Chrysalis, Day Fourteen

Two weeks in this strange space where life has come to feel like a bad dream. Some things just simply won’t be possible, and living in a pressure cooker is one of those things. I cannot take care of everyone anymore, and I no longer intend to exhaust myself trying.

I sat silent at the top of the stairs last night, and heard everything. In that everything were all the things I ever needed to hear, and anything I ever needed to know.

We have all created this. We are all responsible for our reality. We must own and understand our contributions, and accept change, or we will never be able to move forward.

The only thing I can control is my own heart, and my heart is clear and true, and steadfast in her resolve. I know where I belong, and I have no fear about my ability to embrace this and remain loyal to this decision.

Each day I pray for a healthier alternative to this toxic state. There is too much anger here for any growth or healing to be possible.

Chrysalis, Day Nine

I remain at home, which is at once familiar and strange. Would that I could share the intricacies of my unique situation here with you all, but I simply cannot be so candid. Let us say that we are in transition, and I have no idea what any of this will lead to.

My emotions are a mixture of many things, and I try to temper them all with compassion and patience, neither of which have come easily to me until now. Something has melted away in me, some deep anger that was never really mine. A black seed that someone else planted in my heart. In these last two months, I was able to pull it out by its roots and the change I feel is remarkable. In time, everyone else will see it, and believe in it too.

It is difficult to imagine the other side of this space in time. Everything I hoped it would become feels out of my hands. All I can do is maintain my desire to show love and grace in what are perhaps the most challenging circumstances I’ve ever existed in.

These days feel like a test. All of the growing and learning I have done has brought me to this moment, and I am being called to rely on the things I have learned about myself, and the lessons I continue to learn with each passing day.

I must believe in the power of love.

I must believe in my own honesty and understanding of self.

I must believe in the depth of my strength.

I must have faith that we are being guided through this by something greater than all of us.

I must trust in the people that I love.

I must draw power from my incredible ability to be a parent.

I must realize that I cannot always have control.

I must be patient, in as many ways as I can.

Tonight I made dinner. Something new, and comforting. The house is still filled with rich cooking smells. It felt good to be busy – to offer a gesture of warmth and kindness. To have an elaborate distraction from the tension and the sadness here.

Chrysalis, Day Five

I didn’t sleep very much last night. When I did, I had an intensely vivid dream. I was laying on a slab in a very dimly lit room. My blood was being transfused, fresh blood pumping through me by a machine. Several of my friends (work friends mostly) gathered around lovingly. They were so tender and caring. They kept bestowing gifts upon me, strange gifts – the power to predict the weather, the power to smell things like an animal would, the ability to see in the dark. In exchange for these gifts, they were draining my blood and drinking it from ancient goblets. As the dream formulated, I was at first confused and disoriented, then comforted by their tender ministrations, then completely terrified when I realized what was actually happening to me. I gasped awake, making a point to remember this dream upon waking.

Day five is an entirely unknown entity. I begin this post in the morning hours, while the city is cold and grey. I’m about to take Molly the dog on a walk through the cemetery. Later I will return to my home (can I call it that in this place of limbo?) and steal a few quiet working hours there. My sadness is as thick as the fog that wrapped us all in mystery last night.

11:30 am

My walk with Molly the dog proved to be a therapeutic respite. The cemetery is so pretty, particularly at this time of the year. She’s a great dog, always full of smiles.

I get on the TTC to journey towards the house.  A girl in a maroon sweatshirt waits for the bus. I notice her because I notice everybody. My earphones are plugged into my head, creating a bubble filled with sweeping, melancholic music. I mindlessly drift from the bus to the subway and ride the train studying the faces of strangers.

At Pape station, a young man gets on. He is the very same young man I saw yesterday at Starbucks, speaking to the Christians. He doesn’t recognize me. These serendipitous moments are common for me. I’m always struck by them, and I wonder if there is some greater meaning. I transfer at St. George Station. The girl in the Maroon sweater is standing on the platform waiting for the Northbound train. The same train I’m about to get on. The young man waits for it too.

Now I sit in our local coffee shop waiting to come into my home. The sun is streaming in the windows and the tables are filled with people reading newspapers and books, or typing away at their laptops, or having laughter-speckled conversation. The coffee barista tries to be cute by playing a little game of tug-of-war with my receipt. His overly-familiar gesture annoys me a little. I’ve never seen him before. I smile indulgently all the same. I might as well make someone happy today, even if that someone is a stranger.

