Each new relationship challenges you in ways you weren’t expecting. For me living together with the one I love means being confronted with my vulnerability, all of my imperfections and idiosyncrasies. Basically all of the things I try to hide most of the time. And then there’s the stuff from my past. Coping mechanisms that used to work are failing and unresolved issues are flaring up like wildfires. As Katherine Anne Porter once wrote, the past is never where you think you left it. Old files that I had neatly tucked away in brown paper boxes and labelled as closed are suddenly resurfacing all over the place. My first reaction was to panic and to try to shove them back into the closet and sweep the rest under the carpet, hoping they would not notice. But there’s no way that you can keep that up. Trying to pretend everything is OK is really draining. So I’ve learned that the best way to deal with it is to accept yourself and your past. To own up to it and be honest about it. To bring it into the light.
I have always wanted a garden. My house at the beach has a small balcony with a couple of potted plants, but it’s not the same as a bit of land. There is a lovely community garden in our neighbourhood that I’ve always meant to sign up for, but somehow never quite got around to. One year I missed the deadline (by a day!), the next I had completely forgotten it… but last summer I decided it was time to commit to my dream. So I highlighted the date in my calendar, filled in an application form and just like that, got awarded a garden patch. It’s only fifteen square meters, but I’m happy as can be. It’s just marvelous to put some seeds in the ground and watch them grow. Did you know you can grow your own garlic just by putting a clove into the earth? We are gonna plant flowers for bees and other insects, veggies and fragant herbs. Right now the tomatoes are enjoying the warmth of our miniature green house. What a delight to wake up every morning and see how much they’ve grown!
I sit down on a bench overlooking the lake and watch the turtles basking in the sunlight on this first day of spring. Small ripples move over the water towards the bank. Everywhere around me the birds are chirping. How I enjoy the quietness of nature! It makes me feel completely at ease. Why, I wonder, is it so hard for me to let myself be? Instead of following my own rhythm, I keep falling into the same trap of not accepting myself and respecting my needs. I want so much to be like everyone else, to go to a cool festival, meet new people, stay up late, join in the fun… except that it’s not fun for me. A tiny fly lands on my hand as I’m writing in my notebook. What a perfect creature he is. I wonder if he longs to be in the water with the turtles? Probably not, he seems quite content to be just the way he is. So why can’t I? Being different in itself isn’t the problem, it’s wanting to be something I’m not and the frustration that comes with it, that is causing this tension. Now breathe, relax, let go…
It is the midst of winter. And no matter how much I love the snow swirling down outside, covering the world with a blanket of quiet whiteness, I also long to feel the warmth of sunrays on my face. I vaguely remember what it was like when life was of an easier, lighter kind. And yet, I understand that this time, slowly gliding along in the darkness, has a purpose. That it allows me to let go of things that no longer serve me and to process all of the changes that have so rapidly succeeded each other. Even positive changes need time adjusting to. Time to familiarise myself with the new colours and shapes of my life, their edges and curves. To be frightened by them and long for the days of old, to retreat into the safety of the familiar, and then to take a step forward again, to welcome and embrace them. To understand that it was me who invited them in, even when it scares me and I question whether I was actually ready for them. To let go of these doubts and let myself be enveloped by them.