My Brand of Crazy…

Yesterday A and I were out and about.  It started with a lazy morning (for me: he went grocery shopping and to the gym before I’d even crawled out of bed…).  I drank too much tea, talked to my sister, read a book.  Stayed in my jammies until noon.  Was made a breakfast of bacon, kale fried in bacon (yay, we had veggies!), and pancakes.

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Early afternoon we headed to White Rock.  We were going to a cafe, for a walk.  A lazy day in the sun.

It devolved into a shopping trip.  I needed sunglasses.  And a new outfit.  Poor A.  He was a total trooper.

(Particularly when I decided to change into my new clothing in the car and I was wearing just a t-shirt and thong in the passenger seat.  He maneuvered through traffic as I struggled to pull up, and do up, a pair of tight new blue jeans without jostling the stick shift.)

(… giggles…)

The plan was to go to the beach for a walk in the beautiful sunshine.

Turns out we had different ideas of what that plan would look like.

See, A thought that we would park at the top of White Rock and walk down.

I thought that that sounded like the worst idea in the history of the world and I was wearing a new outfit and did he think that I wanted to get all sweaty and gross and if he saw how out of shape I was he would definitely stop loving me.  And I would really prefer it if he didn’t stop loving me Thank You Very Much.  

The result was that we went to the beach.  In a car.  On the first really beautiful day of the year.

Oh, did I mention that yesterday was a holiday in BC?

30 minutes later we were still crawling along the waterfront, no parking spots in sight, no way out.  A was feeling grumpy.  I was doing the nervous babbling that I do when men get grumpy.

(I should pause here and mention that A’s version of grumpy is almost unrecognizable unless you know him.  He just gets quiet.  He continues to be his usual patient and kind self.  Just quieter with occasional proclamations about all the things he’d rather be doing than driving at that very moment.)

We finally made it off the strip, parked up by my apartment building and wandered the neighbourhood.  We found a new brewery bar that we got pretty excited about and chatted with the owner.  We wandered around until his grumpiness, and my nervousness, had faded.

I explained how anxious I was about having to walk up a giant hill with him.  About the extent to which it filled me with dread.  Even trying to explain I could feel the tears just under the surface, the humiliation and shame about my body.  The panic that that humiliation and shame leads to.

Yesterday I revealed a few things about myself:

  • If I say I hate my outfit when we leave the house in the morning there’s a good chance that I’ll suggest a quick stop at the sales racks…
  • When I know someone is grumpy I get nervous and giggly and rambly – no matter how much I trust that that person is going to remain kind and good.  I’m working on it.  (Pretty sure he’s known this one for a long time actually.)
  • My issues with my body go far beyond just not liking the way that it looks.  I have a dread of the way that it functions.  It’s an issue that is going to take a long time to work through.

I learned a lot about him through this experience too.  But that’s mine to keep.

We went to dinner at a friends, met some new people.  Had interesting conversation with great food and wine.  Stopped on the way home to buy a bag of candy to go with a final beer.

Yesterday was a good day.  A day of learning and a day of laughter and a day of fun.   The type of day that leaves one smiling and hopeful, whatever the struggles you may have.

I hope your family day was as well spent my friends.

 

Shifting Selves…

The first man who loved me: loved the idea of me.

I was the Wife.  A character in the picture of a perfect life.  (That’s what it felt like anyways.)

I was sixteen when I met this man and he was twenty-three.  I had never really drunk alcohol, or gone to parties.  I had only ever kissed one boy.

Suddenly I was in a grown up relationship.

(I wasn’t a grown up).

I’m never sure how much ownership I should take for this relationship.  Because, yes, it did start this way.  But I was a grown up when I married him.  I was a grown up when I stayed with him.

When I look back at the self I was with this man I see a petulant, anxious, spoiled, scared little brat.  I was frozen in time.  I didn’t grow as a person.  I grew into myself, curled up in a ball.  I don’t like the self I was when I was with him.

He wasn’t good for me, and I certainly wasn’t good for him.  The self that I was when I was with him?  I wasn’t good for anyone.

The end of this relationship felt like relief.

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The second man who loved me was a good, kind man.  He knew me well, I think.

We had fun.  We had passion.  We were connected.

When I look back at the self I was with this man I see a woman growing into herself, learning, changing, opening her mind.  She’s still anxious and scared, all the time.  She’s a bit of a pain in the ass.  She’s trying so hard to be enough.

There is less to say about this relationship because it was good.  It was fun.

He was good for me, he pulled me out of my shell. I don’t think I was as good for him.

The end of this relationship gutted me in a way that I had never been gutted.  It made me stronger.  I got sad, then mad.  Then I let it go.

