Hectic Peace

I took some time off during the weekend and went to see Rome. It was only a four day trip and half of that was mostly spent on driving. It was indeed a short, sweet little vacation and it was a reminder that my life is most certainly not the standard for … anything.

Rome really is awe-inspiring. It is so in so many ways and most of the time I spent there I was shocked by something. I was shocked by the state of their roads. I was shocked by the surprising amount of garbage by the side of those roads. And I was most definitely shocked by their amazing history and architecture. I was shocked by how they drive. I was shocked by how little fu** they give about anything. I was shocked at how many polar-opposites they live with and do so comfortably. I was shocked at how fully they seem to choose to live.

I am a person who likes to understand. I am also someone who likes structure. Rules help me with all of that and I guess that’s why I’ve come to like and respect them. I’ve been to Italy before and I saw what their driving is like, but I guess my memory mellowed it out a little. It’s probably good it did. I don’t think I could have returned otherwise. You see, rules, on which I so much rely on, seem to vanish as soon as you cross the border. As soon as we came into Italy, all I was able to be aware off is complete and utter chaos.

Rules and structure are not just something I like. They are also what helps me cope with anxiety and depression. I focus a lot on what is firm and on what I can rely on to prevent panic attacks, to help with social anxiety and to stay centred. When driving through Italy I felt the outside threads of reliability melt off and suddenly there was only fear. Those otherwise lovely people drive like complete maniacs! I couldn’t get a grasp on reality long enough to observe what the rules were and what to go by. I felt there was nothing to cling on to at moments.  Everywhere I looked there was a car, a motorbike, a cyclist, a pedestrian … going, going, going. They surpass you on your left, then someone else surpasses you on the right, someone else is honking like crazy, and another is verbally sending you off to where the Sun don’t shine. Or they send your mother there. Or both.

We walked everywhere. When I say “walked”, I mean “ran for our lives” most of the time. We ran so much it became a running joke (sorry, I had to slap that one in there).

It took a little bit of a toll on my psyche, I won’t lie. I couldn’t catch my breath, it was just go, go, go. After all this walking, running, running away from something and so on and so forth, we finally gave up and took a cab to where we were staying. It would have otherwise been a one hour walk to our place and we just simply too tired.

It was a ten minute ride. The taxi driver was a nice enough guy, in his early forties. We strapped in and laughed at what we knew was going to happen. He, of course, drove like the rest of them: like a complete lunatic. All the while he was doing that, I heard him softly speaking on his phone to someone. He drove like a maniac, but spoke like he was relaxing. Just chillin’. If I’d have seen him in his cab from the outside, I would have figured this guy’s blood-pressure was through the roof and he was on the verge of having a stroke. But no. He was as cool as a cucumber.

This got me thinking: I always internalise stuff too much. Why can’t I be more like the taxi driver … or all drivers in Italy? Why can’t I be the calm in the storm? I know it’s up to me to react and I tend to react sometimes in the most self-stabbing manner. Sure, I don’t want to cause any sort of storms and make other people’s lives harder. but I also want to be at peace when storms hit. And hit they do.

So thank you, you crazy, lovely people of Italy. You have reminded me that I can be a little hustler of hectic peace: just ride out the storm and not get caught up in it. Well done, Italy!

 

 

 

Angels Wear Fur. Part 2.

I named her Neža. She was black with spots of white on her neck and belly. She had beautiful green and yellow eyes. She was here and she was loved.

About four years ago I was working outside when a small black cat came and sat quite a far way away from me. She sat and I spoke to her. She listened, but said nothing. Then she left. She came back the next day. I spoke softly to her again. She meowed back and looked at me. I went inside to get some fish I had in the fridge. I left it open for her and she ate the whole thing. She was starving, the poor little thing. If there is something I cannot take, it’s a helpless creature hungry. I started feeding her regularly. My family was (of course) against it. But she grew on them, too.

My neighbours started feeding her as well, but she never let herself be touched. I enticed her to come closer and closer. Used all my patience and really tried to radiate love. She was so tiny, suspicious, but I sensed she wanted nothing more than to be cuddled. So I persevered. I kept on feeding her, kept on kneeling as close and as far away from her as she would allow. I got closer and closer. One day she took a treat from me directly when I extended my arm out as far as I could.  After a month or so of that, she ate directly from mu hand.

Six months later, I again fed her and stuck out mu finger to cuddle the side of her little face. She felt the touch and I thought for a second I overstepped the mark and went too far. But instead she fell into my hand as if it was relief to her.

