To think about

To think about

The name of the blog

"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Downside of Loving

I am amassing a horrid collection of tiny urns on top of my dresser drawers that viscerally reminds me of my losses. I will soon have three, no bigger than a small coffee cup. The current two sit next to a simple glass jar that holds a quarter of an inch or so of my moms ashes. Inside that jar is a partial crab shell, a small piece of driftwood, some dried kelp and three smallish rocks from the beach where my Dad unceremoniously dumped the rest of her cremated ashes into the ocean at Hollyhock Retreat on Cortes Island, BC. The stones are variations of an off white colour, blending nicely with the light grey of her chunky ashes. The ashes are not a smooth consistency, there are discernible chunks of bone I guess within the powder. There is also one urn tragically missing from my collection of loved and lost pets. When my ex moved out he took Mya’s ashes with him; that urn is slightly larger than a guinea pigs urn, but had the same pearlescent finish. I see it in my mind as though it is there with the other urns. Most likely these loved pets were all cremated by the same company, at the same location, possibly in the same oven.

In a few days, my third guinea pig will come home to me. Cream Puff was my matriarch, and out-lasted not only the friend she came with when I adopted her, Brownie Pig, but she did not get the heat stoke to the same degree that killed her next companion, Sham Wow Pig, this past summer. And now Cream Puff leaves behind a young companion pig, Poppit. 

It was fascinating watching the juvenile pig grow over the five years I had her. Watching how her behaviours and interactions changed depending on the personality of the pig she shared her cage with. With Brownie Pig, Cream Puff was submissive; with Sham Wow Pig, Cream Puff was the dominant pig often chasing her around, and sometimes mounting her; with Poppit, Cream Puff was again dominant, but more nurturing, especially in the last month or two of her life when she was aging rapidly.  

I loved all of my pigs, but Cream Puff was the pig I had the longest, somewhere around the five year mark. Five years of caring about her, feeding her, sometimes hourly it seemed, bathing her, blow drying her and trimming her toe nails; yet, somehow, I was too neglectful to see the signs of her illness until Sunday. I suspected something might be wrong a few weeks ago, but brushed it off as aging, something I now regret. It wasn’t until I picked her up on Sunday and felt how fragile and light she had become that I knew something was terribly wrong. I called for a Vet’s appointment, and called a friend of mine who is a Vet. I knew it was bad news that she had lost so much weight so quickly when she only weighed 1.7 kilograms at a healthy weight. 

Yesterday, driving her to the Vets for an evening appointment in a freak snow storm brought back horrible memories of the day we drove Mya to the Vet’s to be euthanized just over two years ago. Snowstorms are not a common occurrence where I live, and the cities are not at all prepared to deal with them. Typically, I call it a snow day and wait for the inevitable rain to wash the frozen white stuff away within a few days. In January 2012 the snow was so bad that the Vet who had planned to do a house call to euthanize Mya couldn’t make it because not one of her staff had arrived at work that day. So I held Mya for the short drive, sorry that her last moments included exposure to the cold because Mya hated the cold weather, and the family went together to surround her with love while she breathed her last breaths. She too had hidden her illness quite well, and by the time we discovered something was wrong and got her to a Vet, she was too far gone. Within 24 hours she had deteriorated to the point where she could not walk or eat, and the remaining 36 hours before Monday morning and the Vet’s visit were hell. 

I define hell, in this case, as being utterly helpless to ease the suffering of someone you love deeply. A few months after Mya’s untimely death, I would relive the hell, for about 24 hours, with Brownie Pig who had gotten some sort of horrid infection inside of her and had maggots in her vaginal area when we came home from a vacation and discovered her distress. Whether it was the infection, or the shock of the treatment to kill the maggots, she had seizures all night after we brought her home from the Vets. I felt sick inside as a human being that had contributed to her rotten and painful ending. About a month later we adopted a friend for Cream Puff, a crazy buffalo looking guinea pig from a young Asian girl. She reminded me of a mop with her dark afro hair, which in my brain led me to think of the infomercials for the shammy, in which the actor is always far too fakely enthusiastic for the product he/she is representing, thus, Sham Wow Pig became her name. She had a short life with us and another tragically bad ending at my hand. 