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I am a pain in the ass, to be honest.  I am anxious.  I fall too hard and too fast.  I am quiet when I should speak up.  I am self conscious.  I will cry after a day of shopping because I feel fat and disgusting.  I text way too often.

I am also warm and kind and sexy and funny.  I am smart.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to mold myself into what men have wanted me to be.  (What I thought they wanted me to be.)

I have been patient when they were uncertain.  When they didn’t call or disappeared for days at a time.  I have stared at the phone and prayed for it to ring.  Wondered how I could be sexier, funnier, smarter.  How I could be enough to make them want to keep me.

(I once had a guy I was seeing tell me he would really want to be with me – if I lost 30 pounds.  And I laughed.  I agreed with him.)

Recently I stopped wanting to do that.  I don’t have the energy anymore.

I didn’t grow much in my twenties.  The worst of me, the self-conscious girl who didn’t like herself, was the part the flourished.  Suddenly, at 29, the world opened up and those voices started to fade.  Almost three years later I can’t recognize who that girl was.  I have dreams sometimes that I wake up and am back there and I can’t breathe.

The self that I am today is nothing like the self that I was with the first, or the second, man who loved me.  I’ve grown, shifted, more than I knew I could.  I’m a better person by far.

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Suddenly I’m in a relationship that feels simple.  A relationship that feels secure.  A relationship where I feel like I’m enough.  There are no guarantees.  There never are.  But it feels good.  I don’t feel like I’m compromising any piece of my self.

The beautiful thing is that I don’t know who I’m going to be in another 5 years.  10.  But I know that I’ll continue to shift, refine.  Grow more into the self that I know I can be.

Who Says You Can’t Go Back?

About five months ago my building announced that we needed a new roof which resulted in a “special” assessment of a couple thousand dollars.  Two weeks later I took my car in because it was making a funny noise and found out that it needed (more than) a few thousand dollars worth of work.

I patched the car up as best I could and I started saving for the special assessment.  But my budget is pretty tight and, even though I’d known about it for lots of time, I was struggling.  The car was hanging over my head like a guillotine.  A few more things happened that were comparatively minor but still significant… And I realized that I was in over my head.

So I thought through my options and asked Mommy and Daddy if I could come home for a bit.

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Taking on debt wasn’t an option.  And I simply couldn’t come up with the several thousand dollars needed over such a short period of time.

Living in the lower mainland isn’t easy.  My mortgage, taxes, strata and utilities take up about 46% of my net each month.  If you amortize the cost of the new roof over say, a two year period, we are at 50%.  So.  50% of my net over the past two years has gone towards housing.  Then there is car insurance, cell phone, fuel… It’s all rather a lot.

(I’m going to be fully honest here and tell you that I also eat out too often and have far too much clothing hanging in my closet.  These are my vices.  Giving them up would not have made the difference in this scenario.)

Because I get steady salary increases each year I am not concerned by the long term.  I was concerned by this moment, here and now, and how to get through it.

And I was really, really lucky to still have parents who could lend me a room for a few months.

So I’ve rented my non-rental strata unit out to a couple of girls who wanted to try living on the west coast for a few months.  And I’m going through the, rather humiliating, process of convincing my strata that, yes, this is my only option.

I’m sitting in the small upstairs bedroom of my parents house surrounded by too much stuff feeling pretty shitty about myself but also pretty grateful.  And the dinner that Mom made was pretty damn delicious.

Sigh.

Here’s the thing.  I’m going to turn 32 while I’m living with my parents.  I’m not a kid anymore.  I’m a grown-ass-woman and I feel like I’m failing.  I feel like I’m screwing up in a bunch of different parts of my life.  I feel like I am self-sabotaging with the best of them.

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My reboot was going well.  Then, suddenly, it wasn’t.  Too many things converged all at the same moment and I found myself crying on the drive home wondering aloud why I couldn’t do anything right.

The thing is that I can do stuff right.  (I swear!!!)  It was just too much, all at once.  It was the feeling you get when you know that one more thing will break you.

Mom and I were struggling yesterday to pack the large and unwieldy cat tower into her truck.  It wouldn’t fit and I kept having to crawl into the back, (in a work dress, pantyhose and heels, because what else does one wear when moving?), and I kept thinking about how many people in my life had offered to help me.  And how I had stubbornly said “No, I’ve got this”.  And how that meant that my poor Mother and I were now giggling helplessly and slightly hysterically at our failure to lift this heavy damn tower.

I was able to ask my parents for help when I needed it.  But I’m rarely able to ask anyone else.  This is a problem.  Asking for help is so incredibly scary.  It makes one raw, vulnerable.  Saying “No, I don’t have this” is a terrifying thing for me.

