Is there more?

While reading one of the blogs I follow (thank you for the inspiration, Megan!), I happened to ask myself the same question. Is there more to me than my mental issues?

Formally, I suppose the answer is yes; if someone with hepatitis, cancer or diabetes is a person regardless of their conditions, so am I. Funny how I unconsciously chose chronic or deadly diseases for the comparison.

A little less formally, it’s not so easy. Of course there are sides of my character that are unrelated to these issues, but my perception of my character is way too focussed.

In the process of opening up to Andrew I can’t help asking myself how I’m presenting myself, what is there for him to find out and know about me. Of course there are habits, hobbies, activities, likings and more than 30 years of past to talk about and that comes naturally. Then there is the person: our dreams, our hopes, our reactions, our secrets, our weaknesses, our fears. In that, I see close to nothing more than my issues.

My dreams and hopes are somehow distorted by my issues, my secrets are all about this, let’s not even discuss weaknesses and fears. Everyone has weaknesses and fears, but not everyone calls them issues. I tend to call issue every negative aspect of my character, I blame everything that doesn’t work in me on my issues.

I can’t seem to look at the whole as a superior entity: there are facts about my life and then there are the issues. I feel like I am nothing more than my issues. I feel like I can offer nothing more than my issues.

But if I think about it really closely, instead of just listening to the louder voice in my brain, it’s not so true.

I am honest, even when I should lie a little more, I just can’t.
I am trustworthy and loyal. Because I just am, and I think it’s right to be it.
I can make people laugh; it might be a coping mechanism to shield my shyness but it’s still true that I enjoy making people laugh and it comes natural to me.
I understand people. I would like to state that I am a good listener too, but that’s something only other people can confirm. But I am more than sure that I can see everybody’s point of view and give good advice accordingly, because if there is one thing I’ve taught my brain well is analysing pros and cons.

I should think about this much more often, repeat this as a mantra every single morning, to make sure I remember I am worth something, I am not just a tangle of paranoia and low self-esteem.

As for weaknesses and flaws, those I still think correspond to my issues.

Provided that I have issues, I look at all my life bearing in mind that my psyche does not work properly and that I have to over analyse and second guess every emotion or thought or feeling I experience. I tell myself I need to do this in order to truly understand what’s going on, under the constant suspicion that my own mind is playing tricks on me. Every time I am weak, I blame my issues. Hence, I exhaust myself thinking the issues are everywhere and never shrinking, that I will never be able to eradicate them, that my life will never be “normal” until I do.

Sometimes though, I wonder if I’m overstepping. I wonder if I know too much, if I’m just hiding behind a more or less comfortable cover up. I blame my issues for everything, so much so, I almost think that if I could defeat my issues completely, my life would be free of worry and bad thoughts.

I used to be blind, true, I used to be clueless as to where some reactions and thoughts came from whereas now, I recognise the path as clearly as a directory. But maybe I should not fall in the opposite pit.

There must be a threshold. Some of my paranoias, maybe all of them, are common to most people, maybe just not as intense, or maybe others aren’t so sensitive to the same topics as I am. How do I recognise the threshold between sane and insane, between the longed-for normality and dysfunction?

It’s all about the serenity prayer: how do I know what I need to change and what I should actually accept? I feel defeated in this battle against my issues, because they seem ever-present, they look untouchable, unassailable. What if they are? What if part of them is just the fundamental core of human heart?

Am I fighting the wrong war, all geared up with armour, sword and shield when all I’d need is a mirror?

Or patience.

Maybe in all of this, my only real problem is impatience. As for many other things, I blame myself for not being able to see things clearly from the start, for understanding things a little too late. Maybe it’s not late at all, maybe it’s the right time, and I wouldn’t need to blame myself for not seeing them sooner, because sooner they weren’t there at all, they were only still cooking. You can’t tell whether the soup is good before it’s ready, you need to wait until it’s done, if you taste it too soon, it will always be bad. Because sometimes only time can tell, and flogging myself with a thousand questions a second is completely useless.

