Closure and forgiveness

A few weeks after Phase 6 feels like mourning and confusion, things with Hickster reached an all-time low. I’ve cut off +/- all contact with him, keeping just enough to monitor the situation from afar, because I sometimes wonder if it will one day go legal. Paranoid? Probably. But I am first and foremost an accountant aka #riskaverse and a business woman aka #riskmanagement. (Yes, I am those things EVEN in my personal relationships.) So imma consider the worst case scenario, and be prepared for it #justincase.

I’ve been working hard to not let this drama poison my ongoing recovery. As Dynamo once told me, about an entirely different guy,

So this is what you are gonna do. You are going to unfriend him from social media, block him, and never talk to him again. He lied to you. He has lied to others. He has repeatedly shown that he will hurt you as a side-effect to him getting something he wants. He can have all the good quantities you describe, all that is true. You have forgiven him, bc you should not hold hatred in your heart. But he is not a good friend. And so he deserves nothing from you. No time, no energy, no space in your life. That isn’t being a drama queen, that is choosing to control the levels of drama and happiness in your life. To chose happiness you MUST not choose drama.

And just like that, after 15 months, Beaut was back top of mind. I cannot work through Hickster’s gaping wounds unless I acknowledge the many parallels between the two relationships and the common denominator: me. I must learn all the lessons from these two experiences to make sure I never find myself in another harmful relationship. Which of my deep insecurities did these guys successfully use to their advantage? By being aware of them and working to address them, I can avoid repeating the same patterns in the future.

I’ve always found the action of blocking someone on social media and ignoring them in real life incredibly savage. Sure, when the hurt is just too much, it is better to deny a person’s existence than to obsess over them unhealthily, going mad with unhelpful comparisons, low-key stalking, self-inflicting worry and anxiety. Blocking Beaut was necessary for me to have the space get over him, but I found it incompatible with forgiveness. Continuously denying the existence of a person, even on social media, is a deliberate action. It is a choice to erase any memory of them in your life. It implies unresolved pain and an inability to handle the complexities of human interaction. About 6 months after blocking Beaut, I cautiously unblocked him. Seeing his posts flit through my newsfeed gave me satisfaction: he was still trucking along, trying his bumbling best. He might be repeating some of the same mistakes, but nevertheless, he was fighting the good fight. I’d forgiven him.

When I felt myself forced to cut off contact with Hickster, I had an overwhelming impulse to reach out to Beaut. Through his social media, I was aware that his relationship with Main Girl Girlfriend had fallen apart. I wondered. Was this some repressed need to self-sabotage and create drama? I sounded all areas of my heart, but found nothing twisted or painful. I invited him to join me at a dance event, at the same school where we used to take salsa classes together. When he showed up, I was so happy to see him. He was happy to see me. He looked good. We talked a bit, catching up on 15 months of life events, we danced a fair bit, and he eventually left after exchanging the customary and meaningless mutual noises of goodwill and keeping in touch. A weight I didn’t even know I’d been carrying for the past 2.5 years has been lifted. I’ve forgiven myself.

Petty post notwithstanding, I’ve been following Main Girl Girlfriend Ex-Girlfriend’s blog on and off since I first found out about it.

It started from a place of insecurity: what did she have that I didn’t? What made her sweeter, kinder, more appealing, better able to withstand the pain that came from dealing with Beaut? Was she a manipulator playing Beaut better than he was playing her?

Then, as my hurt began to fade, it continued from curiosity and a sense of being bonded to her. We’d shared the same guy for so long, had too many Facebook conversations on his wall (I cringe at how obvious I was in competing for his attention to anyone viewing his profile #nodignity), even meeting each other once, that our #funnynotfunny nickname for each other was SisterWives. I’d always liked her, despite myself – she was an AMAZING mother, full of love and compassion, funny, sassy, open-minded and kind. So I continued to read, wondering if maybe this time Beaut would get his head out of his ass and recognize the love of a good woman before he torpedoed the relationship the way he had with so many others. I hoped so, for his sake.

As I got embroiled with Hickster and began cycling through the rollercoaster of passion and emotional abuse, I continued to read. I recognized so much of myself in her: the doubts, confusion, fear, justifications and love. I hoped that her’s would be a much happier ending than my own. I saw the tell-tale signs of mental anguish and I felt our bond grow stronger. I continued to read, as I navigated my depression. One day this spring, she wrote about her love for her son and the letters she wrote to him on an almost daily basis. It squeezed my heart – I still cherish the handwritten notes my mother wrote to me growing up (here and here). So I left her a comment, to tell her as much. Some things are more important than petty appearances of indifference.

As Main Girl Girlfriend Ex-Girlfriend Bright Light began to write of her attempts to piece back her life after the breakup, it became harder to not comment. So many of her struggles and reflections were identical to the ones that I’d been working through because of Hickster. Eventually, I couldn’t stop myself. Her posts were a mix of confusion and shame. And if there is one thing I am familiar with, it is shame.

Empathy’s the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.

Brené Brown, Listening to Shame, Ted 2012

Me too, Bright Light. Me too. You got this. You will find peace, and you will forgive yourself.

She wrote recently about the similar feeling of solidarity she shares with me, and how my comments have helped her on her journey to healing. In that post, she renamed me Rainbows, fully conscious of my struggle to see the colors.

It feels like absolution.

On days where I am too confused, hurt and tired to continue fighting against my brain, I tell myself I owe it to all the ppl who have invested themselves in my recovery: the public healthcare system, my coworkers, my friends, my family, ICB and now Bright Light.

I got this. I will find peace, and I will forgive myself.


