Ex-friends.

I had a whole life 7-8 years ago and that life has been completely destroyed. I look back at old photos and think about old memories as if I’m someone looking at the rubble of their former city. I wonder sometimes how I even go to a place in my life when almost everyone and everything that was so important to me — that once made me feel complete, and alive, and safe – dissipated entirely until it was 100% nothing. People that I once shared everything with from jewelry, to Halloweens, to annual birthday trips, are now just old crumbled foundations of buildings – strong, beautiful buildings — that have been burnt to the ground. They’re glimpses of something that is long, long gone as if in an old decrepit and unrelateable photo in a history book. I never expected life to turn out that way.

Losing people so catastrophically, violently and grandly feels like a divorce, a death, a train crash. It’s so much more than just letting events and people and memories go. It’s rebuilding your life, a new life where you have to consider that everyone and everything you trusted, held true and believed so deeply in, was all a big, nasty lie. That there are no such thing as the ‘bffs’ that your first real love told you in his cynical, sardonic tone did not in fact exist. That there’s no such thing as retiring to Palm Springs with your lifelong college mates as Carol Shields suggests in “The Stone Diaries”. That the notion of girlhood and everything associated with it as you believed it, to be washed away as simply as waves dredging rogue seaweed scraps onto barren sand. Losing people this way- with betrayal on one end and yelling and purposeful hurt on the other – is something you don’t really forget. You may not lose sleep over it, but what happens instead is this pang. This realization whenever these people come to mind, that out there in this big wide universe, you have enemies. Enemies that couldn’t even be bothered to make things right. Enemies that talked shit about you on social media in their late twenties. Enemies who at one point cried in your arms because of the boy who ghosted. Enemies who at one point you sent care packages to when they moved across the country. Enemies you texted so often each day that you literally blew up each other’s phones with mundane and frivolous conversations. Enemies that make you an enemy, too. When you never wanted to be ‘enemies’. The most hurtful thing is that you both became enemies. And if you encounter each other again, there will be either death stares, or side eye, or worse: truly, painfully awkward silence. Enemies who are all still as close as anything in the world with one another but who have all decided to kick you to the curb.

Why did this happen? How does this happen? What I lost is different from similar losses. The enemies I have made now were so close with me we received joint wedding invitations; we were never seen apart; when in the same classes during our undergrad years, we literally blew our TA’s mind with our thinking alike and acting alike and laughing alike. We weren’t just friends. We weren’t just friends who had a ‘falling out’. We were family whose family tree rotted, died, turned black, fell apart into irreparable ash. And when I think about it, even for more than the split millisecond I think about each day, I cannot fathom that pain, that shattered dream, that ruined close connection. If I dwell on this for even one split millisecond longer, I get suddenly so angry and sad and confused and ask again: WHY? WHY and HOW do people who were  this close with me, completely disappear? Why can’t things ever be like they were? What happened to the formative years of my twenties and when can or will something replace that notion of girlhood that has been cruelly ripped out of my gut? Why do people get divorced, why do we have to let go of the ones we love so much that an old photo just triggers so much of this incredible anger that I feel towards people that I would have done anything for?

In life now I have the most amazing career someone could ever ask for. I live in a place that doesn’t feel like home but it’s quiet, charming even, and full of incredibly wonderful people. I have a partner who I’ve gone to hell and back with and still value our Friday night dinner dates as much as I did when we were first falling in love. I have reconnected with my oldest friends and realized the qualities they possess, and the qualities they awaken in me, have been more worthwhile and important than I ever realized and that realization has both made me feel guilty, but also made me feel grateful. We can’t have it all, and we can’t sometimes let things go as easily as we’d like but we also can’t ignore the hope that the good things have brought in the wake of what has been broken. The world is incredibly complicated and strange and shocking. There are things that pain and things that heal, and things that lay dormant in the small, cozy caves of your mind before one day out of nowhere they sneak out of their hideaways just long enough to make you feel that pale-faced, hand-shaking anger and springing tears just one more stupid time before you cram them back into the place where they came from. I took a day today to think of and honour those feelings in a way I haven’t really done in a long time.

 

Now I’m going to floss my teeth, and turn on Sports Net, and then go back to the tedium of my idle Tuesday in late April.

On Expecting Too Much.

Sometimes I expect too much of myself. And very often, I expect too much from my partner. I expect that nothing I do would ever piss him off; that I would never be able to be jealous of someone I love and that he wouldn’t see jealousy as a poor quality on my part; I expect that he would never make me feel un-wanted, not even for a second, ever. I expect that he will cater to my every whim, that we can just lollygag around without the pressures of real life ever getting in the way of our ‘perfect love’.

Expecting too much of a partner is a damaging strain. I don’t want to put someone on a pedastol. I want to love them. But sometimes to love someone is to put them on that high high pedastol without even realizing you’re doing it. When I love someone, my first inclination is to give them more than they ever expected but then be offended when they don’t give me as much as I give them, forgetting that some of the time, we don’t get back everything we give.

