Ryann Reflections

A glimpse into the life of one anti-social stripper nerd.

Friday, March 31, 2006

freak on the street, prude in the bed

I may be about to ruin a huge misconception, and I do apologize.

(In consolation women do have pillow fights in our panties.)

The general fantasy is that strippers are sex symbols, wild nymphomaniacs that cannot control their obsession with sex and are obviously highly imaginative, open and sexual women. I hate to ruin the illusion, but I ’m going to talk about strippers in bed. Casual observations and thoughts… Yes, we embody the fantasy but are strippers better in bed, or worse?

What makes a person good in bed? What qualities do people look for? Openness? Boundaries to push? Romance? Power? Sensual responsiveness? Willingness to give? Skill? Love? Passion? Games? What taboo acts are considered risqué and sensual? What vanilla escapades rate higher in locker rooms than others?

I’ve often heard the cliché “A lady on the street and a freak in the bed.” Are strippers the opposite? A nympho on the stage and a prude in the bed? We are objectified. A sexual fantasy is not a dynamic individual. The constant lack of intimacy is predominant, and can be easily internalized.

Does stripping make a woman more vanilla?

Dancing increases exposure and awareness of certain ideals and desires. In being a sex object one is forced to create personal boundaries that perhaps other women would not be required to. Exposure to situations and requests that are often disrespectful or repulsive can contribute to stubborn resistance and disgust. Common fantasies and behaviors may be interpreted as inappropriate. What could be lighthearted roll-playing in one relationship has the potential to illicit feelings of objectification, disrespect, or hurtful memories in a relationship with a stripper. When one hears “you are beautiful. You have great tits. You’re gorgeous…” so many times in a day it becomes meaningless. Judged purely on physical appeal on a daily basis it may become a chore to look good and feel sexy for a partner.

I am embracing my sexuality and in a place of acceptance. I am comfortable in my experiences and desires. I am accepting of my fantasies. However, when I have been working for months without a break, when I have gone weeks without hearing my real name, I feel like I exist as an image. I feel the men that appear interested in me are judging a façade. The resistance I experience as a result of playing a roll has the potential to translate into very negative results. in those moments I’m not willing to be vulnerable. I’m already physically exposed. I don’t want to risk personal exposure.

On the flip side, a streak of positive work weeks can build confidence at an exponential rate. From dancing I have discovered a great deal of personal sexual power. As the power waves build and crumble, I loose some of the urge to let go of that power. Dehumanized and objectified, the reminder can feel dirty and undesirable. When resentment is predominant the faith and trust vanish. To release personal control requires a high level of trust.

But when I am riding a power high, I often intensely crave to let go of the control and cleanse the power. I am in control every day of my life. It can be exhausting. I am sober, I am focused. I choose my own path. I am secure in myself. I am only willing to let go of that control in isolated situations. I have enjoyed incredible purely sexual relationships. There have been encounters in which desire and illusion have come together in a passionate union of sweat, power, and fantasy.

It comes in phases. I’m not alone in these experiences. I know many dancers share similar emotions. It's complicated, far more complex than it ever should be.

I may circle around these same issues for a while. You lucky blog buddies get to witness it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'm not going to fight it

Look at me. Feel the electricity. Feel the passion.
Admire me. Create me. Possess me. Explore me. Enjoy me.

Something about me oozes sex. It is in my eyes, it is in my walk, it is in my interaction with people and my presence in a room. It has been a quality inherently belonging to me long before I recognized it.

I remember the day it changed. I remember the moment when in the eyes of society I changed. Overnight I became a sexual being. Naïve, I was unaware of how it happened, and I had no idea how to handle it.

I put on a dress, sleek it flowed to the floor and clung to curves I was unaware I had. It hugged my hips and displayed my breasts. The bell sleeves and vibrant colours created a fantasy, and unbeknownst to me, I became it. I was fourteen. It was Halloween. From that day on my sex appeal was obvious and intense.

