Sunday, September 28, 2008

if i had known

it would be this hard, that I would be this lonely, that I would feel as isolated as I do right now, as I have for the last two weeks, I think I might have stayed closeted forever. Somebody please tell me that it gets better, because life kinda sucks right now.

I've not really lost my daughter, but I don't get to be with her as much...thanks to the "schedule." I miss her.

And there's nothing else for me to fill the time with.

So here I am. Right where I thought I wanted to be, and all I can think about doing is running away.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm out

No, seriously, I am out.

Tonight I drove to my hometown, about an hour away from here, and told my parents that I'm gay.

This is so huge.

I won't be anonymous anymore. Not that I really am,anyways. I'm just delusional.

But tomorrow, I'm going to post a picture - of myself.


It's a funny thing. It strikes when I least expect it.

It's very difficult to grieve someone who's still present. It can turn into something twisted and unpleasant for more than one person.

I am sad. I am angry. I am picking up the pieces of my life and starting over. Sometimes I don't know where to begin, or where the strength will come from to take me through this transition.

He found a place to live within two blocks of here. We can afford it. E can see him every day. When I start working again, he can take her to school/pick her up as needed. I know that he will remain an involved father.

I am feeling isolated and alone in my own home. I hope that changes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

a must-see

My friend Kate Reid is embarking on a cross-country tour.

She's a folk singer-songwriter from Vancouver.

She travels with Sarah MacDougall and Joanna Chapman-Smith. They call themselves "Women in the Round."

I've never heard the other singers, but Kate is amazing. And a wonderful person, too.

So, if you live in or near Alberta (Lethbridge, Calgary or Edmonton), Winnipeg, Toronto, Southwestern Ontario - and other places I've forgotten, go see her. She'll be in Waterloo, too. I'll be there for sure.

I'm so excited. I can't wait to see her again.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

even more clarity

Maria, you are right.

I can't put up with it any more. There's a lot going on here, so much that it's hard for me to begin expressing it in writing. When I can sort through my heart more clearly, I'll add to this post.

But the bottom line is that if he's going to act in a way that damages me and makes me uncomfortable in my own space, then we should not be living together. He's indicated that for the most part his behaviour will not change (although the endless phone calls are hopefully a thing of the past - when I pointed out that he was dominating what should be a shared resource, he didn't get it, until the second or third time I made the point, and then he conceded).

So, there you have it. He's going to find a room nearby, close enough that we can share the car and E can walk to his place. I'm going to stay in the house, find a part-time job, and hopefully take in a housemate, or ask my daughter to consider moving home when her lease is up. I have not one, but two extra rooms, because when he goes, the office goes too.

I know that we ended our physical relationship a while ago. But I'm still emotionally attached to him, and I can't live with him if he's going lavish more attention on someone else than he's given me in years. I am still in the grieving process, and I'm coming to recognize that he and I have always held different definitions of love. To me, it's infinite, and I still love him, although in a very different way than I did before. Whereas, in his mind, we stopped loving each other when we stopped being a couple.

Why does this hurt so much?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I have some now.

We had a much-needed conversation that will lead to a more explicit definition of time and space. What we have to ourselves, what we share with E is now more clearly defined.

There will be a schedule of sorts, with room for flexibility. We still have to work on the space issue - he has a bedroom and an office, so he has lots of space to have a private phone conversation. I have none. He seems to think that it's okay for me to restrict my calling to the hours when he might be awake - hypocrite - but the issue remains that the only private space I have is my room, while he has a whole basement to himself as often as he chooses. It's not an easy fix. He needs the office to work during the day, and because he has a co-worker in, we can't divide that space or use it for personal space. My choices at the moment are an unfinished walk-up attic, or a half-finished basement room that was designed to be an office. it has no windows, but it has shelves and decent lighting. Emily stores some of her toys in there. It has no other use.

We'll work that out.

He needs to start taking Emily places - without me. He needs to have her for a weekend once or so a month without me around. He wants weekends away. I'm going to take them, too.

After hearing the phone ring at 3 am and realizing that a) he was still awake, which is none of my business, and b) he appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the phone call woke everyone else up, and while he chatted merrily in the basement, it was my job to put E back to sleep....I came to the conclusion that I must speak, or face a life of peril and insecurity.

It had some effect. Or so I like to think. It's more likely that he wanted to plan his dating life with more detail, and needed some concrete parameters.

Whatever makes him happy. As long as it doesn't negatively affect me, he can make his own choices.

