The 15th and final day of the official Chinese New Year celebrations was yesterday - so today seems a fitting time to post this blog, which has been brewing in my being for a while now. We have just entered the Year of the Snake, which seems particularly significant to me, having being born under the sign of the Fire Snake in Eastern mythology. Western connotations be damned - snakes are fantastical creatures here.
Towards the end of last year (2012) I often found myself thinking and talking to friends about how I was finally emerging from what I recall to be the darkest, most exhausting and haunting period of my whole life. I spent last year feeling constantly overwhelmed, breathless, running to catch up with myself, in an endless series of situations in which I felt like I had no control. As soon as I had dealt with one thing, something else came up.
The breakup of my marriage was obviously the hardest of all. Romantic that I am, I never once thought that I would not live happily ever after. My future was so clear, was so REAL, was so beautiful and wonderful - I married a man whom I loved so very much, whom I believed shared my dreams and ideals and principles. I never thought for a single second that those dreams would remain nothing but dreams. It never even occurred to me that we - loving each other as much as we did - would go for days and even weeks without saying a word to each other, while sleeping in the same bed. I never imagined that I could so completely misjudge what I believed would be the most important thing I ever do. I got married because we wanted to have a family. I am no longer married because it takes more than love to make that a reality. It still makes me so sad to think about it. It still breaks my heart a little, and I imagine it always will, a little.
But time heals, and I have gone from a sobbing, crying-myself-to-sleep-every-night mess - wondering how it all went wrong, puzzling over why and when everything fell apart, and if there was any way at all to fix it, realizing in devastation that there was nothing that I had not done, nothing more for me to do that would make any difference at all - to a wiser, stronger, smarter woman. I am not bitter, nor am I jaded, or cynical. I am still a hopeless romantic, I still believe with all my heart in love and magic and fairy-tales. Like THAT could ever change!
The happy addendum to this tale is that I've been dating a really good man for almost 6 months now. A man, not a boy. One who is incredibly smart, and strong, and funny and creative and interesting and driven and supportive - and pretty easy on the eye too! ;) We are similar in many ways, have many of the same interests, and almost all of the same friends. We've known each other for many years now, but this is the first time that we actually live in the same city at the same time. So far, so good. We take things slowly, day by day. It's a very new type of relationship for both of us, I think. Feels very grown up, in that wonderful, independent, mutually-respectful and fully trusting way. I find myself leaning on him in a way that I have NEVER leaned on anyone before, much less any partner I've been involved with. It feels odd sometimes. I don't really know how to do it. But I LIKE it. A lot.
As part of the chaos of last year, I also ended up moving house a lot: living in 5 different homes in 4 different cities in 3 different countries. I completed my postgraduate certificate in education, which involved assignments and final-year exams in 5 different subjects, and a 3-month unpaid teaching practicum back home in South Africa. I lived on an island, in a village, in a sprawling African city, and in a bustling East Asian metropolis. I went from Boracay (Philippines) to Koh Lanta (Thailand) to Vigan (Philippines) to Johannesburg (South Africa) to Cape Town (South Africa) to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) to Taipei (Taiwan) to Haifa (Israel) in just over ONE YEAR. I searched for and started a new job. I reconnected with old friends in 2 of the cities which will always have my heart. I felt at once disjointed from it all, while completely immersed in it all. I felt like I was drowning, floating, fleeing, approaching, trying, crying, laughing, searching... Turmoil. Constant turmoil. I have some wonderful memories of moments with friends which were like islands in the sea of pandemonium. They would give me temporary respite - something to cling to when it all became too much, catch my breath, rest my weary body. And then it would be time to fling myself into the waves again... and keep swimming for the shore...
Towards the end of last year, I felt like I was starting to take control of it all again. And then my dad went in for what was supposed to be a "minor surgery", but turned into a major operation with massive complications. Two months later he has awakened from his coma and is making a remarkable recovery. He is still in a medical facility, connected to machines, re-learning how to walk and eat, recovering. We are all so relieved, and it's so amazing to see him as he is now, that I am loathe to even talk about how it felt while it was going on. But suffice to say: it was a terrifying and hopeless and surreal time for my whole family. I Skyped with him again last night. He cannot speak yet, as he still has a trach-pipe in, but he types and I lip-read and we laugh, and it feels wonderful.
I have decided to take ownership of this year. I have decided to be happy. I have decided to be positive. I will not let things get me down, or stress me out. I will remain calm. Most importantly, I will SLOW DOWN. There is no rush to get anywhere. I find myself surrounded by so many truly GOOD people - both in my immediate surrounds, and sprinkled about all over the world. No-one is really all that far away anymore, given the global village that is our world. How fortunate we are!
There is so much goodness radiating from this year ahead. I feel GOOD.
Thank you to each and every one of you for all of the love with which you shower me constantly.
It is that which keeps me going, that keeps me alive and free and strong and happy.
I love you.