But becoming a sexual object in the eyes of the men and women around me in no way prepared me to come into my own sexuality. I have been told I am hypnotic, addictive. Men desire to possess and fuck me. Confident women enjoy my sexuality, but many insecure individuals are threatened and do not understand it. Friends enjoy being in my presence, and watching the sensual way I live. There have been many conversations over the years discussing what it is about me. An ex told me once that he didn’t understand what it was but that it was like he could “smell my pheromones”

Over the years I have questioned, despised, explored, used, and ignored my sex appeal. It flows in waves of power and submission as I have struggled to understand something I am aware of only on an instinctive level.

For months I have been angry and resentful of men viewing me as a sex object. I feel the resentment fading. I feel the acceptance wash through me. I am a sexual being. Everyone knows it. Perhaps not something that many people are able to put into words or understand, everyone just knows.

I cannot blame men for my inherent sexual power. I cannot blame men for responding to me. I will not blame men for my sexuality. It’s not something I do for approval or gain. I just am. I cannot, nor do I wish to, change the very core of who I am.

Yes, I am more than tits and ass. I am a thinking, feeling, dynamic and complex woman. I am beginning to recognize my innate potential as it relates to the Sacred Goddesses of our matriarchal history. There was a time when Sacred Whores reveled in power and respect. There was a time when shame was not attached to female sexuality.

Yes, many men and women look at me and feel the sexual tension. Yes I can illicit fantasies with my eyes or my words. Yes I can create an escapist universe. I know it has nothing to do with my being a stripper. If anything my current occupation has allowed the opportunity to distance and cultivate a power that I have struggled to accept and understand for over a decade. I cannot embrace my entire being unless I love, accept and live my sexual power.

I interact with the world sensually. I live through my senses and fall in love with the moment. Every taste that liquefies over my tongue, every soft caress of my skin, every aroma I inhale, and every lyric that plays through my memory… stimulates sensual passion. I close my eyes and heighten the senses, increase the passion. I stare into your eyes and convey the desire, the fantasy, and the potential.

I’m not going to fight it, nor resent it or the men that respond to it. I am finally coming to terms with that power, and it’s fucking beautiful.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I think I'm mean

I’m mean. Perhaps I’m evil. But I’m amused, is that mean and sadistic? He tried so hard, dedicated and persistent. He told me I was pretty and had a nice smile. He offered to buy me drinks and he danced with me. I was there to watch the band and enjoy a night away from my 'stripper world'. I danced, I laughed, I socialized. I suspect he abandoned his ride home in the hopes of getting to know me better.

And what did I do… I gave him the fake phone number and said goodnight. He’s roommates with my buddy. There’s a good chance I’m going to hear about this one. There’s a better chance my only associated emotion will be giggles. I don’t care. I’m not looking for a new boy toy.

(Evil, uh huh)

I’m going to take my mischievous and cruel self back to work tomorrow. I wish I could afford to take more than a week off, but I’m in Vancouver!! Yay!! I’m looking forward to spending the week at The Drake working with a dear friend, AND I get to visit people.

So… If you’re in Van and we’ve been meaning to grab coffee or something, now’s your chance people. I promise to only be half evil (maybe)

Saturday, March 25, 2006


The lines blur, my identities meld. As I change and grow “Ryann” becomes more entwined with my spirit. I love her. I love her strength, I love watching her detached arrogance. She is me, but am I her?

Someone asked me for a private dance… “Do you know my real name?” I stated. It’s one or the other, you cannot know both. You cannot have both.

I’m absent from the “stripper world” this week, running around dealing with life, errands, family, and friendships. Real life. Real stress and real emotions, I was tempted to retreat into Ryann. I wanted to go back to work. The illusion is easier. I wanted to leave, hide from the struggle to reconcile. I don’t know how to incorporate my experiences into my heart. I don’t want to accept the truth of the mirage.

My thoughts are diligent and dynamic. The topics are not simple and will take time to grasp. What I accept as normal when living day to day in a surreal bubble of stilettos doesn’t transfer seamlessly into coffee afternoons discussing grief, youth, growth, and hope. I watch young women discover their own sexuality, their natural power. I wish the atmosphere was more empowering. I wish we taught our girls to embrace their desires with pride, with personal worth. NOT for what they mean to the horny kid at a party, NOT for the amount of beer sold.