Sometime in the early weeks after my ex-husband had moved out, I had put the guinea pigs outside on the deck for some fresh air and sunshine. And the hours passed as they did in my time of shock in those early weeks. I had no idea how long they had been outside, but during one of my checks on them, I thought they were acting funny so I brought them back in the house. Within a minute or so of observing their condition I realized Cream Puff was fairing better due to her long, thinning, white hair, and was not as listless as Sham Wow Pig. In fact, I was terrified by the lolling that Sham Wow Pig was doing; she could not keep herself upright on her feet. Sick to my stomach I googled heat stroke in guinea pigs and started administering the various treatments as best I could. I alternated between trying to save both pigs. I syringed water into their mouths, and it just dribbled out of Sham Wow Pigs mouth. I gave them cool baths, and then wrapped Cream Puff in a damp towel so I could focus on Sham Wow Pig who was suffering. Eventually I started cutting off Sham Wow Pigs copious mounds of hair in an attempt to cool her. 

At some point in my sick frenzied attempts not to be a pig murderer, I talked to M on the phone and told him what had happened. He was already 45 minutes away in the town where we were to have a counselling appointment with the psychologist in a few hours. He came as quickly as he could. And on the drive to the Vet, another half hour away, Sham Wow Pig had a seizure and died. I picked her up and cried and cried my apologies to her and to the universe, for it was my fault this living creature, who had done nothing but love, had come to such a nasty end. If ever there was a time in my life where I felt incapable of looking after anybody or anything, it was in those months. I couldn’t care for myself most days, and most certainly couldn’t care for my four pets. I wanted someone to take them off my hands, to save them from me. 

No one did, and I became more aware as the grief eased, and about a month later M bought me Poppit. She was a tiny little girl, about three months old, and she sat in the palm of my hand. As much as I desperately wanted to save a guinea pig from the SPCA or a shelter of sorts, there were no single females to be found in the area at that time. So Poppit, much to my shame, comes from a pet store. It is the best type of pet store you could hope for though. They allowed us to bring in Cream Puff in her cage and try her out with all the female guinea pigs they had. We sat on the floor for about an hour with Poppit and Cream Puff after Cream Puff resolutely rejected the first pig we put in her cage with her. Cream Puff tolerated Poppit’s presence, which was a start. It wasn’t the chattering love at first sight that Cream Puff had experienced with Sham Wow Pig, but there was an acceptance of another pig being in her space. 

Poppit and Cream Puff learned to love each other I think. They were friends at least, tent companions keeping each other warm. When I got up this morning I knew Cream Puff had died by her position in the cage; in five years I had never seen her in that position before, and she didn’t react to my voice. She was in the corner the pigs use as their toilet, nose into the corner, which was also the closest to the fireplace I had left on over night to keep her as warm as possible. The Vet and I had agreed yesterday that all I could do was wait out the few days she had left, and try to make her comfortable. Which I did; I put a heating bag in her cage for her to lay on, but she chose to leave her tent and die in the corner. I saw that as a child with my mouse when it died; I will never forget coming downstairs to feed my mouse and finding her nose out of the bars, as if she had been calling for help in her final moments. She too had left her little mouse house and died exposed. 

Today, between my bouts of crying over my lost marriage, Cream Puff, the other pigs I feel responsible for, and Mya, I have worried about Poppit. Guinea pigs are herd animals, and typically don’t do well alone. After Brownie Pig died Cream Puff was visibly distraught for awhile, but then she settled down and became more social with her humans, so we thought she was doing well alone. It wasn’t until she met Sham Wow Pig and they instantly chattered and nuzzled against each other that I realized how lonely she had been for her kind. And when Sham Wow Pig died, Cream Puff mourned. It was the most agonizing and pitiful sound to hear a tiny little guinea pig cry out for her friend. I took her to bed that night with me, her in her tent on a puppy pad in my bed, my hand inside her tent trying to comfort her. Anyone who thinks animals don’t bond and have feelings has never witnessed the aftermath of loss in a family bond. My other two cats were distressed when Mya passed, as was Brownie Pig of all things. 

