when you break up with someone you love.

Sometimes things simply end. That’s all there is to it – no fault, no blame, no harrowing experiences, just an ending. You try to go back through it all, trying to pinpoint the moment where your trajectory changed, the sentence or action that caused everything to come crashing down around you, but you can’t. You look for it, seek it out for some sort of closure or understanding, but it’s not there. There are times when, no matter what you did, no matter how hard you tried, it was never going to go the way you thought it would.

Over the last month and a half I have run the gamut of emotions from anger to denial to blame to emptiness. As I have watched a relationship I thought was going to be forever slowly end, I have done my share of thinking. I’ve done my share of yelling. I’ve done my share of blaming. I’ve done my share of everything I could think of to avoid feeling what I actually feel: sad. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me to admit sadness, I have a tendency to lash out in anger instead, but right now that’s what I am. Pure and simple.

I suppose that’s the natural state when your breakup is the result of two people growing with each other very solidly for awhile and then all of a sudden not. And that’s all there is to it.

I’ve never had a breakup where I still loved the other person. I’ve never had a breakup without a dramatic catalyst – lies, deceit, betrayal. I’ve never had a breakup like this. And I think that’s what makes it the hardest.

It feels like around every corner is another reminder of the life we once had and the one we used to work towards. The other day we went grocery shopping and as I watched Sam walk down an aisle I thought about how, before we moved in together, we used to talk about how excited we were to grocery shop together for the rest of our lives. I started crying in the middle of the store thinking of those two people, the ones who were so sure and so full of hope. I was happy for them but sad for us and I felt so much older than I ever have. In a lot of ways I am.

As I pack up my life in preparation for moving this weekend I’m finding things that remind me of how happy we were. Those red cups, remnants from parties we had with friends. That metro card from New York City, that trip Sam took me on for my twenty-fifth birthday. That silver ring, the one he found in a drawer and gave to me as a promise ring. The notes and pictures and little gifts that only meant anything to us. And they used to mean everything.

I’m grateful that, for the most part, my time as Sam’s girlfriend was one of the happiest times of my life. To be able to love so fully, so honestly, is something I am grateful to have been given. But now, as things start to wind down and I’m realizing that this is really ending, it’s becoming very hard. Every day I come home from work and realize I’m one day closer to not seeing his face on the other side of the door. I go to bed at night and look at his side, realizing that soon there will no longer be a need for sides at all. I wonder who I’m supposed to turn to when my best friend is also the boyfriend I’m no longer with.

And so I’m very sad.

I know this decision is for the best. Our relationship became, as Sam called it, untenable. Our emotional differences became too difficult to manage. And I know that life will still be okay without him.

But it hasn’t made me love him any less. Naively I thought the amicable nature and mutual understanding between us would make this the easiest breakup I’ve ever had but it’s quickly proving to be the hardest. We laugh and talk and hug like the old days, rapidly moving towards new, uncharted days.

I don’t know what my life is going to look like six months from now. I have faith it will work out and things will make sense, but I’m not sure when that will happen. For now I have to carry on, and poor Sam has spent more time sitting beside a weeping woman than he would probably care to, but that’s just where we’re at now. We’re making this work as simply, and lovingly, as we can.

And that is simply the nature of things that end with as much love as possible.


don’t save me.

My Disney movie preferences as a child were quite simple: give me a little bit of song, human involvement only when necessary, and as many animals as you could reasonably fit into the story. 101 Dalmatians was (still is) my jam. On a first date five years ago the guy asked me what my favourite movie was. I responded, no hesitation, with, “101 Dalmatians.” He followed up with, “I meant your adult favourite.”

Okay, see ya, bro!

(Just kidding – in true Caitlin style I went out with him again, and maybe a few more agains after that, because I didn’t understand the difference between lonely and alone yet. I was young, okay?)

I have always wondered why the princess movies never resonated with me like they did with other little girls. Jasmine had a tiger, Ariel had some aquatic friends, I could get my animal quotient and still enjoy watching women find their destiny, right?

