To the girl whose heart is absolutely breaking

•November 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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Your heart will heal.

That’s the thing about love and relationships, they involve human beings. Human beings are fickle and funny and they can change their minds and their feelings at any moment. They’re full of emotions, and even if they don’t properly express them, they’re there. Always bubbling at the surface, ready to explode.

Ticking emotional time-bombs. That’s what we all are. That’s what you are.

And you’ve exploded.

The immense hurt you feel now, it will pass. I promise you this. Sure, you have no fucking idea how to deal with it all at the moment and you feel completely helpless, lost and so confused, but it will pass. Please believe me. Don’t shake your head, it will happen. You can move past this.

All the emptiness and pain you feel right now, it means what you had was real. It means it meant something, at least to you. Imagine you felt nothing at all? Imagine you simply left him at the airport feeling nothing? Imagine you didn’t cling to each other, not wanting to let go, either of you? Would that really be an better?

I know you want the emotions to stop. I know you want the tears to stop flowing, but you need to embrace them. Each one is there to remind you of a good memory, a happy time, and is teaching you a lesson, a lesson in love you’d not have learned had you not experienced everything you had.

Embrace the hurt.

Don’t shut down like you want to. Don’t block out the world. Don’t beg for numbness. It won’t make any of this easier. I know you think it will, but it won’t. Don’t you remember how that went the first time? The first time you lost yourself? Don’t go back there, please.

Your heart will heal.

I know you’re worried about him. I know you still care. I know you still love him, and that’s OK. You’re allowed. In fact, I encourage it. He helped you become who you are today, a better you, a more complete you. Take those tears currently streaming down your already swollen cheeks and remember the times he helped you evolve. And be forever grateful he was a part of your life.

I’m glad you don’t regret it. You don’t regret him or opening up the way you did. That makes me content, content to know you won’t look back on it all and cringe. At each stage you’re glad you made the decisions you did, because had you not you never would have felt the happiness you did at one point. Remember that. Hold on to that. Never let that go. Ever.

But, stop questioning yourself, overall. You couldn’t have known. You couldn’t have predicted the pain in the end, and even if you thought you could have, would you have stopped yourself from loving him and embarking on the journey? No, I didn’t think so.

You were each what the other needed in those moments, at the time in your lives. Emotionally, physically, mentally; the universe knew you were meant to be in those moments. And that moment has passed. That moment is gone. Vanished.

Your heart will heal.

Stop thinking about the time and effort invested; relationships aren’t bank accounts. You can’t pay into them every month and rely on the growing total to predict the overflowing account of the future. Just because effort was made, doesn’t mean the end result will be positive.

Remember; humans aren’t predictable. Not at all. In fact they are quite the opposite.

Please don’t be afraid to love again. Please know it won’t always be like this. Please know that the pain you feel now really is worth it, and that it will help the next time round.

I’ll take all the swearing as a sign you’re really not prepared to discuss the “next time round.” And that’s fine. Take time for you. For yourself. For your well being, for your emotions to heal, for your head to clear, and for you to really feel complete.

I know you feel like your in bits and pieces. Like you’ve shattered and can never be repaired. I’m here to tell you that you can and will be whole again.

When?

I wish I knew, and I know you do, too. Will it be easy? Nope. Not at all. Will it hurt? Like a motherfucker. Will it be worth it? You bet your ass it will.

I know it seems a distant memory, but I told you all this months ago. I reminded you that even though you gave everything, all of you, every ounce, that sometimes it’s just not meant to be. That sometimes life has other plans and that’s not where you’re meant to be, no matter how deeply you feel you should be.

I also told you to stop crying. Because, really, what is that solving? Absolutely fucking nothing. So stop. It just makes your eyes swell and your cheeks puff out. Plus your makeup runs. Come on, you’re better than that.

Your heart will heal, and you’ll pull through. You always do.

Sincerely,

The girl whose heart is absolutely breaking

xx

It was what it was (Part II)

•October 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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I’ve already openly admitted to not knowing a god damn thing about relationships. Even after the year-plus I’ve had with the same man through a myriad of circumstances, including a now long-distance arrangement, I still have no idea what I’m doing. At all.

Yet, somehow, we prevail.

Even after sitting through a category 4 hurricane in a boarded up condo with no electricity and no running water for 4 days following the storm.

The day Hurricane Matthew descended on Freeport, GB, I’d come to terms with what I was about to endure. I had no idea what to expect, but I felt like I was in the safest location I could be, with people I trusted and with someone I felt infinitely safe with.

Heavy rain and wind started around midday, and by late afternoon the gusts were so strong it was difficult to stick my head outside (because while I was petrified I was also extremely curious as I watched large palm trees bend and sway as if they were made of boiled spaghetti noodles). The sound of wind plowing into the boarded up windows will stay with me for quite some time. Low relentless and unsettling the wind raged for what must have been the better part of 10 hours.

