Posts tagged ‘history’

April 20, 2013

“when you walked into my house”- stevie nicks

my son thinks nothing grows in the winter but, he’s wrong. i do.

in all fairness, he hasn’t been made privy to the story of how his father and i came to know one another. he doesn’t know how we fell into a raw and complicated mess that broke both of our hearts. he doesn’t know that his father was brave enough to forgive me, and he doesn’t know how transformative it was for his mother to lower her fists, or that i almost didn’t.

i met my husband in the fall of my 25th year. every sunday night, after yoga class, i went grocery shopping with two friends who were coupled at the time. he worked there and i noticed him. i thought he was cute and found the manner in which he carried himself enticing. i was only mildly interested whether he had anything to offer beyond that. mostly, i liked to watch him work and i liked that he watched me back.

it’s no secret that secrets are hard to keep in small towns and, as it were, news travelled fast. we were quickly set up by mutual acquaintances, and we did not have much choice in the matter. truth be known, i didn’t much resist: it seemed like something to go for. after all, winter in tofino was fast approaching and it would be dark very, very soon.

we met up, hung out, and then, with my closed heart and big mouth, i spent a few months participating in the sport of pushing him away. i was finally successful, only then to realise in the depth of winter, with him now long gone from my days, that despite my pretentiousness, protectiveness, and preconceived ideas about partnership, i had, despite all efforts, fallen in love with him.

at that stage in my life i had a habit of being stubborn to the point of self sabotage and i was, specifically, overly proud around matters of the heart.

i had to be. i was recovering from a significant car accident that had devastated me a year prior and though my bones were mostly healed, shadows still rattled me in secret. i was a different girl. i felt vulnerable in multiple ways and i wasn’t too inclined to make myself more so. i was wounded in other, less specific ways, too. i hate to admit it but the ghosts of a breakup past followed me around.  despite my voodoo efforts to shake him, his memory and the lessons i needed to learn haunted me, finding me at inopportune times, mostly when in the company of boys. as it turned out, one minute i’d be laughing, glass of wine in hand, and the next, when my eyes met theirs, there he’d be, infiltrating my consciousness, without consent.

ultimately, this burden resulted in me keeping myself emotionally distant from most individuals of the male persuasion. it can take a while to shake someone out of your system, as i happened to learn twice that winter.

my husband surprised me, the first of many surprises about what kind of man he is and what kind of woman he makes me. i was the bold, loud, assertive, and dynamic one and i thought i was in charge, untouchable, even. he presented, in my judgemental eyes, anyhow, as passive, uninteresting, inexperienced, and limited.

i did what i did. i drew lines in the sand before him just like i had for others. he didn’t listen. he didn’t fight me with force but he did stand steady: solid and open, and persistent in his gentle and unassuming way. i kept it frivolous, as i was in the habit of doing. he was not afraid to let it be known that this was not an insignificant union for him. i made sure he knew he was nothing to me, and never would be. he took it away with him but he also came back.  i engaged with him exclusively on my terms and disregarded what might have been his. he was patient with my arrogance, and my neurosis.

after a while it got complicated. our dance became an unhealthy culmination of bad decisions, consequences, shared horror and, a dangerous codependency. so, like any decent woman would do, i took him out at the knees: chose to proceed, alone from him, and i forced goodbye.

it wasn’t the end, however.

weeks later i could no longer deny that he’d gotten into my bones- deep where a constant ache was already the new normal. and, like my pain, i couldn’t shake him. the winter has a way of forcing me to look at myself and that winter was no exception. i realized, then, that for all the reasons i had determined he was unsuitable for me, not of my kind, i had been wrong.

it was his differences from me that were most striking, most honourable, and most respectable. some distance had let me see that. some space had given room for me to appreciate what kind of person he was, and what kind of man he had been to me.

i remember calling him for the first time with my guard down. it was christmas day, actually, and i called a good friend who knew our story first. “cheryl”, i whispered, “i think i’m in love with him”, i confessed. she, like any good friend who knows when you need to be moved from places of stuck, laughed and pressed me onwards.

i was shaking when i dialed. i knew what it meant. if i opened to him, he would be in my life- in a long-term way. i knew, that for him, there was more to our story. i tried to trust. afterall, he had made clear who he was, and he was a good, good man.

i won’t soon forget how he sounded when he answered the phone, or how my whole being lept at the sound of his voice, previously unappreciated. i won’t ever forget how gracious he was to me, me who had been so selfish and so cold with him. he, in line with past behaviour that i had dismissed, received me with grace, curiosity, and warmth. we spoke for a long time, longer then we had before, and, of most importance- i finally listened.

when i returned from the christmas that i had spent at my parents home, where i had landed, as i often do when i am in a bad way, he greeted me. he brought gifts, of person, of course, and those he had carefully chosen for me, before i had even called. my new life began. the next morning, a friend saw me walking the beach with him. she told me later that she didn’t recognize me. i didn’t either.

