Oh Canada, The Quean is Back

Year Abroad in Retrospect, Part I

365 days.

That’s how long I spent in Europe, mostly France, without returning home. One year. For some people, that time passes with ease. For me though, it wasn’t always so smooth.

Since the commencement of this blog, I’ve received messages from a variety of people – friends, acquaintances, strangers – remarking on the “courage” I have for putting myself out there in such a sex-positive and honest way. I’ve been called “inspiring,” which is hard to believe, although humbling.

Being myself online is the easy part. This is the natural way I express myself: writing and sex. However, take me 6,048 kilometers away from my family, where very few people speak my language – and those who do are determined to have me speak French and then ask me how brave I feel.

Answer: not at all. In fact, for the first several months, all courage had left the building.

I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Master J. The feminist inside of me isn’t pleased that I’m even admitting that, but let me put this into perspective for you.

1. Before I met Master J, the furthest I’d been from home on a long-term basis was 2 hours west of my parents house, where I studied for 3 years on campus. I would come home every weekend, which sometimes (aka most times) started on Thursday and ended Monday morning.

2. During my previous relationship, I allowed myself to adopt the recurring messages that people who “moved away” from their hometown were somehow lost in life, and looking for themselves. Of course this is utter bullshit, and I have since learned that this was a way for certain people to keep me in place.

3. After my previous relationship ended, I was riddled with anxiety, low self-esteem, and bulimia, for reasons I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, but won’t bore you with now.

So, as much as I don’t believe that people can be saved by anyone other than themselves, I can honestly say that Master J was a door to my freedom. Freedom from all the negative messages I’d received early on; freedom from my restlessness, which was a huge contributor to my anxiety; but mostly, freedom from my(previous)self. And who do you think held the key to this door? You got it, me.

365 days.

I was terrified. Excited. Overwhelmed. Bewildered. Eager. I knew that the woman stepping onto that plane last August would not be the same woman stepping off this summer. Which brings me to this point…

My year abroad changed my life in ways staying put never could, and although leaving home isn’t necessarily on everyone’s bucket list, I still want to share the ways I evolved, and the change in my perspective. Enjoy the journey!

People’s Opinions Become Irrelevant

I’m from a small town. Everyone knows everyone. People talk. The world is made up of these places, and sometimes the people in them are, how do you say, living off the drama of others. I’ll be frank. I’m a nobody in my small town, and to be honest I’m quite content with that, but after a few breakups, hookups and, well, a collapse into mental illness, the paranoia started setting in. I became a recluse after the demise of my five year relationship because the idea of seeing him, or anyone he was associated with at the time seemed a fate worse than death. I felt broken, so I figured that defeat was written all over my face, came out in the way I walked, talked, breathed…My hometown, a place I loved and felt safe in, suddenly became a minefield.

When Master J entered my life, I was in the tail end of my recovery. He knew. When Master J entered my life, I’d had my first panic attacks, whereby I would literally lie on the floor, unable to feel my hands and feet due to numbness caused by the onset of intense anxiety. When Master J entered my life, I felt like nothing but a coward, trapped in a box I’d built for myself.

But then he took me out of that box. He took me on a two month trip to France – the first taste. I remember sitting on a mountain ledge, overlooking the horizon and just feeling like I could breathe for the first time. I was so small there, which made everything else feel so small. That was the moment I realized I wasn’t the centre of any universe. This feeling, of course, lasted a short time. When I returned back to that small town of mine, the pang of anxiety lingered beneath he surface, waiting for one encounter to obliterate the only ounce of sanity I’d concocted.

Fast forward three years, and put me on a plane back to Canada after 365 days away…

It’s like high school. While you’re there, you just want people to like you. You want to make a name for yourself, whatever that may be. You want to be remembered, be cool, be…accepted. When people speak about you, you want them to do so in the highest regard. When you leave high school, you know, move on to college, university, a job, you realize how small high school was; how little of an impact it and the people really had on the rest of your life. Who you were then, or who people thought you were, becomes moot, because that was one chapter, not the entire book. It pulls you further from the experience, gives you a birds-eye view, and you suddenly realize that that moment in your life was a speck compared to the entirety of your existence.

France, too, is just a small piece to the larger puzzle of my life; however, it is the chunk that took me from everything I thought I knew about the world and myself, propped me up, pointed and said, “You see that there? Ya, that shadow called your past – all the fear and hurt and people that didn’t take you for what you were worth – they reside there. Now, look here,” and right under my feet is a beautiful, vast, unwritten path, “stay on this, and never dim your light.

Running is never an option, because no matter where you go, you can’t escape from your own skin. What is an option, I’ve learned, is expanding yourself and your experiences. By doing this, you dilute the preconceived notions you have about yourself, your past and the world. Running is a life sentence, expanding is freedom. Expanding puts life into perspective; expanding provides the bigger picture, and, my friend, people’s opinions, good or bad, do not define you.

By accepting this, other great things came my way.

Sexual Evolution

Two months into my year abroad, Master J and I took a trip to Portugal. If you’ve been with me since the beginning, you know what happens in this tale. If you haven’t, perhaps take a moment now or at the end, and read A Stripper Saved My Life.

Being abroad gave me my very first sense of independence. I was in a place where no one knew me. There were no expectations of how I was supposed to behave and act based on past standards. I could reinvent myself if I wanted! “Reinvention” is the wrong word though. I didn’t reinvent myself, I didn’t even change myself, I simply gave myself the time, space and permission to let un-blossomed parts, well, blossom.

Traveling for a year was the quenching my sexuality needed. Being in a sexually liberated country, such as France – with its strong, French women and attentive, respectful men – it happened naturally. Parts of me that might have previously been feared or ridiculed, surfaced organically without shame or guilt.

Environment is everything. People are everything. What I mean by that is…

I am bisexual. Pretty safe to say that I’ve been bisexual my whole life, however, there have been elements that have caused my bisexuality to remain idle. For example, having a five year relationship with a man who made me jealous of women at every turn, makes it difficult to want women, when you’re feeling threatened by them.

As I said, environment and people are everything. Choose wisely, and change when required.

To be cont’d

Until next time,

Fuck-well, friends!
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