I’ve started writing this a million times, I never knew where exactly I was going with it. But I knew I had to write you. To keep you posted. Some of you, those of you on my personal Facebook, know a little about where I’ve been. But regardless of that, there’s a lot going on that I couldn’t put into words.
Either way, here I am about to try.
There’s a lot to be said about growing up, and traveling, and how both of those things affect each other. How it affects relationships, the way you see them and thus the way you see yourself, and thus the way you see others.
Let’s start from the beginning.
I had a tiny bit of money, and combined with a very huge Birthday/Christmas present (December baby for the win! …for a change.) I made it to France. The “point” of the trip being to come see my father who lives in Toulouse which is is the South of France. I had five weeks in France to spend as I saw fit. So, being a 21st century, young, solo traveler I used Couchsurfing.com and ridesharing (France’s most popular rideshare site being BlaBlaCar) to make the most of my trip. Which to me meant experiencing tons of people, allowing myself to go into the experience to the most of my ability. Some filters are needed to be able to communicate properly with everyone when exchanging cultures, but for the most part I wanted to be myself. I wanted to see what it would look like to fully believe that I was the woman I wanted to be. The only way to do that, in my head, was to step outside of my comfort zone completely…I would be away from the people who for the last year had “created” a part of me as I had spent my entire life around reacting to them, to how they reacted to me, and how I was with my cat, (which to me is a very important relationship. I take being a cat “owner” very seriously. Who I am in regards to a creature I’m caring for is a detrimental part of my wellbeing, and as such, I have try to truly listen.)
I moved away from all of that and explored a country that while it was, in fact, incredibly familiar to me at a very deep level, was actually, mostly, rotundly unfamilar. A lot of times, it works very well for me to not think about everything that could go wrong, or look up things like how long will this flight actually be. So I did not think about the fact that what I was about to do was probably a huge challenge for any normal person. And I’m…well…you know…Me.
I prepare myself to deal with what may come, tell myself I’ll be able to do it. And I try my damned best. If I still can’t do something, I ask for help.
So I came to France thinking, I can do this. I got this. I knew it’d be hard, that there would be moments when I would probably be really scared to be in France.
It wasn’t just a vacay to Paree, it was a trip away from all I knew, and into myself. I left Mexico feeling like a Warrior Goddess. I knew I needed the strength, and I surrounded myself only with what was absolutely necessary and let go of what was not, that meant releasing beliefs about myself that would limit me in being emotionally and mentally strong enough to be around people I didn’t know, and get close to a culture that was difficult for me to understand.
I stepped on French ground and, out of sheer survival, immediately became the most adaptable I had ever been. I bent over backwards to be deserving of the welcome I felt I had, and at the same time be humble enough to not want to snap back when someone was seemingly rude to me. Zen.
Not only did I feel like I had it on lockdown, I took it a step further. I was going to, on a total whim, use this trip to just stay here. I wasn’t coming back.
So…I had to deal with family, which even is the best of cases is a practice in emotional yoga. Moving anywhere is stressful enough for different reasons, but here the move was bizarre. I wouldn’t be packing up an old place, as I had family doing that for me back in Mexico…but it was creating a social identity. Getting papers, figuring out the laws so that I could be here legally (I’m half French so not as hard) and what rights I might have. It was figuring out what things people cared about, how they lived, what is polite to do, what isn’t. Giving so much energy, when I felt welcomed, I wanted to be deserving of that welcome. When I did not, I wanted to have the strength to stand my ground, and be loving but firm in my resolution to be deserving of respect.
I would allow myself to love, but not lose myself.
I had to start from zero, while at the same time understanding that I was not actually starting from zero. That I had new skills and developed tools. I had gotten to a new point in my life so starting from zero did not look quite the same as it would have in my early or mid twenties. How the hard times had counted for something. How the good times had as well.
Not everyone sees what you are doing. Mostly, people do recognize it as a challenge, but we tend to compare based on our context. So the challenge stopped where their expectations began. So I was in the midst of all this without any constant validation or recognition from others that they understood that I was doing the best I could and giving them the best I could at any given moment, all while still trying to conserve the energy I needed to move forward. Everyone in my life was new, no one knew that I needed time to recuperate, that I’ve gotten very very sad in my life and that only until recently was “very very sad” not my more constant state of being.
I began to think perhaps the image I was giving of myself was one of a lot more courage and strength that I had previously thought I had. Did I actually have it now? I wanted to.
So I trusted that I could in fact be that person.
I trusted and trusted, and I am still in the process of trusting. The point of it all being that if I can, in fact, be that person, then I can continue to live the life that I want. It takes courage and bravery to live a life we do not want with humility and dignity. It takes a lot of courage, as well, to lead the life we want when there are so many determining factors that make us want to doubt. One of the hugest ones being that we can’t really see into the future. We can trust, but we can never really know anything. At least…not me. I “know” that I’ll be OK because I trust that I will be because up until now that has been the case. Because I know that I define what “OK” is for me. Even at the time of forty-four sunsets, when I wasn’t OK, I stuck around for a future that could’ve continued to be like my present. It did not. My current status is: OK. So that is my reality.
I continue to be humbled. I speak with certainty, based on my own reality, being wrong many times. People explaining gently things that make me re-calibrate. That makes me unsure of my footing. Being humbled has been for me a reminder, that I can –and will- continue to learn to do things better, continue to be stronger. That as I get older life will become better and, should also be, more enjoyable. I let it sink in, I let animals teach me it, I let people and life teach me it, I welcome the reminder. I am only ever growing, I am ever only moving up. So long as I remain humbled.
And until I get more of my thoughts in order, that is all.