He's a tired boy this morning. I have no sympathy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a few words about the ex

I hardly ever write about him, which is strange, because I share space with him. We're not together in the conjugal sense, but we are, because what one of us does affects the other, affects our child, colours the days at home. We're both home during the day. He works in the home office, I'm in my room with pen and ink, in front of the computer, gardening, being silly with E, whatever. I'm here because we agreed that it's best for E to have the consistency of her familiar home, because she thrives when she gets our attention, and because it's good for me. I can do the stuff I love - write, garden, cook good food, be with her - and not have to worry about how I'm going to survive.

It could have been very different. It will likely be very different in a year or so. I'm not so interested in holding onto the house - it's more work and money than I can afford with my ECE supply teacher and tutoring income. I'd rather be in smaller space with less responsibility. I'd like to somehow throw a garden in there, but the imagination can only go so far.

Lately I've felt crowded. I feel like I've been pushed to the side because someone else's agenda matters more. This was the way of the last ten years, so nothing's really changed except my perspective. When I told him that she deserves equal access to both of us, I meant it. She doesn't get that. Most of her waking hours are spent with me. We shift to accommodate his project, his unpaid working life, his needs. And because he feels he needs that extra time to devote to his invention, I spend a good portion of each day, each evening, my weekends with her, caring for her, caring for the house, making supper, putting her to bed, whatever. I don't resent the time I spend with her. What I resent is the obvious imbalance, the lack of attention paid to what we both agreed was of paramount importance.

He thinks that equal access is spending an hour with her before she goes to bed. He thinks that I am overloading myself when I take on activities which bring me out of the house. My goodness, I'm singing in a choir, taking guitar lessons, volunteering at the local community centre. I am part of a coven that meets once or twice a month, depending on the season or our schedules. I'm overloading myself. I may not have as much time for laundry, or making dinner, and he may just have to put her to bed once in a while.

I'm really not lacking for space and time. But I resent being told that I'm overloaded when, really, the true cost of my extracurriculars is that he has less time to spend doing his own thing. I'm correcting an imbalance that's existed for a long time.

Enter H. H should remain nameless because she could be a character flitting through the canvas and disappearing. He declared to me more than a month ago that he's ready to start dating again. I shook my head in wonder. I'm still shaking my head.


He rationalizes that he wants to be with someone. And since that's what he wants, he's going to make it happen. So he joins some kind of online dating service and starts meeting women. And it's hit me over the last few days that he went on the same kind of search when he met me. He can rationalize a connection, he can make it happen because he's verbal, and smart, and treats people with consideration, especially when he's in dating mode. After years of being treated like shit, I fell for it. Who wouldn't?

But he holds people at arm's length emotionally. He keeps his own feelings, his true nature wrapped up tightly in an inaccessible corner of his being. That was good for me, because being with someone who was inaccessible meant that I didn't have to examine my own feelings or desires very closely. I was with someone, case closed, and I could move on. No worries about anything, because I could hold myself and everyone else at bay, could view the world through a telescope instead of sitting in the dirt and being part of it.

When you're gay, and you're too afraid to admit it, an emotionally sterile relationship is a fabulous thing to hide behind. Especially when you're with someone who so totally doesn't get that he's only accessed the surface of who you are.

He was so attached to me, at the end of everything, that a mere two months after we end a ten-year relationship, he's met someone he likes and he wants to start seeing her. That's great, if that's what he wants. But he and I are looking for different things now, and I'd rather (when I'm ready, which is not now) build a deep emotional connection with someone than date because I don't like to be alone.

Give me more alone, please. I haven't had enough of it over the past ten years.

My true worry is that his new relationship will be another thing that takes priority, that it will be leverage to keep me from accomplishing the goals I have set for myself, that Emily will suffer because he can't connect, even with her, in the end.

Now I have to change the subject:

A few minutes ago, he came into the dining room to find a stamp, because he's been making this card or something for H, and while he was rummaging around in the desk, I switched to Gmail for a quick read.

A few weeks ago I sent a poem out to the other women who were at the fen with me and then immediately regretted it. You know what it's like to look at something a week later and think to yourself "this is absolute crap!"

Well, Ferron didn't think it was crap. She liked it! I'm walking on air right now, and I can't sit still all because I have validation from someone else that I'm good at what I do.

If only I could have that confidence all the time.

Must go put this energy to good use. There's no sense in trying to write because I can't sit still. I have some weeds to pull.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

more about my mom and a note from my sister

My sister reads my blog. She sent me the following e-mail about my previous post. I think it is a likely explanation for why my nickname came into being and was removed suddenly.

I thought I'd check your blog and saw the post about your name, and I have a theory as to why mom called you by anna in kindergarten. You called yourself a "word geek". Well, I'm a bit of a sociology geek. I love to wonder and know why people behave and react based on external circumstances.

