Dear Brother

Abuse, Addiction, Anxiety, Assault, Life, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Love, Sex

Leaving you to die was the hardest decision of my life. The night you called to tell me I broke your heart was the night I knew I could never keep you again. It was no easy feat, hurting you while you were already hurting, but you hadn’t cared about my pain in so long, how could I still carry yours? I chose you and you chose me, most days. Sometimes I wonder if we were family, or if you just needed someone to walk in the Underworld with you. For years I defended you, your heart was my own and no one dared cross you while I stood to your left. But how far we’ve fallen from the crowns we carried in the kingdom of our own creation, no longer rulers of the night.

We found ourselves before each other one morning that grew from the early hours, in the apartment of an older man gripping his youth by the neck. Although I had never been there before, it was a place I was no stranger to. Four years of living my life dancing with my favourite drug felt like an eternity from the sleep I ran from. I stood on one half of the island, demanding my respect from a man who had none for even himself, and from the other you rushed to my side. Arms raised, it was in that moment we felt a commonality, a kinship. We revered ourselves as holier than the demons we ran with. We were the angels, who sought to play in purgatory but we weren’t of it. Or so we thought.

As we grew together, so did the fire surrounding us. But we didn’t mind, we didn’t even notice. Convincing ourselves and each other that this inferno was our home, we lit the night alive. Melting every evening into the sun of the morning, and sometimes into the next. People from all around our lands came to revel in our glory. Your home became mine, and every line given was a handful of seeds ushering in the winter of my soul. We were the place where souls came to surrender, festivities and proclivities enjoyed that would make Dionysus flush. I eagerly burned beside you, brother, my brother. You held my hand in ways that no one had before, you never led me anywhere I didn’t want to go.

And when we fell in love, the other did too. Always welcoming in the new additions to our realm, cheshire grins wider than the open arms we held to receive our latest acolytes. Every foot set on our grounds was a prayer, a worship, a sacrifice to you and I and the life we had chosen. The life we had made, together. Sovereign side-by-side, we granted passage only to those who knelt before us both. Two Kings, never to be crossed, every war you fought was mine too. Whatever harm came to our hearts, the other was waiting and able to salve any wound. Even when you named her Queen, it wasn’t long before a long night found us packing up her belongings once we named her traitor. Over the years together I tried to fall in love as hard as I was falling for the drugs. My admirers who came to play only found the same ways to fail me as others did. They were never meant to last. I recall lying down in my room while you stayed up all night with the man of my heart. I awoke, choking on my own vomit, facedown on the floor. He had placed me back in bed and returned to you. We called the mutual demons within us love, but there was none there. No one could love each other in that place. And yet, I never had someone like you, someone who held me as their most prized possession. I needed you as much as you needed me. Only now can I see, maybe I used you as much as you used me.

My greatest cross from an old life appeared one night, the only being who could falter me, and I struggled to lift my sword. The soulless blue-eyes that haunted me from the year before. The being who drew down my shorts while I laid in a prescription-induced sleep, and took whatever he saw fit. But where I fell, there you were to lift me. Your arms clasped around mine, protecting me, guiding me, swinging and clashing where I failed to. Brother, my brother, at times you were my sole saviour. When I tried to retreat, you swore no harm to pass my gates. You would fall before you allowed me to. I was the only thing you ever loved, and you mine. I loved you because I could never love myself, and you allowed me to. My Knight of nights, both of us too afraid to lay in it alone, so we wrapped each other in the sapphire dark and called it home.

But the stars soon left our skies. Tried as I might to remain in the black, you would soon find me choking on mouthfuls of darkness. Convulsing, contorting, crooking my spine, the place I called home and hurtless began spitting me out. I could no longer stay there with you. There was a war in my bones, and you had no more allies to rescue me from it. I had to do it alone.

It was not without great resistance and pain that I let our life slip away. I tried to return to the kingdom, many a night, but the dark was no longer home to me. It was as if I had grown too tall for its ceilings and skies; there was no room for me there. You reached up for me many a time, never wanting to join me in the clouds – the inferno would always be of you. But then I fell. The fire will always grow if you stoke it. The scent of flames and brimstone called out to me, and the demons I caged beneath my ribs scratch their way from my skin. You welcomed me backed with open arms, the prodigal King had returned, and our world would once again turn. I think I ached to belong to something, someone, so much that when you started feeding me the things that made me sick, I eagerly ate them. You welcomed my downfall, if only to return me to you, brother. You ached the way I did. But I never wanted to stay. I tried to move between the skies and the pit, but the smoke that filled my lungs threatened to weigh me down. I was no pyre, my embers were fading fast, and instead I was searching for the tide that would pull me to shore.

One early morning you summoned me to the empire for aid. You were under attack and you knew I would save you, as I always did. As I always would. But when I arrived, I knew it was the beginning of the end and that your downfall would soon follow. The sun had set on your reign. I saw what living in the twilight had done to you, to your eyes, there was no life there, only despair. And as you held another’s in your hands, with no remorse in sight, eyes darker than the country we grew from, I knew this was nothing to fight. But save you I did, and her too. I never told you that part. What I saw that night tore me open, centrefold. I made the choice to save her life, but I always carried the guilt of the call placed to do so. I thought you would kill her. I knew you wouldn’t care. I tried to convince myself otherwise, and I moved you anyway I could. Not only for her, but for you. It was always for you.

It was only a few days later that another warning bell rang – you were no longer a king, but a prisoner of your own making. I tried to bring you home, to a new dynasty I had made, but you could not live there, I don’t think you knew how. And just as quickly as you arrived, you soon set your life in the shadows of the dusk. Brother, my brother, I searched and searched, but you were nowhere to be found. You knew we no longer spoke the same tongue. I think you were ashamed. I was too. Eventually, I had to close the door to our world, I could not keep it open for you any longer. My arms were tired, knees broken, and you could not find it in you to care. For the first time, I felt our love fade.

You were entrusted to me by the powers we seldom honoured in our life together. I pledged myself for you and you took it for granted. I finally saw a darkness I couldn’t breathe in. The drugs had consumed you completely, the person I promised everyone around us you never were came to surface. You showed up at my bar, and assaulted a girl I had known for years. You spun a different story before she had a chance to speak to me, and then you asked if I could pay for your beers while you ran out. Brother, my brother. You were no family of mine from that night. I made her wait until I finished work and took her home. I don’t even think you knew her name.

It took all of my tears, and all of my fears, to release you from my heart. You said you understood, but I knew that meant you would never forgive me. And I, you. Pulling your bail was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. Everyone who loved you told me I had to, for me. They all knew you didn’t love me more than yourself anymore, it makes me wonder if you ever did. While I thought you were protecting me all these years, I now think that perhaps I was a different type of prey to you. I gave you all my love, affection, and protection. I was your family, the one you never left. You feasted on everything I laid out for you, as did every man I had ever loved. But maybe I was too eager for a home to see, or care. I didn’t mind where we ran, as long as we ran there hand-in-hand.

Now you outrun everything. Now there is no fire in you, only night. If I could chase every sun from you, I would. But in truth, I pray it sets on you, if only to give you rest.

I’d rather see your nightfall, than your burnout.

There is No Me Without You

Life, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Love, Sex, Spirituality

A few years ago, during a psychedelic trip, I was shown an insight that would forever change my life. This lesson came to me with such a knowing, that I tattooed it’s symbol on my hand as a reminder – this is what will always lead me. The discovery came in response to the question, what is the most romantic thing in the world? Is it flowers, opening doors, buying gifts, writing love notes, trips to Paris? Is it forehead kisses, or late night rendezvous? The answer that was revealed to me – parallel lines. They are defined as two lines, infinitely traveling in the same directions, never crossing one another. But what happens when you remove one, or change directions? They are no longer parallel lines. They lose their definition when they lose each other – this is what it is to be human. Your existence defines mine, and mine defines yours. In order for us to fulfill our purpose, and exist in the way intended for us, we must also honour this equilibrium between and within us.

This piece will examine various spiritual and psychological dichotomies in an effort to present you with evidence that spans across cultures, religions, and time, that we cannot have the harmonious existence of our true selves without honouring both sides of the coin. We do not receive fulfillment and true power without mending the relationship between opposing forces within ourselves.

I have always believed in the power of unification and connection. Albeit, throughout my life there have been many dividing forces and energy, I have seen the true power in the act of two becoming one. So much of the world we experience in North America is created to divide us. We are shown our differences more often than our resemblances, we are taught to compartmentalize and section off other humans; we are told we are alone. Herein the great void between you and I will we find our greatest weaknesses and darknesses, how we fail ourselves, how we fail each other; they are one and the same. However, if we seek to remember, we may just find that through the discovery of the joining between the divine masculine and divine feminine that lives in all of us, we will be led to a river of wholeness and love that we can all drink from. In the dishonouring of each of these divine energies, we create a fear-shame dynamic that plagues many relationships. Yet, in the reconciling of each, we can and will become what we have always been – one.

