Your First Heartbreak.

You remember sitting there at that bar on some idle weekday before the end of the term – in spring, when the snow was melting – at the end of the night, and it was just the two of you, like it always was. He has already broken your heart. Your goal is to make him feel guilty. So you tell him: when I was a kid… and he listens, and he tells you you’re funny and smart and awesome. It comforts you for a moment, but it doesn’t change anything. He walks you home (he always walks you home) and you’re sad your tragedy didn’t help him see you were ‘the one’. And you feel so guilty about that, you want to die.

The summer comes with it an emptiness and loneliness you’ve never felt before. You feel on the verge of something big, but also mourning the loss of something big. You’re unemployed, depressed, you’re having problems walking because of your sudden and excessive weight gain. How long have you loved him, how long have you lusted for him and how long have you hated him? It all blurs together in four long wasted months of nothingness and sorrow. You cry when your favourite flip-flops break, the ones you’ve had since your first year of undergrad. This is a sign that things are horribly wrong. You have no idea when they’ll get better. You pray for them to every day even though you’re not religious.

The only saving grace that summer is the Ryan Adams & Oasis double-bill at Rexall Place. You watch the show and in that moment you’re a child again, loving life and embodying something young and fun and passionate you thought was gone forever. In that moment music sets you free of the sorrow that has become you for long, weighty painful months. You feel like yourself again. The day passes. And everything is the same again when the sun rises.

The fall brings with it painful truths that things feel the same between you and him, but they are not the same. Your then-best friend moves across the country. Your other then-best friend has graduated university. And you’re still stuck being a student for another lonely, broke, heartbroken eight months of meaningless essays and writing you don’t care about. Working on your first novel occupies your time, but you still remain in a prison – of looking into the face of the person who gutted you like a caught fish, and left you to struggle and rot in the hot sun, in the dry air.

For Christmas, you give him a very elaborate gift that represents everything you feel about him. He thanks you, and that’s it. You’re broken and you ask yourself what you’re doing here and how being handcuffed by this man has become your life. There aren’t words to express how trapped you feel anymore. You tried to write out everything you wished and hoped for you; you did everything you could to try and re-create the magic you had months and months ago; you wished on 11:11 and shooting stars and stayed on ichat for hours just hoping to see him online. And when he was online you were scared to talk to him. You prayed that he would talk to you, and he didn’t.

By the next summer, you know he doesn’t think you’re pretty, he’s not interested in you that way, he ignores you, he slips away and has a summer fling with some other girl you’ve never met, don’t want to meet and whenever you see evidence of her on social media, you’re reminded of how ugly and worthless and unworthy of love you really are. You wonder if there is anyone in the world ever, who will see you the way you wish he would see you.

When you make the decision to never speak with him again, he is on the phone with that ‘summer fling’. She asks who he’s with that night and he says, “nobody important” and that’s when you know you can’t bear this cross anymore. He leaves your apartment, you close your door, and this is the last time you ever speak with him. He is not your friend, he does not care about you, he is not concerned for your well-being, and it’s in this moment that you know what a fool you’ve been. You’ve hit rock bottom. You can’t get any lower than this moment. To this day, seven years later this moment stands out as one of the times you’ve felt the most worthless and hurt in your life. Looking back, you can’t believe this person had the power to make you feel that small. It sickens you.

*

You realize with maturity, fulfilling love and cutting bad blood out of yourself and your life, that your first heartbreak is the hardest thing you’ll ever go through in your life. When it happened it felt like a gunshot wound straight through your midsection. You never thought anything could hurt that much. You were in millions of tiny shards of broken glass, left wondering how you of all people were picked out by the universe to feel that way.

But once you realize this, something snaps inside of you. You feel invincible, impervious to pain, let go of the fear of getting hurt. Because you’ve felt it. You’re still alive. You’re still breathing. In fact, you’re more alive than ever. That was the purest and most open wound. So much so you sit here, years later still writing about it as if it happened yesterday. Because you understand that you have the capacity to feel the highest highs and the lowest lows of falling in love and losing love, and that is as comforting as it is surprising.

Secrets.

I have a secret. I have since made the secret public for a few reasons: so people I was getting closer to could understand me, to try and help others gain power back on social media following traumatic personal events, and to be more emotionally available with others. This secret is one of the most deeply personal aspects of my life.

To find out recently that someone I was once very close with and shared this secret with, was actually going around telling it to other people that I also knew, I am simply appalled. There are no words for that kind of betrayal. This person is no longer in my life. This person told my secret years ago with no repercussions. This person probably lives in her own castle that she built around herself. And yet – to find this out, I feel betrayed, exasperated, broken, as if nothing I ever told her was sacred, as if what we had as “best friends” meant absolutely nothing to her at all.