I think maybe she did it for the same reason that she didn't teach us dutch. For european immigrants, the best way to assimilate was to adopt the language of their country. They didn't have different religions or skin colours which acted as barriers to Canadian society. So when mom was little, the rule at home was that she speak English to teach Oma, Opa and the younger ones. Learning English became a huge part of her upbringing. Not always a fond memory, but a necessity.

In Dad's family, the rule was "no English at home". which is one reason (of many) why it was Grandma who gave you a dutch nickname.

When mom brought you to kindergarten, you were very close to the age in which she was when she immigrated, and had a dutch nickname which people in her Canadian class ridiculed. It's possible that she was aware - consciously or subconsciously - of the effects that her dutch nickname had on her. Perhaps reverting to your given, and English name was a reaction of her upbringing as a Dutch immigrant and recollections of having to be renamed as well.

I also think that both of my parents were conscious of the school being a higher authority. Perhaps the school, or the principal told them that I could only be called by my given name.

Either way, it's an interesting study. I'd also forgotten that my mom had a nickname - all of her siblings did as well- that she was teased about as a child.

I think a lot about my mom, what shaped her, what shaped me in turn. Her early life was not easy - and a blog post all on its own.

Yesterday I told my mom that N and I weren't together any longer. I didn't tell her the whole story - I figure that if I take little steps towards the reality of my sexual orientation, it will be easier for everyone to handle. Especially me.

She didn't bat an eyelash - there was no surprise or disappointment at all. All she said was "if the two of you can work out sharing the house, that would be good for E and for you." And then she said "I really like N, but...."

And although she didn't finish the sentence, I read all the doubts and fears she's had about my relationship with him, about my happiness, about her own discomfort in his presence. It's hard to be around someone who hardly ever relaxes, who has this barrier of reserve around him that is almost impenetrable. He doesn't recognize that he is reserved at all, because verbally he is quite forthcoming, but emotionally he is often unreachable.

While I agonize, reflect, and journal, and learn to build community around myself, he's out there looking for another woman. I want connections that are meaningful, and I believe that those connections will lead me to something that is powerful, emotional, passionate. He's conducting a systematic search. While exhibiting all the symptoms of an imminent depression. Not a healthy place to be, as far as I'm concerned.

I needed to tell my mom, needed her to know something about what's going on in my life.

I needed to tell her because I volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year and someone will figure out that both bedrooms are being used as bedrooms, that my clothes are in another closet, that there is something going on. And because I need to tell her.

I needed to tell her because she needs time to adjust, she needs to disseminate the information and call people up and tell them what's going on, and sigh. And talk about the peripherals openly while reflecting inside about more important issues that she often leaves unspoken. I think she understands, and from her response, I know where her loyalties rest.

And when I have the courage to tell her the rest of the story, I hope she understands that, as well.

Because she's my mom. And she has always been there for me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

what's in a name?

I believe that names have power. When you speak my name, wherever you are, you are somehow invoking me, calling me forth, asking me to be present. As a pagan, my practice sometimes involves invoking, calling forth those who might help me, give me comfort. Goddesses, gods, ancestors, people I love who are living or who have passed.

I've been e-mailing back and forth with a cousin lately. She is one of the few family members that I am out with. This is still so new to me that I cannot find the words sometimes, and I find that coming out is like circling gradually over a destination, getting closer and closer to the centre point with each pass, making progress in slow, measured movements across a landscape. I am a winged creature who needs the safety of a landing point, I am wary of pitfalls and prey as I draw closer. It's not that the people who know now are less important than the ones who do not, but I make the decision to disclose based on how well I think they will receive the information. Unless, of course it happens by accident, which has already happened once with no negative consequences.

My cousin and I were discussing family, specifically memories we share of my paternal grandmother. She is younger than I, and our grandmother passed when I was eleven, after an extended stay in the hospital. She has Alzheimer's disease when no one really called it Alzheimer's, when memory lapses were chalked up to senility, age, trauma. She spent the last years of her life in a psychiatric hospital. There were fewer treatment options in the '70's. She could not look after herself at home, and my grandfather could not care for her. So she went to LPH. I only remember visiting once or twice, after that I waited in the car while the rest of the family went inside. I couldn't do it, couldn't watch the grandmother I loved so much in the state she was in. She didn't recognize me, called her children by her siblings', and later her parents' names. She lost the little English she had. She wandered around with a dazed, lost expression. I didn't understand what was going on, and I don't recall if it was ever explained to me.

