Promise, I will write again soon.
My words will either attract a strong mind or offend a weak one.
By Tracy Crossley
Depending on how we define authenticity, we may believe we are being very real with ourselves and the world.
Perhaps, we come closer to the definition of who we are, when we’re alone. It would be true, if we still didn’t carry the same beliefs with us, no matter where we go.
Our beliefs color our perception, creating limitations or possibilities and how we view others. Our beliefs aren’t necessarily our truth, they’re often what we’ve given meaning to through our earlier experiences.
Does it mean we are lying to ourselves? Yes, though it’s unintentional.
Many of us have contrived patterns to avoid loss. We fear our beliefs are true about abandonment, shame, not doing the right thing, not belonging and so on. We also fear not getting our way, because it would change the image in our head of how life is supposed to be.
We often don’t say what we mean, because we’re on auto-pilot. It’s our same old reaction we offer, without much thought to its validity. We skip truth, so we instead live in past projections now.
Being inauthentic means we beat ourselves and others up because we place so much value on expectations. Most expectations aren’t ones we even created, many are inherited through our environment.
To be authentic is to dig deep and look at why we believe what we do, see how we uphold these beliefs through our patterns and question if this is truly who we are inside?
Authenticity is to accept all parts of ourselves. Through acceptance, we build an authentic relationship with ourselves first and then others.
If we get off of autopilot, even for a moment, we can learn who we truly are and learn about others as well.
Until we do, we’ll continue to believe old truths without bias. We’ll unconsciously create situations, which prove to us their truth! So, if we believe all relationships ultimately fail because we don’t deserve to be happy and healthy, then we’ll do what we can to make it true.
We get others to help us confirm these inauthentic beliefs too.
Teaching people to lie to us, is something we do unconsciously. Though if we physically pay attention to our bodies, we notice we feel off when we allow it. They’ll tell us what we want to hear because they fear our reaction or fear of losing us. How often do we let inauthenticity breed in our relationships, because we’re afraid of loss?
When we live out these inaccurate beliefs and force them to be true through our relationships—our experiences become inauthentic.
Many of us are stressed out and believe that life is dictating that we must have experience in the same way, each time. Every time we do something against ourselves, we suffer and yet, we have a belief that tells us, this is the way it is…..and it’s not.
When we show up for things out of duty rather than desire, guilt rather than truth, telling someone what they want to hear, rather than what we really want to say. Acting in ways that feel disconnected, but meant to please. We are living inauthentically. We want approval.
The scary thing is we don’t want to lose this inauthentic connection.
Fear lies in knowing our truth because it often means change, loss and everything we’ve been afraid to let go of, including a perception. In choosing authenticity, some will leave us, some will be pissed off, but in the end, we feel better.
When we can face ourselves with truth— we face another. We won’t let lies be brushed under the carpet, or pretend; we’ll lovingly stand for our truth. Even when it’s hard to do.
Authentic relationships have little to do with a list of qualities. It’s about learning who we are every day and attracting someone to our lives with the same openness, the same desire to live life fully and passionately.
The benefits of authenticity means we are comfortable in our own skin—alone or with others—confident while embracing our flaws, truly kind and yet truthful, even if there is a cost.
Every time we challenge an old belief, through thought and then counter-intuitive action, we release ourselves to have a more authentic relationship with life.
To develop authenticity requires a deeper awareness. Paying attention to our autopilot reactions, sussing out the past projection from the present situation and being honest when we’ve been wrong in our perception too, helps us to get closer to our own truth.
I want to tell you an important story, and here’s why: not a lot of people will share their versions.
It’s scary. Too scary, for many.
Like for my hairdresser, whose husband was “the sweetest guy she ever met” at first, yet ended up nearly choking her to death against the kitchen wall. He didn’t spare her—she would have died if her 11-year-old son hadn’t come into the room.
Like for a friend of a friend who wasn’t able to leave her abuser until the day he popped a blood vessel in her eye.
Like for another friend of a friend whose boyfriend, for years, would threaten to kill himself with the nearby gun if she tried to leave him.
Like for my colleague whose sister died at the hand of her abuser, though he is still walking around free.
