What the hell am I reading?
This blog follows my experiences as close as possible to when I live them. I don’t wish to write an advice book after I feel smug enough in a year’s time to tell you everything I have learnt and that if you follow my guide, you can miss out on all the difficult bits and find self-love by spending your money on my ‘hindsight’.
If you've read my 'About' section, you will already have a general idea as to how and why this blog came about. Here is little more context for you, I don’t expect this to make perfect sense, it certainly doesn’t to me yet.
24th October 2016. The day when I packed up my troubles in my old kit bag, and left my partner, my job, my house and most terrifying of all, my identity. Those distinguishable safety layers that we cling on to in a fear-frenzied panic when we feel as if the world is about to swallow us up and spit us out into the abyss. When I say identity, I mean attributes and ideas that I believed were the definition of ‘me’. These definitions and ideas made up ‘who I was’, or who I thought I was. The first crack of light came in when I was forced to examine my idea of what I thought I wasn’t. That’s where you find what you judge and fear and try and protect yourself from. It’s the shadow you don’t want to go near – the box you’ve left hidden at the back of the wardrobe. The realisation that your identity is only a limited version of reality and not the truth of who you are, is not as simple in experience as it is to write down. Truth and reality are two very different things. Phew, with me so far? I don’t think I’m with me yet.
I sought to be the perfect employee, girlfriend, friend, person. Layers upon layers of ideals and presentations of what I thought it was to be good person, friend, member of society. Knowing I've got things 'worked out' is like watching a warm crackling fire nestled in a fluffy blanket cupping a big mug of hot chocolate. Smug, right? A couple of days ago, I came crashing down to my knees. I was still, standing up, straddling a bike that wasn't moving. I fell over standing up, on my own, and I looked ridiculous. That’s what life did to me when it thought I was smug. There have been many emotional fall outs that have completely humbled me. In this case, my knees bled the whole way back to the hotel.
Am I mental? Sometimes people look at me as if I'm crazy or like I'm speaking a different language, perhaps I am, but that doesn't make it any less valid...right? Sometimes it feels less valid because it's not a popular thought, idea or action. Like rubbing your hand across velvet the 'wrong' way. We are all so desperate to be understood and liked – I was so desperate to be understood and liked. Detaching myself from this habitual behaviour has been incredibly uncomfortable for me, the most painful moments have been when others have been uncomfortable with it. I have found that harder to cope with, which says a lot about how highly I place the opinion of others. We all like to think we know a person, an element of predictability keeps us safe in social situations and the fear of abandonment is abated.
Fear, the source of my desire to control every aspect of my life, however, was minuscule compared to the fear that came flooding in when I realised I was living a lie, a lie that even I, lady know-it-all had believed for so long. These concrete ideas about who I was or could ever be didn’t exist except within my mind. Fortunately for me, this new fear did something useful and propelled me off a cliff and into a freefall. This started the chain of events that led to that fateful day that I became a Nomad, in body and spirit. This is not a eureka moment, it's not peaceful enlightenment – yes, it’s joyful, truthful and free… but it's also messy and as scary as hell – the full experience of the human condition. It’s a hell I have chosen to open the flood gates to. Welcome to my hell, I mean blog. :)
I have written a small collection of thoughts and feelings based on my experiences from October 2016 up until the 25th December when I ran away, jet-setted off to Portugal to follow the sun in a ‘Bah-Humbug!’ Santa Hat. Before I share these with you, you may be asking: -
What on earth is a Nomad?
According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, the definition of a Nomad is as follows: -
‘1. A member of a people that travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for its animals and has no permanent home.’
‘2. A person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.’
Synonyms: itinerant, traveller, migrant, wanderer, wayfarer, roamer, rover, gypsy, Bedouin
I can see the resemblance here, albeit with the lack of a herd. The synonyms sound exotic and alluring. I am a member of a people - the global community I guess, humans, my community of friends and colleagues, the theatre company I am in who are pretty much like family. I do not stay long in the same place, no more than two nights looking out of the same window as it happens. Ultimately this sounds like a deliberate choice, a choice made for the benefit of a life. The ‘no permanent home’ is questionable. No permanent house, perhaps. When you let it all go, you realise what stays regardless of circumstances. Here I am still. Home is wherever I am.
My mum has always carried around an enormous sense of guilt that she has not provided me with a safe and secure family home that I can always go to when all is lost. Truthfully, when I was young, lost and hurting, I believed this to be something worth being guilty about, as if I lacked something everyone should be entitled to. Even my ex-partner, during the process of buying of our new house, would often say that it was so important for us to have this house because I had never had one, nor the security of coming home to a peaceful space that I owned. He was determined to be the one to provide that for me because when you love someone you want to give them what they want, you want to make them happy. The danger here is when you try to give someone the love that you want and the life that you need. It became clear very quickly when I moved in that I didn’t need or want it, despite being told and telling myself how lucky I was and how grateful I should be. The holy grail of the ‘next step in life’. Austerity and our culture of consumerism has duped many, including my partner and I, into believing that peace, security and happiness is something that can only be attained outside of ourselves. The achievement has become about the purchasing, not the happiness within the home. Weddings I feel, have become similar – when have you ever heard someone exclaim, ‘we have a marriage!’. Now think about how many times you have seen or heard exclamations of ‘we are getting married!’
Death is the only home I am going to when all is said and done. I know this can be extremely morbid for some but this makes everything so much clearer and life so incredibility vital and futile in the same breath.