I feel like I lost her. I still feel that loss now. When I was a kid, she was sometimes the only one who understood me. And she let me away with everything, which is cool when you're six. One of the most important things she did, when I was a baby, is give me a nickname. Or a different name, depending on how you look at it. She took the already European sounding Anna, and began to call me Annemeike, which I think is a Flemish/Dutch diminutive of Anna Maria. Annameike was shorted to Meike (mee-ka), which became Miki or Mickey (depending on who was spelling the name) as I grew from baby, to toddler, to five year old.

Everyone called me Meike (I spell it that way because that's how it looks best in my aesthetic world). Nobody called me Anna. My parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, the neighbours all called me Meike. The name was so ingrained into my being that I thought it was the only name I had.

Until I went to kindergarten.

My mom introduced me to the teacher. "This is Anna," she said and I looked around to see who she was talking about. There was no Anna, as far as I was concerned. I couldn't spell that name, but I could scrawl Miki in large capital letters all over my drawing, I was Miki to the swimming teachers, that was the name embossed on my wooden red wagon. Then, and only then, my mom took me aside and told me that Miki was just a nickname, and that my real name was Anna.

For the next three weeks I sat there and stared into space when my teacher called my name, because I didn't recognize it as my own. I was still Miki everywhere else, for a while, but gradually everyone began to call me by my given name. The name that didn't ever feel like mine.

My cousins shared my confusion. They didn't know who this Anna person was either. In a recent e-mail my cousin expressed her shock at learning that Mieke was not my real name.

But it was. It was as real as I am. She is real, she's right here inside my own skin. And sometimes she'd rather be called Meike.

Good things happened to Meike. Not so good things happened to Anna.

Meike played in the sun, under the trees. She was allowed to walk to the park by herself at a very early age and basked in the freedom of swings and riverbank. She was unfettered by gender, she was the androgyny of her age. She ran and rode her bike, and didn't care how she looked, whether she was big or small, if her face was dirty or clean. She brought home toads and frogs, and wrapped baby snakes in her mom's wet laundry. She shouted and laughed. She knew no fear, had no reason to mistrust, and was alive to every morning, lived every moment with wonder and awe, and joy. She was barefoot and strong, she was fearless and connected to the earth.

Anna learned that not all adults could be trusted. Anna learned to hide who she was because people really didn't like to see "young ladies" acting like hooligans and running around. Anna learned that not everyone was accepting of differences, that something as insignificant as birthplace could cause you to be ostracized. If you weren't born in St Marys, in the 1970's when it was largely closed and had not grown in a number of years, you did not belong. End of story. Anna learned that there were certain constraints to being female, that expectations were largely proscribed in a rural area.Anna was the confused adolescent, the bullied kid, the one who made the choice to hide in order to stay safe. None of those things happened to Meike - she had the benefit of untarnished youth.

I used to worry about how I was perceived, if I would be accepted. Those aspects worry me less, although the whole acceptance/rejection thing is still an issue. I'm working on being less socially isolated, which is a daunting task because I isolated myself for years. I don't worry about whether people know I'm gay or not, except for family, and that's because they deserve to hear it from me first.

It almost feels like my identity was not exactly stolen, but hidden away for a while. You are not who you think you are. You are really someone else.I don't blame my parents. As my cousin L has pointed out, they did the best they could with what they had. They were shaped by their upbringing, by the expectations of their families, their communities, their churches.

My name is Anna. My name is Meike. Since coming out to myself, I have started reclaiming the child I was, taking those aspects that I hid and bringing them back to myself, into the open. I am barefoot and primal. I am not just on the earth, I am part of her. I trust my intuition. I sing all the time, when I walk down the street, in the morning as I get dressed, whenever I feel like it, just as I used to. I tell you what I think, but I try to be nice. I'll tell you who I am if you ask me, even if it's something you may not like about me. I laugh a lot. I play with toads and dig in the dirt. I write and write and I don't worry about how it sounds or what to do with it, I write because that's what I love to do.

This is who I am.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I wish I was still dreaming

I had a lovely dream last night. No interpretation required, it was rife with symbolism and full of promise. The colours were vivid, like autumn in Ontario, reds, golds, harvest hues and rich with the glow of the setting sun.

I am at the Fen (I've had two dreams about the Fen now), only the Fen is more like a farm than a writer's retreat. People I know are there - the people who came on the retreat, and some family members. Cara (my SIL) is colouring Peggy's hair (Peggy is one of my best friends from high school). She's trying to cover the grey underneath Peggy's dark curls. Under the layer of dark hair, peggy's hair is very grey, it looks as grey as her mother's hair used to be. She looks up at me and for a second she is wearing her own mother's face. Her mother passed a year ago. Darinka, a former co-worker is there as well. Darinka is spreading her unique brand of darkness everywhere, complaining about everything. I lived with that negativity for two years, and I was never so happy to see the back of someone as I was when my job and I parted ways. She doesn't spread light and love very easily - instead she focuses on what's wrong and what could go wrong, spreads gossip, anxiety and cruelty.

