Late to the party, admittedly, I fell in love with its romance, its drama, its history, its mystique, its tragedy, its resilience, its spirit, its defiance, its ability to reinvent itself and for its downright wackiness. For me there would never be another place which would ever make my heart race and my soul sing to the extent that they did in Berlin.
I don’t go to the park every day and I only usually only go to the market once a week. But they are the things that have come to define my new life and will continue to be a massive, wonderful, joyous part of it. Every time I walk through the park to the market it feels like an adventure. There is always something new to see and feel and experience.
When I came to live here what I also didn’t realise that as well as it being a bustling little town centre it is also surrounded by miles and miles of green space with an incredible number of footpaths and walks, woods, valleys and becks ready to be explored. And all without having to take the car.
The park is busy every day now and the market continues to go from strength to strength. I’m naturally very quiet and introverted, I don’t care to mix much or to be surrounded by crowds of people – particularly if they are all as germ-ridden as we are led to believe!
I’ll admit that I prefer it when it’s quiet in the park but I don’t mind if it’s busy too. I listen to the snippets of conversation, look at people enjoying the open environment and smile when I see the children’s happy faces. The young ones, at least, are as oblivious as the birds flitting here and there without a care in the world.
Some days, when I’m at home, I’m oblivious too. I switch off the news and social media and I can pretend this isn’t happening. I’m inside, I’m safe and I’m warm. I’m rebuilding my life. I can be contented for an hour or two.
However, my contentment is inevitably replaced by other, less positive emotions.
I’m grieving about what brought me here in the first place. The relationship I had to leave. It wasn’t my choice. I miss the man I left. Very much. Every single hour of every single day.
I’m also grieving for the life I had before the relationship. I loved my solo travelling days and I may never have them again.
I would have typically immersed myself in solo travel to get over the grief of the broken relationship. It might have worked. It might have only been a sticking plaster. But at least I’d have felt that I was doing something positive, life-affirming in the wake of the heartache.
So I’m feeling an immense amount of loss for not being able to resort to the one thing which would have helped me deal with the grief of the broken relationship.
Double-grief if you like.
The flip-side is that I’m incredibly glad, grateful and happy that I spent ten years travelling solo and seeing all the wonderful places and experiencing all the mad things I’ve done.
Never has this meme been more relevant!
Back to emotions.
I’m carrying a massive amount of guilt. Guilt is an incredibly crippling, irrational heap of shit.
I feel guilty that on the days I switch off the news and social media and I forget for an hour or so and I feel contented and safe in my little house that there are millions of people out there who have not been able to forget or feel contentment or safety for the past hour.
I feel guilty that when someone asks me about my new home I harp on about how marvellous it is. I’m convinced I shouldn’t be saying how grateful I am to have my own front door that I can open whenever I like, for so much more space to live in, to be warm, to be able to sleep in my very own bed then get up and take a hot shower, to now have window blinds and a dining table and houseplants and a desk so I can work from home, and food in the cupboard and a little yard where, come next spring, I’ll be able to grow a few flowers and sit drinking tea in the sunshine.
I feel horrible guilt at having had to spend a not-insignificant amount of money to move in to my new home. I gave up so many of my belongings last year when I went to live in the country. As a result I’ve had to dig in to what little amount I had put away for my retirement to start over and I now have left only a tiny amount of savings. The thought that I may lose my job and have no safety net is terrifying. But else what could I do? I bought the few bits I truly needed but I still don’t have many of the things that people take for granted – curtains, lampshades, a TV. Actually, scrub that – I don’t need or want a TV.
More guilt. I feel guilty that I threw away the life I had to be with someone who was not the person I thought he was. I should have been more cautious.
On to food and weight guilt. I feel bad about the number of chocolate biscuits I eat each and every week. I feel guilty about craving cheese on toast. I get cross with myself about drinking a glass of wine or eating a dish of pasta I feel disgusted that I’m close to hitting 12 stone in weight and about the fact that I’ve had to buy size 14 jeans. Sure, I laugh it off to everyone else. But it’s not a good feeling to me.
I also carry a massive amount of guilt that I’m not being the person that I should be to the ones who care about me. I’m crippled by the notion that I’m taking much more from my friends and family than I am giving them. I am trying very hard to reciprocate. It never feels to be enough.
More fucking guilt.
It’s a vile, destructive, draining emotion. I know I need to get over it and let it go. Trouble is, I’m not sure how.
How do I put it all to rest?
How do I forgive myself and allow my life, whatever form it might take in the future, to happen?
How do I permit myself to enjoy my new home and my new phase, despite the world being a truly terrible, uncertain place right now, without allowing all the negative emotions I am dealing with to devour the positive parts of my life?
Of course, I don’t have the answers. Though knowing what the questions are is a start, I suppose.
That’s what this blog is all about. It doesn’t have a massive readership but it does its job. It allows me to offload my thoughts and worries when the words won’t come out of my mouth. Self-indulent it might be but it helps me in clearing my head.
Right, time to get into my stretchy jimjams and have cheese on toast, chocolate biscuits and wine for dinner.
Remember, people, one day this almighty shitstorm will be over. Until then we just have to keep the faith, okay.
Much So Long love