Walking one hundred miles alone

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My days are now spent creating a mould in the sofa with my butt, rummaging in the fridge believing it will automatically refill itself when my back is turned and watching mind numbing movies that have me dribbling over my week old pyjamas. Yes, I am back with the parents. It has its good points of course, which mainly boils down to my mother trying to feed me and my father serving me home-made wine with a questionable percentage. But I digress.

Today I spent some time trying to lose myself in cyber space and found an article in an online newspaper. Well it wasn’t so much an article but an agony aunt page where some poor soul had written in, in desperation. The painful situation was caused by being single for 9 years. As soon as I saw the headline I was compelled to read. The woman went into detail about her life over the last 9 years and how terribly lonely it has been. She also wrote of how she is terrified that she may spend the next nine years alone, which didn’t bear thinking about. I scrolled down, anticipating the agony aunts soothing words of encouragement but was quite surprised when what was served was just a cold dish of ‘reality check’. The agony aunts words were, I expect, a big smack in the face for the girl seeking some much-needed encouragement. Of course the agony aunt shared her sympathy, but it was in small doses compared with the tough love she brought, practically wagging her cyber finger in the girls face with accusations of being completely self-absorbed. I waited for the ‘there’s someone for everyone’ rubbish that people throw out there when they have no idea what to tell you but there was none of that. Respect, but if I was on the receiving end of that letter I would be seriously hurling myself under the bed covers in a bid to hibernate for the rest of my living days, or at least until I was hungry.

In any case, the words of the 32-year-old woman scratched at my own single status. I understood where she was coming from but also from the point of view of the agony aunt who was basically giving this woman and every woman who is wallowing in single self-pity, a good shaking. It also had me thinking, why should being single be so terribly pitiful. In fact, although there are twinges of loneliness here and there, there are plenty of reasons why I am basking in the glow of single life and here’s why;

I don’t have to compromise shit.
No longer is there someone who I need to answer too. Someone I have to run my plans past. What a breath of fresh air it is that I no longer have the wrong partner guilt tripping me into staying in or planning my daily life to suit them. Of course not all relationships have such an unbalanced sense of power but it is nice that the only one that I have to clarify my plans with is myself.

Holidays are cheap and cheerful
No longer is my purse empty from the hundreds of pounds I would throw at my partner in the name of love. Personally, I just couldn’t stop spending. Wanting to declare my love I would rummage for the right gifts to fill the Christmas sack to the point of overflow. Valentines day would be a blur of sweet poems and whatever outfit he was after at the time. Birthdays would be trips away, home-made food and baked birthday cakes. Candles lit, I would be practically perfect, sitting there handing present after present, more excited that they were. Needless to say I have saved lots of money by being single. Money that I will selfishly put towards travelling solo to exotic locations.

The drunken devil
Now I know it’s not just me who has earth-shaking arguments with a partner when drunk. I have read that a ‘drunk man speaks a sober mans mind’, which in my case is right on the money. I see it every time I hit the town for a night of much-needed dance therapy, couples airing their grievances in public, choosing this time to throw some slurred insults and bring up issues that had been festering for far too long. This is a part that I really, REALLY do not miss. Those nights at 1am where I would be tripping over the pavement, hair sticking to my forehead from another night dancing on the club floor. Him at my side screeching some accusation which would provoke me into joining him in a drunken, public war. I can see our faces now, twisted into something grotesque, the smell of alcohol dripping from every pore. That leads me to;

The accusations
Love can make you go nuts, but it is also a time when your intuition rears its wonderful head. Being in a relationship is a breeding ground for uncertainty. It is also a time when trust is really put to the test. There are some fabulous relationships that really are a good example of what a relationship should look like…Unfortunately I can’t think of any but I’m sure (more like I hope) they exist. If there is anything I can say is that sometimes when you think you are going crazy and you are having these niggling doubts, don’t ignore them. Your intuition is probably begging you to wake up and smell the bullshit. Being single is like a breath of fresh air compared to the mind-boggling battle field of trust. When your single, there are no drunken rows, brewing insecurity and subtle insidious lies. It’s just plain sailing, all the way to the meals for one.

You get some much-needed alone time
Now is your time to work on your hopes and dreams. With no one there to influence your decisions you are free to do as you please. Sometimes a partner can feel threatened when you’re passionately involved in something that doesn’t involve them, whether that be knitting, writing or pursuing that evening class. They feel like they are losing you and this can be a terrifying concept. Being single means that the only person who can possible hold you back is yourself. Your time to run with that business idea has never been better. You can devote all your time to that special project as there is no one there to subconsciously or consciously hold you back.

