With the innocent days of key parties and free love behind us, Not Your Mother’s Playground: A realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy open relationships is a how-to guide for navigating today’s very different world of modern-day non-monogamy. From swinging to polyamory, it walks readers through the many ups and downs they may encounter along their journey. Samantha injects the honest story of her own open marriage throughout to provide readers with insight, humour, and refreshing personal experience. Whether you are new to non-monogamy or an experienced veteran, Not Your Mother’s Playground is sure to challenge your mind and validate your heart.
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It’s really easy to float along in life and rarely think about death, if at all. Some people have been lucky enough to avoid loss in their life so the idea of it ending seems removed from their everyday existence, like a thing that happens only on the news or in movies. I’ve experienced enough loss in my life to have an uncomfortable relationship with death. I’ve seen it take all my grandparents. I’ve witnessed my father slowly accepting that his was coming at the age of 54. I’ve gotten the phone call that my step-brother found death at 26. And I’ve had a friend choose death on her own, while conversations of future camping trips hung in my memory like candle smoke.
In the back of my mind, I’ve become strangely convinced that death will come to me one day in the form of one of those diseases we have yet to cure, but still like to run for. My mind generally jumps from topic to topic, like a polar bear jumping to the next piece of ice before the entire thing melts, and every now and then, mortality is the glacier it lands on.
Recently I found myself closer to the Grim Reaper than even my over-active mind could have prepared me for. Let me tell you the story of how I almost died recently, probably.
It started with a bubble bath
This story begins at the beginning of February, the morning after a bubble bath like any other, filled with berry bubbles and providing the backdrop for “surprised-cute-face bathtub Snapchats”. The morning after the soak, I slipped on the bubble residue while getting into the shower. I slammed against the side of the tub ridiculously hard and quickly developed an epic bruise. I won’t lie … I was pretty proud of that bruise, even if it was just on the side of my knee and not on my ass.
Said bruise, 5 days in. It still had a ways to go to reach maximum black.
It’s hard to remember the timeline because at first I wasn’t really paying attention, but it was most likely a week or so later that I woke up in the morning with severe calf pain. Used to having random muscle pains or knee pains after an active night’s sleep, I brushed it off. Perhaps I just needed a leg rub, or a bath, or some heat, or a massage on our vibration machine. So I did all of those things over the course of a few days.
And the pain continued. But still, I didn’t really pay much attention to it. It did seem to be accompanied with some strange foot pain, close to the two puncture wounds from a few days before the tub accident, when I stepped on two separate nails within an hour of each other. Perhaps the leg pain was a reaction to that? Still, nothing to worry about, I told myself. I’d had my tetanus shot within the last 5 years. This would go away eventually. Everything does.
Not long after, the shortness of breath took over. It’s hard to say when exactly as it crept in more quietly than the leg pain did. We’d done a bit of research at this point and had guessed that the leg pain might have been DVT (deep vein thrombosis), but it didn’t feel like it was doctor worthy yet, nor did I have any symptoms outside of the pain. The shortness of breath made me strongly aware of the fact that I’m out of shape, as it got worse and worse. I wasn’t able to walk down the street without feeling wheezy after a few hundred metres. Walking upstairs in my own house made me have to hide in another room, if Steph following me, as I didn’t want him to see how terribly pathetic and out of shape I was.
Because of course that’s what the fat kid defaults to. My leg obviously hurt because I haven’t trained in forever and I couldn’t breathe because I was emulating Adam Sandler’s Fatty McGee. “But I LIKE the stairs!” It was easier to be embarrassed about the reasons I suspected I was suffering. (Which, in hindsight, was ridiculous because I live with the most supportive man ever.)
Eventually, I spoke to a woman I work with who suggested that if it continued that I go to the doctor right away. I decided better safe than sorry, but that evening around 5 pm the leg pain stopped. And then it was completely MIA the entire next day and half of the one after that. It was almost like it knew I was taking it in for pokes and prods and was trying to be good.
So I ignored it, and of course it returned and I was popping all the ibuprofen I could to stay on top of it. I knew that eventually I would have to take myself to the doctor; something felt *off*, but I still wasn’t in a mad rush. If I had to go to work, or go out for brunch, or lounge around and finish watching Star Trek: TNG, I was going to do those things first. Walk-in clinic? That could wait another day or two.
Then I had a date. Yes, a real date. With a real live boy, in my house! (More on this later!) As I was giving him the tour of the house, we travelled from the basement to the top floor (to obviously end up in the bedroom, duh). I found myself completely out of breath, but unlike the times when I travel upstairs with my husband and can easily pretend that I’m going into a different room than he is, here was a guy who had never been in my house before. I couldn’t just leave him there, looking at the random artwork in my hallway. So I quickly grabbed a glass of water, and had to pretend I could breathe, before taking him into the bedroom … where he also left me breathless. (ba dum ching!)
The next morning as I walked upstairs after breakfast to have a shower, and found myself wheezing in the bathroom, I thought about that moment with him the night before. I was no longer able to convince myself that nothing was wrong. There was no writing it off as me being out of shape. So I decided to do a combined google search of both symptoms: leg pain in the calf and shortness of breath. When I started to flip through the results, I realized that there weren’t that many things that this combination could mean. I was self-diagnosing myself as having pulmonary embolisms (blood clots on the lungs), and started to cry uncontrollably, the more I saw the words “sudden death” or “fatal” pop up.
That Google search was possibly the most important one I’ve ever made. Definitely more important than “How much cheese can a human consume?” or “Best cat Vine compilation videos”. (Though that one CAN provide lots of entertainment.)
Everything I was reading about pulmonary embolisms suggested that they were fatal. I wasn’t sure if I was going to die that very second, if it was coming soon, or if I’d narrowly escaped it, but I knew I was closer to death than I’d ever wanted to be before. We decided to skip brunch in favour of the hospital. I was shaking and full of fear; nothing that 8 hours in emergency ambulatory care – seeing someone for blood work, then sitting down again; seeing someone else for chest x-rays, then sitting down again; over and over and over again – couldn’t fix.