Well, I guess so. Until I got older and more independent and so utterly wise it hurts that I realized my problem wasn’t the animal-to-human ratio or that the songs weren’t my cup of tea (Pocahontas sang some catchy shit), it was that the destiny these princesses found was in another person. In the animal movies there was always someone that needed to be saved, some relationship requiring mending, but they always did it with a strength of self that the princesses didn’t seem to possess.

I didn’t want to be saved by being married. And I certainly didn’t want to be told by an entire town that I was a total knob for reading a book when I could be bedding steroidal, megalomaniac Gaston. My family likes to remind me that I was a miserable infant, crying whenever I got the opportunity to cry, a baby who certainly didn’t seem to be enjoying her time alive like her older sister did. Then I started moving around on my own and I was still totally obnoxious but much more comfortable with life. I didn’t want people doing things for me, from birth. So why would I have enjoyed a movie about some girl being saved by love?

The only animal movie that crosses a bit of a line into the princess theme is Lady and the Tramp but I’m not as quick to dismiss it into the, “girl meets bad boy, bad boy is actually a good boy, girl gets saved by bad boy” category (it has dogs in it so obviously I’m not going to be unbiased here, okay?). At least Tramp showed her that she could break out of her little box and have a little fun. I’m pretty sure Billy Joel wrote “Only The Good Die Young” after watching Lady and the Tramp, just saying. And in the end they compromised, had a bunch of mutts, and lived a nice, respectful life together.

But she certainly wasn’t passed out in some tower, therefore giving the green light to some random to come along and kiss her. Maybe she was out a little late the night before. Maybe she needed that nap. Maybe she never wanted you to be the one to save her. Ever think of that, Mister Lipsmacker? No? Didn’t think so.

What I’m trying to say is that maybe I should have been paying more attention to my Disney movie preferences all long. It’s not that I’m not made for love – I love love, and I love being loved – but it has taken me too long to realize that love isn’t there to make me better. It’s not there to fix me or save me or complete me or destroy me. It’s there to compliment me and make me happy and make me feel safe and make me feel comfortable and feel good about someone else. The only person I’ve ever needed to come along and save me was myself. And every single ditch I drove myself into along the way was another attempt at life trying to show me that.

I’m not Jasmine or Belle or Ariel (despite the ginger hair). I have a good life and a lot of people who love me already. And I love them.

So no, I don’t want to be saved. I’ll do that myself.

Perdita being a badass bitch who don't need no man but took one because she wanted to and then fought for her babies like a boss.

Perdita being a badass bitch who don’t need no man but took one because she wanted to and then fought for her babies like a boss.

love and loss and coping.

I don’t know what you believe in. Sometimes I don’t know what I believe in. I suppose I believe in fate, in karma, in a sort of universal power. For some that is too much and they prefer a bigger power-free world. That’s okay, that doesn’t bother me.

Today was a terrible day. I’ve struggled today to look on the bright side, to maintain a positive outlook. I have cried a lot. I don’t want to go into what has caused this onslaught of emotion, that’s not the point of this post. Just know that my mind has not stopped all day and I’ve had to do a lot of deep breathing.

In a sudden rush of emotion resulting in me absolutely not being able to stay in my apartment one second longer (I get that way sometimes when I begin to get very anxious – I need to get outside for some air or I start to feel swallowed up by my indoor surroundings), I took a walk. I didn’t know where I was going at first, but halfway through I knew. I was heading to the cemetary where we scattered my grandma’s ashes two years ago, a ten minute walk from me yet never visited since.

My grandmother’s death was really tough on me. I’ve had bouts of mild depression before, nothing more serious than what many of us experience from time to time, but this was rough. It was the first and only time I knew the debilitating effects that utter emptiness can have on you: exhaustion along with insomnia, numbness along with pain. To protect myself I ignored all of my pain from this and other losses in the family as soon as I could.

So you could imagine why I never wanted to come back and visit that scattering garden ever again.