I want to go back to Hamilton. It’s easier to be away from my home when I’m far away from my home. As I move through my appointments and obligations in the city, my former life dangles before me like something in a dream that I cannot grasp no matter how hard I try.

11:22 pm

I’m home. In my house. I’m sleeping here tonight. We are able to share the space with such grace and love that I am amazed, and moved by how we can still take care of each other. I feel hopeful for our future as a family. We have an early start at some family time together tomorrow, and I’ve put in a full day of work. I feel a strange sense of peace. Despite the pain, we are still together, trying to work through to a place of deeper understanding. I won’t take this for granted. I know that today was possible because of some perfect storm of timing and temperament. Tomorrow will be different, and I should have no assumptions. All I can do is continue to keep my heart open, and true, and strive always for love and patience.

I’m very, very grateful for today.

Chrysalis, Day Four (Evening)

I believe that the feeling I had earlier taken for hope was in fact something akin to the calm before the storm. I am so, so sad because this place we are moving through is so strange and scary, and there is so much pain.

I wish I could peel back my layers of flesh and finger-like ribcage so that my heart, uncovered by mortal stuff, could be seen. How I have loved and continue to love. I have so much love still to give, and I know I can be great at giving it.

The great tragedy, of course, is that I cannot give it the way it is most desired, and how I wish this were different. If I could grant happiness to everyone I loved, I would, but I am aware of my limitations and my capacity, and after thirty-four years of this heart, I understand well how it works. It is far from perfect.

So I will say it, without fear. I love you. I will continue to love you.  I have told you with my very soul how my love for you evolves, and how it can be realized.  We are family, you are in my heart, and I truly, deeply hope that you can hear me.

dive for dreams

dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at the wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for good likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neating each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.

silently if, out of not knowable

silently if, out of not knowable
night’s utmost nothing,wanders a little guess
(only which is this world)more my life does
not leap than with the mystery your smile
sings or if(spiralling as luminous
they climb oblivion)voices who are dreams,
less into heaven certainly earth swims
than each my deeper death becomes your kiss
losing through you what seemed myself,i find
selves unimaginably mine;beyond
sorrow’s own joys and hoping’s very fears
yours is the light by which my spirit’s born:
yours is the darkness of my soul’s return
-you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars

– e.e. cummings

Chrysalis Day Four

I’m seated at the large communal table at the biggest Starbucks I’ve ever seen. Today I shall challenge them and see how long I can linger here before they ask me to leave. My theory is that as long as I keep a cup beside me, they will not notice me for several hours. Let’s call it my office. My very noisy office filled with strangers.

Against all reason, I feel good today. Calm, level, grounded. A bit sleepy, but like my cold has lifted.  I feel like perhaps, just maybe, everything might be okay.

There is a couple seated beside me at the communal table. He arrived first. They seem twenty-ish, and just a bit hip. Sweet as pie. I think they’re from the Prairies.  She pipes up with a wholesome smile to ask me if I mind if she Skypes her friend. I do not. She asks me what kind of work I’m doing. I say I’m a writer.

“Cool, what do you write about?” she squeaks.

“Relationships” I say.

“Oh wow. Are you in a relationship?”

Holy personal. Is she hitting on me? No. I see by the red tips of her ears that she was just trying to be polite and friendly. I give her a simple answer and a reassuring smile, and go back to my work. I briefly entertain the thought of giving her a link to my sex advice blog, but then decide against it. My life is awkward enough these days. I needn’t seek out further awkwardness.

The lineup is now out the door in my office. Lots of people want overpriced coffee it seems. I feel the need to use the washroom and I wonder if my little Prairie girl can be trusted to watch my stuff.

A text message indicates that my day might be unraveling at warp speed now. My breath quickens and I am fighting to stay in this place of calm, this serenity that I seem to have found. None of the things I am worried about are within my control.

I will keep writing today. I will get right out of my own head and act as a conduit for ideas and stories to flow through me. I can write for my other blog, and I can draft some notes for a friend who just sent me a script to take a look at. I can also re-read the first draft of my book, so that it doesn’t give up on me and it knows that I’m still thinking about it.

I listen to the Prairie Dawn giggling with her girlfriend and giving her advice on a cover letter she’s written. She’s just said the phrase “Canvas for Christ”. I’ve made up my mind. I’ll send her to my other blog and then sip my latte slowly as I watch her read all about female anatomy. It’s impossible to be this close to me at any given moment without me altering your universe just a little. I think it’s what I was meant to do.