Like for the millions of women, men and children who don’t speak up every day because they are exhausted, don’t want to be reminded of the situation, or simply can’t say anything because doing so would risk their lives.
I’m doing my small part by sharing my story because violence of any kind, but especially domestic violence, is perpetuated by silence. The more we talk, the more we know, the faster we learn and demand better.
I love my bike more than almost anything in the world.
I think there’s a disease for that–object sexuality, anyone? But really, I do. There’s nothing that compares to riding, whether or not I have a destination, I’m exhausted or energized, my music’s blasting or I’m just enjoying the silence of my surroundings.
This time last year I met a boy who loved bikes, too. So we loved bikes together.
We rode our bikes everywhere and then pretty soon we did everything else together, too. All. The. Time. Every minute together.
But I was always unsettled with all this togetherness, that went from zero to 60 in just a few weeks time. I blew off the discomfort as me just learning how to be less independent and self-sufficient as if those traits could actually adversely affect my future.
So we kept riding. The boy told me some things that were massive red flags, akin to those at Running of the Bulls, waving in my face, yet I was still charging right at them.
“Don’t judge,” I said.
“He’s changing,” I convinced myself.
“I won’t be like the rest,” I lied.
Every time I said these things my standards dropped lower and lower, and I perpetuated my own lie that everything was okay. I knew that if my family even knew the half of it they would douse me in a bucket of ice water until I cycled away as fast as I could (which is pretty damn fast).
But I kept riding.
The fights got worse, the anger more explosive, the jealousy and put-downs and blatant hypocrisy so intense, only to be appeased by a shoulder shrug or guttural laughter that didn’t even sound like my own voice.
My brain felt like putty so often that all I wanted to do was sleep forever.
“It’s normal,” I assured myself, “It’s the dead of winter, who would have the energy to get out of bed?”
But I never stopped riding, and one day I rode so fast that even my bike said enough.
Though I love him to death, sometimes that carbon-fiber bastard has the weirdest ways of looking out for me.
Wake up, he said, or I’m gonna make you wake up and see it.
So he did.
My chin hit the pavement and that was it.
Well, it was more like, where the f*ck is all this blood coming from?! plus five days of hospitalization, six weeks of a wired jaw accompanied by a liquid-only diet, zero bike rides, dozens of nauseating painkillers, and two weeks of the most unimaginably inhumane response to my trauma from the “man” who was supposed to be there for me.
He took my weakened state and used it as an opportunity to yell, control, blame, punish, flees and cheats.
The cheating after my major surgery was the moment that finally allowed me to leave my abuser in the physical sense, yet it was the compounding layers of intense emotional abuse that will keep me away from him forever, along with anyone who possesses the same traits.
While I certainly don’t have everything figured out, or even know what a “perfect” relationship would look like, I have learned what relationships are most definitely not, what love is most definitely not, and that is the following abusive behaviors:
1. Frequent hanging out, right from the jump.
This intense togetherness is probably the hardest one to identify as a key sign of abuse, and I’ll tell you why.
In an age where we can deposit a check, order a burger, listen to the latest tracks and swipe through photos of potential matches all at once, it is safe to say that instant gratification has become the modus operandi. We subconsciously apply this to relationships, too, where hookup culture is expected and anything else is too old-fashioned.
Abusers, who tend to be extremely charismatic and complementary in the beginning, capitalize on this idea, convincing their partners that they need to be together all the time, and anything less is insincere. In this intense period abusers quickly establish a pattern of dependency whereby the partner begins to rely on the abuser’s opinions and habits to affirm their character and sense of worthiness as a match.
It is also common for the abuser to suggest “big steps” like moving in, taking trips alone or sharing financial resources. Because of the preexisting fast pace of everything else, at the moment it’s easy to go along with these big steps. These “suggestions” from my abuser were attempts to further control my actions, decisions, and whereabouts so that when the abuse started, my options for leaving would be more limited. Every time I voiced hesitation about moving too fast, I felt guilty.
2. Creation of isolation.
Because abusers need to maintain a strong power imbalance in the relationship in order to carry out the abuse, a prerequisite is making the partner feel isolated in every way.
Beyond physical isolation, this can manifest as threats of being alone if you ever leave him/her, verbal manipulation regarding those in your network and how they feel about you and reprimanding you for speaking to close friends and family about problems in the relationship.
