Trust Issues

For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with someone.  Or perhaps more so, obsessing about someone.  I'm a double Leo with Venus in Cancer, if I'm not giving my heart away, then in truth, I don't know what it is that I'm doing.  But lately, I've started to question myself more and more, in terms of both my motivation and also my ability to discriminate between those who are worthy of my affection and those who aren't.

For example, I was thinking back to my time in Venice in 2013, about a year before I moved to Berlin.  I was meant to be in town for just a day, yet, me being me, I'd met a guy in Florence the night before and had somehow sparked his attention enough that he proposed to come to Venice to spend the weekend with me.  Being the hopeless romantic that I am, the idea of any man coming to Venice to see me was, of course, the most glorious of things and so, I extended my trip.

However, the date went disastrously.  You see, when I'd sat in the courtyard of that bar in Florence, intoxicated from one too many ill-advised vinos, after months of sobriety, this Italian dreamboat had caught my eye for one reason and one reason alone; he looked identical to the last man that broke my heart.  The same man I'd left London, and then subsequently England, to get away from!  The same man I was far from over.

Standing on a Venetian bridge, in the cold February light of day, sober, I saw that this Italian version of my past was not going to fill the void his English counterpart had created and the disappointment at that moment was real.  Yet herein lies the problem; it would seem that I have an innate inability to move on from someone unless I have someone else to fixate on.  Oh and boy do I fixate.  And it is this precise obsessive nature that is causing me both suffering and mental fog when it comes to dating lately.

When I moved to Berlin in 2014, I was still heavily infatuated by the English heart bruiser and yet, within just a hot second, I cruised straight into a new dysfunctional affair with a German guy that took hold of my obsession like a warm hug.  It was messy, it was confusing, it was kinda magical.  It was every level of undefined Berlin could offer, with hidden girlfriends thrown in.  Yet me being me, I was head over heels, all in, offering my love on a silver platter.  And he took it, chewed it up and spat it back out.  Just like every bad choice I'd made before.

But I don't think with my head, I think with my heart and boy do I get myself in trouble for it all the time!  With him, like with so many before, I was blindsided by love.  Too naive, too giving, too trusting.  I didn't see what was obvious, because I didn't want to.  I wanted to believe.  And when the truth trickled out, as it always does, I left. In a very Leonian dramatic way, with tears and public screaming.  I tried to tell myself he was an asshole and I didn't care, but inside I was broken and more so than anything, I felt betrayed.  Because when you give your love so freely, it hurts to feel as though the person you've given it to, might not care at all.

And here comes the issue with trust.  Trust is a difficult thing to give someone, especially when you've been hurt by others before.  But what's especially harder for me of late, is trusting myself.  Yes, I can get over bad breakups and yes, clearly I have never had a problem moving on to someone new, yet trusting myself enough to be able to decipher whether the person I'm moving on to is trustworthy?  Well, darling, that's a whole new thing and let me tell you, it is a struggle.

And when I'm struggling with myself, I go into anxious, obsessive overthinking.  It's not fun.  Not for me and certainly not for the individuals who find themselves in my range of vision!  Take for instance my latest foray into dating; After another six-month stint with the German, that ended yet again in heartache and fury, I gave myself over to not having a plan.  'I will get over this!' I swore to myself and sure enough, within a week I was holed up in my apartment smoking pot, handing out crystals and kissing old flames.

I knew said flame was not a destined soulmate, yet I still found myself lying to both him and me when I said it wasn't too soon for me to be touching skin with someone else.  'We can take it slow' he said and I nodded in agreement, knowing full well that I don't have that dial.  Two days later and I was already obsessing, taking screenshots of Twitter conversations he was having with other girls and sending them to mutual friends for interpretation.  'You weren't even interested in him until you saw he was interested in someone else!'  Cried one friend, a little too truthfully.

