Why can’t I just sleep…..

….and dream about being chased my monsters like regular people?

Yesterday morning, I woke up in a really frustrated mood. I don’t know why. Sometimes, I find things fester in my mind overnight, so by the time I wake up, I’m stirred up nice and good. I lay there in bed after waking up thinking about my life. I was thinking that no matter how busy I get or how good I feel or how happy I am, about 5% of myself feels lonely and has a deep longing to share my life with someone special. It’s always there. Thankfully, it’s not a feeling that supersedes my enjoyment and I’m able to (thus far) live in the moment and don’t start thinking in ‘what ifs’. Then I sighed.

When I get in that pensive mood, more often than not, I start thinking about the usual. I think, how is this all going to work? What if I do fall madly in love with a man and he doesn’t fully appreciate all that I have to offer? I’ve heard many stories about women being taken for a ride. Stories where strong, confident women who have been single for a while, finally meet someone they connect with and these men walk in, take what they want and leave behind disillusion and disappointment. Then I got mad. I thought in my best Trini accent, “I can’t be waiting so long for a man for him to come in here and play the fool!”

What resulted from my 15-minute pondering was this FB status:

I hope it is crystal clear that I’m not looking for a man just to make up numbers at the dinner table. I’m looking for a partner, friend and a damn hard worker!

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love and maintaining respect and trust is what will separate the men from the boys. Men work. Boys play.

I think the more I wait, the more pressure there is for things to go smoothly. I don’t just want a partner, I want a GOOD partner and I’m worried that there’ll be too much pressure when the time comes. As I said, I go on living my life, raising Kidlet, going to work, spending time with friends, writing, playing, LIVING, but under it all, there’s a soft hum of anticipation and anxiety. I try not to worry about the future, but it happens. I’m just glad it doesn’t happen all the time. Usually, something happens to trigger a cascade of emotions and then it’s gone.

What I know to be true is that I can’t fabricate a person, I can’t MAKE someone compatible fall in love with me, I can’t stop wanting a partner, but I also can’t pretend that I’m perfectly fine on my own, so I wait.

My new old body

Okay, so let’s discuss my new body. I haven’t discussed body image in a while.

So I’ve sworn off drinks. When I say drinks, I mean juice, definitely pop, smoothies and everything else. The only thing I’ve had to drink for the past few weeks is water and tea.  I started drinking all kinds of tea and even brewing my own iced tea, which is delish, by the way. I make all different kinds and finish two litres in two days, but it’s been mostly water. What started off as an experiment has turned into a lifestyle change, and I’m starting to see changes in my body because of it.

Those of you who read my blog know that I don’t exercise, not on purpose anyway. I started biking, which is fantastic, but I have a flat tyre and since what I know about bikes (and their tyres) could fit in an elf’s thimble, the biking situation has been on hold. I still try to keep active, but it’s not a priority for me. Any weight loss or toning of muscle happens purely by accident. I’m pretty easy going that way. I accept my body for what it is.

Anyway, since I look at my body every day, I started noticing subtle changes: my pants waists started loosening up, my I-can’t-sit-in-these-pants pants can be persuaded to be sat in and the shadow of the stomach overhang is a bit shorter. Thick thighs aren’t as thick, but still good and strong! I thought, “What the heck?! When did that happen?” Then I realized it’s drinking all that water. It’s crazy how that little change brought about these results. How much sugar WAS I ingesting?

I also noticed that I’m not as winded when I walk up the stairs briskly. In fact, now I CAN walk up three flights of stairs briskly. I haven’t weighed myself – my clothes don’t lie and my lungs definitely won’t lie. I don’t need the demo scale at the store to tell me I’m healthier. I can also bike without having to rest after more than five minutes. Maybe because I’m lugging around a few less lbs. I didn’t stop drinking that stuff to lose weight. I just started feeling bloated, so I did it kinda like a cleanse (without any green, bad-tasting stuff) and what do you know, it did clean out some excess bits.

I'm not hiding my face on purpose, but it's convenient!  [Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Do not copy without permission.]

I wasn’t hiding my face on purpose, but it’s convenient!
[Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Do not copy without permission.]