I NEVER told her secrets. I still haven’t. And I won’t. Because I know what is sacred and what isn’t, and I understand what it means to hold someone’s personal life in very high regard. If someone had told me what I had told her, it would stay with me forever.

There is no point to this post. really. There is no reason for this, there is no enlightenment I can pass on or words of wisdom I can impart. It’s not entertaining or interesting or funny. But it’s something I needed to say. If I am to impart anything here, I would say this: keep people’s dark traumas inside when you hear of them. Otherwise you’re the worst human being on the planet.

First.

You were first.

You were the first person I couldn’t get enough of and the first person I felt like I couldn’t live without, imagine a future without. You were the first person I loved with my entire heart. The first person I wasn’t attracted to first based on looks and popularity, the first person I could look at when you sat across the table from me at the campus bar and not look but really, really see. You were the first person I actually saw a future with. The first person I felt like would give me the love I deserved.

You were the first person to share a bed with me, the first person I woke up next to and wrestled and cuddled and made out and confessed to like openly, without a passive-aggressive love note or a journal entry or a wish at 11:11 on a digital clock. You were the first person I was excited about. The first person whose apartment I left early on a snowy morning, almost skipping home because suddenly for the first time, there was real hope for the future.

You were the first person I hated, the first person I destroyed myself over, the first person I begged to be removed from my life, my memory, my existence, but my prayers and pleading were never answered until I answered them for myself. You’re the first person I cried over, because you removed me on Facebook. You were the first person who made me concerned about my drinking habits. You were the first person who made me question my sanity, health and well-being. You were the first person that made me take a steak knife from the kitchen and contemplate running it down my skin somewhere, which I never told anyone, not even my “best friends”, who were the first people who pretended they would have cared if they knew that.

You were the first person to treat me like I was an empty, rotten hollow shell of my own self. You were the first person who made me truly hate myself and feel like I was less than nothing. You were the first person who consistently made me wonder how I would ever be happy ever again. You were the first person whose opinion mattered to me so when you made jokes about my writing I laughed with you but I was embarrassed and shamed and wanted to crawl into a dank cave and just lie there, wondering how all these firsts, the good ones, became firsts I wanted to be extracted from my body, bigger and more foreign than I was used to in ages, because I medicated firsts with booze but also comfort food.

You were the first.

And you’ll be the last.

I don’t really care about “Best Friends Forever” and here’s why.

My hockey team is the Edmonton Oilers. In c. 2008 they made a decision to ‘rebuild’ the team which included an overhaul of all those tired, ‘bitter’ players like Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray and Jason Smith, replacing them with young dynamos in hopes that a new potential would be reached for the team. They’re still the Oilers. I still love them. But change was/is/continues to be an important part of this, or any team, in order to hopefully be successful again someday.

The nature of sports in this context to me, serves as an important metaphor for friendships in someone’s life. You build relationships and make memories with a lot of people. But eventually, a sort of rebuild takes place – distance, life experiences, location, emotions and circumstances change things and beyond our control, we end up ‘rebuilding’ the social circles in our lives. New people come in, people you knew before fade into the background. And we rebuild, and sometime down the road, we may rebuild again.

There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a fact of life and something that I’ve come to embrace as a citizen of a new city (recently-ish) and someone who may end up moving back to where she used to live for a multitude of reasons. As we migrate, we pick up where we left off; or, we make new friends, new coworkers, new memories.

Everyone has this thing about ‘holding on’ – to what was there before, to what memories existed, to what was good and what was stable at certain times and eras in our lives. We grasp tightly to relationships that aren’t working because of what used to be good.

did believe in “BFFs”. I thought I had them. It turns out, I was wrong and it took me a very long time to grapple with that and deal with it but now I have, and with advice and support from new and rekindled old friendships and relationships, what I can say is this: I hold each and every memory I have of everyone who has ever been in my life in very high regard; I look back on bygone times taking comfort in knowing it was those people at those times in my life that in part, made me who I am today; I am walking forward with advice, wisdom and lessons that I took from the people I am choosing (or not choosing) to leave behind because they are the people who shaped me. But just because they were there, does not mean they always need to be there. I am at peace with that. And I’m ready to move on and make new friendships that are more appropriate and conducive to the life I have now in the present.