In a few days I will be back at work. I will have more time to ponder the complexities of living a perceived duality, of reconciling personal and invented identity. I am. I am also Ryann. I am good/bad. I am virgin/whore. I will observe the increased bisexual behaviors of young women and wonder, why? Do they do it to impress and entice young men? Do they need to prove their sexuality to someone? Is it a natural exploration of adolescence?

Female sexuality is incredibly powerful and complex. Sadly, the years of inadequate guidance most often accompany sexual discovery and exploration in our society. I am privileged to witness the consequences. ALL GIRL KISSING CONTESTS!! A free demonstration of adolescent desires, desires for approval, desires for experience. Young sexuality is sold to a drunken bar for the price it takes to get a couple of teenagers intoxicated. I have my doubts that these girls are bisexual, most of them “outgrow” it before their 22nd birthday. I have my doubts that these girls are doing it for their own enlightened pleasure.

I love sexuality. I believe in the value of the sex industry and I embrace the worth of the individuals who are willing and able to provide the fantasy or satisfy the needs.

But WHY are we selling teenage girl-on-girl action?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Prove me wrong

I intend on educating myself out of reach. I know my independence is intimidating. I know I’m more than tits and ass. You don’t want to know what books I read. You don’t want to hear my thoughts. You don’t want to appreciate me.

What respect?

I don’t fit your expectation. I don’t conform to your ideal. I don’t want to. I’m a feminist who loves men. I’m an academic that wants a family. I’m angry at the disrespect and objectification, but I believe in sex. I’m NOT unique in my desires. I’m not alone in my quest. I’m not isolated in my ambitions.

I am a daughter, a sister, a friend.
I am not a lover, a partner, or girlfriend.

I miss it. I miss it so much. I want the respect and romantic love. I want someone to hold me when I cry and kiss me when I sleep. I want someone to look into my eyes and see more than sex, more than a prize. I want someone to see the weakness, the bitch, the humanity, and the love.

I am a woman. I am proud to be a woman, proud to know the strength and adaptability of my sex. I want to believe! I want to have faith, but I don’t. Why does Women’s Studies repulse so many men? Does the word “feminist” intimidate and disgust?

How can you claim to love women, but dismiss the pain, struggle, desires, ambitions, and choices? How can you claim to love women but ignore the complexities of the individual?

Damn straight I’m angry and frustrated. I want someone to prove me wrong.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Real Life

My eyes are heavy and I remember I should have eaten. I’ll get to it… later. “Real life” can be exhausting. I’m floating in between memories, emotions, friendships, and errands. I was able to visit with a dear friend of mine this afternoon. Surprisingly we haven’t crossed paths in over a year, yet we talk every week. It’s been a good day.

The rain provides comfort and familiarity as I drive around in a daze, lost in nostalgia. Every street holds a memory, every conversation brings me back. I smile. I feel my eyes glisten with tears of sorrow and joy. The buildings change, the people move, but home is love… home is in your heart, in the whispers of the trees and the moments you cherish. Home is being able to walk along the water and remember the smell of the ocean and the sound of the laughter. Home knows which blossoms will be pink. It is a time to reconnect with inspiration. It is a place to grow from and return to. Repair the wings, and solidify the roots. Home is embracing the change, watching the children grow, and loving the choices and path you walk.

I love you.

Sometimes you just need to hear the words, and feel the embrace.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Andy Theise, theise@telus.net from Victoria, BC. A regular customer at The Fox, I have had enough. I know your IP address, and obviously I know your email with all the slanderous and harassing emails I received today. This is your final warning. I will NOT be harassed, and neither will the other dancers. You have NO right to send slanderous emails to myself or other dancers. Do NOT access this blog. I am tracking your online behavior. I am a better and smarter nerd than you are. Do NOT email me or attempt to communicate with me in any way. If you do, I will take legal action. I will also be reporting your behavior to the RCMP first thing in the morning.