It’s not easy drinking only water, especially when it’s 30 degrees outside. I passed by the smoothie place yesterday and longed for a pina colada iced smoothie goodness, but I fear that it would be SO sweet I wouldn’t be able to choke it down anyway although I had no problem eating half that chocolate bar while I was watching a movie today, but it was dark chocolate, so that may be why. Hmmm….

As you can tell, I still eat the same: no change there! If anything I eat more junk because I know I have calories in the bank  to waste! Just today, I thought, “Hmmm…I could probably get rid of the stomach overhang if I just did a few crunches a day, but then I thought, ‘Naaaaah, you’re good!’” I want to keep my curves, lumps and bumps – it’s what makes me look like a woman.

It’s interesting that now that my body has changed, the clothes I wear has also changed too. I’m wearing closer fitting outfits and showing a little more skin. I have a little pep in my step, I’m not going to lie. My body confidence is pretty high. Am I ready to wear a two-piece bikini to the beach? Not so much. I will wear the bikini top and shorts for now

, but I’m getting there…one sip at a time.

Wine, therapy and Black women

So this is the second time I socialized with this group of Black women and my mind has been blown yet again. First off, I know what you’re thinking: group? Black women? Vancouver? Yes, I know, it’s a shock!

I met this one woman years ago from the islands. She is absolutely lovely and I made up my mind then and there that I would like her to be my friend. That’s how it is when you’re an immigrant. You have to make friends. There are no built-in friends or anything, you have to make them. Or, at least, that’s how it is for me. At first, we would meet a couple times a year at the Caribbean events in the city and then one time, after exchanging numbers a couple of years before but never using it, she called me to ask a question about the Trinidadian Society and we were on the phone for over 3 hours. We’ve been friends ever since.

Having had her in my life, though, the landscape of my social activities has changed. Since she has Black female friends, I get invited to events where we would all get together and talk and talk about ‘issues’ under the guise of having a party. What started off as something social, turned into something deeply emotional and extremely supportive.

Caribbean women….sigh. We are phenomenal, we are outspoken, we are strong, we are intense, we are just amazing. Sitting in a room with these women talking about their lives and their unique and common struggles to raise their families, to desire keep their relationships healthy, to keep themselves sane, made me feel so validated and ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong, there are others in my life who make me feel the same way, but to hear the words coming from someone who has the same background and upbringing as me and can talk so freely about it, just made it feel different. The homogeneity among us made it easy to trust and identify with each other.

We talked about a lot of things, the topics of which are not even important. What was important was the expression that was so honest and open and unapologetic! I forgot how straightforward Caribbean people could be sometimes.

The first time I went over there, it was great: I felt like I was given the password to a secret society and I could finally get to see the inner workings of Black women my age. What I didn’t realize is that there would be no long preamble. We would get to the nitty gritty of things immediately whether we all knew each other or not. They shared their stories with no filter. I thought, “Hey, you guys just met me 2 hours ago,” but the fact that that didn’t matter made me feel like part of a sisterhood. By the end of it, I too shared my stories. I didn’t feel judged even though some people didn’t agree with me. I expressed my opinion and right there and then, I was told, “You’re talking s**t! That not making sense!” I then defended what I had to say in a way I could get across my point clearer. In the end, they didn’t agree, but they understood that my opinion was based on my unique situation. In the end, I felt comfortable enough to share an opinion that was honest, open and unapologetic.

Don’t take for granted the people you have in your life who you are able to be yourself with, people who will call you on your b**ls**t and point a mirror in your face and let you know how wrong you are, people who will tell you their story and show you that you can rise despite how traumatic life can be. People walk into your life for a reason. They come in to show you something or to teach you something. Embrace it.

 

Anxiety issues

These days, I’ve been feeling pretty anxious. Anxious about things that I have no business even thinking about, but I get myself worked up in a tizzy, overanalyzing, worrying and making myself sick over imaginary things. I know I have an active imagination, sure, but the way I’ve been living my life lately is not right.

Someone asked me if Kidlet has anxiety issues and I said, “No.” After I said that though, I looked it up and found that the things they described are exactly me. According to one website, the symptoms are irrational fear, problems getting to sleep, perfectionism, panic attacks, compulsive behaviour, self-doubt. All of these things ring true to me. Before I blow this out of proportion, but let me tell you what happened to me recently.