When we came downstairs to take Mya to the Vet that frozen winter morning, me carrying her, the strangest sound I had ever heard was filling the house; it was loud, high-pitched and clear; it sounded like a bird call. I asked my son, who was in the kitchen, what he was doing, and he said nothing. Convinced a bird had somehow gotten into our house that winter day, we all searched around for the source of the wailing. And it wasn’t long before we all stood over the guinea pigs cage and watched Brownie Pig make the strangest motion with her head. We could visibly see her throat and mouth vibrating as she threw her head back as far as it would go and cried loudly. Later, when I googled her singing, I discovered how rare it is for a guinea pig to make such a sound. It is called chirping, and can accompany dire distress in the animal. (Here is a link to an audio file of a guinea pig chirping - Brownie Pig felt the heaviness and heart break in our family that day as we left to take our too young Mya to be euthanized. Or she felt the slipping away of Mya’s soul and was saying goodbye. Either way, there was no mistaking the bond a cat and a guinea pig shared unbeknownst to their humans, and the grief Brownie Pig was experiencing. In all my years as a pig owner and lover, and to this day, I have never heard a guinea pig chirp, except that one time. 

As it seems to be for me, this grief is triggering all my past losses. I again feel like the most worthless piece of shit to have ever attempted to be a pet owner. I again feel unworthy; someone should come and take my pets away and put them in a good home. I again feel the shame of not being good enough; I wasn’t a good enough pet owner to have picked up on Mya, Brownie Pig, or Cream Puffs health problems until it was too late. At the end all I could do was try to ease their suffering and bear witness to their life. This death is also triggering my human losses; the untimely and unexpected death of my mother, and the untimely and unexpected death of my marriage. 

A few years ago a close friends husbands mother died. I knew her, although not well, and I knew Cancer was unfairly robbing her of life day by day. At her funeral, which I went to more for the family of Ruth than myself or Ruth, I bawled from a place of deep sorrow and regret. I was crying for my own mother. I was reliving a death from 12 years earlier as though it had happened to me just those few days prior. Very few of my tears were shed for Ruth, or even her children, daughter-in-law or the three beautiful grandchildren left behind. Selfishly, almost all of my tears were for my own loss. 

It seems so unfair that in my life love and loss are synonymous. With the exception of my son, everyone I have ever loved, I have also lost to some degree. Thankfully, once or twice in my life, someone I have lost has reemerged later, but it is never the same as the first time around; it is never pure again. The cracks of the loss are there in the space between two people whether acknowledged or not. Is this what grief is? As we age, and accumulate more and more losses of the people, times, pets and places we have cherished and loved, do they continue to compound in our hearts? Will every impending loss I face bring afresh the pain of losing a previous pet, my mom, or my ex-husband? Perhaps, but I do know that with time the grief, while still as sharp, doesn’t last as long. I read a quote recently that I hold onto because I thought it was brave and reassuring; the gist of it was: when your heart is broken into pieces, it is open to receive love.  

Monday, 24 February 2014

Other writers thoughts on Polyamory

Here is a collection of links to articles written about polyamory from the website The Good Men Project which I very much respect.

I include these various links for informational purposes only. I do not necessarily agree with the thoughts or comments of the particular authors. In fact, I most likely do not agree with anything that supports polyamory. However, that is my personal crisis with the end of my marriage that is talking. I rarely judge other people on how, or who, they choose to love.

Here is a website that is recommended as a polyamory resource in one article:

And finally, a TED talk that specifically touches on polyamory:

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Is there a "love language" a "nice guy" can understand?

Oh horrors; for the first time in eight months it truly sank in the other night that I might have played a role in my husband falling in love with someone else and leaving me. I had flirted with that idea in the early weeks after the disclosure, but M had assured me that him cheating and falling in love with someone else had nothing to do with me, that I deserved better than he had treated me, and that he loved me as much as he loved her. My belief in those sentiments finished unravelling at the end of September when I read an email from him to her in which he tells her he loves her more than he has ever loved anyone. That was the end of any contact between us, and the beginning of me wondering if our situation had anything to do with polyamory at all, or was that just a convenient lie to tell me because she was in an open marriage? My resolute faith that I had done nothing to contribute to the end of a marriage I was happy in took another hit in December when he wrote me at Christmas and told me he had loved me and the time we had together. That could only mean that at some point he had fallen out of love with me; a different tale than he had told me between June and September. 

Always on a quest to learn what I can and grow from my experience, or simply find comfort, I just finished reading the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The book is easy to read and took the time of four baths for me. And like any book worth its salt, it got me thinking; the more I read, the more I thought about the love languages. It was very easy for me to recognize and surmise what my own love languages are, and also how my ex-husband had expressed his love to me. The quiz at the end of the book confirmed my suspicion that I am actually trilingual, which means I can recognize and absorb loving messages through: time spent with me, affirmations, and physical touch. And my ex-husband did all of those things, as well as perform acts of service and occasional gift giving. Which suggests M was incredibly rare and quite genius. And he continued to offer me all those acts that kept my “love tank” full, right up until the day of the disclosure. Which is how I got blindsided and why I fell so very far off the pedestal he had put me on. 

