Shannon Hunter


Things get worse before they get better

I’ve heard that things always get worse before they get better, but really? Just when things were starting to get better we found out that Boyfriend and I both have close family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. You’d think that after all we’ve been through the universe would give us a break, but as it turns out that isn’t in the cards yet.

So we hold each other, we love each other and we try to support our families as they deal with what comes next. But despite all the pain this summer has brought with it Boyfriend still manages to make me smile, he still manages to make time for me and he still makes me laugh in that totally embarrassing out loud knee slapping kind of way.

I wouldn’t have made it through the summer of 2013 without him; I couldn’t have picked a better partner to stand by my side and I only hope that I give the same thing to him. If I can give him half the strength he gives me we’ll be in a good place because he needs me now and I want to be the one to support him.

I know that we’ll make it through all of this drama a better couple; we’ll make it through stronger and more together than we’ve ever been. But you get to a point where you start to wonder how much more you have to deal with before life gets easy again. At least I wondered that before I remembered that life isn’t easy and that the ‘easy’ relationships I’ve been have never been good; easy isn’t good it’s just easy.

Being with Boyfriend isn’t hard, but life is. When you’re really with someone, I mean committed we’re in this for the long haul with someone, you will inevitably deal with drama, heartache and loss, but you’ll deal with it beside someone you love and that is what makes the bad nights tolerable. I’d really like it if we had a couple of weeks where all we got was good news but life doesn’t often work like that.

Even if things do continue to get worse I’m going to focus on the positive. In the words of a great friend, I’m going to choose love, because I do love him and no matter how hard things are for either of us we make each other better, happier, more sunshine-y people.

I chose Boyfriend almost a year ago. I chose to let go of my fears and commit myself to someone who was worth committing to and I’m lucky that I did because without him this summer would have been nearly impossible to get through. So life, give me whatever you’ve got because I’m walking through life hand-in-hand with my favourite person, because I’m strong and he makes me stronger but mostly because when you choose love you can do anything.

I got you babe

I’ve never been the biggest fan of being called ‘babe’ or ‘baby;’ maybe it’s because I’ve been ‘baby girl’ to my mother for as far back as I can remember; maybe it’s because I don’t like the idea of belonging to someone; or, maybe it’s just because I find it condescending. Who knows?  I’ve just never been very responsive to it.

But, when my City Boy calls me ‘babe,’ I get all squishy inside. I like that I’m his, I like it a lot. So, yesterday while we were chatting I let him know that I’m not seeing anyone else, which would typically make me nervous; but, this just felt right.

There was a moment on Monday when I realized he had me. Don’t worry, it wasn’t at hello but it was still pretty cheesy and I’m almost positive it’s a scene from just about every romcom you’ve ever seen; randomly, and without any music at all, he started dancing me around his kitchen. I was barely dressed and he was only wearing boxer briefs and a t-shirt, but he spun me around and that was it.

I’ve heard friends talk about the moment when they knew that their relationship was something big, but I had forgotten what it felt like to have my own “aha!” moment.

Before City Boy wandered into my life, I had forgotten so much about how good things can feel when you’re not constantly wondering if he’ll run away because you said or did the wrong thing. I feel like I’m waking up from a relationship coma; I wasn’t really happy with any of the boys I’ve dated since the big ex. I wanted to be happy. I desperately wanted to believe that I could find the same kind of love he found after me; so, I found love in men whose behavior I should never have tolerated.

When I woke up on Monday, I realized that things can be good without forcing them; and, I remembered what it can be like when you’re totally yourself with one person.

With Waiting Man I hid my impatience and put up with his need for a relationship without labels or any kind of commitment. With Country Boy I allowed myself to be an option rather than a priority and I made a million excuses for him. With City Boy I don’t hide myself; I don’t make excuses; and, I get to dance around in my underwear in his kitchen – because I actually get to see his kitchen. I never once went to Country Boy or Waiting Man’s home.

Life works in mysterious ways; maybe the bad relationships that followed the big ex helped me heal. I didn’t want to be alone, but I wasn’t ready for something real because I had to get over him first. So, now I’m awake and smiling and shiny and, some days, I even skip a little.


