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.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

If I Could Manifest You, This is What We Could Be

Each failed relationship is getting me closer to finding the man I long for.

I wonder where you are this very moment, what you are doing, and how your day has been.

I wonder where in our world you are; sometimes I look at my world map and realize what vast lands exist to cover searching for you amongst billions. I could live in so many places, and I will roam the world, so you could be anywhere. I have left a bit of my heart on each beach I have walked; maybe you picked a piece up one day disguised as an oddly shaped and coloured pebble that had no business being on that particular beach. Maybe you’re in Bali, in the jungle and the damp, oppressive heat; I want to live there. Maybe you’re in Spain; I will be there in August. Maybe you live in my home-town right now, just down the road, around the corner, and I don’t know it.

Are you currently married? Do you have children? I wonder if you’re happy with your life, content with its cadence, or if you are also alone wondering where I am.
I don’t care what you look like. I guess I have a type, tall with dark hair, but I have also loved someone shorter than me, so it doesn’t matter what package you show up in. I have loved blue eyes and brown. Green eyes are my favourite, but I haven’t ever loved anyone with green eyes, yet. Maybe you have green eyes. I find goatees sexy, but I hate beards and moustaches, go figure that one out. I don’t care if you wear glasses, as long as you can see me. Really see me, and be fulfilled with what you see. I don’t care what colour your skin is; the most beautiful man I have loved had skin the colour of a lightly toasted coffee bean. I am open to you in whatever manifestation you arrive in this time. Lord knows the gift box I am contained within is a bit tattered around the edges.

I don’t care about your heritage. I love being challenged with a new culture, burning my tongue on new peppers and spices and mispronouncing a new language. You will be endeared by my efforts as I trip over myself trying to assimilate into your world. I don’t care about your religion. We will respect the individuality of spirituality enough that you will honour my need to pray to the Universe, meditate, occasionally smudge, burn incense, differentiate between my soul and my ego, and talk about energy in the same breath as God. In return, I will respect your practise of whatever faith brings you peace, understanding and love.
I want to recognize your souls light in your eyes. I want to know that in previous lives we have loved and lost each other, and we found our way back home in this lifetime, again. I want to believe we are fated, that all the pain and shit I have gone through was to prepare me for your greatness, to ready me to be the partner you deserve.

We will hold hands when we sleep, our limbs tangled, and reach out in the night to reassure ourselves that the other is not an apparition; that is the sort of love I want in our space. I want occasional moments of awe and reverence for the time we have together. Those moments when it all drops away as if the camera lens had tightened to capture just us.

You will be a loving and gentle soul of great quiet strength, and emotional intelligence, with bursts of sporadic enthusiasm, wonder and childishness. I want you to sing along with me in the car, and pretend you don’t notice when I get the words wrong, which is almost never. I want you to randomly dance with me around the house, to really age inappropriate music. I will never grow old, and neither will you. I want you to be silly, in the childish asshole way I can be sometimes. We will go to the park and eat ice cream on the swings while we quack at the ducks.

You will flirt with me, just because you can; you’re skilled at it. You enjoy the art and you flirt with everyone. I need you to read when to pull entire fistfuls of my hair and slap my ass, and when to hold your mouth against mine so I can breathe in all the intimacy and tenderness you hold in a well of deeply committed love and respect.

I need the occasional meandering philosophical conversation about issues that affect our hearts and souls, not just mindless gossip. I am not the woman who cares what the neighbour is doing, who at the office is cheating on who, or what the “it” celebrity wore last night, unless those issues profoundly touch you in some way.

You are capable of truly accepting my flaws in case I never succeed at beating them down, although you occasionally encourage me gently to rise above my weaknesses. I will do the same for you.

You will respect the cost I paid for not living an authentic life before now, even if you can’t understand my journey, and accept that I won’t budge on certain things, so please don’t let me let myself down. I know the four things I need daily to function well; join me if you want, no pressure, but I expect you to know your keys to well-being too. When I need to write, when I have been inspired, or I am troubled, I need you to let me walk away from what we are doing and have solitude for a time so that I can capture the exhale of meaning before it dissipates.

You will understand my need to be alone sometimes. And I get that you will need that too. I promise I won’t be insecure or freak out; just tell me about the adventure or the stillness when you come back to me.

I want you to read with me on a beach, and excitedly interrupt my reading to tell me your new ideas. I want us to read to each other in bed. I want you to be inspired by the world we live in and share that with others. I need you to be a life learner; a seeker; curious. I want you to lift me, hold me accountable, and encourage and inspire me to move into my greater power.

