I do love the open road – the freedom of driving long distances has appealed to me for many years. I love the time it gives me to contemplate, without being distracted by the multitude of things I contend with every day. I like that I can focus only on one thing and to some extent kick the hamster off the wheel in my brain. I put the music on loudly – very loudly – and sing. I gaze out at the scenery and the sky and the changing flora and sometimes fauna. I tend to speed when I am on my own. (Yes, I know. Don’t lecture me. I wait for the road to be clear and no-one else to be around. If I die, I plan to do it by myself.) It is cathartic and relaxing.
It is also an escape – one which I do not apologise for taking and exploiting. I hope to be able to do it more often. For me, it is an expression of self love, which is something that has been sorely lacking in my life. It is especially gratifying if you can meet up with friends at the other end of the drive.
This week I did the 4 or so hours from Cape Town to Prince Albert, in the Klein Karoo (Little Karoo). The drive was made extra special by a beloved friend loaning me their car – an Audi 3.2L V6 Quattro. Holy shit. It is SO fun driving this car. But so fun. I had to sing “I drove all night” to honour the occasion! (I laughed at myself.)
The great thing about all that time in the car was that I got to laugh, I got to cry, I got to shout, I got to smile and I got to sing whatever I wanted with no criticism from the backseat. And I also knew that I was escaping from my mundane. I was escaping from my stress and my life. Even if for just a few days.
I periodically get an overwhelming desire to leave my life and pretend it doesn’t exist, by which I mean just get away and go somewhere different and be in a different routine where I don’t have to remember dinners, lunches, school runs, homework, depression, work, sadness, heartache and so on. I am aware that it always catches up with me eventually, but to have the break re-energises me to a degree. This trip has been particularly wonderful, as I have had an afternoon nap this week, which I have struggled to do for years and years; I had a 2 hour massage which fixed many aching muscles, some of which have been bothering me for a month now; I breathed in the quiet and stillness; I watched birds making nests and darting around with enthusiasm; I listened to two owls communicating at around 3:30 this morning; I smiled at the pig “arguing” with the horse; I got fed and nourished with love, good food, good wine and kindness by my friends. I would stay here for a month if I could.
My heart is sinking at the prospect of having to return to reality. I have grappled with why this is so. Healing myself is very hard work and my heart has been very broken for a long time, not to mention my mind – self-worth, self-esteem, confidence, so much doubt and constant questioning and analysis. When I am at home, I have to plunge back into doing this. It is necessary but difficult. It is extra hard when I feel alone, which I often do. It is also hard when I have bad days and I have my kids with me. I become inaccessible to them on an emotional level, as I can barely keep myself going, never mind them. I desperately try not to channel my anger, frustration, sadness, whatever onto them. It usually means I end up having a glass of wine or a gin and tonic or a whiskey and water, to dull the pain that I feel. I so very often wish I had someone that could just sit with me and hug me or hold my hand and tell me that I will get there and be okay.
My ex did not give me emotional support. He pulled it away from under my feet like that proverbial carpet most of the time. In fact, if I was down on the ground, he would often take the chance to kick me. I still struggle with the fact that this is the type of person that he is and I shouldn’t spend my time wondering what I have done to deserve such treatment. I existed and that was what I did “wrong”. I can understand how narcissists can carry out the perfect murder – they drive you down until you commit suicide. Then they are the victim of the situation, as you “left” them and they get their fix of being the centre of attention again.
I shall be singing my way home again tomorrow. Perhaps some Whitney Houston – I Learned From the Best, as I think of the time when he begged me to change my mind and not leave him.
“And so you know the way it feels to cry
The way that I cried when you broke my world in two
And baby I learned the way to break a heart
I learned from the best, I learned from you”