“You’re missing out on a really good man,” he said one time I tried to leave. “You should be lucky to be with someone like me.”
When my family came into town after the bike crash, he got angry and resentful, calling me “spoiled” and “selfish” for being with them.
3. Extreme jealousy.
This is another hard one because I see so many people—myself included—mistake jealously for exclusivity.
When we first got together, I thought “Oh, he must be really jealous because he really likes me and wants to make sure nothing comes in the way of that.” I was unable to see the jealousy as the deep-seated insecurity that it was.
Toxic habits became the new normal. Things like looking through my phone every day, demanding that I answer if I had slept with any man we encountered who he didn’t know, and telling me not to wear certain clothing that he thought was too revealing.
He constantly fabricated stories about me cheating. He once went into a fit of rage because I didn’t introduce him to someone I had met for a few hours several years earlier, and a few weeks later did the same thing when we met someone who was an insignificant part of my past. In front of dozens of onlookers, he screamed at me, assuming I was currently sleeping with that individual.
4. Lack of respect for your property, aspirations, and values.
Because abusers see their partner merely as an extension of themselves rather than their own person with every right to their own opinions and limitations, boundaries are often blurred.
One of the first weeks I was dating this abuser, I had him drop me at a meeting on a topic that I was sure would be of no interest to him, and he immediately accused me of sneaking off to meet someone.
He often used my car and when I asked him not do things that would put me in jeopardy like smoke weed in it, suddenly I was, once again, “selfish.”
Once the relationship was over, all the money he owed me was no longer his problem.
Kind words that he had feigned regarding my job and career choices turned cold-turkey to, “You’re a f*cking lackey.”
Abusers very rarely see themselves as abusers, which is why they almost never stop abusing. My abuser said things like, “I only attract crazy people” or “They made me do x, y, and z,” always looking through the lens of a victim when discussing exes, family members, friends, etc.
Because of this, whenever conflict arose, I was always wrong or to blame in his eyes. He refused to utter “sorry,” claiming that using that word makes you a self-deprecating person, yet he expected it all the time from me.
6. Uninterested in self-help.
Abusers tend to find people with bleeding hearts or a savior complex, and they will allow their partner to “fix” them in order to 1) make their partner feel like she or he is different and the only one who truly understands the abuser, and 2) (usually towards the end of the relationship) use this as a threat for why the partner needs to stay (i.e. “you’re supposed to be there for me no matter what”).
At the very end of my relationship, when for the first time I saw the heightened abuse with clarity rather than just a “complicated relationship,” I suggested anger management and offered to go with him so it didn’t come across that I was singling him out. When he used a lack of funds as an excuse, I offered to pay. When he still refused, I finally saw the distinction between someone with demons who is wanting and willing to do whatever it takes to healthily work them out versus a true abuser, who would rather just find someone new who hasn’t figured out their true character yet and start the cycle of abuse over with them because it’s easier.
This list is by no means exhaustive and doesn’t even begin to get at the complexity of emotional abuse, especially when coupled with other factors like substance abuse, family history, and mental illness, all of which were present in my relationship.
But I’m not here to talk about all that, I’m sharing simply to shed a bit of light on key signs of emotional abuse, which is so damn underexposed, if for no other reason that it doesn’t bear the visible scars that physical abuse does.
I’m also not here to tell you that I’m perfect, or that I didn’t possess qualities that probably enabled the abuse at times.
There is a certain kind of gratification that comes from helping someone improve, but if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that the uplifting has to be mutual, no matter what kind of relationship it is. Anything less is a sure-fire path to the annihilation of your self-worth, and a total expending of your good energies on others, leaving nothing left for yourself.
And, please oh please oh please, don’t ask me #whyIstayed.
I did try to leave, but ended up doubting my own intuition every time.
I even called the National Domestic Abuse Hotline once after the abuse hit a verbal and somewhat physical climax. I was on hold for 45 minutes, during which my abuser insisted I was on the phone with a dude who I was making arrangements to go sleep with. But, at the time, I expected nothing else from him. It had all become normalized, you see.
