Personal, Promotional

A Romance with My Recovery

This is the longest I’ve been single since I was a teenager. 

I never knew just how much I needed and would value this time alone. My last attempt at a serious relationship only ended a year ago and I can still remember how crushed I felt that things hadn’t worked out again.

For a little while, my main concerns were whether or not I’d ever meet anybody again and whether I’d ever feel truly in love. I worried that maybe I just wasn’t relationship material. I wondered if I ever really was. I told myself, with a sinking heart,  that perhaps nobody will ever love me again.

Talking to my friend, Donna, about my relationship woes over the last Christmas period, she strongly advised me to take time for myself. She reminded me that I hadn’t had that – not really – for a long time and that I need to learn to love myself again.

I didn’t know what else to do, but to take her advice seriously, so I began to try.

Fast-forward several months, and not only had I been diving into every self love self-help workshop I could find, but I was slowly starting to live my life exactly how I always wanted to.

I started focusing on all of the dreams and goals I’d been mulling over for years. I started to achieve things I kept putting off because it was never the right time or because I kept finding bad excuses.

I was learning that loving myself meant understanding myself and managing negative thought patterns that had me getting in my own way. I realised loving myself is about being true to my real self. But first, I’d have to get to know myself again.

It’s amazing how much of yourself you can lose in relationships if you’re not careful.

Alone, silently
the bamboo shoot
becomes a bamboo

– Santoka

I had a feeling when I turned 29 in 2017, that 2018 and turning 30 would herald some sort of major transformation for me and that’s exactly what this year has been about.

I had been through my fair share of trauma and had never taken any time to recover, thinking I could just stuff things down and keep on moving. Yet, I wasn’t really moving at all because I placed no importance whatsoever on healing past hurts.

I never considered that I shouldn’t date anybody until I’d dealt with myself properly. It didn’t seem logical to let someone pass me by if we liked each other. But my relationships, good or bad, were partly what was distracting me from doing the important stuff.

I wasn’t even living the life I want and parts of my twenties had dissolved into some sort of sad blur.

The truth is, I probably will meet someone again, I probably will love again and of course I’m relationship material; I got married once already, didn’t I? But there’s no rush. I stopped being concerned about romance months ago and I’m so happy with the way things are right now. I can focus entirely on my son and recovering whatever I’d lost.

This last year has seen me gaining qualifications that help me towards my career goals. I’ve gone back to my spiritual roots and stopped pretending to be someone else to avoid ridicule. I started setting goals, writing bucket-lists, facing fears, forcing myself out of my comfort zone and even decided to follow one of my dreams, literally.

Some time earlier this year, I discovered a London-based rock band on Instagram. I can’t ever get enough of music, so I always tend to check out the bands that fall into my lap and I enjoyed this band enough that I immediately bought every song I could get my hands on.

That band was Romances – an appropriate moniker for the five musicians who unknowingly became part of my journey of self love and healing!

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Romances at The Monarch, Camden, 7th August 2018 – photo by James Canavan

I was casually enjoying their music from time to time to begin with and thought to myself that maybe I’d see them live some day. Then all of a sudden, I started having dreams of going to watch them play.

After the first dream, I remember waking up thinking it must have been because I’d watched one of their videos on social media. But then the dreams kept happening, once or twice a week, and at first I was a bit confused. I hadn’t listened to them that much, but I seemed to be their biggest fan in my sleep.

As strange as it may sound, my dreams of Romances putting on an awesome show are what got me more invested and listening more to the band. I certainly wanted to see them play, but deep down I was sure that no matter how much I told myself I would go, I’d probably never get around to it.

I’m always seeing shows and events I want to go to, but I’ve never gone because a lot of my friends are usually busy or simply uninterested in the music I enjoy. Music is the most important form of art in my life, yet I’d rarely been to see bands play live.

Though I spent a lot of time in London when I was dating my ex and was more than accustomed to travelling there alone, I’d never gone on a ‘night out’ alone. I’ve travelled as far as America alone, but I’d never been to a pub or club on my own and the thought of it just seemed terrifying!