More than that though, the book got me thinking on what my ex-husbands love language was. The author suggests that whatever language you recognize your spouse as offering to you with regularity is most likely what he or she wants in return. Which does make it somewhat challenging to pinpoint what my ex-husbands language was, but without fail, he offered acts of service to me daily. Almost every day of our marriage he brought me coffee in bed. If he couldn’t be home to do that, he would have the coffee maker set up and ready to brew for my awakening. If acts of service was his primary love language, I wondered if I ever reciprocated enough to make him feel loved? He did so much for me, and just as the book suggested, I gave back loving words of support and gratitude, I ensured he knew I wanted to spend time with him, and I was physically loving towards him, because that is how I recognize and communicate love. Now I question whether my actions actually filled his love tank at all. 

Near the end of the book I was horrified to read about a husband who had started an affair but wasn’t telling his wife; he was only telling her he no longer loved her and wanted to end the marriage. The client told the author he didn’t want to hurt his wife, and he didn’t know what had happened, he wished it could be different, but he no longer had any feelings for his wife. Those sentiments were far too close to what I heard from M for me not to be shaken reading them. The author notes that the client was “thinking and feeling” what “hundreds of thousands” of husbands before him had thought and felt; these men convince themselves they no longer love their wives so they have the “emotional freedom” to “seek love with someone else”. The author suggests these men and women are pushed to fulfill their emotional needs outside the marriage when their spouse cannot communicate to them in their love language. 

The book speaks at length to the difference between the “in-love experience,” and the emotional need to feel loved, as have many other authors and speakers I have encountered in my research during the last eight months, some of whom I have referenced in previous blogs. While I won’t touch on that massive topic at this time, it disquiets me greatly that my marriage may have been lost to lust essentially. That in a few years, my ex-husband will be single and wondering what happened to our relationship and family. There will be no satisfaction for me if this scenario unfolds as most researchers of the human condition, and my friends, predict it will. I, in fact, hope he stays true to his polyamory claims, or that he has found his soul-mate in Stephanie. I do not want the agony of our break-up to have been for nothing. I do not want my marriage to have failed because of something I did, or did not do. While I do not understand polyamory, his choice to engage in that lifestyle as opposed to monogamous marriage lets me off the hook accountability wise. 

Reading chapter 11, Love Makes the Difference, I unglued a little more. The author speaks about how love interfaces with the known psychological needs for security, self-worth, and significance that all human beings share. And in doing so over the next three paragraphs, he validated my pain, longing and struggles since the break-up, a validation I no longer want or need. I don’t want to be reminded that I lost a cheerleader and safe place, that my self-esteem is cheap toilet paper thin, or that I am no longer romantically significant to anyone. I have been working so hard to overcome these issues and create meaning in my life that this reminder of where I was recently, and how far I still have to go in my journey to emotional well-being, seems unfair and untimely. I have just had the most beautiful, content, and joyous six days in years. I finally felt peaceful in the stillness and quiet of my life, I didn’t felt lonely, I hadn’t cried, I had felt joy and happiness just to be alive, gratitude for what and who I had in my life, and I was finally thinking forward with anticipation of things I could do for myself that would make me happy. I wasn’t relying on a man to come and rescue me. It is those strengths and achievements I want validated. This chapter reminded me that I do want love, that I value men and relationships, and that no matter what anyone says or what I read, I will not likely change my mind about my belief that my life will be more complete when I am in a loving relationship. 

Earlier that same day I read an article on the website about nice guys that unsettled me too. My husband was a nice guy. Everyone knew that. I was proud of the fact I had married a nice guy. There was simply nothing unflattering that could be said about him until the end; I had nothing but praise for him for 12 years. I felt blessed to be sharing a life with him, and felt unconditionally loved, which I have now learned is not actually possible outside of the parent/child bond. The article, written by Nate, a reformed nice guy, hit me in the gut with the truth about the lack of honesty in my marriage. Nate writes that a good guy can never be the jerk or source of unhappiness, which consequently translates to not rocking the boat or having difficult conversations about the ugly truth within self or between two people. For Nate, it also meant bottling up feelings when something was wrong, stewing in resentment, and pushing the person he cared about most, away. 