We lost power around 4:30pm on Thursday, October 6th. As the lights flickered then died, something in me sparked to life: a deep but quickly rising panic. Using our still-charged cell phones we lit a few candles and prepped flashlights for bathroom runs. We also poured a hurricane shot (the first of many) of caffeine-laced Patron (a drink I truly never want to have again).

As I nervously perched myself on the loveseat listening to exterior objects bending, breaking, smashing, and moving, a familiar outstretched arm and an inviting chest welcomed me, comforted me and calmed me. Resting my head on his chest I could instead focus on the rhythmic beat of a heart I trusted and loved instead of the uncertain and chaotic sounds raging outside our boarded-up windows.

Often, it’s the smallest gestures that have the largest impact. I used to think this was a horribly cliched thing to say, but I’ve come to realize this is very, very true. Words are meaningless and empty if not backed up by actions. A hand caressing a nervously twitching foot; the brushing back of wild hair that’s been shaken loose from earlier explorations outside in the wild, wild wind; a stolen kiss before venturing into the darkness for a drink or a bathroom break, just to let me know he cares… in those moments I needed all of that more than he might ever realize.

I also needed the companionship and distraction while Hurricane Matthew raged outside.

Before the storm really started to rage, the boys pointed out that our balcony door plywood doors had a perfectly placed and sized knot in the wood that could, potentially, be knocked out as a peephole. We, the rational females, vehemently disagreed and argued that it would weaken the protection of the plywood and should not be done.

A few hours into isolation and about 4-5 glasses of wine in, and I think I personally handed the boyfriend the hammer myself to knock out the knot and offer us a glimpse into the world of Hurricane Matthew and what was happening (with a step, of course, so my minuscule self could actually see out the opening).

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For the first time, as a writer, I’m truly at a loss of words to describe what it was like to sit through the seemingly endless hours of Hurricane Matthew. To tell you what it sounded like. What it felt like. The thoughts going through my brain. The emotions.

I can’t.

Let me use a few choice adjectives/nouns/words: Nightmare, dream, hell, terror, panic, unknown, petrified, terror, horror, disbelief, amazement, shock, thrill, anxiety, high, illusion, panic.

That night — with Hurricane Matthew raging outside our building — could have gone one of two ways; I was either going to prevail, and be OK (likely rather drunk in order to deal with it all) or I was going to end up curled up in a ball in the corner of the washroom bawling my eyes out in sheer fear and panic.

That night, when we finally retired to our respective rooms, I was most definitely pleasantly buzzed.

Wine.Beer. Caffeine Patron. It had all been consumed, and often, as the winds increased in speeds, and the deafening sounds raged on. Drinking became the best way to deal. The method with which I diluted the seriousness and scariness of it all.

Laying in bed, windows boarded up, zero air moving in the room, and the temp hovering at likely close to the 40-degree Celsius mark, all I wanted was to be held. And he knew that. Or maybe he wanted to be close too.

Perhaps it was a case of both being fragile, unknowing and petrified at what was happening outside our boarded up bedroom window. Despite the heat and sweat, we wrapped ourselves up together as close as we could get that night. Held tight. Breathed deep. Supported. I focused on his breathing, his heartbeat, and his presence as the hurricane beat down on the condo around us outside, and I’d like to think he did the same for me. Fingers intertwined we melted into each other (quite literally). Nothing needed to be said. Nothing voiced. We knew. We felt. We understood.

****

I woke to the sound of birds. Birds and silence. No light. Not breeze. No indication that it was morning, daylight. But birds. I heard creatures and not terrible, soul-wrenching howling wind.

Prodding the body beside me, I implored him to hear what I did. Yes. Birds. Stillness. The storm had passed.

Jumping out of bed in, essentially, what we’d gone to sleep in, we rushed to clamber into a car, blissfully untouched by the storm, and explore the island. What was left of it. What was tangible. What was real.

You know when you wake up in the morning and have that foggy, gooey stuff in your eyes, that stuff you can’t blink away? I felt like that was how I spent most of that first day after Hurricane Matthew. Blinking away the fog. Trying to clear my vision, to comprehend that what I was seeing was, indeed, real life. All of it.

Fuck.

….

It is what is it (Part I)

•October 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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There are very few times in my existence when I’ve been legitimately scared for my life. In fact, I can really only think of two instances: Once on an extremely hairy and bumpy plane ride somewhere over the Lower North Shore in Quebec where we were told by the captain to assume the “brace for impact” position so as to keep our bodies from flopping around; and again when I was in Africa and mere feet away from an adolescent “teen” elephant who was standing directly in front of our open-air Land Cruiser on safari, staring and flapping his ears in a “warning” manner as we all held our collective breath and waited for him to pass.

Otherwise, any “scared for my life” moment has just been an overly exaggerated experience where, sure, I was afraid for a short time and likely felt my pulse quicken and my palms get sweaty, but all in all deep down I knew I was safe the entire time.

Then I went to the Bahamas for a weekend getaway.