I forget that I can hurt someone just purely by expecting so much from them. I forget that someone loves me too, in the same way that I love them. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in a partnership who loves, and I’m just decoration on the opposing end of my love for that person. It’s an unrealistic sham. It’s ridiculous. Nobody’s perfect. I’m not perfect. My partner certainly isn’t either.

It’s easy to believe that love knows absolutely no strife, boundless amounts of perfect everything, bliss without any questioning or difficulty. But love. isn’t. easy. I wish it was. But it’s not. And I struggle to maintain this idea that it is, constantly. The world can be an unusually rough place, and love sometimes eases those pains and sometimes makes them greater, or at the very least, just different from taking on those pains alone.

I expect too much. And I need to stop doing that.

I haven’t written in a little while.

This week there is so much on my mind, and so many things going on that I can barely keep everything in my head. I’ve been more tired this week than I have since September or October. I can feel the heftiness of the week weighing down on me, the extreme gratefulness that it is Friday tomorrow. And yet, with the weekend, with the busy upcoming week, I’m worried and nervous about what’s to come.

In my life, as with others’, the expression “when it rains, it pours” seems to be a constant truth. Whether everything good happens at once, or everything bad, or just general numbness and a ‘shutting down’ attitude, a ‘rut’… it all always happens at once. It’s everything, or it’s nothing. I sense good things to come. I hope I’m right.

Anyway, there are too many things to write about. With spring always comes this heavy, brutal nostalgia that I can’t ever seem to shake off. There’s also romance, an impending summer, an impending nervousness about the coming year, romance, work, stress, more insomnia, a longing to return to what was, an aching to move forward, a mysterious cloud that I can’t see through, and one I’m afraid to look into. There’s just so much going on. Good things, scary things, bad things, romantic things, progressive things.

William Shakespeare has been on my mind lately. The following from As You Like It comes to mind: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…” I think of Shakespeare because I am immersed in his language. I think of Shakespeare because in life, we do have so  many parts to play. Even from one minute to the next. Things keep moving. I hope I can move with them. I hope movement manifests itself literally and figuratively. I hope one day soon I can stop living for the weekend.

 

When Adulthood is Hard.

Adulthood is full of brain-racking decisions and all they do is make you long for the times when you were a young, stupid undergrad who could just hide under the covers until all the monsters and ghosts lurking around your bedroom disappeared. There are monsters everywhere as an adult. When you’re a kid an adult will kiss and hug them away. They will tell you lies about the night light or that line you read before you go to sleep will help them all to dissipate. I slept with the light on until I was 14 or 15 years old and I remember waking up in the middle of the night, suddenly realizing that all the lights were off. I would panic, angrily get up and turn all the lights back on and wonder how grown-ups, especially ones who knew and cared about me, could be so cruel as to change the one thing that I needed desperately to remain unchanged.

But after years of shoving them aside, the monsters came back. The monsters came back and then they were bigger and stronger and you had to fight them on your own without another adult, without a night light, with only your wits and resources and any other scraps of anything you had to help you on your way into finding that small coveted piece of security that came so easily once before in the past. Your biggest ally is your strength. Your biggest ally is your ability to recognize how you can fight and win once you’re on your own.

When it all gets too hard, when you cash in all your gusto because you can’t fight anymore, you have to remember that this is how it’s always going to be from now on. Difficult decisions. Hardships. Realities you have to face because you’re too jaded, disillusioned and beaten down to not face them. Your fate relies on someone else – the people who hire, the people who can give love then take it away, your anxiety and depression. That thing you do when you bite the skin on your fingers, that forces you to hide your extremities away from prying eyes. The grinding of teeth at night. The sleeplessness. The world will get the best of you and unlike when you’re young, sometimes even though you’re helpless as a child, no one will treat you like that. Not ever.

Adulthood is one fucking hell of a monster. I want to slay it, and I don’t. I want to run and I don’t. And it’s going to be like this until I stand having conquered all of the demons that make the monsters around me so hard to fight.

Reconnecting with who I am.

After coming back from my first ‘real’ vacation in about two years, I realized that one of the reasons I’ve been struggling so much to be happy and stress-free this past year is because I’ve lost so much of what makes me me. The stuff I love — long, long walks; going to concerts; shopping; rain; being energized by the mere casual presence of interesting strangers; having afternoon beers and/or food with my best friends; looking at the ocean; walking my boyfriend’s dog with him; running; karaoke — is not something I have the time and/or resources to do lately, and so it’s been a tough go since September to not necessarily be able to do these things. I just had my ten days off and did all of these things, and it was beautiful and wonderful and captivating and I felt more like myself than I have in months. I’m disgruntled to be back at work tomorrow after having such wonderful, full days off to do all the things I really and truly love to do but at the same time, my holiday was the motivation I needed to truly be who I was and am meant to be and that’s enough to push through the next few months and think less about what the future holds and think more about who I can be and continue to be right now.