Honestly, the most torturous part of that first day was having to watch the gold medal hockey game in the waiting room two more times. It took all the magic out of it, knowing the outcome, listening to Don Cherry telling us over and over again who was playing well and who needed work, while a crew of us sat, waiting to see if our medical issues were next to be the most important in the room. I decided that my strategy for mentally surviving the day would be a combo of Steph’s shoulder and social media. I had to share what was going on with friends and family. I never want to be someone who hides illness and death from those I care about the most. If it’s going on with me, no matter how sad it is, I need the people in my life to know. Also, I think it’s important that we allow ourselves the safety to talk about personal health problems without it becoming a big deal. Eventually we’re all going to suffer something. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about and there’s a lot to be said for the healing power of community. (Although I did shy away from seeing people in person as much as possible the following week.)
At the end of the day, when I was at my breaking point, I was finally told that I would be coming in the next morning for my first ever cat scan to determine for certain that I had pulmonary embolisms (Hi-five for self-diagnosis! Not so hi-five for the actual diagnosis!). The nurse injected me in the belly with lovenox, a drug I learned later acts quickly to anti-coagulate the blood before the warfarin pills kick in (which takes 7 days). I quickly bruised on my tummy – I’m covered with post lovenox / blood work bruises still. Finally we went home and ironically, I decided to sit in the tub to think of the overwhelmingday I had just had.
Last week was filled with more hospital visits and mixed emotions. It started with my first ever cat scan and then the confirmation of the results; I definitely had blood clots in my leg and lungs. They were more than likely caused by the trauma to my leg. From the bathtub. It all seemed so unbelievable. I asked the post cat scan doctor in emergency if I was … ok. His face scared me and told me more than his words did. Basically, I was only just past ok. If I had waited much longer, or if the drugs didn’t work … I wouldn’t be ok. The next morning, at 6:45 am, I asked the next doctor basically the same question, and his answer was the same. I had come unbelievably close to not making it. The fact that I decided to come in when I did basically saved my life.
Had I not? I would have gone out for brunch on Sunday. And then probably work on Monday, and maybe Tuesday. Wednesday I would have had a deep tissue massage that I was really looking forward to, and if that hadn’t killed me, I most likely would have passed out at home, while Steph was at work, on Thursday. This fact started to kick in after a couple of early mornings in emergency getting my injections and pills, but really hit me on Thursday when I went to see the nurse pharmacist who will be taking care of me for the next six months or so. There I was, having a perfectly normal conversation about my blood clots and how we were going to deal with them moving forward – something that’s quite simple and not scary at all – on the day that maybe I would have died.
Last week was, as I’m sure you can imagine, a trip. I tried to embrace death with humour, posting pictures of funny things I found in the hospital that made me smile. I tried to talk about death in a very matter of fact manner, to accept it as a possible reality, even though I really didn’t want it. I tried to think about the funeral I want to have, because it’s very important to me that I’m able to plan my own (event planner 4 lyfe). I tried to connect with my online community because I needed them more than ever, and they were there for me more than I expected. I tried to ignore the fact that some people in my life that I thought really cared about me didn’t check on in me once throughout the entire week, while also allowing myself to accept that maybe some of those relationships have changed in my life and I hadn’t realized. I tried to keep a brave face on for daily phone check-ins with my Mum in England, balancing the line between being 100% honest with her about how I was feeling, but not enough to worry her so much that she would spend non-existent money to get on a plane to be with me. I tried my very, very best to keep it together, because what else is there to do?
But sometimes you just have to let go. After a week of holding it together, I found myself at home listening to my iTunes on shuffle; some sad song came on and the floodgates opened. When you get so close to death but then find yourself escaping its grip, you’d think that your reactions would be jubilant and joyful all the time. You expect yourself to feel celebratory because you’re alive, and being alive is pretty damn ok. And yet, here was this emotion sitting on top of my chest that I didn’t recognize. It’s a combination of grief and fear and loneliness, mixed in with ecstasy and relief. It doesn’t know where to file itself away, so it sits on top of the skin and you just have to feel it. You just have to accept the fact that you came this close and that now everything’s the same, yet different.
My bullshit tolerance has vanished. I still fear death, but feel like we have a platonic love and understanding now. Relationships feel different too. I want to bury hatchets of the past and make nice with unnecessary enemies. I want to acknowledge the relationships that need to admit defeat, and save the ones that prematurely thought they were over. I want to tell the world how honesty can heal, and how life is so short and so precious and not worth worrying about in the ways that we do. I want to help people discover the confidence that sits inside all of us and I want to know the pleasure of watching people shed their skins in favour of one that suits them unlike any before.
I want to hug and kiss and compliment the people that matter. I want them to feel unbelievably special when they’re around me, because they are. We all are. You are. In those moments when we feel alone, there are always people going through the same things. There is always someone sitting in emergency, worried that this is the end of their days. There is always somebody new going into the woods.
I’m just so glad that I’m slowly on my way out of them.
<< Addendum: If you think something is wrong with you, don’t wait! Get yourself to a hospital or doctor as soon as you can. What’s a few hours in a waiting room, when compared to possibly dying?? >>
Hospital gown chic
Hospitals can be very lonely places if you find the right hallway.
I knew it. I didn’t want to see it though.
I actually love getting blood work done.
Shift change. Ghost town.
Fun with humour
Tonight, Steph is going on a first date. He hasn’t had a first date, or actually ANY dates, for a long time. He’s had much more practice dealing with me seeing other people than I have with him. Over the years, it’s been a struggle for me. It’s felt like he’s kept things from me to protect my feelings, but that generally backfires. I want to feel the same love and happiness and compersion for him that he feels for me. When we started this chat this afternoon, I was feeling anxious that I was going to feel upset later. I wasn’t actually feeling upset, but worried that I’d go down the same path that I used to.