Last but not least, the hallmark of the “nice guy”: no closure, which is my situation. A 12 year relationship and marriage ended without a conversation and no effort made to salvage anything. And that remains the deepest sorrow that I carry with me. I have accepted the end of my marriage; I have made peace with M never being a part of my life again; I am moving on. Yet, I really struggle containing my deep grief when I think of how little effort was made by him, or he allowed me to make, to work through whatever created the space in our relationship for infidelity to occur. M told me there was no problem in our marriage, that he had just changed, so what could I say to that? What could I have done differently? How am I supposed to learn from this situation and not have it repeat in another relationship? 

Nate acknowledges that, “A nice guys fear is that honestly expressing the truth will make him unworthy of love”. Did I somehow contribute to making my love feel unloved? When I read the sentence “The fear of rejection, loneliness, and being not-enough ironically fuels the exact behaviour that will prevent the nice guys from ever experiencing genuine connection, affection, and love,” I wonder if my husband ever felt loved by me? Were we never genuinely connected? Am I that blind and foolish? I know the worst consequence of his cheating is that I now question whether or not he ever loved me, or when he stopped loving me, and whether or not he was ever faithful to me. Are both of us taking away deep insecurities from the wreckage of the failed marriage?

And if all of those punches to the gut weren’t enough, the Universe sent me another clear message after I had written the first draft of this blog via an article by Jayson Gaddis on the website The article, Why You’d Rather Have Sex With Someone Else Than Work On Your Marriage drove the point, that I would rather not consider, home: “it always takes two for an affair to happen. I’m not talking about the third party. I’m talking about in the primary relationship; both people contribute equally to an affair happening (hard pill to swallow for some).” Jayson has his own website, Relationship as a Path, which is chock full of musings and observations which provides me another perspective for my healing. Jayson also has a brief article about my husbands comment “I deserved better than him”. That statement is a cop out so the man doesn’t have to examine his insecurities and an insult to the woman because it is taking away her choices. Thank you for validating my frustration with that statement Jayson and helping me understand why I felt so icky and defensive when M would say that to me.  

My marriage seems to have been a sham and I never pushed too hard to get beneath the veneer; I loved my life, I loved the idea of being in a good marriage, and I loved the man my husband acted like. Therein lies at least some of my culpability in the failure of the marriage. I liked the status quo, being treated like a princess, being convinced I was loved unconditionally, that we didn’t fight much, and for all those reasons I didn’t want to rock the boat either. However, 12 years of my life seems like a pretty steep price to pay for this lesson. Even during the marriage I knew some of the pitfalls of M being the nice guy; I challenged my ex-husband at times during our marriage to stop being a doormat and stick up for himself. When he said it (whatever the topic at hand was) just didn’t matter that much to him, I accepted him at his words. Perhaps what I should have heard him saying was that the marriage just didn’t matter that much, or he didn’t feel like he mattered that much. As I go forward in life, I now have a new skill set knowing the different love languages, but how will I differentiate between truly caring people doing good things, and the fake nice guy? 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

An Accounting of My Flaws

It has been an emotional, topsy turvy, crazy last few weeks and I need to retreat to my corner and lick my wounds. It is time for me to reassess where I am, and what I need to do to continue moving forward and not get stuck in this latest little whirlpool of a set-back. I have been very emotional and weepy the last few weeks, with my ex-husband being ever present in my thoughts as I struggle to move into the unfamiliar territory of letting other men into my life, but I have also had moments of hope and joy. And now that the roller coaster has come to a stop, I need to get off for a little while and think on my lessons. I am pretty sure the Universe is sending me a very clear message, by removing people from my life, that I need to be alone. So the last few days I have chosen to lean into the solitude, silence and loneliness, and tell myself that I am safe. I have spent the last couple of days practising self-care. I so wish the solo trip I have booked for Bali in April was imminent, as I am very good at running away. I need that month away right now, or yesterday. It would be easier to have the people I care about absent if I was geographically removed from them. 

