Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Why is it so difficult to apologise? I’m not asking for myself. I’ve made mistakes in the past. Small ones at work. Bigger ones at home. I’ve treated someone poorly before. I’ve lashed out when hurt or when I considered something unfair. I’ve been an idiot before.

We all make mistakes, small ones and big ones. Sometimes we know it right away. Sometimes it takes us a while to realise what we’ve done.

There is no life without regret over having done or not done something. We consider those things our mistakes as well. And perhaps that is justified.

Making a mistake is par for the course. It’s inevitable. It can happen anytime. It can happen to anyone. We can all be idiots sometimes.

So, when mistakes are such an integral part of life and so common, why is it so difficult to rectify them?

Some mistakes cannot be remedied. Usually, those tend to be of a life-altering nature, though. You can never undo something you’ve done anyway. That is not possible. It’s the first thing we need to realise. Well, the second thing. The first thing is to realise how common mistakes are.

We make mistakes to learn from them. Generally, we don’t want to repeat a mistake. It’s somewhat embarrassing to make the same mistake twice, though not always avoidable. But once we recognise our error, we should always try to a) make it better and b) not repeat it.

The latter seems easier. At the very least it’s possible.

But making it better does not always seem to be possible. There are mistakes that can’t be fixed. Should that keep us from trying? If we have made a mistake and want to change what happened, shouldn’t we at least try?

Granted, you have to realise that you made a mistake and you have to want to make a change.

The very least anyone can do is apologise. It may not be enough, not by a long shot. But it can be a start.

Why does it seem impossible for some people to even say sorry? Is it their pride? Or do they truly not know what they’ve done wrong or that they’ve done anything wrong?

I’ve been in a place where I had to apologise. I know it’s not easy. For various reasons, it can be very hard to say sorry. It depends on what happened, of course. I’ve hurt people, not with the intention of inflicting pain, but with the intention of protecting myself. I hurt people fully knowing and accepting that my behaviour was likely hurtful.

I’m not proud of that and I had good reasons at the time. But that still doesn’t justify inflicting pain. In the end, I felt rotten about it anyway. And I tried my utmost to apologise, without asking for forgiveness. Incidentally, forgiveness is not something you ask for. It’s something that is given freely or not at all.

I’ve made small mistakes, too, and I owned up to them. I am still making mistakes all the time. And when that happens, I swallow my pride and own them and apologise. And then I try not to repeat them.

This is how I have chosen to live my life. That doesn’t make me any better or worse than anyone else. Everyone has to choose for themselves. And nobody has a right to judge.

I know that some things are very difficult to apologise for, perhaps nearly impossible. It certainly depends on how guilty or responsible you feel for what happened. Not every mistake can be fixed. But again, shouldn’t we at least try?

I believe, not trying to make things better, whatever happened, is only making it worse. And you have learned nothing.

If you can’t own up to your mistakes, you will continue to make them over and over again. And others will suffer because of that. I know I couldn’t live like that. But perhaps that’s just me…

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Up and away

I love the city I live in. Hamburg. Who’d have thought But I was ready when I moved here. Ready to find a place I could call home. And that’s what it became. It took a little time at first, getting settled and all that, getting a second job to get me out of the house and away from the desk, meeting people, even falling in love with someone.

But I got there. I arrived. I’m home.

Except, my heart’s been broken nine months ago, and I was torn to pieces six weeks later. And now there is what you might call an extreme flight risk.

I still love Hamburg. I have friends, a job I love, an apartment I truly feel at home in. I have a life here. And I have so many memories that hurt my heart more than I can bear sometimes.

You know, it’s a strange phenomenon. Being out and about with my friends, I make new memories. I experience laughter and joy and sometimes moments of transcendence that hit me utterly unexpected. I live my life the best way I can. And there’s much I love about my life. I appreciate all I have.

Yet, there’s a part of me that feels haunted. I can’t shake the memories. They’re all good memories. I was in love for a year and a half and it wasn’t always easy. It was always easy between us, so wonderful when we were together – little hiccups and fights and disagreements aside. Those are inevitable and necessary. But we were great together. We were right together.

And I don’t have a single enjoyable memory of us. The entire year and a half break my heart. I was presented with an impossible ending, no conclusion or resolution, no explanation, no reason – just an end. She threw everything away as if it meant nothing. And as a consequence, she took any meaning away from me.

Some of the happiest memories of my life make me nothing but miserable. It hurts to think about it. So, I don’t. I can’t. And I am not getting a resolution or answers. Not from the person I need them from. Yet, I have to move on somehow.