I volunteered to make banana bread for a work pot luck. I had made the recipe quite a few times and I felt good enough about it to share it to my new co-workers. I made it exactly according to the recipe, but worried the whole time that I had misread the recipe, “Is is baking powder instead of baking soda?” “Did it say half a teaspoon or half a tablespoon?” I questioned my own eyes. I continued, trusting that I had read it correctly. It baked and I was happy with the result. It looked just as it should, smelled just as it should and tasted just as it should. No worries, right? Wrong!

In the hours leading up to the pot luck, I silently worried that no one would like it or eat it. It was time to have the banana bread, and my heart raced the whole time anyone got near it. My co-workers tried it, praised it and had seconds. I continued being nervous because I didn’t know if they were being polite or if they genuinely liked it. I don’t even know why I thought that because they just about ate half the bread. Instead of relaxing, I thought, what if something went wrong? What if after they’ve eaten all that bread, they got sick because I had messed up the recipe by mistake? What if half my office had food poisoning from my banana bread? I spent the greater part of the afternoon being anxious about that, thinking, I’d be okay if I went back to work the next day and everyone hadn’t spent the night throwing up. THAT was when I knew I had a problem, for real. This can’t be normal. My mind goes into a vortex like that all the time. All the time.

My mum died from an aneurysm. She was going about her business when a blood vessel broke in her head and within hours, she was lost to us. Forever. It freaks me out thinking that it could happen to me if I keep up this way, but I can’t help but get worked up. I think the issue is not that I get worked up, is that I get worked up over things that haven’t even happened or are likely to happen. So why do I still do it? Sigh. I just didn’t know it was bad until I read that there is a ‘thing’ called anxiety. I thought I was just being paranoid or that I have too much time on my hands and/or don’t really have real problems to worry about.

All I know is that I can’t go on like this. So what do I do?

 

Somebody that I used to know

Last week, I reconnected with someone who was really close to me, but who hasn’t been in my life for three years. I found myself explaining things to him that are so normal to me now. I’d forgotten that he doesn’t know the me that I am today. I told him about my blogging, the saga of co-parenting and the drudgery of being single when you don’t want to be. Okay, the co-parenting thing never goes away and the single thing too, apparently, but the point is that the me that I am inside is different. When he knew me I was still grieving Mummy’s loss deeply and going through a divorce. I was shrouded in loss and quite frankly, I was living in a fog. Yes, I had a job. Yes, I was able to get out of bed every day, but I was numb. I didn’t feel things the way I feel them now. That shell of a person was the person he knew. He doesn’t know this person now. Just out of curiosity, I looked up my FB status from June 2011 to try and see who I was then. I wanted to see who was the person he used to know:

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be in, for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Sometimes I have to remind myself to think not what I have lost, but what I had been lucky enough to have.

Very telling, huh? Funny, looking at those pictures and reading the updates, I do remember feeling like my world was crumbling. I remember feeling lost and hopeless. The journey to where I am today was a long and hard one – I know it sounds cliche, but that’s really how it was! So now I’m here: I look the same, but I’m a new woman or at the very least, a different version of that woman.

What I looked like then….pretty much the same, but I am no longer that woman on the inside.

You know what the major difference is? Before I crumbled, I was a rock. I had NO idea I could be crushed into a pile of pebbles. I had no clue that I could be stripped right down to the very essence of myself and all I would recognize was my sense of being a mother and the responsibility that came with that. I was so sure I knew myself and the things in my life then I lost almost everything: my mother, my marriage, the life I had built for myself, my career. I had to start over, building myself up, but I was no longer the original. I stand here today seeing myself with the tiny fractures, knowing that I’m never going to have that strong sense of self I had before. Now I know I am not perfect, I am not invincible, I am not TOUGH, I am forever changed. Anyway, the point is that three years have gone by and while I’m still the same person: hilarious and loyal, mother and friend, my insides have gone through a bit of a shake-up. It’ll be really interesting to see what differences my friend sees in me. We went back and forth asking the questions: same apartment? same car? All those material things are all the same, but the biggest changes are the ones I don’t have tangible evidence of, changes which is harder to see. I can’t explain them to him, he’ll have to see them himself. I guess it goes to show that life changes us and though it seems like nothing’s changed. Sometimes the biggest change is not what happened or didn’t happen, but it’s just our perception of self that gets overhauled. Just for fun, go on your FB (if you have one) and look at your status updates from 3 years ago and try to remember who you were then. Do you still have some of those clothes? Do you wear your hair the same as now: is it longer, is it shorter, same colour, same style? Do you have the same number of children? Do you have the same partner? Look at the tone of your updates? Do you still feel that way? Do you seem happier or sadder? It’s VERY telling. Let me know what you come up with! :0) V