I have always hated admitting that I don’t know how to do something.  It is crippling for me to try something for a first time and have to admit that I need help.  Anything from an exercise class to using a compass card.  Stupid things that shouldn’t be embarrassing!  I will research it, I will barrel through.  I will not admit I don’t know.  I will not ask for help. Even when help is willingly, lovingly offered, I often will not accept it.

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It’s not an attractive quality my friends.

I feel like each and every moment of my life I am one shown weakness away from… What?  People not loving me anymore?  My friends know my weaknesses, my failings.  My family does too.  None of them love me less for these things.

It’s something I’m working on.

This “Extraordinary, Ordinary, Life”…

If you have known me for more than roughly 5 minutes the chances are good that I have sat you down to watch the movie About Time.  It is my favourite movie, I think it is genuinely brilliant, and I think that every single person should take a couple of hours to watch it.

**Spoiler Alert**

The movie is pretty simple.  It goes beyond your average love story because… It is about family.  About the rhythms and patterns we create with those we love.  

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Now, the movie was written and directed by Richard Curtis, the same guy who created Love Actually.  We won’t hold that against him.  (To be clear, I have an irrational dislike of Love Actually).  

Our main character is Tim who discovers, on his 21st birthday, that he is able to travel through time to places within his own life.  (As are all the men in his family).

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Tim decides to use his powers to find love.  And, of course, he finds it.

He meets the girl, he loves the girl, he marries the girl.  There’s no hesitation in Tim.  He’s… earnest.  It’s lovely.

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(Tim is played by Domhnall Gleeson who is absolutely yummy.  It’s worth watching the movie for this fact alone).

I question sometimes why it is that I find this movie so captivating.

These characters fall for each other and move ahead.  They have babies because they want them.  They joke about how broke they are and how they can’t afford the house that the babies have forced them to buy.  They have one of the most disastrous weddings of all time.  They fight.  Their hearts are broken in the ways that everyone has their heart broken.  They lean on one another in the ways that one should be able to lean on a partner.

Aside from the ridiculously beautiful family home and the abnormally good looking lead characters… The characters feel normal for me.  The life that they live is something that I want to build for myself one of these days.  It feels real.  It feels ordinary.

We are a hesitant generation.  And, don’t get me wrong, taking time is good and smart.  But do we need to wait 3 years?  4?  5?  10?

I talk to my parents and their generation and everyone seems to echo the same thought… They just did it.  They met, fell in love, married, had kids.  They don’t talk about agonizing in the same way that we do.

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This movie is about the ordinary moments and that captivates me because life is about ordinary moments.  It is about fights and power outages and time spent giggling on the couch.

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Bridget Jones’s Baby…

I woke up this morning, a headache pulsing, low and threatening, at the base of my skull.

I had big plans for today involving the beach and a blanket and a bucket of fish and chips.  Instead I ate cold leftover lasagna for breakfast (and then lunch).  I took three baths in my tiny tub.  I had two naps.  Nothing touched the pain.  In fact, it began to build.

I finally got out of bed around 3 pm and decided that I was going to laugh my pain away with a good dose of Bridget Jones.

So I went to the movies.

I have to tell you all:  GO SEE BRIDGET JONES’S BABY!!!

It was so good to catch up with Bridget Jones.  She’s all grown up now and has finally reached her goal weight, but has maintained that quirky gets-nothing-quite-right attitude that made us all fall for her in the first place.

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(Points to anyone who really gets what is going on in this scene…)

There’s a scene at the start of the movie where she dances around her house with a large glass of wine singing all the lyrics to Jump Around that I’m fairly certain any woman living on her own will find very relate-able. (Also I may have caught myself singing along with Lily Allen’s Fuck You when the music abruptly cut off and my voice was, for a brief moment, the only sound in the theater.)  The soundtrack to this movie is absolutely fantastic.

Anyways.  Bridget Jones is having a baby.  She just doesn’t know who the father is.

(Cue lots of jokes about sex and semen and polyamory.)

It was completely charming.  And rather touching.

I liked that we are reunited with the stiff and awkward Mr Darcy who still adores Bridget and still can’t quite acknowledge it.  I fucking love Mr Darcy.  I liked Jack, the new guy on the scene, as the open and loving match who tries to sweep her off her feet.  I’m not going to spoil the ending and tell you who the father is, k?

It’s fun to find out.