As I sat down to write this, or more truthfully, as I went on Facebook to avoid getting into writing this, the singer songwriter Jann Arden posted a status addressing my very emotional state. Bless the Universe for sending me messages of support that I can recognize, for isn’t recognition the first step towards change? I have finally learned enough about myself to recognize my patterns, even if I do not yet have the maturity or emotional intelligence to change my patterns. In a nutshell, when life is going swimmingly, I feel untouchable. I can have days, weeks, or months when I feel completely blessed and loved and content. And then something mysterious happens, which I have yet to identify, and the pendulum swings the other way and I can’t do anything right. It almost seems as though I am being punished for having it so easy for a while. However, I was challenged by a mentor recently that is this cycle not just my perspective? I am sure there is some truth to that, in that my behaviour cycle could well be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The worse I feel about myself, the more sensitive I become, which in turn leads to more interpersonal dysfunction, and on the cycle goes spiralling downwards until, for reasons I again do not know, the cycle stops and all becomes well again.  

Right now I am clearly in a down-swing: I am fighting with friends, feeling annoyed with family, feeling annoyed by other friends, I was completely told off and called out by a fellow volunteer who felt the need to share his email telling me off with the Chairperson of the Board and the Executive Director he was so angry with me, and the second guy I dated dumped my ass before we even got to the second date. Which is why I need to retreat to solitude, write, and do some reading. I have strayed quite far from my daily healing plan activities, and it might be necessary for me to refocus on myself and the basics rather than looking for love. I am interpreting this stripping down of my life as a sign that I am not ready for a serious and functional relationship and have more work to do with my grief and behavioural patterns. 

Although my second companion left my life on bad terms rather quickly, I am as okay with what happened as I can be, because the red flags were there from the beginning and it rapidly became obvious to me that a relationship could not develop between us. It is best we have parted ways, although I wish we could have more organically lapsed into friendship. My sadness is not just about his absence, but almost more so that my life is empty of hope again, or that once again I have been dismissed from someone’s life so easily. There is no one on the horizon that I can see, and no one I am exchanging emails with on As I reflect on my interactions with D, particularly the last day and the difficult conversations, I feel comfortable that I did the best I could. I was honest, accountable, vulnerable, caring, respectful, challenging, and strong. And I asked him to be the same, which presumably he did to the best of his abilities, so hopefully as he moves on in his life, he will reflect back on our short two weeks together and grow from our conversations. 

D was a very good mirror for me; he was me prior to the break-up with M, and he was me just a couple of weeks ago when I fought with my girlfriends. As the writer of Eat, Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Vulnerability is . . .  keeping the conversation open when strife or resentment has built up between me and a friend, or a loved one, or a neighbor.” I struggle immensely to stay in a conversation when I feel ashamed, angry, rejected, vulnerable, stupid, ugly, unwanted, judged or criticized. Staying in an emotionally distressing conversation without running away or resorting to very bad behaviour, which is not my style, is a land mine that I have become aware of and very much want to challenge and address in my life. D responded to perceived rejection in such a similar manner that I could not help but recognize the pattern and be empathetic to it. I did my best to be brave and calm, take responsibility for myself, and be assuring yet challenging to him. It is never easy for me to act that way in an uncomfortable and emotionally charged situation, but for the first time ever I clearly saw how frustrating it must be for the other person to deal with me and see me shutting down and withdrawing. It was so glaringly obvious to me that D was a mirror to me to bring about awareness of myself. In my life, there appears to be a direct, and inverse, correlation between how much I value someone and how incapable I become of staying in a conversation when it matters most. I have reached out to D again in the hopes of mending the wounds and building a friendship because he is so valuable as a check for me. 

I am aware on reflection that both of the men I have had dates with have not dealt with their issues about women and their past relationships. Was this a reminder from the Universe that I need to deal with my baggage before I will be permitted to move into a loving relationship? At least I am acutely aware of my baggage and the triggers they present. I know that with D I let my baggage overwhelm me on at least one occasion. Neither of these men seemed to have a clue about where the motivation for their behaviour was coming from. And my baggage is with me, every day. I feel M’s presence in my life through each day. The space he occupies in my heart and mind is shrinking, but he is there nonetheless. I am currently trying to accept that M will be with me for quite awhile, if he ever leaves, and that I can love the ghost without letting him haunt me. I yearn to make peace with his presence rather than fighting it continuously. 