the following christmas he proposed to me. i said yes. the next year, we were wed just as winter was giving up it’s fight. like much of our relationship, i oscillated between blissful abandon and crippling anxiety throughout our engagement and, felt both, even, as i walked towards him. there was a giving up in me too, you see, not of who i am, for he has always accepted, honoured, and encouraged me, but of my fear. letting go of what held me back, even as i was moving forward with him, was met with hesitancy- my ego was a hard match for anyone, even my better self.

late the next winter we conceived our first son. the next, he was born. if i thought i had grown to be unselfish in my relationship with my man, i was wrong. the birthing and raising of my first son was a time of my most paramount personal growth. we conceived our second son in the winter, as well, and we welcomed him in the late days of fall. this past winter, i grew again: the kind of growth that can only come from sacrifice, surrender, and patience- like my husband teaches me, over and over, if i slow down enough to watch him live.

this day, all days, all these years later, the anxiety is gone. i knew i was on the edge of a life the day that i called him, and as many would say growth occurs just outside of your comfort zone. fortunately, i arrived, and am now deep in the home of us.

last week,  we took our family on vacation to celebrate 5 years of our marriage. while we were away, i looked over from the bed i was sharing with our baby and silently waved at my spouse, who was in his bed with our eldest son, both of our children deep asleep. he and i were laid diagonal, bodies curled inwards towards our children, and to each other, i suppose, punctuating our family like human parentheses.

i was filled with joy, and pride. there we were, as per theme: seeds planted in the fall, soul work every winter, and in spring, our beauty becomes evident.

with spring here, my inner effort has been exposed again, the big reveal, and all that has been growing with difficulty but without witness, is blossoming everywhere. a subtle, yet vivid intimacy, infiltrates our life and the sun, making me smile, starts to tell the tale.

my son, bless him, is a preschool version of my intensity, and will, naturally, need to be taught and reminded, as i do, that becoming who we are meant to be is a process. nothing is born complete, though it may seem so, for we are often only shown the bloom.

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident… we have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from our branches we have found that we were one tree and not two.”

– by Louis de Bernieres, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

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November 1, 2011

i thought it was my time, but my time has come

dear moo,

today, on the 7th anniversary of when i didn’t die, i am happy to report that my recently negotiated deal with the universe is allowing us more of what surviving car crashes is all about, time spent living LIFE. i hope you notice, my love. it’s all for you.

love, mom.

p.s.- i’m so glad i got to meet you.

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October 10, 2011

barefoot and pregnant

there was a time, some time ago, where i found myself in need of dramatic change. i needed to reinvent myself after years of living a life (man) that i loved dearly but was never designed for. with the hopes of finding a life that reflected who i was, and who i could be, i up and left and moved to montreal, which brought me every kind of succulent and scandalous adventure my old soul needed, at the time.

i shared my home with a number of young, single, and beautiful roommates and together, amongst aspirations, educations, budding professions, and some (un)healthy social competition, we, along with our pulsing friends, drank copious amounts of wine, smoked too much, laughed and laughed, danced all night, acquainted lovers that were bad for us, spent more $ then we had, swam in controversy, touched on crazy, slept in, and eventually woke up, hard, to the cold sting of the surrounding air.

one roommate, a curious and talented individual who i admired very much, led a life unlike mine- both the one i’d left and the one i was temporarily living whislt exploring and experiementing with myself out east. she was different then me… she was dynamic and electric, full of fiest and so many other feverish qualities, and she was also very grounded and balanced in her approach to life and daily responsibilities, something i had not yet mastered (here’s hoping i do one day soon). it was not unusual to find her preparing healthy meals in the kitchen- busy, quick, and purposeful- nor was it rare to find her often under-dressed. never barefoot, though, as she was horrified at the thought of becoming the kind of woman who would go barefoot in the kitchen, this fear only surpassed by being barefoot and pregnant, which represented to her the definition of being without class, style, or personhood.

today, years later and living the life that i was meant to live, i am fortunate to be at home, warm with time and good company, and find myself, under-dressed and barefoot, creating many healthy masterpieces to nourish my busy working family in the weeks to come. i am listening to my folky tunes that have never been a phase and i have the product of my womb singing, dancing, reading, and playing in the room adjoined to me. though i am not pregnant, i would imagine that all this is a likely equivalent to her worst fear, but i am not afraid.

i am blessed, and i am thankful.

peace to you and yours, hh.