Maybe I can trust myself with my judgement, because all I need is to listen to my mind saying “enough”. All the rest is jibber jabber.

It’s not love, not really. Not yet. Maybe it never is.

It’s just the first time someone opens the door to me, even just still keeping me outside. It’s the first time, this 32 year old me opens the door when someone knocks.

I am incredibly weary of my old habits, still haunting me every single minute. My ghosts follow me at short distance, every time a text isn’t answered within a reasonable amount of minutes, every time details for a date aren’t set in advance, with every word seemingly left unspoken. It’s the first time I ever recognise this anguish for what it is, calling it by its first name: fear of abandonment. Knowing what it is and approximately where it stems from, though, isn’t helping me yet in pushing it back to hell and sealing the door behind it. I only know it happens and it’s excruciating.

Dating like this is a struggle of titanic proportions, and in this I really do feel like an addict. Because it hurts, a lot, at times it frustrates and drains me so much I wish my heart were completely anesthetised, that I could gulp down a magic blue pill that could make me impenetrable to men, attraction and feelings. And if I could I would choose to quit.

But in the reality of things, not only I don’t want to, I can’t. I feel a deep and unconditional need of love, affection and physical contact, the kind of affection only a partner can give. Giving up on my quest would mean surrender to cold and loneliness and feeling deprived of the small joys even the slightest contact brings. Without the hope of finding someone to be close to me, I would feel dried out and hopeless.

And then there is the Ghost of Wedding Past. The crystal clear awareness that my last and only meaningful relationship ended because I as much as he couldn’t tend to it, that it was a relationship I failed to keep wanting, that I didn’t recognise as a part-time and void-filling activity more than anything else, glued together by blindness and fear of loneliness. The same fear of loneliness that makes me wonder now, and always will from here to eternity: do I care or am I just scared to let go?

In all of this, in this atomic aftermath environment, a timid light at the end of the tunnel – still unclear whether it’s the end of the dark or the headlight of the running train meeting my tracks.

More than once I’ve told myself he’s not the man of my life, because if it’s true that love can find you in the most unexpected places and perfection is not of this Earth, it is also true that there is a point in setting a baseline and if someone is excessively different from you, it is likely not going to work out.

Still, I am not thinking about eternity right now, I am not hoping for Mr. Right, I am waiting for Mr. Right Now.

And right now, it feels like I am dating for the very first time. It feels as if I were reborn. I am approaching all of this with an awareness I have never had before. Feelings should not be dissected under a microscope, it’s not that, it’s being aware of sensations and discovering the feelings that these sensations cause.

The first time we went out together I experienced something I had never felt before: at the end of the night I had the clearest impression that I had been on a date. There was no kiss or any other move, nothing practical and matter-of-fact. I wouldn’t be able to describe it any better: it’s like recognising the taste of a dish with your eyes blindfolded. You might not be able to tell the ingredients, but you definitely know it’s that one food you’re having. It might have been that I liked him physically, but I liked Hector too and it didn’t happen, it might have been the restaurant, but I’ve been to better places and it never felt like that, it might have been the conversation, but I’ve had other more stimulating and flowing ones and it still wasn’t the same. He made me feel calm, like there was no need to put up all of the barriers I tend to erect in social circumstances, even the ones I would be lead to believe are the purest example of myself. I felt free to be a woman with him, with no need to resort to strategies and deceptions, the girliest part of me, naked and shy. He made me want to be like that.

It was probably the way we look at each other. Straight in the eyes, as if the rest of the world and our own mouths were on mute, like we are resisting a magnet.

When he first kissed me, I only stopped to think of the historical value of it. I wanted and half expected him to kiss me, but the point right then and there was being kissed again, being liked again, feeling normal again. I liked it but it was too short, too early and too clumsy to tell the difference. The second time it was clear. It was clear how I was living that kiss and feeling it with every single sensor of my body with no trace of shame or self-awareness. I had never kissed someone like that before. It felt as if every single kiss in my life prior to that night had stopped at the intrinsic and social value of a kiss, I had never really enjoyed one in its simplest form.

