And just when you think the rollercoaster is over and you can take a nice long calm breath and chill out, something else happens.
On the plane back to Spain I was feeling quite emotional. Relieved to go back, or so I thought. When I arrived in Sevilla, Charlie came to pick me up. Normally, after we haven’t seen each other for a while, I/we usually need some time to reconnect again. This time was no different. The atmosphere was off during the drive home and I just didn’t know what to say anymore. Everything turned into a discussion. Back in the van, which fortunately wasn’t eaten by rats this time, Charlie told me we needed to talk. I then knew something was really off. He shared that he wasn’t going to stay in the van with me, but needed some time for himself. He was going to rent a house in Vejer, the village nearby. He told me our relationship meant a lot to him, but he needed to be alone to figure himself out. That he loved me, but wasn’t feeling in-love with me anymore. And that he had met someone else he felt a connection with.
I knew he had been dealing with quite some processes within himself. Since I came back in October we had been struggling to connect, we were both pushing each other’s buttons a lot and I had felt at times that maybe it would be better to leave, but I never did. We were living on his finca in my van. Without my van he couldn’t stay on the finca, because its only nature (not that that should be my problem, but still) and I didn’t want to leave the finca, because I love the space. And when is the right time to leave? Is there such a thing? Over a long term, the good should outweigh the bad (or at least, that’s what I learned in therapy), but I feel that life also needs some time to unfold. I also feel that every relationship has its ups and downs and that it’s important to stay, support each other and not immediately give up. We are good at sharing how we’re feeling, making the effort to listen and holding space for each other. Through this process we always reconnect again. For me, this is fundamental while sharing life. But he left that night and I stayed on the finca in my van with the kitties (who had grown a lot, but were still very cute).
In the days that followed he came over to pick up his belongings. It felt like I was back at square one, alone in my van. The first days felt like a shock, numb. What to do now? Shall I go away (will that really solve anything)? Back to the Netherlands (be properly emotional in shitty weather)? Be around people or just by myself and go deep through all these emotions that are coming up? Do I want to keep confronting myself with him and all that comes with it, can I handle that? It turned into to one moment at a time and doing very little and staying for now.
My feelings slowly started to come up. There was a part of me that felt relieved. Just being in my own space, free, dealing only with my own processes, which felt like more than enough for the moment. But there was also intense sadness, fear and anger. A sense of failure, yet again and the frustration of wanting things to be different and travel back to the times when we were happy. The fear of having to start over again and figuring out if I really want to stay here and build a life on this finca. With him, but not with him. Anger, which for me is really difficult to express, for feeling that I deserve better and that I didn’t give that to myself. For not setting my boundaries well enough, which he had told me several times he needed. Wondering why I had invited this man into my life.
Besides the break up, I had to find my way again with food in Spain. I had figured out the shopping and my diet in the Netherlands, but here in Spain it was different. Since I had decided to stay at finca I wasn’t mobile at all with the cats in the van on the finca, so I needed Charlie for shopping. I could have left, but then the cats would stay indoors with Charlie and I would be parked near the beach again in the vanlife crowds. Both ideas I didn’t like. He had told me he wanted to support me in whatever I needed, which turned out to be more of a wish than a capacity. I found it hard to be depended and needed to figure out how to become totally independent again. The idea was to get a car, so I could more easily move around, but that turned out to be a lot more time consuming than expected. In Spain you also need to have a NIE, which is a personal number needed for anything with a contract. I don’t have that yet, so that’s high on my to-do list. Luckily, I had my foldable bike during the times Charlie was away and I had to be in Vejer. It’s about 150 meter climb to get there which takes me 45 minutes. I did that mostly on foot. But down was 20 minutes easy breezy.