Today, though, was the day. Today I needed to face it, I needed to feel it, I needed to say hello again. The sky was grey and threatening rain as I was walking and I wondered if I made a mistake in not bringing a jacket or umbrella. As soon as I found the garden and sat down opposite it, however, the clouds parted, the sun came out, and a warm breeze ran over me. My music switched songs and Swim by Jack’s Mannequin came on, and I started to cry. I cried until I could smile again, all the while feeling the sun on my skin.

The whole time I felt conflicting feelings of sadness but also hope. Hope because even here, even at this low moment, and even though she was gone, I had to believe that she was looking out for me. She looked out for all of us, would never have wanted to see us saddened by anything to do with her.

And so while I may not believe in a God or religion, I believe we get what we need and the universe has a way of giving it when we most need it. It’s the same reason I woke up from a dream the morning of my birthday this year where she had called me to wish me a happy birthday. It was the first time I had heard her voice in over two years and I knew, I had to believe, that she had done what she could to reach me.

Maybe this is all too voodoo mumbo-jumbo for you and that’s alright, I’m not offended. But I just wanted to say that if I’ve learned anything about life and loss and coping, it’s that the easiest route isn’t always the best route. And sometimes you need to let yourself feel awful, simply face it all, to feel not so awful again. I was so scared of feeling pain for so long that I bottled it up and got angry instead. I wish I could go back and deal with it all a little better.

Just know that in its own way, the world will take care of you when you don’t think you can. And sometimes the hardest part is the part you need the most.

work it, girl.

If you have been following along with my blog for the past couple of months you will know that I’ve made some pretty big changes in my life. I’ve cleaned up my diet, I exercise often, and I make time for self-reflection, meditation, and mindfulness every day. It’s been a long road, one with many bumps and starts, and it’s certainly not finished yet. I’ve had a few people ask me what I’ve done to make these changes, how I’m feeling in various stages and what I’m going to do next.

The truth of the matter is: I don’t know. Okay, well I know that I’ve worked out and I’ve eaten better but I certainly don’t know what I’m going to do next. And I certainly don’t know if what’s worked for me will work for someone else. What I do know, however, is there is so much more to this than getting fit, getting thin, and getting to whatever other adjective you want to use (see: toned, skinny, ripped). I am going to try to give you a list of what I’ve done and how it’s helped in this journey.

1. I stopped making my appearance the main focus.

This is so hard for a lot of us. I think humans are inherently vain to some extent. We enjoy looking at attractive people, male and female, and we enjoy looking attractive. We like it when people notice if we look nice one day. We are bombarded with images and studies linking attractiveness to various levels of achievement in life. I don’t believe we can ever fully shift our focus from appearance to our inner selves, but we can certainly make it less important. I started to focus on my mental health and, ultimately, its strength. I focused on my happiness.. I have tried to be more aware of what’s happening inside of me, whether it’s in my brain, my chest, my gut, or my muscles, to try to be more in touch with myself. When I started to do this I became happier, felt lighter (I literally felt physically lighter) and started enjoying my life more.

2. I eat less meat.

Don’t worry, dad, I’m not a vegetarian. I love meat. They say that we evolved to eat meat when humans began to move away from the equatorial areas of the world where plant-based foods were not as abundant. Well, I’m as pale and ginger-haired as they come so I think my ancestral roots are pretty deep down there in the omnivorous realm. That being said, I do believe that a diet heavy in meat wasn’t the best choice for me, either. About fifty percent of my meals are vegetarian, deriving my protein from beans, quinoa, and certain vegetables. I appreciate meat more, I am saving money, and I feel healthier. Simple as that.