It’s very hard to determine what of all of this was caused by him, rather than by myself. It is most probably just me, just in my head and he is just the lucky bystander. I have changed my attitude and this change would manifest itself with anyone else in his position.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to sustain a long-term relationship again. It’s not about finding someone, strangely enough, I do see the possibility in that. As for finding the perfect someone… Right now I feel like that perfect someone shouldn’t be perfect at all. I realise I am not perfect and I hope that an equally imperfect or flawed person might be the only way to be truly understood.

And this is the wonderful fairytale of every new-begun love. But what of the long run?

Marcel looks like a dreaming poet now, never preoccupied by practical details – he arrived an hour late to one of our dinners because he thought we were going to another restaurant – would I honestly be able to refrain from killing him for this after six months of missed trains and lost keys?

Hector inspired me to try  to explore spirituality with his meditation practices and his interest towards India and ashrams. But what if general optimism and love for the whole world were proved to be plainly incompatible with my tendency towards frustration and irritability?

How can I know who is really compatible with me? How do I know whether someone is incompatible with me or I am incompatible with the idea of accepting someone for who they really are? In other words, how do I know if I am compatible with long-lasting relationships at all?

The fact that my last relationship failed is just proof of my inability to be flexible and make a relationship work? I feel like I will never be able to work at something that has no rules. I feel like I’ll never be able to get things right unless I have an instructions manual at hands.

I read fantasy books, most of the time. I think sometimes it is easier to tell about the world through the words of a dragon or a wolf; as if somehow talking to our inner child would bring a clearer lesson.

When I read other books, I have deeper reasons for it. I read “Eat, pray, love” and it became my mantra, for a while. So much so, I am going to give it to Maddie as a present. I never did that before, giving a book I read to someone else.

Now I’m reading another book, another biography, which is perfectly in line with what I’m doing here on WordPress too: reading about other people’s lives to try to untangle my own.

This book I had never heard of before, but my therapist told me the story, the experience of the author, his problems in life and his literary style, reminded her of me.

Yes, the author is a man. His story is that of a troubled man after the premature loss of his mother, when he was 9. His pain was that of someone in desperate need of love, a love only a mother can give before the void eats at your guts.

A mother is the only being who can teach you love, the only designated figure for this, the essence of femininity. A father can’t, a male can’t, regardless of his sweetness or weakness or open-mindedness. 

I’ve been wondering why our stories are so similar, the reason of his pain was a loss as profound as the death of a parent while still far from a practical or emotional independence. What have I lost?

Towards the end of the book, a letter from another man exposes the devastation brought by the loss of a wonderful mother who taught him how to handle feelings.

And then there’s the author’s wife, who maintains she has met two types of orphans, those whose parents are dead and those whose parents are alive.

There is a void inside of me, it’s undeniable. How to fill it up and why it’s there in the first place are questions I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to provide an answer for. I’m trying, maybe not my best, but I’m doing all of this work alone.

Nobody ever taught me how to love, nobody ever taught me how to be a woman, how to be a mother.

This would hardly be a good influence on a man, on a woman, as Mother Nature decided I should be, is an abomination. I am trying to fight the abomination, but that unfortunately does not keep me from feeling like an abomination.

I laugh about my being a bad boy, I am so used to this version of myself I almost accept it kindly, with the pitying sweetness of someone content with trying the best they can, but alas with inadequate results. It is the only me I was able to create for myself, freakish and out of the box, but still my own creature, the one I managed to let survive.

I am/was/dunno dating this guy, a good guy, nice and kind, normal someone would say. Not stupid or ignorant but simple. There is something missing. The good thing that I liked most about him is that he makes me want to be kinder and more feminine, it’s like he emanates an aura of calm that allows me to hold my  guard down. Still, after three dates and some memorable kisses, there is something missing. I am really convinced that I don’t need a rocket scientist because love is made of feelings, not of neurons. It’s not that. I am/was/dunno waiting for a deeper bond to form, that level of intimacy where you want to share with that person what others outside can’t see about you, and I am/was/dunno expecting this to come somehow from him. But it cannot. It has to come from me, because I am the woman. And I have no idea how to do it, I never have, it scares the bejesus out of me. But I’d like to try. I hope I can still use the present tense.