And that’s the thing. Whilst I love my city, my home, my friends, even my job, there’s a part of me that wants to get away. Perhaps I have to get away. I don’t know.

I can’t leave the memories here. They’re a part of me. Just as the pain has become a part of me. But I can leave all those reminders behind. For a while anyway. Until I can truly begin anew.

Which is not what I’m doing right now. I am taking one strenuous step at a time to keep moving, to somehow move on. But I’m dragging all this baggage with me and it doesn’t get any lighter.

I want to leave. And I want to come back. I want to get a fresh start.

I want to put that baggage away and leave it where it belongs: in the past. I want to be free of this love for someone who has no use for my love and who doesn’t care even a little bit what she’s done to me.

The thing is, travelling is good for me. It takes me back to myself. Which is what I need. Running away is not a solution, which is why I haven’t left yet. But I will need to get away eventually.

Otherwise, I will never heal. And that is not acceptable.

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Here now

When you have happy memories, memories full of joy, love and laughter, that bring you nothing but pain, because the person you made them with found it necessary to run away and break your heart, you will need to stop looking back at those memories.

Mine are vivid and ever present. They are a part of me. Of who I am and who I have become.

And so is the pain, the wound that is causing it and the scar that will remain.

There is no way back. There never is. None of this will ever come back. And as long as the memories cause nothing but pain, there’s also no point in looking back.

I’m here now. I am only here now. I’m not in the past. And there is a future waiting. I know there is.

I’m here now.

It may not be where I want to be. But I’ll get there. Eventually.

That requires patience and the irony is that I am patient with everyone and everything. Just not with myself.

I am here now. And that’s okay.

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Reckless abandon

As I am writing this, I am listening to my “Dancing on the other side” playlist on Spotify. Dancing on the other side of heartbreak, that is. I’m not quite there, but this music helps. It hurts, and it affirms my strength. Music is funny that way.

But writing is what really helps.

It’s also where the greatest pain awaits me. That’s because of the story that I need to write. I’m processing. Sorting through the ideas and what the story wants to look like. I’m almost ready to get to work.

I know I am going to have to go at it with reckless abandon. I have absolutely nothing to lose when it comes to writing this story. In a lot of other ways, I have nothing to lose either.

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. But the new year looms. And it looms big. It feels that way. Perhaps because I’m so over 2018.

But I will dance into the new year and I will do so with reckless abandon as well. 2019 will be what I make of it. Nobody else is going to get to have a say in that and nobody will ever do to me again what I’ve been through this year. Never again.

If I have any resolution to make, it’s that.

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Life’s too short

We live our lives as if they will never end. It’s true. On a daily basis, we walk through life without any real regard that it will end eventually. Obviously, it’s not a pleasant thing to contemplate. It doesn’t matter whether you consider your life a good one or a bad one if you’d rather be someone else or are happy with yourself. The majority of us holds onto life and doesn’t want to think about it ever ending. If anything, if you’re unhappy with your life, you wish for a better one. Few are those, who want it to end.

I don’t mull over death excessively. And I don’t believe it’s possible to live your life as if every day could be your last day. I mean, I don’t take the hedonistic approach, which is what some believe this is all about. More importantly, you should try and keep regrets to a minimum and strive to be your best self. At the end of the day, you should be able to say: I did my best. Sometimes it may not seem good enough. Often you might think you could have done more, could have been better. And perhaps that’s true. But ask yourself if it could have gone a whole lot worse as well. Gain perspective. We’re fallible human beings. We keep making mistakes. We keep repeating some of them.

Most of the time, you’ll find it’s okay.

Regardless, I just read about this new study that we’re headed for a ‘Hothouse Earth’. This summer has already been ridiculously hot, at least where I live, where you can usually count the number of days above 30 degrees centigrade on one hand and this year two hands wouldn’t be enough. Additionally, I had a sudden realisation that there’s a person in my life who is extremely important to me and the thought of losing her was very nearly unbearable.

And I knew then and there that life is simply too short to waste opportunities. The only thing that is ever certain in this life is that it ends. Everything else is optional. There’s no guarantee you’ll even see tomorrow.

Life is too precious for any kind of waste. Which includes the waste we lay to our homeworld. We can’t continue living as if we’re invincible or immortal. We can’t continue living and wasting as if nobody will follow after us. We’re in this together, all of us.

And change begins with each and every one of us.

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The right time

It’s been forever since I last wrote a blog entry. Life is funny. So unpredictable. Not that I would want it any other way. And whilst I write pretty much every day, this blog has taken a backseat. It was not important to write here.