3. I meditate along with doing yoga.

Whoa, whoa, I know. The girl who never stops thinking, never stops talking, never stops emoting, is sitting down and clearing her mind for more than five seconds. Well, no, I’m not. My mind is rarely clear. I was hesitant about this at first but I watched a short video on The Yoga Collective and read a few informative articles on mindbodygreen that taught me it doesn’t have to be about being completely clear of all thoughts. It’s not natural and it can be demoralizing when you simply can’t do it. What meditating is starting to teach me is that it’s about being aware of yourself, your thoughts, and how you feel, something that I’ve struggled with for years. I’ve also learned that I don’t have to sit in some crazy bendy position to do it – I can do it laying in bed or sitting on the couch if that’s what’s most comfortable. Honestly, even after five minutes of focusing my breath and listening to myself, I feel really great. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I rarely ever took time to notice my thoughts or my body and how it feels (on the inside!) and it’s rejuvenating to give myself those few minutes of time.

4. I still work up a really great sweat.

Yes, meditation is great for the soul and yoga really works your body in a deceptively hard fashion but sometimes there is no substitute for a rough, body-killing twenty-five minute tabata workout. I feel energized and capable after these workouts, laying on my mat covered in sweat and trying to catch my breath, in the same way I feel prepared and clear-headed after meditation or yoga. It’s been important to give myself both styles of workouts because sometimes warrior II doesn’t do it for me and I just need to feel my body scream a little.

5. I get outside.

This is much easier in the summer, especially in Toronto, and I’m already trying to figure out what I’m going to do when the snow and wind hits, but that will happen when it happens! At least once a week I take an extra-long bike ride through the city. Last week I left for work a half hour earlier than normal and did a ten kilometre route that ended at my workplace. Other weeks I’ve gone out on a Saturday morning and biked anywhere from sixteen to twenty-five kilometres, Last night I went for a simple half hour walk. I love getting outside, even if it’s just for a little bit, because it makes me feel rejuvenated after.

All of these things add up to one common denominator: they make me happy. If I’ve come to learn anything over the last little while that is the most crucial thing in any life-changing experience – happiness. If you’re not mentally or emotionally ready, you will give up. Or at least you have to work through the pain and mental crap until you feel happy, like I did. I’m still learning everyday and I’m far from perfect. I still have overly emotional moments or times when I forget myself and my mouth speaks before my brain has time to be like, “I don’t think so, girl.” Nobody’s perfect and I know I never will be. But I do know I can be happy for the majority of my time and I can at least recognize when I’ve been unreasonable, and that has been a major accomplishment in my life.

If you do some of these already or have given them a try, how do you feel? What else works for you?



runny yolks and silver linings.

I had a really interesting conversation at work today about my past relationships. Normally these conversations centre around the ridiculous and horrible memories most of my dating record consists of. What can I say? I don’t have a great track record for choosing them, keeping them, or understanding love in the least. Today, however, the conversation veered towards what the worst of the worst in my dating life taught me in a positive light. I often look at these guys as the embodiment of sadness, pain, and the lowest point of my self esteem. But today I remembered that one of them ordered me a sunny side up egg when I told him that I hated runny eggs and I ended up loving it, forever changing my breakfast game in the most positive way.

And then it hit me: they weren’t all bad. You stick around for something and while the worst memories tend to be the ones that stay with you the longest, there were moments of happiness in there, too.

One man I was involved with on and off for about three years was so selfish and awful that my friends and I call him Mean Nick. There really isn’t a better way to describe him; he really was mean. And maybe (definitely?) a sociopath. Yet between the moments where he was ignoring me and making me feel awful for asking if I could come see one of his gigs (no, but seriously), he could be quite kind. And he never once made me feel ashamed of my body or who I was. It seems to be contradictory to say he was a sociopath who treated me like shit but also made me feel great, but it’s true. It took me a good five minutes to think of what was good about him at all, I realized that while he never appreciated me for many things, he did try in his extremely fucked up way to show me that I was pretty. While it doesn’t make up for a lot of what he did, I learned in that moment that you can find good in most things if you look for it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that life will sometimes drag you through the mud, whether at the hands of others or simply because a decision that seemed right was actually very wrong and you’re paying the consequences of it. It gets really easy to look at the bad and be swallowed up by it, unable to get yourself out of the mire and muck. I urge you, though, to try to look at the positive side (I know, I know, this really isn’t what anyone wants to hear but it’s so important!) because it exists and it will change everything.

