At the end of six full weeks of loneliness, of doing anything to fill the endless empty hours, of making some of the worst decisions of my life in an attempt to fill the chasmic void left by a cruelly-timed abandonment of love, I finally feel renewed. This trip to my beloved country of England was supposed to do just that, recharge me after an extremely trying year. It was meant to help me find my voice again, so I could write another novel.
But I’ve hardly written a word, as my mind has been filled with circular questions of why, and what did I do wrong, and if I had only been somehow different, I wouldn’t be in this pain. I reached out to strangers, trying to find a friend or a lover or just some company to help me through the lonely, countless hours of heartbreak. But all I found was more cruelty and disrespect. Predators and cowards. Boys pretending to be men and failing miserably. I’ve learned some harsh lessons on this trip.
No matter how much one may proclaim to be a gentleman, gentlemen do not behave in such a manner. No matter how sweet and kind someone may seem, they often have ulterior motives. Once fulfilled, they become callous and cold. Among others.
Perhaps lessons a 41-year-old woman should have already learned, but my compassionate nature and severe honesty has a tendency to believe people at face value. I’m being truthful, surely they are too, for they have no reason to lie to me. How intensely wrong I’ve been. Deception, whether self- or towards others, is the unfortunate norm. And nothing hurts like a lie.
Last week at this time, I swore that if I ever saw a Union Jack again, a symbol that has brought me joy for the past 27 years, it would be too soon. I swore I would never return.
But the kindness of two men saved this country for me.
The friendship of two men helped me heal.
One, a friend who was there for me every step of the way from when I was broken in Brighton six long weeks ago until now. His constant support and kindness kept me from turning tail and running home several times. He loaned me strength. He listened to my questions, repetitious and endless, for weeks. I never would’ve made it through this difficult time without him. He is now my best friend, and I love him dearly.
The other, an intimate friend who showed me that I was worthy on a deeper level. I was worthy of time. I was worthy of company. I was worthy of kindness. I was worthy of respect and reciprocity. I was truly worthy after all, even though I had been treated with such callous cruelty by others. Abandoned. Left. Cast aside.
He showed me that it wasn’t because I was unworthy. It was because they were weak. They were cowards. They were liars. They were unworthy of me, not the other way around. He didn’t run from my nurturing nature. He wasn’t afraid of my emotions. We talked and laughed and complained and questioned and bonded, and I’m everso grateful to have met him.
As I had to say goodbye, he gave me his favorite coat. Just because it suited me. And, on the train back to London, this gentle, kind man texted me a reminder: no one can make you feel bad unless you let them. He suggested that I use the coat as armor to protect myself from future wankers (love that term), and I shall do just that.
So in my last week abroad, I feel renewed and recharged.
Thank you, Mr. Postman. Your gift and your kindness will not be forgotten.
For Queen and country, you saved England for me.