Viva la catalyst.

Chrysalis, Day Three

Being sick and homeless sucks. Beyond that, I’m doing okay. I’m back in the city, in a comfortable guest room at my friends’ home. They also have a dog, so my creature comforts are covered here.

I saw my family last night. It was bittersweet. There’s the usual happiness and exuberance of the little ones, who are such an absolute delight, but then there is the sadness and other complicated adult emotion, which of course I expected. Expectation doesn’t make it any easier.

Today I will head downtown, after a moment of silent reflection on this important day of remembering. I have a doctor’s appointment which is keeping me in the city. After that I’ll head back to the house to gather some things, and help get the kids from school. I hope that I’ll be able to stay to spend some play time with them, and see them into bed.

I feel blocked today. The words aren’t flowing very well. It’s like my sinuses and my fingers are mirroring each other. Jian Gomeshi is telling me that Nora Effron is now the editor of a special section of The Huffington Post devoted to divorce. I skip over to it, and I’m immediately disgusted by do’s and don’ts that include:

Do know you’re a hot chick.

Don’t act crazy.

Nora is talking to Jian about the difference between divorcing with and without kids. I’ve divorced without children. It was fairly seamless. Now I have no legal rights at all, and I move forward with hope that I won’t be denied access to kids that I have no legal rights over. I can’t fight for my home, the business I had started was never put to paper so it exists as a vapor, and my job is no longer because I was working in the family business. No protection for me whatsoever.

Every fear I had about this relationship has come to realization.

I’m lucky that I don’t immediately have to think about work. I’m going to use some time for healing, but next week I will tackle my resume and make it look shiny and new. Even a simple retail job during the holidays is something to help give me my power back. I will never, ever again rely on anyone else to support me, no matter how sincere their intentions are.

I am a complex nut. I find it incredibly difficult to trust someone who I approach as a romantic partner, yet I continually subject myself to such complicated, compromised situations. In this instance I’ve given away so much of my independence. I thought I had an amazing opportunity to realize some of my own professional dreams, and I did. I was working hard, and seeing my work come to beautiful fruition, but that’s all gone now, and I have no idea if this is a permanent change. I should have insisted on putting things in writing. At least then I’d have some sense of security.

I made a baby too. A book that now lies suspended, it’s fate entirely uncertain. I poured my heart and soul into it, and I have real belief in it, but I simply don’t know what to do next.

Day three in the chrysalis is the most despairing yet. Despite the sunshine, it’s feeling rather impossible to see the light at the end of this tunnel.


Chrysalis Life, Day Two

I slept better last night, but woke up this morning to find that the cold I’ve been battling has won. I’m still fighting with vitamin C and hope, but I think I’ve just got to accept that I’m a little bit sick.

I’m getting on the GO train shortly to head back into the city. I’ve got my own therapy appointment today with my own shrink. Tomorrow I have some medical appointments. Friday evening I have a school function for my four year old step-daughter. Sunday I have rehearsal with Les Coquettes. Monday morning relationship therapy to try to repair hurt and confusion.

There’s no point in heading back to Hamilton until Monday afternoon, but I must remain away from my home. I imagine it will be harder to be apart from the people I love when they are closer in proximity. At least in Hamilton I have the excuse of distance to ease my loneliness. I can pretend I’m on a little vacation, which is exactly what we’ve told the kids. I’ll explain my absence to them next week with a similar story.

Where would I be without my friends? I’ve been getting so many offers, loving notes, concerned phone calls. They really do make a difference. I’ve always tried to be as nurturing as I can to the people who are close to me. I want them to feel loved and supported by my friendship, and I’ve given my heart to people who I know can reciprocate this. Friendship is something we should all make a point of growing and nurturing. When we have good friends, the lonely times aren’t as lonely. They are like light at the end of the tunnel, and they are a reminder of who I am outside of all of this pain and confusion.

I’ll be at home briefly this evening, and I’m nervous about that. I know my very presence will cause sadness, and that hurts my heart. I truly wish that circumstances weren’t so difficult, but I must remain true to myself, and honest with the people I love, no matter how painful that honesty is. Transparency is essential to take care of each other through this. The truth can hurt so much, but the gesture of honesty from a deep, loving place will build a foundation for transition and growth. At least that is my heart’s great hope.

Today I will write in my diary on the train, spend a lot of time calming my heart and willing it to be open, explore my complicated situation in a safe place, play with my girls, catch up with my dear friend over wine, and sleep as soundly as I can.