But I return to it whenever I need it and, apparently, I need it now.

There are so many thoughts and feelings running through me that I don’t quite know where to begin.

Having someone hold up a mirror to your actions is rarely a pleasant thing. You can claim to know yourself all you want, but when someone shows you what you’ve done and that it wasn’t okay for you to do as you did, it sucks. You realise you hurt somebody, without meaning to. By simply being selfish. My wants above your needs. That’s not okay, especially when you love somebody.

Love should never be selfish. But people are and most of us love in a selfish way. ‘I’ before ‘you’, even in the most meaningful and simplest of phrases: I love you.

But how do you rephrase that? After all, this is my feeling that I have for you.

There’s this quote:

This is vitally important. I’ve known this to be true since I first read it. But I haven’t lived it the way I should have. It’s time for me to learn to live it. And this is not going to be easy. Everything inside me is turmoil. Head over heart. Heart vs head. Want over need. Mine over yours. No…

No…

You need this. I’m hurting. But you need this. There can’t be growth without pain. Your needs over mine. In this case, it’s the only decision I can make. I’ll learn how to breathe again. My appetite will return eventually, so will sleep.

If there is a way forward, we will find it. We always have, and I have faith in that. What’s between us has not diminished in any way. We trust each other. But this time apart is necessary and important, and I know that.

It’s what you need. And in my own way, I need it as well. I need it because it challenges me in ways that I didn’t want to be challenged.

I’ll deal with this in my own way, which will mostly mean that I will write… a lot… It’ll also mean that I’ll spend a lot of time by myself. Something that you don’t understand and wouldn’t want for me… to close myself off… but that’s not necessarily what this is about. Being alone forces me to confront myself. This is hard. Going out to party with friends is an easy distraction. An escape. I don’t want to escape.

So, I’m going to work on reconciling what you need with what I want. There is an important distinction to be made here. What I want is different from what I need. That’s probably true for most people, including you.

For now, I’m going to have to move through life without you in it – at least physically, because I can neither cast you from my mind nor from my heart. And when the time is right, I’ll reach out and hopefully, you’ll reach back.

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Constant distraction

As it was getting darker outside I lit the candles in my living room. The TV was off, so was the computer. I was reading an article on my phone posted on brainpickings.com, one of my favourite thinking sites.

It was about growing older. A writer had written something about it. Well, we write a lot about many things, do we not?

It doesn’t actually matter what the article was about. Nor does it matter that it inspired me to write, which is always a good thing.

What matters is what happened when I finished reading.

The noise stopped. All of it. The noise of my thoughts as I was reading. The constant narrator in my head had nothing further to say once I finished reading the article. And all of a sudden I became acutely aware of the silence.

It wasn’t entirely dark yet. The candle light cast wonderful lighting around the room. The wall radiator made a quiet whooshing sound, indicating that it is currently heating. I could hear the wall clock in the kitchen tick tock away the seconds.

There were no other sounds. No traffic from the street, no noise from the neighbours. Nothing of any consequence. Not even the voice in my head.

So, I sat and listened to the silence for a while.

I felt like writing down my impressions right away, but I resisted. I needed the silence for a moment. Constant distraction is keeping us away from ourselves. I’ve been through a lot of emotional turmoil in recent months. Some of it exhilarating. Some of it soul crushing. Never just one extreme or the other, thankfully. Most of the time I was just happy to be. And be alive. And in love.

But every once in a while silence is required to come back to myself. The noise of some TV show I’m barely watching or have seen half a dozen times already is merely distraction. And there’s only so much you can distract yourself before everything comes rushing back and you have to deal with it after all.

Of course, I’ve also spent too much with myself lately. Thinking too much, feeling too much, mulling everything over for the umpteenth time without a change in the conclusions I inevitably arrived at. That’s not good either. And then distraction is not a bad thing.

But rarely did I simply sit in silence. And contemplation. Trying to keep all those useless repetitive thoughts away and the feelings I can do nothing about.

And it was good. The silence, I mean. Even now it is good, though the clacking away on the keyboard is a distraction as well and I wish it to be quiet again.

I know people who are never truly alone or if they are, they go after every little distraction available just so they don’t have to be alone with their thoughts and feelings. How do they touch base with themselves? How do they figure out what it is they want or feel?

It only takes a few minutes here and there. I’m going to have a very busy month ahead of me. A part of me will welcome that distraction, because I don’t want to dwell on my feelings. But I also don’t want to lose myself in all the noise.

Balance is the key. And me saying that is rather ironic, but that’s another story entirely.