I can’t reiterate enough how slowly emotional abuse can creep into your life—the first stage of complete adoration, gaslighting, and love-bombing from the abuser happens very quickly, but everything else is oftentimes so subverted you can only recognize just how bad it was once you’ve left.
Many people stay in abusive relationships far longer than they would like because they keep remembering the good times and subdue the bad. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t doing the same when it was first over. But as soon as I was able to identify the one thing we truly shared a passion for—cycling—I realized just how easy it was to replace the good feelings associated with those rides with hundreds of others in my city’s beautiful bike community, or even with the dozens of solo rides I’ve taken since getting back on my frame.
And I’ll leave you with this, only because it’s applicable to all injustices everywhere, not just the gross human rights violation that is domestic violence.
“Great spirits have always encountered violent oppression from mediocre minds” ~ Albert Einstein.
If someone/thing/force is bringing you down through its weakness, flush that shit and don’t forget to wipe.
By Cynthia Madison
Letting go of a toxic partner is a sign of courage and strength.
After years of emotional manipulation and suppressing your personality, you’re finally free and you’re ready to look for a meaningful relationship.
So why don’t you see the silver lining yet?
Getting out of a toxic relationship should feel empowering and liberating, but we may not feel like that right away. The first months after the breakup can be very confusing.
Our ex-partner is physically gone, but the negative energy they built around us is still there, preventing us from healing and being kind to ourselves. After being under someone else’s shadow for years, we may feel alone and vulnerable, and we may find it hard to trust ourselves. With time, this will all pass, and we can learn to value ourselves for who we are.
Be kind to yourself.
If you’ve been in a destructive relationship for years, you may not remember the last time you received a compliment. Maybe your partner told you that you’re not good enough, that you’ll never find someone else who loves you, or that you’ll never be happy on your own.
These words are not true and they have never been about you. They are the way your ex expressed their own fears and insecurities. Allow yourself to heal at your own rhythm. Don’t force yourself to start dating right away if you don’t feel ready yet, and never, ever blame yourself for how you are feeling.
Don’t replay all the hurtful words your ex has said about you. Focus on the positives instead: you had the strength to say no and break the cycle. It’s the beginning of a beautiful journey, and you shouldn’t let the past haunt you.
Surround yourself with positive energy.
After ending a toxic relationship, you may realize that all your old friends are gone and you’re not as close with your family. A toxic partner doesn’t want you to develop healthy, nurturing friendships that cherish your independence and help you grow as a person. They want you to be isolated. They want to build a wall between you and the outside world so that they can control you better.
This you versus them mindset needs to stop, and now is the best time to reconnect with people you lost contact with.
Did your ex have a problem with your best friend? Call them to meet up for a coffee. Did you stop attending family gatherings because your toxic partner didn’t like them? They’d love to have you back.
Celebrate the things you love about yourself.
Forget about the things your ex said they loved about you—if they mentioned any at all. What do you love about yourself? What do you think your strengths are?
Make a list of all the things that make you feel confident and focus on nurturing them. Try to break free from your ex’s perspective and rebuild your own image. When you know what makes you special, without comparing yourself to someone else, no one will make you doubt yourself.
Experiment and have fun.
Toxic relationships often make us suppress our feelings and prevent us from exploring. Now that you’re single, you may feel that you wasted years wearing clothes you didn’t love, you didn’t visit any exciting places, you missed out on many great parties, and, let’s face it, your sex life wasn’t amazing either.
Don’t assume that it’s too late and that you’ll just have to live with regrets for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to learn, grow, and have fun.
Go ahead and dye your hair a crazy color. Book that trip to a Bali retreat. Go clubbing, flirt, and see the sunrise. Buy that plunge-neck dress and wear it with pride. Buy your first vibrator and explore your body without feeling awkward or ashamed. Take the time to discover what you love, and later on, it will be easier for you to find someone who’s right for you.
Set boundaries and learn to say no.
One of the dangers of being in a toxic relationship is that it puts you in a destructive mindset where you’re attracted to toxic people. Ending one toxic relationship doesn’t help if it’s followed by a second one, so learn to spot the early signs of toxic behavior and say no before it’s too late.
Does spending time with this person leave you drained instead of happy? Do you feel pushed around and like you don’t have a voice? Tell them you don’t tolerate this kind of behavior.