We will travel and explore regularly; I could happily be homeless. I don’t know how we will live in a world that demands paper money to survive, but I want you to believe with me that we will, so we will. You won’t have a boring, soul sucking job you hate just to pay the bills, this I am sure of. I didn’t walk away from mine to watch you die a slow death in yours. You will love what you do because it is making the world a better place somehow, even if that is only through your own joy and satisfaction. I know you won’t be someone who settles for mediocrity or good enough, someone who just gets by or is happy with the status quo. I want someone to conquer the world with me.
I never want you to fear me; there is nothing more painful than reading in my lovers eyes that he is leaving me because he was too afraid to rise up and meet me. It is agony to see that he would rather leave my life than be brave and steadfast and do the work together that it would take to climb up to the next viewpoint. I am not the easy path, and I am demanding as hell, but I will give back as much as I ask, and we will be glorious together. I need you to trust in me, and our strength as a couple, enough that you show me your guts. You must never try to protect me from the world or mange my feelings. I need you to believe that I am strong enough to hear you.

I can’t contain who I am anymore than you can you and I don’t want to hide or minimize the crazy loving mess I am anymore than I want you to hide you. We need not change each other, we need only to be grateful that we finally found each other.

I hope that day comes soon. In the meantime, I hope you are deliciously satisfied with your time and space right now. I am creating a life I love while I wait for you and I trust you are doing the same.

Originally published at The Good Men Project. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Love Did Not Win for Me

As the history making ruling came down from the US Supreme Court that gay marriage was now legal, I was outside a courtroom waiting and watching as my lawyer walked back to me from where she had conferred with his lawyer, and his lawyer walked back to him, where he was sitting about 200 feet down the hallway from me. Back and forth we had gone through our lawyers, about four rounds, trying to find common ground and create a separation agreement so that we can divorce. After all, it has been a long and painful two years since we have separated. I was getting angrier and angrier with each confab as I gave up more and more, and felt less and less protected by the law. My intentions for the day, as stated in a Facebook status update the day before, had been to “stay calm, detached from the outcome, and grounded in believing that everything happens for my greater good.” I lost that perspective about two hours in.

In the statement released when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of gay marriage on June 26, 2015, Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority: "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

Marriage might symbolize ideals, but of the five that Justice Kennedy named, for so many of us, those ideals have been destroyed by the acts of the one human being we trusted more than anyone. And now we are, as he put it, “condemned to live in loneliness.” 

As someone who supports gay rights, including the right to marry, and who would have been thrilled any other day, all I could think when I read the news was, I hope that the 50% of you who end up divorcing enjoy that emotional hell and financial destruction your civil fight has now won you: gay marriage will ultimately lead to gay divorce, or as it should be known, marriage sometimes leads to divorce. The lawyers must be thrilled that an entire new clientele has been offered to them on a silver platter. 

I felt ashamed of myself for such spite in the face of their joyous celebration, something I would have shared any other day, and at the same time I felt righteous in my indignation that as millions of people around the world celebrated love and marriage and the ideals they represented, I had to face the ugliness of what a dead marriage devoid of any care, compassion or humanity creates. There cannot be anything uglier than two people who once had “become something greater than once they were,” fighting over money and property. If I were to guess, his motivation to fight is ego and anger, for me it is fairness and survival; there is no love in any of that. The only one by my side fighting for my civil rights or constitutional freedoms was the lawyer I was paying, the one who kept advising me to “let it go, you aren’t going to get that.”

The negotiations were a brutal process of conceding this, giving up that, lowering my ask on the other, trying desperately to get an agreement I could live with. I felt invisible and insignificant in the eyes of the court. There was no fairness as far as I could tell. 

Despite the fact that we live in a “no-fault” jurisdiction regarding divorce, and not a mention of his adultery came up in court yesterday, the Judge commented that the allegations of a gambling addiction would surely be impactful in a court case. So much for me taking the high road while his lawyer slings mud in my face. The Judge even went so far as to comment on the viability of me making a livable wage in the future as a writer. Nothing seemed to be off the table as far as I was concerned, and he seemed to be coated in teflon. 

Driving home, the hateful words of my mother that I have fought against my entire life rang true in my head: you can’t trust men, they will only use you, and you can’t rely on anyone but yourself. The entire mess my life is in and the reason for the bitter fighting comes down to one decision I made: trusting that my ex would support me after I retired from one career to build another. I never got the chance; he left me five weeks after I gave my retirement notice, before the money had even come in. I am now using my retirement money to pay for my lawyer. 

That day three different men made my life a living hell. I felt so angry and bitter that all the work I had done to recover from his betrayal wasn’t enough; I was reduced to feeling so much general hatred, and self-pity, and betrayal all over again. I did what I never wanted to do again, I was back to lumping all men into the same category of philanderer’s, power and control freaks, and misogynists. I have worked so hard to change the narrative in my head about men, but back that sick song came full volume.    

