2018 Wrap-up!

I must admit, this year has been a real roller-coaster, with dizzy ups and crushing downs.

Cramming it all into a blogpost is impossible to say the least, so I won’t even try. Many things are personal too, meaning that I do not feel that a public blogpost is the place to share them.

What I have just realized, is that although it was a very tough year, I am infinitely grateful for it.

First of all because getting through all that, has left me a stronger and more resolute person than I was before. I know who I am, I know what I want, and I also know what is worth spending time on in this short and evanescent life, and what is not.

Secondly, I am grateful for my soulmate, who has stood by me, helped me, and showed me his love and devotion through thick and thin. Especially since, he himself, like me, was going through (and still is) a number of health issues as well, so we both helped each other and continue to do so. This, of course, could not but deepen and strengthen our relationship even more.

Thirdly – after facing chronic pain, the inability to walk, and also acute episodes of depression and anxiety, I am more aware of what people with unavoidable conditions have to suffer… at least in part. I am also more appreciative and grateful for life in general. For being able to enjoy it. And for now being able to experience each and every moment free of pain. To be fair, I still have relapses, my muscles are not healthy yet and I cannot do certain physical activities, however this should be temporary and even if it was not, compared to my past problems, it is a breath of fresh air for sure.

And last, but not the least, through illness, pain, financial issues, and material tribulations, I am very happy to say that this year I still managed to visit a total of six different countries! Travel is one of my passions, and being able to take a break and explore some of the most beautiful places in Europe sure kept me going throughout it all! During 2018, I traveled to Tuscany, France, Sicily, Ireland (these last two are two of my favorite places to visit and in fact I already have been there multiple times), the Czech Republic and Germany. There are big plans fermenting for 2019 too!

To conclude, life is not perfect, I am not perfect, and the world is not perfect, BUT prioritizing what is really important for us and appreciating every single thing we take for granted, is more important than we give credit for. I look forward to 2019 being a better year, mostly because I know that I will be facing it as a better and stronger person with clear goals, firm priorities and a bright smile ūüôā

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Making Noise

The day before yesterday was the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. I spent most of the day seeing, and then ignoring, related posts of people remembering where they were that day, what they were doing, who they lost. It has become a yearly thing now. I said I was ignoring the posts after a while, not due to a sense of annoyance or to diminish people’s grief – the thing is that so many countries experienced so many such tragedies over time, that highlighting only one of them starts to feel kind of obnoxious after a while.

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Let me explain Рyes 9/11 was monstrous. It was mostly monstrous not because people died (though that was awful of course) but because it was a willful act of hate and destruction, aimed at one country, but resonating throughout humanity. Unfortunately, throughout human history, there have been many others like it, such as the Holocaust, the repeated terrorist attacks in France, the terrorist attacks in the UK, in Brussels, and in many other places, many of which left people dead and injured, not just physically, but also emotionally and physically. They left whole countries scarred, a whole people in fear and loathing for their fellow man. 

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All of these events were serious and should not be forgotten. Ever. And yet, it seems like no matter how many atrocities take place, no matter how much humanity is shown the cruel face of its darkest side, no matter how many times we stumble, we get up again, brush our knees from the dust and the blood, and move on again towards the light. Or we try to anyways.

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Thing is, sometimes it seems to me as though the 9/11 tragedy is given much more prominence than all the others. Why? Is it more important? Is that because it happened in the US? Because it was the sign of something which the other tragedies lack? Because we felt it more? Or is it… because the US simply made more of a fuss about it? I say this in a good way, because such tragedies SHOULD be made a fuss of. No, we should not remain silent and take it. We should not forget or let ‘bygones be bygones’. So, why are some tragedies less talked about than others?

In this world, no one stands up and listens to you unless you make yourself heard. No one will take their time to pay attention to you unless you attract their attention and tell them that you have something important to communicate. No one will take notice, if you don’t make noise, if you don’t scream, yell, cry, shriek, and make a ruckus. No one will give something importance, if you yourself don’t show that it is important to you.

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And so, yes, write, talk, scream, make a fuss, throw a tantrum. Some things are worth making a scene about.

The Realities of Chronic Back-pain

I realize it’s going to be a bad day as soon as I wake up and try to get out of bed in the morning. A lacerating band of pain envelops my lower back as I make the movement one usually associates with getting up – bending at the waist and lifting the body’s upper trunk. I can’t do it. I have to roll on my right side, the less painful side, in order to get to the edge of the bed, and helped by the pull of gravity, slowly crawl upright.

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Then comes the next ‘step’, I push my legs off the bed, reach a sitting position at the edge of it, put my legs on the floor, and wince and groan until I’m standing upright.

