A separation

By the beginning of June the date of my travel was getting scarily near. I was starting to feel better, that’s true, but the only idea of being in a plane for almost two hours, far from home for five days and four nights, then back on a plane again was freaking me out.

Morning flight by Theophilos PapadopoulosI tried not to think much about it, but every time the idea of the travel brushed by my mind, the same known sensations got back powerfully: my stomach cringed, my head started spinning, nausea arose, nerves got tense. I was terrified at the idea of doing stuff I had been enjoying like crazy since I could remember: flying, visiting new places, staying in hotels, attending courses.
During the last session before the departure date, when I was still uncertain about whether I was going to go or give up, my therapist left me with a simple and priceless advice: “When you are going to decide whether to go or not, whether to try or not, just keep in mind a couple of things. First of all, remember it’s all stuff you have already done and enjoyed before. Secondly and most importantly, the question you should try to answer to is: What’s good for myself? Put all the other questions aside. Forget about all the other What is my boss expecting from me? What are my parents expecting from me? What are my colleagues expecting from me? It’s all about what you deem is best for you.”
“I think I already have that answer” I replied, “I know that the best thing for me is to go. If I give up, it will leave me in doubt as to whether and when I’ll be able to go on a plane again, to travel again, to enjoy all the stuff I used to love again.”
So it was decided that I was going to try. I was still frightened about how I was going to feel on the departure morning and how my body was going to react during the following week. I just couldn’t figure out which was the real danger I perceived in that travel.
One evening, right after dinner, I felt a new strong rush of anxiety rising up. The image that invaded my mind was the thought of myself alone in a hotel room far from my home; the most disturbing detail being my detachment from my house, my family, my everyday life. I was scared at the idea of abandoning – even though only temporarily – my nest, the place in which I felt safe and protected.
Once again, finding out a correlation between my physical reaction and my thoughts, a correlation between an image that felt scary in my mind and a rational justification for it, gave me some feeble comfort.
Anyway I was determined to enjoy the weekend preceding my departure as much as my anxiety could allow me to.
I spent most of that Saturday with my best friend. We visited the house I had bought and had been renovating for years without ever moving in, we had a walk, we sat on a park’s bench and we never stopped seeking for each other’s contact. I rubbed my arm on his, he touched my hands, we reduced our distance, till we finally kissed. He kissed me, actually. And then I kissed him.
“How do you feel?” he asked me. I was terribly confused. I had just kissed my best friend. Was he still my best friend, by the way? Was he already my new boyfriend? Were we going to stop being best friends? Childish as those questions may sound, my rationality was fighting tooth and nail with this change of perspective: I simply didn’t know how to categorize what had just happened.
The rest of the weekend passed by smoothly. I diligently packed my luggage on Sunday and set my alarm for 6 AM on Monday. I was quite sure I was going to have a ruminating night and a terrified awakening. I didn’t sleep much that night, no big surprise after all. But the greatest surprise of that morning was that my first thought, as I opened my eyes, was not the travel ahead of me. My first thought, or better my first sensation was the memory of his smell, of his taste, of his touch. In any other moment of my life I wouldn’t have had any space in my mind for anything except that travel. That morning I woke up with a smile for first time after several months and with the comfortable idea that I was going to find him, my man, back there in 6 days.

 


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