On change and heartache and just getting on with it

So shit happens. Horrible, painful, transformative shit. The kind that well-meaning friends will say, This will make you stronger. Or, It will get better, just be patient. And, sometimes, There isn’t any point in feeling this way, because it doesn’t make sense.

Well, I want to shout, I feel the exact opposite of strong right now, and it hasn’t gotten any better, and patience is something I have never been able to learn, and I will feel this way if I fucking feel like it, and nothing about heartache makes any damned sense anyway.

The truth is this: my marriage ended. We have a child and a dog. We had a house. We had everything that people spend decades searching for. But none of it made us perfect, and none of it was a talisman against time and feelings and change. During all of this, I was looking for a new publisher for the new novel, and it felt like everything my ex-husband and I had built together, that we wanted to build together, was crumbling through my fingers faster than I could track.

I found a new publisher (big ups to ECW Press) that I love, and my life, the personal one, takes on more shape every day. I’m teaching writing at UBC and SFU Continuing Studies. I’m looking for a new home for my son and me. I see my friends as much as I can (cliched advice notwithstanding, they are the best people). And I’m sorting out what I really want (although this is harder than it sounds, the digging it takes to discover what you want in your core, not just what makes you happy for five minutes or five days). Which is not to say that progress doesn’t hurt, or that setbacks don’t hurt three times as much. But The Conjoined, the new novel, represents something huge: the beginnings of a new literary life and a new real life.

Starting over again is hard. It sucks big hairy balls. But it’s also a necessary thing, one that we all experience multiple times in our lives. My father died when I was 12. I was married at 24. My first novel was published at 30. My son was born at 33. All of that initiated change, some fun, some not-so-fun. But each change brought me closer to the person I am right now, the one who fights to understand what she wants, and fights for her relationships to be better and kinder and more open. That, in a way, is worth it. Or at least worth it enough that I can get up in the morning and face another day.

Except don’t tell me to be patient. That, along with the ability to do math, is totally missing from my brain.

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