I count myself extremely lucky to live the life I do. Sometimes, I take a moment and reflect on what I’ve accomplished, where I’ve been, who I’ve met, and the things I’ve been able to do and experience and I take a deep breath and think, “Wow.” I am so very, very thankful for it all. I know it’s not all luck, as I work so very hard to be where I am and do what I do, but I’m still thankful. For everything and everyone in my life.

So, when I had the opportunity to fly down south to not only spend some time in the sun, but to spend it with someone I love and who I only get to see every few months, who was I to say no?

So, I went.

As a Canadian, I’ve experienced my fair share of winter storms. Howling winds, blowing snow that makes it impossible to see more than a few feet in front of you, and treacherous icy surfaces. I’ve also driven, walked, taken the bus, and flown in all of those conditions without hesitation.

Ask any 30-something-year-old or older Canadian where they were during the Ice Storm of ’98 and they’ll likely have a pretty awesome story to tell. With month-long electricity black-outs, destroyed buildings and cars due to downed trees (from the sheer weight of the ice caked on), the Ice Storm was a doozie. Personally, we only lost power for 5-6 days from what I remember. And while my parents and I were decidedly stinky and cranky from lack of cooked meals and showers, plus we kept running to generator-run malls for heat, I never feared for my life.

I thought I was OK with bad weather.

I thought wrong, very wrong.

Halfway through my weekend getaway down south, and a few days before I was due to leave the Bahamas and head home, the boyfriend suddenly burst into his apartment where I was prepping myself for our dinner date and simply stated, “You need to leave. Now.”

A multitude of thoughts rushed through my brain, first of which was: Oh God, what have you done, Miranda? How did it all go downhill so quickly? I knew you’d fuck it up. Figures it would happen while you were here. What did you say? Did he say something? Did you miss something? WHAT’S HAPPENING?

My brain really isn’t the best place to be most of the time…

Instead of asking him a question that would have undoubtedly thrown us into an unnecessary conversation as nothing was the matter with us, I simply tilted my head to the side in the typical inquisitive puppy-dog style.

“Hurricane Matthew is headed straight for us in the next few days. We need to get you off this island. NOW.”

The thing is, we knew the hurricane was in the “area.” Well, when I first landed on Grand Bahamas he hadn’t even touched Haiti yet. We knew he was large, and we knew he was moving slowly, but we weren’t sure where or when he would turn. So we took a chance.

At the time it seemed like a good idea. But when I think about it now, the risk truly was great. The days leading up to that, we’d watched Hurricane Matthew build in size and intensity via various weather apps. We’d even joked about me being stuck on the island and how horrendous the storm would be when it hit. It was a fantasy, a that’ll-never-happen-to-me thought.

Fuck, I should have known better.

From the airport to the phone with the airline carrier I was to fly home with, we desperately tried to arrange for me to leave the island as soon as possible, to get me home with Owen and safe from the storm.

Truthfully, I was upset at having to leave early. I didn’t understand how dire the situation was. I felt like we were overreacting. Like, if Canada could withstand the winter storms we do, surely a hurricane would be OK.

Looking back on how I was those days leading up to the storm, I was so god damn naive about it all. And while I was due to fly out on an early morning flight the day before Hurricane Matthew was to hit Freeport, GB, my flight home connected through Miami and they shut their airport down in anticipation of the storm and so screwed me out of an escape.

I was trapped.

I went to the grocery store to collect provisions (food for the next few days when we’d undoubtedly lose power and running water, but had access to a BBQ). I felt like I was in some sort of end-of-days movie. The parking lot was teaming with people, and inside the grocery store there were even more patrons. Shelves were stripped bare. It was difficult to navigate aisles, and finding stuff in a store I was already unfamiliar with became damn near impossible.

Like a deer caught in the headlights all I could do was stumble up and down the aisles looking at food I knew not what to do with. Fruit and veggies seemed like the right choice, but without a fridge and in 30-degree+ weather and no AC, how long would they last? Protein is necessary to stay strong and healthy and survive, but meat needs to be refrigerated, too.

With my cart holding only bottled water, eggs, peanut butter, bread, bagels, and bananas, I felt like a complete idiot. And as I stood in front of the granola bar shelves trying to choose the best “hurricane survival flavour” a light tap on my arm made me jump.

“I coulda snatched ya phone and ya wallet. Ya don’t wanna be leavin’ them there like that, miss,” said a decidedly very tall, very muscular and very tattooed local in a basketball shirt and shorts as he walked passed me, gesturing towards my belongings I’d left in the top part of the car while I gazed stupidly at useless granola bars.

I’m often surprised by the kindness of strangers. And with well over $500 USD cash, and various credit cars etc. in my purse, he could very well have made off with all of it, along with my iPhone6. But he didn’t. I think he saw the fear and confusion on my face. I’d like to think he pitied me in that moment. And I will be forever thankful I looked as pathetic as I did in that grocery store aisle that afternoon.