Monday, March 20, 2006

tears and hugs

Many thoughts are running through my head. I am so thankful to be home, yet reality hits hard. Spring, I wish I could relate cherry blossoms to life, yet death is everywhere. My heart aches for those plunged into sorrow. I want to reach out. I want to heal, but I don’t know that I can. I have come home for my own journey. It is time. The mountains haven’t changed. The road remains the same, the ocean continues… yet everything changes.

There were five teens in the car, Spring break. Three died on the scene. I just heard that the driver died in hospital… words fail me. I am home, and home is in crisis… again. Tomorrow there will be grief counselors, tomorrow there will be school, tomorrow there will be a memorial. I didn’t know the kids, but I know the ripples. Angels cried Wednesday night. I may weep today. The children are crying. Parents are devastated. Hearts are broken… Some wounds never heal.

Tomorrow I will see my family. I will hug them, and tell them how much I love them, just as I always do. I am grateful to be home, to have a home with so many people who love and cherish me. I am a part of something here... a friend, a sister, a daughter.

Tears and hugs, memories are created of love. I can breathe, I can feel. At times I wish the growth didn't involve so much pain, but I am thankful for every experience.

I am home.

Jesus hardly regarded this world as a "vale of tears." He rather looked upon it as the birth sphere of the eternal and immortal spirits of Paradise ascension, the "vale of soul making."
The Urantia Book

Friday, March 17, 2006

St Paddy's in K-town

So I guess the day will consist of drunken fools and green beer... hmm just a slightly different shade from last night. I was privileged last night with the arrival of EVERYONE I know in this town... yes, yes... Everyone I knew from Kelowna decided to come out last night to check out my pretty titties. The crowd included some of the following...

My sisters ex-boyfriend, his new girlfriend (who glared at me)
Her friend
The sweet little girls C and L who used to come to me for information on everything from birth control to blow jobs
The kid that can cook
The 20 yr old pretty boy who thinks he has a chance
The art student
The kid that hates my sister and no one knows why
C's boyfriend
The punk from accross the hall.
His roommate
and a few others that I've met a few times, but don't remember names...

I have no doubt that my sister will hear "I saw your sister naked" for the weeks and months to come. It's not a secret, but I guess they really needed to see it. So what do you do when a group of drunken 'old friends' intentionally come out to see you naked...??

Bend over in front of the ex
Titties in the face to both girls
Drag L up on stage
...and a good ass jiggle for the boys

Sigh all in a days work... all in a days work

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Big White

I’m sitting in a memory. Warm foam coats my lips as I gaze out the window. I watch as the flakes fall from the clouds and pile to the sky, powdering trees and eyelashes.

A toddler is gripping the metal frame, running in place, as his mother guides him around the ice, careful to avoid the figure skating preteens. I watch as a father and son go through hockey drills. “…push with your right, now cross over, and watch my feet…” I don’t need to hear their voices. Perhaps it’s an afternoon of bonding, perhaps vicarious dreams fuel the intensity.

It’s been over a year since I’ve been on this mountain. I have so many moments, so many memories… so far away. I’m selective; I only recall the ones that make me smile. I wonder where my friends are. Transient towns lead to transient friends. I hear the occasional update… off on new adventures, home in Oz… I hear random stories. But here, this season, I doubt many of my friends returned to Big White.

A young couple is sitting nearby. They hold hands over coffee and talk quietly. The occasional laugh draws my attention. With her free hand she plays with her blonde hair. He hasn’t stopped smiling. He’s in love. I can’t see her face. Suddenly I’m lonely. It’s a beautiful dream, and a lovely moment. I see her face as they walk away. She’s in love too.

