Wednesday, 27 August 2014

What Women Want

I know what you're thinking...and you're right. Why should you take any kind of dating advice from me? I'll be the first to admit, I'm terrible at it. Not at the logistics so much. I'm pretty good at pouring a glass of wine, putting on some red lipstick and choosing a cute outfit. Or making you a picnic for the park. I'm also a pretty good kisser. 

It's the making it last part that I suck at. Romantically at least...I seem to have no problem staying awesome friends with all my ex's. Seriously, I still meet up with them for lunch or coffee or drinks, get together at Christmas, sometimes they'll send me pictures of their new baby.

I have however dated a LOT. And have a handful of girlfriends who tell me everything about their experiences. I've talked to men, to women, to gay and lesbian friends and there are some fundamental things you should know about the woman in your life. I'm just going to share what I've heard. 

1. Don't lie to us. Women in their 30s have seen enough bullshit to be able to identify it. But we are still romantics. I happened to meet three Irishes in a row. One of them said on our first date: "I'd love to take you to Ireland with me." I knew it was a lie but...swoon. Another one asked if he could see me again and when I asked when? He said tomorrow, the next day, every day. He never even called me again. So guys, you don't have to be so over the top. If we like you, we'll probably see you again without all the grandiose claims. Just tone it down a notch. 

2. If we do end up sleeping with you at some point, please call the next day. Not for a big conversation, just say "Hey, I had a lovely time. I would love to see you again." It would literally take you five minutes. Text messages just don't have the same impact. And I mean, we did sleep with you after all. 

3. Get over yourself.  If you feel the need to tell us on the first or second date that you're "not looking for anything serious" that translates in our minds to: "I'd love to sleep with you and never call you again." And then we'll walk away. Who says we're looking for something serious? We've known you for five minutes. Give us a little more credit than just being some girl who wants to tie you up and drag you down the aisle. A lot of us don't even care about getting married and having kids anymore. Life has changed. 

4. Sometimes we just want you to listen. You don't have to fix us. We can fix ourselves and we know how to do it. We have our girlfriends, our therapists, our careers, our interests and hobbies. But if we've had a bad day, we might just need to talk it out. If you can listen without saying "um hmm" while looking at the tv or computer or iphone, bonus points to you. If you can give us a hug, even better. :)

I can't speak for all girls, but having been the girl whose boyfriends buy her fancy dinners, chic hotel rooms, Tiffany jewelry, expensive perfume, pretty guy even made me furniture...I can say all of those things are greatly appreciated. But we'd give them all up for someone who makes us laugh, who appreciates our intelligence, who gives us a hug when we're having a bad day. 

A lobster dinner never hurts though - just FYI. :)

Sullivan out. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Two men, Margaux and a puppy

It's been an interesting month. JJ had to move out of his place. 

Me: Just stay with me until you find something new. 

He moves in. 

Two days later I get an unexpected visit from my brother. He also needs a place until September. I spent a couple of days moving things around, throwing things out. Making space in my already sparse apartment. 

My girlfriend Robin has a dog. She usually has dog walkers and puppy daycare, but she thought I might like some company, being off work and all. So every morning, Gidget shows up and spends the day with us. 

It's a little cramped, we have too much stuff. It's a bit more messy, three people and a dog make more of a mess than me by myself. There is some kind of dead carcass here with antlers, I don't even want to try to figure that shit out. We have a hard time sorting out whose underwear is whose after we do laundry. 

I can't say though that I'm not enjoying it. I've been on my own for SO long, the voices and music and tv are comforting. It's nice to have a little family. I guess in some ways, this is how I thought life would end up for me, with noise and mess and people eating my raspberries (ah um, Micheal). But it didn't. (Except the stealing all my raspberries incident, that is real.)

I can't believe the month is almost over and things will eventually go back to normal. This mandatory time-out from work has been terrible, awful and great all at the same time. For the first 6 or 7 weeks I was too sick to think about anything. I was just in survival mode. Survive this trip to the ER. Survive this stay in the hospital. Survive this slew of doctor's appointments. Do this and you'll be fine. 

Now though, I'm starting to get better. And I've realized that I needed to go through this because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have figured out what's the most important thing. I love my job, I lived for it. I miss my colleagues because I've been blessed with having great people to go to every day. 

People, friends, family, that's what matters. We are all fucked up. As much as we try to pretend things are fine, advance our careers, plan for financial aspects, it really does not matter at the end of the day if we aren't able to come home, pick up the phone and find a way to help each other be okay. 

