was like, to love someone like m. how do you feel? how do you breathe? how do you find the courage to carry on? i don’t know how to describe it other than this: i was dead for so long. there’s a difference between inhaling & exhaling, and being alive. and for awhile, there was nothing in me other than the oxygen my brain told me to take in, and my organs functioning for me on their own. i was blood vessels and flesh. i was muscles flexing and limbs bending- that’s all. that’s all i had left.

but that doesn’t have to last forever, and it hasn’t. don’t let yourself go- don’t lose yourself in the sadness. don’t throw in the towel, pack your bags, and go on a mental vacation. i did- and it’s only when i really let myself ache that i truly began to heal. some days i cried for hours, and other days i laughed so hard my sides hurt… it’s important to live those extremes, to find yourself and come alive again.

will i ever look at vintage frames or antique suitcases the same? i doubt it. will i be able to walk down certain streets without feeling a sting in my chest? i don’t think so. will i ever be able to tolerate the smell of rubbing alcohol or iodine without cringing? never. will i ever be able to play-fight again without having panic attacks when someone’s hand accidentally touches my neck? the chances are slim. will i ever be able to listen to ben kweller without bawling my eyes out? probably not. will i fear him finding me? until the day i die. and that’s fine- those memories are his, and they’re mine, and although they’re sad and heartbreaking or awful, they won’t ever be anyone elses to touch or change. i’ve found the strength to associate him to certain things, wrap those memories up real tight, and throw them away. just like him.

for the first time in years, i really feel like i’ve let him go. i feel like i can talk about it, think about it, share details about it, without going back to that awful darkness. i’m in such a positive, stable place right now and it can only go up from here, right?

i hit my bottom, and i hit it hard… and yet here i am. if there’s anything i’ve learned, it’s that you can’t change anyone but yourself. you just need to figure out what your limits are, and decide when enough is finally enough.

…before it’s too late.

in which my heart breaks

* this entire post is about money and relationships and oh my god i’m crying again.

up until a few years ago, my parents never had a penny. they never furthured their education in college (until very recently), and they didn’t have outstanding jobs. my mother worked her way through administration jobs, and my father bounced between sales and management positions. and although i later found out that they were constantly worried about their ability to pay their mortgage on time, or have enough food in the house to feed our family of four, my brother and i had no idea how hard they struggled. we always had full bellies of healthy food, and shoes that fit, and pencils and notebooks for school. and although my bikes, and jeans, and school bags, or toys were mostly hand-me-downs, i pretty much had everything a kid could ever need. and when my dad would make his bonus, you can bet your ass that my mother would take us out to buy a new shirt for school, or take the family out on an outing. and despite my stuborn, greedy teenage nature… my parents taught me responsibility and self-control. they indirectly taugth me to survive. and they most definitely taught me that love trumps all. always.

when m and i moved into our $700 attic apartment in the outskirts of chinatown, everything changed. the reality of life hit me like a ton of bricks and i instantly (instinctively) went into survivor-mode. by the end of it, i had no money, no food, no job… i had fucking nothing. and while m would hoard food at work and stuff his face so he wouldn’t have to share, i ate a teacher’s leftovers for four days. i made that pasta stretch because i didn’t know when my next meal was going to be. m gained 50lbs that summer, and i couldn’t keep my size 1 jeans up around my waist. i can’t remember the reason, but my dad came to visit one afternoon while m was at work- to make sure i was okay, or alive, or something. and while i’d excused myself to go to the washroom, he scoured my cupboards and fridge. and when all he found was an open bag of stale noodles in the cupboard, and an empty carton of eggs in the fridge, i swear i saw him break. and i don’t remember much from that visit at all, except he took me to a tiny market in the middle of the city and spent $60 on bagels and fruit and milk and eggs. i found out years later that it was the last few dollars he had in his bank account- it was the only money he and my mother had to pay for their own groceries, and he spent it on me.

if that’s not love, and if that’s not family, or being a team is all about… i don’t know what is.

my point is this: i’ve struggled. i have starved and worried about paying rent on time (if at all). i spent three months working at a shitty smoothie bar after i left m, just so i could eat. i’ve had hasty moves while roommates are away, and i’ve been that sketchy, shitty person.

but i’ve also been lucky. i landed a sales job at an international multi-million company where (by the grace of god), my boss saw a light in me that she trusted. i didn’t have a college degree, but she saw skills in me, and she knew i would work my ass off. i fucking worked the shit out of that job for three years and pushed those sales so i’d make enough commission to cover rent and groceries and clothes. it wasn’t glamourous, and i was still living paycheque to paycheque, but i made it. and once my boss left that company to come here, she immediately referred me to the president and comptroller. that woman saved my life- and i’m lucky enough that four years later, i still work with her… and although she’s not my boss anymore, she always has my best interest at heart- i don’t call her work mama for nothing. she has coached me in every aspect of my life, and i owe her everything.

i went from unemployment, to smoothie bar, to sales representative, to assistant to the comptroller… in four years. without an education, without a damn penny, and without a goddamn chance. and for the first time since i was seventeen, i’m comfortable. i make enough money to pay rent, buy groceries and cook every day, feed my cat, go on little trips to visit my friends in montreal, buy coffee before work, treat myself to a new piece of furniture, buy shoes and clothes when i need them, and spoil my family with presents on christmas. i can go to dinner with friends, and see movies in the theatre, or see a live band every once in awhile. i can’t do all these things on a daily basis, but they are definitely opportunities to be a regular young adult and live a fulfilled existence without worrying every single day of my life.

and if any of these lessons and mistakes, and all this struggling has taught me anything? it’s this: in a relationship, first and foremost, you’re a team. always.