It is 5.45am. I have 30 minutes to take off my clothes, shower, put on my make up, and walk down to my boyfriend’s car, in order for him to give me a lift to work.

I know I won’t be showering today. Each gesture which normally takes one second to make, will, today, take at least a minute. Preparing myself and arriving in time will be just impossible.

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I skip my shower, and start dressing slowly. The clothes I am going to wear today are already hung on the outside of the wardrobe. All I have to do is walk up to them. Slowly.

After shuffling with my back bent forwards, since I cannot stand upright anymore, I realize I am limping. It’s the pinched nerve in my leg acting up again. Figures.

I take down my clothes and realize that I can’t bend my leg to put on my skirt, so I sit down slowly on the bed again and jiggle it around until it’s around my hips. It would have been easier had I worn a dress, but I didn’t know the pain would be so bad yesterday, when I chose which clothes to wear. Walking back to the wardrobe, opening it, and taking down a dress, is too much of a hassle and would take even more time. I can hear my boyfriend finishing his breakfast, and I know he’ll shower and be ready in 5 minutes, so I know I won’t make it.

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Obviously, I have no time for breakfast. Then again, to be fair, I never do. Work starts at 6.45am and there’s only so much I can manage before that.

Done with my clothes, I shuffle to my dressing table, bend forwards slowly and painfully, open the first drawer, and reach for my eyeliner and mascara. Obviously, they have rolled at the back of the drawer again. And I can’t reach any further. Because it hurts. Fortunately I live with my boyfriend whose help is invaluable in these kinds of crises.

While he showers and changes, I manage to put on some make-up. Now all that’s left is to walk down four flights of stairs towards the door, walk to the car, and bend down to get in and sit down.

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It is 6.15am. And I am already trembling with exhaustion.

P.S That was some hours ago. I feel even worse now. I had no painkillers in my handbag at work, so one of my colleagues very nicely offered to go and buy some for me at the pharmacy across the street, since I couldn’t even walk that far…

Yes today is a bad day. Not all days are this bad. One can, at least, hold on to that.

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Outsider

I don’t know how old I was, when I first became ¬†aware of the bubble.

Crouched in a hollow darkness, I always felt as if I was enclosed in a sphere of shadows. A liquid-like transparent force creating a barrier between me and the rest of the world. In slow motion, I moved within it, out of sync with every one else. Almost matching… almost, but not quite.

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Maybe it was the terror, that harsh violent presence which made me stutter and hesitate, which first created the circular protective barrier. Or maybe it was the cruel indifferent light reflecting off everyone else which first brought it into being. For sure, my awareness of it only strengthened it. My shield. My cage.

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For a time, I believed it had gone. Disappeared with a pop. Finished. For a time, I thought I was here, un-veiled, un-masked, just like everybody else.

Of course, I was wrong.

My bubble is still here. It is dark, dank, comforting. Like an old musty blanket I can clutch around me and slap over my eyes whenever I see something which should not be. I am still here, in a way. But really, I am not. Because I do not want to be. I am not with you. I am not with anyone. And no one is with me. No one looks at me. No one wants to.

In the end, the bubble does not make that much of a difference after all.

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Solitude

When you’ve been bedridden for a long time, the sun only a memory, the fresh moving air of the big outside a far-off luxury, your state of mind inevitably changes. You start inventing small everyday rituals and tasks for yourself, not as a way to make time pass, though that’s a part of it, but as a way to keep your mind occupied and your life on a structured path. Being so cut off from everything and everyone also takes its toll. Now, I’m an introvert – I literally hate people, well most of them anyways. However this still gets to me. Ever since I’ve been in here, I started to loose time. To forget things said and done. I would think I’d told someone about a hospital appointment, when in reality I would have done nothing of the sort, and the conversation would have taken place only in my head. Similarly, I would forget physiotherapy appointments, thinking I’d changed dates.

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When you loose your notion of time, something transcendental takes place. It’s like you’re in a world of your own, with its own rules of time and space. Your bedroom becomes the universe, and anything extraneous is only a passing shadow. The mirror of a dream which was real, once upon a time, long long ago.

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Perceiving that one day, perhaps, all this will end and I will once again be part of the world outside is a far off glimmer. I know I am supposed to hope it will happen soon, but I cannot see it. I cannot imagine walking in the street, catching the bus, being in a roomful of people, many of them whom I’ve never ever met before. Strangers. I cannot fathom not feeling the humid warm recycled air of my house. Not being able to rest in bed whenever I feel pain, or tired, or just too depressed to even face the light coming from the balcony.¬†

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Falling into the soft embrace of tears each time any little inconsequential thing takes place, each time sadness disturbs the placid waters of my day to day life – I am not fit for normal human company. Will I ever be again? Will I ever go back to what I was? And even if I heal physically, will I be able to interact with strangers in a foreign environment, or worse with people who think they ‘know me’?¬†

Do I really want to?

