The truth
October 15, 2008

mirror in Plaza Francia Living in Buenos Aires sometimes feels like being woken with a glass of ice-cold water every day.

I walk ten blocks and have to step round people, dogs and the effects of dogs, rubbish, broken pavements. I go to get money from the ATM: the door’s locked for no apparent reason, the machine’s out of cash, the security guard turns me away, the queue’s ten deep, it says I’ve reached my daily limit when I haven’t. I go to pay a bill: the cashier I waited ten minutes for is just closing, the system’s down, they stopped doing RapiPago half an hour ago. I look for the bus: fifteen minutes and none come; one sails right past: full; the next one stops and the crush is so deep I cannot breathe, but the driver keeps letting people on and so we shove and jostle and he brakes hard and we all fall into one another – maybe twenty times; I press the bell to get off but the bus doesn’t stop; I walk back to my destination, troubled that I will now be late, in the rain, and have to step round more people, more dogs and the effects of dogs, more rubbish, more broken pavements which rock and shoot filthy water into my shoes… I can be out in the street for three hours and it feels like three days.

A wise friend of mine says cities suck energy from the earth, and from us who walk within them. I think she’s right. And I am unused to that: I am a country soul, who sought the city for good reasons, but now I am becoming aware of the exhausting nature of built up zones: wherever they are in the world. There is so much that I love about Buenos Aires – I have written about it many times here on this page, and it is a place that has granted me more than I ever imagined, but it sure has had its piece of me.

And for almost two years I have chosen, with joy in my heart, to share a lot of myself since I arrived here: on this blog, with you, with travellers who come and we meet, with cyberspace names who ask politely and kindly (or sometimes less politely and kindly) for answers to questions, with fellow adventurers who want to share something with me. I have loved sharing, and meeting and talking and learning, but actually for now… I have had enough. And it isn’t because I have had enough of you, it is because there is not enough left of me.

It is time for me to accept and face up to one of my less attractive truths: that I am naturally one of life’s ‘fixers’, or whatever you want to call it… I’m ‘nice’. Maybe you like the ‘fixers’: they do what you want, they fit round you, they feel they have to explain everything they do, they usually say yes, they make your life easier, they basically sacrifice their own needs for yours. I don’t like being a ‘fixer’: it wears me out, it makes me resentful, it makes me angry with myself . I rebel against it and in those moments maybe I don’t look like a ‘fixer’ at all, sometimes I think I’ve grown out of it… but no, it’s still in me, alive and kicking despite all my best efforts and it’s ugly: it has the power to destroy my dreams, my wants, my needs, who I really am. My bottom line truth on this one is that my ‘fixer’ comes from guilt formed long long ago that should not be there (but that’s another story). I can fall over myself trying to be nice, not offend anyone, try to treat everyone the same, not let anyone down, give you more than you actually ask for… and then suddenly one day I find I don’t want to do it anymore because it feels claustrophobic, I feel under pressure, I want to run away. But I never blame you, because I’m ‘nice’… I blame myself and pile on more bloody guilt and get even angrier with myself… Aaaargh!

And in case you think I am complaining about the bounty of people that my Buenos Aires life and this blog have thrown my way, I am not. As you know, I celebrate some of the great connections I have made. This is me, and not you I am talking about now, me and the fact that I would rather spend time ‘nurturing others’ than ‘nurturing myself’, that actually I would rather ignore myself completely in the effort, usually totally unnecessary and pointless, to make someone else happy: this is absolutely my stuff not yours, and it’s that old pattern again that I talked about once before, just in a different form. And it’s unhealthy and it has got to stop.

Hell, I even feel guilt as I write this: of the ‘What will they think of me?’ type of nonsense… I thought my experience in starting this new life had toughened me up and taught me that it was important to say ‘yes!’ only to the things that in that moment I knew with absolute ‘heart certainty’ that I wanted to do, but bloody hell… you can know something and when you are strong and full of energy you can do it, but when you are tired… hey, how that old behaviour can creep back in. But at least now, when I see myself behave in old ways, I know it is time to push the ‘pause’ button and re-evaluate where I am. And perhaps even more importantly, today I have the courage to do it.

