Intention

Let me start with a little reflection on decluttering…

I started my decluttering in 2011. I think I was ahead of the trend. By a smidge anyway. I had a tonne of boxes to go through because of my separation and move to my solo life apartment. I was depressed and anxious. I wanted to feel better about myself, my stuff and my space. I happened upon the book Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst and used it to clear up my space both physically and emotionally. It might not be the book for everyone, but I learned a lot from that book. It started me on my road to minimalism and simple living.

It also got me shaking maracas I got in Cuba during a solo heart healing vacation and burning sage to move energy around. I love doing both of these things.

There is something to be said about doing things with intention. Doing things with intention makes action more meaningful. It makes change more likely to stick. it sets a foundation and focus on how you want to feel and what actions you need to take to get you there. It helps you get things done, stay present and optimistic.

I think it’s a very powerful thing.

I have a tattoo of the letter I on the inside of my right wrist. It stands for INTENTION.

Resilience

I have four tattoos. Three of which are small. I got them on the same day. They were a part of my healing after the end of my marriage. One of them is the letter R on the inside of my left wrist. It stands for Resilience.

Here are few of my favourite quotes about resilience.

She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails. – Elizabeth Edwards

If all you can do is crawl, start crawling. – Rumi

You drown not by falling in the river, but by staying submerged in it. – Paulo Coehlo

A Revelation

What I am about to share is a very big deal for me. It’s something I have not shared with anyone online.

Big breath. OK, here goes.

This photo isn’t an accurate representation of how I look. At least not now, in person, on a day to day basis.

seska lee headshot 2

You see, that is because in the fall of 2013 I cut off most of my hair and in the spring of 2015 I stopped dying it. And during all that time if I was to go on stage for a burlesque show or take a selfie for the Internetz I wore a wig. This is what I actually look like today.

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Let the age-ist opinions and mysoginistic judgements of strangers and trolls begin!

Why I Cut My Hair

I wanted a change. After having pretty much the same look for 16 years I felt a strong compulsion to change things up. While I was actively performing on my personal website I never changed my hairstyle very much. I always had long hair with bangs. There were many times I wanted to cut my hair, but because I didn’t want to deal with the backlash I would get from my public fanbase I didn’t. Yes, I had concerns that playing with my look would affect my bottomline. Legitimate concerns because fans and members always had an opinion about my appearance. Back then, complaints that I grew out my bangs or cut my hair was not something I felt I could handle. It was a fear thing.

When the site started to die a slow death because people stopped paying for adult content I felt a little more confident testing out a significant trim. In August of 2009 I bobbed my hair. It was about 6 months before my separation and I recognize now that it was an expression of a greater desire for change and a sign of things to come.

I did not feel good in my own skin so I got a haircut. Classic! After the separation I grew it back as I had cowlicks that made a bob impossible to keep straight, but deep down I knew another cut was in my future.

This desire, I think, was about figuring out who I was without my husband, without my website, without my objectification. I wanted to separate myself from my sex work which was a big part of my identity but no longer served me as it had. I wanted some discretion and boundaries in my life.

It took much therapy and personal development work for me to come to terms with it all. Slowly but surely I began to feel confident in claiming some privacy for myself AND recognizing that a part of me would always be up for public consumption. By that time I was ready to have the hair I wanted and I got a significant cut inspired by Michelle William’s look in the Louis Vuitton ads. This was in the fall of 2013 – a few months before I had my last drink. No coincidence, I think!

Later after performing in The Graduate in the fall of 2014 I wanted it even shorter so I went with pixie style similar to Winona Ryder circa 1997. I am told after certain roles actresses often cut their hair. I guess that makes me an actress. ;-)

So Why the Wigs?

If people meet me while I am wearing my glasses and then see me without them, they do not recognize me. Similarly, if they meet me first in person and then see my photos, they don’t recognize me in the pics. I have that kind of face, I guess. Easily altered based on a few little tricks.

So when I sought out to have more boundaries and privacy I decided to capitalize on my chameleon nature. I thought wearing wigs when I was in Seska mode (which was mostly at burlesque shows and on social media) and going without in my day to day life would help me ease myself into a more separate life.

And it worked. People didn’t recognize me. It was great. I got to have a strong sense of separation between the consumable me and the me that belongs just to myself for myself. I’m not sure if people outside of the public eye understand how precious this is. It’s been such a gift of relaxation. Most definitely something I’m glad I experienced even though it has been somewhat convoluted.

