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.

 

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poke out my iris; why can’t i cry about this?

i’ve been at battle with personal demons.

sometimes i feel like the feelings in my heart, and the voices in my head are at constant battle with me. like they are the popular girls at some big, private school in the suburbs, and they hate my loafers and over-grown bangs. they bully me because i’m too short, and my eyes are sad, and my hair is too dark. and i’ve forgotten how to cry.

sometimes i feel so hurt… and all i can do is sit on the edge of my bed waiting for these emotions to take over me- i’m waiting for tears to well up in my eyes, or for my lip to start quivering, but all i even know how to do anymore is sit- back hunched over, pouting like a child, and angry (so fucking angry) that i have to wait for something other than this dull ache in the middle of my chest to make me feel real again.

this feeling is not in my gut, like when you’re sad and you want to throw up and crawl under your blankets. and not in my throat, like when you’re on the verge of tears, and you have your mother’s phone number on speed dial because you know you can always call the woman who gave you birth and know she’ll sit on the other end and listen to your breathing, and let the sound of your tears falling onto the receiver take over, because sometimes you just need to fucking call your mom and cry, and cry, and cry. and she lets you. she lets you like no one else lets you. and that’s important.

but sometimes there’s this ache in the middle of your chest. and it hurts when you breathe, and it hurts when you realize you’re still breathing, and it hurts even when it’s not hurting. and how do you call your mother and tell her that your life is falling into place, finally… but the only thing you can do is lay on your back, over your covers (your favourite covers) and stare at the dumb popcorn ceiling you hate, and you narrow your eyes on that little speckle of olive green paint you carelessly (accidentally) got on your stupid ceiling when you were painting one sunday afternoon- drunk off four cans of PBR, and shaking your butt in your yoga pants to some of your favourite new order song.

fuck, that seems like forever ago.

how do you tell your mother everything on the outside is beautiful, but everything inside of you feels like a thick black sludge, and you’re drowning in the quicksand of your own sorrow?

i hadn’t felt loved (really loved) in so long. but when he’d spin my favourite records (just for me), or spend hours making up incredible recipes (just for me), or i’d come home to the smell of bleach and lemons, because he’d spent his only day off on his hands and knees, scrubbing the tub and cleaning the kitchen floors (just for me- and also, totally for himself)… those little things made me feel so important. like he had a zillion choices he could make in a day, and every single one he made, he made to see me smile. because he knew, in the bottom of his heart, that the woman he loved was the saddest girl on the planet.

and he was right, you know.

i am horribly selfish, and painfully lost, and i can’t shake this sadness from my insides.

sometimes i place my palm on my chest just to feel the boom-boom of my own heartbeat to remind myself that i really am here, and this really is my reality, and i better buck up and make the best of it, because i really don’t have many other options at this point.

i feel so guilty. i am so blessed, and so lucky, and i worry that my mother will start to read between the lines, and she’ll see a sadness and a darkness, and she’ll feel the pain i’m living every day, and she’ll blame herself. and i’d die. i would die if my mother ever felt like she’d failed me because of the chemical inbalance in my brain. like her hugs weren’t strong enough, or like the love inside of her wasn’t enough to keep me happy.

that would kill me.

because she has the best hugs of anyone i’ve ever met. her neck always smells the same, and her cheeks are rosy and soft- like peaches in the summer. and her hands… i’ve never loved anyone’s hands the way i love my mother’s hands- strong, and weathered, and perfectly manicured, and so fucking feminine. lined with expensive rings with big stones, and always fresh smelling- like coriander and olive oil. and she’s the most soft-spoken woman i’ve ever known.

sometimes i picture her with hair white like snow, and wrinkles beside her eyes, and i fall more in love with her than i ever thought i could. like she’s this perfect creature with a heart the size of texas, and the colour of a fire truck, and it’s almost as if she’s aging backwards. like her hair is getting blonder, and her smile is getting more genuine with every birthday candle i add onto the cakes i bake her from scratch. and all i can think about is how i hope i can be that beautiful someday- carelessly, and without even trying. innocent, and light.

i’m a dweller.

i dwell on things.

i resent people. i hold grudges. i relive painful memories. fool me once, shame on me… fool me twice, i’ll fucking kill you.