5 Embarrassing, Unlikely Songs that have Inspired Me.

Sometimes it’s the songs from artists who tell our life stories, whose lyrics are so good we’re jealous of them, that inspire change and comfort in our lives.

Sometimes it’s horrendously bad, and/or temporary, and/or fluffy silly am radio-esque songs that make us take a step back and think about or re-think about our lives, relationships, breakups and emotions. Here are a few of those in my life.

Cher – Believe.

One of the first (at least that I can recall) songs that had a heavy, obvious and purposeful pre-Kanye use of auto-tune was also one that I listened to on repeat following my first breakup with my first love. That was a dark time but every day, the sun shone a little bit brighter until I was fully recovered from the blow of rejection and the pain of thinking I would never be happy again. Cher reminds listeners that there is “life after love.” Not only that, but she leaves us with the empowering message that even if you’re sad someone is leaving, you can and must, and WILL move on. AND, not only that but she heeds the warning that “after all is said and done /You’re going to be the lonely one.” This has proven to be true. And comforting in a strange way that makes me feel slightly pink but also like a stronger version of my 20-year old heartbroken self.

Taylor Swift – Shake it Off

All those bloggers and instagrammers and tweeters who have adopted the mantra “haters gonna hate” are right. What’s ‘wrong’ about this message is how it is said in so many ways and in so many contexts, that it has somehow lost its meaning (and the poor grammar and made-up words and canned inspirational quotes and everything else that makes social media all too often less than inspiring). But, Taylor speaks some important truths in this song. If you’re constantly thinking about all the bad things and people who hate you and failures and mistakes, you’re never going to move forward in life and enjoy what is actually good. This message kind of goes without saying but when it’s said in such a way that is so peppy, accessible and irresistable, it reinvigorates a more or less ‘cliche’ kind of message.

Jojo – Too Little, Too Late

I hope I’m not the only person on the internet who remembers Jojo. She was a reality show contestant-turned-fifteen-minutes-of-famer and had a couple of hit hip hop-flavoured pop songs in the mid-2000s, including this one. The song is essentially about letting people back in who have wronged us. Jojo says, “don’t.” It’s funny because I’m someone whose exes have all come back, or tried to. And there was a time when I used to let poisonous people back in. I did it so many times I became a door mat who was stressed, anxious, annoyed, and confused by hurtful people (exes, and friends as well). And whenever I’d get a message from an ex eons later, for whatever reason Jojo’s soulful little voice and the message from this catchy pop jam would sneak into my head. And I would write off that message. If you didn’t want to be good to me the first time, why would you a second time?

Leanne Rimes – We Can

What ever happened to Le Ann Rimes? Anyway, this song made an appearance on the “Legally Blonde 2” soundtrack (which could be on a list of silly movies that are inspiring somehow) and it seeks to very obviously and purposefully rouse up inspiration and a ‘let’s do it’ attitude both in melody and in lyrics. Sometimes these attempts are inspiration are cheesy and laughable and sometimes they work. Here, they work enough that this song makes it onto my running playlist and as I’m sweating, I think “Hey, I can do this!”

Justin Bieber – One Less Lonely Girl

Childhood is a precious little thing. And when we have that first moment of sexual awakening, even if it’s just an innocent crush, then a little piece of our childhood in one way is over, but in another way that sweet innocent look we give love as we imagine it to be, the non-complicated fairytale where that cute guy takes you to the dance and kisses you under the stars and makes all your problems go away – is just beginning. This song, and its singer in his pop star hay day, perfectly and beautifully encapsulate that moment. That special, special moment when you look up and see him and everything changes. Going back to that innocence recaptures something lost and broken and it makes you smile from the inside out. I absolutely love this song for that reason. We get so caught up in problems and relationship struggles and complications of life and love. Let’s just have flowers and puppies for a day.

Aloneness.

Time is going slowly, for a weekend. The weather is balmy for March in northern Alberta. I’m sitting by myself having just taken a post-gym shower after taking my sweet time to get myself out of bed, drag myself to the gym in the first place, and rage-sweat to a workout I didn’t want to do but felt like I ‘should’. These are the kind of weekends I love once in a while. My loved ones are gone, I get to spend time alone without feeling pulled in any other direction except my own. I don’t have some big family gathering, but today I don’t want one. Today I want to walk around in the sun and listen to my favourite songs and enjoy complete solitude, with the occasional smile at a passerby.

Some of my best, most amazing memories have been times when I spent time by myself, just me, and my headphones, or a live show. I do stuff alone all time and the first few times I did this, I was driven to do so not out of the desire to be alone but out of the desire to do something else so badly, I didn’t care if I was alone or not. Since those times I sometimes seek out the enjoyment of solitary activities and I revel in that time. Concerts are fantastic alone; walks are the best when you’re by yourself sometimes. Music sounds better when you can sing it loud as all hell in the car on a lone drive. I love these moments. They’re memories, inside jokes, private laughs and contemplation that I have just with me. Nobody else knows or cares about them. There’s a collectiveness you feel with strangers even without speaking to them, and there’s inner peace and bliss.