The end of a dream

It’s Easter weekend. It’s the last weekend before our season of bedding and breakfasting guests starts again for the next six or seven months. And it’s not exactly a free weekend. I have 24 people expecting a 2-course dinner tonight and I’m doing it alone. And Sunday, two of us will go in to do another dinner for the same lot.

The last few weeks have been quite a carousel of emotions. On the one hand, I am looking forward to working full-time again. It’ll be my third summer working here and I know what I’m doing and I know how everything works. I also know that I’m not completely shit at what I do. I like my job, even if it does mean working around the clock at some days.

On the other hand, I’m more confused about things than I have ever been. I had a horrific few days last weekend of just being curled up on the couch not able to move or do anything but be engrossed all the darkness that was occupying my mind. I guess I realised how bad it was when my Employer sat me down on Monday and essentially told me to get my shit together. In a nice and concerned way. I am scared of this season of working as I feel like after last year, I was left so empty and broken, and I’m not sure I’ve fully recovered. And I’m scared to be empty and broken again. I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be able to handle it again.

I’m also scared because I feel like the pressure to reach a decision on what happens after this summer. Am I going to stay or am I going to go back? Or go forward? I have no idea what to do and I’ve never been in this situation. I’ve always had a secret dream or a plan of what I want to do. But I feel like I have reached the end of my dream, like this path I’ve been on is leading to a dead-end. And I genuinely have no idea what I want to do or indeed should do next.

I was having beers with the Employer at the top of the field on Wednesday night. “The top of the field” is a little corner of our grounds that’s the highest point and has the best view of the village and the hills in the distance. I love that view. As the sun was setting behind the clouds that had gathered around the hills, I couldn’t help but think, “How am I supposed to give this up!?” These hills are what I came here for, this quiet village life is something I have come to love and appreciate. A part of me cannot imagine life in any other place.

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But (and there’s always a big fat but) it’s an incredibly lonely life. It has taken me years and a huge amount of courage, but for the first time in my life I want, and need to admit it to myself that I feel lonely. I’ve always been the cat that wanders around on her own. I have taken pride in my independence. But there is a price to pay and it’s a dear one. I said at the beginning of last year that I needed to name my demons and I have realised after a lot of denial, that this one is my biggest one, and always has been.

As we were sitting outside in the cold (god, it was fucking freezing!) spring evening, I admitted to the Employer that I miss having friends. I miss having single friends. I only realise now what a stupid move it was to pack my bags and move thousands of miles from people who have so kindly opened their hearts to me. I don’t consider myself a nice person, or an easy person to befriend. I takes me ages to trust people and to make friends. I can count the people in whose company I don’t feel like the outsider, like someone they had to invite along out of politeness or social convention, on one hand. In fact, I don’t even need all the fingers. And they all live in Estonia. So what am I doing out here? Why am I here pursuing some selfish dream that’s not working out?

And don’t get me wrong, the people I’ve met here have been incredibly kind towards me. But Cumbria is an odd place and it’s very difficult to actually make genuine connections to people. And everyone I know here (with an exception of the Monk) has the other half. It’s a different crowd to what I’m used to and it’s very easy to feel out of place. More importantly, it seems to really emphasise my loneliness and isolation.

It’s gets more and more difficult to make new friends as you get older and I can feel like I’m getting to an age, where it’s nigh impossible to weave close relationships with new people. Everyone already has friends and habits and partners. They are not necessarily out to look for new ones. So living in a small community becomes very, very lonely.

All this is making me think about moving back to Estonia. Except that I cannot see where I would live or what I would do that would offer me the satisfaction that my work and my physical environment does here. I don’t know what to do. What to I choose? The place or the people? It’s not like I didn’t feel lonely in Estonia but at least I had those few people who were only a few hours away, rather than a day’s worth of travel away.

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I’m lost for ideas. I feel like this selfish dream I came to chase after was just an illusion and I’m back at square one but this time without an idea what the next step is. And it’s killing me inside…

Time off

I am having a week off from work in the middle of the season and I am struggling to figure out what to do with myself. I have a houseful of guests who don’t really need looking after, I have a phone that occasionally rings and a few emails popping into the inbox, but other than that, I am free to do what I want.

I am not very good at switching off at the best of times but after intense couple of weeks, this newly found freedom is almost unsettling. I feel like I should do it all but I am also lacking in energy to do anything. Today is the third day off and I feel the most tired and just want to curl up on a sofa and watch TV all day long. But I also feel like I shouldn’t do that because that would be such a waste of my time off that is a rare thing this time of year.

I live in a beautiful part of the world; one of the most beautiful, if you asked me, but I might also be slightly biased. I should be out there, exploring it, capturing it with my camera. Instead, my boots are looking the cleanest they have since I got them and still waiting for me to take them for a walk. I had great plans of escaping to the hills and go wild camping for a night, or two, but I’m struggling to get my head around doing that. I am also supposed to be running 10K in a couple of weeks but I need to trick myself into going for a runs to prepare by buying new running gear. In my head, I know I should be doing this as I haven’t ran at all since spring due to various injuries but I’m just finding it difficult to feel any joy or enthusiasm about all these things.