Let’s begin with the objective, before we dive into the spiritual. The fear-shame dynamic is the force that attracts us to one another but also our reactive trigger in relationships. That is to say, one person is shame-reactive, and the other is fear-reactive, and their behaviours will seek to avoid each of these respectively. Often times, it is the female who is fear-avoidant; she is seeking someone who can promise long term protection. She seeks to be free from fear, she wants to nurture an individual whom she can place her faith in. She wants to believe in you. We can see this present in human psychology. PTSD is more prevalent in females than males (10% of women, 4% of men), perhaps because 50% of females experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives, perhaps because one in three women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The symptoms of PTSD present themselves differently between the sexes as well. Women are more likely to exhibit alarm-raising behaviour. They become more apprehensive of situations and others, high-strung in stressful or fear-inducing contexts, and display avoidant behaviour. Men, on the other hand, become more aggressive and are unable to aptly regulate their emotions.

If we look to the animal kingdom to support this theory, we are provided answers within the morphology of other mammals. Males tend to be larger and more aggressive in nature as a result of their greater testosterone production, as within human males. Obviously this does not apply to all, there are exceptions to this as there always are. Female hyenas, for example, have genitalia that closely resembles the males, they come fully equipped with a pseudo-penis. However, they also have increased amounts of female testosterone produced within their abnormally larger adrenal gland. The life expectancy of the males, both animal and mammal, is considerably less. This is often aligned to the fact that males participate in more risk-taking behaviour, such as competition. Could this be out of the innate desire and drive they have to prove themselves worthy? The need for males to prove oneself of value and purpose appears to be more than coincidence.

The shame-reactive individual is seeking a partner that believes in them, that needs them. They are seeking a purpose, to protect, and they need to feel as if they are fulfilling this purpose. If this function is not fulfilled, the individual feels ashamed, inadequate, and a failure. Shame is the negative evaluation of self, in this emotion, there is a consciousness of one’s shortcomings. Therefore, the individual who is shame-avoidant will seek someone who will not let them fall short, or feel as if they are.

When these two individuals meet, the shame-reactive person has finally found someone who is seeking their protector and will praise them as such, while the fear-reactive person has been brought before their saviour. The problem that occurs each time however, is that this does not free each individual from their predispositions. Their initial meeting and coupling only acts as a momentary reprieve or escape from their driving force. When the fear-reactive individual displays anxiousness, worry, or terror, it triggers the shame-avoidant individual who feels as if they are failing their partner. This leads us to the dishonouring of one another because each individual is seeking solely to satiate their own proclivities, they are acting from ego which is pleasure-seeking and fear-avoidant.

The ego is the death of love. It is the resistance we meet within each of us, as well as one another – it is a shared enemy that we must overcome. Often times, the darkness we see in one another is what calls us in. Like a black candle, and our demons a moth to it’s flame. Tales of ego and it’s harm have been retold throughout various religions and cultures for thousands of years. Take the Hindu goddess, Saraswati, for example. One third of the Tridevi, a divine trinity (which also includes the goddesses Lakshmi, and Parvati), Saraswati was born from the five tongues of Brahma; knowledge incarnate. She is the goddess of wisdom, art, language, and learning. Her name means fluidity, and free-flowing as she is akin to the energy of a river, or lake. She has been said to have originally been a partner to Vishnu, but many references of her also tell of Brahma’s pursuing of his own creation. When he bore her, he looked upon her with endless love for her beauty and she proceeded to run from him. He creates another face so that he may gaze upon her again, and she runs away persistently. This happens until he creates five faces total. Eventually, Saraswati runs to Shiva for protection who rips off Brahma’s fifth head, said to be ego. Following the removal of such, Brahma decides to bless her rather than badger, and this is how she receives the water energy – a gift from her creator. Brahma then takes Saraswati inside of him so that he may continue to learn and grow from and with her. They become a harmonious one again. Even in this tale, we can see that the dishonouring of the divine feminine only leads to the detriment of the divine masculine.

So what is the divine masculine and the divine feminine? It is important to note that while these divine energies are spoken about in a binary form, they are regarded as polarities and not necessarily gender. That is to say, within each of us while both polarities exist as our life source, each human’s balance or imbalance of each has nothing to do with their own gender, or ascribed vernacular. In order to express the importance of the necessary union and harmonization of these two divinities, we must first explore each individually.

The divine feminine is the dreamer. She births the dream which is the divine masculine. The divine feminine is intuition, creation, and healing. The most healing force in this universe is love, this is what leads us to the dream. This divinity is aligned with water, which is the element of the emotional world. It is also ruled by the moon, a being with a gravitational pull strong enough that it moves the ocean. The moon controls the tides on Earth as it rules over the ebb and flow within each of us. The divine feminine is the catalyst, the muse; it gives purpose. Sound familiar? When the divine feminine is suppressed and dishonoured, it reacts from a place of fear. The violated divinity will in turn be wrathful, and will seek to diminish others feminine energy to feel empowered. An individual who has an exploited or abused divine feminine within will have attachment issues within their relationships, they may become co-dependant, suffer from extreme self-doubt, and can seek to manipulate others in order to regain her footing. These actions will trigger shame and unworthiness in the divine masculine. Thus, the dishonouring of this divinity within us, leads to the dishonouring of the divine masculine.

If the female is the dreamer, birthing beings into existence, then the male is the dream. His purpose is set forth by his creator. He is given space, home, a calling because of Her. This divinity is logic and reason, and when it cannot rationalize or is unable to fulfill its purpose, it will become judgmental, separated and closed off. It is no coincidence that increased testosterone levels have shown a decrease in interpersonal trust. The divine masculine is the protector and guardian, He is action and survival. He is firm, unable to be crossed, and his boundaries are always set and immovable. When the divine masculine is dishonoured, it reacts aggressively and is unable to appropriately convey emotions out of shame. Also sound familiar? The dishonoured divine masculine feels lost, without purpose or cause, so it will seek to regain power via whatever means necessary – which leads to the suppression and exploitation of the divine feminine.

Another retelling of the dangers of not honouring the divinities within us come from the Gnostic myth of Sophia Gaia. She has many incarnates – Mother Mary is her ascendant form, Mary Magdalene is her earthly body. She is known as Shakti in Hinduism, and Boddhisatva in Buddhism. Born of Depth and Silence, Sophia lived among the spirits of life, along with her twin brother. But Sophia falls from her home in the light when she follows another light below into the underworld, believing it was the Father, the Creative Source. There she remained trapped, and the dark energies of the underworld abused and exploited her. She was violated and soon birthed offspring that was of pride, ignorance and fear; demons only seeking power and pleasure. As we have seen earlier, the violation of the divine balance leads to these same outcomes; ego. Yet, Sophia never forgot the light she came from and remained in her power, honouring herself until she was able to birth beauty and spiritual potential into the world, rather than the unrealized potential that brought about ego. She placed Consciousness into the body of man, who was Adam, and this was actualized into the world through the creation of Eve. In the bible, it states that woman was built up from man, from his rib and delivered unto him. Could this be a reference to the higher placement of the divine? Sophia returns to her home eventually, and marries herself with her brother, symbolizing the unification of divine masculine and feminine. She divides herself throughout time and space on the Earthly plane so that enlightenment may be attained for all.

You may now be wondering, how do we reconcile these divinities within ourselves? We must dive into the dark if we are ever able to lead ourselves out of it. Do not let the fear of your own madness hold you prisoner there. To be able to seek the solution, we must find first identify the problem. How are you acting from a place of ego? What types of behaviours that are not in alignment with love are you displaying? Are you constantly receiving the same results from your relationships, even though the people are different? Much like Brahma and his five heads, by merely changing the faces of our obstacles does not remove them from existence.

My journey thus far has led me to want to examine this for myself. I have spent much time sitting in my fear, asking my insides who has seen it. What am I running from? What do I fear and from where does it stem? Lately, the answer has never been louder. I fear the greatness that lives in my bones. I fear I am not enough. I fear doing or saying the wrong thing and losing your love. I fear it all. I had to come to terms with the fact that in this fear, I was not honouring my own boundaries. By acting from a place of fear, not of love of self, I was not protecting myself. I was not protecting my divine feminine. I didn’t believe in the innate worth of myself. I was not being my own purpose. I was seeking validation in order to feel loved because that is how I feel safe. But by breaking contracts with my own divine masculine, it left the divine feminine in me to be dishonoured and thus, I have not been able to stand in my whole power.