The amount of love and support I've received over the past couple of months...there are no words...except thank you. Thank you for meeting me for lunch, for having picnics in the park, for sharing your dog, for calling, for texting, for moving in with me and making me feel less alone.

Three's company but four is definitely a crowd. I couldn't throw any of you out though. This is the best month I've had in a long time. But Christ's sake, stop stealing my fruit. :) 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Spark of Madness

"You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it" - Robin Williams

Alright, I don't want to jump on the Robin Williams bandwagon. But I do need to say, growing up with him, he was a comic genius. He brought so much joy to so many people's lives, but at the end of the day, he lost the battle against depression. 

I don't blame people who do. Some people think it's selfish. Some people judge. Some people can't possibly or maybe, will not possibly find a scenario in their mind where someone might get to that place. 

Having been there, I can tell you, it's not a selfish decision. When I decided I was done, I didn't write a note. I didn't blame my family or friends. I just did what I thought I needed to do, curled up in bed with the Cat and went to sleep. 

Thankfully, I have amazing people in my life who somehow figured it out and came to the rescue. Would I give up on life now? Absolutely not. But I understand how we can get there. I understand how fucked up family and life can get. I understand how disappointed we can be when things don't work out the way we thought they would. 

I came from a background where I was brainwashed by a cult and I never knew that I would get old. Now I see the lines around my eyes and I know what's coming. It's terrifying and new and unnatural. It's also satisfying. 

Knowing that this life is all there is, makes it so much more special, so much more precious. I've felt deeply the loss of parental love. I'm sure they love me, but they don't know how to show it. I've lost love, marriage, family, friendships. I went to see my favorite band, alone a few nights ago. I've never felt so happy, or at that level of peace. 

When Rosemary wrote my story she called it "Starting over". It was the perfect title. Sometimes you need to leave everything else behind and start a new journey. I've met parents and sisters and friends and even the perfect soulmate. 

I don't know where I'll end up. Right now, I just remember how the journey began and we'll see where it ends. The people along the way have made it worthwhile though, even if they don't know that. 

I went out with my adopted family on the weekend and they were so cute. "Dad" wouldn't let me pay for my dinner and T wouldn't stop going on about how we were sisters now. I got a message from him today and he always signs them "D" (for dad). I wish my own dad would call me but I guess you can't change fate. You just have to be happy for what you have. What I have is way more than enough to be happy :)

Sullivan out.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Bride

"If it ain't broke, don't marry it." - Samantha, Sex and the City

Today is my wedding anniversary. I'm not even sure if it's still technically my anniversary now that he's been married to his new wife for two years, but it still feels like it is. 

Had I known I would wake up one day and decide to leave the Jehovah's Witnesses, ask him to come with me and he would say no, choose them over me...I may never have made the choice to get married. Or maybe I would have. Who of us can say what decisions we would have made differently knowing the outcome?

My dad knew. Daddy rented me a white Rolls Royce, the icing on the cake for my absolutely perfect wedding. As we were getting ready to walk down the aisle, he leaned over, looked me in the eye and said "We don't have to do this. We have a car. We can leave right now."  

No way. I was young and naive and nothing was going to stop me from walking down that aisle and marrying the man I loved. Not the nagging doubts, not the fighting between us, not the fact that his family never liked me in the first place. Not the fact that my family didn't like him all that much either. 

We'd been friends since we were 15. He was tall and handsome with the bluest eyes anyone has ever seen. He was brilliant and incredibly funny. No other man has been able to make me laugh so hard that I cry. In the end, we both hurt each other, both broke promises we made. But I don't regret it. He was an excellent choice for my first husband, for the person I was when we were together. 

Will I ever get married again? Probably not. No matter what happens, who I date, he is still my husband in my mind. We were not meant to be together, but we managed to do it for over a decade despite that. Our last anniversary together, we both knew it was past the point of no return. He used to make me pick out my own anniversary presents and plan the day, but that day he didn't. It was really special. 

We may have made a mistake in getting married. But sometimes mistakes are what make us who we are, shape our future. Give us something we would have missed in our life, even if we didn't know we could have had it. 

I'm terrible at dating, I don't trust people, I push them away. It's like I'm lost at sea without a lighthouse to show me the way home. Or an anchor to ground me. 

At the end of the day though, I'm happy he's found happiness. I wish him well. I spent a beautiful day on the lake with my friends today and I feel at peace with what we had, what we lost and what's been found again.

Fourteen years ago, he left me a note before he left one night. It said: "I know all about those other guys. The ones with the athletic thighs. I know all about the time before. Kissing at your front door. They might make you think you're happy. Maybe for a minute or two. They can't make you laugh. They can't make you feel the way I do."