But then we shared this chat, which I’m sharing openly with you here. I feel a sense of calm in my heart, that I’m hoping will last the evening, and moving forward. This stuff takes work, my friends, but it’s always worth it in the ends.
Here’s a look into the lives of Sam and Steph.
sam[antha]: feeling a bit anxious
Steph: about you or me?
sam[antha]: about you
Steph: It’ll be ok
sam[antha]: easy for you to say
Steph: I’m certainly not telling you not to feel that
Steph: was about to say aww dont feel anxious
Steph: but I dont want to deny you feeling what you feel :)
Steph: which I ALWAYS do
sam[antha]: i don’t really feel anything, but i’m so USED to feeling things
sam[antha]: that i’m expecting to?
sam[antha]: or i’m anxious about the possibility of feeling things
Steph: ahhh I hear ya
Steph: do you have any questions or concerns about my plans tonight?
sam[antha]: :) I don’t think so. I’ve already brought them up.
sam[antha]: I’m concerned that you’ll like her
Steph: thats a toughie to reply to
sam[antha]: I know :)
sam[antha]: I also want you to?
Steph: man thats a set of confusing feels right there huh
sam[antha]: I don’t know. The idea of you being with someone else the way I am with other people is the WORST.
sam[antha]: But then … I do it?
sam[antha]: but logic just can’t defeat it. I try.
Steph: also keep in mind I dont have sexy times (with others) the exact same you do. Its not as emotional or heavy
sam[antha]: this is true
Steph: typical guy huh
sam[antha]: that part i never used to believe
sam[antha]: but now i do
sam[antha]: i used to think it was impossible
sam[antha]: and that you were just denying me because of how we are
sam[antha]: but i know that’s not true now
sam[antha]: i guess i just have to keep repeating these things to myself
sam[antha]: i haven’t had the practice that you have, you know?
sam[antha]: i HAVE to repeat things over and over and over
Steph: oh you mean in that’s just how I express myself sexually with us even? Because it’s much more emotional with you for sure
sam[antha]: yes with us
Steph: oh man its not always purely physical I hope thats not what you think
sam[antha]: i know it’s not :)
sam[antha]: And it’s better now than it was
Steph: yeah for sure
sam[antha]: It USED to be a lot more like that. at least just for me. Because we were awful together, tbh. Well not awful, but not like we are now.
sam[antha]: I like us now
sam[antha]: we’re really good, and when we’re together, i really really want to be with you
sam[antha]: and you know what? That makes such a big difference
sam[antha]: Feeling like you and i are awesome
sam[antha]: Ok, actually reminding myself of that is very helpful
Steph: yer makin me tear up over here :)
sam[antha]: I’m used to you meeting people before I felt any of this stuff
sam[antha]: and honestly, it was only last year after my breakup / depression that i started to really feel this stuff … and you haven’t dated since then … so…. i didn’t even realize that i was feeling ok underneath
Steph: means a lot to here you say that :)
sam[antha]: I’m just so trained to feel a certain way
sam[antha]: Like, I’ll still probably feel a bit squidgey, but there’s a much stronger base for me now
Steph: it’s the confidence in the solidity of our rock that alows me to let you be free
sam[antha]: i’ve never not been confident in us as a unit
sam[antha]: you’ve just often fucked up and i’ve had high standards
Steph: yeah hows about I dont do that anymore k?
sam[antha]: and hows about I don’t assume that you will
Steph: ha deal
Steph: internet shake*
sam[antha]: So now I’m only concerned that she’ll be a nice person and respectful
sam[antha]: and that she’ll like you
Steph: so far she’s been really nice and has mentioned several times that she respects our situation
sam[antha]: it would be good for you to like someone. Everyone’s been so meh for you for so long.
Steph: ha right eh?
sam[antha]: and if it gets you out of the house, i’ll support it for my own dating selfish logistics
sam[antha]: i’m also nervous that all my dating shit will come crashing down, like it has in the past, and then i’ll be left dealing with you dating JUST ONE PERSON and I’ll be additional partner alone
sam[antha]: because i really really do hate THAT
Steph: yeah I dont really want to be invovled with just one either
Steph: so I think I will be active about trying to not get into that situation again
sam[antha]: ok good. That would be nice.
sam[antha]: But obviously not a focus tonight
Steph: of course
sam[antha]: Just please make more of an effort to be more forthcoming with me
sam[antha]: Even if you think it’ll make me uncomfortable. It’s just because I’m not used to hearing you talk about anyone, even friends
sam[antha]: but it’s why i don’t hold back with you, unless you specifically say you’re uncomfortable.
sam[antha]: if you like someone, that’s cute and i want to know
sam[antha]: i want to have a chance to feel the things that you feel for me
Steph: you got it
sam[antha]: but you have to let me
sam[antha]: and give me the opportunities
Steph: wow good point huh
sam[antha]: i’ve been saying it, in different ways, for years
sam[antha]: you’ve had practice with all this stuff. I haven’t.
sam[antha]: and vice versa on the other end
Steph: just one of those clicking moments jusst now I guess
Steph: and as long as you know I’ve never tried to hide things. It’s always just been my personality
sam[antha]: I know. And as long as YOU know that my personality takes things still to be like you’re hiding them. We have to meet in the middle.
Steph: oh yeah totally
Steph: wasnt making an excuse; just want to make sure you know it’s never come from a place of fear or shame
sam[antha]: I know it’s not. But I suspect everyone is sneaky and have to try not to do that. You being more forthcoming will help me.
Steph: because yeah! I’m excited about finding out what she is all about and I’m excited about telling you she’s awesome
Steph: IF she’s awesome
sam[antha]: haha. Hopefully she will be.
sam[antha]: And it helps that I feel better about my OWN awesome now. I think I never used to as much as I needed to.
sam[antha]: I want her to be awesome. And pretty. And I hope she likes you and that you have things in common.