What is there left to do? Uncross myself. As the parallel lines live in a paradoxical state of both counterpart and one, so must my masculine and feminine divinities. By honouring the characteristics and embodiment of each – of loving, healing heart, and protector-guardian to this energy – will we each be set free from the mortal confines of our conditioning.

When will you decide to honour all parts of yourself?
When will you decide you deserve to be honoured?

Be the Sound, Not the Echo

Abuse, Addiction, Anxiety, Life, Love, Relationships, Sex

Echo was a mountain nymph who trailed behind the beautiful Narcissus from the moment she laid eyes on him. Narcissus sensed that he was being followed and called out, “who is there?” . Echo replied with the same. When she finally decided to approach him, she reached out to embrace her love and he pushed her away. Echo was heartsick and spent the rest of her life in mourning until nothing but an echo of her remained throughout the forests. The goddess of revenge, Nemesis, saw this and sought to punish Narcissus. While he was hunting one day, he was lured to a pool of water. Upon seeing his reflection, he became so enamoured with what he saw that he fell deeply in love. Not realizing it was himself, he leaned in to save the object of his desire and drowned.

Mind you, this would have transpired in the mythical realm circa 8BC, and not all of us are so lucky to have our own Narcissus drown themselves, but take from this story what you will. Before you lies one woman’s commentary on narcissism along with some real life experiences to support her poor choices. If anyone could be a fair and true authority on the narcissist, it is the person who tried to love one.

So what makes a narcissist? Narcissism is a personality disorder that results in a person having a lack of empathy for others. At it’s core, narcissism is ego-gratification. These individuals receive validation through admiration from others. They posses an incredibly inflated self-image, and believe they deserve praise and acknowledgment without any prefacing situation to earn that response. Special treatment is important to these individuals – they believe they are superior to others and will only seek to present and arrive in groups that are also superior. Is any of this sounding familiar? If it is, you’re probably dating a thirty-three-year-old who sleeps on an air mattress.

The narcissist is not solely concerned with how they appear, but how you do as well. They will be judgmental, controlling, and jealous. For example, my narcissist would not allow me to interact with other men, even when I had known them for several years, and would belittle me when I did. But it was always acceptable for him to become and maintain friendships with these individuals. He once yelled at me across the bar for greeting someone, and having a conversation with them and their date. He refused to speak to me afterwards. It even went so far as him telling me that certain people were speaking poorly about me in a group chat, so I should not even associate with them. Meanwhile, he was in this group chat and obviously allowed this behaviour.

The narcissist will monopolize every conversation – everything is about them and their needs. They have an unwillingness and inability to recognize the needs and feelings of their partners, but theirs must be met, always. Before you consider criticizing them, do not waste your breath. When the narcissist feels attacked, they react in rage and are unable to regulate their emotions. My narcissist once threw a chair across the room in a drunken rage and ran his fist through a wall while I was nursing him through an inebriated episode. Having experienced abusive relationships in the past, I held his hands in mine and told him we were not doing this. That we would not be these people and he needs to come back to me. He kicked me out of his house and when I arrived at my own home, he called me to ask where I went and was upset that I did not want to come back. They are easily slighted, hypersensitive beings who will seek to either take you down, or completely shut you out and off. My love, my person, the man who said he wanted to plan a future with me always left me in the dark. A place I have never been a stranger to, always home in. Every time he violated my boundaries, every time he hurt me, I was still the one holding the loss. He rarely apologized, when he did he obviously did not mean it, and it was only ever followed after not speaking to me for days on end. His inconsistencies made me feel as if I was doing something wrong. And that is how you end up tied to this type of person.

The average narcissist is often charming. They have a certain charisma about them, and their confidence is dripping out of their mouths. They have grand images of their accomplishments, their achievements (in reality, these will be few and far between) and will weave elaborate dreams before your eyes. Their bigness, their bravado will pull you in, and their dreamspeak will have you believing that they can fulfill your needs and wants for a place to call home. You are seeking more life, and they will promise you all of it – they have it to sell. But along the way of falling down their rabbit hole, you’ll see things falling upwards. They will blame any shortcomings on you, they won’t deliver on most (if any) of their promises, and will be emotionally absent. They live in a state of denial, and soon you will too. You will find yourself constantly bargaining with your inner voice, making excuses for their mistreatment of you. You understand them, so you believe it is your responsibility to continuously accept their abuse.

The affected act out in these ways because they harbour deep insecurities. They have hidden feelings of vulnerability and humiliation. In order to avoid their feelings of insecurity, they create this defence mechanism that allows them to feed their ego and wait for you to as well. This disorder can stem from early childhood trauma, abuse, an over-critical household with high expectations, or even the complete opposite – overpraising. While environment is not the sole cause, neurobiology and genes are contributing factors, narcissists typically have experienced unpredictable or negligent care at some point during formative years. In later years, this can manifest itself into drug and alcohol abuse issues, difficulty cultivating and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships, problems at work, as well as depression and anxiety.

If you are like me, you may have fallen for a narcissist more than once. They play to all my inner child wounds. I grew up in an emotionally distressed home, I’ve suffered multiple forms of abuse at different stages in my life – my ideals have been greatly affected. For a long time I believed that I needed to serve in order to be loved. I needed to do and give and hold everything under the sun for you to make myself worthy of your love and affection; to be seen by you. The object of my desire has always been more than willing to take everything I give without a willingness to return me to a whole state. But this is no longer the case. You are whole, regardless of the pieces you give away – that is why you are able to do so, so often. A difficult lesson I learned, after much trial and error of the heart, is that you cannot love yourself through another person. By pouring yourself into someone else, you are not coming from a place of true love, you are coming from a place of deep wounding and validation-seeking. You are stretching your arms to false gods who will never answer your prayers.

Leaving these people is never easy – you’ve wrapped your arms around what you believe are now your dreams and thrown yourself off the tallest cliff you could find. All you wanted was someone to catch you, but darling, they cannot fly. My love always said exactly what he was supposed to when I was on the edge. He always found a way to pull me back to him, and I was forever his prize. Narcissists only seek to be admired by obedient disciples, they are not looking for partners, regardless of what they say. The truth will always be in their actions – look here for the proof you keep running from. You will never be the exception to their actions, you will never be the deviation from their path of destruction. After I finally had enough of the hurt, the pushing, the pulling, the cold, the rage, my narcissist kept reaching out to me. He always wanted to know he could drag a reaction from my insides. Every time I asked him to respect my boundaries, he never did, so why would he start now? It was months of him reaching out to me, then ignoring me. Him lashing out on me, texting me calling me names and telling me to go fuck myself because he saw me having brunch with an old friend that knows his friends. He was embarrassed and it was my fault, as always. The saga finally ended with him sending me emails and waving at me on Facebook – his last resorts since I blocked his number.

Healing from these types of relationships take time, effort, and patience. Following loving a narcissist, you may have lower self-esteem and feel lost because they gained more power as yours diminished. But fear not, my love, there is nothing you cannot come back from. Journaling, building new routines, and doing things that simply bring you joy are all crucial forms of self care to bring you back to centre. So much of your life will have revolved around them and their emotions so your task following their hurricane will be to serve yourself again. You can feel empty, disappointed, even a failure, but you are none of these things – they believe they are, which is why they needed you to carry their weight. You are strong enough and you will rise again, I promise.

I am by no means an expert, only an experienced lover. I have tried but never failed at making a person home. I moved my soul into many beings before I learned I am safest within my tired bones. The love I kept trying so hard to give away, I’ve placed back into myself. I’ve apologized to myself, I’ve released myself of any guilt, hurt, shame, and the pain of not trusting my intuition. I will never cross myself again. Leaving this person behind was no easy feat, I cried like I have never cried before. I barely ate for weeks, I felt so defeated. I even had panic attacks for some time when I would run into him. My body learned to fear this person, because they only bring me pain. I felt ashamed and embarrassed by this response, but now I thank my body and my inner self for knowing how to protect me best.

I hope these experiences serve as lessons for you. I started this blog last year to share some of my soul more openly, because only by asking for it can we truly receive the love we deserve. I wish for you all the things you deserve and not the things that you want. For much time, I wanted only what was bad for me, what spoke to the little girl who couldn’t feel or touch the world around her. Sometimes she is still there, but each day I wake her with the sun, I stroke her hair, and I kiss her face. I tell her she is loved and is worthy of love. I tell her she shines like the moon, and she is here to guide the way for others to find their light.

Whether you follow or not is on you.
Whatever path you choose, I hope you know you are worthy too, and you are so loved.

The Scariest Thing You’ll Do

Abuse, Addiction, Anxiety, Life, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Love, Sex

What are you most afraid of?

Heights?
Flying?
Clowns?