With my absolutely useless groceries acquired, I made my way back to the apartment to make sure I’d packed up all our belongings properly and entirely as we would not be staying in the ground-level, close-t0-the-beach location when ocean swells were set to hit 15-20ft in height.

Earlier that afternoon as I’d folded all our clothes and placed them in their respective suitcases, it still hadn’t hit me what I was actually doing. It kind of felt like we were simply going away for a weekend. When I thought about how I was packing to keep all our belongings safe from the hurricane destruction that would ensue, I felt silly. I may have even chuckled at the thought; again thinking it was all a bit extreme. All a bit too much.

The morning before Hurricane Matthew was due to hit, I was on the beach. Blazing sunlight, clear blue skies, and a gorgeous turquoise ocean lay before me. As I waded into the ocean, floating on my back, face turned up to the open sky I thought, “Is this really going to be the last time I experience this beach like this? Is it really all going to be gone by tomorrow? Disfigured by the storm? Is that what nature is really like?”

And as a wave engulfed me and I spluttered on salt water that burned my nostrils and eyes, my immediate thought was, “Yeah, nature can be a bit of an asshole sometimes, especially when you’re not prepared.”

I wasn’t prepared.

I mentioned the kindness of strangers above, and it is indeed that kindness that got me through my first hurricane. Not strangers to my other half, but to me. The couple we shacked up with to stay safe from the storm are very much the reason I made it through the experience the way I did. I will be forever in their debt and grateful for them and how they opened up their home to us.

A home with fully boarded up windows. Plywood covered every opening of the second-story condo unit, save for the door. When I first saw it, I found it almost comical. And theirs was the only unit with such precautions taken. The only one. Again, I found it all a bit much. Come on, it was just going to be a bit of wind and rain, right?

Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti as a category 4 storm, and as it passed over Cuba it downgraded to a 3, however, as it moved up to hit the Bahamas it intensified back to a category 4.

These numbers meant absolutely nothing to me a few weeks ago. In fact, I never considered hurricanes if I’m honest or tornadoes for that matter. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Perhaps naive or ignorant of me, but I felt more concerned with how many feet of snow might fall during any given snowstorm or how hot a summer day was going to be. Nothing more. Silly Canadian.

There are only 5 stages to a hurricane, and a category 5 is complete annihilation. Decimation and leveling of homes, trees, land, and people. You do not come out of a category 5 hurricane unscathed. And a category just below that was baring down on us.

This all became glaringly true the evening before the storm hit. As I sat in a bar drinking entirely too much beer to drown an ever-growing fear of the storm I was trying desperately to ignore, I’d just said good night to Owen via FaceTime.

And it hit me.

My little boy is miles and miles away from me. I’m trapped on this island. There’s a category 4 hurricane coming. I don’t know when I’ll see him again. Talk to him again. Hug him again. This shit is real. This is no joke.

Cue hyperventilation and crying. In a bar. With a beer in my hand.

I told you, being in my brain is not at all a fun place to be most of the time.

Again, the kindness of strangers “saved” me in that moment. The owner of the bar we were excessively drinking at is owned by a Canadian. He immediately swooped in, took me to his office, sat me on his couch and talked me down.

“Listen, I’ve been here 17 years. I’ve seen plenty of storms and a few hurricanes. We always make it through. Nothing major is going to happen. You’ll be fine. We’ll all be fine. Sure it’s a big one, but you’ve got a safe place to stay. It is what it is.”

 

Aging vs. Adulting

•September 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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I’m very quickly approaching my mid-30s. Like rapidly. Lightening-quick, fast approaching them. Like where-the-fuck-did-the-time-go coming up on them. As in, I feel like I just hit my mid-20s and OMG what have I done with my life? My 33rd birthday is literally around the corner.

And I’m oddly calm about it. Kind of.

I feel like I just celebrated my 25th — because for the longest time I was perpetually 25. And I promise it wasn’t some female logic that I was forever going to celebrate my 25th birthday. No, it really was that every time someone asked me my age till I was about 29 that the first thing to pop out of my mouth was, “I’m 25!” Those who knew me would give me odd, WTF looks or call me out on it immediately, then mock me for not wanting to age.

That wasn’t it at all.

I have no issue with aging, truly I don’t. It’s not getting older that freaks me out, it’s what comes with the number that scares the shit out of me. Completely terrifies me, actually. Age is honestly just an arbitrary number, and you can either let it define and control you or you can embrace how you feel as a person, as a soul.

A few days ago, my family lost someone. Someone we all loved a great deal. Someone who, according to the numbered age on his license, was still young, was still in his prime, still had so many years to go. His death was sudden. It was unexpected. It rocked us all. Shock is an understatement.

And it made me realize how fucking useless age as a number is.

Ricky lived in the moment. He didn’t live as an about-to-turn-62-year-old is “supposed” to. The morning of the day he passed away, he ran 12km. He had recently kick-started his health, started taking better care of himself. He often attended concerts, art festivals, cultural gatherings. If you looked through his 5,000-odd Facebook friends you’d see ages ranging from early 20s right up to, well, I’m not even sure. But the age range is there. And they all loved him. All connected with him. All have amazing stories to tell about how Rick touched their lives.