A valuable lesson

Back in Feb, I was having coffee with Dynamo, and I brought him up to speed concerning my trainwreck dating life.

I’d recently experienced a few moments with Beaut that had led me to believe that perhaps, maybe, with caution, we could sustain a friendship. Dynamo listened to me in silence, and then gravely spoke:

So this is what you are gonna do. You are going to unfriend him from social media, block him, and never talk to him again. He lied to you. He has lied to others. He has repeatedly shown that he will hurt you as a side-effect to him getting something he wants. He can have all the good quantities you describe, all that is true. You have forgiven him, bc you should not hold hatred in your heart. But he is not a good friend. And so he deserves nothing from you. No time, no energy, no space in your life. That isn’t being a drama queen, that is choosing to control the levels of drama and happiness in your life. To chose happiness you MUST not choose drama.

I mourned the end of a chapter in my life that, while tumultuous, had triggered so much personal growth and discovery for me. I was a better person because of Beaut – how sad that I couldn’t benefit from all the advantages he’d generated with him as a part of my life. But Dynamo is wise, and has built a life for himself that I respect and admire. If he tells me something, it’s worth considering.

I followed Dynamo’s orders and blocked Beaut. My stress levels improved almost immediately, and have continued to steadily improve ever since. I’m free.

Dynamo wasn’t done. He had lots to say about my recent string of dates, including Hickster, Eurodude, Older Guy.

I think it is time you question what you want in your life. If you want happiness, why are you accepting guys that won’t bring you happiness in your life? Happiness is a choice, and is contingent on the alignment of the values you hold dear and your own behaviour. The Vanilla I met in 2009 would not have accepted these guys in her life, bc they do not align with her values.

Have your values changed? Because your quest for happiness has not, so make sure your behaviour is reflective of that. I don’t think it is.

Ouch. From my best friend. Hearing that suuuuuuuuuucked. He was right. I’d been settling for dead-end, fun, convenient dating scenarios, with no long-term potential, and usually a whole lot of drama, that inevitably distracted me from my goals of well-being and joy.

A few weeks later, cue my almost burnout and a need for an immediate vacation, and off I went to Paris/Dubai.

I have often stated that the Universe is a bit of a dick, with a fucked-up sense of humour. Well, not this time: the timing of this life lesson was just perfect. If I step back and look at the theme of this trip, it is that of Love and Friendship: both new (FroMan, Energizer and Sunshiney), old (BlondEyes) and dear (BossMan and IronSweetie). There was no drama. There was no insecurity. There was overwhelming happiness and connection and joy. Why? Because of the ppl in my life, willing and capable of sharing themselves beautifully with me, and I with them.

This trip spoiled me. I don’t wanna settle for any less happiness with my friends and dating life than what I experienced in Dubai. Frankly, I don’t think I can settle again: anything less will be too little, when compared to the joy I felt during those 8 days.

Dynamo, as always, was right.

Recap of this trip – Dubai:

Where I discover I have the same friend I had before

Small update: Beaut and I have been cautiously exploring what it means to be real friends.

Don’t roll your eyes at me – even my cousins have tentatively signed off on this. Real, reciprocal, platonic friendship. So far in 2017, our interactions have been limited, because he remains as fucked up as ever, and I have a ways to get back to that space of trust that I need for all my close friendships. Still, I can’t shake this hippy feeling from Day 1 that he is a guy who belongs in my life in some capacity. The mistake, if ever there was one, was trying to force it romantically, when I believe we were always destined to be firm friends. That initial dating bullshit caused a lot of distracting shit, and it will take us (me) a bit of time to wipe the slate clean from all those dissonances.

One of the limited interactions we’ve had is over Beaut’s daughter’s interest in ballet. There was never a girl more clearly destined for ballet. She walks around on her tiptoes all the time, is a little princess in appearance and character, prefers if EVERYTHING is pink and shiny always, and is athletically gifted. Oh, and her smile is the sweetest thing on the planet – I’m pretty sure it can cure cancer. Feb 5 was the Open House at my prestigious ballet school. I suggested Beaut bring his little girl, to see if this kinda thing appealed to her. While I attended my adult class, she had her hair done at the bar à chignons, stage makeup applied, tried on a miniature tutu, posed with some of les grandes (advanced students) and determined that the red tutu, of all the tutus on display, was the best. During the last 10 minutes of class, she insisted on being allowed into my classroom to watch, and promised she’d sit tight, quietly. Which she did, except for the part after every exercise where she would “whisper” using what I can only hope is her outdoor voice Allooooooooooo Vanilla! and wave her teensy hands at me.

That girl. My heart. Sigh. She makes putting up with her Papa-the-Grinch totally worthwhile.

Sunday, I took Beaut and his daughter to see her first real ballet – a live re-broadcast of the Bolshoi’s Swan Lake. (I’d threatened him with murder if he let anyone else initiate his daughter to ballet. It would be a privilege and my joy to give her the gift of a love of ballet, a love that has shaped my entire life, and I hope will do the same for her.) She did a great job – she is pre-K, it’s a 3 hour ballet, and the story is pretty messed up (bird-women, dude getting a black bird-woman confused with a white bird-woman, magic spells, death).

As his daughter would take my hand, I felt painful, pure darts of love for this child – not mine, never will be, and I’ll only see her occasionally as she grows up, assuming Beaut and I navigate this complicated friendship. Without a doubt, I love her. Watching her snuggle with her father, watching him concentrate on this art-form that does not naturally appeal to him, because he wants to understand this world that his daughter might become a part of, made me ache. Their love reminds me so much of that which I shared with my mama.