Steph: yeah youve come a long way, baby
sam[antha]: WE have
sam[antha]: I might put this whole chat into a blog post …
Steph: damn right
sam[antha]: Like, just verbatim.
sam[antha]: with a little bit of editing
sam[antha]: i love you
Steph: Phew that works out cuz I love you too
sam[antha]: k. Back to work. Say bye before you leave.
Steph: totally will. I’ll text ya xoxoxoxoox
sam[antha]: ok xo
I can never decide if I love or hate Valentine’s Day. I’m a romantic, right? So I should automatically love a day that focuses on love. But then again, I’m also a non-traditionalist, non-monogamous, celebrate love ALL the time, question-everything member of society, and that viewpoint doesn’t line up with this single day of roses, chocolate, monogamy, and “the one”. Which is basically all that Cupid cares about, you guys.
That, and scoring you the most “romantic” dinner reservation using OpenTable – which is likely next to the kitchen, on a table that needs napkins under its legs.
Anyway, my point? Well, I’m getting to it. I want to tell you about some fun little products to make your
Valentine’s Date Night awesome, since I am lucky enough to personally sample many of the goods at Ohhh Canada (life is really hard, you guys). I thought I’d tell you about a few items that I like to always have on hand, whether it’s a special Cupid friendly night, or just a regular ol’ Tuesday with a side of dirty spice. Individually, they might not all seem to suggest a saucy time’s about to happen, but trust me when I tell you there’s a method to my sluttyness.
And here’s a tip, boys and girls. If you and I are out together, my purse falls open, and these things roll onto the floor? Well, you can be certain that I might have my eyes on the contents of your pants. By might, I mean that I do. (Note: the contents of my purse at the end of the night might contain my underwear and some latex gloves I’ve scored from the sex club we just went to, but this post is about making our way to that stage.)
Kama Sutra Honey Dust
I’m not one for lots of traditional “girly” things, and it’s not something I need my girl dates to do for themselves, but personally? I love dusting myself with a generous serving of honey dust in all the right places.
“Mmm, you taste like honey” would normally be a compliment that might have me running for the hills, away from the cheesy PUA trying to get in my head, but in this case, I love it. I’ve been using this stuff probably since I was 18, and will continue to be a faithful honey duster until I die. The raspberry is my current choice … it smells like an adult, sexy version of Mr. Bubble (yes, that’s a thing), and the honeysuckle is a close second. We have a Chocolate Caress demo in the store and, while I still like it, find myself smelling it occasionally because it reminds me of hot chocolate.
Grab yourself some honey dust for just $19.99. Trust me, it will last you a LONG time and you’ve never been so lickably delicious.
Sweet Spot On-The-Go Wipettes
Ok, maybe there’s a bit of a theme here. I know that lots of ladies love to go au naturel with their bits, and that’s amazing and wonderful, but I’m such a clean freak that having these wipes on me before a sex date is the best thing after being able to have a shower. Stuck at work all day and feeling a little blah before your date? A little basil grapefruit or geranium lavender will perk you right up. PLUS they’re pH-balanced just for us gals, and come in so many great scents. Yum, clean!
Grab yourself a bunch and store ‘em in your pass next to your condom stash. They’re only 0.85 each!
Hemp Lip Balm by Earthly Body
I did something dumb last night and went out on a make-out date without this lip balm in my purse. What a silly woman I am, though he made sure my lips stayed nice and wet all evening! While this lip balm is definitely difficult to get started – I recommend making a bit of a dent in it with something like a bobby pin to start with, to make it easy to cover the curve of your finger – it definitely lasts a long time on your lips. It comes in a bunch of delightful flavours that sound made up, but for such a low price, you might as well try one of each, right?
Get yourself coated and ready for smooching for just $2.99!
Skin Body Butter by Earthly Body
This one makes me crazy happy. I’m the girl who collects lotions and butters and always has at least 6 different containers on the go at any time. I happened to run out of just about all of them when I got my hands on the Naked in the Woods scent of this delightful body butter, and wow, what perfect timing. It smells like a spa, with rose, almond, and cucumber oils in it (plus other lovely things), but it really spoke to me because it smells just like a fancy candle I had in my room when I was 18 that made me feel like a grown-ass adult. Plus, it’s great for massages, absorbs easily, and leaves your skin with a fresh smell that lasts a long time. Mmmm.
Run naked in the woods yourself for $14.99!
So, there you have it. While it might not appear at first glance like the obvious sexy stuff you’d expect to find in my bag, TRUST me when I say that these are my guaranteed date night fun items for those of you who want to feel like a lady.
If you want to grab these, and other fun products for yourself, visit Ohhh Canada on the web, or if you’re in Toronto visit us (and once a week, me!) in person at our second floor store at 721 Queen Street West, at Queen and Tecumseh. Plus, there’s still time for some of you to score this stuff at your door before Cupid’s arrow strikes! Check out our shipping deadlines.
Stay tuned because soon I have to review the Lelo Smart Touch Wand, an adorable paddle that leaves star impressions and feels oh-so-wonderfully-perfect, and some organic lube. I better get myself to bed and do a few more … tests.
Valentine’s EVERY Day, kids!
I have a confession to make that seems quite timely this close to Valentine’s Day; I’m addicted to romance.
I’m not talking about red roses and cheap boxes of drugstore chocolates, or last minute gas-station cards filled with recycled sentiments and the stale smell of dust and car grease. I mean the romance that breaks your heart when you notice it, as you catch the sun hiding behind a cloud. Or the kind that causes you to weep tears of joy as you watch young lovers proclaim their mutual enthusiasm for each other. The predictable romance that’s existed for years as my husband leaving my vitamin out for me in the morning. Or the one that makes sure we kiss each other goodnight, every night we are sharing the same bed.
