Rooted, I used to think.

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Tuesday, Jul. 05, 2016 @ 4:22 pm

There's more, so much more.

Chris. Daniel. My period.

I move around in a haze, acupuncture appointments, taking shots of alcoholic tincture, breathing in and out at yoga, crying on the couch while Daniel stands there with his arms crossed against his chest. My mind occupied with thoughts of Chris, fear of Daniel. Counselling appointments. Doing my homework for the fertility clinic, sweating through the sheets. My heart racing and my cortisol spiking with every email that arrives at work, everytime the phone rings at my desk.

Back to square one.

My period. Has not returned. I'll be at day 150 on Friday.

My Chinese diagnosis is Heart and Kidney Disharmony and Kidney Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation. Of course, my heart. And my organs, so tortured by the thoughts in my mind.

I lay on the acupunture table, 14 needles in my body - my wrists, my ankles, my stomach, the top of my head. I hate the needles, and anxiety builds in my body. Everyone has lied to me - you can feel the needles. A lot. I feel pain in some, itching in others. Pulses of energy move through my body. I listen to the soundtrack of singing bowls and try to push all thoughts out of my head.

Daniel and I argue and then make amends, over and over, sometimes twice in the same day. Every fight is really about Are you there for me? and Do you love me?, but all I see is his anger. The tone in his voice, his body language. I'm so afraid of him. My fear of him overrules everything in my body. He asks if I love him, and I have a hard time answering. I say yes, but inside I'm afraid of him.

I know that I have work to do, that what's happening in my head is not all real, that I need to see beneath his mask to his true heart. I am so tired of having to override my fear to see that heart, of the willpower and effort that it takes. My adrenaline and cortisol spiking up and down all day.

There are moments of absolute torture. He's saying something to me, and it's all anger and blame, and I start to rub my hand into my leg in a rhythmic pattern, soothing myself. Sometimes this soothing action happens instead as me rubbing my thumb into the middle of my forehead, sometimes putting my entire fist in my mouth and biting down to leave marks. It's this primal thing that takes over my body. I've pulled my hair, punched my thighs until they're bruised. Like an autistic person, a crazy person. I'm going crazy.

Usually he presses on, me being overwhelmed with feelings, my brain shutting down, my body spazzing, and I start to yell at him Go Away Go Away Go Away in a robotic voice that increases in volume until either he does leave or I fly at him in a rage, pushing him through the door and slamming it in his face.

I'm so ashamed of this. I'm afraid of myself.

Do I love him? I don't know. All I know is that this relationship is causing my body to shut down hormone signalling, that my body is no longer ovulating, as there's no way in hell that my body wants me to engage further with a man that I fear.

He's not a bad person. He's flawed like the rest of us. He tries hard, but he's so blind to himself.

I have no sex drive. It never crosses my mind. I'm afraid of having sex with him, because the last few times we've tried it's ended with him yelling at me.

And then Chris invites me on an overnighter hike. I say yes. I actually do invite Daniel, but he turns down my offer in a huff. Goes over to the island to drink beer with his friend. I stopped drinking alcohol earlier this year. He's also mad at me about that.

The hike ends up being a group of seven. Me, Chris, and his friend Kevin make up Group A. We all set off up the mountain, and I meet his friends and really enjoy getting to know them. One gal assumes that I'm in a relationship with Kevin. This throws me off, and I'm too embarassed to correct her.

There are bugs and it starts to rain. Conversation comes around to tents. I pause, then say, I don't actually have a tent. My plan is to sleep under a tarp tonight. Because I valued a light pack over sanity. Chris instantly replies, "I have a two man tent, you can join me."

We hike along the trail for hours. Through dripping rainforest, past black mountain lakes, the clouds low and clinging to the forested mountain slopes. I nimbly cross a high flowing creek and sit on the other side for a half hour while the rest of the group figures out how to cross.

I broach the subject of religion. I listen to him talk about his family, his cultural history, what it all means to him. And I learn that the Catholicism is more of his participation in family life than his true belief.

I do not accept his offer of sleeping in his tent. I am staunch in my tarp setup, and it's the right thing to do.

We cook supper together, working seamlessly as a team. It's so natural. The backpacking cookstove, the alumimum pots. His spoon in my hand, we plate steaming bowls of mashed potatoes with gravy. Kevin does the dishes.

After dinner, we hike up through the snow to the ridge above the campsite. The sun is setting, and the sky is radiating all of the colours of her majesty. The others are somewhere else, into the Canadian Club I think, as it's Canada Day. I'm standing there beside Chris, my hair loose and flowing in the wind, tangled and studded with pine needles. The sun is setting, and the air is crisp against my face. We are silent, together, taking in all of the beauty of nature. The silence extends. I don't want it to end. The silence is more intimate than any moment that I've ever experienced with him. And I feel so safe, so protected, so cared for, and so loved. Not an ounce of fear.

The hike carries on. Chris handing me a mug of hot tea in the morning. Me offering him food at lunch.

We sit at lunch, and I end up telling him and Kevin about my hormone problem. I don't know why I do this - it's an overshare. But here I am, here I am, I'm me and this is me, and this is what I'm going through, and maybe I'm testing you. Maybe I'm testing his reaction, how he would care for me if I were sick. He passes the test.

Kevin and Chris talk about dating women. I gather they are both single. Kevin grills Chris on his preferences. I am glued to his responses. I compare myself against every answer. He asks about whether I think it's appropriate to text/call/email the next day, after a good date. I say yes. Absolutely. Go all in.

We pass a trio hiking the other direction, two guys and a gal. The same composition as us three. The guys have this game where they make up a story about passing strangers. She's secretely in love with the guy in the front.

We end the hike and part ways. Everything so perfect. I feel closer to him, more sure that we are meant to be together. Every question that I ever had answered, every doubt dispelled - except for one. The big one.

I've been waiting for 11 years for Daniel to commit to me, to be ready for the real thing. To propose. We have been in therapy for, what, two years now? I'm so tired of these feelings. Things can and have been good. Really good. But there's so much bad, I don't know how we will ever overcome this. I risk throwing away so much. I risk the biggest mistake of my life, the most selfish decision, the most difficult, the most expensive, the most everything. This is it.

And Chris emails the next day.

Shannon and Chris and the Lions photo IMG_20160701_203220_zpskyfy9nb7.jpg

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