The sun is still hot, the nights are still warm, but the days are getting shorter and it’s time to wend our way home. This summer has been a good one – cosy, relaxing, safe. As always, I have enjoyed the beauty of Kerkyra (Corfu) and the friendly atmosphere of the village, but by now I think I’m ready to leave. Mr Chef has been offered the chance to stay here and run a restaurant, but it’s not the right time or place for us … . In truth, I don’t think I’ll be coming back here for a while. Partly because the people I loved most here are gone. Partly because some of the ones who are here have left a bitter taste in my mouth. Mostly because there is too much else to see, too much world out there to explore with my daughters.
On one level, I feel like I’ve been doing nothing for two months, but on another I feel like I’ve learnt so much. I write it down here to organise my thoughts and to get it out of my head – I’m slowly learning how not to dwell on things that have passed – the good or the bad.
This summer has seen some wonderful family time with my girls – the opportunity for us to sleep late in the mornings, chill out on the beach and hang out without the pressures of schedules and commitments. I even saw my parents, because my very poorly but very brave dad dragged himself here to see his grandchildren. Out of a love which I know even the baby could feel – every time she looked at him she cracked a smile.
I’ve also spent some quality time with Mr Chef. We almost lost each other in the fog of our separate depressions, but we have found each other again – the same kids who met in the university halls, but older and wiser and more in love. Because it’s easy to love when everything’s shiny and new, but being dragged through unemployment, miscarriage and depression will stretch your love to the limit. But if, if, if you can make it through, you become stronger than ever – not brittle and hard like stone, but strong and flexible like a rope made of many strands, winding around and around until you forget where you end or begin.
This summer also gave me the horrible surprise that depression is not quite done with me yet. Believe me, I’m way out of the woods – I’m not depressed, but something still lingers. I know now that I’m not completely free, that I still have to fight the fight, but I’m OK with that. I am strong enough.
I’ve become more aware of my emotions (at the ripe old age of 32!) as a result. I have to keep an eye on them now, as the smallest thing could start a landslide if I let it. But I’ve discovered that I can finally control them again, too – and that is so empowering. I have also realised that I’m not finished yet: learning, growing, changing. I am not yet all that I could be … and that is exciting.
This summer has also taught me that not everybody is who they seem. It’s a sad lesson to learn for a girl who just wants to believe the best of everyone. Someone I thought was a good guy has turned out to be just the opposite, and someone I thought was the opposite has turned out to be tragically misunderstood. And these truths will follow me home. Not everything that happens on the island stays on the island.
It’s a blow for me and Mr Chef – these people are close family – but we are learning to roll with the punches. We are learning to live for us and for our children. I’m not saying that we should be totally selfish, self-serving and self-centred … but we shouldn’t give so much of ourselves away. We as a family don’t belong to them … and I’m so tired of their bullshit. The lies, the manipulation, the backstabbing, the bitching, the complaining, the drama … it’s nothing major, but it chips away day after day, like tiny waves slowly eroding a cliff face. I can’t stand that petty stuff and I hate to be dragged into it. So I’m done. I’m bigger than that. I’m better.
So from this summer, I will take away beautiful memories of my children and my parents, a renewed relationship with my husband, and a determination to fight and to live life fully. And a single resolution: no more bullshit.
Images are my own work, except the girl in the field, which is from Pixabay.