maybe it’s a pride thing. maybe i enjoy the feeling of having the upper hand. maybe i like to fucking win, and i’m so sick of hurting, that i’ll do anything in my power to avoid conflict, or painful situations, or loss. i have too much love inside of me, and i get angry when it has nowhere to go. i build walls, and retract, and every new fucking day, is another 24 hours of self preservation.

people tried to help me for years, and i whole-heartedly refused every single gracious offer because i had too much damn pride to seek help for the sadness in my heart. i never got the help i needed when i was desperate, or scared, or alone. i never told anyone when my life was at risk, or the darkness got too heavy, and i certainly never told anyone about what happened. about everything that happened. i burried all of those nightmares and memories into this tiny little ventricle in the red of my heart, and i tried (for years, now) to forget. but sometimes i lay alone in my bedroom at night, and that little drawer is so close to bursting at the seams and i suffocate. i’m paralyzed by these memories (that don’t always feel like my own). and while a big part of me wants to cradle my frail little limbs, and whisper in my own ear and assure myself that i’ll be okay, the other part of me wants to shake me by the shoulders, slap me across the hardest part of my cheek, and tell myself to fucking get over it. to fucking stand tall, and be alert, and always be strong.

be the kind of woman other women envy, for fuck’s sake.

eat well, and play hard, and kiss with your eyes closed, and play. wear lipstick, and go dancing, and buy shoes you can’t really walk in, and excel at your job. laugh, always. smile constantly. be friendly, and make strangers fall in love with you. be charming, stay humble, be gentle. give without the expectation of getting anything in return. show some cleavage. read books, be interesting, cook for your man. take bubble baths, and paint your toe nails to match your finger nails, and shave your legs. listen to music that makes you shake your ass, and shake that ass. be proud of your body. be proud of its imperfections, and its dimples, and tell yourself you’re beautiful. because you are.

you are so fucking beautiful.

genetics made it so my hips are big, my eyes are brown, and my brain is scrambled.

but that other stuff? the things i can control, and the things i can alter and change and do to make this darkness less heavy? those are things i need to do for myself. those are the things i need to focus on to make me feel good, as a person, and as a woman, and as a timid, sad little girl stuck inside this explosive firecracker of a human being.

so set out to do the same… because i sure as hell can’t do this alone.

self worth

human skin can be hard to live in

– seabear

 

i’ve been having a hard time.

don’t get me wrong- i’ve been having an incredible summer and a hell of a good time with my friends, and family… from mexican fiesta themed bachelorette parties, to family picnics by the waterfront, to barbecues and slumber parties, and more ladies’ nights and living room dance marathons than i can even count. i have the most amazing support system- the constant emails and phone calls from my mum & pops, the text messages from my brother, the goodness in my friends’ hearts and their willingness to give and to love and to be there for me… i can’t even wrap my head around it sometimes. a friend dropped in last night to give me oral numbing gel for my tooth ache because he knew my EI money hadn’t come in yet and he couldn’t stand the idea of me sitting around, doing nothing about the pain i was in.

that’s the kind of people i have in my life.

and i am so grateful for them, for this time off, for the strength i had in myself to finally make these changes in my life.

but i am still struggling.

sometimes i have to remind myself that i’ve come a long way. that i escaped a dangerous life with an awful man and survived his abuse and our lifestyle. without a penny in my pocket, or a chance in the world- i dusted myself off, and set off to build a new, healthy life. i got an excellent job with zero experience and no education, hopped from house to house until i found a safe place to call home- all while keeping my head above water. not a single person knew of my struggles because i wouldn’t show my scars. “i am strong, i am independent, i can do this”- this is how i got myself out of bed in the mornings. i was barely eighteen years old.

and i get it, you know.

i’m an easy target.

i’m young, i have fucked up one hell of a lot, i have put my family through torture and hell, i am covered in tattoos, i struggle with money, i have been pulled from my own bed- pulled from depression and drinking, and i’ve been told to fucking smarten up and be a real human being because this life business is HARD.

despite all of the bullshit, though… at least i could always say i was capable. i was capable of a good life, with healthy people, and a nice house, with good furniture. and i had a job.

jesus christ, i had a job!

a job i could keep, a job i was good at, a job that allowed me to fully furnish the houses i’d been hoping to and from. a job that allowed me to eat, and play, and be a real adult for the first time in fucking ever.

wait, adults say “in fucking ever”, right?

whatever.

