Walking Away From It All

I’ve always had to restrain myself in relationships – they always remarked that I was too intense.

They never got me. I could explain and express myself as plainly as I could but they never really understood what I was saying.

I always felt alone in some way. Even when I was physically with them. That was us too by the end, because you pulled yourself away.

None of them, bar one, could entertain the conversations that I craved. The philosophical questions about consciousness and self-awareness.

I quickly outgrew all of them, leaving them behind because of some way that I felt they were immature.

Until I met you.

One day someone will listen to me talk about you and when I’m finally finished, they will ask “so why did you love him?” and I will answer “Because I got to see who he was and I just loved him.” Simple as that. And it will be the truth. But it wasn’t enough. I finally met someone who I didn’t have to restrain myself with, who could challenge my thinking, who I could explain myself to and understood why I meant what I said. But he was too young to see what I could see.

You hate being called a boy, because you think to use the phase “boy” or “girl” is disrespectful. (I don’t agree, I think they’re purely cultural but you were never really open to listen to me on this point). But I have to say, by the end of our relationship all you proved to me was how much of a boy you still were, how sheltered you had been, and how blind you were. If you ever find someone like me, never let her go. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else in the same breed as me, overly rational but still in touch with just enough emotions to be able to function. Especially to hear the things you say without over-reacting. There’s only so many times I can hear “whatever I’m looking for, you’re not it” without letting myself fall apart from the feeling like whatever that was left intact was being ripped to even smaller shreds (what even was that? You tell me I’m not it but then progress in the same piece of prose to tell me that you could see that our future if we were physically together right now would be incredible?? What a load of garbled mess. You have a lot of thinking and growing up to do).

No I don’t see our relationship in that movie because the guy asks the girl back near the end – although I find it interesting that’s the part you picked up on and reacted so strongly to. I relate to and aspire to be like the heroine who finds her independence even though she deeply loved and shared a unique connection with the boyfriend who abandons her. Does that seem somewhat familiar?

I will continue to cry about us for a long time. You may have to live with your decisions (and it was more or less wholly your decision), but so do I. For me, I can take some small solace in the fact what you think and decide is outside my realm of control, but I still have to live with your decision to starve our future out of possibility. I can see there may come a day when you regret this decision. Or you may not; again this is completely out of my domain of control. I will move on from this with acceptance that I did all I could, I loved fiercely, proudly and without restraint. It was beautiful and it hurt like hell like I’ve never known – deeper than I could’ve imagine. I’m not sure I would do it again but I’m proud for the fact I did.

You were surprised by my breaking up with you the morning before I left (know that I chose to only because I could see that you had exited the relationship already and my integrity refused to let me continue). You were also hurt when I told you that even if you asked for me back, I’d say no. This highlights your immaturity, you’re not used to someone who might actually stand up for themselves. And there are plenty of people who wouldn’t, who would stay and stick it out rather than choose being alone and facing the unknown. But just as what you choose and feel isn’t within my control, nor am I in yours. You may think I’m predictable but you underestimate me. You tell me that I’m so much more emotionally advanced or that I’m incredible in communication or whatever, but you don’t actually believe it. I see it in your actions. You try and paint yourself as this anti to the male ego, that you’re so much better than that. But at the end of the day, what you did was no better than any of my exes. You have a high opinion of yourself for someone who lacks the self-awareness they claim that they have. This point, I really hope that you read one day and really reflect on. You are just as self-serving as any of them, which is ironic given how your aim in life is so community focused. On a wandering tangent, I wonder how selfless it can be counted if you orientate your life around giving back to the community if it’s to make you feel fulfilled. Get off your high chair, maybe then you can learn real self-awareness.

I am going to stop talking about you after this. Hopefully at some point in the near future I will stop thinking about you too. I took a chance and I gave it all I could. And it’s likely that I will never love anyone like I did you, but I don’t think loves like that are meant to happen multiple times in a lifetime and I’m making peace with that. If you had any sense, you’d fight, but you don’t and nor will you if you ever realise the gravity of this in future. Men in general are so scared of hurting themselves and their egos – no matter how hard you want to believe you are exempt from that, you are not.