My favourite kind of romance isn’t solely attached to being in love. Some days it appears in a shared moment of admiration with a stranger traveling the opposite direction during rush hour. In certain hours under a bourbon haze, nothing feels more romantic than a dirty rendezvous behind a parked car in a darkened alleyway. Sometimes snow or rain falls from the sky, or the sun hits your face in such a way that can only be described as, you guessed it, romantic. My favourite kind of romance can be found in the saddest moments, or in the ones that you might never notice if you’re not one to stop and smell the flowers. My soul fills with, what feels like, a million emotions when I simply look out of the window before bed to say goodnight to the world. My favourite kind of romance often appears to have nothing to do with the heart at all, though it is always behind the scenes providing a steady, continuous, beating soundtrack. My favourite kind of romance looks at mystery and excitement, searching to find more than what is currently in my vision.
There certainly isn’t anything wrong with what’s in my daily vision. There are many days and nights when I would rather be nowhere else than in the places I know well, with the people I love and/or want to kiss. Keeping things simple. Keeping things grounded. Keeping things predictable. My life growing up brought me across the ocean, and then across the country, and then across the province; I’ve had more than my fair share of exploration thrust upon me, and see no failure in having chosen domestic life for the past ten years of home ownership, instead of traveling across foreign lands on a romantic trip to “find myself”.
Because even in everyday familiarity, I am always searching for the nooks and crannies between the lines, as it is between the lines that I have found myself time and time again. I want to crawl inside these spaces and give them the recognition and attention that they so rightly deserve. I want to pull them out of the shadows, and let people know that it’s ok to let others see past their presentations. Life exists between the lines. Reality exists between the lines.
Romance exists between the lines.
But also, if you look a little further, romance can be found almost everywhere else in front of our faces, in every moment. It’s this realization that has me constantly searching for it, craving whatever emotions are going to hit me next, even if there is a 50/50 chance that I could feel either unbelievable happiness or unbearable sadness in an instant.
The romantic in me can handle it. She craves the feeling of connection, of meaning, of knowing that occasionally things mean more than everybody says they do. She dies a little emotional death when you notice something about her that she didn’t have to share with you herself. When she hears about the things that make your eyes sparkle and your heart sing, or shares in your woes and summertime sadness, it doesn’t matter if you are to ever lie in a bed with her or not, or if platonic is the word you’d both use to describe your relationship. She craves that honesty, that intimacy, and those moments – even if they are fleeting and never to come again – for those moments are what make her clock keep ticking.
Her heart skips a beat when simple song lyrics make you think of her face, her eyes, or her entire way of being. When it’s obvious that she is your muse, nothing matters more than offering you every last drop of inspiration she can possibly muster. Her soul will always be a little restless when it’s not adventuring and risking everything based on a feeling. Because the romantic in me, while simultaneously being led by Vulcan-like logic and a devil’s advocate’s sense of realism, will still always hold feelings in the highest regard. The only difference now, as I head into my mid 30′s, is that I know when to give into my moments of fancy, and when practicality must temporarily rule.
Yet still, underneath any and all semblances of order and logic, there will always be a sparkle that will find its way out, a romantic undercurrent to everything I do. There will always be the girl who looks past the surface of anything you show me, because it’s potential hidden motivations that I’m the most curious about, and even if they don’t exist, I will always have to check to make sure.
I can’t imagine what my life would be like if my heart was in one solid piece. I can easily wish for less tragedy in my past and certainly minimal tragedy in my future, but my emotional journey is the reason I am who I am. And so, it is with a happy, yet bandaged heart that I proudly proclaim my addiction to romance, whether it’s happy or sad, long-lasting or temporary, mysterious or crystal-clear.
If you need me, I’ll be the girl cozied up between the lines, listening to this, and feeling absolutely everything.
Because I’m sure you haven’t heard me talk about depression enough, here’s a guest post I wrote for Ashley Gibson’s Life is Sweet Project.
Learn more about the Life is Sweet project here.
Written & performed by Ashley Gibson
In February 1998 Ashley’s mom committed suicide. Fifteen years later, Ashley created a cabaret show to honour her mother’s memory. Through a blog series leading up to the sold-out show, Life is Sweet told both Ashley’s story and many others, creating a much-needed dialogue about mental health. The show is an inspirational story about overcoming tragedy and finding the sweetness in life, despite the challenges.
Photo by MJS Photography
So here’s something weird. 2014 is, so far, behaving, especially when compared to the shit-show that was 2013.
I knew it would happen eventually. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t settle for mediocrity and at least is trying to make improvements, everything that hits a low eventually hits a high again.
Or in this case, a “not so low anymore”.
I’m under no illusions about change. It’s not as if the calendar year flipped and suddenly the world is my oyster. No, some things are still suck, they’re just not as super suck as before.
To start with, I’ve found a teensy bit of carefree Samantha again. And what I mean by that is, I got incredibly drunk on New Year’s Eve, and had dirty make outs with a 26 year old boy, while my husband passed out down the hallway. I suppose that sounds less romantic than it could, and while I get that having an alcohol fuelled makeout isn’t necessarily the best way to say “Hey, I’m carefree again!”, it certainly doesn’t feel bad in any way.
I don’t necessarily feel as though I’m ready to go all casual makeouts with everyone again though. Not at the moment, at least. I’m sailing strange waters right now between “I am the most confident person you’ll ever know! Look at me flirt with waiters and sing all the karaoke songs and put photos of myself on the Internet in my underwear!” and “Oh my gosh, I know I’m hideous and of course you don’t want to touch me. I am totally the WORST, right??”
I’m working on it though.
In addition to a slight glimmer of carefreeness, not only do I now have one job, but I sort of have three at the moment. One is hopefully leading to full-time, and it’s the gig I’ve wanted for many months anyway, so I’m feeling pretty positive about that. The idea of being able to get out of the house again, despite instantly missing my pjs and fuzzy blankets and Netflix, is a really good feeling for my brain to wrap itself around.
And at the end of the worst hangover on new year’s day that I’ve had in years – a brilliant way to fool myself into thinking 2014 would be awful – suddenly I saw The Boy on my Tinder. Everything you’d expect to happen did; my whole body froze and my heart both sank and lifted simultaneously. I didn’t know what to do. My instinct said swipe right because if I swiped left I’d likely regret it.