I kind of wished that I’d brought my notebook to take down quotes as the movie went on but I’m sure that we’ll see lots of lines from the movie in our Pinterest quote feeds soon.  I did break out my pen and jot this one down though…

Sometimes you love a person for all the reasons they’re not like you.  Sometimes you love a person just because they feel like home.   – Bridget Jones

This seems to be a constant refrain for me here.  Looking for a love that feels like home.  For someone who fits in that way.  For someone who wants to have me (and keep me).

It takes a long time and lots of effort to know whether or not you want a person enough to keep them.  There’s always a risk.

It takes Bridget Jones until 43 to find home.

In conclusion?  I’m in my jammies now and the pain has migrated to the front of my face and filled the tissues of my upper back and shoulders.  Tonight is gonna suck.  But at least I got to see BJ’s Baby?!

This song is dedicated to my head:

(Warning, do not play with children in the room.)

“You’re Like Home To Me…”

Did anyone else fall hard into the Carly and Evan romance this season of Bachelor in Paradise?  I did.  I couldn’t help it.  I like Carly.  Her commentary on all situations in the house is so funny, sometimes I fast forward through the episodes just to listen to her sum things up.

Evan, on the other hand, is a bit of an odd one to place.  He’s just so… geeky.  Nothing like the other men that tend to be on the show.

(Don’t get me wrong, geeks are totally my thing.  Guys, if I ever call you a “geek”, it probably means that I’m in love with you and want to get in your pants.)

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As one of my friends summed up Carly and Evan’s relationship: “They’re two charmless people who are somehow charming together”.  While I’m not sure that they are entirely charmless on their own (see comments above re: geeks) they certainly are better together.

And I’m not even gonna lie guys.  I may have shed a tear or two watching their final scene together.  How pathetic am I?

Listen, I know that these shows are total and complete bullshit.  But they are such well done bullshit.  I have them on in the background while I cook, or write, or dust.

(Totally kidding. I never dust).

I enjoy watching these shows.  And I do think that we can take some gems from them once in a while.  Carly and Evan are one of those gems.

I don’t believe in happily ever after.  But I really hope that Carly and Evan end up finding it.

Their relationship followed a different arc than most on the show.  Remember a few weeks back when Carly was all “Ew, Evan, ew” and then threw up after their kiss?  Remember when she suddenly realized that, through their friendship, he had gotten under her skin?  Remember when she realized that they were going to be great?

Their relationship probably started in the best way that a relationship can.  Friendship, getting to know one another, before you start looking forward to all that the future might bring.   Slow, steady and then all at once.  Or slow and steady followed by more slow and steady.  Carly and Evan were a little bit odd.  But I got them and I think that, probably, lots of viewers did.  Their oddness didn’t matter.  Because it worked for them.

Each relationship in our life is and should be unique unto itself.  It doesn’t matter what it is “supposed” to look like.  It matters what works for the two people in that relationship.

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Carly said: “Evan makes me feel like I can be any way I am.  Look any way I am. … He makes me feel so beautiful.  Like, inside and outside.  I’ve never felt like that.”

She told Evan: “You’re like home to me…”

Isn’t that how we all want to feel if and when we find a partner?

(I need to stop watching the Bachelor.  

Wait.  

Nick Viall is the next Bachelor.  

Yeah.  I’m so keeping my cable to watch that go down.)

Okay! Okay! I Get the Message!

I’m going to start this by saying that I don’t believe in God, I am not a religious person.

But I do believe in the universe.  I believe that sometimes the universe sends us messages and that we should listen to them.

My date with Aggressive Guy scared me.  It was the universe slapping me in the face and saying “Stop What You Are Doing!!!”.

A few days later I went on a date so filled with crazy I was left speechless.  It took a full blown panic attack on the side of road for me to realize that this wasn’t working.

The date filled with crazy was harmless.  It was the universe, irritated, flicking me between the eyes as it sighed.

I went home and deleted my dating app (Tinder) and my online profile (OkCupid).  I decided to be done.  Because I don’t want to be scared of my date.  Because I don’t want to meet crazy and have coffee with it.

I simply don’t care that much.

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I tend to view online dating in the same way I usually attack a job or task.  Logic says “I want to meet someone, get married, have babies” and, like any other thing I have wanted in my life, I take the logical steps towards achieving it.  Which was online dating.

My heart though?  My heart so isn’t interested in forcing it.  My heart isn’t interested in a million messages and likes and dates and swiping right.  My heart is tired and will tell me when and if it’s ready to try again.

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I’m not closing myself off to anything.  I’m still seeing people and I will continue to see people.  But.  I’m not putting any pressure on myself.  I’m going to lean into my current ambivalence towards love and men instead of trying to force something.  Instead of attacking dating like a job I am going to sit back.  See what the universe is up to.

And if I get to feel safe on all future dates?  That’d be pretty good too.