Milestones are important in a persons life. From the first smile to a Gold wedding anniversary, everyone is counting backwards and time is now no longer a single linear event. Today I´ve reached a huge milestone in this incredible journey that began with a single decision to buy a one way ticket to Spain and leave everyone and everything that I had known my whole life. My journey began three years ago and I never expected it to turn out this way. I think I have changed my life by discovering how to be grateful and appreciative for every single small thing – even the bad things!
I´ll never forget walking through airport security, my single suitcase in hand and the knowledge that I did not have my families understanding or support in the decision to leave my home country. No one could understand why I was leaving or even why I was severely unhappy. I swallowed it down like a bitter pill determined for once in my life to just follow my gut instinct and take a chance. The problem is, I don´t come from a family of chance takers. Everyone of them are good solid hard working people who walk or have walked the path of 9 to 5 their whole life, struggled to pay the bills had the same friends as their friends and have accepted that life can be reflected backwards sometimes but mostly it is spent looking forward to the weekend or next public holiday. I sat debating inward….I just couldn´t carry on anymore, I sat, bottle of pills in hand and a contemplation of just completely ending it all. Then life changed. Just like that, in the mere time it took to make a decision.
I feel fate had a roll to play in my decision to leave at that time. It all began at the end of 2010 and Saturn was stomping full force through my horoscope and often retrograde. I often wondered if there was any truth to the hocus pocus of the Mystic Meg´s of this world but after being beaten down with a shit stick during this year and into 2012, I was transferred to a believer in one swoop.
It was fast approaching my 40 th birthday, an important milestone. One of my son´s had discovered drugs and was on a spiral downwards. I came home from work one evening walked up my path to discover the front door to my house wide open, I crept in assessing if there was any danger and could not believe that my whole house had been ripped apart. Nothing looked like it was missing – just ransacked beyond comprehension. Later I found a police search warrant left in prime place on the dining room table. I spent the next 12 hours tidying up. Despite his contribution to this event and he was over 18 I might add it brought a wedge between my mother and I and we were not then on speaking terms. I copped the blame. I went away to Canterbury just before my birthday so I could get away and also celebrate with a friend. My birthday fell on a weekday which is a terrible time to celebrate so I went the weekend before. Also, why bother staying in Wales to celebrate when no one in the family was speaking to me.
On returning home from Canterbury I stepped off the train to find my car that had been parked in the secure car park had been totally smashed up, windscreen, sunroof, windows and all the ignition ripped out. All the joy of the weekend just left in one fell swoop. They did catch the boy who did it, he was 15 and apparently was put into foster care not long after. I don´t hold a grudge. I called an old friend who managed to help me get my car moved, I approached my house glad to be home and walked in to discover that I had been burgled and all my wordly possessions had been stolen. I will never forget that feeling, knowing someone had been in my personal space which was supposed to be secure and a safe haven. Still I carried on as best I could, no one in my family speaking to me…son on a downward slide…my house trashed not once but twice. Thinking that the worst was over I could only imagine the next horror I would face a few weeks later. I awoke to find a man in my bedroom with no TV or laptop left in the house he came for me – but my family never came, not even then
Shortly after I moved out of my house and into a river boat in a nearby town. It was laughable that I actually felt safer on a canal with two flimsy little marine ply doors and a dodgy yale lock. Perhaps it was the change I needed? I questioned myself. I tried to sort out the difference of opinion between my family and I. I was thrown out not once but twice for my effort. So, I temporarily gave up.
Then, I received a phone call from my mother. I instantly knew something was wrong as nigh on 18 months had passed and she hadn´t spoken to me properly once during that time. She blamed me for our poor relationship and that I didn´t go to her 60 th birthday party, I was a bad parent etc. Yet I spent my last 70 quid buying her a bottle of her favourite perfume, a birthday cake and decorating everything for the party. I was, understandably so depressed by now I´m not sure how I even functioned most days let alone plaster a smile on my face and pretend. Perhaps I was selfish, I´m not perfect so quite possibly she was allowed to be angry. I don´t pretend that I have never done anything wrong – who can say this? She still slings my absence at her birthday at me sometimes and I feel like saying it´s not as bad as an being absent when your daughter was subjected to an intruder during the small hours of the night but I have tried to adopt a forgiving mentality and I scold myself for mentally keeping score for negative things or omissions. I truly want to move on.
The phone call I received, was bad news. My grandmother had died. We never actually had any cross words with each other and I had been very close to her but the last time I saw her before she died was over a year before. I was being called quite a lot of nasty names and slung out on the street – not by her I might add. The funeral was a strain and her death just compounded the big black depression I felt.
Things passed peacefully for a few months, I tried to put myself back together and carry on. Some friends kept me sane as did my partner and I will always be grateful for their help and support during this time. My mother and I were still not on speaking terms when I had a message to say she had been diagnosed with cancer. I remember leaving work that day – with permission of course and driving up there not knowing if I would even be allowed in the door. I was, she cried, I cried and I tried to help out as best I could. I still felt like she blamed me for things but I wanted her to get better and in the big scheme of things it wasn´t important. She had surgery and luckily she didn´t need any other treatment like radiation or chemotherapy but the surgery was extensive but she was ok. She was very strong through this time and said that she now looked at life differently. I did to.
I tried to be supportive, visiting as often as I could, going to some hospital appointments for check ups and so on. I still felt she was angry with me on so many levels but I tried to push down any negative thoughts. A few months after she got the all clear I made my decision to leave. Her illness and her absence from my life for nearly two years had a profound impact on me. Although we were fine when I left, it wasn´t long before the finger of blame was being pointed at me again. I had left her in her time of need- The fact that I had been there originally wasn´t as lost on me as it was on her. My life hadn´t been a bunch of roses and she hadn´t been there once.
So, the year is now 2015, I have been in Spain three years – It´s the milestone of when I first arrived, bag, ticket, a lump in my throat as to whether I was doing the right thing. There is not a day goes by where I don´t think how lucky I am to have had those horrible experiences. Without them I never would have had to courage to just say ´you know what…I´m leaving´and actually going to try to do something that I have spent over 20 years thinking about but doing nothing to put it into practice – what did I have to lose? I´ve actually gained everything. Amazing friends, the insight to a different culture, the ability to speak a second language, an opportunity to live in a spectacular place without being a millionaire. The chance to follow my dream of off grid farming and living an eco life.
We can pass our days quickly or slowly, one at a time, reflective or linear, waiting for the weekend or wishing for the past. But, are we really truly living? Are we taking every aspect of our life in to our inner psyche and saying ´this is the best and happiest I can be´or are we just ticking along oblivious to one good or bad experience to another? Must we live our lives in someone else´s shadow?
I can honesty say, none of us can change our pasts but we can shape our future…I wish you luck in yours what ever you want to do and where ever you want to do it.