Age is a number. Whether Ricky had been 32, 42 or the 62 he was meant to be, he still would have been “too young” to leave us when he did. His spirit, his passion, and the way he lived his life makes his death so incredibly sad and horrible and makes us use the phrase, “He was so young.”

How do you want to live your life? Passionately? Without regrets? With a smile on your face and a happy heart? With confidence and strength and compassion?

I dunno about you, but that’s how I want to live.

How you live your life is so important. It’s taken me long enough to realize this, and as I’m about to enter my 33rd year, never has it been made more clear than in the wake of Ricky’s passing.

I always joke about not being able to adult properly. Paying bills, keeping my house clean, being responsible in general (as in taking out the recycling more than once every 3 months and actually owning a plunger), it’s all a challenge to me. Is it because I’m not mature enough? Because I’m not old enough? Do these skills magically kick in when I turn 33? 35? Or maybe not till 43? I doubt it.

No, that’s not it at all.

Instead of chastising myself for not washing my floors every few weeks or for eating pita and dip over the sink for dinner after Owen’s gone to bed instead of all the major food groups or for leaving my laundry till I’ve got three or four massive basket loads full, I should celebrate my lack of adulting.

I have perspective.

Instead of spending the day washing my floors and cooking a three course dinner my child and I very likely wouldn’t even have eaten, we spent the day with family, then the evening in the park running through sand, chasing each other up and down hills and swinging on swing-sets while we sang Mary Poppin’s tunes.

What’s more important; laundry or spending time with my son? What am I more passionate about?

Now, I’m not at all criticizing or chastising the parent/mother/father/caregiver who spends a great deal of time doing all those adult things during the day, putting those things first so they have a clean and tidy home. Not at all! In fact, I applaud those people and are slightly envious.

Adulting is hard. It’s about priorities and perspective, and passion.

This past weekend put a lot of things into perspective for me. It taught me that life is fucking short, so fucking short. No matter what numbered age you get to, it’s never going to be enough.

Not to sound extreme, but none of us have time to waste. Want that job? Apply for it. Always wanted to travel? Find a way to do it and get to that destination you’ve always dreamt of. Have feelings for someone, love them even? Tell them. Failure is part of the experience. It helps you grow. Makes you stronger. Makes you more driven for the next attempt.

I don’t want to be that person the survivors talk about in terms of, “Oh, she always wanted to do that, too bad she never got the chance.” Or “Aw, she was so looking forward to maybe one day experiencing that… guess that won’t happen now.”

Over the past few years, I’ve pretty much grabbed life by the balls and really lived life the way I want to, the way I need to. I’m much more confident in myself, my needs, my wants and my desires. And most of those centre around my son and keeping him happy, but they also have to do with my career and more recently my love life. We all deserve happiness. We all deserve to live passionately and do the things we’ve dreamt about.

Even if that means putting adulting on hold for a bit.

As I start another year of aging in a few days, I’m not so sure my adulting skills will improve, but I know for damn sure I’m changing my perspective, my priorities, and I am going to do my very best to live every moment to its fullest.

Just When You Think You Know Yourself…

•August 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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A few weekends ago, I went on a fair ride with my son. I’m talking one of those travelling, pack-up-and-go-from-town-to-town, kinda sketchy, kinda rickety, usually-barfed-on-rides fairs. He was super-duper excited about going on a ride with Mummy, and who was I to deny my child this experience with his mother?

I gently tried to sway him from the spinning, dipping rides as seeing me vomit wasn’t really how I wanted him to have this fair-ride experience. Bless his heart, he agreed the twirly-gig ones didn’t look very fun. But he did settle on a large oval Ferris-wheel type ride that featured hanging two-seater umbrella structures that left your feet dangling with nothing more than a metal bar loosely across your lap for safety.

The ride arched up well above the trees. As I watched it spin round and round my knees felt weak, my mouth went dry and I felt just as queasy as I likely would have had I just opted for the damn twirly ride that blissfully stayed firmly planted on the ground.

I’m petrified of heights. Sweaty-palm, frozen-to-the-spot, instant-tears  fucking petrified of heights. I’ve never liked them. I never will.

In this moment I had a choice: Be who you’ve always thought you were or get on the damn ride with your 4-year-old and possibly discover something new about yourself.

I got on the ride.

Owen loved it. He whooped and pointed things out as we soared above the trees. He kept asking if I was OK. Kept asking why my voice sounded funny when I talked. Kept telling me to open my eyes. And the funny thing is, when he asked me these things, I did them. I can’t say I enjoyed the ride, but I did it. Sure I was shaking like a leaf when we eventually got off, but I did it.

That creaky metal fair ground ride — called UFO Area 51, I believe — taught me I’m a shit load stronger mentally and emotionally than I ever gave myself credit for. And surviving that 1:30 second ride made me abnormally proud.