The fact is, the book is full of hopeless men somehow saved by love and protective women. They get saved by love. God knows I’ve been looking for that saving love all my life, but I am the woman. No man is ever going to give me that love. So who exactly is supposed to save me? How am I supposed to save myself, who can I ask to know the truth and how long will I have to wait before I can stop squandering my life?

How do women handle these crises? All I am left thinking is that even in this I am not woman, because women would probably react in some other way rather than being the slightly more sensitive version of a lost 9-year-old boy. I am not woman enough to save myself.

You are supposed to always know the truth about life, you only more or less consciously decide not to listen to that truth. I understand that, I see myself and my story in that, how for years I have wandered with no destination, blind to everything around me. I’m still doing that. And I understand how one day I may decide to finally lift the blackening veil from my eyes. The when is a source of deep concern for me though and mosty I wonder how you are not supposed to hate yourself for being the primary cause of your blindness and all of your pain.

I’ve taken my decision. A small, but radical one. Because after a full year, I need to remind myself that I am trying change, for a change.

I’m going to start taking anti-depressants.

For two main reasons:

I can’t provide a reason why I shouldn’t.
I used to be adamant about this, no drugs. As of now, I don’t even remember why I was so resolute about this. Probably: I just wanted to suffer. I wanted it the hard way, I was scared of being reaped of my own soul if I had stopped feeling fully. I was scared I might stop working on myself and hold on to the easy way out. It’s not going to happen. I canged my mind when I saw the effects on my ex, it helped take the edge off and if he decided to stop working on himself, it was his decision. I always take things head on, the hard way; I’ve been telling myself to cut myself some slack over and over, but doing it is harder than I expected. So, yes, this helps in cutting some slack. I’ll welcome it.

I’ve never done it before.
It’s not about trying everything once in life. It’s about knowing how the past went and learning from it. Change is about taking everything that is usual and questioning it, so if I know how much I got or did’t get better in the past without drugs, it’s time to give it a try, if nothing else because maybe it really is the kick-start I need. It may be the exact self-help I need to get a different perspective and start learning from my falls without aching for the bruises.

It’s scary because it’s admitting it got that bad. It’s giving it a first name: depression. But just a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, depression by any other name would stink as bad. It doesn’t matter if I call it depression or blues or anything else, the pain is there all the same. It doesn’t matter how I baptise the pain, it’s there. If my head hurts, I get FANS, if my heart hurts, I get chocolate, if my mind hurts, I take anti-depressants.

It doesn’t need to get any worse, to allow myself some relief.
You don’t need to hit rock bottom before you start ascending again.
It’s one step forward, farther away from the me I used to be and I want to leave behind.

Maddie and Coach have been giving me a pretty hard time about my being aggressive. Granted, I know where it’s coming from, it’s not unreasonable, still there are ways and ways to tell people things.

I undoubtedly have problems with the idea of not being liked, especially by men, but I keep it for myself. It’s sad and sounds pathetic, so I just don’t talk about it, not in a serious way, not in a way that would let people understand how much this really hurts me. I complain sometimes that no body ever wants to sex with me or just talk about how I don’t get pursued, approached or chat-up by random guys and Maddie’s answer is that I must somehow repel at people, even unconsciously.

She maintains she used to be like me and nobody ever looked her way either (now, I don’t know how far back this goes, but I don’t find that much evidence of this in what she told me of her past) then she changed her attitude, started smiling to everyone, started acting like a bimbo, playing with guys as if she were constantly amazed by them and everyone magically began buzzing around.