I think the Universe is playing games with me. For months I have been putting my intentions for love out into the Universe, and what I have gotten in return in the last month is quite comical and not at all what my intentions were. Specifically, last week I had one crazy day which was just unbelievable. Two past relationships reared their heads in one day! To be honest, I initiated the contact with my first husband, but never expected him to respond. Back in December my son had told me that his Father had gotten fat and bald. I was very alarmed at how he might have come by this information, concerned that he was being exposed to his Father, but he told me he had been on his Fathers website and seen the pictures. Curiosity got the best of me and I went onto the website. And among his Fathers posts there was a comment from him about families being the cornerstone to living and loving. Or something along those lines that annoyed me to the point that I detoured off the high road I had been on all those years and commented on it, given the irony that he had abandoned not one, but two children. And then I thought no more of it, assuming he would just delete my snarky comment. 

Fast forward to this week when I found a message on my blog that someone wanted to get in touch with me. I assumed it was just some random guy that was either going to tell me off or hit on me. Mostly I was hoping for a conversation about a book deal, but I was actively practising having no expectations. I gave the commenter the email address associated to my blog, and a few days later went into that email for the first time in months to check if there was a message. To my shock and delight, it was an old lover getting in touch. Someone had been thinking of me and searching for me and found me through my blog. It was great to chat and reconnect, but I had to be firm with him, given he had been married all those years ago when we had our affair, and is still married to the same woman, that I had no interest in renewing that affair, given what I have learned firsthand about the emotional consequences of cheating. And in finding this old lovers email, I found an email from my first husband responding to the comment I had left on his post. 

In a nutshell, he wrote that if he ever heard from me again he had promised himself he was going to engage me in a positive manner. Then he went on to “answer” a question I don’t remember asking, and the link is dead as I suspected it would be, so I was clueless as to what the context of his response was. It simply didn’t matter enough to me to register in my memory. To him, I simply returned a one liner stating I was not interested in having contact with him. Twenty-two years of silence between my ex and I after a horrible divorce and custody battle, and then out of the blue, that interaction. I thought it was particularly odd.  

Then yesterday I became aware that the man I loved is still alive in some very small way inside my ex-husband to be, and the man he morphed into. My son told me, when I asked him if he had talked to his Dad lately, that his Dad had texted him to remind him it was my birthday. He chooses not to have me in his life, and he does not love me anymore, but he still cares for me in some small way from afar, and that was the first time since June that I have felt cared for by him. He contacted me on my birthday, and this time remembered to acknowledge the holiday, and it didn’t upset me the way his Christmas email did. Progress, even if it is in minuscule steps, must be celebrated. I sent M a brief email thanking him for being sweet and reminding our son about my birthday. It was my brave and compassionate action for the day.  

The email my ex-husband sent me on Christmas Eve obliterated any sense of healing and progress I had made for about three days. I was knocked on my ass emotionally, and now I wonder if I have even recovered from it? Although the email started well, him saying he missed me and thought of me, it deteriorated to him using love in the past tense, which was a first, and him essentially wishing me good luck in my life. And in that email he did not even wish me a Merry Christmas! I couldn’t figure out if he was psychopathic and cruel contacting me at Christmas to let me know he was over me, or if the email was so difficult to write that he simply forgot to wish me a Merry Christmas, and that had been his intention. After three days of crying and struggling to keep it together, the anger came. In early December I wrote about my seeming inability to get angry and my confusion about that. Rereading M’s Christmas email gets me riled up to this day; if I feel too weepy I go into the email and read the last line about how he hopes that one day we can talk to each other again and tell each other about our lives. And I reminded of how little he grasps the reality of the choices he has made, and the impact of his actions on me and our family. The anger I feel triggers my self-protection and I think, no, I will never let you back into my life. I don’t need to be reminded of how little you actually cared for me.    

I told a married couple about the two emails from my past that I received in one day, and the wife surmised that I needed to very clearly say goodbye and say no to those two men, and my past, which I did. Another girlfriend thought these two had come back to remind me that my responsibility is to tell other women my story and assure them they can learn from their challenges and move forward into something better. So here it is reader: life does not move backwards. There is a reason for everything that happens to us, including the people we meet and lose, and it is our sole responsibility to discover the lesson and/or message of that event. It is our duty as responsible loving citizens to grow and mature, and touch other lives in empathetic and loving ways with our new found knowledge. It is our responsibility to learn new coping mechanisms and behaviours and model these. 

I believe the Universe will keep giving me the same lesson, over and over, until I have truly internalized what I need to be able to let go and move on. As the process of me moving on continues in fits and starts, I hope to meet like-minded and authentic people and one day discover real and lasting love.