Open spaces

I’d imagined a lot of things about living alone – mostly cooking what I want, and sleeping completely naked, both of which turned out to be absolute necessities because of finances and the insane heat. I thought about having my partner over when he came back to our hometown, and how we’d spend time together in this house. I thought about setting it up the way I wanted, keeping it clean and tidy and even having a beer at the end of a rough day. And while I’d thought about how much of a responsibility it would be to live alone, I didn’t realise it until recently.

I didn’t expect so much of my mind space to be occupied by thoughts related to household – the chores, the cooking, the using-the-washing-machine-before-they- cut-water-off-on-the-weekends. I didn’t imagine how scared I’d be able people breaking into the house, or that I’d be filled with relief to have my kitchen knife on my bedside table, next to my noise cancelling ear buds. And even though my initial bout of loneliness combined with the honeymoon phase of shifting in had me pass out invitations to anyone and everyone to come over, I didn’t realise how possessive I’d get of my house – more specifically, my space.

As time has gone by, I’ve grown more attached to this place. My things, my routine, my kitchen – I’ve become really attached to my kitchen. Keeping it clean and tidy is something I didn’t think I’d care as much about as I currently do. But, it’s not far fetched – cooking is one of the big things I look forward to, both as a pleasure as a necessity.

And I’ve realised I don’t want to just let anyone in here. I don’t want to let just anyone sit in my space, eat my food and drink my cold cranberry juice. Thinking about letting acquaintances into my house turns the faucet to full on my anxiety, and several questions on the impending doom fill my mind. Therefore…

I find myself a lot more alone than I had originally anticipated. And as I lie down in bed, a part of my mind attacks me for being alone, for not being surrounded by people. My tendency to show myself ‘tough love’, i.e. Criticise and berate myself to the point where I’m crying or thinking about killing myself, is something I’m going to have to work on in therapy. But as I fought back those negative thoughts and gave back answers to all the criticism, I realised that my thoughts about the security of my physical house mirrored those of the security of my inner house.

I don’t want people walking into my personal space, in both a physical and emotional way. I – or, at least, some part of me – thought, for a while now, that I was emotionally constipated. I thought I was unable to reach out and befriend new people in my life due to a lack of trust, because I was unable to get over my past experiences. But talking back to my negative thoughts unravelled a tightly coiled yarn which, for the longest time, I was never able to make head or tails of.

I’ve mentioned, way too many times, in this blog, about how important friendship was to me, and how deeply I was affected by friendships gone sour. And given my cripplingly low (but slowly developing) self confidence, I spent a long time blaming myself, examining the details of the debris through a wrapped magnifying lens which magnified my faults and failings to a greater degree than necessary. But after months of berating and blaming myself for everything that went wrong with a friendship, I would have an epiphany – and it’s happened twice – a Thought that would flash through my head, which would make me look at the whole situation with a perspective that I never knew existed

And this time around, it was the realisation that I couldn’t have a relationship with someone who would invalidate my feelings and shut me down when I tried to tell them I was hurt by their actions. I could not trust someone who would throw receipts in my face and justifications for their actions instead of understanding that I was coming from a place of pain and vulnerability, that I was trying to open up to them. I realised that that it was okay for them to be right and okay for me to be wrong, or vice versa, or okay for both of us to be right and wrong at the same time but that I couldn’t have a relationship where vulnerable communication was not a thing anymore and the safe space I shared with that person became a debate podium.

Talking out loud in my dark, empty house, with my fairy lights illuminating the room really felt… weird. Weird, but great. It felt cathartic to listen to myself honestly put it out there into the universe about how I felt, without having to sugarcoat it or hold back. It felt relieving to be able to not be frustrated about having no words to what I was experiencing. The burden was lifting off my chest, little by little, with each word that I said, the further I explored the depths of the realisations I had made.

It was funny how freeing it felt to be able to understand the emotions that, until then, had been garbled, screaming noise in my mind. It had been staring in my face all this time, and I felt like I’d finally had my face, smushed against a canvas of jumbled colours, pulled back long enough to understand the picture that had been painted on it.

Even as the weight continues to lift off my chest, I think I’ll enjoy the space that has opened up in my emotional centre. I’m in no hurry to fill it, and, this time around, I think I’ll choose my candidates wisely. As I enjoy the open space in my house, eating cantaloupe while sitting in my underwear, I’ll watch bits and pieces of the burden that weighed down my heart tear away and float away, saying goodbye to a relationship that I had once loved with all my heart.

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