Happiness. It's kind of a vague term in some respect. How we find it, how we feel it, how it's expressed, it's so individual. For some, they can find happiness in the simplest of things. When a particular song they love starts playing in the store they're in, or catching the scent of their favourite flower, as they walk down the pavement, past people's front gardens. Others it's the big stuff. A once-in-a-lifetime trip to India, or finally buying their first home. It doesn't really matter where happiness stems from, the important thing is that it's there at all.
Every now and then, my happiness factor decreases for what ever reason and I find myself entirely down in the dumps. I think when you get into that negative head space, it can be really hard to pull yourself back out again. Personally, I become a couch potato, watching soppy romantic comedies all day, overeating and staying up all night, unable to sleep due to my neurosis. I start to lose focus and gradually fall spectacularly apart. Right now, I am squarely in that awfully unhappy zone and it is slowly, but surely, killing me and my creativity.
The problem? Well, thankfully for once it's not money issues, or housing dramas, it is however that unfortunate evil bastard, love. Yep, guys, it happened...again. I gave my heart away like a goody bag at a birthday party and that son of a gun, ate up all my candy and threw the empty bag back in my face. It never gets any easier, the blow any softer, but do I regret it? No. I don't believe in regrets. There are no mistakes in life, there really aren't. Because, if we learn from the incidents that occur throughout our lives, well, then they're simply lessons, not mistakes.
Does it still hurt though? Yep, like a bitch. I was open and honest, more so than I had ever been with anyone before. In fact, for the first time in my life, I took a chance, became momentarily fearless and spoke out about my feelings. I was able to say 'I love you', without the expectation of hearing it back. One day I even looked him square in the eye, no doubt in my mind of what I was feeling and told him, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn't about to be going anywhere, that he was essentially stuck with me and you know what, he didn't run away. When I burst into tears of relief, he simply wiped them away and kissed me and in that moment, I knew I'd changed forever. I was no longer afraid to be completely myself anymore.
So what's the problem, I hear you ask? Where's the heartbreak? Well, in typical Berlin style, after four months of tears, tribulations and throwing myself into a brief affair with someone else, somewhere in the middle, in a naïve and perhaps ultimately karmic attempt at 'letting go', it turns out he wasn't even mine to love in the first place. It seems my friend was right, half the guys in Berlin are either gay, or afraid of commitment. Yes, they may have partners, but apparently they're not actually able to commit to them, so they appear to create these 'alternative setups'. A fact I was clearly too blind to see.
Over the course of four months, I had successfully built up an idea of who this man was, only to find it was all an illusion, built on lies and fabrications. That's the thing though, isn't it, I mean, when your heart rules your head, your eyes become blind and you only see what you want to see. Maybe you know on some subconscious level, but you refuse to actually acknowledge those thoughts and feelings and choose instead to turn a blind eye to all the little warning signs that crop up. You brush things under the carpet and make excuses for certain things that are said, or their peculiar behaviour, because hey, they're odd and it's just their way, right?
I mean, I don't think you could honestly meet someone more peculiar than the Rabbi! I certainly hadn't loved him from the start, that's for sure, but he'd cycled into my life on my second day in the city and darkened out the stars. He was like a beacon. I couldn't help but be drawn to him, like a delusional moth to a burning bright flame. There was this feeling, this indescribable pull towards him, that I simply couldn't understand. He wasn't the brown-eyed and bearded ideal I was looking for, he was instead a complete anomaly, a decade older with a head of grey hair and a shiny gold tooth to boot.
It took until my time in Rome to even accept that I might have feelings for him and then, by the time I returned to Berlin in July, I just needed to be near him, I couldn't bear to spend another moment apart. Then we fell out. Over what? Honestly, I couldn't tell you, simply because I really don't know. Miscommunication. The problem with dating a foreigner unfortunately. Suffice to say, we made up and when we did, well, having felt the heartache of not speaking to him for weeks, I no longer wanted to waste any more time. That was the moment, the moment I stopped hiding, stopped pretending and just opened my heart and was brave enough to put it on the table.
So, here we are, over four months later. Shattered and bruised and unable to sleep. Faced with living quite literally round the corner from him, risking an awkward and no doubt clumsy encounter in the Bio Markt, every time I go to buy my groceries. There's been no closure. There are still many unanswered questions. I don't doubt I will miss a fair few more night's sleep and cry several more tears, but it's okay, I accept that, because I really learnt a lot and what I ultimately came away with, bar a fractured heart, was finally a better understanding of myself.
When I arrived in Berlin, I was somewhat on a quest to find the one. I had become fixated with what package he would come in. I felt as though the past year had taught me a lot about myself and that I was ready to be with someone, without needing them but I realised, that that clearly wasn't the case. Because I obviously was in need. I might not have gone out searching for someone, but I was always subliminally on the lookout. Ready to snap up the first guy that fit my ad.
This brutal and intense affair has forced me to recognise that I don't need anyone to be happy, or content. I am all that I will ever need. I have equally come to realise that it's okay to bare your soul sometimes, to say 'I love you' when you feel it and you mean it, even if the other person doesn't say it back. It takes balls to make yourself that vulnerable. It takes guts to open your heart, to risk the break and honestly, I never realised quite how fearless I was until I did and yes, maybe he turned out to be more cowardly than I had realised, but that's for him to live with, not me.
The disappointment that you feel when it comes to other people will always hurt a little, but maybe that's another lesson in not having expectations. It does hurt though, of course it does and I am sure that when I do finally come face to face with him again, I will no doubt cry a little, but honestly, I'm proud of myself. I finally let go of my fear, I gave my love openly and without conditions, I learnt to accept love in whatever form it presents itself, rather than continue to force it into a package that fits my own illusions and ultimately, I came away a little wiser and perhaps a little tougher. I don't think that's anything to regret.
So what makes me happy? Dinah Washington singing 'A Rockin' Good Way', rereading The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets for the hundredth time, the sweet smell of roses in a park, bumper packs of shiny metallic stickers, new leather bound notebooks filled with blank pages, discovering British Vogue for sale in local Berlin bookstores, the daily picking of tarot cards and finding little treasures on the street, like the tiny puzzle piece I found in Kreuzberg the other day. These are all the things I need to remind myself to indulge in, when I find myself in this little empty hole of unhappiness. It might take time, but I will feel happy again.
What's on your happy list?
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