Oh, and the bonus of wearing wigs has meant saving 1-2 hours of prep time and having healthy hair once again. But that doesn’t make for such a dramatic story. ;-)

Why I Stopped Dying My Hair

I started going grey in my early twenties. At first it was just a few hairs and then by the time I was 28 I needed to get it dyed every 6 weeks if I wanted to cover it up. By 35 it was every 4 weeks. This was expensive and I felt it was adding too much to my chemical load and could be avoided. For about 2 years I chatted with my colourist about how to go grey. Finally I decided to buzz it off and just start fresh.

I ended up loving it.

Ever since I have gone short AND grey I receive daily compliments on my hair. I have a confidence I never had before and a sense of freedom from the rules of beauty that are so often imposed on us by media and the beauty industry.

So Why the Big Reveal?

I have been itching to share more of myself once again. I want to blog more. I want to document more. I want express more. I want to connect more. The wigs were an amazing protective tool when I needed them, but I do not feel I need them anymore. At least not in the same way. Now they are just getting in the way. My way.

I must say I feel quite light and free since I have decided to get this out into the open. It’s exciting.  In terms of burlesque, the wigs will remain. They are amazing elements of my acts and help me inhabit a character. I absolutely love them and could not do burlesque without them. But now you can expect many more selfies and such on Instagram. I will still post food and cat pics, but there will be more spontaneous me!

And now a little walk down memory lane of how I went from long hair to short….

Me with shortish dyed hair.

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2014-03-31 18.07.16

March 2014

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Then with the dyed pixie.

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Even though I had a horrible flu I got dressed up to see a live taping of The Social.
I am such a nerd for this show!
November 2014

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Now I get to share the pic I have of me and the ladies!!!
November 2014

Then with the buzz cut. There was still a bit of dye left.

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April 2015

Finally all natural.

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July 2015

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September 2015

A big thank you to Damon and Andrea of Salon Adikt in Montreal for all the amazing times I had in the salon. Damon is a god of colour – so creative, professional and precise! And there is no one like Andrea in terms of expertise for cuts, styling and up-dos. With her years of experience, appreciation for classic styles and trends, and keen eye for detail I knew I was always in good hands for each and every look. I was with them for 9 years and I highly recommend them both!

Being Truthful – Feeling Whole

February was hard. Don’t get me wrong. There were many highlights during the shortest month of the year. It was my birthday at the beginning of the month and I had such meaningful happy moments with family and friends (including lots of aunt + niece time), but the month was also filled with a fair amount of travel, some illness (woo! gastro!) and a few interactions with toxic people (woo! emotional gastro!). There was also a walk down memory lane (woo! high school!) which had me feeling so disconnected.  I was unsure of how to be myself as I am now among people who knew me when. I behaved in such an awkward way and I didn’t feel like myself at all. I felt way more like how I felt in high school.

This is the deal. I have my tribe now. I can share all facets of my life with them. The fact that my work revolves around sexuality does not phase them. Remembering a time when I did not have that kind of openness and acceptance in my life is low on the enjoyable experience scale. Even lower is having to talk about myself with people who knew me as a child or adolescent, but not knowing how to express myself – my truth – without alienating those I care about.

I feel trapped in the sex work ghetto. I don’t want to feel like that forever.

This theme of what to reveal and how to reveal has been coming up quite a bit in my mind recently, but it is not a new thing. When I began my porn work it was easy. I would be super vague. I create websites, is what I told people. Never told them what kind of websites or that I was the star of the content – except with my nearest and dearest friends. Then there were those people from my hometown and who I went to high school – some lovely person outed me in a big dramatic way and it spread like wicked stomach flu (woo! 3rd gastro reference in one post!). Most people who found my website usually didn’t say anything to my face. Nope. They talked behind my back. It made (and still makes for) this disconnect between us. The elephant in the room. I hate it.

I kept doing my thing – making porn with friends, sharing so much of myself to a nameless (often demanding and insensitive public – the bad apples ruining in for the good ones), travelling to industry conferences, doing hour long webcam shows 5 days a week, more sharing, HTML coding and writing about sex.  I started to feel like the only thing that I had in my life was my site and the only way I interacted with people was through porn. I was feeling cloistered in the XXX world. I was ready for different experiences.