I began reading this blog from the very start last night. It’s amusing how my writing style has evolved over these two years. I was also amazed to see how many visitors have been here. The sad irony is that I began writing here from a similar place of displacement and uncertainty. My heart was more open then to possibility and hope, and I’m sure that had something to do with Paris looming on the horizon. Today, there is nothing that is certain on the horizon, except the guarantee that tomorrow will bring something new and different to process and digest.

I am the gypsy wife. I am the girl who simply can’t fit anywhere but within her own heart. I am so close, and so completely far away from the life I’ve always wanted. I am the only thing that I can count on for constant love and care, any time of day or night and in the face of anything that may happen next.

Chrysalis Life, Day One (Morning)

Bailey's Winter Coat

I drifted in and out of sleep, waking only once with the panic of feeling like I was having a bad dream (and that dream was in fact my own reality). Instead of being woken by my step-children, I was greeted with a tiny dog that looks like Samuel L. Jackson crash-landing on my sternum. In a flurry of slimy dog kisses and the faint aroma of corn chips I regained my bearings and rubbed the sleep from my eyes.

I quickly realized that my low-carb, high protein lifestyle does not match my parent’s peanut butter and jam toast for breakfast routine. At least coffee is universal and the grocery store is on the corner.

As I woke up slowly, instead of packing tiny lunches, I opened email after email from concerned friends. Some who I’ve known for years and who really are my family, some who I barely know at all who wanted me to know that I was loved. This made it possible to imagine the next few steps in my day with some measure of lightness in my heart.

My parents insist on keeping their home like a meat locker. Thankfully, it’s a cozy home, despite this sub-zero climate. I donned my fingerless mitts to hunch over my computer like some red-headed lady Bob Cratchet.

Cooking is path that leads to happiness. There will be cooking in my future, and I’ll be diligent about sharing recipes here. We can call it the “Broken Hearted Feast”. Then I’ll publish it like a cookbook and make millions of dollars. Don’t steal that.


I’ve just done some actual Coquettes work to set a client up with everything she needs to convince her board to let us show our tatas in Owen Sound. Fingers crossed.

Before that, I took my mom’s ridiculous little dog for a walk around my old hood. He has a new winter coat which he seems to be terrified of. I think with firm patience I’ve broken him of this paralyzing fear, because his little legs finally got moving and he was able to make a poop. Tiny victories.

This simple stroll around the block was a snapshot of my entire life in The Hammer. My parents have had the same house since 1975. I think their refusal to move had less to do with economics and more to do with their desire to give my brother and I the stable home that neither of them really had as children. They live in a complex of townhouses, and I think they are one of three original homeowners who remain here from the glory days.

When they bought the house it was a promising little suburb surrounded by orchards and farm fields. Now, it’s The Hood. Two clusters of low-income apartment buildings sprung up, and the neighbourhood deteriorated accordingly. This place went from a sea of kids who were similar in age to a land with few children who could speak the same language, blue collar workers, and immigrants who are trying to get a foothold in their new life.

As I grew older, the parks and playgrounds got meaner. Used condoms, hypodermic needles, shifty, greasy men in dark corners, strangers with slow-moving cars, crack dealing public school thugs and angry girls with babies in their tummies became more and more common.

The family-minded neighbourhood die-hards stood their ground. There is a handful of home owners who insist on maintaining pristine gardens that they tend with love (my mother is one of these). One of the low-income housing buildings even takes up a tenant fund to create a glorious landscape of hollyhocks and snapdragons each summer. Some of the people in this neighbourhood have real pride in where they live, and a great number of our neighbours are one welfare cheque away from having nowhere to live at all.

Welfare cheque days were the most dangerous in this neighbourhood growing up. From what my parents have told me, the new immigrant population has now outnumbered the white trash conglomerate, so things aren’t as exciting as they used to be. I clearly recall Friday evenings spent dodging beer bottles soaring from balconies across the street, parties that lasted two days with the strains of Waylon Jennings floating from open screenless windows, and the police here, in multiples of three from 9pm until way past my bed time.

And yet, my mom and dad managed to carve out a little oasis.

Now, my old school is an adult learning centre. The public school next door to where my school was shares it’s massive field with a recreation centre and fully-loaded playground, and there’s a cricket field, soccer field, and cluster of benches under a group of trees where the Sikh gentlemen sit conversing and sharing food year-round when the weather permits.