It's the last day of the retreat. Megan and Emily seem to be there too, at least some of the time. We are getting ready to leave, cleaning our rooms, putting furniture back. Someone (woman, blonde hair, English accent) comes into my room and advises me on how to make my room look right, just the way it looked before I came. I won't do that, but I don't tell her. There are things I am not moving because I like them, and I'm planning to use the room again next year, or sooner. Things like the Christmas lights that are taped to the windows, the arrangement of bed and chair.

My window looks out into the garden, and I can see everyone gathered for the feast. There are enormous piles of uncooked chrimp on the table, people are eating it, but I don't think it's safe. There is other food there, more food that we can possibly eat. Abundance. I am distracted, going to find Emily, admiring the enormous flowers growing around the house. A bed of yellow Zinnias has replaced the back steps. Beyond the trees is a vegetable garden. EWven though it's the end of summer, the garden is full of luscious, ripe strawberries.

The sun is beginning to set, the trees are starting to cast a shadow, but I'm not ready to leave. We eat shrimp, Darink complaining all the time. A live cricket crawls out of the shrimp, and ferron says that I'm not supposed to eat that one. I let it hop away. (I think that crickets are symbolic of good luck in Chinese folklore)> We are relaxing, we know it's almost time to go, but I feel like I'm not going, I feel like I can stay in the yard with the zinnias forever. The shadows over the yard are longer, and I feel like I can stay here forever. In my non-dreaming life, I've lacked a sense of place for months, for longer, because I don't feel like I fit anywhere. I fit here, the land is the glove I wear around my work-roughened hands, the adornment of my body, the rbeath I take. Emily and I prepare to gather strawberries. I get a sense that I've helped prepare the land, the feast we're eating, and that I get an equal share in the harvest.

On top of a cupboard in the house (an old farmhouse, well-kept, beautiful wood floors and antique furniture) are many packages of seeds, arranged in neat rows, ready to plant for next year. I feel like I am ready - in waking life, I'm not sure what I was ready for in the dream. Whatever's going on around me is irrelevant, because I've decided that I'm going to stay. I open the back door, look at the beautiful yellow zinnias, watch the sun go down and realize that I've found the place where I belong. No one will aske me to elave, they all know I'm going to stay, except Darinka, and I don't care what she thinks. I let go of any responsibility I felt towards pleasing her more than six months ago.

When I wake up, there is this delicious warmth around me. It feels like someone else is in the bed with me, I am warm and comfortable and loved. I keep my eyes closed for a while, drinking in that feeling of closeness with someone (who? who is she?) because I know when I fully waken she will be gone. I wake up alone, but the warmth lingers.

And then there's real life. The older daughter owes me money and can't get it together. I've lent her more than I should have, and now I've put myself in a tight spot, and I'm really starting to feel the weight of her dependency. No more of that, and now she knows. And when we call to hash things out, she tells me that she wants to sell sham-wows at the local market, that she'll make hundreds of dollars a day, and she can pay me back, and this was the answer to all her problems. Two days ago she wanted to travel around through the states and start singing her own music, and meeting new people. In my strange way, I liked yesterday's option better, even though both fantasies are born of pure desperation. She really needs to move home, even though we're going to have to do some work to accomodate her. And adjust her fantasies to create a new reality, where she's not living on the edge of despair and poverty. I've sheltered her from that up until now, but my own finances will not allow me to go any further. She's telling me she's ready to grow up in one breath, and in another, she's dreaming about finding the easy way out of her current situation. That's life when you're eighteen, I guess. I probably did the same.

Another golden day. Time to pull weeds and plant flowers, walk to market and enjoy a coffee on the way.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


If you happened to notice that your web stats included someone who lived in a nearby vicinity...and you found out this person had a blog...and having read that blog, you realized that this person could well be a relative to whom you have not yet come out, what would you do? Introduce yourself? Sigh with relief because its one less person you have to tell? Give up on this anonymous shit because your not really anonymous after all and who the hell cares? Or all of the above?

Edit: (link fixed now, sorry!)

My cousin dropped by and introduced herself. Turns out she's been reading for a few months already. We've had a couple of good e-mail conversations, and I feel really positive about myself and about where I am going. I wish that coming out to my immediate family could be just as easy.