In the car ride afterwards, I mentioned the 2 guys, same feedback comment to Beaut. I wanted to know what his experience had been, getting to know me. He was affronted, Well, it stands to reason that your experiences with them wouldn’t be the same as what we shared, it was different you and me! You can be as reserved as you damn well like when getting to know someone. Who do they think they are?! Irony: we spent the rest of the car ride in silence: once upon a time, I could ask him anything, he would tell me anything, and I could reveal anything I wanted to him. Now… I have no conversation, just like for those other 2 dudes, bc that protective bubble of trust that I need to be myself has been broken. Temporarily maybe, maybe not.

Last night, at kizomba, I was a mess: better than two days ago, when I resorted to reading my mother’s old letters, but still really off-balance. Emotionally raw. Beaut at first assumed I was pissed (like always!) at him. It took me a while to convince him that nope, I swear, not this time. His defensiveness subsided and was replaced by worry. I managed to fool everyone else in class but not Beaut. He nagged me into letting him give me a ride home. I didn’t want it, I couldn’t bear trying to keep my shit together any longer, especially since I knew he wouldn’t buy it. I just wanted to cry alone.

He pushed and prodded me into speaking up. A complicated jumbled swamp of tears and emotions poured out, most of it involving my current non-bloggable trainwreck with Hickster. It was mortifying admitting to my terrible taste in men and lapses in judgment. Beaut definitely had a few tactless moments (“FFS Vanilla, Hickster?! What were you thinking? Couldn’t you see what kind of guy he is? DIDN’T YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM ME????”) But he listened. He helped me unravel my tangled mess of thoughts and insecurities and hurt. By the end of the discussion, I had clarity.

In a moment when I was not ok, Beaut had been there, despite my best efforts to shut him out. I had been vulnerable to Beaut. I had trusted him to be a safe space.



Working through the Beaut legacy

New year, new me.

Beaut‘s status: beautiful guy with ok rhythm in dance class who is good for a laugh. I’ve unfollowed him on Facebook, but he’ll tag me in things that he thinks I’ll enjoy, and I will check in to see pics of his adorable little girl. We occasionally text. His penis is never ever coming near my vagina again. I don’t initiate any activities or hangout times: having previously over-invested in this whatevertionship, salvaging this friendship ain’t my burden. I’ve a busy life to live.

My feelings: Some sadness. Some nostalgia and remnants of affection. He is as fucked up as they come, but he remains good people. He is a badly abused puppy that bites the hand that tries to pet it. Cute and heartbreaking, but I’m tired of having bite marks and wondering if imma wake up with rabies one day. I’ve stopped petting him.

My feelings part 2: Given Beaut’s history (he has a tendency of women snapping and going full-blown psycho. Not the cute “imma stalk you on instagram” pyscho, but the “you should probably call the cops on me” psycho) I’m a little nervous about Main Girl. Around the time of peniscation, she announced on Fbk her intention of attending a kuduro class. When I freaked out, “hell nah – kuduro is MY joy, I ain’t gonna smile and hold your hand, pretending to be one happy incentuous family. You are not welcome here”, she innocently wondered about my reaction since, as per my blog post, it was all over between me and Beaut. She convinced Beaut that by writing To be or not be a Queen B, I meant to do her physical harm – Beaut called me in a hysterical rage, and said some vicious things I’ll never forget. In any Fbk post he tags me in, she leaves a comment highlighting how special their relationship is. Recently, she has started a blog, in the same vein as mine. True, writing is not something I own; it has brought me joy and self-awareness, and I theoretically wish that upon everyone. However… Does she so need to piss on her territory that despite my absence from Beaut’s top girls on speed-dial, she must attempt to eradicate any memory of what made me unique by taking up my hobby, blogging? She has yet to realize that talent can’t be imitated. #pettyAF #idonotfollowherblog

Having turned away from Beaut & Main Girl’s toxic shit, I’m left with myself. Blank slate. New year, new me. I alone bear the responsibility of building the life of happiness I desire for myself. But the Beaut legacy lives on inside me: I’m different now.

I’m cynical.

I’ve met a few men since Beaut. During my December trip to Paris and Madrid, one guy in particular grabbed my attention. Sassy conversation, plenty of alcohol, sexy surroundings, lowered inhibitions. We had fun. Eurodude asked for my contact info, I gave it, and we parted on the most pleasant terms imaginable.

48 hours later, it dawned on me. Eurodude hadn’t added me on social media, despite me providing him with a link to a picture on my IG profile. He must be married. I spent an hour stalking him on social media. While not conclusive, I’m confident in my assessment. Beaut legacy part 1: my main reaction was one of irritation for not having suspected earlier. Beaut legacy part 2: Eurodude’s conscience ain’t my problem. I had fun, and wouldn’t mind seeing him again, should we ever wind up in the same continent again. #whereismymoralcompass

Eurodude has emailed me a handful of times since that trip. Pre-Beaut Vanilla smiles when she sees his name in her inbox: clearly the connection was legit, since he stands to gain nothing by emailing me – we live on different sides of the pond, let’s enjoy our fun correspondence. Beaut legacy kicks in and whispers that Eurodude is emailing me to boost his male ego and keep me interested, such that if he should ever come to Montreal, or I be in Europe, he wouldn’t have to work hard to get into my pants.

Remember flower dude? He started flirting with me again when he realized Beaut was out of the picture. Only for me to realize he’d forgotten to tell me about his new Main Girl.

There isn’t a guy who talks to me that I don’t now coolly assess what his angle must be.