Phobias are often rooted in some sort of traumatic event or experience, like having a black widow land on you while in the bathroom, or watching “It” way before you should have. Your reactions to these triggers are a conditioned response from aforementioned traumatic incident or situation. While I am terrified of spiders (yes, that bathroom story was an actual occurrence) what could be more traumatic than a failed relationship? The answer: several failed relationships.

So what is my biggest fear? Love.

To speak on any fear you have to go to the beginning of it all. What was the initial conditioning that brought about this phobia? For me, it was my home. I was raised to believe that emotions are a sign of weakness. To let others see you cry and to expose yourself in such a vulnerable way will only bring about pain – so best not to do so. My mother is the strongest woman I know, I was very blessed to be raised in a family of matriarchs, but at the same time, when my dad was emotional (he’s a big teddy bear) we would make fun of him. It was all done in a loving way, but that response obviously stuck with me. I’ve only witnessed my mother crying twice in my life. Once was when I put myself in the hospital by a suicide attempt, and the other was when she was grieving her father. We never talked about our feelings in my home, and I could always hear their voices seeping through the walls talking about me but never to me. I internalized all of this as emotions and vulnerability are best kept to yourself, and I carried this in myself for years.

Something I’ve only shared with a handful of people, is that I was also a victim of abuse growing up. My family, to this day, doesn’t know. I was filled with shame, and guilt and burden for many years because of it. I still find it incredibly difficult to have compassion for myself, but that is just a part of my journey. I won’t go in to details because that’s not what this post is about, but the lesson I internalized from these occurrences was that everywhere I was supposed to be safe, I wasn’t.

So that little cocktail of fucked-up-ness led me to my first love. I was graduating high school, and I had met him through some mutual friends. I would sneak out to see him most nights, we would go on adventures around the city and I felt love for the first time. It was intense, we belonged to each other, but it was also toxic. He became incredibly abusive towards me. One day we were arguing in the car and he smashed his entire dashboard, I sat there crying as he screamed at me asking why I have to make him so angry. He called me the worst names when he was mad at me, and I just took it all because I felt as if I deserved it. I told him I had tried to kill myself years before, and he would say things like, I wish you went through with it when we would fight. One year on his friend’s birthday, he was mad at me for dancing with our friends while he wasn’t feeling well so he screamed at me in front of everyone on our way home. He called me a whore in the middle of the street. I drove him home and when we arrived and I carried him to bed, he said I could sleep on the floor like the dog that I am. I laid beside him crying until he passed out and eventually I left. I was so drunk I fell asleep at a red light for twenty minutes. But I made it home safely. This behaviour lasted for three long years. I didn’t know any better, I was in love. I needed him and he needed me. But it wasn’t love, it was co-dependency. Eventually, I developed feelings for another person and left my first love. He had been a friend of mine for two years, he was my best friend’s older brother, and he was good. He was kind, and sweet, and gentle, and one of the best people I had ever met. We almost got married, but that’s in another post.

So how did I move on from there? I spent four years wasting my time, not moving forward, thinking I was having fun. Four years of drug abuse following my formative years was my escape. It was my mask, it helped me separate myself from the pain, and hurt that people only bring. It gave me a place to hide and detach from the world. I spent four years partying, and I was dating men who cared more about themselves and the party than me. Men who let me overdose in the next room, men who cheated on me, men who took my love and gave me nothing but heartache in return. But you can’t ever rid yourself of what the human experience truly is – a desire to feel loved, and belong. I looked for love in these places, even when I thought I wasn’t; I always had hope. Yet, there is no real love in that type of life. Every time I tried to open myself up again I was shown I shouldn’t have. At every turn, when people asked me to love them, I did. And then I was shown that they could not do the same for me.

It wasn’t just romanic relationships I was separating from, it was any and all form of relationships that could hurt me. I stopped communicating with my family because I had so much resentment built up over the years that I just didn’t want to see them. I had all the “friends” someone could want – every bar I went into, everything was free and everyone knew me. I could always find a party that would welcome me at any time of day. I’d stay up until 8am, 10am, 2pm, having meaningless conversations with people that had no clue of the hurt I was holding onto, over a plate of cocaine. But here, I was safe. I didn’t have to let people in, i just had to numb. I didn’t have to feel anything I didn’t want to.

That numbness only lasts for so long. I was emptier than ever, I was hollow, and so I allowed myself to stay in a relationship that was not good for me. A year of co-dependency and drug abuse, and toxic arguments. The mask I wore for so long no longer kept my demons out but instead led them straight into my bed. So here I am, almost seven months clean, in a new relationship, living in a new way, reconnected with my family, and I’m dealing with emotions I’ve never learned to process.

I’ve never had to feel it all.

Now I am at the scariest part of my journey. Unlearning the conditioned fear responses I’ve used to protect myself for all these years. I can no longer run away when it hurts, I can no longer hide when my feelings are uncomfortable, and I can no longer push down the feelings I have. The scariest thing you’ll do is learn to love again after you feel as if you can’t. The scariest thing you’ll do is reveal your true self to someone and ask them to love all of you. Trust me, I am more terrified than I have ever been. Because this is the whole me – this is it. I have nothing else to blame if I am not wanted now. Its is just me. It is uncomfortable to have no shield these days. Most of us are willing to let others love the mask because we’d rather have that than nothing at all. But what I know now is that the path to true love is only through revealing and living your true self.

Letting people in is not easy. I spent years keeping everyone at a comfortable bay that now when I’ve changed my life for the better, these same people are nowhere to be found. People that used to call me everyday, or message me to invite me out, or called me family – they’re just ghosts of a life I used to live.

We’ve all heard of the “fight or flight” response – when presented with an immediate threat, it is instinctual that we either fight back or we run. We are only afraid of things we do not know, or do not understand. When I changed my life and became sober, I became unfamiliar. I became the mirror that no one wanted to hold up. But that was my choice, and saving my own life was more important than maintaining a popularity with people who wouldn’t truly care if I lived or died. They would still do the next line of cocaine after saying, “that’s awful” and carry on with their evening.

In relationships, its always been easier for me to run away than to break down my walls. Or I am so uncompromising that I break the other person – that’s not what love is. Love is being there for someone when you can hold space for them. Love is putting the other first when you can. Love is bending but never breaking because love binds us not splits us in half then leaves us that way. Love won’t make you feel as if the other person is your whole happiness, love will create happiness within you. And you get to take this with you wherever you go. Love doesn’t leave you with nothing – it builds you, supports you, and shows you how to love yourself. You can’t be left with nothing, only yourself, and you are love.

Doesn’t that sound better than holding onto whatever past you keep replaying? Why not take the risk for something more? My sponsor once said to me, that I have to be both parts – the light and the dark me. I have to embrace it all and just be authentic. I told her that I wasn’t sure if I liked both parts of me, so how could I expect anyone else to. She replied, people respect authenticity. I said – that’s not love. She answered, no, it is not love. But it is real.

This was my realization that I was so afraid to let others love me, that I was afraid to love myself. Everything I had learned, and heard, and learned made me believe I couldn’t be loved. But just because things didn’t work out before doesn’t mean they never will. If you want a different result, perhaps you have to try a different method. Perhaps this time around I can lay my arms down and appreciate the love I’ve both grown and found, instead of running away.

If you seek affection from others, you may find some sort of feeling resembling love, but if you seek to love yourself, I promise you will find it. Let others in, let yourself in; wade in your own shadows, my love. If you keep everyone out, you’ll soon forget to let anyone in. Let others see all of you – the scars, the bruises, the aches, the beauty. Take it from someone who mastered the art of detachment, you only end up exactly where you’re afraid to – alone. The only way to dispel fear is to unlearn these lessons so wrongfully engrained into you.

Take the first step forward – listen to your heart and not your head. Do what would be done in the name of love and not fear. It is scary, and unnerving, but a river never stops flowing, and the world doesn’t stop turning – who are you to be better than the elements you’re made from?

I need you to move.
I need you to be brave.
I need you to let go of the devil you know, because if we spend so much time afraid of what could happen, we won’t ever learn what good may be in our stars.
I need you to know that you are worth loving, no matter how many people tried and failed.

I’ve been given a second chance at life, and this time around I will build an armour of love and not fear – I hope you do the same.

The Price of Love

Life, Love, Relationships, Self-Love, Sex

I am the world’s best partner. I swear. I know, you’re sitting there, thinking – no way, I am. I do SO much for my person. I give them my all.

And this is how we’re actually the worst.

Have you ever left a relationship and just felt completely exhausted? Or maybe you’re still in that relationship and you’re feeling drained. That’s because your partner is a fucking energy vampire. And you love being the meal.

I want to talk about emotionally owing someone. This is something I’ve cultivated in all my relationships, and it looks a little something like this; we meet, we fall madly in love, we date, and I give you the moon, stars, and sun without expecting anything back from you. Except that I do. I do expect things back, however, I just don’t tell you this. I don’t set clear boundaries and expectations. And my love is never for free – it’s at the price of yours. You just HAVE to love me the way that I love you. And then when you don’t, when you fail to meet the expectations I have for you, you fail me without even knowing it.