But he'd given me the impression he cared and despite my own dishonesty in terms of the depth of my affection, I guess I couldn't help but feel those, all too familiar, pangs of distrust rise again.  The same pangs that so often send me loopy in relationships.  Because distrust will do that to you.  And the worst part is: sometimes you're right to distrust, but sometimes you're so afraid of getting it wrong and getting hurt, that you distrust someone potentially trustworthy and fuck it in the process. Which is precisely what happened with the next guy.

Honestly, if there was an award for lessons learnt the hard way, I believe wholeheartedly that I would win it. No sooner had the latest object of my obsessing been relegated to the friendzone (for both my sanity and most likely his), an altogether new being carouselled into my life, baring pomegranates and wisdom.  High off lake water and mushrooms, we talked for hours and suddenly this Sliding Doors moment arrived, whereby we both came to realise we were, in fact, one and the same person.  Two separate entities leading parallel lives, yet never having met until this most auspicious of days.

I was transfixed, yet cautious.  My tender wounds so fresh that I was unusually hesitant to leap from one fire directly into another and so, protectively, I held back.  Until, of course, I couldn't and my Leonian heart burst into full exposure in its naturally dramatic, all-encompassing way.  And damn, was it good, too good.  Which then made me worry.  Suddenly he seemed too real.  Too right.  I'd been here before.  Falling for the illusion, only to find it was just that.

It took me less than twenty-four precious hours to find something to explode about.  Some way of self-sabotaging.  Some display of insecure craziness.  And that was that.  I was relegated.  And it hurt.  It hurt because it was the first time, in a long time that I had been unjustly distrusting and cost myself something that could have actually been right.  Yet, I needed that.  I needed staying up all night drunk crying (there is a reason I am sober) that Sunday, because I wasn't just crying over him, I was crying over myself.

I was crying for where I'd ended up without realising.  This constant spin cycle.  Leaping from one love loss to the next.  Without so much as a check-in with myself in-between.  This fearsome Leo heart is overflowing with love to give and give and give to everyone that it encounters, yet never to itself.  This Venetian crab constantly seeking out those in need of care and affection, yet never gives it to itself.  Enough was enough.

It was time to admit that I wasn't mended or healed.  I hadn't dealt with the betrayels of my past at all and yet there I was, attempting to distract myself, once again, from the pain with someone new.  Attempting to gain honesty out of a very dishonest conversation that I was essentially having with myself.  How did I ever expect to trust someone, when I couldn't even be trusted with the truth.  My god damn truth!

In 2016, after reaching the same conclusions I appear to have come to today, I took a vow of celibacy, so as to reset my erraticly programmed brain from any further damage, self-inflicted or otherwise.  Fifteen months of behaving myself later, I emerged like a glorious self-assured butterfly and took a flight of fancy through many a healthy relationship.  Now, I don't want to have to resort to being chaste every other year, but I would at least like to remind myself that, when you stop and take a minute, you might just find that obsessing about yourself can be the only way forward, when you've drained yourself from obsessing about everybody else.

The romance is dead

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Recently I've been thinking a lot about leaving Berlin, the bustling, anxiety-inducing city I have resided in for the past four years.  This hectic, hedonistic city, best described as an adult's playground, that comes fully equipped with the tagline of 'delayed responsibility'.  Which, as a (vaguely) functioning depressive, arriving here from the quietude of the French countryside, has been both revolutionary and transformative, whilst equally difficult and panic-inducing at times.

Originating from a relatively conservative Britain, where I constantly felt restricted and bound by the country's repressive, narrow-minded and quite frankly, out-dated dogma, Berlin really felt like a breath of fresh rebellious air when I first arrived.  It was, and still remains, a melting pot of open-minded, creative freethinkers, who seem set on avoiding conformity, maintaining their freedom and expressing the shit out of themselves sexually, artistically or otherwise.

Which, after years of restless agitation, made it feel as though I'd finally found my place and my people.  It honestly felt like freedom and in those initial few years, I tried to embrace every delicious second of its relaxed joie de vivre; from the midweek trips to the lake on balmy Summer afternoons to the pizza guzzling, sunset watching evenings on Tempelhof.  I forged a life around yoga, ice cream and hanging out with friends.  I felt as though I was taking back a youth I had spent being too serious, too work-obsessed and too depressed to enjoy.