You’re free to check out the talent
Yes, now’s the time to ogle that hottie as they walk past, give someone your number and fill you spare time with dates, even if its not in the view of finding that ‘special someone’. Yes, sometimes these dates are questionable and leave something of a bad taste in your mouth but they are great for helping you realise what you don’t want in a partner. You also get to meet some great people who may not be right for romance but could offer opportunities that will enable you to reach your personal goals. You don’t have to stick with the first one that comes along. There are 7 billion people out there and just because your single doesn’t mean you have to veg out on the sofa gathering dust.

Yes, being single has its perks I can assure you. You can watch what you like, eat whatever you fancy, flirt outrageously, bath for over an hour in peace, wear questionable pyjamas, burp and fart without offending your partner, read shockingly embarrassing books under the covers, miss out on expensive hallmark holidays (valentines) and live like a slob if you choose. A friend of my mothers said to her (about me) “Its great that she travelling now but as she gets older, she is going to need someone by her side”. Maybe, but I tell you what, I would rather walk a one hundred miles alone than with an asshole by my side.

Next time, travel with boyfriend

This is what I was told by the hotel manager. Obviously the staring and random foreign comments thrown at me were not all in my head. I did believe for a moment that I was being rather sensitive, with my previous post blowing off steam. As it stands, actually I’m seen as just weird.

Being-alone-sucks
Welcome to the world of the single female traveller. Not all places of course but here in Ha Long bay I am seen as something of a rare species. With thoughts of writing, reading and relaxing before beginning my teaching career I thought what better way to spend it than on the coast of Vietnam. Maybe I was just a little bit naïve and failing to really check out the weather forecast – believing anything is better than the weather in the UK, I have found myself wrapped up in a scarf and woolly hat, eyes squinting through the fog.

So after a conversation with the manager of the hotel which involved me being sheepishly embarrassed of my single status, I have decided to do myself a favour and head south for warmth and sangria. I don’t take what the manager said to heart, as when I look back on holidays when I did have a partner, all I can remember are tears, arguments and silent treatment.

Holiday with boyfriend number 1

It was my 18th birthday and my first time on a plane. Me and my boyfriend touched down in Cyprus for a week of dinning, dancing and having plenty of…….cocktails. My excitement and enthusiasm was immediately popped like a balloon when ‘C’ didn’t want to do anything. In fact we barely left the hotel as he was terrified of the locals. Instead we were in bed by eight. This lasted a week and involved multiple arguments and sheer boredom, which lead to more arguments for something to do. Arriving back in the UK we broke up in the car on the way home from the airport (only to get back together and repeat the same shit for another 3 years).

Holiday with boyfriend number 2

Exciting stuff, with a whole campervan to take us through Europe. I painted the inside a ghastly yellow, and hung up flower power curtains. He put up shelves in what would be our new home for the next 6 weeks and off we went. The campervan, the cities, the mountains, the lakes, the beaches, the history, the architecture were all incredibly. Apart from him. ‘T’ decided that the best way to take in the sights and sounds of our adventure was to chase European skirts. He was also something of a ‘cold’ fish which didn’t fill my heart with the warmth and giddiness of young love. The trip itself was amazing. It was just a shame he was there.

Holiday with boyfriend number 3

A trip to Portugal, travelling from Wales by car. I long ass journey but involved rocking to various music and eating baguettes and salami off the boot of the car, Mediterranean sun hot on our necks. It was our first holiday, in which we had only been dating for 4 weeks. We stayed at ‘K’s aunties villa, surrounded by fig and olive trees. It was stunning, except all was not as it seemed with the man in my life. As I observed this new Casanova with all his words of love and affection, I noticed that he would change personalities, depending on who he was talking too. How bizarre, I thought. The holiday went in a haze of alcohol, fine food, walks on the beach and me trying to detach his face from mine. Which was permanently attached, slobbering over me and removing layers of skin away.

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Get off my face already

He would not leave me alone for a second, watching my every move and spraying his territory with every glance from another male. I came away from the holiday mentally exhausted, hung-over and overwhelmed with the ‘love bombing’.

So Mr Manager, travel with a boyfriend next time?

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Tick Tock Charmer

Been there, done that messed around
I’m having fun, don’t put me down
I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet

This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof

La Roux – Bulletproof Lyrics

So literally the day after my previous post of ‘seek and you wont find’ I found someone. We clocked each other at the airport, making the one hour flight from Luang Prapang to Hanoi. I immediately found myself drawn to his overgrown stubble (leaning towards beard, but not quite there), his hunky physique, rounded belly, cute smile and dishevelled dark hair. Also the guitar that he was obviously lugging around the world gave him that extra touch of ‘artsy’ that I sometimes quite like (or maybe its just the image of a cold winter night around a bonfire singing with an acoustic guitar that does it for me). We do the usual side glances and bashful coy smiles before boarding the plane. Maybe it was the whisky both I and my travel companion had drunk (forced upon us by the wonderful owner of the Khammany inn, Luang Prabang) that made my leering all the more obvious. After going through customs he makes a beeline as I try to take money out of the ATM, which provided the opportunity to have a riveting conversation on conversion rates an ‘oh my God, how many millions am I taking out in VND???’. Parting ways we say goodbye, no names exchanged just the inevitable fact of two travellers going their separate ways into the big enticing city of Hanoi.