Fucked up, right?
I know.

I am a very strange paradox of a human. I separate myself from others, I keep everyone at a safe distance so I can’t be hurt. But I am also a very loving person. If I choose you, I’ll give you every-fucking-thing I have. Its not much, but its everything. I’ll do anything for you, go anywhere, be anyone. Its an incredibly unhealthy pouring out of my soul. I have this ridiculous notion that to love someone is to become one with them. Its been much easier to lose myself in others than it is to show them who I truly am and risk them not loving that person.

We’ll get into my obscene separation techniques in another post, today we’re focusing on how we can fix this strange love tally system.

How do we stop putting one another in debt with love?

For starters, love is an action. Not just this warm, fuzzy (or if you’re me, sickening) feeling inside of you. You actively make a choice to love. You make gestures, you take the time, you make the effort. You do so without expecting anything in return. You do so by doing it because you want the other person to have these things, not because you want the recognition, or the validation, or to feel loved.

Another important part of this is setting your own boundaries and expectations. These are two different things. Lets start with boundaries. I almost never know what I want, but I know what I don’t, and how I learned this was receiving a lot of things from the “don’t” column. The things you don’t want, those are your boundaries. For example, I don’t want to only see you for sex; I don’t want a relationship that is only physical; I don’t want to be with someone who does drugs; I don’t want to be disrespected; I don’t want to always be the person reaching out. The list obviously goes on, and it will differ from me to you.

By knowing what we want, we can lead ourselves to what our expectations are. Which look a little something like this: I expect you to take me on dates; I expect you to stimulate me intellectually; I expect you to not do drugs around me (or at all); I expect you to respect me; I expect you to make an effort to see and speak to me.

Our boundaries and expectations are where we see the give-and-take aspect of relationships. You cannot expect someone to meet and know these unless you tell them. Communicating your wants and needs is so important. No one is a mindreader, and you cannot make actions of love and expect people to know how to love you only through those actions. I’ve tried, I’ve failed. Many times. You only end up exhausted and disappointed. No one asked you to love the way you do. You gave yourself over, you wanted to be taken and emptied the way you were because you don’t want to keep those parts for yourself. Trust me, I know. Its easier to give everything away than to try and keep it for yourself. But you’re deserving of the same love you keep giving away.

Let me say it again for the voices in your head – you deserve to be loved the same way you love others.

So start asking for it.
Start having those conversations.
Start having realistic expectations of others, and make your boundaries known.

Another point I need to drive home here, is that when someone crosses your boundaries, you need to make that known as well. If you are always allowing others to disrespect the lines you have drawn that make you feel safe and loved, then you are enabling this behaviour. You are conditioning that individual to know that it is acceptable behaviour. I’ve done this countless times. I’ve allowed others to treat me in ways I would never another because I didn’t really care for myself, or because if I love you, you can do anything to me and I’ll still love you. Emotionally owing people traps you. You feel as if you’ve invested so much into someone that you can’t leave. But you can, and most likely should. You gain your energy and your power back when you learn to stop giving it away so freely.

I lived with someone for the better part of a year. I truly believed this individual to be the love of my life. My be all and end all. We had our issues, of course, but I felt as if I had invested so much into him, and believed in us to the utmost extent, that it HAD to be for good reason. Notice I say ‘him’ and not ‘us’. I put him before everything, myself included. And he never asked me to, but he never stopped me either. People will always be willing to take as much as you’re willing to give. I’d change plans for him, I’d comfort him whenever he was feeling down, even if it meant I was losing sleep, or busy at work, or whatever else. He had anxiety over seeing my family? We wouldn’t go. I’d trade it all for him to be comfortable. I was asked to be in a music video for an artist I’ve loved for years, my friend was producing it, and it was my style of dance. He didn’t want me to do it, so I declined. I did these things in silence, with a smile on my face. I did these things without holding him accountable, I did these things without thinking I wanted anything back. But I did. I wanted him to be willing to sacrifice for me, even though I would never ask him to. The end of our relationship came fast and hard. There was no affection left. I felt so unloved, so unwanted. I felt as if I was his mother because all of these things I had freely given him were now expectations of his. After we broke up, he still couldn’t be bothered with caring about me. I told him one day, in my early recovery, that I woke up and felt like dying that day. That I had no will to live and my life would be far easier if there wasn’t one. He told me I chose this path. And that he could be no comfort to me.

I brought those hurtful words on myself. I taught him to love me little because I did the same. I taught him he was the Sun and I merely spun around him. It’s now been months since we’ve been together and he’s chosen his lifestyle over any type of relationship with me. I set no boundaries, no expectations, merely debted him with my love and left with nothing.

Its not always easy knowing who and how to love. I’ve become a master of sorts on giving myself away, and it’s obviously proven unhealthy for me. I guess practice makes perfect, and the only way I’ve learned these lessons is from loving others, over and over again.

People learn to love you by the way you love yourself. Not by the way you love them. So by keeping to your boundaries and expectations, they learn how to. The lines you’ve drawn are an act of self-love.

Be gentle with yourself, and please keep loving. Despite the mess, despite the hurt, despite the sickness in your chest.

I wish you love.

Wronging Mr Right

Addiction, Anxiety, Life, Love, Relationships, Self-Love

If you’re anything like me, you have an obsessive mind.

I never realized this until I started my journey of recovery, until I had nothing to numb these thoughts. But they were there, and still very much are. I think about situations over, and over, and over again in my mind. I allow myself to be stuck in the things I should have, or could have said. I trap myself in my past, and beat myself up over it into the present and future. This is how I create anxiety in myself.

The thing about anxiety is, it is usually over one major thing in your life. There’s one huge elephant, he’s waving frantically, and there you are – avoiding the hell out of this beast.

The first time I learned this, was four years ago, when I broke up with the person I was planning on marrying.

The One Who I Thought Was The One (The One, for short) was – and still is – the best man I’ve ever met. He was incredibly kind, loving, protective, and born to be a father. He was not for me. I don’t want children, I hate picking out tiles, and I’m a good person but I am far from nice. If you know me now, you’d have no familiarity with me then. I was working National HR for The Salvation Army, looking at buying a home in Woodbridge (new money suburbs for those unfamiliar with this area), and had my size picked out for a Tiffany engagement ring. I had never really done drugs before. Well, not to the extent I have now. I knew how lucky I was to have this man, I even wrote it in the vows I planned. I also knew I didn’t deserve him. My heart was copper next to his, his family had more than mine, and he was so much more selfless than I knew how to be. But that isn’t why we didn’t work out. I loved him endlessly, I still do, but he wasn’t for me. I couldn’t hold back that person anymore.

People don’t seem to understand that if the relationship doesn’t end the way you wanted it to, or planned, doesn’t mean it was without value or purpose. Just because we didn’t get married, doesn’t mean it lacked meaning. I learned so much from that relationship, from that love I had the beautiful honour of being given. You see, my first love (the only other person I was with before The One) was incredibly abusive. We’ll get into that in another post, but he verbally abused me for three long years. I was so emotionally traumatized, I couldn’t take any bit of criticism without unleashing a fucking hell-storm on someone; my anger was out of control. I also didn’t feel deserving of any love. This is something I still struggle with but I am working on it day-by-day. So when I found The One, he showed me I could have a whole love while being a broken person. I was and (hopefully) still am worthy of something truly moving.

I had the most beautiful relationship with him. If I was sick, he’d take me to the doctor, wait with me for hours (after spending all day at work), fill my prescription and buy me all my favourite snacks. He once ended up in the hospital while working eight hours away – I drove all night to be with him when he woke up. He always said he was sorry, even when he didn’t mean it because he hated fighting with me. He knew I loved having my stomach rubbed, and I always lick both sides of the chip before I eat it. When he was sick, I’d stroke his hair and sing him to sleep. Poorly. We loved each other through morning breath, and bedhead. We loved each other in sickness and in health, through criticisms from our friends, and deaths in our family. I don’t know if there could be another love like this. It was so sweet, so naive, so unknowing. It was pure and stupid, beautiful and unassuming.

I know, this all sounds perfect, right? So, why did I leave? I woke up every day with a weight on my chest. I couldn’t figure out why I was terrified of turning twenty-four. And then I realized it – this was not my life. I had assimilated into what I thought was the right way to live. I was striving for the perfect husband, the perfect job, the perfect house, but it wasn’t for me. It was the idea of the perfect life that my family wanted for me. I wasn’t doing anything creative, I hadn’t written in years, I wasn’t happy with a future-stepmother pushing me to have children. I was so excited to get married because that felt like the next “big thing”. I needed to live in constant events because I was so unsatisfied with the in-between.  I kept trying to make the external my joy, and it only sufficed for so long. I hadn’t fed my soul in years.