It is a big moment for me right now: my parents fly in tomorrow from England for their first visit to Buenos Aires, to me in my new life, to a time where I want to be only thinking of us, our precious relationships, and the joy that this time can bring to us all… if, and only if, I am fully present.

So for Sallycat it’s time to take a break. I want to give time to my book project: there is a lot of work to be done on that and in the end I hope that it will give something to some of you. I want to give more time to the people I love. I want to give time to me. I am tired, and as I walk pen in hand with ‘The Artist’s Way’ and reflect on my story so far and the guilt I carry, I realise I have some of my own healing still to do and I need to make some space to do it.

And so today I am pushing ‘pause’.

If you are kind enough to comment on this blog, I will answer, even if not immediately. I know that new people find me every day, I appreciate every single person who reads what I write, and I love to get your comments. If you leave questions here I will do my best to answer them, or direct you to the information on the blog’s pages. I want this blog to continue to grow and be a source of information and inspiration for all those who seek it and share with each other by commenting.

If you have thoughts about the book I am writing , please leave them here, on this special new page. I am listening and I am writing for you… especially you, the first time ‘tango tourist’ to Buenos Aires, very especially I am writing for you.

But for now, in terms of me connecting with you, that’s all I can promise.

This next part is a very hard thing for me to write, and makes me feel quite ridiculous, but I am going to make myself do it: I am taking my email address down from the ‘Who?’ page and if you do happen to send me an email, I may not reply… Well there it is, out on the page and it is good because it takes away my internal pressure, and gives me (although I know I have always had it but have been too ‘guilt ridden’ to exercise it, ever), choice again. And how old am I exactly? Five???

I don’t know how long it will be before I write another blog post, indeed I may find that I need to start writing soon after my parents have left, but that I also need to make some changes in my life. When things start to shift inside me ‘big-time’ there is no telling the outcome. I remember when I started this blog in January 2007, I wrote that I would tell the truth on these pages… and I have. The unexpected surprise was that as I wrote the truth in small ways here, I started to see my own truths: the truths of my behaviour patterns, the truths of my character, the truths of my soul, the truths of my heart. The ball started rolling, and now I cannot stop it. I continue to see my truths, and especially when it hurts and I don’t want to, I have to listen. Really it would be easier not to bother, just bury my heart and let my head control my days. After all, a busy life can trick me into thinking that ‘I can’t do the tough thing I really want to do, because I have to do the far easier Y’; a driven life can trick me into believing that ‘I should do X, and Y and Z’ or even that I must and in the worst case that I want to, when in fact I don’t; a life full of the things I enjoyed doing last year, last month or even last week might on the face of it seem great… but it isn’t, if deep down in my heart those things are not what I actually want to do TODAY. And now I will take time to think about that a little and re-evaluate what I need to do in the light of my soul’s current longing for space, and peace, and green.

So it may not be a ‘goodbye’, but it’s time for a jump-on-the-plane-to-Salta style ‘hasta luego’ while I focus on my parents, my sisters who I haven’t spoken to for weeks, Carlos, my closest friends (one of whom is also on her way to me right now), myself and my ‘baby creative artist’ that is just being born…  and when my ‘creative artist’ is ready, and not my ‘inner bossy pressure building critic’, I’ll write here once more.

In January 2007 I thought this blog was going to be mostly about one woman’s tango journey. Beyond my wildest imaginings it has turned out to be a documentary of one woman’s ongoing struggle to face and heal the past, follow her heart and awaken her creativity in the present, and so discover a kinder future for herself. Now, I almost feel that I have just reached the beginning, and that there is more to come, much more: but I have reached a point where I am not ready to share it, not quite yet.

And just for today, from my heart to yours, that’s the truth.