I also feel that because I have time, I should be working on a few things that I normally don’t have time for like the webpage and blog for work as well as our new booking system that still needs a lot of attention. However, I just barely answer the emails and check on bookings that are coming in. I should be working on this blog and putting the ideas I have into words but I am verging away from that as well. (This was not the blog post that I’ve been wanting to write!) There’s raspberries and gooseberries to be picked in the garden, jam and cakes to be made and baked but so far I only gathered a handful to go with my porridge this morning. I should be doing yoga for my back ache and so some intervals but so far I’ve only considered taking ibuprofen for the pain.

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I’ve been offered a free ticket to a big-ish music festival just a couple of miles from the door and it’s hard work convincing myself to actually go. Even if the offer comes with possible free drinks from the bar on site (perks of accommodating the bar staff at the guesthouse). I will probably go at least for one or two days, because I would regret missing it but I don’t feel as excited about it as I should.

Although I argued in the last post that I want to be more than what I do, I must admit that I am feeling slightly lost without work and it’s inevitable routine. I do enjoy being able not wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning and head straight to the kitchen for work and going to bed before 10 o’clock at night. But it’s the time in between that I am struggling to fill. I’ve been left to my own devices, house- and cat sitting for my employers in their beautiful home. But I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel like I’m letting myself down by not doing all these things that I’ve listed above.

I have been struggling lately with all sorts of demons and it’s probably them who are holding me back and sucking on my energy at the moment as well. But I am too tired to fight them and just try to keep them at bay.
Being a bit of a hermit, I hate to admit it, but I feel lonely and find myself missing company. I thought that after weeks of dealing with guests, I’d welcome the chance to see no one but this seems not to be the case.

It is Tuesday and I don’t have to be back at work till this time next week, so I have time to get over myself and go out to play. I have managed to cross off a few things on my list: I have spoken to the guy in Scotland who has my passport and who can meet me in Paisley before I’m flying to Estonia in a couple of weeks. I have booked my fights for Christmas and New Year which I am spending at home this year. I have sorted out my train tickets to go to Glasgow. I have got my hair cut and I love it. I have been for a short run. I’ve ordered a tent and a camping stove online. I have written this post. I have been keeping away from chocolate and alcohol… okay, that’s a lie. But I have limited the intake of both of them.

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Saturday night wasn’t for limiting my alcohol intake with a beer festival happening in the village and the Monk being my company

These are all tiny victories. Although they don’t exactly make me feel great about myself, they definitely mean something. Even if only that I am not a complete waste of space. I might even take my boots and my camera for a sunset walk to my magic place, Swindale (if it’s not exactly chucking it down by then).

The story this far…

I am great at starting things. Finishing them… not so much. I’ve started over and afresh so many times, but at the end of the day, week, month or even a year, I am back to my old habits, back to my old self.

When I was 15, I moved out of home in Estonian small town to go to school in a different, a slightly bigger town. At 18, I moved to Tartu to go to university but after four years of staying put there, I needed to go somewhere new again and ended up doing an exchange programme in Spain.

I returned to Estonia and before I could finish university, I moved back to my home town to teach English. After a year of failing to tame teenagers, I got a job in an office in Tallinn – I moved to a city (city in the grand scheme of Estonia).

With all the opportunities that Tallinn could offer me, I soon found the initial excitement of big city life fading away and I realised that living in a crowded and noisy place didn’t really suit me and kept bringing me down. I started to look for something else, something that would be more real.

After conquering many fears, letting many tears stream and fighting copious amounts of (self-)doubt, I made the decision to start again (once more) outside Estonia. In September 2015 I moved to the beautiful county of Cumbria in Northern England, where I currently reside just at the edge of the Lake District. Living in quiet countryside definitely fits me better than city life, but it isn’t without it’s own problems.

People I’ve talked to have told me how brave I must be to move to a different town/city/country just on my own and starting from a blank page. I see no bravery in that. The truth is, this is an easy way out for me. Instead of facing my problems and dealing with my demons, I run away hoping that they don’t catch up. However, they always do. IMG_20150707_125621 (1)

I am currently feeling the urge to move on again, to start all over somewhere new. My toes are tingling and my eyes are searching for the exit sign, but my heart resists. All my previous changes of location were somewhat random and not really thought through. However, I chose to move to Cumbria for a reason: this was a place where years ago my heart decided to find peace and convince me that this is home. (I am currently writing the saga of how that happened exactly, to be published some later date.)

This is anxiety I feel at the moment about moving on hasn’t got anything to do with my job satisfaction or where I live, but everything to do with the fact that the demons I was escaping from have caught up with me. I have realised that no matter how far I go, I can never run away from myself.

So this time, instead of making rash decisions and packing my bags, I am starting this: a new project, a new virtual home. Maybe this will distract me from the desperate need to move and help me focus on actually finishing something that I’ve started.