So I did what I had to. I broke up with The One. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. The moment that you look at the person you love most in the world, more than yourself, and they finally know how bad of a person you truly are. And you do too. It took all night. I told him I needed to be alone, that I was planning on moving for school. I really was going to, but that summer is when I fell hard into drugs. I ended up spiralling but we’ll get to that. He said this wasn’t happening, that we weren’t splitting up, and asked if I could stay the night. I agreed. We made food, and fell asleep. I woke up around six or seven in the morning, and there he was, my sweet love, staring at me, tears rolling down his face. My heart was hollow. He knew and all he said to me was – this is it, isn’t it? I couldn’t even utter words. I fell asleep with tears in my eyes. We woke up again a few hours later. We spent that morning in silence, our faces wet and swollen, and we held each other for our final moments. I left his house for the last time ever. Stepping off that doorstep was like stepping into a coffin; I felt like I had just died.

What I did was not easy by any means. My family was furious with me, it took them some time to move past my actions. Not because they didn’t agree (they didn’t) but because they were worried. They didn’t know me anymore. But that is also how I felt – I didn’t know this person I was living inside. I didn’t know who’s life this was. My mom tried to kick me out several times, my sister and I didn’t speak for months. While this was happening, it didn’t take long for me to try and suppress my feelings through drugs and partying. I have never been good at feelings, I was always taught they were weakness. This is how I started writing, actually. I could never express my emotions verbally, so I’ve written them for years instead. But I digress.

I was going out six nights a week, while working a full-time job. I would wake up at 7am for work, come home around 6pm, take a nap, get ready to go out around 9pm, go to the club, go to the after party until 5am, and sleep for an hour before doing it all over again. I would take naps in my car, or in the sick room at work.  I soon spiralled into a depressive episode, I was wildly unhappy. I tried dating several men at once, being so careful to not get attached to anyone or anything. I tried losing myself in others, because I didn’t want to meet the person I was. I had no idea who she was, I was terrified of myself. I would start crying at random at work – I was a fucking wreck.

By the end of the summer (The One and I had split in the beginning of June) I knew it was enough. My anxiety never went away, I had suicidal thoughts, I felt everything and nothing all at once – it was rock bottom. I had to finish what I started earlier that summer in getting closer to finding my path. I tried to think of the last time I was truly happy, when was I time I felt safe. I had always loved New York, it felt like home to me when I was growing up and would travel there every year with my family. I told my boss I was suffering from depression, and they allowed me to go on an extended leave of absence. I then told my parents I was moving to New York City for a few months. They weren’t thrilled about the idea, but they knew I needed a change as well, and honestly, they were exhausted by me. So I picked up my first camera, learned how to use it, and moved out there. It seems extreme, but honestly – it saved me. Returning to my creative side, betting on myself, and just doing something that made me feel happy during a time that I was so gravely melancholic – it saved my life.

I didn’t feel heavy anymore. And I was broke as hell but that was okay – I was feeding my soul again. I went and visited my best friend in Florida for a week before hitting NYC. It was very grounding to see someone I knew understood me, and who I could share my darkness with. Then I went out to NYC and started my next chapter. I was fortunate enough to have family there, I worked in their restaurant, but on the side I started doing photography. I walked around the city at all hours, just taking photos, and watching people, and being with myself. I started writing again, and sharing it. I was healing; I was growing. I met the most beautiful people who I am still very fortunate to call my best friends to this day.

Someone recently told me, it gets so bad before it gets so good. And that has always been true for me. I was in such a dark place, I had given up so much comfort, just to end up in despair. But if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have ever found my creativity again, and let go of the anxiety I had of committing to a life that wasn’t meant for me. As for The One, he’s actually expecting his first child and I couldn’t be happier for him. I knew he would find the one after me, and I knew it couldn’t be me. When you truly love someone, you let them go with love. True love is loving someone past yourself, its loving them beyond what makes you feel good. Its giving them their best shot.

As for me? I still get anxious. But now I don’t live with it day in and day out. When it does hit me, I know its because I haven’t addressed something that I need to. I also know that I will make it to the other side of that feeling.

I hope you know, you are never stuck in a situation. You don’t owe anyone else your life, or your happiness. I know its sometimes incredibly difficult to make the hard choice, its harder to live with the consequence of those choices. The one true thing I have learned from all these lives I’ve lived, is that you need to do what feels right in the moment. If you do what feels good to you now, you won’t regret it after. Thats what helps me move when I feel the weight of the world holding me down.

What do I want to do?
What feels right to me?
What will make me happy?

Now move.

The Worst Night of My Life

Addiction, Assault, Recovery

Before we get into this, just know, none of this is pretty. Nothing about this story is kind, or gentle, because they weren’t. And I’m working on the forgiving part.

My roommate and I threw a housewarming party. It was a fucking rager. We had easily over eighty people in our 1000+ square foot condo, complete with a stripper pole in the living room. Our new white shag rug, which we thought was a good idea, was destroyed within the hour, and we had dozens of bottles of alcohol in the house. Good thing I was sober, right? Wrong. My idea of sobriety then was not drinking, I thought it helped me control the amount of cocaine I was consuming – it didn’t. In theory, that may have worked when I first started using, but it did not last long. I hadn’t touched alcohol in a year, but it is no coincidence that the night I broke my perception of sobriety, I truly started spiralling.

Someone I believed to be a friend, which is akin to most of the people I used to surround myself with, was there that evening. Alleged-Friend we’ll call him, offered me some Xanax at one point in the party. I had never done it before, but like a good little addict, I was down for the high. He said it was really good with cocaine, and I should drink with it too. He was laying down on our once-white carpet, in his bright orange sweater, telling me it’ll be fun. I took it. I fell. At some point in the night, I vaguely remember walking into my kitchen, grabbing a bottle of champagne, and chugging it. My roommate was surprised to see that I was drinking since I was always so adamant about not.  I put my finger to my lips and gave her the “shh” sign. I was so out of my mind that seemed inconspicuous, right? Idiot.

When the party finally started winding down, at a casual 7am, I was standing around with Alleged-Friend, and a small group of people. Included in this group was an individual that would soon change my life. This person was (still is) a graffiti-artist-ex-con-wanna-be-tattoo-artist-piece-of shit. Alleged-Friend and the group decided they wanted to go to Piece-of-Shit’s house. He told me I needed to come, that we’d all hang out, there was more drugs, and he would make sure I made it home safely afterwards. So I went.

After that, the events leading up to my attack are blurred. I didn’t tell anyone about what happened to me that morning for almost a year after it happened. I felt responsible for what he did to me. I know I didn’t lead anyone on, but I went, I did their drugs, I learned – I should have stayed home.

I remember Alleged-Friend telling me he was leaving. I remember trying to reason with him to take me with him. I remember him telling me all the reasons why he couldn’t and how I needed to stay there and rest. I was so high. I was so confused. I knew he would be going past my area, and I still stayed. I don’t know why.

I remember telling Piece-of-Shit that if I stayed, nothing was happening. I remember him saying that was fine. I remember the feeling in my stomach that it wasn’t.

I remember waking up with my pants down being assaulted. I remember being terrified. I remember that I was told he had an unlicensed firearm under his bed. I remember thinking that if I didn’t stop him it could be worse, and even though I regretted everything up until that moment, maybe I could stop regretting the next.

I turned around, hit him in the face, and got out of the bed, shakily. I don’t remember if I grabbed all of my clothes that had somehow left my body. I don’t remember running down the stairs of this old apartment. I don’t even remember where it was.

I made it into a cab and called my roommate to let her know I was alive and coming home. I don’t remember much else.

Fast forward through a year of partying, I was at an art show with my best friend, and Steven (remember him? If not, better read that first blog post). I was making another failed attempt to be sober. I had made it one week and that’s when I saw him. Piece-of-Shit was there, smiling at me from across the room. I almost passed out when we locked eyes. My chest closed up, my legs gave out, and I was fighting the sickness in my stomach rapidly making its way to my throat. I ran outside. I was shaking, my voice trembling. I was fighting for any bit of air I could breathe into my newly collapsed lungs. I swear I could feel him on top of me again. So I did what I always did when I couldn’t stand the pain – I numbed. I started chugging wine at the bar, I started railing lines faster than they could be broken up. I didn’t want to do any of that but I knew I had to stop the pain.

Later on in the evening, I was speaking to a curator. That’s when Piece-of-Shit came up to me, grin and all, and had the disturbing confidence to ask me how I was. He called me babe, and said it’s been awhile. I looked him dead in the face, not wanting him to know I had stopped breathing half an hour ago, and told him to get the fuck away from me. I calmly turned back to the curator, who had an astounded look on her face, and I told her he had sexually assaulted me the previous year. She commended me on how well I handled it. Meanwhile, I had to end the conversation before I passed out.