So, I became a sex worker rights activist. I joined a community group and went to conferences and organized workshops for other sex workers. I got sick with an auto-immune disease and realized how fragile my life was because if my body wasn’t working I would lose my livelihood. I began running with a group of women my age. The kind that follow mommy blogs and drive minivans (didn’t out myself to them – we mostly talked running). I set running goals and met them. I did a 21K. I began doing burlesque and vaudeville. I created and produced shows and plays.

My world expanded and so did I.

Still, I kept a big part of me and my life away from these new experiences. I even thought after my separation that I could change my life all together and start a totally new career. Lots of trial and error and a bunch of reflection has led me to see that I don’t want to do that. I am passionate about sexuality and want to continue my work in the field AND I want to stop having such a major part of my life, a major part of who I am, hidden away. I have had enough of it.

It is funny because when it comes to my porn work I did my best to share so much more than sex with my fans and the members of my site. I wanted them to see me as more than a sex object. By talking about other aspects of my life – family, friends, my struggles, my dreams, etc – I think I accomplished that. But when it came to my non-porn life I didn’t know how to include sex work into the conversation. And I know why.

Fear of judgement and rejection. Experience has taught me that these fears are valid. It happened numerous times and put a huge burden on my relationships with my immediate family. The judgement, I know, says more about the person doing the judging than it does about me. Doesn’t mean I am not hurt by it. Oh, this sex negative, sex work stigmatized world, you don’t make things easy for anyone.

Note: I am fairly comfortable talking to new people about my work – blogging, sex education and even porn. I can even speak with confidence and clarity in these situations. This is not the case with family or connections from my past. In these situations I am bumbling mess filled with fears and angst. 

Over the past three years therapy has helped me come to terms with all of this. It has helped me bring the issues to the forefront. Before they were mixed up with all my other uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Like a tangled mess of yarn.

Therapy has helped me get to know myself beyond the stories I had in my head and the more I accept myself the stronger I feel. I am now ready to bring all the areas of my life, all aspects of who I am and what I do, together. I am ready to stop saying I am a webmaster when people ask me what I do. I no longer need to be super vague – even lie – when they ask what sites I work on. I am ready to say the truth as it stands right now…

I am a writer.

If they ask what I write about I will say the truth – that I write about sexuality and relationships. If they want to know more I can say more. I am curious and passionate about the issues of body image, gender dynamics, sex entertainment and sex worker activism. I also am an educator and speak at universities, seminars and conferences. I am developing a series of sex-ed for adults workshops and working on an e-book.

I am ready to use the appropriate title and description for me – all of me as I am right now.

* When writing this blog post I took some inspiration from this training video from Marie Forleo about reinventing yourself. I really dig her and her work. You might too.

Transformative

On this night three years ago I voiced in confidence what I had decided to do. I was terribly lost and ever so afraid. The build up to the worst day of my life. Afterwards, one of the only things that made sense to me were sentimental songs. Their lyrics resonated as my heart broke and I feared that I was losing my mind.

I was cruising about on the net and found another sentimental song to bookend this experience. I am so satisfied by the transformation. I truthfully didn’t think it was possible.

It came to pass.
It did not come to stay.

I am sharing this because I know we all process and transform in our own ways, but music is often there for us, with us. I felt so alone and like with all things I discovered I never really am. We never are.

Here is a playlist for the past three years of my romantic – relationship life.

River http://youtu.be/xCov0TYXBp8
Landslide http://youtu.be/WM7-PYtXtJM
Because The Night http://youtu.be/zKh1ZRyrQXY
See You When You’re 40 http://youtu.be/BxxGIjqTM_Q
Brand New Me http://youtu.be/wOSv1TIa58M

Release & Embrace

Happy Monday everyone! It feels like a happy one for me. The sun is up. The sky is bright and blue. I made myself a cup of delicious coffee. I had to grind the beans myself because I forgot to do it yesterday at the awesome 100% organic shop near my place, but that’s OK. It’s also a happy Monday because I woke up to two cats inches from my face and their whiskers grazing my nose. Sure, I wanted to sleep some more. I had gone to bed the night before at 12:30AM and it was 6:43AM. More sleep was needed. However, it is a happy feeling to be needed and those cats need me.

Other happy things for me on this day is I followed up on some advice I got from a personalized reading with Ophira of www.astrostyle.com.  I ordered the book Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller which explores the North and South Nodes of the Moon in astrological charts. Now, if astrology is not for you, that’s fine. However, I think you should keep reading anyway because it brought be some great insights. You may not agree with the way in which I got them, but I think you might appreciate the insights themselves. I know I have.