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My Secret Fear

Are you afraid of old age?

Ever since I can remember, it was not the thought of death which really terrified me, but of actually growing old. The thought of not having complete control of my body, and not being able to function in a self-sufficient manner, has always been a nightmare. I hate depending on others and being a burden, and the knowledge and certainty that someday, this time will arrive (if I do not die young that is), has always terrified me.

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When I was nineteen, my grandfather, who was a writer, a poet, and a very intelligent man and whom I loved very much – had a stroke. He ended up in a wheel-chair, was not able to move the left side of his body at all, suffered from incontinence, and had to be lugged about, washed, cleaned, and taken care of by his two middle aged children and their spouses in order to survive. Day and night. Every day. For years.¬†He begged us to let him end it. Twice, my mother found he had dragged his wheelchair to the window and was trying, ineffectually, to jump. Since assisted suicide is illegal in Malta, and since we didn’t want to let him go, we aborted his attempts. He suffered immensely for two years. And then, he had another stroke. A worse one, which caused him to actually forget who we were. I don’t even want to go into the agony I felt when my grandpa, who had been so independent, witty, and wise, who had survived the war and taught me to love books, reading and knowledge – didn’t even know who I was.

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Anyways, after four and a half years of terrible pain, my grandpa died. I know that for him, this was a relief.

My grandma, his wife, is currently over 80 years old. She suffers from severe arthritis, can hardly walk, is almost deaf, and blind from one eye due to a botched cataract operation. She is lonely and misses my grandpa a lot. All she does is cry, swallow her pills (she has many of those), and pray. I love my grandma, but I know she is waiting for death. And that terrifies me.

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It terrifies me because when I look at her, I see myself, as I will be, in some fifty or so years. It seems far away now… but time is short and flies quickly… and someday, that part of my life will arrive…

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It does not bear thinking about…

 

The Weaver of Tapestries

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The darkness faded long ago
the shards have healed, the soul has eased
and yet somehow, at times my mind strays
asking why’s, looking for might-have-been’s

Do you ever think of me?
Telling everyone I was the cause, I was the pain
did you really suffer, were you grieved
were there a million pieces of you, like there were of me?

Excuses, excuses
Anything to use worn beds
tattered into incredulity
even after the passage of time

Yet, you spin the old mantra
of lies couched in sweat and sniggers
corruptible spasms in a sea of disruption
Fanciful cocktails of blood and music

Beneath freckled claws, under wide eyes
do you really believe what you say?
Does the villain always see a hero in the mirror
or does he open his eyes sometimes?

Clutching spheres of crystals and tears
sucking in derailed hearts
No – I will not forget. I do not want to.
Frosty-eyed I clutch at the withering storm

Dark stars falling on fluttering eyelids
nails scraping at the brittle grime
Still here. I am still here.
Bereft, but whole.

The Legend of the Mermaid Melusina – Men who break their word, and women who continue to love them

Some people say that women often find partners whose character resembles that of their father. Such, indeed is the story of Melusina.

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Melusina was the eldest daughter of a mermaid who had married a human man for love. The mermaid relinquished the freedom of the seas, gave up her scales and gained two normal legs, gave up her whole life, to become a mortal woman and live with the man she loved.

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She diminished, from sea-goddess of bream and wave, to mere woman of hearth and home. In return, she asked her husband for one thing only, that he not gaze upon her or his newborn child, whenever she gave birth, and that he give her one day in which to be alone with the child on that day. He consented, dazzled with her beauty and drunk with her love. They lived many happy years together, and were blessed with two daughters. One day, the man’s brothers and father asked him why his wife wanted this time alone and what sorcery she was performing on their children. The man became suspicious and fearful, distrustful of his wife, he broke his word, and hid in their chamber, while his wife was giving birth in another one. After the birth, his wife came back into the room with the child and started bathing her while giving her all the ocean-wide magic of the water.

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The man gasped, and she turned with tears in her eyes, knowing that their life together had ended. For he had betrayed her. He had broke his word and put others before his own true love.