Before I discovered my Nomadic spirit – I just thought I was homeless. ‘Homeless’ was the only term I had in my vocabulary to describe what I was. At first, admittedly I used the word with gusto – it was exciting. I was beating the system! I’d taken a huge step to stop this crazy rat race and was putting myself deliberately into a situation that many people work long hours in jobs they hate just to protect themselves from. Well done me… like watching a warm crackling fire nestled in a fluffy blanket cupping a big mug of hot chocolate…if you’ve read my previous post then you know what happens here…
In November, after a couple of weeks of relief and joy and wonder (which I could also describe as shock), I became acutely aware of the real nature of homelessness, I saw it everywhere. The words of my ex-partner rang through my ears, 'this is how people do eventually become homeless, you know'. He warned, as I tried to make him laugh by putting my fingers through a hole in my jumper. I smiled to myself because in that moment, being homeless and happy far outweighed having a secure house but an unsecure heart. It definitely stuck my priviledge right up in my face though. Since then, there have been some pretty close calls towards sleeping on the streets, some private moments I kept from others, some moments where I had to ask for help. Was I really homeless though? What does that even mean and why does it fill human hearts with such fear?
(of a person) without a home, and therefore typically living on the streets.
Without a roof over one's head, on the streets,
Synonyms: vagrants, down-and-outs, tramps, beggars, vagabonds, itinerants, transients, migrants, derelicts, drifters, beachcombers; hobos; bagmen, knockabouts, overlanders, sundowners, whalers;
informal: bag ladies; dossers; bums, bindlestiffs; derros; outies;
formal: people of no fixed abode.
I am without a ‘home’ in the conventional sense, I would prefer to use ‘house’ here though. I am not typically living on the streets. I travel the streets a lot with my portable house, AKA suitcase. Unlike Nomad, these synonyms don’t sound exotic or alluring, they sound almost hateful. Dossing...well that might be some people’s assumptions of what I’m doing, I’ve felt like this about myself sometimes. I’ve no idea what bindlestiffs, outies, whalers or sundowners are. They all sound derogatory, not quite the same exotic tone as ‘wayfarer’. The amount of bags I tend to collect definitely suggests I’m a bag lady. Looking at this objectively – the most tangible difference between a Nomad and a homeless person, is that ‘homelessnes’ suggests a lack of choice, a forced situation.
So, those who are forced against their will to survive rough on the streets, those who need the most support and understanding from the community, are defined as ‘vagrant’ and ‘tramp’ and thus the community are welcomed to treat them as such. As if they deserve it because they haven’t worked hard enough, failing at someone else’s idea of a successful life, smoking and drinking to get themselves through which makes them even more ‘undeserving’ of our time. We are all conditioned into supporting numerous justifications as to why we shouldn’t talk to them, give them money, share our lives and our homes with them – by ‘them’ I mean other human beings like you and I. A culture of fear is built upon homelessness, our physical and emotional avoidance tactics are stealth like as we desperately pretend that we could never be in that situation, that it couldn’t happen ‘to someone like me’. I’ve had those thoughts, I have this fear, I am part of this culture and it left a very bitter taste in my mouth when I’ve hauled my possessions across London wandering where I am going to sleep that night.
So depending on who you ask – I am in some sort of limbo, sometimes one definition, sometimes the other. Not quite Nomad, not quite homeless...Nomless? Homad? I would also like to point out that the only synonym to appear on both ‘nomad’ and ‘homeless’ definitions is the term ‘migrant’. The word migrant is apparently associated with vagrants, down-and-outs, tramps, beggars and vagabonds as well as wayfarer and wanderer...well that’s odd. The definition of a migrant is ‘a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.’
Isn’t it funny the words we give to things and the meanings we put on them...ha ha. In fact, it's not funny, it can cause serious problems. Most of the time, we don't even realise how a word makes us feel, it's not the word itself but the connotations attached to it based on our thoughts, judgements and belief systems. The danger here is when someone else's judgements, thoughts and belief systems infiltrate our own and we are no longer thinking for ourselves - but from what we hear, read and see. Often this is through popular culture, or whatever is the most easily accessible form of news or entertainment. We end up with a 'popular' view, and we mistake them for our own opinions. A collective unconsciousness can be easily manipulated.
Perhaps I have manipulated myself. A Nomad is exotic and alluring and that is what I would rather be. I choose this and it brings me joy, as well as the triumphant feeling of having escaped a sinister trap in the nick of time. Yet even as I write this, I realise that I have made a definition of my circumstances necessary. I guess if I can define my situation and myself as Nomadic, it is comprehensible enough to be explained and understood. I am trying to make it logical, reasonable and attractive. Is this to avoid the fear that I am going mad or having a breakdown? I don’t know the answer to that – making myself Nomadic didn’t feel like the easiest option when I was looking at it from afar from my fortified safe house. As I am writing these very sentences I am beginning to realise the depth of my need to be understood and to justify my choices. Now let’s open it out that this may be the sole necessity for creating this blog. A way for me to express my experiences and feelings so that I may feel as if I am not alone - because I fear being alone. Not just physically, but in my heart and soul. I opened myself up with the intention of allowing others to relate, to feel comforted, inspired. I quote my ‘About’ section - ‘in the hopes of inspiring others to choose themselves as the most important relationship of all.’ I really hope that opportunity arises due to the sharing of my experiences. Yet truthfully, I feel as if my lack of self-love renders me inadequate to provide that comfort without objective. Then again, I guess this is the journey. Hah. There I go again, trying to have it all worked out before I’ve even started.
Have we started?