My friends and I left, went to another party at APT 200, and of course, there he was. My bestie tried to confront him, but he denied everything. In fact, he said he had been texting with me the next day, and that I was reaching out to him. I could feel the sickness rising again. A fight broke out between one of his friends and me, and soon enough, everyone outside of the bar had been privy to the worst night of my life. Well, one of.

The next day, Piece-of-Shit had spoken with Alleged-Friend (I’m assuming), and they weren’t happy with my accusations. I soon found out that there were several photos taken of me from that night, photos I had no recollection of, and they were quickly posted on Instagram for the world to see. I felt assaulted all over again. I was so angry, sick, and hurt. I just could’t get away from this. I felt as if I was back in that room, I swear I could feel his breath on the back of my neck. My skin turned so cold I thought my neck would snap. I was horrified at how much worse it could get.

So I did what I did best – I numbed.

I got so high, I started reaching out to people on the wrong side of this life. Soon enough, I found someone willing to bring me a gun. I wanted to shoot him, and I didn’t care who knew or saw. I just knew I needed him dead by my own hands. Even writing this now, not killing him still feels like a great regret of my life. And I can’t believe that individual has changed me into this person. I was fortunate enough to have someone talk me down from a life-changing moment. A friend of mine came over, told me the choice was mine, but to speak to him about what happened, to give it an hour. If in an hour that’s what I still wanted, it would be done.

I backed down. They talked me off the ledge I was about to throw myself off of. Ruining my life would only give him more power over me. He wasn’t worth it. He still isn’t.

I’ve run into this individual a handful of times over the past two years. Normally, I have him removed from wherever I am. Just the other day however, I made the mistake of walking into his workplace. I didn’t know he was there, and when he turned to face me, there it was again. The grin. His face. The sickness. He said five words to me and I turned and ran. I had a panic attacked outside the shop. This entire post was sparked by this moment. I have never dealt with this sober. I had nothing to numb me, I had nowhere to hide. I had to go through it, and overcome the sickness, with just me. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a recovering addict. I went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that same evening, and when I decided I wanted to share about my experience that day, I couldn’t. I completely broke down, I started shaking, and crying. I couldn’t handle my feelings towards the situation that was so far behind me, and I hated that this nothing of a person still had this power over me. I spent days in depression over this. It took all my strength not to step in front of a streetcar that night, or turn my arm into mincemeat. I felt like I was a kid again, going through my first depressive episode. All I wanted to do was hurt myself more, or end it all.

I showed someone the first half of this post, and they asked me, where is this going now? To be honest, I think I needed the therapy of writing and sharing this. This is how I heal myself, or at least try to. The hard part is over, the nightmare is done; the trauma, and the re-traumatizing. Where I think this is going, is a platform to share and show you, that bad things can happen, and you can talk about them. You can share them, and most importantly, you can come back from those dark places.

I was attacked, and when I confronted my attacker I was targeted by the same people who caused me harm. I could have killed someone. Worse off, I wanted to kill someone.

Being sober now, and working on shining the light onto the parts of myself I hate to look at, allows me to see how far I’ve come. Working through all those emotions without drugs was (and continues to be) incredibly difficult, but it is the worst of it and it too shall pass. I have to believe that the darkness from others isn’t my own, that their actions are not mine. That maybe I am better than that.

I guess these moments are the “oh no’s” that have shaped me.
And in my grave mistakes, I only hope there is a lesson for you and for me.

Thank you for letting me share.

Fucking for Feelings

Casual Sex, Relationships, Sex

Okay, let’s talk about sex, babies.

More specifically, casual sex, and the ups and downs of sexual detachment. Let’s begin with riding around in Porsche’s with boys…

I met this guy at Queen Street Warehouse, which is this dive bar I worked at a few years ago. We were friends, and would go out frequently, but I didn’t really think much of him romantically throughout this time.  It was always us with our large group of friends, partying almost every night, and having the fucking time of our lives.

One night, he and I were out at our usual spot, which that summer was Odd Thomas, and we were wasted. What else is new. We left the group before last call (which was a rarity back them) and went by my house afterwards, I think to get drugs, but I can’t be too sure.  We ended hooking up, clumsily, noisily and sloppily.  My roommate and I made jokes about this encounter for a year because he was so loud. The next day, I woke up shocked to find him still there, and wanting to get breakfast together. It was strange to me because I never let anyone sleepover in my bed, but he was my friend so I wasn’t too bothered by it. No, really – I would normally call a cab for the guy while he was in the bathroom; I was the ultimate fuckboy. We went to get some food, and I started to feel awkward, so I picked up a  shift at Warehouse and quickly departed before I could entertain any actual conversation. That night, he picked me up from work in his mom’s Porsche, and slept over again.

And this is how I ended up in the most random relationship ever.

See, Mom’s-Porsche-Guy (or MPG for short) and I were (and still are) completely different people. He’s a people-pleasing, loud, WASP-type. I am not. He would be everyone’s best friend to their faces, but then complain to me about them afterwards. He desperately wanted to be a part of the scene, so I introduced him to all my friends.

We spent most of our free time together, but he seldom spoke of anything on a personal level. Regardless, we had a lot of fun together, and it made the small things that he would share, mean more to me. The thing about this relationship is that we sort of just assimilated into each others lives and it became something, but nothing meaningful. We were best friends, enjoying each others company and sex, but it wasn’t some great love story. He picked up me all the time from wherever I was, and slept over regularly…I even stayed at his mom’s place one weekend. So, on paper, yes, in actions, a couple, but in reality, it was just a facade. We were both comfortable, and I think in a city where being genuine is scarce, it felt like something more real than it was.

We were having sex to create a relationship, or sex to hide the fact that there wasn’t much there. Regardless, there was no progression, no real emotional connection, only a plateau to which we reached throughout the months we dated.

We soon found ourselves infected by the current epidemic sweeping the streets of Toronto: a pseudo-relationship. It looks a relationship, and acts like a relationship, but you two are not boyfriend-girlfriend,  and you’re not doing things to further yourselves or your lives together.  Perhaps you do want the best for one another, but nothing you do actually supports or furthers the individual you’re with.

I’ve encountered this within my own experiences, as well as people close to me over the years. Why are we so afraid of relationships? Or even prefacing these interactions with honest feelings. We’re all out here either attempting to detach, or failing to make real connections. Most people in our age group would rather catch an STD before they catch feelings.

I want to pause here to clarify something, I am not condemning casual sex, by any means. If it feels right to you, and it is in line with what you and the other person (yes, there’s another person’s feelings you should probably consider here, too) want, by all means, get yours. The issue becomes when one person says “I only want sex”, and the other hears, “I want a relationship”. I believe that there can be a separation of intimacy, and sex. I also believe that in order for this to be possible, you need to be able to have intimacy in other areas of your life. You can’t keep everything inside forever, and by attempting to do so, you’re isolating yourself, and leaving yourself incapable of sharing yourself at all.

Getting back to detachment, I am certainly no stranger to it. I used to be the girl who couldn’t even look you in the eyes when we had sex. Probably still cant, I’ll do some research and let you know. I was in a serious relationship for four years and hated when he said “I love you” during sex, because it felt like an obligation to me. That could be because of my own thoughts and experiences on intimacy and sex, but I feel as if it is a prevalent standpoint these days. You cannot force detachment though. Just because you rationalize something, does not mean you stop feeling it. I would try and talk myself into (and I most certainly have) purely physical relationships. The ones where I’d sit, sifting through texts, deciphering each message that showed even a shred of what I could convince myself were real emotions. The ones with instant meaningless gratification, the ones that really had nothing there but UberEats and strong sexual chemistry. Meanwhile, I’d be so swept away in my stupid feelings that I’d be lighting up brighter than girl’s highlight on Queen St. when the guy I was “casually seeing” would text me.

But that didn’t make me okay with a relationship that was half-in, half-out.

Which brings us to the guy who actually owns a Porsche. He and I met through my friend and the guy she was dating. We all went out for dinner one night, and when I first met him, there wasn’t much there. Throughout the night, the more we talked, he revealed himself to be wildly charming and intelligent, and I was sold. We all went back to his condo after dinner, and my best friend and her boyfriend took to the spare bedroom. He offered me his bed for the night and he’d take the couch, but I declined. Cue my on-again-off-again bootycall messaging me, (another guy I had feelings for at the time, but obviously settled for the sex), and he was definitely where I wanted to be because it seemed easiest. Sex over emotions, right? I told Owns-A-Porsche (OAP for short) that I had to go to my sister’s house to watch her kids, so he sent me in an uber to my bootycall. Win.