When the going gets tough

This summer has been a tough one: I got my dream job, I lost my dream job; I spent a month jobless; my mum was in the hospital for a month and I didn’t know if my mum would make it; I went six weeks without getting paid; I developed an allergy to gluten, which I figured out after a lot of vomiting; and my bio-dad threatened to sue me for the second time. All of these things made for a tough month and a half. Now I’m at a new job that I love, working on brands and clients that really excite me, my mum is on the mend and finally home, I’ve got a handle on my allergy, I got my first pay cheque from my shiny new job this week and bio-dad is ignoring me again. So things are on the upswing and I made it out alive and smiling.

The reason I managed to keep smiling was Boyfriend: he declared depression, “not an option.” He told me that I was smart and a new job was just about the corner, he sat with me as I cried about my mother and my fear of losing her, he insisted we only eat at places that were accommodating to my allergies and he applauded my response to my father’s email. When I thought that my life was falling apart he reminded me that things get tough sometimes but that doesn’t mean that we have to wallow in a pile of sadness until it leaks out of our eyes. I’m paraphrasing, but in all honesty he was my rock.

This kind of support is something I’ve never experienced in a relationship. When I didn’t want to talk about my feelings he just sat there until I let it out. Sometimes that meant tears, sometimes that meant grunts and half sentences flowing out of the mouth of a terrified girl. Not once did he turn me away when I needed him.

The day I signed the contract for my new job Boyfriend and I had plans for dinner, which we were going to do at my house, but after hearing my news that immediately changed to, “We’re going to celebrate Wild Shannons.” Because it had probably been four weeks since I had any good news to share with him and good news is always worth celebrating.

Today is the first day of August and summer may be winding down for most people, but for us this month is summer. We’re planning road trips, BBQs, jet-ski races and anything else we can think of. I don’t care what we do though; we could spend the day on the beach or watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix and it wouldn’t matter to me because I’ll be with my best friend.

I can’t find a word that covers all the feelings I have for Boyfriend so I will use the only one I have, the hopeless inept, grateful. I am so incredibly, wildly, amazingly grateful for everything he’s done for me and I hope that we’ve built up enough karma that the rest of this year will only be filled with wonderful things.

Best friends

I realized recently that Boyfriend is my best friend. I have many bests: there’s #BoyBestie and my Lemon, who I lovingly refer to as my heterosexual life partner; there’s Jen, Nus, Reg and Yaw and really too many amazing bests in my life to count; but the person who I call when I need someone, the person who I call when I want to share great news or moderately good news or just talk to about nothing and everything is Boyfriend. He’s my best friend.

I’m sure there’s a definition or a Thought Catalogue article somewhere that attempts to define what exactly a best friend is, something that uses big words or includes a list of the top bestie duos of all time; are you and best friend more like Monica and Rachel or Joey and Chandler or something along those lines. But for me it’s a little simpler and a lot less ‘90s.

Boyfriend is the only person who calls me a Wild Shannon because for some reason he thinks of me as a Pokemon. There’s literally no logic to this but it makes me laugh uncontrollably. He’s a terrible dancer but we have a dance move that no one else understands and sometimes we’ll do it at the same time. It’s embarrassing and only kind of adorable. We have shows that we watch and we never TV cheat, ever, no matter how hard Netflix makes it for us. We have our own language; we get each other, even if no one else really understands why we’re laughing or what it is we’re talking about.

When it comes down to it though Boyfriend is just the person I’d rather be with; hanging out and watching a movie with him is better than a night out with anyone else. I love my friends and I am so lucky to have them in my life but I had no idea what it felt like before this past (almost) year to be someone’s partner.

Boyfriend is my best friend and I had no idea it could all happen this quickly, I had no idea my life could change in so little time, but I can’t imagine a world where I don’t get random text messages that somehow light up my entire face even though most of the time they are just pictures of cats with silly comments.

What worries me most though are the what ifs. What if we break up? What will I do then? How will I handle that? I try not to think about it but every relationship before this ended; did they end so I could find Boyfriend or do relationships always end? And that’s the big difference between having best friends and being best friends with your boyfriend: My closest friends love me unconditionally, they don’t get to break up with me, but Boyfriend could if he wanted to.