Obviously I texted a couple of friends to ask what to do. Not that I hadn’t already made up my mind, but I knew it felt crazy and having someone tell me it was ok to be crazy was very validating.
Turns out we matched. And then we said hello. And I wanted to all caps him at first, saying, “What the fuck are you doing on Tinder? You won’t date me, but you’re on a dating app??” (Turns out he didn’t know that’s what it is or something something.) It didn’t fit with his circumstances and I was strangely angry. But then we found ourselves chatting and suddenly I was getting validation for so many shit feelings I experienced in 2013. I had made assumptions about why he’d disappeared, because it’s easy to lose your grip on reality as the dumpee, and to see that I was still thought of fondly was mind-blowing.
It’s been a week now, and we’ve still been chatting. Some of it has reverted back to old times, falling asleep in bed chatting into the wee hours of the morning, or chatting while at work and listening to all the music he tells me to because that’s his thing and I indulge him because I like dorks.
He’s told me a couple of times that he wants “something” with me, but that something should be less defined than before. And it feels good, but it also feels really strange. Circumstances haven’t really changed. I don’t think he has any more time or availability to give to me. Life will still go on as it has. It will never be what it was, or to be honest, what I really want. I know that already. We went very far down the rabbit hole last time, talking about future possibilities of hypothetical babies and living situations. We said we were in a relationship, couldn’t stop talking to each other, and we said we loved each other constantly.
And now, I feel foolish (especially when talking to him) to have any feelings at all, even if they’re all still there in my heart. I worked so damn hard to get past it, to move on, to get to a stage where I could actually accept a lack of closure and the idea that I would never see or talk to him again, and suddenly “Tada, here I am back in your life!” Jarring barely begins to summarize what it’s like, though I’m not a person to hold a grudge, and would rather have someone I click with around than not.
However, to say that I was hurt deeply by his fading away last year would be an understatement. The logical and rational thing to do – especially when knowing, before we even see each other again, that I can’t have what I want – is to walk away. Is to try and be friends or simply cut ties entirely.
But the heart, nor the lady bits, aren’t very logical. I’ve had intense additional relationships before, but never like this. So I’m trying to make peace with the idea of being happy to have him in my life again, whatever shape that has to take based on both of our limits and boundaries. For the last six months I swore that I would totally be happy if he was just in my life in some form, but now that the opportunity is here, I wonder if I can actually handle it. Part of me wants to try and pretend that I’m getting to know him from scratch; I feel that I can be cautiously optimistic that way, and slowly work on trust from a fake beginning.
He suggested that I not be too effusive when writing this post. That if I appeared to be too full of gushy feelings that you would all judge us and think we’re nuts or something. That suggestion hurt my feelings a bit, that he perhaps thinks that I’m just going to jump right back on the “Wheeeee the booooooy” train to Love Town.
But if you do think we’re nuts a little bit, you’d be right. I AM looking forward to seeing him in person again, and I am thrilled to be talking again, even though it’s very overwhelming. The very fact that he wants to complicate his life by having me in it, that he feels horrible for how things went last time, and that he wants “something” with me, fills me with delight that flies directly in the face of all logic.
It also terrifies me immensely. But that’s what love is, right? Oh sorry, I’m trying to be adult about this, that’s what the unnamed feeling that sort of resembles adoration is like. Right?
And to think. 2014 is only one week in. I feel pretty positive that this year is slowly going to stomp all over last year’s pile of suck, but I know it’s going to be one helluva bumpy ride.
Hey gang. In the spirit of the season, and to help Lelo celebrate their 10th anniversary, I’m giving away one very special 10th anniversary Lelo IDA™ couples massager, valued at $199 CDN, PLUS their special anniversary celebration book.**
Straight from Lelo themselves:
Discover a mind-blowing new way to share intimacy with Ida™, the premium couples’ massager worn by women when making love. Ida™ is the world’s first remote-controlled couples’ massager to combine powerful vibrations with thrilling rotations, offering completely new sensations for both partners. More pleasure for him, more pleasure for her with unlimited possibilities for play – your love life will never be the same again!
- Rotating and Vibrating Couples’ Massager
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- 8 Stimulation Modes (6 Standard, 2 Motion-Sensitive)
- 100% Waterproof & Rechargeable (2 hours use)
- Ultra-smooth, Body-safe Silicone Design
- 1-Year Warranty & 10 Year Quality Guarantee
How can YOU win this IDA for yourself? Well, it’s quite simple.
I want to hear your quick, little stories of giving back at the holidays. Share with us, in the comments, a short example of how you give to others at this time of year. Whether it’s making sure that your partner’s present was just right, or spending time volunteering to help out the less fortunate, share with us a happy moment of love and kindness, to help us all feel a little bit better about the world.
On Christmas Day at 11 am EST, the story with the most votes wins! So tell your friends to vote for your comment and spread the good cheer. Make sure there is a way to contact you in your comment / ID.
**Note: This contest is open to residents of Toronto/GTA only as you must pick up the prize in person in the New Year from the west end, as I can’t afford to pay for shipping. (If you live out of town, you may still participate as long as you have someone that can pick it up for you OR would be willing to pay for shipping.)
It’s been almost a year that I spent my last day of teaching video game development, after leaving my other job(s) / contract ending about a month and a half prior. So, as embarrassing as it sounds for me personally, the truth is that I’ve been officially unemployed for a year now.
Of course, I did some of it by choice. My last work environment ended up being very toxic for me, and I heard through the grapevine that they weren’t going to renew my contracts anyway due to my “lifestyle”, so I left to finish writing my book. (Which I did!)
But when not writing the book, or planning the almost stress-free (thanks to no full-time gig) 3rd year of Playground, I’m not really sure what I did this year. Certainly, there wasn’t that much time between finishing the book and working full time on the conference, but I’d be lying if I said that my days were filled with non-stop work until my husband came home.