So, during my reading Ophira explained to me what the North and South Nodes of the Moon represent in your astrological chart – something I was not familiar with. As soon as I had it explained to me I knew this was amazing information that could change my life. Really. And it is one that fits with all the other amazing, yet often painful, insights I have been having in my personal growth work, therapy and from the other resources I have been learning from.

As my regular readers know I have been in a state of flux. I ended my marriage in 2010, I had a very messy rebound relationship, and I have been at a loss regarding what to do professionally. My previous ways and ideas have not been working for me for a long time. Like a sweater that once fit but no longer does. I was in need of something new and sized for me as I am now. Yes, these old skills and thought processes may have served me well in the past, but not anymore. So what is up with that? Looking at the South and North Nodes of my astrological chart helped me see what was/is going.

The South Node reveals the gifts that you bring into this lifetime, your sweet spot, your comfort zone. You will be innately good in these areas of life, and may begin your early path based on your South Node leanings. While this can bring a sense of satisfaction, it is unlikely to elevate you to Blissville. There’s a sense of “been there, done that” in the field of South Node activities. And indeed you have: in many past lifetimes.
The North Node is the exact opposite. It illuminates the terrain that’s calling your name, but climbing to the peak of this mountain is like trekking up Mt. Everest. You’ll have to lighten up your baggage and enlist a proverbial Sherpa to get you up that hill. It’s your learning curve. North Node activities require you to stretch out of your comfort zone. Once you do, you’ll be amazed by how fulfilled you feel. It’s like the activation of your life’s mission. The sooner you align yourself with this path, the more purpose-driven your life will become.
Ophira and Tali of Astro Style

And for me specifically that means I need to release these traits:  attention-seeking, the desire for drama and materialism, and embrace these traits: team spiritedness, a sense of purpose and sustainable living.

Indeed! It all it makes sense!

I have explored with my therapist how easy it is for me to be a sexy superstar, how easy it is for me to get caught up in drama. It feeds me, but only on a furious, energetic ego driven level. It does not bring me happiness. It does not bring me a sense of calm. It brings me the exact opposite. It drives me bonkers. Still, getting out of my comfort zone feels to me much like the physical growing pains of adolescence, lots of ouch combined with its meant to be. It feels uncomfortable but it feels right.

Is it not interesting that I as struggled with what I find is easy but unfulfilling that I joined the board of directors for Head and Hands – a not profit organization that provides health, legal and social services for people 12-25? Is it not interesting that I have been trying to bring the burlesque community together and support emerging artists with projects like the Montreal Burlesque Social Club and Acme Burlesque? Is it not interesting that I felt stifled by limiting my online activities and created the more eros oriented site Seska for Lovers and the informative article based site Seskuality to broaden my horizons and those of my website visitors?

Indeed! It all it makes sense!

I am very much looking forward to getting the book. I want to learn more about this release and embrace. I know at my core I must continue doing it because when I do it I feel like I am wearing a cozy sweater that was made to order, made with lots of love too.  Ah, fashion as spiritual analogy. What fun!

Please leave a comment if any of this resonates with you. I share my struggles and my successes with you because I love the connection this wild world wide web offers us.  I love it when you share your experiences with me!

Cuba Vacation

I was away! I went on vacation! I didn’t use a computer and I only texted to let my friends and family know I arrived safely (OK, I also sent a couple of friends some texts about my observations). But still it was quite a tech free time. Instead, I spent my days reading, writing and swimming. I spent my nights looking at the stars and sleeping (having such wild and vivid dreams).

I stayed at a small resort. I think their maximum capacity is 80 people. There were about 40 when I went. Mostly seniors as well as a few younger couples and a handful of single men who expected a much more ‘fun’ resort. They approached me, not understanding that A) I was there alone B) that I wanted to be left alone and C) how to leave me alone. I had to be blunt. It was the only unpleasant thing about my trip. The rest was exactly as I wanted it to be.

I wanted to be away from the singles-on-vacation scene. I had no desire for bars, discos and shows. I wanted to get away so I could regroup, think, process.  I wanted to give my broken heart some respite. It was the perfect trip for that. I journalled A LOT. I will go through it and see if I can find some goodies to share. In the meantime here are some photos.