Discovering who we are as people, and I mean who we really are deep down, is a life-long process. It’s one that takes time, effort, perseverance, and a certain sense of wonder and fear mixed together in equal doses. Self-discovery is as scary as it is exciting, and I’m not even sure a majority of the general population ever truly discovers who they are, fully.

That makes me sad.

And then I think: Shit, Miranda, have you even discovered a portion of who YOU really are?

Then that makes me sad all over again.

But should it?

I’m the first to admit that I’ve learned more about myself as a person (a mother, friend, lover, employee, athlete [ha ha], partner) over the past few years than I have in all my years, so far. The journey of self-discovery has been an interesting one full of fucked up moments and joyous occasions. All the friends and enemies I created, family births and deaths, my marriage, my child, my affair, my freedom; and through it all me discovering bits and pieces of myself I didn’t even know needed discovering.

I spent all of my teenage years and well into my 20s believing I knew who I was. Shy, quiet, reserved, bookworm. The chubby little blonde whose parents were teachers. The good one who did all her homework. The one who followed all the rules.

And yet that wasn’t me at all.

When I was 15 years old, I was given a friend’s older sister’s ID that made me 22 years old, which is fucking hilarious: I think about it now and the bouncers who believed that ID must have just felt sorry for me. I mean, the average age I’m given at the moment is 23-24 and I’m about to turn a decade older than that in a month … so at 15 I can only surmise I looked to be about 8 years old as I sashayed my way into various downtown clubs wearing too-short skirts and too-heavy makeup.

Of course, we all have stories like that from our teenage years. I’m not in any way special for drinking as young as I did, for losing my virginity at the age I did or for attending the house parties I did when my parents thought I was elsewhere studying or just hanging out with girlfriends. No, that was normal.

What wasn’t was how I never wanted to accept that. I never wanted to admit that I liked that, that I wasn’t just this shy reserved little thing that would rather sit at home alone and read instead of hang out with lots of people, listen to loud music, and even throw out a highly uncoordinated dance move once in awhile. I liked the idea of rebelling a little. I liked the idea of doing what I wanted instead of what I was told to do.

And that charade of “goodness” lasted well into my 20s. Into my marriage. Into my work. Into my pregnancy. Into my first few months of motherhood.

Wait, “goodness” is the wrong word. I mean, I wasn’t a good wife most of the time (and clearly not at all near the end…), I often fucked up at work, I definitely drank the occasional coffee and ate sushi while I was pregnant, and I was by NO means a perfect mother those first few months.

No, what I mean is… Just like so many people I see in the world around me, I was giving everyone around me the version of me I thought they wanted to see.

Is it that all these people haven’t yet discovered the real them? Do they not know? Have they not explored enough? Have they not investigated? Perhaps they just don’t care … but I see the shroud, this shield that society puts up.

Break through shield on your own and wow. Do it with another person and my god is it every fucking glorious.

Over the past year I’ve unearthed more about myself than I ever thought possible. In fact, I’ve discovered facets of myself and my personality I never imagined in a million years could or would exist.

It was rough. And it should be.

If it was easy to be your true self, don’t you think more people would be?

I’m still discovering the “real” me to this day. She’s mostly out and about, but not quite. Sometimes I surprise myself with an emotional reaction or thought about a situation. I actually stop and ask myself, “Miranda, really? That’s how we’re gonna handle this?”

And I realize talking to myself in the third person while living alone with a 4-year-old and two cats is never going to end well, but hear me out…

So, I often ask myself, “Miranda, is this really how you feel and how you want to proceed with this?”

And the thing is; it is. That day on the fair ground I asked myself that same question (likely out loud because I was secretly trying not to cry and freak out while in line with Owen), “Miranda, are you really going to do this? Go on that ride that goes ALL THE WAY UP THERE?”

And yes, yes I was. Because inside, I knew I could. Somewhere in me, the real me was screaming how stupid I was being and that of course I had the balls to get on the ride and enjoy it with my super excited son.

Through all of this self-discovery and learning who I am the most important lesson I’ve learned is this: LISTEN TO YOURSELF.

For the most part, this is an excellent piece of advice.

Want a new job? Seek one out and apply yourself. Want to get fit? Believe you can and don’t give up. Want to connect with someone and fall in love? Open up and allow them in, and believe you deserve to be loved because you do. Want to be a good parent? Be there for your child, listen to them, support them, and encourage them. Want more life experience? Get out there and explore. Talk to strangers. Do things you wouldn’t normally do, like get on a sketchy fair ground ride with a 4-year-old.

Tiers of Loneliness

•July 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

i-am-lost

Being an only child, I kind of got used to being alone. In fact, I reveled in that time by myself. Many adventures were had exploring backyards, and nearby forests; journeying on my bike (which in my childhood mind was a glorious white steed with a flowing mane and thunderous hooves); reading in garden groves or in big comfy armchairs while grownups were elsewhere leaving me to my own devices. Those moments were glorious. It was all me, all alone.