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Anxieties of a Long Distance Relationship

It’s bizarre to think we’ve only been together for three and a half months. I’ve never been with someone who I know like I know you. It’s not that I can claim I know you like the back of my hand (or maybe it is because I don’t know the back of hands that well), but it’s more that I can read you – you make sense to me. I spend my time in relationships deciphering the other person. Each one is like a puzzle and up until now, working it out leads me to boredom. But with you, you just get more interesting and I can’t put my finger on why that is. Maybe it’s because I genuinely believe you could leave me at any point and not show any remorse in doing so. I have experienced it and it hurt like hell. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. There won’t be a third time. I love myself too much for that. But even though the possibility is very real that you might break up with me again, and even though it lies there like an exposed nerve, I still want to make this work.
A small part of me is quietly convinced that this will work out. And I’m past the point of knowing whether this part is my gut (which is pretty on point) or whether it’s a ridiculous hope I have.
It’s like the world’s most tense game of chicken and the prize is priceless but the forfeit is tragic.
All this is part of my anxiety I know, and it makes me into this flustered mess that feels like I have no control over anything. I hate that feeling, like I’m spinning wildly out of control and might end up doing something wrong. And that’s why I know I need to calm myself down and compose myself, even though that’s the last thing I want to do.
You need to snap out of it Louisa. You’ve been through too much to let this affect you the way it is. The tighter you try and hold on the more you’ll smother him and the relationship. You want to be with him because he chooses to be with you not because you convince him or nag him into it.
If it ends, it ends. There is very little you can do about it but you know you’ll be alright. That tattoo on your leg saying “this too shall pass” was to serve as a reminder that nothing is permanent. Everything single fucking thing in this world is transitional and temporary. And there is no happy ending because your life is not a story. So take a deep breathe. It is what it is and what will be, will be.

Blink of an Eye

I can’t believe it’s September already. Time really does fly with the blink of an eye.

The last month has been a little of a whirlwind, with a quick exit out of Vietnam to see family and then back to Vietnam and starting three weeks of travel. Back to it!

We first made our way towards the South of Vietnam, I’m glad I made time to finally do so since I didn’t really get to whilst I was working at Asia Outdoors. We did an overnight train to Hue, biked from there to Hoi An, flew from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh city and then bussed from HCM to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The bike route from Hue to Hoi An was definitely one of the highlights with some really cheap options to get there. 450,000 VND (~£15) for bike hire for the one way journey and they transfer any big bags you don’t want to take to your hotel for you. For a day of riding around on a 135cc automatic scooter, it was totally worth it!

Hoi An was definitely very beautiful with all its signature lanterns glowing at night, painting the old streets in a gorgeous soft lighting. It is very touristy though teaming with visitors both western and Asian (there were a lot of Koreans when we were there).

In HCM we took an evening to have dinner and then go to the cinema. It’s the first time I’ve been since travelling and it was really good fun to do a coupley thing that was more familiar territory with both our backgrounds. Mission Possible was an excellent choice for it.

Phnom Penh was largely spent inside as I was ill (how I managed to contract a cold in ~30 degree heat, I’m not sure). We did manage to visit the genocide museum (S21) which was pretty harrowing, I had no idea Cambodia had such a violent, heartbreaking recent history.

Generally the city seemed like a pretty uninspiring sprawl. It definitely wasn’t very pedestrian friendly, particularly around where we stayed. I also nearly got robbed by some guys on a motorbike which was fun. Otherwise, Cambodians seem really nice and friendly.

We are currently in Siem Reap. Yes, we will be going to see the Angkor National Park tomorrow but I can’t believe it’s $37 to get in just for one day. I do really want to go see Beng Mealea too but we won’t have time.

One of the things that’s changed this time travelling is that I’m not longer solely travelling, I am also remote working. It’s bizarre, and it’s definitely taking getting used to but it’s an interesting new lifestyle. I certainly don’t earn enough to sustain a life in London but if I were to stay in SE Asia, it would provide a good amount of income. It is tiring though moving around, travelling and working as well. It’s a lot to juggle to then make sure you make quality time for your boyfriend which is the reason you went on this three week trip in the first place. You gotta do what you gotta do. Hopefully I can get this set up and rolling so that it can sustain me in future.

Cynical Optimism

I’m in a rare pensive mood today which I haven’t been in for a long time. Rainy days will do that to you. Although, my brain is pretty unbridled today so apologies for the lack of flow in this entry.

It’s been almost a year since I embarked on a one year sabbatical. An unintentional one year sabbatical, mind you but I think it was for the best. There was lots of processing and healing that needed to be done and a lot of personal growth to be had in the time I’ve been away. If I had gone back in May like I had planned, it would’ve been premature and possibly detrimental as I was not ready and was on track to jump back into my old life.