New Photos – New Beginning

I did a photoshoot this weekend with Hausmann Photography. She specializes in pin-up, burlesque and boudoir photography. It was the first shoot in a long time where I felt truly comfortable in my own skin. An amazing experience.

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It’s been 14 years since I created my personal website, 14 years of taking photos and videos and sharing them online. The experience has been ever changing. Technology has changed so much and I have changed too. So many ebbs and flows. I love having this documentation though at times I also struggle with it. It’s challenging to have over provocative 50k pics of yourself at so many stages of your adult life (from the age of 27 to 41), at different stages of fitness  (I was at my fittest when I ran a 21k [2006] and at my least fit when I was put on prednisone for my PCH [2002] and more recently when I was depressed and anxious post-separation) and at different stages of emotional well-being (I can look at a pic and know where I was in my head and heart at that point in my life – it’s wild) .

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Now, I’m starting to get back to the body I feel is right for me. It’s determined by how clothes fit and how I carry myself on a day to day level. It’s one that is created by my own internal desire for health and vitality and not from an outside source of influence or someone ‘encouraging’ me to work out for a business goal. My personal website had my body be my tool for making my living (and someone else’s) and it caused me way too much turmoil. It was a consequence I did not see coming when I started my website. It was one I had to learn the hard way and one I’m still adjusting to as I figure who I am as an online personality, blogger, model, and performer.

I feel myself being pulled in a new direction. More to come.

Endings Lead to New Beginnings and I Am Afraid

I have been trying to figure out where my malaise is coming from. I have been sleeping so much and having a deep desire to disappear. I have been experiencing some anxiety and physical discomfort, but mostly I have felt stuck, still, passive, inert – dead. The only desire I have had is the desire to fade far into my dreams and away from my reality.  I have felt like this for a number of weeks. I was feeling so on the ball, so focused and excited in January and part of February and then heighten emotion hit me and then I froze.

The truth of my situation came upon me and I am scared. That is what it is. I am feeling a sense of healing and closure coming with regards to the end of my marriage and I am seeing the trainwreck of my rebound relationship truly for what it was and coming to terms with that.

Now, an unknown future lies before me and I am terrified.

In my darkest moments I feel as if there is nothing good and true  ‘out there’ for me. I am not smart enough, quiet enough, calm enough, strong enough, assertive enough, balanced enough,  and most definitely good enough to deserve anything of value in my life.  These are my darkest moments and wow, did I ever have that one last night.

This morning the darkness lingered, but I decided to think of my new toolbox.

It’s an invisible one filled with thoughts and actions that bring me an understanding to the suffering that is life and provides me with radical acceptance and even if I am sad, lonely, or angry I feel something deep inside myself resonate with a sense of YES.

YES to everything.

I cannot forget my toolbox again.

The Power of Hugs

I came across a short article on how to maintain a satisfying libido. Even if you are flying solo like me this is an important read. I truly believe if you don’t use it you lose it so staying physically and mentally healthy helps you keep that drive up.  You never know when you may need it. ;-)

One of the tips…

Hug Therapy

Love a good rub down? You’re not the only one. Some studies have shown that men need to be touched two to three times more frequently than women in order to maintain the same level of oxytocin, the sexy bonding hormone.

Without frequent touch, your brain’s circuits and receptors can feel starved for dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Hugging and cuddling feed and reinforce those connection circuits, ensuring lovey-dovey feelings and hot romps. Even if you’re not in the mood now, a sensual back rub or loving massage can get you there, pronto.

Have You Seen My Libido (Healthy Bitch Daily)
L. Lou Paget

Oxytocin has a complicated reputation, but even if you don’t take that particular hormone into consideration I think that the power of touch, hugs, cuddles and other kinds of close contact is pretty substantial.  I know I need hugs and now that I live alone and don’t go out frequently I am without them and I miss them. There is something so comforting about snuggling with someone you love. Yep, I definitely miss it. I cuddle with the cats, but that is its own thing and definitely doesn’t lead to happy sexy feelings.