Although, it didn’t quite end there. Around 9pm he saunters past us sitting outside a restaurant, spotting me, Ed and another fellow traveller we had managed to pick up at the airport (as you do). We chat and do the shy introductions. Leaning away I try to play the ‘cool, calm and collected’ card but instead just dribbled noodle soup everywhere. As Hanoi’s nightly curfew came to an end at 12am we parted ways until the following day with plans for us all to take on the town with as much full force as one can with such an early curfew.

Now if you add it up – all these synchronicities – it can evoke a certain number of feelings. That bubbling, tingling ‘oh I’ve met someone’ feeling that can leave you floating around, practically in a daze of lust, love and infatuation. Suddenly the horrendously chaotic traffic of Hanoi – where you wonder if your toes are going to make it across the road, never mind the rest of your body – becomes irrelevant. To have both been in Bangkok on the same day without knowing, then Luang Prabang and then Hanoi….It can make you wonder. But I am no longer that girl anymore. Call me cynical, call me bitter and pessimistic but my bullshit radar is so finely tuned that not even Casanova himself could have worked his magic….(maybe Ryan Gosling but lets stick to the story here). It was just a few comments, which mostly involved him asking me back to his….for cuddles. Now this was the deal breaker and I indeed told him so.

Indeed, the world of travelling is of course a full blown, life changing, magical journey where there can be lots of sun, sea, sand and sex sex sex. Hats off to those who choose to throw caution to the wind and get down and dirty in the hotels of Hanoi, the beaches of Thailand, the grungy back alleys of Europe, but I just cant. For him I was a ‘passing through’ attraction. He played the game well in all fairness, with invitations for both myself and Ed to stay in his home town, then invitations for me to join him on his travels, then more offers of amazing dates that he just could not wait to take me on. And on and on. Compliments thrown right, left and centre. Couldn’t he see me withdrawing from him with every word then fell out of his mouth? Of course not, he had a time limit. One more night to ‘get lucky’.

We spoke about attraction. ‘What if  you met someone and you just had that immediate attraction where you both wanted to sleep with one another and that was just it. Something you both felt the urge for…That animal instinct of attraction…Haven’t you ever felt that?’ He asked, pleadingly. ‘No’ I replied. Tough crowed you may think but personally, it needs to be built up. Maybe a friendship that just blossoms. Maybe I’m just at the age where a slow burn is what I need. Just to have that continuous warmth, not the hot, searing fire that leaves the scars before you’ve even realised you’ve been burned. Give me the Ferris wheel instead of the rollercoaster as experience has me believe that sometimes the ups and downs are just not worth it.

We parted ways with little else to say. I was not another badge for his travel humpathon backpack. You are passing through this adrenaline packed city. I am not. He tried and failed but of course I will be forgotten as soon as he arrives at his next destination, where there will be another, more willing participant.

Seek and you won’t find

The sky was covered in a blanket of grey cloud and the air was mountain fresh, with a touch if ice to keep the scarves and jumpers wrapped tight around our shivering bodies. Of course this did not dampen our afternoon as we sat on the hippy chic floor cushions in Utopia, Luang Prabang, taking in the breath-taking views of the Mekong River and the lush tropical forest that trickled down the river banks, making you automatically think that this wonderful moment would be forever engraved in the mind. This wasn’t the case unfortunately, as I was too busy wanting to kick the loved up couples who were lounging on the cushions – kissing and canoodling – off the edge of the bamboo balcony.

You see, I decided to actually make one New Year resolution which was to stop seeking ‘The One’. I rarely make any resolutions, believing that the pressure is sometimes just too much and that if you want to stop a bad habit and replace it with a good one, you will do so, when the time is right for you. Not because the clock has struck 12am to welcome a new year. Hopeless romantic that I am, it seems to be continually at the forefront of my mind, this longing of meeting someone. It is embarrassing to admit to such a strong desire of wanting someone to share life experiences with, but I just can’t help myself. On New Year’s eve I actually caught myself with this burning desire and found myself completely deflated with the emptiness that comes with wanting something and just not getting, something Buddhist teachings would certainly call Tanha. I felt awash with the embarrassment of my neediness, believing that I should know better that to believe having a partner is going to make everything ok. Also let’s face it, I am probably reeking of desperation which doesn’t add to the aloof, mysterious persona that I am trying to radiate.