So I’m hopeful, cautiously optimistic if you will. I’ve got nothing to worry about but the idea of losing someone who I love that much scares the hell out of me.


The crush

Last week I told you about the crush, the one keeping my thoughts from constantly straying to Country Boy. This week I’ve realized exactly why I’ve chosen this boy to crush on – because he’s completely inappropriate and nothing can ever happen there.

With Country Boy MIA for another 12 days I need someone to fantasize about, so that I don’t constantly wonder where Country Boy is, how he’s doing, and if I could be of more help as the supportive partner rather than the one giving him his space. The boy I’ve picked to fantasize about is one that I could never date.  He’s sweet and charming and he makes excuses to see me most days, but he’s not really available emotionally and he’s too in my life to ever be without drama – the perfect object of desire because, even if I wanted to act on my desires, the relationship would never work out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and the way I see my crush is very much like the way I see a celebrity crush, nothing could ever happen so I can go ahead and fantasize without ever risking my existing relationship with Country Boy. But, I also feel like, if in 12 days things don’t work out, if the break was less of a break and more of a break-up, I’ll be ready to move on, I won’t feel so lonely and lost because I’ll have been thinking about other boys in the context of a relationship, like a nicotine patch for love.

I’ve always had difficulty moving on. I’ve always been the what-if girl, running all the possible scenarios in which a former relationship could have worked out through my head; in the end this results in more heartache and pain, when you’re thinking about the what-if it’s almost impossible to commit to someone new.

At this point I’m not looking to move on, but I do want to prepare myself for all the possibilities. I don’t want to walk into our next date with a naïve sense of hope; I want to be smart and practical and let my head take the lead from my heart.

Practicality and logic have never been my strong suits; I’m a dreamer and a hopeless romantic who desperately wants to believe in the all-consuming power of love.  But love doesn’t always happen the way we want it to; sometimes we fall in love with a man who can’t love us back, sometimes we fall in love at the wrong time or with the wrong man – it’s worse than finding a needle in a haystack; it’s finding a soul mate on a planet with billions of people.

So, this time I’m trying to be practical. I’m accepting that maybe things won’t work out and I have to be ready for that. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on Country Boy, it just means that I’m planning for the best and preparing for the worst.

But in all honesty, 12 days from now I hope to have a sweaty, sloppy, kisses and butterflies kind of story to share with you.


Colour me inspired

Good people inspire you to be better; they push you to be the best version of yourself without ever being pushy. City Boy, unlike any boy that came before, inspires me to be the best version of myself.

With Country Boy I was always trying to be the version of myself that he wanted. I so desperately wanted to be what he wanted me to be that I lost what makes me great – my fire. City Boy likes that I’m feisty; he thinks my quirkiness is cute; and, he believes in me, and that is something worth holding on to.

We were talking over Facebook chat about three weeks ago and he told me that he thought I had an entrepreneurial spirit. He said that at heart he thinks I’m an entrepreneur; coming from a man who has developed several businesses, this is an incredible compliment.

Since that conversation I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I want from my life and my career. I love my job; if I could give it a big nerdy hug – I would. But in the long run, do I want to work for someone else? Probably not. Entrepreneurial women have always been my heroes; but, sometimes I forget that. I get caught up in the day to day and forget the long term goals. With City Boy in my life I don’t ever forget about my dreams, because he pushes me to go after them.

I’m finally going to finish my book; I’m going to look into more speaking engagements; I’m going to blog more and start video blogging my incredible rants and raves about life. I’m going to use the passion and fire that I am so often complimented on to follow my dreams, whatever they may be. All of this is thanks to City Boy and his place in my life.

Good relationships make you want to be better for each other, but great relationships make you want to be better for each other and yourselves. I want him to be proud of me, the way I am of him, but more than that, I want to be proud of myself.

Without his encouraging smile that somehow sets my heart on fire and makes everything else go away, I would still be dreaming of doing incredible things instead of going for them.

If after two years of sharing my loves with you, you have learned anything from me, I hope that it’s this: find someone who makes you smile; find someone who makes your heart skip a bea,t but most importantly, find someone who makes you want to be the best possible version of yourself.  Find someone who inspires you in new and exciting ways every single day.