I have lost faith. I couldn’t even pray that night because I felt that God and the Universe had abandoned me. I failed to see how this financial and emotional torture was in my best interest, which was all I could really say instead of my normal prayers to keep my heart open, watch over the people I love, which normally includes my ex, and let me bring light to others. I have no light to give, no inspiration to offer, no love in me.  

Sometime very late that night it occurred to me that I had entered the “dark night of the soul” for those who know the hero’s journey. I have no compassion or love in me. I have no kindness or strength. What I have is everything I have worked so hard to inoculate myself against: bitterness, anger, loathing, fear, distrust, and feeling forsaken, powerless, used and unworthy. I feel like I have moved backwards two years to the weeks after he left me. 

How did three hours in a court setting dealing with lawyers, hearing the Judge basically validate his bad behaviour while telling me mine was going to be on display during a trial, and having to face my ex for the first time in almost two years destroy all the work I have done since the separation? Why did that experience single-handedly unglue me and set me back into such a dark place that I was deleting people off Facebook, swearing I would never marry again, and not even able to muster the strength to fake a belief in love when talking to my son?

As I tried to distract myself with social media that night, everyone was posting #‎LoveWins in reaction to the Supreme Court decision. And that just fuelled the anger and pity and rage in me. Love doesn’t win, love isn’t enough, and all the love I have been working so hard to muster, promote, praise and hang onto in the last year has forsaken me. There is no love that I have ever known in my life that has won. 

I also saw a few postings that said the moral arc of the Universe bends to justice. I am familiar with this concept. For me, yesterday, there was no justice. For many of us, of both sexes, who are going through child custody battles, an ugly divorce, who have lost a family member to violence and hatred, who live in an American town gripped by racial tension and police oppression, or who live in a terrorist or war torn country, it seems God has forsaken us and there will be no justice. Perhaps that is what the LGBTQ community has thought and felt all these years. 

How can I heal myself and drag my sorry ass out of the pit of helplessness, hopelessness, self-pity, and rage, when I have lost the beacon that illuminated the shadows? If I don’t believe in love, and the Universe and God loving me deeply, I don’t believe in anything. 

Since I got home I have bawled deep gut wracking sobs of grief for what I have lost that will never be mine again, screamed out my anger at the unfairness of it all, and hurt my hand from hitting the wall in frustration, but I am not yet able to talk to anyone about the experience. I haven’t talked to another human being except my son in over two days, and I don’t know when I will be ready to face people again. I write instead, trying to process what happened and why I slipped into the pit so easily. 

I searched TED talks for salvation and inspiration using phrases such as dark night of the soul, healing yourself, anger, betrayal, love and marriage. 

Writer Andrew Solomon, from his TED talk Love, No Matter What: “There are people who think that the existence of my family somehow undermines or weakens or damages their family. And, there are people who think that families like mine shouldn’t be allowed to exist. And I don’t accept subtractive models of love; only additive one’s. And I believe that in the same way that we need species diversity to ensure that the planet can go on, so we need this diversity of affection and diversity of family in order to strengthen the ecosphere of kindness.”  

I lost my family and there is no affection in my life. How am I supposed to muster kindness for others? I hope this is just a reactionary pit-stop in the trajectory of my life; I don’t want to be a dark, fearful, miserable, closed-off shell of a human being for very long; I don’t like myself right now. 

Psychologist Guy Winch, in his TED talk Why We All Need To Practise Emotional First Aid, speaks about the favouritism we give our physical pain over emotional pain. We don’t tell someone with a broken leg to walk it off, so why do we think we can “shake off” our loneliness or depression? The problems with psychological wounds are that they distort our perceptions and mislead us, and Dr. Winch knows how hard it is to change our minds once we have been convinced of something. He reminds me that I must fight helplessness and not trust my mind when my self-esteem is battered. 

I am relieved and grateful for the future of humanity now that the United States is finally getting on board with equality, because that has been the core of the conversation all along hasn’t it? That all people deserve the freedom to choose how to live their life, no matter their sexuality, race, gender etc? The win has nothing to do with marriage per se, it is the ability to be the captain of your own ship and make the choices we deem important to ourselves.

That was missing for me in court, having any ownership of my future. 

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Your First Marriage is Over, Would You Like to Create a Second One Together?

back of wedding couple

How hurt and betrayal can be a path to mutual growth and discovery.

the 20 minute shiftIs it possible that an affair could be the best thing that has ever happened to your marriage? What are the possibilities and requirements for turning a devastating crisis into an opportunity? I had long held the belief that an affair would mark the end of my marriage, until my husband had one. Once the secret was out, I saw it as an opportunity to right the wrongs, learn, grow, re-commit, and re-create a new marriage that was better for both of us.