I watched row upon row of couple’s Ville with a certain envy which was then replaced by sadness. Reason being was as I watched the couples – some whispering sweet nothings, some resting on each other’s shoulders – I remembered my own moments of tenderness and intimacy in past relationships and realised that I was completely miserable with those men. Men that I spent years with. Yes, we would sit and cuddle up and do all those annoying thing couples do when they are ‘loved up’ with one another. With one partner we would get yelled at by passing strangers with comments such as ‘get a room’. Yes we were annoying, but my God we were so very unhappy with one another. It was just one big act. One big massive performance that I actually didn’t realise I was a part of for a very long time. You see, it’s easy to pretend. Just look at Facebook. I added countless photos of me in various long term relationships and realise now how extremely unhappy I was in them. Of course we didn’t look it, all cuddled up, spooning ice-cream to each other and laughing for the flash of a camera. Two people, bound together with what was once love (or more likely lust) but had turned into a sour companionship over the months of bickering and neediness. Both too scared to leave each other and brave the unknown world of single Dom, so instead brought out the worst in one another, each day bringing another insidious punch to the confidence and spirit.

Seek and you shall find. Stop looking and it will happen. Both different ends of the spectrum and both utterly confusing. It’s not a case of desperation. Not just anybody will do. Of course there are countless pros to being single. For one thing I am no longer on that ‘roller-coaster’ of one minute being ‘up’ with the excitement and adrenaline of feeling so overwhelmingly, passionately in love, to the ‘down’ with plummeting drops, bringing anguish, heartache and horrendous disappointment. But sometimes, you do want someone to share those magical experiences that life throws at you. To see a gorgeous sunset and share in that moment with someone who is emotionally and mentally ‘there’ with you.

So, yes that’s my resolution. Just that one resolution. To stop seeking and seek ‘inside’ instead. To not be consumed with envy of others fortune of finding that someone that makes them truly happy and instead wishing them well throughout their journey together. After all, life throws some challenging situations at us, so if you are have someone to share the load, then all the better. And to the singles out there? Well, just keep looking inside and you will realise that you are never really alone. You have yourself and sometimes that is all you need. You will surprise yourself at what you can accomplish alone, how you can make yourself laugh and appreciate the small things, and how much you can actually feel ‘love’, not just the relationship kind, but from random strangers that smile your way or show you even the simplest gesture of kindness. Those are the moments that will really melt your heart and make your realise that actually you are never really alone.

Hand in hand

The rain is pounding on my bedroom window. What a contrast to the blue cloudless sky of yesterday. I am currently at my parents house back in Wales. On Friday as precisely 4pm I walked out of my office unnoticed. Slipped away never to be seen by them again. Reading a particular piece on star signs it quotes ‘Pisces’ orientation to the non-material means it’s also the sign most likely to simply disappear from the radar of general society, whether for tragic reasons or more strategic ones’. This for me is so true. I do not like leaving ‘Do’s’ or the hand shaking and false promises of ‘of course I will keep in touch’ and ‘oh you have to keep us updated on all your travels’ and my favourite ‘Yes I will visit’. What happens is people move on with their lives and you are just a passing though, if that. I know due to the office layout that many people have probably not even noticed that I am not there. This suits me just fine. When I am done, I’m done.

I had some heart wrenching news on Sunday. A man that I loved and hated in equal measures left this earth due to his own reckless behaviour. I mentioned in a previous post that I was just coming to terms with our turbulent relationship and have spent a year and a half recovering from the dramatic, painful and disturbing relationship we had together for four years. A game of constant cat and mouse both physically and emotionally. I would leave he would follow. He would leave I would follow. There were always extreme highs and extreme lows with nothing in between. This of course made me utterly addicted to the relationship. The wait for those highs that would inevitably come made all the trying times worth it.

I have spent over a year pining for him and hating him. Wishing that he would rescue me from myself and knowing deep down that he never could. Wanting so much to join him on a self destructive path, hand in hand like old times. My time here without him can only be describes as a ‘flat line’. No highs or lows just a constant, predictable, tedious path. Nothing that I will remember or care to remember. But with him things were so different. There was always something to remember. I felt completely alive with such pain and such happiness all at the same time. Every emotion that I could possibly feel was felt like a thunderous bold of lightening constantly penetrating each pore of my skin. My senses were alert to whatever he could throw at me and my body was always in flight or fight mode. No way to live obviously and there is only so much you can take before you crack and fall to pieces.

I am still picking up the pieces, one small piece at a time. I have no regrets of the relationship we had as I know we were meant for that time. I have learnt so many valuable lessons from him and for all his faults sometimes he shone so brightly in my life and made everything seem bearable. He guarded me fiercely and at times I had never felt more protective and loved. He would wipe my tears and terrorise all who dared to wrong me. He would give me his last pound if he had to.

To you chick pea. You sure did live life to the full and I pray to God that you are safe and loved wherever you are. I have always and will always miss you.