The mermaid kissed her husband one last time, donned her scaly tail and went back to her watery home, leaving with her three daughters forever.melusina2a

Time passed and her youngest¬†daughter, Melusina, began to question her parentage. Melusina was a half-goddess, mermaid while in the water, human maiden when she was dry. She was 15 years old, curious and bold, with a hundred questions. Pestering her mother until she told her the story of her father’s betrayal. Enraged at the falsity of this beast called man, whom she had never seen in her life, Melusina went to find her father. She spied him napping beneath a tree, bound and gagged him and took him prisoner. She wanted to make him pay for betraying her mother, for making her so lonely and sad throughout the last years, and for being a human man, and so different from his own daughters. She took him to a sea-cave, tied him to a stalagmite, and left him there while the tide came in, and the sea swirled angry and foamy around him.

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After the deed was done, she went ¬†back to her mother and told her that the man who had betrayed her, the man who had left her broken-hearted and alone, had been punished. Melusina expected her mother to be pleased, what she did not expect was that her mother still loved her father. The ocean goddess’s wrath was indomitably, her anger unstoppable. In her sorrow and rage, she punished Melusina casting her out of the sea. With flashing eyes, she cursed her:

‘As I was betrayed by the thing I loved most, so shall you be. Your scales and power will diminish and you will try to escape from your human skin in vain. Only on moonless nights will you be able to be your true self. But beware, should anyone born of mortal woman see you in this guise, your body shall be ripped from you forever, and you will see only Death’.

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Alone and afraid, Melusina wandered around the wild forest, weak with hunger. Her face full of tears, her white feet bleeding and hurting, she finally found a lake where she rested and bathed in the light of the stars. The Duke of Poitou, who was riding home with his men, had stopped by the lake to drink, and saw the beautiful girl, naked and singing, glorious in her beauty, lounging amidst the fireflies.

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Entranced, he asked her to go back home with him and become his wife. Alone in a strange world, Melusina accepted, knowing she would need someone’s protection and a place to sleep, even though she distrusted all men. Like her mother before her, she asked the human Lord for one thing only, that once every month, on the dark of the moon, he would leave her alone to bathe and be in solitude, and like her father had done, he also accepted.

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The years passed, as years will, and Melusina gave her Duke many sons. Unfortunately, all her sons had scales, fish eyes, or gills. They were all deformed, and thus the Duke was never really happy. He could not understand his wife, who walked slowly and stared off into the distance as though at another world. He could not hear what she heard, or¬†see what she saw. Her eyes were beautiful and enigmatic, full of mystery and pain he could not comprehend. In time, he became obsessed with the idea that his wife had a secret lover, whom she met at the dark of the moon. One¬†night, when the moon was hidden, he hid behind a tapestry and saw his wife in her bath, her long irridescent tail glistening in the candle light, while she combed her long luxurious¬†hair. Aghast, disgusted and horrified, he did not make a sound, until he could get away. A day later, news came that his youngest brother had been killed. While he was grieving, his wife went to comfort him and in anger and pain, he blamed her, shouting in front of everyone ‘It is your fault you demon! You serpent! You corrupted my sons with your blood and now even my brother is lost to me’. Melusina, deathly white, fell in a cold faint.

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When she came to her senses, her husband was sorry he had said those words. Sorry he had betrayed his love and been so cruel. Sorry he had said anything at all – but by then it was too late. Melusina’s raging watery nature broke forth from its cage until it consumed her. Her scales took over her whole body, the colors so blinding, that no one could look directly at her, until finally her body was consumed in agony. Her lamentations and screams could be heard all over the kingdom, and her husband qualied then, knowing that her blood would forever flow in the veins of his descendants.

When, on his deathbed, he anointed Melusina’s first son, the son with the mismatched eyes and webbed fingers, as his heir, the whole castle heard the mysterious disembodied wailing of Melusina, cursing and crying out, testament of the betrayal and fickleness of men. When, years later, the son died, leaving everything to his son after him, the same wailing could be heard. Throughout the years, each time a son of Melusina’s was about to die, the whole of Lusignan, whom in his youth its Duke had named after his beloved wife, rang with the agony and loss of the mother of the line. As it still does. As it always will.

Such is the curse which comes from betrayal.

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Stubborn

Sometimes, people just don’t want to be loved.

They simply believe they do not deserve it. The journey has been so long, the road has been so hard, they have received so many jostles and kicks in their face along the road, and they think that it’s just not worth it any more.

Why try reassuring yourself that everything will get better, when all those other times it did not?

How can you believe someone really cares for you this time, when all those other people did not?

All those sharp scissors shining in the darkness. You are so tired of trying to grasp at each distant flickering light, only for it to cut you.

Licking the sweet hot blood and then leaving. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

BUT

When the blood tastes of your dreams, and the laughter sobs into nothingness, it’s time for the clock to stop ticking. Time for the axe to stop grinding. It’s time to put your foot down and say ‘YES’… the ultimate prayer. Acceptance, relief, peace.

YES this is what I want. And this is what I will fight for.

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