I reject the concept of vulnerability

Recently, I was having supper with an older guy, who remarked there comes a moment in each of our conversations where he hits a wall, and I shut him out. I’m an open book up until the point where I’m not and no matter how hard or carefully he tries to regain my trust, I remain withdrawn. Sympathetically, he explained that with him, it was either vulnerability or nothing. So far, I’ve chosen nothing – with regret, because he is fascinating and fun. But he is one that can burn me, so hell nah, bro.

It occurs to me that in setting my sights on Paris within 2 years, I am providing myself with the perfect excuse to avoid a relationship with anyone: nobody will distract me from my Dream. It happens to be mighty convenient that in so doing, I’m avoiding vulnerability like a champ.

New year, new me.

I wish I liked the new me a bit more. Not sure how to work through this Beaut legacy, but I’ll find a way. 2017 is the year my joy will shine brightly: I will not allow anything to dim it.

Aujourd’hui, je me choisis. Je choisis de cultiver ouvertement mon bonheur au sein de gens qui partagent mon désir d’avancer. Je choisis de reconnaître la vie et les gens pour ce qu’ils sont: allègres, beaux, multicolores. Du moins, c’est ce que je choisis de voir. La veuve noire

Cerebral vs emotional: an afterword

Recently I was chatting with a professional acquaintance who occasionally reads this blog – that weird level of acquaintance where he doesn’t know me, but he knows a fair bit about me. He commented that I’m very cerebral, and I tend to overthink things. Bullseye! Guilty as charged. However much I may understand that perception, I do not identify myself as a cerebral person at all. I am emotional. #understatementofthedecade

My emotions are, and always have been, overwhelming. As I’ve documented extensively here, from 2010-2014, I cycled through 3 depressive episodes. During those years, I tried denying my emotions, because they were too big, too scary and too painful: I learned to instead rely solely on my logic, an approach that worked well with my career as an accountant. Of course, denying myself the right to feel anything, learning to navigate the world based solely on my brain like a robot, was intolerable and I broke, in the form of recurring depressions. I sought help in August 2014, and thanks to my amazing therapist, and the support of some key friends, by June 2015, I was starting to let myself feel again. As this post reminds me, it was a bumpy, unregulated process: a rush of emotion so strong, it could not be denied, often with embarrassing/hilarious/awkward consequences.

Today, 15 months later, I am still emotional. So emotional. I’ve accepted that regardless of how hard I try ignore or deny my feelings, they will operate within me anyhow. So it is in my interest to let myself feel, because those feelings dictate my truth, and who I am. I want to know who I am, why I am behaving the way I am. I still have a long way to go: there are times where the emotions are so strong, I just shut down, albeit less dramatically than before – I’ll just leave work early, or come in late (it helps that I have an amazing understanding boss). My latest approach is to feel the feeling, live with the discomfort, until I am sure of what I am feeling: anger, hurt, betrayal, frustration, despair, worry, anxiety, even happiness, when they rush in, I cannot identify which is which. Once I am sure of the flavor of my emotion, I let it sit for a time, rolling about in the background of my brain, while the cerebral part of me works backwards from that feeling to identify the possible causes triggering such a strong reaction.  This process takes hours, sometimes even days. It makes for some interesting timing, the appearance of delayed reactions. But this cerebral approach to my emotional self is the best coping mechanism I’ve found: I refuse to impulsively react to these intense feelings, as sometimes my first identification of the emotion in question is wrong – I’ll mistake hurt pride for anger, or feel shame when really I am hurt/betrayed. I don’t want to inflict my reactions upon my acquaintances, coworkers, friends and family unless I am certain they are coherent with the underlying issue. Because inflict, I will #assertive.

Case in point: Beaut. When I wrote the peniscation episode, and the resulting drama, the reaction amongst my friends and family was unanimous: cease all contact. My godmother phrased it best:

I want you to know this morning I read your post: keep one thing in mind, when a dishonest person does something to you, his actions reflect on who he is. He is using people, no excuses. He separates the parts of the person he uses (mind, body, fun, etc). You wanted to trust him and now you will stop. There is no more to say. He is wrong and you will be wrong if you continue giving him importance. Important is your desire to trust and build a relationship with someone worthy of your trust. Today is a new moment, it starts by removing importance to this person and continuing your path of kindness, productivity, etc. Please do and keep away from every path he walks. Love you.

Strong words, that I recognized as true. But there was a nagging part of me that felt that it was not time to walk away. Did I trust him? No, never. Did I love him? Kind of – he reminded me of a puppy that had been badly abused, and therefore tried to bite the hand of any human that wanted to pet it. It wasn’t fully his fault, I’ll always maintain that underneath all his baggage he is a sweet kind man, but in no way did that absolve him of the responsibility of learning to be less broken, so as to avoid hurting the people who cared for him. Mostly, I felt that it would be a failure in my ability to be a friend if I walked away when the going got tough – and boy was his life one ginormous shitstorm. So, cautiously, I stayed in his orbit, willing to be friendly, and maybe even friends. My cousins and friends shook their heads in despair. I tried to tell them: I acknowledged the merit of their advice, but until such a moment where I was ready to freeze Beaut out of my life, it would be a mistake to force it. I would know when I was ready, and when that moment came, I wouldn’t regret it.