Bailey wore his powder blue and silver coat, and I floated along my route to school and my usual trick or treat route in a cream-coloured Calvin Klein coat, a brown Valentino scarf, my Coach sunglasses and a vintage fur hat. The men I encountered were ruddy-faced middle aged white men who seemed to have nowhere to go, and the women I saw were scale tipping ladies and girls who poured themselves into jogging pants with words written across the bum. And of course the Sikh gentlemen.

My point here is not to establish status. My designer articles are things I loved that are the product of my extraordinary ability to source mad bargains. I don’t spend insane amounts of money on clothes and accessories. My point is to illustrate that in this place, since I was six, I have always felt like a stranger in a strange land. How many other twelve year olds have had a collection of signature scarves?

As has always been the case, I felt everyone I encountered eyeballing me. Perhaps that’s why I’ve grown so comfortable in the spotlight in my adulthood? Embracing the attention has certainly been useful in my life.

Our therapist made a very astute observation yesterday that I hadn’t even arrived at yet. My experience of the relationship I was trying so hard at was that no matter what, I would always be the outsider. I’ve felt like an outsider for my entire life and have experienced some real pain and feelings of inadequacy as a result. My struggle to belong has shaped me as an individual, and the pain of struggling for acceptance in the context of my relationship was simply too great.

I regret deeply all the hurt my honesty has  caused. There are so many people who, when faced with their own difficult truths, can brush these aside and exist in a place of denial and trying to maintain status quo. I did this once, for four years, and I promised myself to never, ever do it again. It pains me to think of my loved ones feeling so sad. We tried to do something quite unique, and we discovered some amazing things about ourselves, the complexities of love and relationship dynamics, and each other as individuals. I don’t feel like it was a failure, but rather a very necessary journey for us all. I hope that through the pain we now face each of us can hold on to that. I hope that we can hang on to the love we’ve found, in the way that mature, open-hearted, self-aware individuals can do. I also hope we can shelter our children from the complicated nature of adult relationships and cushion them through these transitions with all of the love and security they deserve.

Sadness is like a deep well right now. I have to make sure to hang on to the bucket.

I’m making dinner tonight for my parents and my brother. Here’s the menu:

Roasted Sweet Potato

Sauteed Green Beans

Braised Red Cabbage

Pork Tenderloin with Pears and Shallots

Perhaps some time in the kitchen will make me feel a little bit better.

Updates to follow.


I Carry Your Heart

Oh November, are you a self-fulfilling prophecy of suckage? Have I subconsciously turned you into the worst month, or is it just the way the universe operates?

I’m typing this from the guest room at my parent’s house in Hamilton, my very first room, hoping against hope that I am in fact a guest, and not a new roommate.

Today I looked my life in the eye with love and acceptance and said “You’re right, it’s not working” and then I watched as it a fair chunk of it crumbled down around me. I then moved in slow-motion through the rest of my day packing everything I could into two suitcases and four canvas bags. I kissed my step-bits and told them I was going on a little vacation to see my parents, and walked away from my home, where I cannot live anymore, and will very likely never live again.

I fell deeply asleep in the passenger seat of the car, and jolted awake thinking my real life had been a bad dream, only to realize that it was very real indeed, and very much my life. My first official Hamilton experience was the desperate collection of souls in the local Wendy’s. I cried into my $9 salad. I’m 34 and back in my old bedroom. In Hamilton.

As I type this, I have no idea what is going to happen next. Today I decided with great certainty that the only thing I can focus on is taking care of myself. I realized too that with this immense heartache comes the first opportunity I’ve had to sit with all of the pain and loss of the last six years, without job pressures or social distractions to cloud the way. I’m going to unravel myself now, and use the threads to build a cocoon.

Those sick days that I’ve been fantasizing about for so long will now become my day-to-day until I can figure out what’s next. I will read, write, sleep, think, and move slowly and carefully through my stasis.  All forces are equal and opposing and they’ve canceled me out.

The moon was the faintest sliver tonight, perched in a sky that was divided into sunset colours like Neopolitan ice cream. It was the tiniest thread of hope, and eventually it will see it’s way to full again. I wonder where I’ll be then?


Hello Today

As I wake up incredibly slowly, despite already having been out in the world for an appointment, here’s what I need from this rainy Friday:

An afternoon nap

Some good news

To stay out of the way

Some reading time

An extra dose of faith



Slow emotional steps forward

Warm tea

My journal

An open heart

A pile up on the sofa with a kid friendly movie