Rethinking infidelity … a talk for anyone who has ever loved by Esther Perel is 20 minutes of new information about affairs in the digital age of romanticized marriages. I think this talk should be mandated viewing for all couples, long before a crisis hits. In fact, adultery is such a pervasive human problem universally, this talk should be obligatory viewing for any person of adult age entering a relationship with another human being. Affairs are not about sex anymore than rape is about sex; affairs are about desire. And our desires do not end when we exchange vows with another.

An affair can be an expression of longing and loss. At the heart of an affair is a longing or yearning for something.
Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal because it shatters not only the grand illusion of love and forever, but your sense of self; anyone who has been betrayed will tell you that. As marriage has evolved from a financial arrangement of who gets the cows when the husband dies, to the current romantic ideal of believing you have found “the one,” to betray your spouse with an affair is to now destroy their identity as someones “one.” Infidelity tells your spouse they are no longer chosen, unique, or indispensable. Infidelity is a sure-fire method to trigger an identity crisis in your spouse. I know it did for me. Infidelity hurts differently these days because marriage has become a solely emotional arrangement built around choice, love, trust, and partnership, to name just a few ideals. So why would any of us risk losing everything, and destroying what we have built, for a taste of the forbidden?

An affair can be an expression of longing and loss. At the heart of an affair is a longing or yearning for something. Recent losses, death and mortality often live in the shadows of an affair. The adulterer might have been triggered by an event to ask themselves, is this it, is there more to life, is this as good as I will ever feel? Esther believes some affairs are an antidote to death and a bid to bring vitality back. This is the first I have concretely read or heard of the link between death or loss and an affair, but it is not shocking to me at all to hear that. The 20/20 hindsight I can now use on my marriage has a significant loss that impacted my ex deeply near the beginning of the timeframe of his last affair, the one that ended the marriage. If he and I had both known that his grief was a risk factor to infidelity, could we have changed the course of the next year?

According to Esther, the sad and sorry joke is on my ex, because affairs can happen in open relationships too. His decision he is polyamorous, and would only participate in an open marriage so he could continue his relationship with his married polyamorous lover, will not protect him from suffering a betrayal in the future. Infidelity and monogamy are not the same conversation, which I think many of us believe them to be. Esther believes humans have always been lured by the power of the forbidden, and always will be. So if you aren’t required to be monogamous, how could you cheat?


It is not so much that the adulterer is turning away from their partner by looking for another person, but that they are turning away from themselves.
Infidelity, no matter if it is a hook-up, paid sex, mutual masturbation in a chat room or a long-term love-affair, requires three ingredients to meet Esther’s criteria of an affair: a secretive relationship, an emotional connection, and a sexual alchemy. In her talk, Esther focuses on the alchemy part of that triangle because of the power of our imaginations and how desire works. I believe it is secrecy that is the true issue though. If your partner is open with you about their inclination or attraction to another person right from the beginning, there is an opportunity for conversation and exploration within the marriage that might quell the crossing of the line that begins the affair.

In her talk, Esther challenges the current belief that if your partner has brought a third person into your marriage, either the marriage was unhappy, or there is something wrong with the adulterer. Instead, Esther believes it is not so much that the adulterer is turning away from their partner by looking for another person, but that they are turning away from themselves. Two years out from my husband’s affair I have come to believe that truth. Our marriage was flawed, I am flawed, and my ex-husband is flawed, but none of those three reasons were why my ex cheated on me. I believe he was seeking and searching for something that was missing within him, and he failed to talk to me about that. He failed to turn towards me, or to turn inwards, but instead looked outwards to another to fill the pit of emptiness within him.


Can we heal from an affair, within the very marriage the affair has destroyed? 
Can we heal from an affair, within the very marriage the affair has destroyed? In other words, can the one who hurt you also be the one to heal you? That idea goes against current rhetoric but I believe that might be the most powerful form of healing available beyond what you do for yourself. Esther claims some relationships can be healed to the point of not just surviving, but thriving. She believes good can come from an affair, in much the same way having a life-threatening disease can give you a new perspective. The fear of loss can rekindle desire in a marriage.

The perpetrator must take responsibility for the affair, no secret there. The adulterer now needs to become the keeper of the boundaries and hold vigil for the relationship in order for healing to begin. Esther goes so far as to say it is the adulterer who must bring up the affair in conversation so the betrayed does not have to.

The adulterer not only needs to end the affair, but also express guilt and remorse for the affair. Take note, there is a huge difference between the adulterer expressing remorse for hurting their spouse, and actually regretting the affair. My ex told me in the early days he completely regretted the pain he had caused me, but he did not regret the affair. I can only tell you from my experience that hearing that statement coming out of my his mouth was akin to watching vultures circling on the dying corpse of our marriage.