i never expected m to support me when i graduated high school, but i also never expected him to watch me fucking die. and while it wasn’t all awful, that summer made me realize more than ever, that he is not the kind of person i ever want to share my life with.

now that dan and i have started apartment hunting, the reality of our finances has kind of hit me. dan is still apprenticing to be a chef, and until he can afford to take his chef’s class and make more money working, things will be tight. i will have to carry more of the load until he’s more established, and i’m okay with that. what kind of girlfriend wouldn’t want to support her significant other in following their dreams? and while we’re looking at very inexpensive apartments for the area (which consequently, are still expensive as fuck), i can see dan already losing hope.

we looked at a beautiful 1.5 bedroom apartment last night, and both of us fell completely in love. it’s smaller than my place now, has no dining room, even less of a kitchen, and barely any storage, but it felt right. the bedroom has wrap-around lead glass windows, the kitchen has original built-in glass-doored cupboards, and the floors are original to the home (over 100 years old). i’d have to sell a lot of my furniture and clothes, and store my seasonal clothing in my parents’ basement, and yet i was in love. i’ve had all this room to hold onto the things that have held me back, and i hate that. i want a cozy, warm, inviting home with my boyfriend, and i want to work together, as a team, to reach our goals and dreams- even if that means helping each other out along the way. if there’s one thing i keep reminding dan when he gets in those moods, it’s that i love him, and i’d never let him starve. i don’t think he really understands the depths of what that means for me, because m watched me do it so easily, btu i mean that. i’ve been there- i’ve struggled working those jobs, doing what i love, barely making any money, just because i knew that eventually things would look up- they worked out for me, and they’ll work out for him. and even though i don’t have a ring on my finger, or a baby in a crib, dan is my family now.

when we got home from the appointment we had to see that apartment, we ate dinner quietly, and made a few comments on how we’d want to set up the furniture if we were to get that apartment. we argued a little and we disagreed on most things and eventually i just went to bed- and dan, being the person he is, came in and tried to work it out and i just wouldn’t have it. i gave myself time to think about what i wanted to say, and how i wanted to say it, and once we’d both calmed down, i asked him to talk. it makes me sad that money is such a strain on relationships these days, and if you weren’t born into a family with money, you’ll be struggling til the day you die. that’s fucking scary.

in any case, we talked about our concerns, and we kissed and made up, and now that i know his financial situation a little bit better, and i can see what is feasible for both of us, we can start building a future together, as a team.

epiphany

text versus romance-
you go and add it all you want
still we’re not robots inside a grid

– rilo kiley

i’m not much into spirituality or existentialism. and apart from romanticism and the relationships i have in my life, i am very much a realist. i believe that science can describe most (if not all) things. and although i do believe that everything happens for a reason, i also believe that those things that happen, are very much calculated.

… but the dream i had last night meant so much to me- emotionally, spiritually, mentally. i feel like i woke up and suddenly everything i had ever doubted was right again. for the first time in years, i wasn’t scared. i felt really, really good.

here’s what i dreamt:

i had just found out that m had been wounded while trying to save me (a bullet, i believe), and as i held him while he died, we had a bit of a moment. we told each other we loved one another despite everything, and he told me he’d still be around- that whenever i needed him, to look for a sign and he’d be there. before he died i asked him that he haunt me until i no longer needed him around, and he promised me he would.

the haunting lasted a full year. i would see him in human form and we would talk and reminisce. at one point i was sitting on the couch, speaking with my sister-in-law, when all of a sudden m‘s favourite book in the dream (the book dan is currently reading in real life) magically appeared on the coffee table. when my sister-in-law asked how that happened, i told her that it was simply m, making his presence known- watching over me like he’d promised.

throughout the dream, he kept appearing. we would cry together and i kept begging him not to leave me until i was ready. some time passed and eventually, in the dream, dan and i ended up sleeping together. after that happened, i was sitting on the couch discussing things with my sister-in-law again, and i stopped mid-sentence and told her that something had changed, things felt different. when she asked me how they felt different i responded with, “he’s gone, i don’t feel him anymore“.

that’s how it ended.

dammit, if that’s not symbolism- i don’t know what is.

i woke up this morning to my alarm going off for the third or fourth time- just as dan rolled over, put his arm across my chest, and kissed me on the shoulder. i spent the entire morning getting ready, walking to the bus stop, feeling a little off- until the dream suddenly came back to me, and hit me like a ton of bricks.

and just then i received a text message from dan saying, “oh my gosh, i love you“.

i’ve had a really long, emotionally draining day at work today, and i can’t stop thinking about the dream. and despite the fact that i’m overwhelmed at the office, and i’m not seeing dan for two days because he has a show out of town, i can’t help but feel complete. like- despite everything that happens and all the shit that goes on in my life on a daily basis, i made it through the most awful, relentless, gut-wrenching chapter in my life. and although m is back (did i forget to mention that? he’s back in the city), i don’t feel scared all the time. i’m not dreading his text messages or phone calls (i changed my phone number), i’m not worried to check emails or facebook messages (i’ve blocked him and changed email addresses), i’m not expecting him at my doorstep (i’ve moved three times since my last known address)… and i have this absolutely wonderful man in my life who has given me every reason in the world to remain hopeful- to be happy with myself, my life, and our relationship.

a really great friend once told me “you can hide from everything except your conscious“, and that was the most hard-hitting statement anyone has said to me in a long time. i may have been using m as a crutch to build walls with people so i wouldn’t allow myself to feel that amount of emotion (good & bad) ever again- but i’ve given myself time to heal and hurt and live and laugh and love again. i’ve given myself time to face my demons and put them to rest. and although i wish, from the bottom of my heart, that it hadn’t been m telling me (in my dream) that i was ready to be without him, at least now i know.

you win this round, idealism.