This doesn’t apply only to romantic relationships; toxic friendships are just as harmful, and you’re likelier to accept them if you already tolerate destructive behavior from someone else.
Channel your kindness toward something or someone who deserves it.
The fact that you were in a toxic relationship doesn’t make you weak or inferior in any way. In fact, toxic partners thrive on smart, kind, caring individuals who want to help and be supportive. This is a great quality, and a bad relationship shouldn’t stop you from honing it.
What you should do is direct this kindness toward a good cause—something or someone who deserves it and appreciates it. It can be a new friend who respects you and shows genuine interest in your well-being, a charitable cause you’ve always believed in, or you can channel this energy toward your own personal growth.
Loving yourself is not a sign of narcissism or arrogance; it’s a condition of happiness and self-growth.
When you love yourself with all your strengths and flaws, this love will transfer to everything around you and will build the basis of healthy relationships.
“Suicidal feelings are not the same as giving up on life. Suicidal feelings often express a powerful and overwhelming need for a different life. Suicidal feelings can mean, in a desperate and unyielding way, a demand for something new. Listen to someone who is suicidal and you often hear a need for change so important, so indispensable, that they would rather die than go on living without the change. And when the person feels powerless to make that change happen, they become suicidal.
Help comes when the person identifies the change they want and starts to believe it can actually happen. Whether it is overcoming an impossible family situation, making a career or study change, standing up to an oppressor, gaining relief from chronic physical pain, igniting creative inspiration, feeling less alone, or beginning to value their self worth, at the root of suicidal feelings is often powerlessness to change your life – not giving up on life itself.”
“Long before the advent of social media psychologists knew that one of the fundamental barriers to our well-being is social comparison. It’s hard to be happy if we constantly concern ourselves with how we measure up to those around us. When we derive a sense of worth based on how we are doing relative to others, we place our happiness in a variable that is completely beyond our control.
Within moments of logging on to social media, we have instant access to others’ accomplishments, vacations, job promotions, home upgrades, and culinary creations. It’s nearly impossible not to get swept into the cycle of comparison. Scrolling through the highlight reels our friends’ posts inevitably fills us with envy because of the things we now want.” Read the whole article here.
“As I gazed in awe at my newborn granddaughter, all I could think about was the wonder of God’s handiwork.”
A month ago I became a grandmother. A milestone. Not only for me but for everyone involved. They say nothing beats the novelty of the first experience no matter what the situation is. I have been told it is difficult to forget and will always hold a special part in one’s life. Well, let’s see…
I always said before that I prefer to have a grand/son than a grand/daughter. I even said in jest that if it is a girl I will drown her in a rain barrel, something I will never do in reality of course but it says enough. Preferring a boy to a girl is a combination of my upbringing, tradition, culture and personal preference (what else). And so I thought. I had also once believed that I will never be a doting grandparent like most, a baby is just a baby. Till I held my first (and so far) my only grandchild in my arms and feel something I never felt in my life before: an overflowing love for a stranger.
She is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I am not saying this because she is who she is, I’m saying this because it’s the truth. Beauty for me is beyond appearance alone. It is a combination of character, aura, and something undefined. She has a certain je ne sais quoi about her. She is magic. Just a couple of days old and she can look at you with knowing eyes as if she understands. Her expressions are something I never saw from a newborn before. She perceived her surroundings with an equal measure of knowledge and curiosity, comprehension and enjoyment. Her smiles are reflective and if a baby has a sense of humor, she has it. She’s so unusual that you can’t help but love her. I love her.
My mother said I am not capable of loving somebody. She’s wrong of course. Perhaps what I was not capable of is being blinded by love and losing myself in the process. It’s true, I didn’t know how it is to miss someone. I’m okay with myself and don’t need others to make me happy. But since my granddaughter was born I know now how it is to feel a longing to be with another human being, to see her and hold her in my arms, to give her a kiss and just touch her soft silky skin. To feel the overwhelming desire to care, protect and give her everything in my power. That is all new to me. I never felt that strongly about anyone, not even with my own children.