It took me a great deal of time to be as comfortable with my adult self in the same way. Don’t we all wish we could handle things as we did as children when we’re adults? I sure do…

Nearly three years ago when my ex husband and I split, I was thrust into a solitude I wasn’t quite prepared to handle. No, that’s wrong, a solitude I abso-fucking-lutely was not ready to handle, at all.

How I longed to have dealt with those moments like a 6-year-old me would have: grabbing the nearest Goosebumps paperback, heading to a sunny patch with a snack (and hopefully a cat following to cuddle with), to read the afternoon away.

Nothing could have been farther from the lonely truth that it was for me in those first few months.

In truth, I’d been alone in our marriage for years. Alone in my emotions, alone in a depression that lead me down the path it did. Sure, I wasn’t physically alone, but mentally and emotionally I was buoyed in the middle of the god damn Atlantic without a ship or island in sight. I was more alone than I’d ever been in my entire life. And it crushed me. Completely.

And suddenly I was thrust into a loneliness again, but this time it was different. Very different. It wasn’t soul-crushing. I no longer felt trapped in my solitude. Instead I felt a liberation, a freedom to find myself and be me and truly live.

I think in those first liberating moments of loneliness I felt more like the 6-year-old me; ready to explore, to find an adventure. I was full of confidence and fervor. I was ready to get out into the world and content in being with myself and my own thoughts (a downright fucking terrifying thought mere months before).

Being alone was no longer lonely, it was quality time. It was me time. It was full of moments in which I could grow. And grow I did. I learned a helluva lot about myself in that time on my own. Both good and bad. Thankfully, most of it good. And I learned to once again accept myself, fully, in those solo moments. It’s a tough fucking thing to do, trust me. If you’ve never been alone for long periods of time — and I mean really alone — you just don’t know.

Travelling alone (and not for work) opened my eyes to myself in ways I’d not experienced before. While I’d consider myself a seasoned traveller, it was always on another’s schedule, and usually their dime too. When I went solo it was all me. It forced me way outside my comfort zone, way outside what I thought I would ever be able to handle or accomplish. It made me open up to myself and others even more.

If you’ve never gone to a bar by yourself, I highly recommend it. Don’t laugh, and don’t brush it aside. You’ll never feel more humbled, intimidated, confident, uplifted, and crushed all at once than you will while sitting at a bar by yourself.

I remember the day my mother suggested it to me. I was appalled. Absolutely horror-struck. But I did it. That very same night she suggested it actually. I was beyond petrified. I showed up early-ish with the only game-plan I could muster: Sit at the bar because the bartender has to talk to you.

And as I sat there throughout the night I realized I didn’t even want the bartender to talk to me because everyone else was drawn to me, this solo person sitting there sipping her drink. I was asked again and again who I was there with and when I responded, “No one,” I was met with a mix of disbelief and high-fives and it just built on my confidence.

Since then, I’ve done it multiple times. I love it. I’ve met the most amazing people sitting in a bar by myself. Started some amazing friendships, was hired for a writing job, and even met the man my heart currently belongs to… incredible things can happen when you open your solo self up to the world.

Truly, it’s a humbling and uplifting experience. I highly recommend it. You will learn a great deal about yourself sitting in a public place, by yourself, where no one else is alone.

Loneliness has levels. Tiers, if you will.

I’ve learned this over time. I didn’t quite understand it at first, and I think perhaps I haven’t quite grasped the entire concept, but I’m aware that there isn’t just one definition or meaning for “loneliness.”

I’ve voluntarily thrust myself into loneliness as of late. I’ve agreed to feel the ache of absence more than the thrill of being with someone I love, in the same room (shit, in the same country would be good at this point). Since deciding this it what we want to do, I’ve questioned my ability to handle it.

Most days I’m OK. I’m content in my life, in myself, in my routines. I’m OK with being alone most of the time and sleeping alone every night. When I have Owen it’s him and I and our world is amazing and we have the best time. His smile lights up my world and his laugh can cure any bad day instantly. His hugs are the very best, and I melt into his warm little arms and nothing else seems to matter.

Then he goes to dad for a few days and there’s this extra large hole that’s only amplified by a double dose of loneliness.

And I wonder if I’m really cut out to deal with it all.

Can I handle this tier of loneliness? This loneliness that’s not really loneliness at all, simply an absence. A missing physical component. Just because someone isn’t right beside you, within arm’s reach, do they have to feel far away? With today’s technology are we ever really separated?

I’m here to tell you we are. No amount of text messages, selfies, phone calls or FaceTime calls will ever make up for a real, honest-to-goodness hug and kiss. Seeing the words “I love you” typed on a screen mean’s fuck all when you’ve heard them in real life, said out loud. And you desperately long to hear them again, uttered in front of you, to you, for you, about you.

That lack of interaction dips me into a loneliness I’m only just now learning to deal with. This is all new for me, a whole new level. As each day passes and the distance remains — or we move even farther apart as one travels for work or to visit home — I discover new difficulties, new challenges.