The afternoon is fading. A kindergartener is pouting, frustrated with her skis. Kids are growing weary and hungry, reluctantly dragging their boards behind them. It’s that time of day. I know I need to drive down the mountain soon. I have to get ready for work.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's a damn good day

I’m SUPERMAN. And by that I mean I am SO faster than a speeding bullet! I made it from Edson, AB all the way to the glorious town of Kelowna, BC (where drivers think it’s acceptable to stop at green lights, and do everything possible to run yellow and red lights, but at least they’ve seen corners and mountains)… in 6 hours… which is OBVIOUSLY traveling at the posted speed limit. AND I rock at taking pictures while driving... especially when the scenery improves so drastically!!

So, YAY!! I’m in BC. I’m totally hyper. I can breathe easier, and all I need to do is get the stench of Alberta out of my clothes and all will be well. Six fabulous days in Kelowna then home, home, home!!

Things that make me happy today:
My sister
Curious George
Seven layer dip
Frozen waterfalls
My sister
Blue license plates
Welcome to Beautiful British Columbia sign
Jack Johnson
Air drumming while driving
Organic milk
Care bears
Christmas lights

It’s a damn good day.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Rape scares me.
Rape fucking pisses me off.

I have been lucky so far, I have not been raped. I hate that luck is even a factor. But every woman knows it is. I know too many women who have been raped, assaulted or humiliated. Subjugation, what a despicable power trip.

I will not fear men. I don’t want to hate men. I want to love humanity and all the glorious unique individuals it encompasses, of every gender. But I see and hear so much. I know there are many men who love, cherish, and respect women… But I see so many who do not. They may be the exception, but I’m not talking about habitually violent and destructive men that land in jail for sexual assault. What scares me is not that some serial rapist is on the streets preying on women.

I’m talking about the guy in the hostel who thinks “tourists are easy”, especially if they travel alone or accept a drink. I’m talking about the guy who works in the office, who has been married for 20 years, has teenage children, whose wife has no idea how often he solicits sex. I’m talking about the twenty-five year old guy that thinks drunk implies consent. I’m talking about the teacher that stares at fifteen year old girls breasts in math class. I’m talking about the guy who forgets that his buddy’s permission is NOT her permission. I’m talking about the thirty year old who entices his sixteen year old foster sister into playing strip poker.

I’m talking about a deep-rooted arrogance that certain women exist as possessions. I see the difference between how a man will look at me as a stripper, as an object, as a whore, and how he will go home to his wife and daughter and never consider the connection. What scares me is how easy it is to dehumanize an individual.

It’s heartbreaking how superficial and embarrassing the lack of consideration of my dreams, fears, strengths and hopes can be for the man that simplifies my being into “I’d like to fuck her”.

Well fuck you.

I don’t exist for your pleasure. I don’t strip for your approval. I am not powerless. I am not silent, and I am not stupid. But I am a beautiful, sexually expressive young woman and there are those who surmise I’m asking for it, I want it, or I deserve it. There are people who see my occupation as crossing a line. That by exposing my body I become “the other”. That by revealing my breasts I cease to be a daughter, loved and respected, and become an object to be possessed and discarded. There are men and women who believe sex workers, be they whores, peelers, or porn stars are not deserving of protection and defense.

Well fuck you too.

I lock my doors behind me, and keep my keys in my hand. I drive. I phone a friend if I am alone at night. I make sure someone knows where I am. I never leave a drink unattended and I don’t become intoxicated in unfamiliar situations. I know I need to maintain control, and not give away my power. I am thankful for my friends and family that call me regularly just to ask “How are you? Where are you? Where are you going next?” I take what precautions I can. I do my best.

But I HATE that I have to. It angers me that I am safer in a peeler bar than in Stanley Park. My experience in strip clubs has increased my attentiveness and mistrust. I am aware of the potential. I am safer as a stripper, than as a student. For that I am both thankful and infuriated.

It breaks my heart that women are not safe. It scars my soul to know the potential exists and so many women are already grieving in silence.

Monday, March 06, 2006

a path...

Why not medical school? Isn’t that what you were going for? What happened?

I know my direction has changed and there are many people who have not been present to see the gradual redirection.

I don’t want to be a doctor. For months my reasoning has been flawed and vague. Yes chemistry is difficult, but I know I can do it. Yes competition is fierce, but I enjoy it. No… I’m afraid of the personal sacrifice if I go that route.