What is scarier is the fact that I am having unspeakable thoughts (or fantasies if you prefer) with just one purpose in mind: To have my granddaughter for myself. How scary is that? I will not elaborate for obvious reasons. Let’s just say that__
I want her with me, to love to cherish and to hold. You know… the clichés…
When I heard that they are going to stick her in the crèche in a couple of months before she is even three months old, I cried. I thought: Why have children if you don’t have time to care for them yourself? I don’t understand it and will never understand. Oh, I know it is all for practical reasons but I am not happy with the idea. I even offer my help but of course, it was denied. I understand why. But even then.
Babies need love and care I thought. Especially during their first years. They need to be cuddle cherish and brought up by their own family, not strangers. I imagine my granddaughter is a very special person, full of character and free-spirited. I am afraid growing up in that environment will affect her personality later on. That she will learn to suppress her natural emotions, reactions, feelings, and instinct. Much like a wild animal that held captive in a zoo. I don’t want her to grow up like most people I know here: cold, emotionless and distant.
But who am I to know what is right and what is wrong. I fucked up my own duty as parent choices or no choices. So, I try to shut up and keep my thoughts and feelings for myself.
I will love her from a distance. I have to. I cannot be too involved. I am not allowed anyway. I just hope that history will not repeat itself. Loving from a distance I mean. One get used to it and become the norm no matter how painful it is…
I have a different idea of elegance. I don’t dress like a fop, it’s true, but my moral grooming is impeccable. I never appear in public with a soiled conscience, a tarnished honor, threadbare scruples, or an insult that I haven’t washed away. I’m always immaculately clean, adorned with independence and frankness. I may not cut a stylish figure, but I hold my soul erect. I wear my deeds as ribbons, my wit is sharper and when I walk among men I make truths ring like spurs.”
Since we have yet another brand new luxury car (this time a Mercedes instead of BMW- speaking of BMW, there is only one thing I could say about this brand- never again) we decided to leave the gate open while we are away from home for a short period of time as opposed to always locking it which we had done in the past. This way we can drive straight to our driveway instead of always parking next door and leave the car there till we are about to sleep and only then D. will fetch his precious carriage and park it where it supposed to be. This time we agreed that in this current climate you cannot be too careful.
Why we can park next door indefinitely? Because the house next door is a show model, a model home of the company from whom we bought our current house so, it is always empty. Well… almost. Sometimes the cleaning people will be there, mostly on Fridays or the occasional window cleaners, the gardeners and of course, the once in a while buyers. So no one is paying attention anymore if there are marked and unmarked cars park on the driveway, and that’s why we decided to leave our gate open since we have the new car because like I said, in this current climate you never know…
Yesterday arriving home after gallivanting (in our situation gallivanting means running after practical chores like shopping for food) passing the house next door I briefly saw a glimpse of a small dark car blocking their driveway. Stepping out I asked D. How many vehicles were there this time, he said two. Which is odd because it was Sunday. Sunday here is the equivalent of siesta somewhere else, everything is closed, therefore you cannot conduct legitimate business anywhere aside, of course, from those fast-food chains which are always open and some occasional business establishments like sports stores and cafes. But then again, some people visiting immediate neighbors sometimes use the roomy parking to abandon their cars for a couple of hours so perhaps it wasn’t that odd after all I thought.
I hate dressing up, I’ve said already before. If I could I would go around naked eternally. So, what do I do the moment I come through the door, run upstairs and peel off every bit of garment I could discard and change into something more comfortable. In my case a pajama or a jogging pants or just a robe.
As it happened, my room (mine because D. has his own) is directly opposite the house next door. If I look outside my window, I can see their driveway, front door, side garden, and their entire back garden. The whole house in fact. From the outside that is. You see, this modern building (which the company called Skin and if in the time we bought our place is for sale, I would have opted for) is so cleverly built that despite having floor to ceiling windows even with the lights on you can’t glimpse of anything that is private. A corner of a chair perhaps, a fraction of a table, a bed lamp but further than that, nada. The glass sections of the house are systematically placed to ensure maximum privacy, which I am mighty jealous of and dreading the time when it is going to be sold and live in by real people.