And now today, a year to the day after I went down the naked, “no-going-back” rabbit hole with The Boy (I have an annoying memory for dates, and really wish I didn’t remember this one because today has been unnecessarily hard), I finally feel like reflecting on what my year alone (ish) has been like.
To start with, I haven’t *really* been alone
I’ve had plenty of friends around me, and many opportunities to do super fun things during the day, like day-drinking at Hanlans Point with one of my fave ladies, or getting to know new friends on chat, or over pints, or in the bedroom. I’ve had a husband coming home to me every day, and many fun adventures in the evening with friends, and very sporadically, lovers, though not always working out well. When I say that I’ve been alone, I don’t mean all the time; I mean that while the majority of people I know have been contributing to society in some meaningful way during their daytimes, I’ve been at home alone, either working on the book or conference, or perfecting my growing agoraphobia.
I’m terrible at being alone
Ok. Well maybe terrible is an exaggeration. I am perfectly capable of handling my life when I’m alone. In fact, my independence can kick into high gear when I know I’m the only one around to do things; I can take care of myself or get things done.
But at the same time? I also can’t take care of myself or get things done. I find myself occasionally living in a narrow path, where I can only see what’s directly in front of me and not the rest of the world, or even the room I’m standing in. I suspect that I’ve struggled with expanding my view because I haven’t wanted to see that I’ve been surrounded by nothingness; just me and my computer, faking my connections to the real world.
And while I’m absolutely great when I have a purpose, like Playground, working alone is not for me. Not that I want to work in an open concept office where everyone is tapping on my shoulders every 5 minutes; there needs to be a balance. But being the only person responsible for creating my tasks and then ensuring that those tasks are completed is not something I want or like doing for myself. Put me in a room of others and I’ll happily delegate and manage the shit out of them, but I’m a hopeless puppy when just doing it myself.
I have more depression than I realized
To say that this year was a perfect storm of everything coming together to throw me right into some sort of weird depression tornado, would be an understatement. A drawn out breakup that hit me with more severity than ANY of those in the past + a cold, lonely, and terrible winter + cramming to finish a 5 year project and get over the fear of sharing it with the world + living with a sick cat that I loved more than anything, and deciding over 3 months when to kill her + a few job situations not working out or being delayed + blah blah other romantic interactions failing blah blah + + +
In the past I’ve had the occasional seasonal depression, either related to the time of year or event production, but this year I was hit with the sads from every corner. And it wasn’t just the “breakup blues”, it was a lot of “Oh, I’m a worthless human being” or “I’m going to stay home because the world is scary” or “I don’t trust myself to make any decisions anymore” or “Hey, I hear your compliments and praise but I just feel empty inside.”
You know, those sorts of things. And finding myself with more alone time than I’ve EVER known how to deal with, all of those sentiments (and more) would follow me around like a massive rain cloud, every. single. day. It became impossible to escape them at times, and I’d be lying if I said that I’ve completely found myself in the sunshine. There are still days when I feel like an absolute waste of space.
Time is a commodity that needs to be valued
It’s true. There are a million and one projects that I want to start. I have a novel to write. An Etsy store to open. People to coach. A poly family to form. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. I’ve spent a LOT of time getting to know the things that I want to do with myself, and allowing for the luxury of entertaining some that I will likely ignore. With all these great projects just dying to get started, you’d think I’d have made EVERYthing by now. But no. The lesson I’ve learned is that the more time you have, the less you really do with it. When time is readily available, it’s so easy to waste. When you have to carve it out to truly do the things you love, that’s the time when I’m much more productive. I’ve struggled a lot with this.
I’m more professional than I thought
Somehow, while sitting in my pyjamas watching Always Sunny or porn, I’ve gone from complete despair in my career’s outlook to “Hey, I’m actually really flipping good at project/team managing, producing, and events management. Like, really good.” Looking at job descriptions that you don’t qualify for can be a soul-sucking task if all you’re focusing on is the fact that “Oh, I don’t have that specific requirement” or “8 years working at so and so corporation”. I’ve learned to start taking another approach, realizing that all of the work I have done either qualifies or over qualifies me for some jobs, while also accepting that I can’t convince all employers of this, as everyone has their own risks to mitigate.
Time does NOT heal all wounds, especially when alone
In some cases, time makes things worse. And for me, having all the time in the world this year, my wounds have been open with a constant stream of salt pouring into them. I don’t shut doors very well; my heart is always open to people from the past, which means that it’s also always open to heartache reminders. Being alone makes it obviously so much worse because, instead of focusing on new tasks at work or meeting new people, I can very easily spend a day in a downward spiral of reading old emails because, shit, it’s not like anything new is happening in my life.
I have zero idea how non-monogamy and I work right now
I don’t know if I want a poly family or someone to fuck casually. A dominant master or mistress. People to do pot lucks with, or people to hit Oasis with. I don’t know what’s worth it for me, right now, or moving forward. Somedays I feel like non-monogamy and I just aren’t meant to be, and on others, I know that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever typed.
I might not know exactly what I want, but I know what I don’t
If there’s one benefit to all of this time to myself, it’s the amount of reflecting I’ve been able to do. I’ve had a lot of different types of relationships over the past 7 years, in addition to my marriage that grows even more awesome daily, and with constant time available to think about it, I’ve certainly figured out a few things I don’t want out of future relationships. Unfortunately, along with that comes a lot of cynicism and distrust and confusion. I have no clue what I’m looking for in my next relationship(s), or if I even want anything, but I definitely feel more secure with the things that are definite noooooooos.
I’m just about done with being alone
It’s true. I’m SO ready to be around people again. I find that it’s a lot harder to get myself out the door nowadays, but once I’m out, I’m still just as good – if not better / more confident – around people than I ever used to be. All I need is some routine that’s not my lazy, post Playground, days and I should be ok.