I get it, I do, but I have serious problems with this. I have grown up in a society where everyone dispensed fake smiles just to stab you in the back, where you were only evaluated and rated from your appearance, where values didn’t exist and the facade was the only thing that mattered. I decided I didn’t want anything to do with such a world. I decided I wanted to be true, to be honest, to give truth and substance a value and rejected anything vain, superficial and esthetic. I decided I didn’t want to play the social game of not doing anything that wasn’t proper just because others would have thought it was unbecoming.

The idea of discarding these values that I created for myself is a sin. I accept the idea of trying to be sweeter, I don’t accept the idea of a fake smile, I loathe the pretending, I am disgusted by the idea of diminishing your own intelligence for the sake of… what exactly? One more smile from an imbecile who likes to entertain himself with a brainless doll?

I used to have another problem, which by the way is far from being solved: I am shy. As anyone suffering from more or less severe insecurity issues, I tend not to be confident of my feelings, of my persona in general, I don’t come off strong. And I was taught that this is wrong, that you can’t let your feelings show, that you have to pretend to be immune from any sort of undermining. This idea is so deep-rooted inside of me, that it has become a habit. I built a fortress around me which accurately covers any soft spot. I look like concrete, while my insides are… marshmallow.

So yeah, my being aggressive is a mask, one I have nonetheless chosen for myself, because I am not ashamed of being the girl able to tell it as it is, who cracks dirty jokes and makes everybody laugh. I like this, because it is true, because I do not fall victim of hypocrisy and pseudo-catholic respectability.

And sure, men don’t like it. Because their masculinity feels undermined, because they still expect a girl to be sweet and stupid and vain. Oh I have come a long way. At least now I value the idea of feeling beautiful and indulge in a little vanity instead of dressing up like a hobo just to prove my point.

My point being: I don’t want someone close to me minding only the surface. I like the idea of someone willing to dig the surface to find the marshmallow.

So yes, I have a very thick armor, but that doesn’t mean I do not possess a heart. You wear an armor not because you are a thick-skinned monster but because you are made of tender, weak and delicate tissue. The more sensitive the core, the more defenseless the creature, the harder the shell.

Each and every single time people point out something about me is wrong I am hurt. Because I can’t accept the idea of not being perfect, the idea of being wrong. Because when you are insecure and unconfident, just a single word can throw you in despair, and I’ve been hearing this a lot lately.

And the thing that hurt me more is that after all, after all my insecurity, my doubts, my self-loathing, in the end I like myself and the good qualities I have, because I have shaped them around the values I like and feel mine. It’s just… it looks like so few people in the world adopted the same values that I have no alternative than being alone. I feel like a dinosaur on the brink of extinction. 

I don’t like the fact that I have to change in order to be liked by others, because I can’t help wondering who would like me in the end if I renounced my values. I can’t help wondering who would others like if I put up a mask of someone that I am not; they wouldn’t like me anyway, they would still like only the mask and would run as soon as I decided to drop it. Some special someone may be willing to look behind it, but I guess the kind of people that I like would be much more interested to look behind a monster mask than behind a doll mask.

Then again, I am not sure I could change, even if I wanted to. In the greater picture, the ghosts that hurt me most are not these, eradicating my so-called aggressiveness would not cure my feelings of being rejected. If I need to make an effort to change, I would not address these issues, because real issues lie elsewhere.

And it pains me that coach can’t really see that he is not helping me, as he claims, but he is really just hurting me and reminding me how incompatible we are. It makes me shake my head to see how he’s not even considering that he may hurt my feelings. When you get to meet and know someone you have two options: you can accept them for who they are, with their virtues and flaws or you can decide you want nothing to do with them because their flaws exceed their virtues. I don’t feel accepted by him. I know he appreciated some things about me, may be just my dedication to the sport, but it feels like he wants to change me and not for my own good but because in his mental image of the perfect world, I am an abomination.

I may need to learn how to break the walls, take off the armor and show some of my weaker spots with no shame and a little less fear, I may benefit from smoothing a few edges, I may want to stop turning to aggressiveness to cover up my insecurity, but I won’t trust so lightly someone telling me to change my ways, just because they are uncomfortable around me.