Then there are days I’m so overcome with the feeling of being alone that all I can do is sob. And I’m not even sure why I’m crying but my heart aches, aches at the absence, aches at the lack of interaction. I long for a touch, a voice that’s real in my ear, a hand that’s actually brushing hair from my face, a smile that’s right in front of me and eyes that dance with life and realness. And not just any touch, voice, hand, smile or eyes. His.

Those days are the most difficult. Those are the days I feel I can’t at all handle this loneliness. Can’t handle this level. That I’m not cut out for this… not strong enough. Not one bit.

Yet, on some other absurd level, it’s as liberating as those 6-year-old moments. I’ve never been more sure of myself in my life. Sure of me. Sure of who I am, how I feel, where I am in life. Being this alone has taught me how to be alone, properly. Because I’m not actually alone. I have more support and love than I have in years, more understanding, and a commitment that not only shocked me but made me fall harder.

And I know I’m not feeling the pull of separation alone. Together we suffer in loneliness, despite being an ocean (or continent) apart. Together we’ve embarked on these tiers of loneliness. This gives me comfort in the solitude that will, eventually, end. This I know.

Distance

•June 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

distance

I travel a great deal. Once a month, minimum, I’m away from home. Away from my life, my son, my cats, my responsibilities (so to speak). I’m not away for vacation (though some might see it as that). I travel for work. But the point is; I’m away. I put distance between myself and the people and things I love. The catch is, I know I’ll return.

When distance between you and something you love happens without knowing when that gap will be closed (if ever), that’s a whole other story, and one I’ve only just become privy to.

Distance is a funny thing. Perhaps “funny” is the wrong word here. Maybe “odd” is a better choice. Yes, odd. Distance can have a few results, all of which I’ve experienced over the years.

When I go away for a few days at a time each month, it’s a bit of a breather. My time away, my distance from the everyday mundane, the daily routine, the grind that is my life, tends to put everything into perspective. When I’m away, I’m not immune to everything happening at home. In fact, I likely think about it more because I’m removed from it. I’ll often come up with plans for home decoration renos or plan upcoming bill payments/document submission, and then actually DO IT when I get back because I’m motivated and realize the importance of such things when I’m removed from the situation.

The weight of it all isn’t atop me when I’m away. I can breathe. I can think. I see clearly.

I feel like the same can be said for distance in a relationship.

Sometimes emotions and feelings can be stifling. Fuck, they can be downright suffocating to the point of complete oxygen deprivation. But then that’s the beauty of emotions, no? They are all encompassing; they take over. They make us human, even if we don’t want to accept them all or express them fully. They’re there, and they’re heavy. Really heavy.

So, what if you could remove yourself from those heavy, weighed down emotions? Wouldn’t you?

We all know the infamous “we were on a break” scene from Friends with Ross and Rachel, but there’s some profound truth to the very basic nature of their “break.” They created distance between them, a distance that was needed in order to see things more clearly.

We’re often blinded by things that are placed in front of us every day. We don’t see things clearly because they are always there, so why would be really pay that much attention? However, remove that thing and suddenly we are more aware; either of a need to have that thing returned or a realization that we don’t really care and can move on.

Truthfully, I’ve taken a great deal of “space” before I wrote this piece … I wanted to ensure I was seeing things clearly, that I wasn’t blinded by emotion (anger/sadness/love/hate/insecurities). I needed that space from my writing to really get my thoughts in order. Shocking, right?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all things in life could go that way? Someone yells at you at work and you have a few hours/days to solidify your response instead of replying with a knee-jerk reaction that will likely get you into trouble. Or your child says something or does something you don’t appreciate and in the moment and instead of flying off the handle at them, you take a deep breath and instead address the action a few hours later (obviously not effective, but at least you’ve not said or done something you’ll regret).

 

Distance.

 

Time zones are brutal. For all my travelling, time zones are always the bitch. From 3 hours to 12 hours, I’ve experienced it all. Separation by kilometres is one thing; separation by time is a whole other story. You’re experiencing the day differently, mind focusing on a different portion of life (starting the day vs ending it is a whole different mindset). I never realized how significant time zones were till I was separated in both distance and time zones from someone I cared deeply for …

Does distance really make the heart grow fonder?

I’ve considered this a great deal lately. Truthfully, I don’t think it changes anything at all. It doesn’t make affection grow at all. It very likely makes it diminish, but it doesn’t make it grow. Hear me out here.

There’s no way being away from someone you love can make you love them more. You’re away from them. How could that bond grow? No, being away from someone makes you love them for real. It makes you realize what you’ve lost. The love you already had is made blindingly clear. It’s presented to you, perhaps in a fashion you didn’t quite expect, but it’s no more or less then it was when you were with the person. It’s just made a reality because you’ve now got clarity. You’ve had the chance to step back and assess the situation.

So, no, distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes the heart grow real.