That moment came over the weekend. Something so trivial, it makes me smile. He took 8 hours to answer a text about a non-bloggable crisis of which he is aware that has been preoccupying me for the past 2 weeks. During those 8 hours, 2 friends texted me to check in on me, because that is what friends do. During those 8 hours, Beaut was active on Facebook and was tagged in a post by Main Girl, as having cooked her a wonderful meal, bought her flowers, and being a great supportive friend. I felt an absence of emotion so deafening, that I knew: the last of the importance I gave to Beaut had evaporated. It appears crazy that the final reaction to a post I wrote 2 months ago happened now; a prime example of just how extreme my delayed reactions can be. But to me, there is nothing unusual. 95% of my emotions were sorted through at the time of the peniscation/Queen B posts. The remaining 5% took their sweetass time, but that is just how I roll. A convoluted, drawn-out way to close out a chapter in my life with minimal scar tissue, and no regrets.

Emotional & cerebral. But so much happier now that I allow myself to be both of those things.


I can’t stop laughing. That tag line tho! #definitelynotmenoway #exceptmaybesometimes

To be or not to be a Queen B

To put it mildly, I’ve been rather cranky lately. Most of August, and all of September. A quick tour of my blog posts from the past two months will confirm this.

Chatting to one of my girlfriends I tried to put into words my concern that I’m turning into a bitch, a girl who has stopped caring about others’ feelings and just goes through life filled with anger and negative energy. To prove my point, I exclaimed without any trace of irony, “I mean… I wear black on purpose, now!”

She suggested that maybe Vanilla has a long ways before reaching true Queen B levels of bitchy? Maybe I was still at the Vanilla B levels of bitchy?

Bah. Maybe.

I’ve developed an assertive efficiency that borders on unpleasantness at work – I’ve significantly decreased the amount of time I spend massaging people’s feelings. I am a manager: I explain what I need and why, offer the opportunity to brainstorm on the best/most convenient approach for everybody involved, and then I expect it done. To the extent it doesn’t get done… Well. I’m not in the mood to make friends in the workplace. I swear a lot at work. I know I am getting thisclose to being a drain on people’s energy. Part of my says, “not my problem. If ppl just did their jobs, I wouldn’t be so frustrated.” Logical, true. But I recall a version of myself that was capable of taking a deep breath, assuming positive intent, and bringing a smile to my coworkers face. The memory of that Vanilla feels very distant.

Since writing I’m going on a peniscation and unfollowing Beaut on social media, I’ve felt better: it is always a relief when secrets are out in the open – shame can’t survive in daylight. However, Beaut and I got into a huge fight on Monday. HUGE. I sent him the “peniscation” post and told him that I refused further communication with him until he’d read it from beginning to end – he owed me that much. So far, he hasn’t read it. Can’t say I am too surprised. Resigned at having more proof that my purpose in his life was to be convenient and amusing.

Yesterday was kizomba class. He was there. It was the first time seeing him since our fight and my friendship-ending ultimatum. I was worried – would I be able to handle it? My cousins believe that I need to change dance schools STAT. I refuse to. I have found a school where the teacher, price, schedule, students, location all suit me perfectly. Leaving because of Beaut’s presence would just be handing him one more victory over me. FUCK THAT.

Anyhow, surprisingly, it went just fine. I concentrated on the steps, listened to teacher, smiled at all my partners and enjoyed dance class. When it was Beaut’s turn, we danced without a hitch. He asked me if we were cool, now? Vanilla B gave him an amused smile. “No.” And turned to greet my next partner, dismissing him.

DD claims that I am a prodigy. She is the world acclaimed professor of the highly coveted topic “Lessons in Contempt and Ignoring Nuisances 101”

  • Lesson 1: Don’t look at them. Look past them.
  • Lesson 2: They don’t exist, therefore you no longer see them at all.
  • Lesson 3: Reduce their voice to annoying background noise – no intelligible words therefore nothing you need to respond to.

Intuitively, I did all three, and it didn’t cost me that much to do so. Part of me is relieved, because another 1-2 weeks of this and the contempt I feel will fade into indifference, meaning that I’ll be completely at ease sharing the same oxygen as him at dance school. Part of me is completely freaked out because only a Queen B is comfortable denying others’ existence, and reducing them to invisibility.

Every day I struggle with the temptation of forwarding the “peniscation” post to Main Girl, and watching their interaction implode. I’m ashamed of my glee at the possibility of tripping him up, and my complete unconcern with using Main Girl as road kill to achieve my means. Yet, like Queen B herself, I am enjoying finally acknowledging my hurt pride, and anger. It is empowering to be able to say, “Yes. I am angry as fuck. I will not be ashamed of how I feel.” Or as B puts it, “What’s worse, lookin’ jealous or crazy? Jealous or crazy? Or like being walked all over lately, walked all over lately, I’d rather be crazy.”

Pity that my anger won’t produce a multi-million record deal and artistic recognition. #lemonadeismyfavoritealbumof2016

This morning, I was taking public transportation, irritated with the world, brushing past ppl with sighs of annoyance, careless of whether or not I jostled them. Then I noticed a young girl, with some sort of palsy and mental health troubles, standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking fearfully up the loooooooooooooooong flight of stairs. With dismay, as countless people pushed past her, causing her to struggle with her balance, she looked at the out-of-order escalator next to the stair case.

I was late for work. I had already received about 25 emails, 5 of which had REALLY irritated me, and 1 of which was from the CFO impatient for one of my analyses. I would have been one out of dozens of people that ignored that girl.

I stopped. I asked her if she would like me to walk up the stairs with her. She stuttered a shy, anxious yes. It took us 5 minutes, when it would have taken me less than 45 seconds.

Not a Vanilla B. I’d forgotten how that felt.

I have the best family and friends

Like, really tho.