If it weren’t for the bad men in my life I wouldn’t know how to recognize the good one I have now. If it weren’t for the moments I was a bad woman to a good man I wouldn’t have learned how to deal with things in an acceptable way (okay, I’m still learning but I’ve gotten way better). And if I hadn’t had bad experiences in my life I wouldn’t be anywhere near who I am now, wouldn’t be as strong, self-sufficient, and capable.

And I would still be scrambling my eggs until they were rubber, wondering why they never tasted that great.

body lovin’.

Today as I was halfway through a high intensity workout, clad in short spandex shorts and a sports bra, I looked up and caught myself in the mirror. I was halfway through my minute of criss-cross jacks, trying to keep my breath steady as I brought elbow to meet knee and also trying not to die. Every time my limbs crossed my torso to say hello to each other briefly, my stomach crunched itself up into a few tiny little rolls. As I splayed my limbs back out, a split second reprieve before I launched into the same action on the other side, my stomach would jiggle itself back into semi-flat existence. After a year of exercising and feeding my body (mostly) healthy food, I have a tummy that has some definition but is still holding on to that lower abdominal pooch and a little layer of blubber as well, just for old times’ sake.

As I watched my stomach fold and jiggle with my uncoordinated limb movements my face burst into a spontaneous smile. (If you thought I was going to say it burst into a spontaneous flame, you are totally my wavelength because I actually almost typed that. But that didn’t happen so it would have been a lie and I don’t want to lie to you. That is what this blog is about: the truth. So I’m sorry I couldn’t give you that small bit of hyperbole. Digressing…) One year ago, even a few months ago, I never would have smiled at the sight of my flab jiggling away. I would have been mortified. I might have put a shirt on despite being alone in my apartment. I might have spent the rest of the workout distracted by a voice in my head reminding me how disgustingly fat I am. But there I was, smiling. And proud.

My body is, at this very moment, in the best shape it has ever been in. It looks better than I can ever remember it looking.  The other day I went bathing suit shopping because the ones I’ve owned for the last few years were all too big. Let me repeat that: they were all. too. big. During the bathing suit shopping I lamented the fact that I still couldn’t wear teeny bikini bottoms without making myself look like a peanut and even had a couple moments where I whined to Sam that I am SO FAT. But that only happened a couple of times, I didn’t cry, and I actually continued to love the body I was looking at despite its unfortunate appearance in unflattering cuts.

Then I found a bathing suit and I felt happy and the world was great again.

Things are still not perfect. Yes, my upper thighs and hips seem to have a harder time with change than other parts of my body but they are starting to get the message. I catch myself in my cut off denim shorts in a mirror once in awhile and notice some cellulite lingering on the back of my thighs. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get rid of that pesky curve that exists on both the outside and inside of my legs that is, I’m pretty sure, the jiggliest part of every human body. Once in awhile I ask myself if I will ever look like I want to look or if it’s all just a pipe dream.

But then I remember that I’m now a size eight and I used to be a twelve to fourteen. I remember that I used to be out of breath doing basically anything. I remember that I took comfort in food instead of other, more fulfilling, past times. I think about the fact that I bike a minimum of eight kilometres a day and do yoga or HIIT four to five of those days, something my body never would have been able to handle in the past. I remind myself that I am happier, mentally tougher, and so much healthier than I have ever been.

So when I catch myself in the mirror, red and sweaty with a simultaneously rolling and jiggling tummy, I smile now. I smile because there is some definition there. I smile because I’m doing something I never would have been able to do before. I see my legs, pale and still a little soft, and love them for literally pushing me to and from work every day, around the city on the weekends, and for never giving out during jump squats even when my brain is screaming.

I don’t have the best body in the world. I never will. But I have the best body for me.

And I really do, for the first time in my life, love what I see when I look in the mirror – naked, clothed, or in spandex shorts and a sports bra, panting and jumping and jiggling.


love lessons.