And finally … I’ve really learned the depths of my vulnerability and my strengths this year
This entire year has been like existing in one big, mirrored box, where I’ve been unable to escape my failures or successes. Every part of who I am is clear to me now, whether I like it or not. A lot of it I currently don’t like it. But a lot more of it, I’m starting to really, truly cherish.
Here’s a song that I should have listened to a lot more a year ago. Maybe a lot of the last 365 would have been very different.
For most of my adult life, I’ve always embraced everything that comes along with falling for somebody new. It’s a feeling that I simply adore. New Relationship Energy (NRE) and I get along like nobody’s business. And, like a person lost in puppy love fever, I seem to trust all of the decisions I make during this time, knowing full well that I probably shouldn’t.
It would seem that this carefree Samantha is now MIA. I’ve gone from being open to probably more things than I should be, to being afraid of possibility. I used to love the feeling, and now I’ve become afraid to fall. I used to not reply to okCupid messages because I’m lazy, but now it’s because I’m scared that I might actually enjoy it.
And while I would like to say that my unwillingness to fall only applies to any new, potential romances, I know that I’m lying to myself, and to you. Because the truth is that I’ve left every external relationship on some type of hold, while putting zero to minimal effort into keeping those fires alive. If I keep everything at a lower level of energy, then I’m not making room for things to potentially come crashing down, as they could, were they higher on my radar.
In short, I’ve become terrified of instability, the one thing that I used to adore. My love of change and new things has always been a driving force in who I am.
This entire year has been filled with instability. The only things I knew for certain were that I had a book deadline, conferences to speak at, and one conference to run. I didn’t know what would happen with The Boy, or with the old friend that I connected with only to have things go pear-shaped-ish, at least in the romance department. I lost all of my kink relationships and have no idea if I’ll ever have anything similar to them again.
I haven’t known what’s happening with my employment situation, because I’ve been doing a lot of hurrying up … and waiting. And I still don’t know. I now have reached a point where I have zero income, and a couple of “maybe hopefully these will be jobs that can pay my bills and give me satisfaction again” on the horizon, but again, nothing is etched in stone.
And the irony is not lost on me. You see, the thing that I’m most proud of in my book is that it’s absolutely chocked full of “maybe, perhaps, and possibly”, because I didn’t want to write anything that suggested to people that you have to do these things to be non-monogamous or else your entire lifestyle is invalid. It works to not be so strict in the book, when people are searching for validation for their choices that maybe differ from the “poly norm” they’re used to seeing.
But, I realize it now, a lack of clarity and direction sure as hell doesn’t work in the rest of my life.
Certainly, there have been some things that have been stable this year. I’ve had a few wonderful friends that have been incredibly grounding for me, keeping my head above water when I felt I was sinking on countless occasions. And I can’t even begin to describe how amazing I feel about my relationship with my husband now. I can’t imagine it’s easy to live with someone dealing with real depression for the first time, and a big, messy breakup, and the stress of publishing a book, and running a conference … and ALL OF THE THINGS. But he’s done it. He’s been the best island for me that I’ve ever known. I’ve probably become slightly too dependent on him, especially as I’ve been unemployed and he’s been such a large part of my real human contact with the world, but I know that my independent streak is just sitting this one out for now.
I’m still here because he’s able to wrap me in so much warmth and stability that I haven’t wanted to be anywhere else. But I’m beginning to accept, that my fear of the ocean around me isn’t who I am. It might be who I am temporarily, but it’s not Samantha Fraser at her core. I am a restless adventurer, always wanting to explore the high seas of love and lust. I’m just not ready to go it alone anymore. Or, if I do, I require far more lifejackets and lifeboats and sea radios and singing crab guides than I ever did before.
I’m absolutely terrified of falling for someone new, like I did starting at just about this same time last year for the Boy, only to have everything blow up around me. I’m terrified of meeting another person that I want to have in my life forever, only to lose them again, for reasons outside of my control. Even though embracing and sharing my vulnerabilities has always been such a huge part of what makes me me, I’m terrified to give even a small part of myself to somebody new. Or even, somebody that’s been around for a while, on my outer radar.
It’s why I’ve shared less and less with my friends, as of late, in addition to growing tired of hearing my own year-long sob story. I’ve retreated and not allowed any reliance on other people’s shoulders, for fear that those shoulders will disappear. It’s easier to handle being alone when you’re the one that’s caused it, instead of having someone leave you stranded when you least expect it. The end result might be the same, but there’s something to be said for the journey’s significance in your heart’s reaction.
All I want is some stability, some certainty, some purpose again in life. I need a job and real human contact again more than anything. Because right now, I feel like a smart, afraid person, full of love, sitting at home, going to waste, and that’s not a feeling I can even begin to make ok.
I’m ready to dip my toes in. Even if it’s just the shallow end, I’ve got to swim again.
It’s a special kind of sadness.
One that I’ve shared for months and months.
But then it gets tired. And I get tired. And I suspect everyone around me gets tired of it.
So the logical thing to do is pretend that it doesn’t exist.
But it always does.
It’s now a secret sadness.
Even in the brightest moments or on the best of days.
Even when your memories seem impossible to access in my mind.
Something will come along and make it so.
And I won’t tell a soul about it because I was supposed to get over you.
Last month. Last year. Or whenever that was.
You aren’t just one person.
But getting over someone is never as easy as advice suggests.
I rarely get a clean break.
Others do and I envy them.
The ability to sever all connections in the brain or at the very least to numb them.
I don’t have this ability.
I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Instead, I drive past your highway exit and my mind turns to you.
I’ll know you’re probably at home.
I’ll know what you’re doing because we are all creatures of habit.
And I don’t forget silly details.
Though, ffs brain, could you learn how to for once?
Your most favourite band will play on the radio.
And I’ll break down if I’m alone.
Or my smile will turn fake if I’m with company.
Secret sadness surrounds me.
It’s in my autocorrect.
It’s in my eyes that you told me you loved.
It’s always waiting for a moment of joy to infect.
It’s always ready to fill me with regret.
And it will live behind closed doors until it eventually gives up.
Or I do.