My paranoid brain might be waging a full blown war against me, and Mimi is taking an extended nap, but I still have a few weapons up my sleeve, in the form of the greatest friends and family ever. Their love is like a magical spell that never fails to put a smile on my face and make me feel centered.

My Quebec cousins. When I visited them at the end of August, I was still recovering from the shock of my discovery – something I had not shared with them, as I was too ashamed to admit what had happened. All they knew was that I had been involved for months with a guy who wouldn’t commit and who, in their words, often made me look “spent and exhausted“. They were, to put it mildly, not the biggest fans of Beaut. At one of the activities that we did that weekend, I wanted to take multiple pictures with my iPhone, but of course, lacked space. #iphoneissues On impulse, I deleted my entire 10-month text history with Beaut to free up memory. Upon hearing me mention that to my cousins, the boyfriend of the youngest cousin exclaimed enthousiastically, “Fuck yeah!” The thing is, I only met this boyfriend once before, and had obviously never gotten to the point of intimacy where I confided any part of my dating life to him. I realized that he was up-to-date on my Beaut saga from briefings from my cousin/his girlfriend. My cousins obviously discussed my dating life between them. As an only child, I was completely unused to having my business so freely shared, not having any secrets. Yet, I was incredibly touched that my story mattered so much to them, that even their boyfriends cared that I find happiness. My almost-sisters. My darlings.

The eldest cousin has an email subscription to my blog, and reads every post the day it comes out. Yesterday morning, she called up her sisters, and read my last post to them. Together, they plotted and planned how to execute an intervention from a distance. And whether it might not be worth it to jump in a car and drive down to Montreal and “screw his head off”. Qc cousin #2 took matters into her own hands and naaaaaaaagged me to unfollow Beaut on fbk: I could continue to occasionally look up his profile, but I needed to stop over-investing myself in his life and concerns ASAP. As she put it, if I wasn’t willing to do it for my own well-being, could I please do it for her and her sisters? They were fed up of seeing his name pollute their news feeds. Oye.

Dynamo. Of all my friends, he was most tolerant towards Beaut throughout. He understood that sometimes, you can’t chose who you care for. During all these months, did he encourage me to ditch Beaut? No. Did he ever rant that Beaut wasn’t treating me well, that I deserved better, etc etc? No. He accepted my assurances that Beaut, in his broken, limited way, truly cared for me. He accepted that Beaut was living through a firestorm. He pointed out to me that if my goal was to be a true friend to Beaut, and accept him as he is, then I needed to accept that his actions, and his words, amounted to him saying “I can’t make space for you in my life” – not that he didn’t want to, but that he was incapable of it at the present moment. Dynamo suggested that a true friend should accept others’ limits, and not impose oneself – that would result in me being another source of stress and inadequacy in Beaut’s life, which is not the contribution I wanted to make. Dynamo gave me a framework to work through my confused, hurt emotions that didn’t involve my usual narrative of being inadequate, or unlovable.

When he found out last night that I had unfollowed Beaut on Facebook, he uttered a guttural war-cry, danced a little jig and double high-fived me. In a crowded movie theatre.

DD. Similarly to Dynamo, she never judged my willingness to invest myself in a guy who wouldn’t commit, nor did she ever judge Beaut for his incapability to commit. She trusted me to evaluate whether this friendship was producing a net positive in my life. She was the first and only person I confided my shocking discovery to, because I knew she would handle my shame with care. Which she did. She advised me to impose serious boundaries in my friendship with Beaut, if I was determine to continue it. It took me 4 weeks to listen. I expected her to say “I told you so”. Instead, she said “Halleluja. I knew you’d get it sooner or later. I’m glad you’re investing in your well-being.” That might be the least sarcastic comment I have ever heard her utter.

Allie. One of my dearest friends, other than Dynamo. She’s just moved back to Montreal, with her fiancé, after living in New Zealand for 3 years. I’ve missed her awful – she has asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding next year, first time I’ve ever had that honour. I’ve been spending a fair bit of face-to-face time with her, and getting to know her fiancé, because any man that is deserving of Allie’s heart is a man worth knowing. The morning after spending a quiet evening with them at their place, Allie wrote to me to let me know that her fiancé wanted me to know that I was to consider their condo as my second home – that I was welcome anytime, always. We were soon to be family, anyhow. He’d noticed that same exhaustion my cousins hated – despite me not talking about any part of it.

And so many others. It’s hard to feel unlovable when the second I stumble I’m surrounded by ppl offering me a hand to get up and brush myself off.


I’m going on a peniscation

Update – Sept 27: I just found out that in March, a girl Beaut was sleeping with reached out through social media to “all the other girls”, including Main Girl, to advise them they were sharing the same man. Not me. Because apparently my dating him was so low-key nobody knew about it. I wanna throw up. I’d asked him, more than once, if he was sleeping with anyone else, for STD purposes. If I needed proof that I and my health are not worthy of consideration in his eyes… I most definitely have it. Yeah, no, maybe the disclaimer isn’t true afterall. I dunno. WTF.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post because the hurt was festering inside me, poisoning everything. Is it the whole truth? No. Is it logical and fair? No. Is it how I feel? Fuck yeah – some of the time. I still care about the boy, and believe that we might find an equilibrium that allows for the true friendship that was always present to flourish once again. But that can’t happen until I carefully work through a lot of the feelings below. Step 1 of that process was to write about it.

This is a story about Beaut.

The concept of space – a beautiful post, yes? Heartbreaking, heartfelt and sad. Beaut thanked me for it: it gave him the feels, it was beautiful and touching. How nice.