My curves

The curves of my

welcoming smile

The curves of my

man-crushing thighs

 

The curves of my

life-giving breasts

The curves of my

brown, honest eyes

 

The curves of my

child-bearing hips

The curves of my

stretched-marked sides

 

My curves:

They make me who I am.

What to do with a man

So a few days have passed and I have been stewing about this ‘what can a man bring to a table that already has a breadwinner sitting at the head of said table‘ thing. (When I say breadwinner here, I mean, provider of all the family’s needs, not necessarily only financial support.)

I can give you a list of single women in my life who are breadwinners and they’re doing a damn good job too! Almost all of these single women are looking for a partner. Hmmmm…the questions are:

Where is the line between being head of a house and being a woman? Does there have to be line? Can we do both? Are those two roles mutually exclusive?

Think about this. As a single woman, you meet a guy, you get to know him. You tell him that you have a job, you pay your bills, you are raising a child/children, you have a car, you have friends, you have responsibilities. Do you think he thinks that you need him? He knows that his job is to get your attention, so that he can be on the roster too. I think it’s up to you, if you like him, to show him that while, yes, you are Superwoman, you know how to be a regular woman too…more specifically, HIS regular woman.

In my post-divorce dating, which is NOT extensive by any means, I had a good experience with a man I was dating. It was clear to him from the beginning that I had my life together, and it was clear to me from the beginning that he intended to be part of it.

I remember one time we were going on a date in the city, and I was driving. I usually gas up for the week, so on the way downtown, I swung by the gas station. He offered to pay for my gas. Not just $20 to get us there and back, but to fill it up. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. Why would or should he pay for my gas?! I laughed it off and I told him no. He insisted, then I seriously told him no. Then he said, “Alright, then I’ll pump the gas.” So he did and I really appreciated it.

What I was telling him was:

a. I can pay my own bills.

b. I want him to be part of my life, not sitting as a passenger, but as an active participant.

c. There is room for him in even the routine, mundane things.

d. Sure, I can do it myself, but I acknowledge that he is part of the team and I can step back and let him take a role in it!

What he was telling me was:

a. I want to take care of you.

b. I know you have your own life but I want to be a part of it.

c. I can be patient and let you show me where your boundaries are.

d. You can pay for your gas today, but you now know that it’s something I’m willing to do if you let me.

A man, a real man, wants to take care of his woman, even if she can take care of herself. Then I guess that a woman has to let him be that man and let him take care of her in a way that she is comfortable. I think, that’s where things go sideways sometimes. Maybe sometimes the man will expect her to be a woman right away and when she doesn’t fit his expectation, he’ll find her controlling and inflexible. Maybe sometimes the Superwoman will forget that he wants to be part of her life too and might make him redundant and have him sitting on the sidelines while she carries on with the business of things. In a perfect world, the two people deciding to embark on this journey will try to compromise and work together.

Sigh…it’s very tricky! Finding a good man is hard enough as it is and then you have to deal with all these nuances!?

Anyway, long story short about what I’ve learned from writing this:

If/When I do find a partner, there is room for him in my life for him and I have to remember to show him that. I’ll remember what it’s like to just be a woman and he’ll remind me what it’s like to have a man in my life.

Hmmm….I don’t know if I’ve explained this properly or if I’ve just botched the whole thing…

V

p.s. This is such a loaded topic for me! It wasn’t easy for me to write this and even now, I’m not 100% convinced this is publish-able, but I’m releasing it into the world! Good, bad or ugly!