The deceived partner now gets to shed the status quo as well, and they can ask for more. Once the affair is exposed, the hurt partner can say, “This wasn’t working for me either,” and open and honest conversations can begin. At the same time, the hurt partner needs to mine for the meaning and the motives behind the affair, but not the sordid details. The hurt party must curb their curiosity because all those questions accomplish is keeping a person in pain. It is also the hurt parties responsibility to take on challenges that increase self-worth while surrounding themselves with love and support.


You will be rebuilding a new life after an affair; the question becomes, will you be doing it together as a couple, or on your own?
An affair is hurt and betrayal on one side, and growth and self-discovery on the other. Those are the two perspectives of the adulterer and the deceived: “what it did to you, what it meant to me”. That can also be your trajectory though as you work through your anguish and questions. You begin in a place of hurt once the betrayal is discovered or disclosed, and then you have an opportunity to move into growth and self-discovery as you heal the trauma.

Once infidelity is disclosed, your marriage as you knew it is over. Accept that. You might even embrace that reality. You will be rebuilding a new life after an affair; the question becomes, will you be doing it together as a couple, or on your own?
With all compassion for you if you are suffering, I wish you the best whichever path you take; may you not walk alone. Just remember, it will take both of you fighting for the relationship. A must read for both the betrayed and the betrayer is After The Affair by Janis A. Spring.

I also recommend the book The ZimZum of Love by Rob and Kristen Bell.
Photo:Flick/Ian D. Keating

Originally published at The Good Men Project. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Saturday, 18 April 2015

How Long It Took

It has been exactly two years since I gave my notice of retirement to a 17 year career I had hated almost from day one.

It has been almost two years since you asked me for an open marriage. When I asked you what this meant you told me the marriage as I had known it was over. It has been almost two years since that 72 hours of roller-coaster emotions, crying, withdrawing, asking questions, begging you to reconsider your choices, trying to understand what you were thinking and feeling, trying to understand what you wanted in life and marriage, trying to support you as a friend, trying to have compassion for someone I loved. 

It has been almost two years since the phone call that changed everything. The voice on the other end of the line that informed me that you had previously declared your love for that women years earlier. That you had told her you would leave me for her. That the women you were now in love with had heartlessly bragged at a staff function that she had been fucking you for months. 

It has been almost two years since I asked you over and over if you had cheated on me with her. I knew, but I needed you to admit to the affair. You did. 

It has been almost two years since you told me you only asked for an open marriage because you figured I would walk out the door right then and there and you could “protect me” from finding out about the affair. You never wanted an open marriage; you just wanted me to go away. I was disposable garbage to you. It would take me many months to come to terms with that though; I would keep fighting for my long-lost marriage for months.  

It has been almost two years since we went round and round and I tried to explain to you that I could not even consider the possibility of an open marriage without healing the trauma of the affair. I read a book; I gave it to you. You never gave it back and I doubt you read it. I told you I needed you to end the affair and focus on healing the marriage. You said you would not do that. 

It has been almost two years since you moved out. 

It has been almost one and a half years since I cut off all contact with you and moved away.

It has been almost one and a half years since our son cut off all contact with you after you asked him to meet your girlfriend. 

It has been almost one and a half years since my knees hit the floor, my body wracking with deep sobs of grief when I realized I could not even begin to attempt to pick up the shards of my life and piece them back together. Every time I attempted to grasp a sliver it wounded me again.

It has been almost one and a half years since I decided I could not kill myself and would have to find another way. 

It has been almost one and a half years since I began the intense work of knowing thyself and healing thyself. 

It is exactly one year since I fled to another country by myself  for a month to heal. A most glorious trip that changed my outlook and returned a love of life to me. 

It has been almost one year since the negotiations in the divorce process fell apart and the financial punishment and cruel parading of my flaws in legal documents began. 

It has been almost one year since you began painting a picture of me that does not resemble me at all. I was devastated by the way you perceived me. Had you never known who you were married to? What had I done to create your vision of me? Who was this horrible creature you seemed to portray me as? She was not the self that I lived with. It was incredibly hard to accept that I could never convince you otherwise; that you could not hear me, and that what you thought of me was not my concern. It was brutal to accept that not only did you not love me anymore, that you wanted to live your life with another woman, a part-time life with an already married woman, that you were okay never seeing me again, but that you didn’t even like me as a person. 

It has been almost eight months since my last breakdown; the last trip to the hospital for anxiety medication to ease me through the weeks of hopelessness knowing I could not end my life, but not knowing how to live my life.

