The other night, for really bizarre reasons, I found myself in a car at 3:30 in the morning. I was a passenger, my mum driving us down the motorway. We put Babylon by David Gray on, and off we went. There is something so hypnotic about driving in the dead of night, few cars on the motorway, the road lights filling up the car with flashes of yellow. I wrapped a blanket around me and turned to the window, under the passing lights I found myself deep in thought.
I am a strong believer that in life, we are sent people to teach us a lesson. Whether they directly give us an education by showing us the way, or whether we take something from them that inspires us. Whilst I was driving down the Motorway at 3:30 in the morning, I started looking to those who have taught me lessons.
I have been a lost soul searching for answers for a while now, as you probably know. Each and every time I meet somebody new, I wonder if it was down to pure coincidence or whether theres a valuable lesson to be learned.
I like to believe that 24 years ago, my auntie and my uncle became my mum and dad for a reason. I look at them and I look at what my life could have been, and I smile. I thank my mum for my wisdom, she has taught me all I need to know, and as I grow, so will the teachings. She taught me to be strong, she taught me to be kind and she taught me that no matter how bad it gets, there is always a way out of it. My mum has some incredible life lessons, she’s always willing to sit at the dining room table and talk me through it step by step. On Tuesday, after a long day at work, I found myself crying into my dinner, my mum sat next to me, processing my thoughts, filtering them down like little tiny rocks of gold amongst dirt in a pan. We extracted the gold, and my lesson was learnt.
I take from my dad my social skills, my ability to talk to complete strangers, he taught me to be nice to everyone, to always have a smile on my face, and how sometimes, ‘fuck it’ is the only response.
I have been on a whirlwind two months since leaving Liverpool, and it was during my middle of the night car journey that I realised I had been taught another valuable lesson recently; how to start again.
We are victims of our past. Whether thats a positive or a negative is down to the individual situation. Quite often, our defence mechanisms come from having to protect ourselves, and our pain thresholds began during the toughest moments in life. Recently a strong, incredible individual has reentered my life and the lessons haven’t stopped.
When me and my then fiancé parted ways last year, I began building my walls up. It didn’t matter who you were, friend, colleague or family, you just weren’t getting in. Last year, i needed that time to sit alone in my ivory tower and feel sorry for myself. In July of this year I began the process of deconstructing my walls – just enough so I could still crouch and hide behind them should things get too much. I believe I wasn’t ready to listen to the advice or take anything on board twelve months ago, I just wanted to sulk.
So a few weeks ago when somebody reentered my life, I knew it was because I was finally ready to learn.
You see, this person is a father. He understands, more than most, the importance of patience. Being quite an impulsive, obsessive character, when I want something, I want it now. I don’t have that adaptability to realise that I could probably wait a few weeks, or that it doesn’t matter if the boy on the bus doesn’t want to be best friend. (If you follow me on Twitter, you will know all about my relationship with BusBae). I am learning to be comfortable with where I am at in my life, and that sometimes waiting can produce better results.
He is also gay. So here you have a father who for a long time identified as straight. Down the road on his journey of life he has slowly begun to accept his true self. Another lesson of patience. A realisation that we sometimes don’t need to have all the answers now, that life will give us our lesson when life decides we are ready for our lesson. I have nothing but pride and admiration for his courage, which in turn is teaching me to find my own.
For the longest time I have confused courage and strength. Strength is a show, we flex our muscles to show others that we are strong, but courage comes from inside. Courage is what we use when we have to walk through some of lifes toughest moments. You can be as strong as you like, but it’s the courage from within that will get us through the dark.
Above all though, I am learning from him that past experiences should never shape our future. It’s easier said than done, but if we lose all faith in friendships and relationships because of those that have fallen around us, then we are destined to be on our own in our ivory towers for a long time. It’s okay to be defensive when somebody compliments you, it’s alright to get scared because arguments trigger your anxiety and send you into panic mode.
But it’s also okay to learn that just because it happened before, does not mean it’s going to happen again.
Here we have this really innocent soul, who is full of confidence and excitement, and I realised that we risk tainting people, staining them with our past. It’s a lesson I wish I learnt 6 years ago when I lost James, my first boyfriend, to suicide. If I could travel back through time, I would have dealt with his loss appropriately. Instead I acted like it never happened. Now I am only starting to mourn the loss of somebody who died half a decade ago. I am grateful that I have finally learnt the importance of processing loss, though. It’s a valuable lesson, too. Over the years since I lost James, I have tainted so many people. My bitterness and my hatred for life has stained people, and for that, I am sorry.
I have learnt from my friends the significance of talking. It’s a simple tool that we all possess in life, but locked in our towers, we can sometimes be consumed by loneliness, and we forget that we have people trying to kick the door down on the other side, to get to us, to pick us up and throw us over their shoulder as they nurse us back to happiness.
During my spell of not feeling good enough, I forgot to turn to them, I forgot to ask them for help. Instead, I pushed them away. Friends stick around and pick us up because they want to, not because they have to. They are a support network, a safe space.
Finally, there is my niece, who teaches me every single day about the innocence of life. The way she has no idea of what truly goes on in this world, or the way she innocently plays with her own imagination. I miss that innocence of childhood. But I think we are all still capable of having vast imaginations, of being able to shut the true horror of the world out, even for just an hour.
Our past has become a thing of defining who we are. It’s serves only to mould us into tiny little beings who are terrified of the future. It acts as ropes, restraining us from moving on. We’ve all had our hearts broken, we’ve all stayed up with tears hitting our pillows. We’ve fallen in and out of love too many times to count, and we’ve all fallen down when we thought we were doing really well.
Yes, the past should shape us, but it should never define us, it should instead make us stronger. It should make us realise that each past experience is exactly that; a past experience. It cannot be changed, there is no edit button on life. But there is a way that we can look upon those experiences and take valuable lessons.
Have a look around you, there are people standing either side of you, and some of them will have incredible lessons for you. Open your eyes, and your heart, and learn.
I will see you all on Monday, where we will be talking all things #ILiveItIBlogIt