Directly outside the front door which is located on the right side of the house, therefore, facing my window is an elevated portion of the garden, a neat rectangular area roughly the size of three parking spaces dressed in state of the art artificial grass (like the rest of the garden and similar to ours) and housed two giant plane trees with spotlights under. There at the far end with her back to me facing the back garden was a woman sitting with a carton of milk next to her. And contrary to what D. said, there was only one car instead of two. A dark-gray old model of Kia cadenza. I know I cannot trust D.
My initial thought was she was waiting for the estate agent. Perhaps they made some special arrangement to meet late in the evening on a Sunday.
When I finished dressing down and had a bite and check on her again (I don’t know why I had checked on her again, call it instinct) I had to revise my initial thoughts. Maybe it was not the estate agent she was waiting for but someone more intimate to her, a lover perhaps?
I watched her stood up and walk up and down the length of the side garden. She was around my age and there the similarities stop. The woman was tall with dark wavy hair that reached her shoulders and very fair skin, almost bloodless. Her arms and legs are on the skinny side but the overall picture is not anorexic but rather wiry. She was wearing a simple black sheath and believe it or not a pair of bath slippers yet she managed to look regal, chic even. Her posture and demeanor don’t belong to the car, she was somewhat out of place. Strange.
The next time I looked in on her she was lying on her side underneath one of the plane trees on some kind of sheet, a pillow under her head. Not a cushion but a proper bed pillow. She was facing my window but her eyes were closed. I decided to grab my phone and alert D.
We debated for seemed hours to me over what to do with her, or rather with the fact of her being there. D. refused resolutely to go down to her and ask what was wrong or if she needed some help. He said maybe she was just a bait and the moment he put himself out there someone or more people will jump on him and rob him or worse even, use him to gain access in our house and all those nightmarish scenarios we are seeing lately on the news. I can’t say I blame him.
Personally, I found the woman and the situation not only strange but scary. She looked like someone who belonged to a horror movie, a vampire film for example. She is definitely a caucasian but not from around here. More like from Eastern Europe, Romania perhaps? She could also pass for Greek or Middle Eastern. Anyway, for some reasons she made the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I was very, very alert. Which rarely happens. I am expect the unexpected kind of person but I trust my instinct more than anything or anyone. When my gut feeling says flight instead of fight, I follow without question.
When she started dragging an inflatable mattress under the tree and cover herself with a thermal blanket we realized she was planning to spend the night there. That was when we finally decided to call the proper authorities to deal with the matter.
We waited anxiously for the police to show up and breathed a sigh of relief when they did. We watched guiltily while they talk to the woman (which took ages) searched her car and finally drove away with her in tow.
There are a lot of things that bother me about the incident. One of those is when I was secretly taking pictures of her and her car (for evidence in case…) she suddenly opened her eyes and looked straight to my lens. What I saw there was a mixture of sadness, despair, silent plea, and resignation. Enough for me to run down to her and offer my help if not underneath those emotions I saw also a cold-blooded calculation, a daring appeal and a shadow of a chilling smile behind those hopeless eyes.
She scares me. I expect her to materialize in the middle of my living room to collect what it is she thinks I owe her. The rational part of my brain tells me that perhaps she had a heatstroke and was not able to drive so she decided to lie down. Outside on someone else’s driveway with a proper pillow, inflatable mattress and thermal blanket which she happened to have with her? How about the carton of milk and all the things she had with her the car was stuffed to the brim. Okay, then maybe she had a row with her partner and he had thrown her out. I’ve been there done that. Asocial introvert person that I am I managed to keep a couple of friends I could spend the night with when it is really necessary, and how about family and relatives? Doesn’t she have anyone she can call for help if that was the case? Maybe she was embarrassed to let those who are closest to her know that she was having marital troubles or whatever troubles she was having. What is more embarrassing than to sleep in other people’s garden my brain said to me.
I can go on and on theorizing about her real situation but I guess I will never know. I passed the opportunity to know and even then if I asked her, would she tell me the truth?
I guess what bothers me the most is the guilt, did I do the right thing? Perhaps she was really in some kind of trouble and I added to it by calling the authorities. But it was for her own good my brain insists, for her safety, if she needed some help the proper channel could provide it for her that way. You did the right thing. But I still have my doubts.
What do you think?
Did we do the right thing?
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