It has been about four months since the rage set in. The burning violent anger that surfaces and flashes like a stroke in my brain before it recedes and I work to calm and distract myself. I want to punish you for what you have thrust onto me. I want to hold you accountable for how your actions have devastated my life emotionally and financially. I want you to hurt the way I have hurt; deep, festering swaths of infection in my heart and mind that are taking years to treat and heal. 

It has been just over 24 hours since I accepted that I will never be able to hold you financially accountable for the ruin my life is. I have accepted that I will never recover the losses; that I need to stem the bleeding now. I have accepted that I need to end the hateful negotiations and swallow the bitterness so that I can shit it out later.   

It has been less than 24 hours since I realized I don't need to forgive you. All those Facebook memes, self-help authors and philosophical pundits have it wrong. I am not some benevolent god handing out mercy to those who have sinned; the forgiveness I need to foster is not for you. I need to forgive myself. 

My anger about my finances, my fear of my future, my anger about the job I have to work just to make ends meet, my grief about the loss of my lifestyle, and my daunting options moving forward as I work hard to build a new life for myself are because of the choices I made, the decisions I made or did not make, the lifestyle I led, and how I have spent my money in the past. You are the brunt of my rage because you are the constant reminder of how I failed myself. 

Perhaps peace will come in time through the excruciating process of forgiving myself for my mistakes, not you for your mistakes. 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

It's a Pity-Party!

The last month has been teary and rough emotionally. I worry sometimes that I am slipping back into depression, but I don’t think that is what is going on. I think I am moving into a different phase of grieving that I wasn’t expecting after a few months of doing really well. I still have lots of great days, and even on the days I cry, I can find happiness, I’m not sleeping excessively, and I have energy to do things, so that rules out depression in my mind. 

I am making progress in the divorce negotiations, despite the stalls that are coming out of my lawyers office the last few months. The process has been incredibly long, exhausting, and an emotional roller coaster that tests my patience constantly. That being said, we are nearing an agreement it seems; the last two exchanges have gotten us closer to an arrangement I can live with. And I keep praying and asking the Universe to end this torture. Completing a separation agreement will bring about the end of this chapter, and lead to the actual divorce. The plan, if we can reach an agreement, is to file the separation agreement in court, which in Canada means the divorce will be granted without a court appearance, and one day, in approximately three to four months, I will get a decree in the mail, with no warning. And no need to see my ex.

Which is what I have always wanted, to avoid seeing him. 

And could that be a part of my recent bout of grieving? Once the paperwork is in my hands, my life is truly my own again, which means I can enact certain plans, such as moving overseas, and implementing my “witness protection” plan. For quite awhile now I have planned on changing my name to something completely made-up using none of my previous names. I plan to move out of Canada permanently, and I will use his lack of compliance with spousal support payments to get registered with the agency that collects on behalf of a respondent. Which means I can shut down the email account he knows. All of which means I will be gone, untraceable.

It is the only way I can punish him for what he has done to me, but the irony is that he doesn’t give a shit. He isn’t looking for me or trying to contact me. So why would I bother going to those extremes? Anger, bitterness, punishment in case one day years down the road he has regrets or remorse and wants to contact me. None of those motives are particularly healthy, I know, but this is the only control I have. I never had an ounce of control in this process despite the small pieces I tried to champion. Which is part of why I am fighting him so hard on the separation agreement; I want to exact consequences on him for his choices.  

That isn’t all that is happening in my life though that is challenging me. Because of the delays out of my lawyers office, again something I can’t control, my plans to move overseas is being hampered to the point where it would be a miracle if I can leave in May when I had planned to go. And I think that is seriously impacting my mental health. 

The tiered rice fields of Indonesia

I delayed getting a job thinking it would all be over sooner rather than later, and actually getting a job and getting back into the workplace coincides with the timing of the start of my crying jags. Not that I resent working per se, or I am incapable in any way. It feels like defeat in a lot of ways, like I am giving up on my dream of moving overseas. It has also triggered a lot of anger towards him that he let me quit my $80,000 a year job, is fighting me on spousal support, and I am working for 50 cents more than minimum wage now in a retail environment. Not really my dream. The people I work with are nice which helps significantly. 

I am bleeding money in legal fees, money that is now coming out of my “overseas” funds. Working at this wage it will probably take a few years to replenish the money I have paid out. I am fighting him to get that money back, which I feel entitled to since I didn’t cause any of this, and in the last round of negotiations, his lawyer wrote: “our client is not agreeable to paying your client’s legal fees as he has also incurred substantial legal fees”. Wow, fuck you. Consequences suck ass don’t they, and I don’t see how this is my consequence to bare? Are legal fees a stupidity tax for trusting him? Again, the anger with which I react to these legal proceedings is hard to sit with. 

