I’ve held off writing about my weekend at Thornborough for a bit, for a number of reasons. The first was that so much came out of that weekend it was hard to put it all on paper in a sensible fashion and the second was that it was quite simply, a life-changing experience.
Despite my penchant for getting myself into silly situations, I like stability, crave it in fact and I guess it is no secret that I have struggled with the very sudden changes life has presented to me in recent years.
I have spent nearly the past year resolutely single, with no desire to change my status apart from one small blip which turned out to be nothing. There was so much to deal with, a relationship was the last thing I wanted or needed. Focussing my full attention on surviving was the only way to make it.
Truth be told, I still haven’t made it. In a couple of weeks I will have no fallback money in the bank, not enough earnings to pay my mortgage and bills and unless change for the better happens really, really soon, am going to lose my house. And yet, I am startlingly busy – work is challenging in all the right ways for me (I do enjoy a bit of stress), just so poorly paid I might be better off going back onto the dole and job hunting for better paid work than sitting in the evenings trying to job hunt when tired.
Let’s face it – I am not exactly catch of the season. I am 40 years old and it shows. I am plump, have more feline baggage than most people, have a busy life and am simply not permanently available to cater to the whims of another person. I find it hard to leave the cats in the care of others and moreover, I cannot bear the thought of taking advantage of my friends to simply swan off into the sunset for a few days. It is not simply a matter of throwing dried biscuits at the cats and cleaning their trays – it is a lot of work I am asking people to do.
The breakdown of my last long term relationship hurt. I learned that I am selfish, that I value the cats above people; that I could never quite make the grade the other person needed me to be at and I was consistently letting that person down.
Granted, I was dealing with my beloved mother’s terminal illness and subsequent death, with all the family drama and unpleasantness that entailed, some of which still has to be dealt with; I was starting to realise that I was not going to be employed anytime soon and I was petrified of the future. I could have done with good honest support and not getting it forced me to retreat to a type of rear guard action. When you already hurt and receive criticism, no matter how kindly intentioned, the barbs go deeper and stay in longer. Every time I let that person down and they retaliated, I sunk further and further into myself.
However the seeds for this had been sown much earlier and the great truth I learned is that two people who are so different in outlook, lifestyle and approach, cannot make each other happy, no matter how much they care for one another or how much they do share. I also learned that I need a huge amount of personal freedom, that I need space and care in order to give space and care back and I need someone who understands my love for my cats and my faith.
I also need someone with enough confidence to take into account the wonderful friendship that has grown out of the wreck of my marriage and not be threatened by it. They need to live with the fact that because I took these cats on promising to care for them (apart from Felix and Jaggie and possibly Oscar, none of them chose to live here), that I will always do my utmost to do so, which means ensuring that they eat well, are loved and cuddled, are giving attention and Outsides and that when they are ill, they receive loving care and appropriate treatment. And sometimes that means other things go out of the window.
I am also ill, something I try and forget as much as I can, with a lot of success, but it does impact my life considerably and some days I simply can’t go out because I physically need the time to recover.
Into this backdrop, something odd happened. A very good friend of 20 years wrote to me and said that she would never dream of interfering but … there was someone who was keen on me and wanted to know if I was interested in him. It was not the type of message I usually got from her and it quite startled me.
The person was a man who I had thought married, whom she had suggested we become friends on facebook some time back because he was also Pagan and she thought we would have loads to chat about. He had subsequently friend requested me and we did have a couple of chats. I never considered for one minute that he would be interested in me and moreover, because his status was listed as married I never thought for a second of anything but enjoying knowing a fellow Pagan.
He never flirted with me (thank goodness, because I would have bounced him off my facebook faster than a tennis ball) and I did not see the update when shortly afterwards, his relationship status changed.
So surprised and startled I was to receive her message that my first response was “oh gods no”. In fact, I said rather sarkily to M – blimey, not content with watching me arrange my own relationshit disasters, now my friends are lining them up for me!
And then I thought, what the heck am I doing? A nice, good-looking, intelligent, non-flirty man wants to get to know me better and all I want to do is charge off in the opposite direction, screaming madly? I must be nuts (*yeah okay, I know I am nuts 🙂 but …). So I tentatively said um, goodness, okay, yes, let’s talk.
Things moved very quickly after that and within days I had an invitation to join him and the Pagan group he runs at the Thornborough Beltane festival. I had always wanted to go to the festival and I thought “sod it – if it doesn’t work out I am sure I could find someone who would let me sleep in a corner of their tent”. Good, proper Pagans tend to be generous and open and friendly so I felt I had plenty to fall back on.
I knew also, as my friend knew him (he is my friend’s brother’s best friend) that he would not be a weirdo, was not going to present any sort of danger to me. I did not truly think we would get on as well as we did and in fact thought we would probably end up great friends but not a lot more. My heart was so walled up that I was confident I would have a good time but not be affected much at all.
Horsing across the country, with only a few days’ notice, to see if there was anything in a relationship that I probably didn’t need with a man I had never met is not me. Whilst I am very steady, with a streak of impish impulsiveness that occasionally rears its head, even this was a bit much. I have learned to follow my instincts but even so …
Wondering what the heck I was doing, I booked a ticket before I could change my mind and went. I met a man who was kind, considerate, fun to be with, no angel, not boring, but not badly behaved; a man who is laid back and friendly, calm but not weak. When he found out that I have ME, he could not have responded more appropriately. He took care of me and made me feel beautiful.
He doesn’t think I am odd for caring for my cats as I do – when I apologised about nearly not making it up to see him this weekend because of Arthur’s illness he told me not to be silly. It was what we do, as Pagans.
Two weeks after Beltane, he came to London to see me and arrived to find me grief-stricken over Mewsie’s situation. He kissed my tears away, was a practical and emotional support and despite the situation, we had a lovely time. It was this weekend that made me realise I want this man in my life, as permanently as we can make it, despite living on virtual opposite sides of the country.
It is not going to be easy, trying to find the time and money to travel. Because of the garden trespassers I am very nervous about leaving the house unattended overnight. K has stepped in both times I have been away but I can’t keep asking him or anyone else to do this. I also do not have the money to travel and I can’t expect this lovely man to stump up every time I come up, as well as pay for his own journeys.
However, what I do know is that the walls of my heart were breached without me noticing and there is not one single thing I can do about it. I can’t even work out at what point I fell.