Later that night, I came back to OAP’s place, because he had given me a key and insisted that I come back, and passed I out on the couch. When I woke up, we hung out all day, he kissed me, and I was so hooked. We had so much in common, and spoke for ever about, politics, art, life experiences, and he seemed to truly understand me.

Waiting for the shoe to drop? Because here it comes…

In classic fuck-up fashion, I then find out that, he and his girlfriend were not broken up, so that put a damper on things. But, I was so tragically wrapped up in him, and from everything he told me about her—I just knew they weren’t right for each other and that it should have been us.

There was something about the things he would say that made me come back to him constantly. I was so desperate for someone to understand me, and not shy away from my demons, that I allowed myself to enter into a relationship that was unbecoming of my soul. I cheated myself out of a real connection, and he cheated on his girlfriend with me. I didn’t see the wrong here because he would tell me that she was doing the same; that she was a gold-digger. He told me that I had all the potential in the world, and she didn’t, so he had to help her. Its funny, right?  That, that was ultimately his reason for staying with her. He told me she needed him. But that wasn’t true, he needed an escape, and I looked like a vacation. The point here is,  I’ve allowed sex to be a supplement for an actual emotional connection before. More than a connection, I’ve allowed sex to be the relationship rather than having the relationship I deserve. I know how it feels to think you love someone, maybe you truly do love them, and instead have sex be your life raft in their sea. I’ve white-knuckled certain relationships that I should have let go. I’ve allowed myself to think, if we have this, we surely have something.

In both of these instances, I had sex to keep a connection, and sex to create one. This is the problem when you’re substituting what you want, for what you’ll settle for. I am a very sex-positive person, but if you’re using someone for sex or using sex to keep someone, it is not benefiting you, and is no longer “casual”.  Again, I am in no way condemning casual sex; do it, get it, enjoy it! But make sure you aren’t either pushing your emotions, or the emotions of someone else, aside while you’re doing so.

Don’t be afraid to fall in love. Don’t be afraid to get hurt in this way. We prioritize fucking over falling in love, all too often. I am no stranger to the idea that emotional pain is far worse than the physical, but this type of detachment leads to the demise of our inner selves. I’ve maintained detachment to avoid the possible emotional bruising of a poor-ending relationship, and yet, it only causes more pain. You realize you’re starving yourself, and at the first opportunity you have for some sort of connection, or what you believe to be a connection, you gorge yourself. This is not healthy.

Love and leave pieces of you with others – you’ll get them back, I promise. Don’t be afraid to show love, give love, receive love, wherever and whenever possible.

When you lay with someone, you become their equal. So with whatever path you choose to take in your life, at least have a baseline of respect for yourself and the person you’re entering into this with. If there’s something that I’ve learned through my mistakes, it’s that sleeping with someone for all the wrong reasons will never make you feel right afterwards.

Don’t trade in your emotions for a good time.
Don’t insist on something out of comfortability, or loneliness.
Be uncomfortable, be alone.

This is where and when you grow the most.

Most importantly, do not be afraid to connect to someone. Even if it doesn’t end well, it served a purpose. If you loved someone at a point in time, you can love another again.

Who knows, maybe you’ll even love yourself.

Loving Others is Easier

Self-Love

Let’s kick this off with a classic cliche – practice makes perfect. I have practiced loving others, relentlessly, and I have loved a lot of people. That quantity may be subjective, but I know the amount of myself I’ve poured into others over the years. The thing about practicing this over, and over, and over again, is that yes, I am very good at loving others, but I’ve never continuously practiced self-love.

Throughout several of my relationships over the years, I have taken on the emotions and energies of my partner. I guess I have a type – emotionally inept.  I’ve been the crutch, I’ve shown them endless love and thought that in their actions, I was receiving the same back. Let’s take Ace, for example. Ace and I met a few years back, when he came into the bar I was working at three nights in a row. Every night he sat in my section, and on his last night in town, asked me to breakfast the next day, before he went back to LA. I gave him my number and never went. For six months, he was trying to connect with me, I was in and out of late nights and blurred faces so I did not care to make any sort of connection. Something changed, maybe I believed his persistence was a sign of adoration, and he came to Toronto to see me.

Fast forward over six months time, Ace was coming here every couple weeks, always staying with me for days. When we weren’t physically together, we were on FaceTime all day everyday. Seriously, I woke up to him, walked to work with him, spoke to him during my shifts, went to sleep to his face. Every day was him. I never felt the distance. We planned on me moving out to LA, and when he was here, he was all mine. Never checking out other women, always, always, always about me. He would spend money without batting an eye on gifts, we worked on shoots together, everything. I truly believed this to be love. Cut to, one day I’m at work and get a message from his girlfriend of three years, telling me he was arrested and she had his phone. I was shattered.

I was infinitely broken, and felt so stupid and used. I had fought my parents over this relationship, I welcomed this person into my life with open arms, showed him the city, took him out to meet all my friends. The worst part was he was calling me, begging me to speak to him, texting me, voice notes, and when I gave in (because why would I value myself over anyone else, right?) he denied everything.

I cried for days, I wanted to believe him. I even had my best friend call and talk to him because I just didn’t know what to believe. But I did. I knew in my heart that he wasn’t what he seemed. That he was a perfect representation of the life he sold in LA. I just couldn’t do what was best for me. I was incapable of choosing myself over him.

After Ace, I didn’t learn this lesson, because then came Steven. I started seeing Steven who was so odd, and strange, but in a way that made all of my weirdness seem normal. The issue with Steven was, he was a drug addict. Moreover, I was happily falling down the rabbit hole with him, hand in hand. Our connection was incredible, intense, and seemed so meaningful; when he spoke,  all I heard was poetry. He had also recently experienced a bad relationship ending when we had found each other. We would stay up all night together, listen to music, share our writing, everything that Bohemian dreams are made of.

One night, during a party my friend had thrown, I overdosed and Steven found me on the floor. Instead of taking me home, or to a hospital, he placed me on a couch and went back out to continue having what we thought was fun in those days. I woke up awhile later, choking on my own spit and vomit. To be honest, the memory is foggy. What I do remember is the anger, the shame, the feeling of worthlessness. I was hurt, upset, and he saw nothing wrong with this. But I didn’t either, because of course, I couldn’t put myself before anyone. So I continued to date him.

I wish I could tell you that I learned after that, but I didn’t. It has taken me a very long while to realize that, you are what you love, not what loves you. I exited a relationship more recently in which I took on this person’s energies, and frustrations; I was an emotional punching bag. I’ve experienced several traumatizing events in my life, things I wish on no one, and I was never able to express these to him. Yes, I told him about them, but when I was having a bad day, or nightmares, or flashbacks, I was never allowed a space to share. I had to take care of him, his emotions, and mine were pushed aside.

These stories may seem extreme, you may be thinking they’re bad people, or perhaps I am, but they’re not – they are just them. I allowed them to act this way, I took on their emotions, their problems and shelved mine because, it is easier to care for someone than care for yourself. I have always wanted to save other people because I had (and still have) no idea how to save myself. I pick these people with similar traits as me, because I want a different ending to the story I’m afraid to write for myself. I’ve freely rented space within myself for other people’s energies and emotions because I cannot handle dealing with my own. Loving these broken beings felt like coming home. I just never realized I was coming home to an empty house.

But here’s the thing, when you are always caring for other people, you cannot care for yourself. When you backseat your emotions for the person you love, whether it is a friend, family, lover, you place aside your happiness. You are removing the honesty from your relationship by not being your whole, true self. You are not helping them because you have now become an enabler; they are incapable of facing their feelings, inner workings, and problems because you will do it for them. It is easier now for them to lash out at you, because you have accepted the role as the outlet. You have gone from partner, and equal, to object of abuse. If you have fallen down this way, it is difficult to learn how to stand up for yourself, I know, I’ve been there, but it is possible to get back up.

You hold all of the happiness you will ever need. I swear. Since detaching from someone, although heart-wrenching, day-by-day I’m doing the simple things to show myself I love myself. I am sober, I eat properly, I workout, I take my vitamins, I write every morning and make my bed. These little actions are how you communicate to your inner self that you care. They are massively important, even if you don’t notice the changes immediately. I am not telling you I have worked out this formula, or that this is the ultimate key, I can only tell you what has worked for me and my recovery.

You have to learn yourself to love yourself. Don’t be a stranger to your soul. Sit with yourself, express yourself, be honest. Confront your shame. Most importantly, forgive yourself.  While practice makes perfect, you need to practice patience first.

I urge you to be gentle with yourself, because I know first-hand that no one else in this world will be.

Love yourself, it is the most important person you ever will.

 

*Names in this post have been changed to prevent these mans from getting butthurt over the truth. Except for Ace, because he can go fuck himself.