Now to my living arrangements. I have been procrastinating since November on building two pieces of furniture I bought from Ikea. I haven’t done the painting I had planned to do. I haven’t hung my chandelier in my bedroom. I haven’t even hung half of my photos. Now that my kitchen is finally finished after months of delays with that, I need to do a tile backsplash. And again, for some reason, having to face these chores feels like I am giving up on living my dream of moving overseas. Not only that, I wasn’t supposed to be here. I was supposed to be travelling overseas, volunteering, seeing the world. I had an expectation for what I was going to do with this time in my life before I “settled down” again, and I am so far from that plan it is laughable. 

Then there is the cha-cha I am doing with my writing career. I take one step forward, and two steps back. My ego is very much being tested. 

I resent him and what he has put me through these last two years. I think my anger comes out in tears looking like a very different creature. As a woman we aren’t socially taught how to express anger appropriately. Being raised by two British parents who were uptight and emotionally shut-down, I wasn’t taught how to process or express any emotion. Whatever I have figured out along the way, dysfunctional or not, I have figured out myself. Shutting down is so much more appealing than trying to work through these complex thoughts that are triggering my complex and confusing emotions.   

Sitting with this reality isn’t coming easily. I fight it, which probably causes me more grief. I run from it, spending money at the casino that I can’t afford to lose just to get a few hours peace from my head. I withdraw emotionally from my sweet understanding boyfriend because I am too exhausted and hateful about this experience to keep explaining myself. I don’t even want to write about it anymore; I just want it to go away. 

I don’t have any profound lessons to share with you, or any spiritual up-lifting messages. No guidance either. This is just a pity-party. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

TED Talks Saved My Life

You are a leader on a global scale. Make your mark a positive one.

TED talks saved my life. They gave me a reason to get up each morning, re-engage in life when I was seriously contemplating checking out, and get moving onwards and upwards. The talks were the external jet-pack I was missing at the time. In fact, TED talks, once I had been introduced to them, became an integral part of my healing plan after my world disintegrated bit by bit under my feet during the years of 2012-2013. We know that distraction is key when someone is suffering through physical or emotional pain. TED talks are the mother of all distraction; they not only distract during the duration of the talk, now you have new and exciting information planted in your brain to distract you all day long in a positive manner.
The brilliance of TED talks are:

1) The talks are available to you anytime and anywhere you have an internet connection.
2) The speakers are all leaders in their fields, some of which are obscure, such as mammalian penile structure or shame research.
3) The talks rarely run more than 20 minutes and some are as short as five minutes.
4) The “thinkers” are such excellent public speakers that these really are performances as opposed to speeches.
5) There is probably a TED talk on any single subject you can think of, from porn to metaphysics.

These soundbites aren’t the fast food crap that media is feeding you, these are fascinating topics that get you thinking in a new way and can inspire new action in your life. There is often a call to action within these talks. Most often, my favourite TED speakers have introduced me to their websites or books so that I can gain further knowledge in their area of expertise. Each teacher has inevitably led me to other teachers. A TED talk is really a snapshot introduction to a new idea that you can either take or leave without too much investment. You don’t have to buy a book, commit to a weekend retreat, or sign up for a class at your local university.  The mission of the non-profit foundation, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is : “we believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.” Since 1984 the organization has been building a “clearinghouse of free knowledge” in “more than 100 languages”.


Here is why you too should watch TED talks regularly:

1) You will become a better conversationalist.
2) You will start engaging your brain again like you did in school, but with topics that you find interesting.
3) You might be introduced to a new career or hobby.
4) You can share inspiring talks with your friends and family thus spreading out ripples of learning and excitement for life.
5) Your world-view will get expanded.
6) You will find new heroes or teachers for your life.

So, tomorrow during your commute, while you are sipping that first cup of coffee, or when you go for a walk, launch TED, do a search, and listen to a talk. I am willing to bet if you have a curious nature you will get hooked. Maybe you will be inspired to form a next generation “book club” in your community and gather a group together to watch and discuss talks on a specific topic. I used to love watching TED talks with my girlfriend and then discussing it and sharing our unique experiences and perspectives on that topic.

My top ten TED talks:

Brene Brown – Listening to shame. 
Helen Fisher – Why we love, why we cheat.
Helen Fisher – The brain in love.
Kelly McGonigal – How to make stress your friend.

I think the emerging theme of my favorite talks is pretty clear. I largely focussed on talks about happiness, love, and relationships, because that was where I was struggling in my life. Which is why I say these talks saved my life. The talks noted above drastically expanded my limited knowledge of how to cultivate peace and happiness, gave clues as to what dynamics were at play for me within my relationships, and helped me understand how the brain is impacted by various chemical reactions during love and lust. I watched these talks during a time when I was suffering my losses, drowning in grief and questions, and struggling through a hopeless period. Those talks gave me hope that I could change my behavior, and thus change my reality and my future.