I’m afraid I will give my heart and soul to my career and have nothing left for a family. I’m afraid a specialty will become all consuming and spiritually draining. I don’t want to be a part of our medical system weighing finances over patient care. I don’t want to add to the frustration of inadequate staff and wait times. I don’t want to be tempted to leave Canada for a higher income.

As a family practitioner I would have regular hours and reasonable freedom. As a GP I would be the liaison between patient and specialist. I would be the first contact in diagnosis and treatment of illness. Test results would come to me, and I would be the one who delivers the news. You have cancer.

Not a day passes when I don’t hear news of someone fighting or loosing the cancer battle. These days everyone seems too young, too healthy, and too far gone. I don’t want to sit with parent and child explaining radiation. I don’t want to tell a father he won’t see his daughter graduate. I don’t want to be the messenger of the inadequacies of science. I would sooner go into theology and be a messenger of hope than tell a young woman a tumor is inoperable.

I don’t want to be on the ambulance the day a child dies in a collision, and I don’t want to be in a sterile office when the words metastasized and terminal are spoken.

I was once on that path, but that was before medicine could not help my friend. I’m not angry.

I would rather be a part of the healing. Perhaps my gift is through compassion and love. Maybe I am better suited in hospice. Hope is powerful, especially when not limited to medical hope of cheating death, but rather hope that life will continue. Hope for those of us left behind. Someday the sun will shine again, it may never be the same as before, but it will be good.

It’s almost been a year since my dear friend took his last breath. It just took me some time to realize my path. When he collapsed I did not bury myself in chemistry. I did not increase my dedication and determination to find a cure. I moved home. I sat with him and his family in limbo, waiting, listening, and loving.

Science, you win or loose. Love is always a gift, and always makes a difference. I’ll leave the chemistry and labs to the brave people who want to fight that battle. I would rather make a difference in the heart and soul. I would rather cling to the hope that we can make the world a better place, that we can increase the quality of life, that we can increase tolerance and understanding. I would rather stimulate the mind, expand the comfort zone, and encourage the ripples of acceptance and compassion. There are many battles to fight; most are not in the lab.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

not nerdy enough

ok for some reason the sidebar has decided to wander all the way to the bottom of my blog... and I'm confused.

Not nerdy enough... yet.

How do I fix it people??

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Just a few pics... for those of you who doubt how populated and exciting it is in rural Alberta.

this would be Hanna...

that way... is Calgary...
and Drumheller is on the drive back... if you detour like I did


"The National" Hotel & Bar. Hanna, AB

Weirdo of the day: And by weirdo I mean misogynistic yahoo.

He leers at me and winks when I make eye contact. Wriggling his tongue will obviously entice me. I turn away and resist the urge to roll my eyes. Pot belly and scruffy grey hair accent the untrimmed beard, “Hey beautiful can I lick those?” My response of “Eeew, you’re my father’s age” is not received well. His shirt is dirty, as are his fingernails. I’m not surprised. By my fourth song his liquid courage has intensified. “Hey baby, what will $200 get me?”

Grrrr. My patience is in short supply, and the conversation is heated. “Oh I’m sorry you disgusting pig, you must have mistaken me for a whore. You will never get anything from me. Don’t ask again."

“I'm just trying to help you out, bit of money for a bit of fun. You’re the one sitting there naked with your legs spread. I just assumed.” Drunk and ignorant, his survival instincts haven’t totally vanished. Just smart enough to back out of reach when my stiletto grazes the air near his face.

Exposed and angry emotions are difficult to mask. I want to hit him. I want to communicate with him on his level, preferably in blood. He called me a whore, and I want to assault him like he has injured me. But I don’t. I have no defense in this bar, and my options are limited.

A few tears and a phone call ease the fire. It saddens me to be reminded that there are so many men accustomed to treating women like worthless whores. But I know he is irrelevant to my life. I know he will die in that small town, ignorant and isolated.