I don’t believe in soul mates. I refuse to believe that there is one person out there who is perfect for me, simply because I hope there are many more, maybe just a little bit less perfect. I want to believe there are a number of people who could give me a lot in at a given moment in my life. I want to believe there are more chances, because just one would be too little for me to find.  Truth is, it seems to me there are so few people out there who would even only consider me ad a viable person, that the idea that more than one person could love me exactly for what I am is ridiculous. But I’m afraid, I wouldn’t settle for anything different anyway.

This is why I need to learn to live my life alone and give myself anything that I need. Because that someone just may not exist.

 

My ways with love and feelings are wrong. I am not trying to find an excuse for that, I see it, I admit it, even though I don’t actually hurt anybody else but myself.

Why do we have to be ashamed and diminished by our feelings?
Why do we have to punish ourselves for having feelings?
Why are we expected to control and suppress them?
Why are we expected to be machines?

Our pride has taken away our right to feel.

Our society expects us to be able to have sex separating completely our hearts from our bodies. Which I understand, is possible. Not only for men. I am grateful for this possibility, because sometimes, it is needed. But it seems it has become a habit, a must. You have to be able to have sex and be completely detached from the other person, because really, 90% of the times it’s all it’s going to be. Physical exercise.

And maybe the situation is crystal clear, people try to sign emotional agreements where they promise they are not going to develop any kind of feeling or affection. As far as I’ve experienced, they get broken all the time. Because we are adamant that we can control our feelings and are miserably proven wrong, because we lie to ourselves and pretend the seed of feelings isn’t there to begin with, because we honestly felt like it wasn’t time, but the time came regardless of our believes.

And we feel so ashamed when it happens, we blame ourselves, our inability to dictate actions to our hearts, our weakness, our social unacceptability.

We can’t admit it, we can’t accept it, we can’t reveal it to the person we love.

Why?

Is it just fear of rejection? Is it fear of the sorrow?Is it because we broke a promise we were never supposed to agree on to begin with?

It’s wrong. The fact that we know that we would be looked upon as fools and be immediately dismissed and distanced by the person we love is sick. We are not sex dolls. We should be allowed to make a mistake, but then again, it shouldn’t even be considered a mistake. It’s what makes us human. And maybe mothers and fathers out there should be careful to teach this to their children.

I get too attached to people way too early and that is my mistake, mine to correct, to spare me the troubles it brings, but when someone is important to me I would like them to be able to appreciate it. The idea of being treated as an infesting disease that would spread uncontrollably if not promptly eradicated is beyond sad. It’s inhumane.

Feelings are not monsters. They can be scary, they can be uncontrollable and irrational and painful, but they mean no harm. It’s our way to say we wish others to be happy. They bring a speck of dust of good in this world. it’s where we come from. If only all of us could remember that and stop pretending to be immune to them…

I turned 32 yesterday and in 32 years of my life, no other birthday registered such a high number of greetings and wishes from people out there.

It is a sign. Of my will to get out there and create a familiar environment for my future, of my ability to connect just a little bit more.

I’m very happy about this. And moved.

Coming back from Vietnam was much harder than I expected, but I’ve learned something now and I hope I will remember my lesson for the next time around: any time a milestone comes and goes from my life, I should expect turbulence. Just like moving from earth to sea up in the air, adjusting is troublesome. This happened after Oberstdorf, a full week of terror and depression, and it happened again now. A week, seven days. Then the sun peeps out again.

Seven days and nights are probably what I need to get my head back in a different present, and mostly in a different future, where milestones are still missing. A sort of white page syndrome, where the vastness of possibility ends up squashing you rather than proving your freedom.

Then one by one the breadcrumbs you left behind find you again, they show up and poke you just enough to let you lift up your chin and look, instead of shutting your eyes tight and plugging your ears.

I’m afraid Vietnam didn’t teach me much in the end. It was not the kind of journey that enlightens you and changes your point of view on life. I suppose, the anticipation of the journey was the most important part, the part that helped me survive when the rest wasn’t enough. It was a beginning, a readers’ digest. It will probably help in planning my next trip to Asia. Just like the first time you meet someone from online dating: it’s rarely about the person itself, it’s much more about knowing what to expect next time and avoiding the most common, tragic mistakes.