Three years went by like that. She let me cuddle her and I gained enough trust for her to crawl into my lap in the mornings, eat and snuggle with me. We made her a little house outside and my neighbour made her shelter as well.

I wished I could keep keep her inside, but I have a terrifying little terrier who only kind of tolerated her. She chased the poor black thing and I’d be angry at her, but I didn’t really get anywhere with that particular relationship.

I called her in the mornings and I usually heard her before I saw her. She had this very specific singing meow which always made me laugh. She crawled onto my lap and purred, snuggled and massaged my legs with her sharp little claws. I didn’t care. I just wanted her t get as many cuddles from me as possible. She never wanted them to stop. And I never wanted to either.

I’ll never be able to repay her for the trust she showed me, for the love she gave and for those warm minutes and hours with her when I knew she felt safe because she was in my arms.

One day she came to the house with a bad limp. I thought she fell and that it would get better. It didn’t. We managed to get her to the vet and they said the limp was from her spine and that nothing was broken. She would never fully walk again.

In the end, my mom kept her and took care of her. She finally became an inside cat. We gave her medicine to help with inflammation and pain. Kept her loved and cuddled. But that only lasted for three months. She started to be in a lot of pain and was dragging her hind legs behind. We put her to rest just two days ago. And it was agony.

I miss her little heart so much. She taught me so much and gave an amount of love I can only hope to have repaid somehow and in some way. So I want to say thank you to the tiniest of silent teachers and a goodbye. She was loved and she will be missed. I hope there is a better place on the other side and that she’s getting plenty of cuddles from my dad and wet doggy licks form my big boy. Rest easy, my little love.

 

Change of Scenery For a Change of P(e)ace

Wow … it has been a hot minute since my last post. This little blog has always been a way for me to express myself and hopefully offer a little change of perspective for anyone who’d happen to stumble upon my writings. Writing always brought me clarity, even when all else failed.

These past few months have had a huge impact on my life and the way I see the world. My depression has taken me to new depths, my social anxiety has left me with a number of friends I could count on one hand (and chop a few fingers off at that), my self-esteem and the feeling of self-worth were lost. Sure, I’d get a little better, but then it came up again. I was in constant turmoil and battling myself and my surroundings.

One night in January, I thought I’d loose it. My marbles and my life. I managed to survive myself and the workings of my brain. One night a month later I was shown it could get worse. I couldn’t understand it. I have so much knowledge, so many tools to work with. Nothing helped. Writing was the last thing on my mind. The only thing I honestly wanted to write was my suicide letter.

But I survived. I clung to the thought of the very few that love me and I chose minute by minute to stay here and wait for the pain to be over. And it came: the silence. A minute of peace. If I could find one, I’ll surely be able to find another, right? Yes. They came. And so did my resolve and determination. I can change my life. I can be better. Depression, fear and anxiety are just signs of where I am. Nothing else, nothing more. I have so much to give and this part of my life right now is just another way of finding new depths of myself, of discovering my true power and a way to help others with my experience.

In the last few months I was also shown that I need a change of scenery. I always thought I could never live anywhere else. I look out the window to find the comfort of the trees I have known my whole life, the lines of hills which have helped shape me and a smell of  damp, deep green comfort. But now I know they have also brought me a lack of clarity, have restricted me and have suffocated me.

I am waking up to the fact that a change of scenery is not a failure. I always thought it would be for my life. Why would I want to leave this place I have known all my life? I have so desperately loved it- why would I ever want to leave? I now realise I have to. I have let myself be defined by something which grows and changes whether I like it or not. I have no control over my past. It has happened. I’d like to look at it from a different perspective. I feel I can only achieve that somewhere … not here.

I went for a walk today. I wasn’t planning on anything or actually even thinking of anything special. But something inspired me to stop. I looked up at the forest I spent my entire life observing and suddenly said goodbye. It just came out of me: I said goodbye to the scent of my broken-hearted childhood. I wished for the resentment to be blown away with a gust of wind. I asked for a dry leaf rolling about in the wind to roll away the fear and hurt of never being good enough to be loved. I finally told my trees that I’ll always love them, but I will soon have to go. I want to love my trees because I feel free to do so, not because I am helplessly clinging to a past which is long gone.

I write this as tears stream down my face. I am so afraid. Taking the steps which will ensure a future away from my hills and my forest are actually heart-breaking. I feel as though I am letting my father down. He was in love with his hills and his forest. I can still hear his voice when I sit outside. I know I will never hear it again and that makes those trees another way of missing him even more. I know in my heart he wouldn’t want me to cling to what he loved just because I miss him. His creations are not my own. I realise that now. All he’d ever want is for his children to find happiness. And so I will.