Wouldn’t I look like a total loser, lingering around with no friends to accompany me? Wouldn’t it be dangerous?

I would have pushed it all to the back of mind, but then, Romances released their first single, Parallels. Soon after, the famous American singer Billy Ray Cyrus was telling his fans to “check out” the song. By this point, I was familiar with the band members names, extremely impressed with their talent and had watched every video they uploaded to social media.

I was turning into what my ex described as a “Romances super-fan” just like I was in my dreams. And of course, the dreams continued.

It is a positive sign to dream of a band or musical group playing live music. It usually refers to a good level of spirituality in your life, which brings you a lot of inner peace and contentment.

AuntyFlo.com

I wondered if the dreams meant something and it occurred to me that maybe I just needed to go! I had so many fears surrounding going out alone, being seen alone and getting into some sort of trouble, that I realised that perhaps a trip to London was exactly what my soul had ordered.

If you want a better life, it’s no good staying constraints of your comfort zone, hanging onto pointless fears! Life is about growing, changing and doing new things. If I could get on a plane to fly to America all by myself, I could probably take a trip to the pub alone, even if it did require several hours travelling.

I’ve spent much of my adult life not going to see bands I really wanted to see because my mind was always coming up with a hundred bad reasons not to.

I finally went for the first time in August, despite the nerves. I had quite a lot of fun alone in London. I did meet with my ex briefly, seeing him for the first time since we split. He joined me for two drinks and then left, with me free to do whatever I wanted and not have to worry about anybody else all night.

I made a friend at the bar, Yarek, and though I was mostly trying to sneak around unnoticed, he informed Ashby (guitarist) of Romances I’d travelled to see them play and before I knew it, I’d met the whole band and was spilling my guts to them about how much I loved their music. They were all so friendly and I’d managed to get through the night without much trouble at all!

The only issue I encountered was one that I think is quite typical for women, whether they’re alone or accompanied; I attracted the unwanted attention of a couple of men that evening and one was following me around for a while. I wont play it down as an issue. This is quite a serious issue that is, in part, one of the reasons I’ve been too terrified to go out alone.

I hadn’t really known how to deal with unwanted attention and that’s probably one thing I’ve yet to learn, but Soufian (bassist) spotted what was going on. He somehow managed to get rid of the man, quickly, with little more than a glare and declaring we’d ignore him.

Regardless of the behaviour of some intimidating men, I ended up having a wonderfully memorable night, for all the right reasons. I couldn’t stop smiling for days.

I enjoyed the support bands, Big Peyote and Rival Karma. Yarek insisted that I would love Rival Karma and he was absolutely right! They quickly became another favourite of mine.

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Rival Karma at The Monarch, Camden, 7th August 2018 – Photo by James Canavan

Rival Karma knew Yarek, so thanks to them, I was able to track him down on social media and stay in touch. And since first seeing them live, I’ve also been able to enjoy them treating their fans to a little live music on Instagram when I’ve been stuck at home, something they may never know just how much I appreciate.

(Or there was that time I was watching while walking around Tesco, attracting the gazes of everybody I walked past, but suddenly caring a whole lot less if I looked like a ‘loser’.)

I’ve enjoyed watching the bands so much, I ended up returning to London again twice this week so that I can see all three bands again. I also got myself tickets to see several other bands and wrote another bucket-list, specifically for all the bands I’m determined to see.

I took myself on a date to Daphne Restaurant in Camden, somewhere I’d always wanted to go when I was spending so much time in London. My ex and his girlfriend joined me to watch Romances this time and whereas that sort of situation might be awkward for some people, I had the best night with them. I’m so grateful to have them as friends.

After my experiences recently, now when I want to go anywhere, I don’t suppose that I wont go based on fear. Being alone certainly wont stop me! Now I know that I’ll probably go wherever I want to. My comfort zone has gotten a whole lot bigger all of a sudden.

I’m starting to think I was always supposed to go and see Romances eventually and I knew it, deep in my soul. It felt like destiny that I’d almost ignored, a chance to romance myself.

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