However, as the third and the fourth years have rolled by, the glossy exterior of the city has gradually worn off and the reality of what it means to constantly live on the breeze of Berlin's transitory nonchalant vibe has kicked in with a vengeance.  All the fun starts to feel skin deep.  People you love eventually leave.  Everything is always changing, year-by-year, week-by-week.  There is no solid ground here, there is no stability.  The only certainty is the uncertainty.

Which has perhaps made me realise, that whilst I might have broken those conservative binds that never agreed with me, it seems I still have traditional values at heart.  I need depth.  I need security.  I still want parts of what I left behind, just in my own way and in my own time.

If I'd have moved to Berlin when I was twenty, I would have devoured it whole.  Soaked in every sordid, reckless, rebellious aspect.  It would have been the perfect distraction from myself.  Although, who knows if that would have been transformative or disastrous.  However, I moved here at twenty-six, in crisis, suffering from mental anguish and seeking answers.

In so many ways, it's been revolutionary and I have zero regrets, but with my depressive episodes, which have continued to plague me throughout my Deutschland journey, like grey clouds following solely me on sunny days, getting more and more frequent and the bouts of anxiety, which continually tether me to my apartment, becoming increasingly more intense, I see just how much grounding I need right now.  How much calm.  How much quietude.

It's time for me, like so many Berlin friends before, to move on to the next chapter.  This city promises to break you down, to tear you apart and shake away the nonsense, so that what you're eventually left with is the truth. Your truth.  And maybe you stay and implement that truth where you found it, or maybe, like me, you take it and sow it like the seed it is, somewhere altogether new.

Turning Point

I have itchy feet from running.  Running all the time.  Thirty years of running.  Away from myself mainly.  Truths are hard to face though sometimes, especially when you don't like what you find.

On my thirtieth birthday, I stood in a room full of people.  Stood on the edge looking in.  It seemed as though I'd made it through the storm.  Well, many storms to be fair and there I was, still alive and no longer just hanging on.

Somewhere in the haze of the previous seven months, I'd built a ship for myself.  True, it was a raggedy old thing, but it was mine and it was solid.  I'd grown so tired of losing grip on rafts built by other people.  Rafts that would crumble away and leave me stranded, drowning in my own pitiful despair.

Thirty years, thirty god damn years. I'd broken my heart a thousand times over that vast expanse and each wound had always reminded me of another.  Like running through a hall of mirrors, I would lurch from one embrace to another, only to find myself, over and over and over again.  But I vowed no more.  I knew I couldn't continue like that, I couldn't start this decade, this new chapter, chasing after the same.  It was time, it was finally time, to let go of my illusions.  To learn to let go.

Cutting ties like vines that wrapped around my lungs, suffocating me.  Releasing myself from the grip I had so painfully been ensnared in for years, purely through my own hapless wondering.  I had become molten lava, I had become caustic, I had become afraid.  Endlessly melting under pressure.  Combusting in insecurity.  I'd gotten lost, because I could not face myself and my fear of losing grip had trapped me.  But no more, I said, as I hacked away.  No more.

For a long time I was shattered glass.  Jagged, fragile, useless.  Yet it seems my time of transformation has come.  Because it had to.  Because it needed to.  Because finally, I am no longer afraid.  Of course I can't deny that the pain of my past still cuts like a knife at times and those memories still haunt my dreams upon occasion, but once again I am filled with fire, burning brightly, burning to ashes, burning alone.

Now I have set sail for new adventures, embracing the oncoming waves attempting to envelope me along the way.  At night, the flickers of light from my burning flames help guide me through every dark and murky stretch, until the sun makes its return come morning, to reprise its role.  But be under no illusion, I'm no longer adrift, in search of home.  No, now I am a fearless wanderer, purposely pursuing an endless course of exploration, purely for the beauty of the great unknown.

This is my turning point.  This is thirty.