i am not struggling with the time off, or the copious amount of naps i have been allowing myself to take in the middle of the afternoon, thank you very much.

i’m struggling with the lack of income, and what that has done to my independence.

i am no charity case. and although i love surprises and dates and all that fun stuff… i don’t like when people feel obligated to pay for me. i was perfectly capable of paying for my movies, or my food, or my antibiotics, or my mothers’ birthday presents. but when i can’t participate in menu items for a cottage weekend getaway, or i have to skip out on certain activities because my bank account is at -$7.32, and i have one toonie left in my wallet, and i’m wondering how the actual fuck i’m going to eat next week because i still don’t have a clue as to when EI will come in… that scares me.

and i’m brought back to a place where i don’t like being.

to the attic apartment of 148 breezehill avenue, where i am barely seventeen, and i haven’t eaten in weeks, and my junkie boyfriend is out on a binge, fucking the girls from the shop, and leaving me to fucking die. a place where i am sitting in the corner of the living room, under a wall of broken plaster, listening to ani difranco on repeat, trying to get the courage to finally call my mother and ask her to save me.

i know that isn’t the case, anymore. but the thought of not knowing, and starting from scratch again… it scares the living shit out of me.

as for these last few days… i have to laugh off the bullshit comments about being a punk rock warrior. i have to try not to be offended when people are shocked if i turn down an opportunity to drink when the cold, wet cans are staring me straight in the face. and i have to get over this whole idea that leaving my job was a bad move. i have to shrug off the comments about my relationship with dan going down the shitter…

but here’s the thing.

fuck everyone.

(adults can say that too, right?)

yeah, fuck ’em.

i’m not sorry.

i’m not sorry i fucked up with m. i’m not sorry for a single tattoo on my body. i’m not sorry the drinking was a problem, for years. i’m not sorry my relationship with dan ended, and he had to move out, and i’m not sorry i was still fucking him after we broke up. i’m not sorry that i’ve had moments of weakness, of desperation, of chaos, or sadness. i’m not sorry for quitting my job. i’m not sorry for being fucking human.

here’s the thing with acceptance and self-worth.

i’m fucking horrible at it.

a good friend made a joke at my expense, and how did i deal with it? i came home, took off my tights, turned off the lights, blasted daniel johnston super loud, and fucking bawled my eyes out for an hour.

ADULT LIFE!

i’m not used to this. i’m not used to dependence or zero income, or feeling this helpless. it’s awful, and it’s fucking with my head, the way it fucked with my head then. the freedom was incredible, at first. i sat in the park, blowing bubbles, drinking beer from a coffee cup, watching my friends play street frisbee at midnight, dancing until 4 in the morning, going to the beach all day, having iced green tea in summer dresses at two in the afternoon at my favourite coffee shops, drinking mimosas with breakfast, stuffing my face with pretty people at restaurants’ soft openings, chatting all afternoon on the porch…it’s been so liberating.

and now i’m all, “fuck”.

because the money is gone, and so is the glamour, et all.

along with my confidence & independence.

and so now, i wait.

for money. for an epiphany. for a job opportunity that will blow my socks off.

post script:

i am no longer fucking my ex-boyfriend. he returned my glasses, and i gave him back his computer, and we haven’t spoken in days, and i am feeling free and happy and strong. i know now, more than ever, that i want a future- and it most certainly isn’t with him. am i mourning the loss of my best friend in the entire world? hell yes. will i get over it? totally.

on, and up.

 

mama

re-posted from may 2010

when i was younger, i used to forget the most familiar things about you- the smallest details. and as i’ve grown i’ve realized that it’s only in getting older that i’ve been falling in love with everything about you that makes you, you…

like the way your lips curl when you’re paying attention to something important, or the way your hands smell. i love how black your eyes are and how honest your laugh sounds. i even appreciate your insecurity; your way of needing me the way you do. i memorize the way your hands lace with mine; your big rings versus my small fingers. i absolutely love how good your hugs are, and how big your heart beats inside of you.

i know when it gets late you worry where i am, or what i’m doing- and i can assure you that despite some of the terrible decisions i’ve made, the reason i have the strength to make it through these moments of weakness; of utter desperation, is because you raised me to have a good head on my shoulders, strong skin on my bones, and love in my heart to give.

i love you.

** happy mother’s day to all you lovely mamas i’m so proud to call my friends!

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.