In February of this year, I made many choices that upon creation of this blog five years ago, I did not expect to ever occur.
This website started as a way to keep creating after I finished university. True to its mission, it has kept me busy in the five years of travel I have done since completing my degree. It has been an outlet for anger, a creative safe place and at times, a cause for argument and tension within relationships. Overall, this website has been 100% mine and though at times of depression or intense upheaval I have neglected it, I never fail to return.
In the beginning of this year I made the decision to leave a job that has allowed me to travel for the majority of a year and work remotely. While it was a bittersweet moment to leave for good, ultimately it was a mutual decision and both parties felt that I had prepped enough and passed the baton for someone else to continue. After completing my outstanding contract, I packed my things and made the permanent move to Malta.
I get asked on a daily basis how I ended up in a very tiny archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. My answer is always the same, “I came here for the sun.” It is not a lie, but I had no idea what or where Malta was until it found me through, of course, Workaway. I was looking for a remote island, I did not care where, because I wanted to be somewhere where my ex could not find me.
I feel it important to make note of the catalyst to come to Malta, not out of spite, but in order to be more transparent. As of late I have become forced to address the negative implications of a “highlight reel” lifestyle on social media that is absolutely fake and unattainable. In the pictures I posted and sent out we were smiling,constantly traveling and enjoying life. Behind closed doors it was a constant power struggle of manipulation, threats, lectures and lies. So, in saying that I wanted to be somewhere where my ex could not find me, it was a rational response to someone telling me, “I will come there and wait until you want to be with me.” The emotional and physical effects of being utterly controlled and manipulated made me want to vanish. So I did – to Malta.
In coming to Malta a year ago, I made a vow to myself that for six months, I would have nothing but fun. By my logic, it made absolute sense: trade a year of bullshit with a psychopath, earn a half-year back of sheer selfish happiness. Within the first week my Workaway host asked me, “Do you always laugh this much?” I laughed more in seven days than I had in the entire previous year combined. I spent nights praying to be free of several men in my life – and by last May, it seemed like I had finally escaped.
Malta was a beautiful escape at first. An eclectic mix of European living with Arabian architecture, it is easy to get lost in the narrow streets and blazing heat. I enjoyed my time here for seven months, until a misdiagnosis of PCOS sent me spiralling and flying back to Canada for treatment. Upon returning to Canada, I realized that I felt different in a familiar place. The health scare turned out to be nothing and I felt a weight lifted. I felt free again.
In October I returned to Malta, this time without being chased and simply by choice. Upon coming back after an absence of two months, it felt strange and once again I wondered if I had made the right decision. The damage done by previous relationships had healed and while I wanted to date, it simply felt forced. I have never liked dating websites and have steadfastly refused to touch them. I prefer to stumble into romance rather than go fishing for it.
Admittedly, I grew bitter. I was frustrated with being alone, and in turn, it was making me alienate myself. I did what my therapist had advised me to do; go out with friends, read, create, go to the gym. Immerse myself in all the things that I personally like to do and eventually something good will come from it.
So I did. I chugged along and felt a little less bitter and I worked hard. For four months I worked without break and by January I realized that, entirely against my will and without being forced, I was in love again. I don’t want to say that I had “fallen in love” because it was not sudden; instead it was simply friendship, nothing more, which slowly and naturally evolved into something chemical and unavoidable.
I have told him, many times, that if this is what love is, I understand fully what I was missing. Whereas before I was impatient, envious, full of pride, selfish and quick to point blame or act out, in loving him, I have grown into a women more and a child less.
Last February, I made a promise to myself to dedicate six months to pure selfish happiness and a full year to my own personal growth. This year, I took stock of the changes, accepted the losses, and happily moved forward.
The point of this post is not to air dirty laundry, but rather to put the past in the past and send a message to some of you who may be like me last February. To that, I can only say, keep pushing, keep working, keep trying and eventually, all the struggle makes sense. It never stops, but at the very least, it has meaning, and if your struggle has meaning you can sleep soundly at night.