For those of you who do have “BFFs”, I think it’s an amazing and important friendship to have in your life and I don’t begrudge it. If that’s working for you, then that’s good – cherish and keep around the people who are good to you and have known you forever. But there’s a difference between being with someone through thick and thin because you’re still very much on the same page, and desperately clinging to someone that you’re drifting away from, who every time you become close with them, you end up sailing further and further away..

I have people in my life that I am currently extremely close with. In five years I can’t say that will be true. There was a time in my life when I would have been very stressed out about that fact and only now am I coming to realize how the natural course of life isn’t necessarily conducive to “BFFs”. And I’m at peace with that.

I Stopped Running.

I was happy when I was single. When you’re single, every day is a new adventure. Every day allows you to do whatever you want without having to consider another person. All of that made me feel like the queen. All of that was appealing once.

I think I was happy being single because I was running away. I loved once. I loved a lot once. And that love was robbed from me by the very person who gave it (#takebacksies). And ever since that day when I felt like my entire world was reduced to a pile of broken rubble and detritus I had put love out of my mind. I figured that was my ‘great love’ and with it gone, there was no other love for me. So I ran away. My soul left my body with a backpack and a notebook, and left, thumb out in the road of life. Eventually it got picked up and I didn’t see it for a long, long time.

That feeling – heartbreak – is what you run from. It’s so painful. It’s like mourning someone close to you. I didn’t want to look at that person anymore and realize the potential that existed between us. So I ran and I ran and I ran until I couldn’t possibly run anymore. I turned around suddenly and realize I wasn’t allowing myself to be heartbroken, but I wasn’t allowing myself to feel anything else, either. I had become someone unrecognizable. I had become someone who didn’t believe in love.

When my soul and body reunited, it was because of someone who stopped me dead in my tracks. He didn’t really do anything to force me to stop. He just did. He just said, in not so many words at all, ‘stop running’ and I stopped. I was scared to stop. Running was all I knew. Running was safe. In running, you move and move and move and movement in this way barricades your heart. And barricading my heart is all I’ve ever wanted to do. The person who suggested I stop running didn’t allow me to barricade my heart anymore. He didn’t allow me to hide from him. He didn’t allow me to be anything except myself. And he hugged me and kissed me for it. He enrobed me in such big, soft, sweet, emotionally-charged hugs I was wrapped up in them to the point where I couldn’t move. And I realized I didn’t want to anymore.

When you stop running, you look around you. You look down at your feet and up at the sky and at the apartment buildings across the street from your window. You feel small and insignificant and also powerful. Because while you really fully realize everything that’s around you so deeply and meaningfully in a way you haven’t before, you also realize you’re home. You’re where you belong. Finally.

I don’t suggest this will be my forever. It might be and it might not be. There aren’t guarantees in love and love. That’s what makes it terrifying to stop running. But I’m so glad I stopped. I’m so, so grateful to be resting right now.

Unsolicited Pieces of Dating Advice.

1. Listen to your friends and/or watch their reactions to your SO.

When your friends are giving you signs and signals, maybe instead of being combative, you should listen to them. Your friends know you better than your SO does, at least in the early stages of dating. If they see something off-kilter, it’s unlikely that they’re being self-serving. Unless your friends are shitbags. In which case, ignore this and keep doing you.

2. Act your age.

At different stages of our dating lives, we act differently and we look for different things. Continuing to look for the same qualities in a partner at 30 than at 21, you might not be successful. Where are you at now? What do you want? Really think about that and try to find someone who wants the same things, or else try and at least date someone who acts their age too.

3. Give your time and energy to people who deserve it.

This was one of the most important pieces of advice I received during my stint as a teacher and it rings true in dating as well. Don’t do all the heavy lifting. Think moving to a new apartment: imagine it’s only you doing everything. Now think of a moving/pizza/beer party where your friends are giving you a hand. Which is preferable? Yeah. Big time. Happiness and joy and love too, are better and easier and more comfortable, when they’re shared.

4. Don’t take those who are kind to you for granted, even if it wasn’t meant to be.

I went on an online date with a guy who I had 0 romantic chemistry with. Like, I was practically begging the universe for him not to make a move because if he had, I would have felt completely confused and awkward and it would have been terrible. But still, we went bar-hopping, talked music, he gave me some really great festival-going life hacks and he paid for everything, including 2 am Chinese food at the end of the night. We hugged it out and never saw each other again,but I was sure to thank him then, via text, and to thank the universe for the good night anyway.

We all date into a corner; sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But what I’ve learned recently is, a good date is a good date, even if it doesn’t turn into anything. Think back onto every person you’ve dated and remember the good, not the bad. For every awful date we’ve ever had, there are good ones. Take them for what they are.