Sam and I are coming up on our two year anniversary in just a couple of months. This seems impossible to me for a couple of reasons: one, I never thought I’d make it in a relationship more than one year and two, it seems ridiculous that he’s only been in my life for two years. It seems like it’s been much longer and I mean that in a good way.

In these last two years I’ve learned a lot about love and relationships. It’s safe to say that my dating life prior to Sam was a mess. It was more bumps in the road than smooth sailing and even my long-term boyfriends were not healthy situations now that I look back on them. I had to recognize what true respect, trust, love were – something that I hadn’t ever truly attempted to do.

I am by no means a relationship guru. Sometimes I have people ask me advice on how Sam and I stay happy, how we knew it would work, how we continue to develop and grow especially in the face of adversity and it takes everything in me not to laugh in their face. I don’t really know how we do it sometimes, but we do. What I do know is that I’ve learned a lot and I will attempt to share those lessons with you.

1. Love is not easy.

I know, I know – you’ve heard this so many times before. I had heard it countless times before but still didn’t quite believe it. The people I knew who were happy together, still in love after years, seemed to have it made. They just got it. It didn’t seem like a lot of work to me, it just seemed like simple, honest love. I suppose that is part of it, simple honest love, but there is so much work that happens on top of that. You have a foundation of strength that gets built on and sometimes the first few walls are a little shaky. A lot of our foundation comes from the fact that we found a fellow weirdo, someone who recognizes and accepts what others might see as faults, and a mutual understanding of the world that many other people don’t share. But sometimes those faults or weird quirks can interrupt the great moments. Sometimes (a lot of the time) you have to be talking, communicating, reaching out to the other person to ensure you really understand each other. This is actually a lot of fun but it is also a lot of work. A relationship is the first baby you have together, needy and demanding and requiring more attention than you thought, but when it starts to grow and become its own entity, you realize it was all worth it.

2. If you are going to choose one thing to have, make it trust.

I started this relationship as the least trusting person in the world. I was basically the worst. Earlier relationships had ended in fiery balls of distrust after infidelity of every sort. I carried with me the memories of being told a boyfriend had slept with someone else, the discovery of sexual messages to other girls, and being straight up lied to constantly. I carried them with me and dropped them right off at Sam’s feet and was like, “Deal with this.” And then Sam was like, “No, thank you.” The best thing Sam ever did for me was not give in to my unfounded distrust at everything. He never gave me reason to actually believe he would cheat on me and so far all of my attempts to drum up proof have continued to show that he is the most honest person on the planet. He taught me how to trust someone without needing access to every social media account or electronic device they own. He taught me that, sometimes, people are being honest when they say, “I would never do that to you.” And now I know how detrimental my lack of trust was to us and, ultimately, to myself. If you need anything, above all else, you need to trust the person you’re with.

3. Love starts with yourself.

Our relationship has always been great. We’ve managed through arguments and some really tough moments. We talk, laugh, dance, and share. It’s been like that since the beginning. It’s always been fairly simple between us (but not always easy!). Despite this ease and understanding between us, our relationship started to get really good when I started to respect myself. When I started to take care of my body, my mental health, and my general well-being, things began to open up like I never could imagine. When Sam started to take care of himself a little more, the same thing happened. Right now, I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Not just with Sam, but with everything. This happiness bleeds back into our relationship, though, and makes things so much smoother. As soon as I chose to love myself, I was able to love Sam so much better. If you can’t look at yourself and see what the other person sees, you’ll never feel comfortable, so do yourself (and your partner) a favour and find the good inside of you.

Two years is nothing in comparison to some of the other relationships out there. It’s amazing how much can change in two years, though, with your life, yourself, and your relationship, and it’s no surprise how many couples break up after a few years. I know we will learn so much more as time goes on, about ourselves and about love, and it will be how we react to new situations that will decide how we proceed as a couple. But I know, at the end of it all, that as long as we keep learning, growing, and communicating to each other, and ultimately have respect for each other, we will be okay.

And that’s the best lesson I have ever learned.