Until that point, from when Beaut and I stopped properly dating back in March, and my August post about space – a realization and acceptance of just how impossibly fucked up he is – I’d been perplexed by the successive demotions I’d been experiencing.

  • A few months of wonderful friends. He did some Dynamo-esque actions for me. Helping me out, when I didn’t even ask. Caring. Was there some sex involved? Yeah, obvi. He brought me joy. When I read through what I wrote during that time, I remember how happy he made me.
  • A few months of close but unhappy friendship. The sex became infrequent. I thought it was because of the legitimate clusterfuck he was living through. Guy was close to depressed, just trying to make it through every day. He confided so much in me – he trusted me, when he trusts close to no one. We talked almost every day. I was a good influence for him, during a time of trial and tribulation for him.
  • A gradual shift to purely platonic friends. I almost didn’t notice it was happening. I wrote the “concept of space” at the end of June/beg July, when his behaviour was increasingly distant and sad… but was scared that publishing it would make it come true. So I held off until we had a conversation in August which convinced me he was broken beyond repair.

We never talked about any of these shifts. They just happened. They hurt, but I assumed they were related to the shitstorm he was living through, which was objectively awful (it is still ongoing, but currently less intense). I thought my role, as his friend who he frequently told me he valued and cared about, was to give him space and support.

Well, 2 days after publishing The Concept of Space, I stumbled on Facebook information made it clear that another one of his close female friends was his Main Girl. Not a girlfriend, because Beaut still refuses to be in a couple with anyone. I’m still working out the overlapping timelines, but now, I realise my demotions had nothing to do with his shitstorm, and everything to do with Main Girl gaining in importance in his life.

I wish I could say I had no idea. But that isn’t quite true. I could see through all their facebook activity how close they were, and how flirty they were – behaviour Beaut never exhibited with me, even when we dated. I just naively refused to understand, during all those months, what was happening. And Beaut was ok with that. It turns out Main Girl was aware of the overlap: +1 for her. I was never entitled to that courtesy. I got the talk of “You & I were just friends. I’ve always said she was my friend. So, it was on you to make the link of what my interpretation of friendship includes. I didn’t lie. I’ve always said I don’t want a relationship. She and I aren’t a relationship.” He and Main Girl reached levels of almost-relationship that I never got close to: +2 for her. Main Girl is a great girl, who I enjoy and respect, and is a positive influence in his life: +3. He has met her friends and family: +4. He even took us both out on an activity together back in June. WHAT THE FUCK.

Since this discovery, I’ve been a mess. I cannot reconcile the Beaut that was sweet and caring with the Beaut that knew I suffer from mental health issues, yet chose to let me live through months of confusion and insecurity, rather than tell me the truth. I cannot forgive him for that.

I tried to salvage the friendship. For the sake of what was. Because I believed him when he told me repeatedly that my friendship was special to him. But I was too hurt. So I started pulling back. Not reaching out to him as much. Not asking him about his day, or talking through his issues and listening to his rants. And sure enough, he hasn’t noticed. At salsa last week, he flirted with a girl in front of me, and when I got really mad at him – for the first time, I swore at him, and used distinctly rude language (“WTF is your problem, reminding me to my face that I was incapable of holding your attention for very long. You owe me more respect than that. You’ve been a shitty friend to me.”) his answer was that what! a man isn’t allowed to talk to a woman anymore and that what was I trying to say – of course he is a good friend to me: he listens to me when I talk.

He listens to me when I talk, does he? Well, he doesn’t know what I do for a living, other than I am an accountant. He tells me that I am smart, yet if I challenge his opinions he ends the conversation. He has yet to accept any of my invitations to integrate him into my wider social circle. He knows almost nothing about me other than what is on this blog. Because I rarely get to talk – I listen to him work through his shit, and he makes no effort to get me to talk. In response to my comment of his unwillingness to compliment my physical appearance, he admitted that he has never really been drawn to me physically, he felt more of an intellectual connection to me. I wonder if the fact that I am an intellectual absolves him of the responsibility of not hurting my feelings.

All my love. All my affection, patience, and friendship. Turned to ash. He burned through it all. I’m left with bitter memories that were once joyful. I’m left with shame for having been so naive. Shame for effectively having been forced into the role of a Side Chick to a Main Chick. Shame for believing him when he said he loved & valued my friendship. Sorrow for my loss of innocence. This one hurts more than the last jackass who forgot to tell me he had a girlfriend: that one never cared for me, nor I him. He viewed me as a consumable, and lets be honest, I viewed him similarly – a nice dick with some pretty abs. But Beaut? I let him see all of me, and my reward was still to be treated as a convenience. My humanity was not enough to merit respect.

20 months of therapy: undone. My paranoid brain tells me I deserved this. That I am unlovable. That I bring this upon me. That this is the reward for attempting vulnerability. I have no response. No fight left in me. Even Mimi is silent.

Salsa sure will be fun, for the next while. Yippee.

Try keep up

One of the main things dissuading me from stopping boxing was an overwhelming fear that I’d lose my hard-earned figure. I’ve only learned to be proud of my body, for the first time in my life, within the past 12 months and even at that, my relationship with my body is fractious at best. Yes, I am vain. Deal with it. Being proud of my body is VERY important to me.

