Upon first arriving here, way back in May, filled with naive optimism about my new life in Berlin & finally finding the guy, my dreams were somewhat dashed, when during a conversation with my German friend Lilly, she helpfully informed me, that whilst there may be a plethora of good looking men here in the city, half of them are gay & the other half have a fear of commitment. Stood in her kitchen doorway, my heart fell to the floor like a lead balloon, taking all my hope & optimism with it. This was not a great start.
A month or two later, as if to reaffirm her findings, I read an article in EXBERLINER magazine, which stated that Berlin was the capitol for the single life. No one here commits. Ever. This was not what I wanted to hear & soon I realised, that it wasn't just relationships that Berliners seem keen to avoid committing themselves to. You need only visit a Berliner's apartment, to see the extent of this commitment-phobia showcased in the minimal furnishings, which are all bought second hand, donated, or found in the street, the empty kitchens, still awaiting their worktops & cupboards & the cardboard boxes, that linger in the hallway, patiently waiting to be unpacked.
Had I thrown all my eggs into an unstable basket? I was starting to think this may be the case. Last night, as I took an evening stroll around the neighbourhood with my new German roommate, we discussed the notion that 'your outside world is really an exact reflection of your inner world,' as raised in this article I found online. Which lead to the question that perhaps it was myself that was the one lacking in commitment, rather than Berlin, or the people I was encountering in it.
At first, I dismissed this theory. Sure, I've been a commitment-phobe in the past, not just in the sense of relationships either, I mean, I once cried over choosing a sandwich filling, but I'd changed, things were different, I was different, I knew what I wanted now, didn't I? With these questions bubbling away in my brain, I sat in yoga this afternoon, my last Hatha class with one of my favourite teachers, trying to deal with the fact that I was having to say goodbye to him, as he prepared to leave Berlin to move to England & it dawned on me, I was afraid to commit & I had been this whole time.
Whether this lack of commitment was brought on by those first nuggets of info, ushered by my friend, or the fact that everyone I know in Berlin appears to be leaving & the few that are left, seem unwilling to show any sign of commitment, or perhaps whether it was simply just my deep seated issues, clearly still seeking resolve, I realised that I had been drawing to me, every flaky, unstable situation possible. From the housing dramas, to the dating heart ache. This was all just a reflection of my own issues, manifesting themselves spectacularly in front of me. Only, it had taken me several months to actually connect the dots.
Having had this sudden epiphany, I started to think about what it is I really wanted. Is Berlin it for me? Do I really feel at home here? Especially when I think about being in Berlin alone, if & when everyone else decides to leave. Then it occurred to me; home does not denote a particular place, such as a town, or country, neither is it about four walls, it is entirely about feeling at home within yourself & when you do, the rest becomes irrelevant. So realistically, what was I worrying about, in terms of committing to staying here long term? I realised I needed to cease worrying about whether the place was right & start simply feeling content within myself, regardless of who was, or wasn't living in the city with me.
In some ways, I think this has been bringing up a lot of unresolved feelings about my leaving England. Committing here, means finally & completely letting go of there. Highlighting another repetitive theme in my life, that of 'letting go', but you do have to let go of the old, or it simply drags you down & stops you fully embracing the new. At the end of the day, you simply can't live with one foot in the past. I can't deny however, that the past few days have brought on many an anxious feeling of wanting to run back, escape, hide out, avoid the hardships here. I'm only thankful that this hasn't really been an option.
I've come to realise, that In order to finally find the settlement I crave & fully start a new life, I need to completely let go of everything that has gone before & entirely commit myself to the here & now & what I am attempting to create. So it's time to say an emotional goodbye to the sandy beach, only a ten minute stroll from my house, goodbye to the entire food department at M&S, goodbye to probably owning a car for several years, goodbye to the proximity of some of my oldest & closest friends, goodbye to ever again living with mère & goodbye to the past twenty six years of English life in general.
Ich bin eine Berliner!
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