When he was here, we kept meeting up and sharing our feelings. Making an effort to transform our relationship, staying connected to love that was still there. However, I really struggled with being open and vulnerable and really easily got sucked into a heavy unhappy vibe, which didn’t help our communication, when we were together. It is a big practice in listening to each other and hearing/accepting it, sticking to my own story and setting boundaries. Hearing him say that he values our connection a lot, which I do too, but that he doesn’t want more, is something I prefer not to hear and accept. This makes me feel really frustrated. But this time, with some patience I could tell myself to actually hear it and let it sink in, which felt really sad, but also in a way peaceful. To not fight against what is. It might not be how I feel about it, but I can only respect his feelings and allow time for it to let go. And I write this down really nicely, but it’s a very emotional and messy process. In our sharings it also came up that he had several plans of meeting up with the woman he had met on the other side of the country. Even though I had seen it coming, every time it was really hard to hear. It triggered so much inside of me. We did manage to keep listening and keep space for each other in the end, even though many times we got stuck. If either of us feels like there are things we can’t share, the other feels it and the communication blocks. The only thing that works is to open up and be vulnerable again, which feels like a better way of dealing with this situation than leaving, even though I really wanted to do that many times. Or to not talk because I felt hurt by what he’d said.
I have noticed that I now have time to say goodbye and let go of him at my own pace. Although that is also a strange practice. Part of me doesn’t want him too close, because I don’t feel that that is his place anymore, since there is someone else. So, to me it doesn’t feel balanced. On the other hand, that feels like crap and all I can do is keep connecting. During therapy several years ago, I experienced resistance and intense sadness after letting go of a connection, which could be related to my mother dying when I was young. Now, by staying, it doesn’t feel like being abandoned and lost. But wow, it is really challenging to keep communicating and opening up, while all these emotions and triggers are happening.
During all this, the time had arrived for work on the finca to start. Beginning with getting a container to store the yurt in, that we needed to pick up in Sevilla, and building the yurt. Getting the container done and picking up the yurt were 2 amazingly intense days. Hard physical work, which was a big challenge for me, because I wasn’t sure about being capable with my diet. The schedules were really tight which felt stressful and didn’t help the atmosphere. Fortunately, I could handle it and everything got done in the end.
Charlie had always wanted me to be part of the project. The idea had been of sharing the project together, just in a different way now. It feels a bit too soon to be in this kind of work relationship. Since I’m now living on his finca and he isn’t and he’s busy with many things and away often too. The planning wasn’t always clear and the communication about it wasn’t always easy, because of all the other processes we’re in, but we’re trying. Many times I wondered if this is what feels ok for me. We’re now more collaborators even though everything belongs to him and I don’t have money to put in now, only time. The idea of building my own kota (a wooden Finnish house) in time, feels good, but also how to get the money for that?
But, in all the chaos there were also some happy things! My online programs have been launched, they’re not really selling yet, but after a day with Christian finishing everything off, it is live (have a look here!)! I also arranged to give 2 more workshops when I’m back in the Netherlands in May, for which some people have already bought tickets. And the yogaclasses I was going to take over from Aude, but had cancelled because of the supposed hospital visits, were happening. I had contacted Roksalana, the owner, and explained my situation. After reassuring her that I really was physically good to do it, she agreed. While Charlie was away traveling to arrange things, I had loads of time to bring the focus back to myself and invest in my own projects and independence. That felt good! It had been a long time since I prepared so well for the 30 min yogaclass I was giving at the open day. I was feeling quite insecure about my Spanish. But it all went well, and I felt really excited and happy again. I hadn’t felt like that in quite some time. The following week, my 1.5-hour classes on Tuesday and Thursday evening started. Tuesday only 1 person showed up and Thursday no one came, so it’s a quiet beginning, but good practice. And I’m really grateful for this opportunity. My Spanish is rapidly improving now!
All in all, it has been and still is a really emotional time. Lots of old feelings coming up of not feeling loved (which isn’t true, maybe my self-love could improve a bit more), of feeling abandoned and rejected (which isn’t true either), the insecure teenager who decides is better to not fall in love because it will hurt and I’m better off alone anyway (also not true). All my ideas of how things should be and relationship definitions that aren’t always making sense anymore. And even the question of what is the point of living this life anyway? If I’m not here anymore, then that wouldn’t be a problem for me personally. I’m absolutely not suicidal, I do see way too much beauty in life to want to stay in it, but sometimes this just crosses my mind.
There is however also a sense of gratefulness for this whole process. The mirror Charlie is, the self-reflection I can do while being in this situation. The effort we are both making, even though it’s hard. And me feeling how I am, with me on this beautiful piece of land. Figuring out, again, what it is that feels peaceful, which directions I should and shouldn’t move towards. And my incredible strength to be with what is, to experience how I’ve grown and to receive the love and support from the beautiful souls that are in my life.