I was aware that cutting the number of weekly intense workouts in half would have an impact on my body. I hoped that by continuing to lift very heavy things & do brutal circuits with Coach twice a week, I could maintain most of my muscle mass, and athletic shape. Sure, I anticipated that my body might change, and my overall fitness levels would drop, but I told myself that all the benefits of pursuing new activities, and developing the creative/artistic side to my personality that has been neglected for far too long would outweigh the physical downsides. Rationally, I still believe the trade-off to be worthwhile. Emotionally, however… I’m finding this hard. Its been a month since I stopped boxing. So far, by carefully adapting my dietary requirements, I have avoided putting on any weight. Work stress has acted as an unanticipated appetite suppressant. I’ve actually lost 5 lbs, without noticing any significant decrease in my strength and lifts. This is good news, yeah? Well…

Yesterday, at salsa, I looked good. Tight red pants, black high heels, fabulous top. I was feeling the music and ALMOST wiggling my hips. Until I noticed Beaut observing me with a perplexed air. “Vanilla… I think… I’m pretty sure… your butt shrank.” Impossible: since birth, I’ve been blessed with a lot of junk in my trunk. I am proud of the booté. I work hard for the booté to be perky and pleasant. “Ok, maybe I am wrong Vanilla, and it is just the cut of your pants… but nope. I’m pretty sure the space occupied by your bum has decreased.”

Y’all. Do you know how hard it is to dance salsa while peering into the mirror to see all possible angles of one’s posterior chain? I totally crashed into my partners, multiple times, because of my distracted, upset state.

During a break, I confided to Beaut that not only did I think he might be right, but that this had totally overset me. “Vanilla, what did you expect? You stopped training. Your body will change.” I admitted I had lost weight. “See, good! It shows! This is a good thing, right? You decreased your training, and have kept your weight under control! Nice.” Well, no, not if I am going to have a flat-ass! Consolingly, he reminded me that some men do like skinny bitches. #helpful

Later in class, our salsa teacher showed us an optional move where the guy lifts up his dance partner and spins her in the air. Beaut announced to the class that yeah, no, he would only be trying that with the wee tiny girls. Turning to me, “you’re way too stocky for me to lift you. Don’t even suggest it.” I gave him The Look. “Vanilla, you are 5’9”, and weigh at least 150lbs [I actually weigh 160lbs]. I’m not going to risk injuring myself! Be realistic here.” Beaut noticed my face redden with ill concealed rage (meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I could see Teacher watching our interaction with glee – all that was missing was a bucket of popcorn, and Teacher’s entertainment would have been complete), “Women! YOU ARE SO COMPLICATED. First you are upset that I noticed you lost weight and are slimmer and now you are upset that I said you are too heavy for this move. MAKE UP YOUR MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIND.”

I did make up my mind. I made up my mind to NOT chose him as my next dance partner. Hmph. But when we did dance together a few songs later, Beaut surprised me by attempting the move, which we executed with the grace and skill of two hippos dancing on pointe.

So yeah. I definitely reinforced every man’s knee-jerk reaction to tread very carefully whenever mentioning a woman’s weight. When it comes to navigating my body’s changes throughout this period of transition, Imma be THE female stereotype. #noshame #ridiculous

I'm one step away from being this girl...

I’m one step away from being this girl…


Sometimes vanity is the only thing keeping me going

I am seriously lacking in pride. However, for better or worse, I have an abundance of vanity. Vanity dictates a LOT of my behavior, and is frequently the reason I keep a lid on my crazy. I used to smugly believe that I wasn’t one of those psycho girls that causes public scenes. False. I definitely have a strong dose of psycho in me. I just refuse to expose myself to others’ contempt, ridicule and judgment. I have the appearance of (mostly) keeping my shit together. But on the inside? Its a hot mess.

Because I am a masochist, I did a two hour class of kizomba (sexy dancing) last night as part my quest to integrate my sexual/sensual side into my identity. I hated it. It didn’t help that Beaut was there (yes, yes, we still talk – I don’t even want to discuss how much of an idiot I am. I can’t exactly blame him for contributing to my depressive symptoms when I continue to hang out with him, now can I?) and a) he never used to call me sexy/beautiful and b) he gets the giggles when he sees my white-girl-trying-to-dance moves. He claims he was teasing me – that is what friends do, yeah? I wanted to punch him in the mouth, because FUCK OFF, he knows how hard this is for me, so he can take his giggles and jump out of a window with them. Being surrounded by all these girls, all shapes and sizes, moving their hips seductively, while I felt about as sensual as a tree trunk, did not help my mood. Seeing all those girls drape themselves over Beaut, to his obvious enjoyment? I wanted to take their faces and bash them into the floor while he watched, and then give him a little sweet peck on the cheek.

Did I make a scene? No – I smiled charmingly at all my dance partners and concentrated on learning the steps. Did I exhibit any violent tendencies? No, of course not. I fought my brain for two hours, happily said goodbye to all my new dance friends, went home, gave myself a high-five for trying to work through my insecurities, and then cried myself to sleep.

I told myself last night that I’d never do kizomba again. Now, I think instead I will continue to do kizomba, until such a point as I master being sexy, as a weapon, and then I will dance with Beaut, give him a boner in class, and point and laugh. Loudly. Because that is what friends do, yeah? It’s just gentle teasing.


This morning, I woke up feeling hungover from these miserable insecurities of being an undesirable female blob. I didn’t want to go to work. Instead, I put on a skirt that my mother bought for me when I was 16 (16 years ago!!!), and that still fits. How many women in their thirties can say the same thing about their wardrobe? That’s right. I might be as sensual as a tree trunk, but my body is pretty damn good – good enough that I know MANY girls and women wouldn’t mind ONE BIT looking like me. That’s the only thing stopping me from hysterics right now. I might despise myself, but my vanity is soothed by the knowledge that others admire/envy me. Because I am clearly a kind, generous, soul. WHATEVER. At least I am at work.