Then you can start sowing new crumbs, if the others feel insufficient, if in the end other than natural beauties, the things you appreciated mostly in Asia were temples. So you buy books on Buddhism and meditation, finally. As much as I am curious to try, I find myself a little resistant to many of the concepts. In the end, just like with everything else, it is going to be necessary to adjust the theory to reality to find a good balance. 

It is in this environment, that I start dating again. And for the first time I am wondering about the nature of dating itself. The main thing about dating is that it’s supposed to be fun. And meeting different people, especially people you have only been exchanging a few giggly and playful messages, is supposed to be a lot of fun.

But as most of the things in life, it comes in black and white. You can go for months at a time without a single invitation and then all of a sudden, you’re supposed to juggle three to four different people.

And I wonder: when is it too much? From my experience, it is extremely rare to get that vibe from someone met online, so I am not really worried that it might get crowded. Still, what if it happens? I suppose I am just prodding my sluttiness, which for all intents and purposes has never been properly woken up and interrogated in 32 years. There has never been a chance. I have never had to refrain from snogging or sleeping with someone since those interested showed up rarely more than once a season.

Being single is supposed to allow you to do just that, snog and sleep with whomever you want, whenever you want, regardless. Because you don’t owe anything to anyone but your own self, so unless enough is enough for you, keep ’em coming.

So what is the fuss all about? Nothing, really, just maybe the fact that lately I have come across a couple of very promising individuals. And maybe I’ll never meet them, and probably no spark will ignite and on and on and on goes my mental rambling. I am probably way too attached to the idea of missing a chance. And really I shouldn’t be bothered because I shouldn’t even think about establishing a relationship with any minimal trace of meaning.

Some people have the ability to stir something inside of you that is more than harmless hormones. They plant in the back of your mind the idea that there could be a connection lurking there, hiding in the shades. It’s beside the stupid concept that you cannot actually like someone if you’ve never even met them. It’s not even necessarily sexual, that’s the big problem. Because if it stays that way, you’ll have a new wonderful friend, but if it turns out it is, you’re screwed. It’s just a couple of sentences here and there, an attitude, serendipity really, that makes you think you’d like to hear from them just that moment, and your phone magically rings.

32 years old and counting… does being hopelessly romantic have an expiry date?

Last day in Vietnam.

I’m worried about going home. And anxious about the flight. It hasn’t happened in so long, I honestly don’t know how to deal with this. I am scared of being scared. I get anxious at the idea of being frightened. It’s a stupid loop I can’t get out of. I suppose it might have to do with my return home. Because now the future is blank. I used to have very precise milestones to reach, goals to aim at. Go to New York, relax after the end of the competing season, go to Vietnam. Now there is nothing. Sure I am going to start training again in a month, but it all looks empty. I don’t have a project. I’m going back to my same old life with no purpose, tired of being so far away in an unfamiliar and unwelcoming country, yet not ready to go back home. I long for my own bed, my own shower and the cleanliness and safety of drinkable running water, but I am scared at the prospect of what awaits for me there.

The void, the expectation.

I haven’t seen Albert of course. I thought about him now and again, I hoped somehow he would be on the ground while I was here, but nothing happened. No text, no e-mail, nothing. I don’t know if we ever will see each other, or will continue writing blindly forever about this country that joined us and kept us apart when we were closest.

And going back home I will have to resume my contacts with Darius and Andrew. The prospect of having to break cover after so long is scary. I don’t know if they’ll even be interested in hearing from me again, everything might have turned upside down in two weeks. Or maybe it has for me while time stopped for everyone else trapped in their everyday reality.

I don’t feel different. Other than knowing now that I survived Asia, my first trip without my ex, my first journey in a less than perfect country, No offense to all the Vietnamese out there,

I am afraid to have walked backwards. I feel extremely vulnerable and somehow abandoned. Rarely have I felt this alone and in such need of physical intimacy. Nothing of the sorts met me here in Vietnam. I had hoped, strongly, but it wasn’t there. It’s never there. It won’t be there back home. That is also why I don’t really know what it is I am going back home to, other than my beloved pillow and some fresh lettuce.