5. Don’t go on a mission when you date online.

What I mean by this, is every single person you date shouldn’t be auditioning to be your husband/wife. It’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to them. In my experiences, the best way to approach casual dating is with a spirit of fun, adventure and importantly, low expectations. On that note…

6. You shouldn’t feel like you’re trying really hard.

Let’s say you make it past the ‘what are we?’/’Is he going to keep hanging out with/texting me’ phase and you end up in some kind of relationship. Do you feel at peace with everything and does every single day bring you closer and closer together? Are you making this face every day when you wake up in the morning with them in your head immediately?

7488574cfa3e166b481c59f2180ef95a02502d86

If you have to try really really hard to feel these aforementioned things, you’re not in love. And you owe it to yourself to move forward. Because if you’re not in love, what’s the point, really?

7. Don’t be a dumb girl anymore.

We all do it; we hold onto hope that the dude who dumped us or stopped calling to come back suddenly and realize they made a mistake; we give someone ample amount of time and possible excuses as to why they’re being MIA; we argue with friends who point out all the 1001 ways our partner is treating us like shit. Then we come to terms with reality and promise we’ll never do that again. But then we do it again.

Nuh-uh. It’s time to stop that shit.

We are powerful people who are beautiful and smart and passionate and amazing and WE DESERVE THE BEST! You hear me? THE BEST! And we don’t have time to be dumb girls anymore who make excuses for assholes, give them all the chances in the world, continue to text them because we just can’t take not hearing from them anymore. It sucks. Guys who keep you on the hook like that suck. And by texting them, you’re letting them have power they don’t deserve. Cutting them off is basically making you the Lorena Bobbitt of the situation and I don’t endorse mutilation, but I endorse metaphorical feminist-analogy “mutilation”. Which is what all y’all should be doing if you’re being treated like this.

5 Things I Learned About Long Distance Relationships.

1. Physical distance and emotional distance are VERY different distances. 

In my previous dating life, I would get extremely anxious and upset about distance; but it was emotional distance. It was the guy who doesn’t text back, at least for hours, and it was the guy who refused to put labels on anything and who I knew was probably dating other people. It was the guy I had really lovely dates with but long, drawn-out waiting and wishing periods in between until it fizzled, and later I’d look back and realized I was just prolonging the fizzle.

Physical distance hurts sometimes, but it never feels like that. It feels like love, excitement, and the prolonging of that coveted honeymoon phase, that sexy and vivacious newness of everything in a new relationship. Physical distance is you walking around knowing for certain that someone across the miles loves you and will call you if you’re upset or call you if they’re upset. In that regard, long distance isn’t really distance at all.

2. You just want to give your partner everything, if only because you can’t.

When you don’t see someone very often, you have this longing for them at a constant, even if it doesn’t ‘hurt’. You see things that remind you of them and you think about all the large and small ways that you could surprise them and shower them with love the next time you see them. Every moment spent together is an event and you’re just constantly feeling like you want to cherish it to the nth degree.

3. The people in your life who understand it support you 100% of the way.

Sometimes when you tell people you don’t know very well that your partner lives in another city, they give you these quizzical looks or pull out the whole “I could NEVER do that!” thing. But those in your life – family, mutual friends, can see how happy you are and how there’s simply nobody in your current city that could ever make you happier than the person who currently lives in a different city. And their support does get you through the harder days. Understanding is everything.

4. Long distance relationships teach you what kind of dater you are. 

I was never sure before this relationship what I was truly ‘made of’ and what I could and couldn’t do for love. Having spent so much time alone while still in a relationship and committed to a partner, I have much more clarity regarding my own independence in relationships, what I need to feel happy and/or secure, and as a result, I’ve grown into the kind of person who is comfortable and confident being someone’s girlfriend.

5. If I can make it through this, I can make it.

My long-distance relationship is at this point in life, very very right for me. I’m happy, crazily and most importantly, healthily in love. I have someone I can count on who has allowed me to let my walls down in front of them so much that I can open up and be there for them in return. The miles are miles. They must be crossed and there must be always be a timeline of the next time they must be crossed so neither of us feel impatient and hopeless. But, the money and time and travel and everything is the most worthwhile thing I’ve done in my life. I feel at peace with it in a way I didn’t expect when I first learned I would be in a long-distance relationship way, way, way back in the day when I was lying in bed with my boyfriend when he told me he was moving back to our mutual home base. It felt like the end. Now, it feels like the beginning.