Sit in quietude and solitude every once in a while. It’ll do you good. I promise.

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All of me

There are some songs that describe your life at this very moment so perfectly. And you wonder: How did they know when they wrote it? How did they know this is how I feel? How did they know that this is my life right now?

Those are the songs that break your heart just a little bit. Hitting on the truth you couldn’t find the words for yourself. Expressing your feelings so accurately.

I watched a TV show a few months ago and one of the characters asked: how do you know you’re in love?

The answer given was: All the songs make suddenly sense.

How bloody true is that?!

I have four songs that sum things up perfectly. This is my life. This is how I feel. This is what I’m going through.

Wicked Game

All of me

Water under the bridge

Sleepless Nights

And it is in that order that they hit me over the head and sucker punched me over the last few months.

Why do we fall in love?

Well, I have no idea. It’s the best feeling in the world. But it can screw with you as well – royally. Even when the feeling is actually mutual there’s no guarantee that you can find happiness. Some would say happiness is overrated. It’s only part of a fulfilled life. But it is still part of it and that’s where some people are probably wrong.

I’m not going to get into the situation I’m facing. I’m not even entirely sure what it looks like, because I’m missing a few pieces. And I have a few days to wait before I can get some answers, which doesn’t help. Because in the meantime my head is telling its own stories and somehow they never end happily.

I do know this: I’ll make it through. I don’t want to arrive on the other side by myself. But I will make it through. Even though sometimes it feels like a cruel joke.

And all things aside, it is true what many other writers and artists have experienced before me: making art helps. In my case, it means writing helps. I’ve rarely been so prolific. I just wish it would hurt a little less.

No, my heart isn’t broken. And it isn’t sadness that I’m feeling. There’s no unhappiness inside of me either. It’s the longing that hurts.

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Human connection

I tried a little something different this time.

And writing. Writing helps too. At least it helps me.

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Dancing in the rain

That’s not an activity I usually engage in, but the weather has been such that we barely saw any sun lately and thus I found myself dancing in the rain at an Amy MacDonald concert.

I’ve known about the concert for months and not-so-subtly hinted to my brother that a concert ticket would be well received as a birthday present. He doesn’t always know what gift to get me and I thought I’d make it easy on him.

So, I ended up with two cards, which is what he does. The person I would have loved to take, however, was not even in the country, which I’ve also known for some time. But my brother hadn’t known that.

I had invited him and his significant other to Hamburg and as it happened, they planned to come the weekend before the concert. My brother ordered another ticket online and sent it to me and we were going to go together on the 24th of July.

Alas, circumstances prevented the visit and I found myself with two spare tickets all of a sudden and no idea who to take or whether to sell them.

In the end a friend of a friend was very happy to come along and she brought another friend along. I knew one of them, at least, and they both made for good company. In any case, I was quite happy not to go by myself.

Summer in Hamburg can be hit and miss. Last July wasn’t great either, but August turned out quite alright. Thus far July has resembled April more closely than what you’d expect for this season. There’s been lots and lots of rain and the occasional thunderstorm.

Monday managed to keep dry until the early evening, but as we were on our way to the concert, which was to be open air, the heavens opened up and a deluge poured down on us. Thankfully it wasn’t too cold, but when parts of you are drenched (especially your feet) then you will get cold eventually.

We had to swap umbrellas for rain ponchos, which was just as well. And eventually the downpour did ease up, but it kept raining all evening.

Still, none of us were deterred. In fact, given that Northerners aren’t the most exuberant people you’ll ever meet, the crowd was positively vibrant.

It did help that Amy was utterly charming and that she has a fantastic live voice. Not all artists do and it’s always a wonderful discovery when they can hold their own live. She welcomed us to Scotland… err… Hamburg, bemoaning the miserable weather, but thanking us for our resilience and showing up in numbers. She also called us beautiful in our multi-coloured ponchos and rain gear.

Her music did the rest and we were dancing in the rain, albeit in a somewhat reserved manner, trying to warm up, but not getting too wet or dirty in the process. We are Germans, after all.

The concert was a mix of some of her best songs and her latest album and I loved every part of it. I stood fairly close to the stage, smiling happily, swaying, clapping and singing along and feeling incredibly alive, despite rotten wet and cold feet.

I would have wished for one person to be there and share this experience, no matter the rain and how wet we all were. I would have loved for my brother and his boyfriend to be there as well. But I was happy and grateful for the company that was there and couldn’t have asked for more.

There’ll be a next time.

One of my favourite songs of hers, though it’s not her original song and she didn’t play it that night. Still, I felt like sharing it.

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