On some levels, I miss it. London was and will always be a big part of who I am but like so many big influences that occur, it kind of happened as opposed to being purposefully conceived as an aim. Most of my friends live there for one, so it will always hold a big draw. Particularly because I am the kind of person who sees close friends as family. But family are not so easily lost over distance and having not seen my closest friends since January, I am still in constant contact with them which is testament to the strength of our friendships. I will miss the vibrance of the London recreational scene. There’s so much to do and it is a beautiful city – all you have to do is look up to admire the beautiful old and new architecture all around. But having gained some perspective from being away from it, I can now see I was naturally burning out from the lifestyle. The pace of life and the consistency in which there are things going on, leaves little time for a person to fully catch their breathe. There are almost too many distractions. As a wise man once said:

Creativity is the residue of time wasted.

– Albert Einstein

The modern pace of city life is certainly one that does not allow for much contemplation which in turn, in my opinion, is the gateway to ideas and inspiration.

What have I learnt over my last year of travelling over Europe and SE Asia? On the face of it, I’ve had some amazing experiences like diving, trekking and seeing in person incredible natural landscapes. In essence, the main thing that matter the most is learning that humanity is the same anywhere you go. Sure, the culture and language is different. There are differences in the ways things are regarded like being outdoors for instance, where it’s a much more common thing for someone to go for a hike or go on holiday to spend in the sun, here in Asia you would be hard pressed to find local people who are on holiday out in the sun without being covered up and holding umbrellas. There are also differences in terms of politeness, generally the Vietnamese and Chinese are much more brash and less concerned with queuing and being elbowed out of the way. There are always going to be such differences. But everywhere I’ve been to so far, close knit families prevail. People are just looking to survive and live their lives. Sometimes that’s in peculiar ways (to me), like the floating villages in Lan Ha Bay. 4,000 people live on these floating homes – there are even floating restaurants and grocery stores. Some of these people will never step a foot on solid land and yet most of these people also cannot swim. It’s bizarre in that sense but they have adapted to surviving by fish farming and shellfish collecting to feed their families and to continue their existences. Their aim is something I’m sure anyone can fundamentally relate to. I just have the luxury to be able to choose how it is I want to adapt.

I suppose the reason I’m feeling as introspective as I am today is partly because it’s time to move on. I’ve enjoyed and learnt so much from my time travelling SE Asia and working here in Cat Ba but it is time to move on with my life. I’m done running and healing. I am grateful for all the time I’ve allowed myself to have and for every spectacular human being I’ve met and travelled with on this journey. It’s helped me get to where I am right now and I’m excited for the future. There are so many unknowns that it’s completely uncharted territory for me. But I head on forward with a cynical optimism (the fault of my British upbringing) that no matter how things go, there will always be a way to go. One step at a time, taking deep breathes in and out.

Journeys of the Heart

I’ve recently entered into an incredibly intense and mind-blowingly amazing relationship with a guy I met here and it’s thrown up a lot of uncomfortable feelings I have experienced and dealt with in the past. Largely the main enemy is insecurity, which I’ve learnt long ago is rooted within oneself most of the time and not in the other person. When you discover something so rare and precious, then you stand to lose so much and that fear is what drives the insecurity and anxieties. Or at least it is in this case. I’ve successfully managed to deal with it in previous relationships, partly because I cared less for the others and stood to lose less. But this, this has really taken me for a turn.

As if planned, I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last night which is one of my favourite movie. I love it because of its’ storytelling and the complexities within the plot and also the use of a sci-fi-esque invention within the movie to explore relationships. One of my favourite parts is at the very end, after Joel and Clementine discover all the messy events that have led them to be where they were because they had reached the breaking point in their relationship previously. Despite this they are still drawn to each other but knowing there is all likelihood that they will end up down the same path of confrontations and arguments. Joel simply looks at Clementine and goes “Okay.” with so much acceptance and resignation because he thinks it’s worth trying.

I also saw something a friend posted on my Facebook feed today. “life is tough, but so are you”. And I know I’ll be fine no matter what, I’ve been through enough to know that. But life sometimes makes you build walls in order to protect yourself and to open up to let that someone on is terrifying. To then run the risk of losing them is even more so. But like Joel said, okay.