TED talks specifically for men:

Tony Porter – A call to men.
Colin Stokes – How movies teach manhood. 
Cindy Gallop – Make love, not porn. 
Ran Gavrieli – Why I stopped watching porn.
Alberto Cairo – There are no scraps of men

TED speakers have become my Rockstars. Attending a TED conference, with a price tag currently sitting at $8,500 US, has made it onto my bucket list. No longer are the Seahawks front-row 50-yard-line tickets a priority for me; the many speakers who will cross the stage over a three day conference are the people that would cause me to get all giggly and shy, knees wobbling, and voice cracking. Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert or Brene Brown would bring out that same reaction in me now. Okay, I might still blush and get tongue-tied if I met Dave Grohl, but there aren’t too many “famous people” by pop-culture standards that I care to meet. I want to meet the type of people who get nominated and sought out by the organizers of TED conferences.

I witnessed an audience member pledge one million dollars to the speaker’s NGO.

Yes, you read that correctly, and not only do the speakers need to be nominated to be considered conference headliners, you, as a wannabe attendee, must apply and be approved to purchase tickets to a TED conference. Not every yahoo that can afford that price tag will get a ticket. 

According to their website, the organizers want the audience members to be of the same ilk and calibre as the speakers; “We … actively seek out leading thinkers and doers across a wide range of fields.” Why would such a high bar be placed on audience members you might ask?

Last year during the main conference in Vancouver, BC, I drove an hour from home to find a University that was live-streaming the chats, because even though I live near Vancouver, I had no faith that I would get within a block of the venue given the people that were in town for this conference. I watched Bill and Melinda Gates discuss their foundation during a question and answer period. I watched Elizabeth Gilbert talk about creative genius. After one talk, given by the winner of that years TED prize of one million dollars, there was a discussion involving the audience which you don’t see when you watch the talk, and I witnessed an audience member pledge one million dollars to the speaker’s NGO. The attendees have the resources to change the world that you and I might not have, but we can get onboard and support these “thinkers and doers” by educating ourselves and supporting their efforts.

Bill Gates speaking at TED

TED has expanded its conferences to now include TED Global, TED Women, TED Youth, TED Active, and TEDx, the attainable version of a TED conference.  In essence, a TEDx event is a small scale, local event that is usually free, that centers around the live streaming of the TED conference, and may or may not have live speakers or performers on site. There was recently a Facebook posting in my small community that someone has applied for a TEDx licence and was looking for organizers to help get a TEDx up and running. These events happen in communities all over the world, so if you have an interest in what a TED conference is actually like, look for a local TEDx event, or apply to host your own.

Do these incredible speakers leave me feeling inadequate? That question, posed to me by a fellow writer when I sought feedback on my idea for this article, is complicated. By and large, TED talks and TED speakers inspire me. Sometimes I feel a bit defeated by the late start I am getting in life due to my previous choices. If I find myself feeling inadequate or down because I have no notation on my resume that I have been a speaker at a TED conference, I can remind myself that neither has Oprah Winfrey. Overall, these speakers encourage me to think differently, dare greatly, dream bigger, be more conscious of my world and my wake in it, and aspire to leadership on a global scale.

I think that by watching the talks and bettering myself, and sharing these talks with my sphere of influence, I am bettering my world.
These speakers inspire me that one day, I too might have an original idea that is interesting and thought provoking enough that I will be invited to speak at a TED event, even if it is “just” a local TEDx event. We are all gifted in our own way, each of us has a calling and a purpose. Each of us, at some point in our lives, will become an expert on something.

So, how on earth can an essentially unemployed blogger from a small farming community in a vast and sparsely populated land provide global leadership? Simply by spreading the message of TED I believe. I think that by watching the talks and bettering myself, and sharing these talks with my sphere of influence, I am bettering my world. Today, in our global social media community, I do have global influence. I have readers to my blog from all over the world and I regularly include TED talks in my articles. I have Facebook friends from the Philippines and Indonesia that will see the talks I share. I have Twitter followers in Jamaica, the United States, England and Australia. I bet you also have global reach if you think about your social media contacts. Our access to the global community from our computer monitor and keyboard has reached unprecedented heights in history.

I ask you to please share your favourite TED talk in the comment box and let us all experience your inspiration for a better world. This is not an original idea, but for today, the “idea worth spreading” I want to share with you is that you are a leader on a global scale by what you put out into your sphere of influence via social media. Make your mark a positive one.

Photo: Flickr/ Steve Jurvetson