I had an assignment in Weymouth today. It started at 2 pm and lasted for about three hours, which meant lunch on the beach and after work, drinks by the harbour.
I won’t have much profit at the end of the day but I was craving something. I was craving to be on my own in a place I didn’t know. It is hard to explain but I will try.
Growing up in an abusive family, being afraid of your parents at all times, you learn to be on your own at an early age. You learn to trust no one and to keep everyone at an arm’s length in order not to get hurt. You connect with people, you care about them but within limits. You don’t count on them. You don’t let them into your life completely. You don’t compromise. You don’t share. You don’t love unconditionally because you don’t know how. No one ever showed you. No one ever taught you. It’s unknown territory. And it’s dangerous.
I have found unconditional love only recently. It was a baby girl that taught me how to love simply by loving me in the purest, most innocent way, by counting on me and trusting me to look after her. On the first day at my job as her nanny we were left home alone, just the two of us and she melted into my arms. Needy but confident I will not let her down, she accepted me into her life in a blink. She is now five and I owe her the rest of my life. By looking after her needs I learned to tend to mine. By loving me she taught me how to love myself and others. My life is full of love now: I love her brother and sister to bits, I love my niece, my boyfriend and his children. I am completely surrendered to love and I feel complete. I feel like my work here is done. All I have left to do in life now is to enjoy what I have.
But…From time to time, like today, I need to go back to when love was dangerous and all my energy was spent on avoiding it. I don’t need to go back there because I like it but because it’s the feeling I know best. It’s comforting in a weird way. Maybe because I can visit it randomly but I don’t have to stay? Maybe because it enhances my present? Maybe because going to that place from time to time doesn’t let me take for granted what I now have?
I am in this pub in Weymouth, drinking Pimm’s and looking over the harbour, at this huge table for six people. I chose it on purpose.
I pretend I have no one but myself. I pretend I have no one to go home to. I try to taste the loneliness and the hopelessness, the not knowing how to wish for an emotionally fulfilling life because I don’t know how that might look like. But somehow, this pretend game cannot hide the thoughts of my niece giving me a lopsided smile when she sees me or of my boyfriend waiting for me on the sofa tonight, watching TV and missing me.
I still find leaving the bed in the morning and starting the day to be the hardest thing I have to do. I hate it and I fear it at the same time, always with the same intensity, the same intensity I used to feel as a scared little girl. But I now know that more than often it is worth it and I repeat this to myself, like a kind mantra, hoping that my brain will absorb it and use it and act it.
On a different note, Weymouth was great. Sun was up, people were happy and beer was cold. It was a good day to be alive.