You were right darling. I miss you. 

Sullivan out. 

Ps. Yes, that is a flask in my hand. Scotch. :)

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Daydreams & Nightmares

My therapist says I should be writing more so here goes. (And, yes, I did just begin yet another sentence with "my therapist says".)

I had another unfortunate experience recently. Maybe Rosemary was right and I should just write a blog called "My horrible, terrible, really bad summer". Or maybe my psychic is right and I just have very bad karma. Either way, I was recently attacked by a man I didn't know. 

I was alone and the experience was terrifying. Thank the Universe I had the advantage of an extreme burst of adrenaline and a drunk, clumsy opponent. Ladies, if you ever find yourself in that situation (and most of us do apparently at some point in our lives, it happens so MUCH more often than you would think): scream, yell in their face, punch, kick, whatever you need to do. These predators are actually cowards trying to intimidate us into thinking they have all the power. In some situations, they do, and very bad things happen. But not always. Sometimes we can win. 

It's remarkable how our brains work, how we can store away hurt and fear and anger until we experience some new trauma and then all of a sudden, the past is back. I haven't been able to sleep since this happened, I wake up every few minutes in a sweat, having a panic attack because all of a sudden, in my sleep, I'm back in my past. I won't bore you with all the details, but I've managed to make my way through every significant trauma in my life - in my sleep - all the way back to the time our house caught on fire when I was 4 or 5 years old. I had completely forgotten that even happened. 

The good news is I've been getting through so many of them a night, I should be out of bad memories by the end of the weekend. 

I've always preferred daydreams to night dreams. In my head, in the light of day, there's always hope and possibility. At night, not so much. My subconscious takes over when I sleep and I can't control it. 

Sometimes, our daydreams turn into nightmares. The day I got married was one of the happiest days of my life. The day I got divorced was a waking nightmare. The day I was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses was full of promise (although I was a brainwashed 12 year old), the day I was disfellowshipped and shunned was terrible. I almost didn't survive those experiences. 

I think though, that I got through them the same way I got through my most recent challenge: sheer will, determination and  refusing to give up. No matter who or what is our opponent if we don't give up we have a fighting chance. At least 50/50 right? I'm going to be really Canadian for a minute and quote Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take". 

So when you're faced with something and you know in your gut what the right thing to do is, take that shot. And hopefully, eventually our subconscious catches up with us and stops being so afraid anytime we go to sleep. 

Sullivan out. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Blackbird on a Wire

"Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free." - Leonard Cohen

I caught up a bit with a friend of mine this morning. After filling her in on the events of the past 6 or 7 weeks (I've lost track) she suggested I write a story called: "My horrible, terrible, very bad summer."

I won't lie to you, because I never do (alright, sometimes I embellish, but no lies) this summer has been a bit of a let down, especially after such a depressing winter. I was hoping things would go a little better. Maybe just not as many trips to the ER, not as many medications for weird medical issues, not so many panic attacks trying to stay calm through all that.

I keep thinking if I could just get to a spot where I feel a bit better, I could use some of this time I have to work on my book. Go to yoga. Sit on the beach. It just hasn't worked out that way. Yet :)

This past weekend a friend I didn't know very well invited me to come up to their cottage. Call me crazy, but I decided to go. Y'all know I'm a PEI girl and I need the fresh air, to sit on the water once in awhile to stay grounded. Bonus points if there's a dog involved (there was). 

So off we went. My girlfriend texts me. 

Her: Any plans for the long weekend? 

Me: Oh yah, I'm on my way to a cottage with some people I don't really know yet. 

Her: Ha ha. 

Then she calls me. 

Her: Where are you?

Me: Somewhere near Bobcaygeon? 

Her: Oh. My. God. You were serious?!!

I was. And I went to a party at a cottage where they actually played Bobcaygeon for me. Twice. I guess I can cross that off my bucket list. 

In my experience, no matter how safe and secure you think you are, everything can change suddenly overnight. I read once that the more factors that make up your identity, the less threatened you are when any one of them goes away. I think that goes for people too. Most people out there? Are good people. And one thing I will say about this summer, is that I've forged some wonderful friendships with old friends and new who have been there for me. Who have visited, brought me groceries, stayed with me in the ER in the middle of the night. Spent a little more time with my brother and sister. 

I've been scared and stressed but I haven't felt alone. Whatever happens with me, I've tried in my own way to be free, to trust, to love again. If there's one good thing you can take out of a "terrible, horrible, very bad summer" it's that you didn't have to go it alone. And I did get to see some beautiful sunsets this past weekend and I made some great new friends. :)