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June 5, 2011

rearview mirror

a young colleague of mine recently told me that she thinks i have “such an interesting life”.  i didn’t want to disappoint her so i acted like i thought so too and i refrained from telling her that her comment was the most “interesting” part of my week.

i mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a full life i lead and i am not short on happiness. the truth is, i have nothing to complain about… momland is full of goodness, greater than good, in fact, and, no word of a lie, i wouldn’t trade this era for anything. moo is my sun and moon, time with him is plump with joy and little miracles, and, frankly, i’m pretty sure that being near him is what keeps my heart beating.

it’s not him that renders life relatively uninteresting. it’s not mothering him, either. it’s what is required of me outside of moo moments that render this time of my life slightly blah. it’s the details of the day to day operations of this life stage. they get heavy. heavy in responsibility and light in diversity. you know?

so, knowing all that i know about how time travels faster than i do, i play a little game that gets me through the burden of holding it all down. i daydream. i daydream of lives i’ve lived and of lives that await me. sometimes i go back in time and choose a version of myself and bring her into the future i think might have unfolded should she have stuck around. it’s not a bad game, daydreaming of other selves i could be and other lives i could live.

up until recently i used to think back to life before my man, my marriage, and my child. i would remember who i was then and i would envision what life could have been should i have stayed youthful, single, and free. without the commitments, i mean. i would look back, grab hold of the best parts of my old spirit and future forward bliss mode, picturing myself living some sort of juicy.

the other day, though, driving home from work anticipating picking up my moo and all the things to do that would follow, i was cursing traffic and my commute and just felt this urgent need to live without so much constraint. so, without many tangible alternatives, i started to play my escape-your-current-life-situation game and began reminiscing.

i saw a video full of scenes where i was brimming with joy and where indulging in all that was good was priority number one. there were so many to see, i am so lucky, and i watched as my mind showed me visual reminders of just how great life was. it wasn’t long before i caught myself and noticed that all the little clips i was watching were from not so long ago. then i realised that lately they all had been… they were of my recent past, mostly from the year that i was granted to exclusively mother and nurture our family life, and lots from the last few months of getting our feet on the ground of our new life, too.

i was so relieved to realise that all the happy moments i was thinking about were those from this life, my fresh air life, with my good good man and my moo as very concrete contributions to those feelings of fullness, ripeness, and bliss. it hasn’t always been easy times, but they times where we were so alive. we are all still so alive.

nostalgia seems to evolve and i find peace in knowing that my efforts to escape now include him, them both, affectionately. i mean, really, i’ll take yesterday, any day. with dance parties at sunrise, love kisses in long grass, bedtime cuddles with the warm sun on my warm son… i wouldn’t say it’s interesting and it’s far from exciting but it’s a day to day life bursting with what matters.

p.s.- i guess i’m a selfish and spoilt wimp but i can’t imagine how much less me there would be if i didn’t have a partner to help us function. and, i do have that partner. sometimes, when i’m fresh out of resilience, he contributes more then his share. thanks big guy, for putting up with my shit, not getting threatened when i travel far, far away in my mind, and for grounding me, regularly, just by being you.

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September 22, 2010

alone no longer

lately, i lust for alone. i see people living it everywhere and i’m hungry for it.

i don’t just mean when people are alone whilst walking from the car to the office, or from the grocery store to the bank, or doing what they do as they live their lives (though i definitely notice them as well). i mean true alone time- completely solitary in a wonderous way that the individuals i’m observing (read: staring at wistfully) may not appreciate as such. i’m sure all of them have some kind of external commitments they’re accountable to, we all do, but they occupy space in such a way that they communicate alone. not lonely, but yummy, juicy and indulgent alone. without the waking-and-immediately-being-obligated-to-others kind of never-being-alone that came along with being born a mother.

yup, i see alone all around me lately, or  it stands out amongst all the other images of those who are not alone i should say. the woman enjoying a coffee whilst reading the paper… she looks peaceful, enjoying a moment at her pace. i look harassed and frazzled, rushing by while juggling moo, groceries, car keys, the shoe that fell off, the diaper bag, and his finickity eat and sleep needs. the woman running in the park… she looks self possessed and driven. i, however, look scattered and subordinate. the young woman riding by on her bike… she looks fast, carefree, and there is a hint of excitement there, like she is anticipating something grand. i watch her fly by from where i stand: heavy feet, heavier lids, and cloudy mind all just waking up like the fog, slowly and tentatively lifting to make room for more of a view.  when i see them doing what they do, whatever that is, i can’t help but feel a  sort of nostalgia for my former self/life, when i knew what alone felt like.

in the story i’m now leading, the idea of being alone is forever changed. i am unlikely to ever have the kind of alone time i see those others enjoying, no matter how much i crave it or even try to create it. i may have time apart from my moo, and though i’ve only had this opportunity a handful of times since we were born, i definitely noticed it. i was apart from him and there was a sense of liberation that occupied the space he might have otherwise (there was also a tidal wave of anxiety attached to our separation that took up loads of space and made the ‘liberation’ difficult to enjoy but, that’s another story). i felt quite aware of my person, my surroundings, and my thoughts and it was lovely and exciting but, i was not alone. i was apart from him but not without him (and please god, i don’t ever want to be without him) and this is the thing. the fact is, you know, he exists and therefore so do i as his mother and that’s what makes it impossible to now be alone.

i am no longer just me in this world, he is almost always with me now. and, when apart, the space i might have to use both hands instead of one or the space i might have to do something with a fragment of focus is not nearly as big as the space he occupies in my consciousness (nevermind the space he occupies in my heart- like all of it and more).

so, farewell alone. i’ll miss you. i already do but, i choose my life. he’s worth the trade.

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