I think though non-sexual, non-romantic hugs are important to one’s well-being and that good feeling you get from them can have sexual benefits – it can make you feel better about yourself. I find I go out of my way to ask for them when I am feeling blue or just in need of a good squeeze. These kinds of hugs are not about sex, but they are about comfort and that helps me stay positive and upbeat. I have a couple of guy friends who are tall and teddy bear like. They give great hugs. I love the felling of being held with such substance. One is my friend’s has a boyfriend who is an amazing hugger and I ask her permission first. It feels a bit silly, but she knows he gives good hugs and is happy to share it with her friends.  My girlfriends give good hugs too though they are wee hugs. ;-)

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Me with my friend Halcyon who runs a live broadcast called Hug Nation

Check out the article for more suggestions on how to feel good in general and how to specifically keep your sexual drive a-going.

Having a Rough Time

I have been having a rough time of it lately. I am dealing with lots of grief over the end of my marriage. I think it is because it has been one year and I am reflecting on what I have experienced so far. The pain that I didn’t deal with, couldn’t deal with, is re-emerging. I am having all sorts of dreams about it. Usually sleep and dreams are such a refuge for me. It doesn’t feel that way right now.

There is more to the situation than I am saying. I want to protect his privacy. But I can say that I am feeling so sad and powerless. It is overwhelming at times and I am having trouble functioning. This feeling brings back memories when I was in crisis and was living with so much fear and despair. So that makes it all worse.

One of the things I do when I experience a strong negative emotion is run away. I think of people who have it worse than me as a form of rationalizing my pain away. Escaping – I cannot do that anymore because it does not help me. It makes things worse. The pain comes out and it is worse than before. It is tainted with anger, bitterness and envy. So now I am sitting with my feelings. I acknowledge them. I let myself cry. I breathe. I treat myself with kindness. It’s really a new way of dealing with things for me. It’s going to take me some time to change my instincts and my behaviour.

The last few days have been particularly dark. I lost my appetite and I was often overcome with tears. I was worried I was going to slip back into how I felt in late 2009. Then last night by chance I went to see what Halycon was up to on his Hug Nation channel. I read a post of his that the current entry was about relationships. I always enjoy his insights so I clicked and listened. It was helpful.

It got me thinking that I need a plan, that I need to develop my map towards happiness. I thought of the things I have done in the past that make me feel grounded. I thought of the things that make me feel hopeful and loving. I thought of things that make me feel part of the flow of energy. I am going to take some time today to privately journal and develop this a bit more.

I am sure I will always feel pain and sadness, but how I handle this is changing. It has quite a bit this past year and it will continue to do so.

Home Is Where the Quiet Space Is

Moving out on my own has been an interesting experience. I realized quite quickly that I am very protective of my space. It is my sanctuary. I felt at home right away, but it has taken me months to get settled. Mostly, because of finances, as I have had to buy a piece of furniture one at a time. It is not quite fully furnished, much less decorated, but it is on its way. I am thinking in a month’s time, after the Montreal Burlesque Festival, I will be ready to have people over for a housewarming.

It feels weird to have one. I feel my situation is not one that deserves celebration. It has been so painful. However, this new chapter is not only about the end of my marriage and all the hurt that surrounds this. It is truly about figuring out who I am and what I want. Listening intently to what my insides tell me – my  inner voice which while full of fear, anxiety and anger is also filled with hope, desire and amazement; listening to my body which is slowly melting from its frozen, numb, paralyzed state. Its reactions tell me things too – to slow down, to breathe, and to be gentle.

Being quiet in my little home is helpful even though it will take some time for it to be how I envision it to be. Like much of my life right now I want to skip ahead two years from now to a time when my heart will be healed, my work back on track and my apartment fully furnished and decorated (oh, and actually have some savings again). Nope. It doesn’t work that way. You need to live life not fast forward through it. I need to go through this difficult time so I can grow, be strong and feel like I am in control of my life – a full participant anyway – and not this walking dead person I often feel I am (my hurt is complex and deep – I had no idea how much there was until recently). So I need to go through this, all of this tending of wounds, so someday soon I will have more confidence and my inner voice will merge with my outer voice and be strong and true. I don’t think it has ever been, but I hope it will be one day.

Back to my sanctuary. I finally finished making the drawers for my cabinet. I will need another one, but it is a start. Over the next day or two I plan on going through a few boxes, sorting things, purging some and filing the rest. Hopefully there will be more purging than filing. I want to keep my space simple and open.

Working from home as well as having a hobby like burlesque makes for too many possessions. I have rid myself of half my costumes and only kept the pieces I use often and are of good quality. Now I need to do much the same with my papers. I need to keep only the things that truly matter.