But the altercation brought to mind a larger issue. Is the expectation of sexual return on investment just part of the exchange between the sexes? I had the following text message conversation this afternoon.

You don’t love me anymore
Start putting out more and we’ll talk
Sigh, that’s all anyone wants from me
You know I’m just teasing
Not convinced
Oh don’t start with me. I think you know and trust me a little better than that
Depends on my faith in men on the day

Jest is often based in truth. If the constant joke is ‘you owe me (insert sexual acts here) in exchange for (insert entertainment or favours here)’ How much is a joke and how much is subtle resentment and expectations? How many dinners should be bought before a girl ‘puts out’? If a woman does not move into a sexual relationship, should the man stop paying for dinner? What gifts are worthy of a blowjob? I like being taken out. I like dressing up and enjoying an evening of fine food and fine company. It’s nice to be treated. But are my expectations unreasonable?

Is it really too much to want a man to NOT joke about me being a whore. Perhaps that sounds extreme when the intent was in jest, and no harm was meant. But the underlying deduction is that my company isn’t enough and sexual acts should subsidize the exchange.

Am I a waste of monetary investment? Am I a waste of an evening?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Artist

In all this reflection and growth I have been intentionally avoiding a certain chapter. So momentous, I know I cannot move beyond it, or reincorporate it until I fully acknowledge it. In high school I learned to receive love. I learned how to be adored. Then I met The Artist. With him, I learned to love. I discovered that unconditional love can heal. I exposed a layer of my soul that is capable of great support and love. I learned my choices are my own, and my emotions are independent. I learned to love pure, and unconditional. I embraced my choices and actions, and accepted both the sorrow and ecstasy.

We met at 17. Friendship taunted us for a couple of years, at 19 we became a couple. At 21 we broke up. I remember his crystal blue eyes, and soft black hair. Stainless steel accessories accented his features. I remember his hands, powerful and creative. I would watch him carve, climb, draw, and build. He was so beautiful, and so lost.

I am wary but incredibly thankful for the reassertion of this type of magnetism in my life. It may have destroyed me, and taken many years to recover from, but I loved him. Through all the pain, beauty, betrayal, passion, apologies and growth, I never doubted how deeply I cared for him. I never doubted how instrumental we were in each others lives. Never did I believe we would be together forever, but never did I doubt the depth of our connection, and the impact we had on each other.

I remember feeling my heart ripped to shreds. I remember being totally at peace watching him sleep, his cat snuggled up close. I remember being furious and frustrated. I remember being so proud of him. I remember taking a deep breath and extending that compassion and forgiveness. I remember living unconditional.

I have been thrust into this memory with the receipt of an email. Simple remorse contained in a simple apology, “I don't treat you well. You're nothing but caring to me"

I am looking at my current object of affection with the same reservations and awareness of patterns from years ago. It gives me hope, not despair. For the first time in years I’m not afraid that part of me has been destroyed. My internal strength and ability to care is intact. Dormant for so many years, through so much pain, so much growth…

Now I remember. I know where the letter is. I know where the ring is. Next month will mark four years since we broke up. I don’t remember the date, but I remember the reflection of lights on the wet street, I remember the smell of the air. I know the taste of my tears and sting of the wind. I had no idea that relationship would have such a powerful aftereffect. I cannot regret it. Some people you never get over. Some experiences you never forget.

I am rediscovering my magnitude for compassion. I am remembering how to give, to care, to cherish and support… No, I don’t want another relationship like that… but I think I may finally be opening up again. I have been so selfish for so long. Defensive and cynical, I have remained detached and bitter.

I don’t know what the future will hold for Whiskey and I. I don’t know how the dynamics will develop from this point, or how long it will be before I walk away.

I’m not saying I am willing to open my heart at this time, I’m not. I’m not saying I will ever get involved in something like that again, I won’t. But it feels damn good to be reminded that I have a heart to give. I feel more real as a caretaker. I am happier when I give. It’s good to know that the damage is not permanent, and that I am able to be caring and compassionate, without return. It feels good to remember how. It feels like me.