There was a baby on the plane today, six months old, half Westerner half Asian. Her father was holding her but was painstakingly clumsy and inattentive. Equally the mother was painstakingly anorexic and pathologically overprotective. And the baby girl was the sweetest thing alive. I am not sure exactly how my brain processed all of that, but it got somehow filtered and it did not help calm my nerves.

I find myself again longing to be part of a couple. I shouldn’t but I wouldn’t know how to prevent it and avoid it.

I haven’t been at the top of my mental shape these last few days. Again I felt trapped in a life I am not that comfortable in, I felt trapped in a body I am not that comfortable with and mostly in a mind that does not make either thing easier. I felt inferior to others more than I have in a very long time. I looked at others with envy as they wore dresses that fit better than mine, I looked at others all paired up with wonderful and handsome boys and men I have never had and probably will never have in the future either, I looked at others so much better looking than me.

I try all the time to fill up that void with things I do I can be proud of. Does it work? I am not sure, somehow I am proud, of my skating, of my language skills, of my photography, of my cakes. But to what point what I can do defines what I am, who I am?

I need some time of peace and quiet. Away from the constant honking, away from strangers trying to get my attention and my money, away from others who try to steal everybody else’s attention including mine. Some time alone, some time when I can write and cry alone without indiscreet eyes of valets in the hotel lobby or travel mates to pretend to be fine to.

Sometimes I wonder what’s best. If I should rather burst in tears every now and let dark emotions flow free of restraints to purify my mind or hold back and try to pull myself together and prevent to break down every time I feel like doing it, just as E. Gilbert suggested.

I would have liked to spend some more time at a temple. That proved to be much closer to impossible than I would have thought. I should follow that lead back home.

So many things to do, so little time, so little money, so many words unspoken, tears unshed, hugs ungiven…

The thing about paranoia is: it’s sneaky, because what you fear is not really impossible, but it is never certain either.

It’s doubt, slithering under your skin, coiling around your stomach, overburdening your restless mind, speeding up your heart – for the wrong reasons.

It’s a loop of questions, a fidgety stream of words, a fretful search for evidence, for proof of being right or wrong, for potential.

It clouds your judgement, it distorts your judgement, it causes prejudgment.

It’s an assumption, but your life revolves around it with actions, feelings and thoughts strong enough to make the nightmare come true. It’s just an assumption, but it becomes your reality. You start elaborating grief, when no death has occurred, you start accepting the change, when the change has never come to happen, you plan your future on a present that never was.

And there goes the additional disquiet that you cannot trust your mind. Are you imagining things? Are you the obsessive nutjob? Or is it your instincts talking to you? Are you the only one seeing this? Does nobody else know hot to handle these things? Is it happening to me? Is it? IS IT?

You know, deep inside, that perception is telling you something is missing, that you may not be right, that you may have dreamt it all up, that you shouldn’t freak out over things before they happen. Because you know, they haven’t happened yet. Because if they had, there would be facts. Not doubts, not sensations, not hunches, facts. In all their unleashed ugliness. But your fear is no more than sweet anticipation.

Your fear is a cover up. Your obsession is not what you fear, your obsession is an excuse, it’s so evident and undeniable that every soul in the world would grant you pity and recognise your difficulty.

But the issue is subtler. It’s tiny, it’s ridicule, it’s inappropriate, it’s shameful, it’s unacceptable. It’s human. Yet we can’t possibly face something as harmless as human weakness, so we hide behind the inhumane. We imagine ourselves victims of the highest crimes to justify our petty suffering. We deprive ourselves of the joy of life and confirm our necessity of punishment, of atonement.

And we hope, sometimes, that our haunting fears would come true already, so we could stop once and for all to hurt ourselves and let others do it, while we try to finally love and protect our own.