Eat Pray Love

I had more than one friend tell me I should read Eat Pray Love. I saw it at the airport one time soon after I left my now-ex-husband. I read the back of it and put it down right away. It was not a good time to read it. I was still in full crisis mode. I was falling apart daily. Every cell of my body was fighting to keep its cohesion. I needed to survive, not ponder my survival.

I figured I was ready this summer to read it and I think I was right. It was a great cottage read. Only 352 pages, I got through it in under 12 hours (in between naps, many bagels and a few relaxing swims in the lake). My friends told me they found the author was narcissistic for ending her marriage for no real reason and that she came across as whiny. I can see why they said that. However, I recognized her pain right away. I think it is hard to understand a meltdown unless you have had one – especially when it involves the end of a very meaningful relationship (like the near 17 year one I had with my ex), of never being alone once in your adult life (like the author I have not been single since my first boyfriend at age 18), of feeling absolutely aware of your past choices, but still needing something altogether different in the here and now (I do not regret my past, I was a full participant, but I need to be and do differently).

The beginning of the book was tough for me. It reflected much of what I have gone through these past months – the end of my marriage, a dramatic rebound relationship, and the desire to be myself on my own terms, but not quite sure how to do that. It took the author a few years for her divorce to become final and only later did she take a year off to travel. I am just at the beginning of my journey. I do not have expectation of focusing on pleasure, spirituality and then finding love. I do see though that next few years will be ones of growth and new experiences. I do not want to recreate the author’s journey (as some women seem to try to do – there are Eat pray Love Bali tours – eek!). I am quite excited by my own.

In any case, here are a few passages from early on in the book that resonated strongly with me.

The many reasons I didn’t want to be this man’s wife anymore are too personal and too sad to share here. Much of it had to do with my problems but a good portion of our troubles were related to his issues, as well. That’s only natural; there are always two figures in a marriage, after all – two votes, two opinions, two conflicting sets of decisions, desires and illuminations. But I don’t think it’s appropriate  for me to discuss his issues in my book. Nor would I ask anyone to believe that I am capable of reporting an unbiased version of our story, and therefore the chronicle of our marriage’s failure will remain untold here. I also will not discuss  here all the reasons why I did still want to be his wife, or all his wonderfulness, or why I loved him and why i married him and why I was unable to imagine a life without him. I won’t open any of that. let it be sufficient to say that, on this night, he was still my lighthouse and my albatross in equal measure. The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.
pg 12

And then there was David.

All the complications and trauma of those early divorce years were multiplied by the drama of David – the guy I fell in love with as I was taking leave of my marriage. Did I say that I “I fell in love” with David? What I meant to say is that i dove out of my marriage and into David’s arms exactly the same way a cartoon circus performer dives off a high platform and into a small cup of water, vanishing completely. I clung to David for escape from marriage as if he were the last helicopter pulling out of Saigon. I inflicted upon him my every hope for my salvation and happiness. And yes,  I did love him. But if I could think of a stronger word that “desperately” to describe how I loved David, I would use that word here, and desperate love is always the toughest way to do it.
David and I met because he was performing in a play based on short stories I had written. He was playing a character I had invented, which is somewhat telling. In desperate love, it’s always like this, isn’t it? In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding that they be what we need them to be, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the we created in the first place.
pg 18

I tried to talk about our separation, but all we did was fight. He let me know that I was a liar and a traitor and that he hated me and would never speak to me again.
pg 19

I thought I had fallen to bits before, but now (in harmony with the apparent collapse of the entire world) my life really turned to smash. I wince now to think of what I imposed on David during those months we lived together, right after 9/11 and my separation from my husband. Imagine his surprise to discover that the happiest, most confident woman he’d ever met was actually – when you got her alone – a murky hole of bottomless grief. Once again, I could not stop crying. This is when he started to retreat, and that’s when I saw the other side of my passionate romantic hero – the David who was solitary as a castaway, cool to the touch, in need of more personal space than a herd of American bison.
pg 20

There are a bunch more about her feeling towards her ex husband and David, a bunch more about her mixed emotions during her period of self discovery (such as pages 23, 31, 46, 51, 65, 95, 146). There are a fair amount of a similarities, but I don’t think I am trying to force my life to match hers. Like I said I am not going on any Eat Pray Love tours. However, it was good to read about a woman’s divorce and the messy process of dealing with it and coming into her own. I am the first of my friends to divorce so it was reassuring to find some comfort in another woman’s words.