Making sacrifices

Making sacrifices for loved ones seems to be a part of human nature; a friend needs help moving, a family member needs a loan, the boy you’re dating is starting another business and needs you to be understanding and accommodating. In my case, no one needs help moving, or a loan, but City Boy needs me to be understanding, patient, and accommodating – all of which are incredibly hard for me to do.

Last week I talked about the moment I felt it all get real, the moment I realized that he was different, that I cared about him more than Country Boy, Waiting Man, and the Big Ex all combined. It’s not just butterflies this time, it’s more than that; it’s the knowledge that I want him in my life for a long, long time.

People tell you that when you meet the person you’re supposed to be with, you just know. This is it. Whatever trials and tribulations life brings your way, this person is the person you’re supposed to be with; and, if it’s a rocky road full of sacrifices, that doesn’t matter because the end result is being with someone you care deeply about.

I thought I was in love with the Big Ex, but his parting words to me were that I deserved someone who loved me beyond reason, someone who was crazy about me, someone who I was just as crazy about and as much as he hurt me – he was right. He understood that we were a temporary thing, there for each other when we both needed it, but I led him on the path to his bride, and he led me on the path to understanding myself.

But, it isn’t going to be easy with City Boy; I can’t be priority one in his life, he loves his work and he’s starting something amazing. Instead of being jealous I find myself being proud of him, incredibly inspired by his vision not just for himself but for me. City Boy challenges me, he wants more for me – he told me once that I have an entrepreneurial spirit, that he likes that about me. So, I’ve been thinking about finishing the book I’ve been writing for so long; I’ve been thinking about starting a business on the side; I’ve been thinking about doing more speaking engagements. The bottom line is that he doesn’t just make me a better person, he makes me a better version of myself.

I have to understand that I can’t be his first priority; I will come in second to the business he’s building and I will have to go stretches of time without seeing him while he creates this incredible thing. But, this is such a small sacrifice because he’s the first man in my life to push me to do more, bigger, better.

City Boy is the only man I’ve ever truly seen a future with. If it takes a while to get there, I won’t worry, because, when he looks at me, I melt.


DATING: Breaking all the rules

Whether I’m in a relationship, starting a new one, or just dating someone, I tend to have rules, a lot of them. Rules keep me grounded; they help me feel in control and, most of all, they are there to protect me from getting hurt.

Last week I went on a date with a new man and I broke almost all of my rules. Don’t date someone who is friends with your friends, it leads to drama; I broke that one when I said yes to dinner. Don’t sleep with someone new on a first date; I broke that one, even though I told him I wouldn’t. Don’t constantly text and talk at the beginning of something new, leave a little mystery; I broke that one as we’ve been speaking daily since Saturday and have plans to see each other again in two days.

Someone wise, or really foolish, once said that rules are made to be broken and even though I have a rule for almost every situation, I find that my rules are more akin to guidelines; if I make it a rule, I have to think before I act.

So, I broke all of the rules with the cute, charming and oh-so-sexy City Boy. But, instead of being reckless and impulsive, I thought about what I was doing and I made a conscious choice to throw the rules out the window.

My rules are there to stop me from getting hurt, but, if I’m honest with you, I don’t believe that life or love happens without a little bit of pain. The good things are always worth fighting for, the great things don’t come freely, and the best things require so much of yourself that, if they end, it will hurt, a lot.

Is this new man going to be it? Maybe. Maybe not. But, if I bothered following all of the rules just to keep a little mystery I’d be doing myself and him a disservice because he’d be dating a diet version of me, toned down and with far less flavor.

I’ve always been a little wild and a lot impulsive, so my rules serve as a series of checks and balances – a reminder that I need to think, just a little, before I jump headfirst into something. But I don’t want men to fall for the me when I’m acting like someone else – the girl who doesn’t date certain people because it would be inappropriate, the girl who doesn’t embrace her sexuality, the girl who doesn’t fall in love on a regular basis. That girl? She isn’t me, she’s boring and she doesn’t know what she really wants.

I know what I want, I know who I am and I love that about myself; so I stop and think about my actions occasionally, but  I almost never follow the rules – after all, they were made to be broken.


Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shanninigans.

Date night

I’ve been on a lot of dates: with boys I liked; with boys I hoped would call and never did; with boys I was serious with; but I’ve never been on a double date, not really. The Big Ex didn’t want me around his friends because his relationship with me was somehow different from his relationship with his friends. In the end I realized that he was just never sure about ‘us’ and we stayed together for as long as we did because I was filler, I was the girl he dated before he met the girl he loved and he was the man I needed to be with so that I could appreciate what was coming.

So on Saturday night Boyfriend and I went for drinks and a movie with two of my friends, a lovely couple who glow with happiness in love in a way that probably would have made me a little sick when I was younger. No one can be that in love right? That’s movie love, heartbreaking, crazy, sick to your stomach, put a radio over your head in the middle of the night in love. But my friends have that and I look up to them because I hope that after a couple of years Boyfriend and I will be like that, crazy-happy and living in sin. My Catholic upbringing leads me to believe that living in sin would be awesome, like when you first move out on your own and realize that there are no rules and you can go to the store and buy candy at midnight, just because. I assume that is what living with your partner is like, please don’t correct me if I’m wrong.

I was a little nervous to try this double dating thing, being new to healthy and happy dating. I was worried that Boyfriend wouldn’t get along with my friends and I really wanted them to like him and like us together. I shouldn’t have been worried, they loved him. The best thing about being with Boyfriend is that when my friends see how happy we are together they immediately like him.

The only hiccup to an otherwise perfect evening was that when I was being fake angry with Boyfriend my friend pointed out that, “It’s not going to work. No one believes that you’re actually mad when you’re so clearly in love with each other.”  Since Boyfriend and I still haven’t said that very terrifying four-letter word, I was afraid that he would freak out, I was nervous that my feelings had been outed and he would start acting weird. He didn’t. Nothing changed, except that he knew he’d won this particular battle.

So we haven’t said the words yet. I’m pretty sure they are going to burst out of my mouth any day now, and it’s nice to know that everyone can see how in love we are. It’s a win for me at least… now I know I’m not crazy. Not completely anyway.

Facebook official

Recently someone told me that Boyfriend and I aren’t officially official because we haven’t declared our undying love for each other via the Facebook relationship status. They were serious.

I was shocked, because I haven’t had a relationship status since the Big Ex and I broke up; my status says nothing. I’m not single, dating or complicated and I’m okay with that. Boyfriend and I have been together nearly a year and we’re happy but we’re not the kind of people who need to shout about how much we love each other on Facebook. Neither of us feel that our bond as a couple would somehow be stronger if we had matching profile pictures and constantly updated our friends on how incredibly in love we are.

Don’t get me wrong, I gush, I talk to my friends about how happy I am, if I could write a good sonnet I would probably do that too, but Facebook is the place where I share cool shit I find on the interwebs, not the adult version of a high school locker.

I share a lot of my life with the internet, but Boyfriend and I have an agreement: he doesn’t read my column and I don’t write about anything that I wouldn’t want to talk to him about, so if I’m super mad at him I have to tell him before I tell you lovely folks. It’s a fair deal.

But blogging and writing is so much different than an obnoxious status update. Instead of declaring your everlasting love with a grammatically incorrect and socially unacceptable update, maybe you could text your darling.

It’s okay to be excited about the person you’re seeing, it’s awesome actually, but if you have to shout it out to the world do you think that maybe you’re a little insecure in your relationship? In the same way that we forget to check our phones when we’re having a really great time, when you’re really happy do you even have time to tell the world how happy you are?

There are people who are always an exception to the rule. Two of my friends were in a long distance relationship until very recently and I thought the love notes they sent each other were adorable and sweet, they needed the internet because they didn’t always have each other.

So while I don’t have a relationship status I’m very much taken, very much in love and I have no plans to change that any time soon. However, I’m also not about to change my status so that everyone else knows that my relationship is real. The people who should know him know him and the people I love have met him and like him almost as much as I do.

The next time you see a status change from me it will be engaged or married, if I get my way and we elope on an island; anything less isn’t worth the effort or the hassle from people whom I haven’t seen in years congratulating me on no longer being a sad spinster lady.