Around a week ago, when I was staying in Florence, I received an unexpected message from my ex-boyfriend’s mum (the American I posted about in The Tale Behind This Blog). It seemed that she had been thinking of me, decided to check my Facebook page and had discovered that I was currently travelling. With the recent attacks in Europe, she said she wanted to get in touch to see how I was doing. The message was, I have absolutely no doubt, meant to be kind and simply her way of letting me know that she was still thinking of me…but something about the way it was worded made me furious.
She said I was “fortunate to be able to take the time to travel.” When I read that line, I was filled with rage; it wasn’t like I had decided to take a gap year or I had quit my job and life at home to bum about in the sun without a purpose. I had spent 18 months saving and working towards moving to America. I had given up absolutely everything to make being with her son work. I had sacrificed so much to move half way across the world to be with him. Travelling was a last minute decision that made sense because my life was already packed to move. The implication that being able to travel was somehow down to fortune and free time infuriated me.
I was so angry that I replied almost instantly. I messaged her back to say I appreciated her thoughts and that I missed her, but it was hardly fortunate that I was able to take the time to travel…I’d already quit my job and packed to leave for America when her son had broken my heart…and that her getting in contact was extremely hard after all the hurt and pain he had caused me.
It took me roughly an hour (aided by a gelato on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence) to calm down and another five minutes to realise I’d just directed three months of unresolved anger at the wrong person…and then I started really thinking about what being fortunate meant.
It turned out that the ex-American’s mum was right…I am fortunate.
I am fortunate to be able to travel. I am fortunate to be able to take the time to do so…because so many people cannot, for so many different reasons. I am fortunate that I have family and friends who didn’t tell me that I was crazy or running away when I announced I was leaving Scotland indefinitely. I am fortunate that I am physically healthy and fit enough to be able to carry my life in a backpack from one place to another. I am fortunate that my line of work means I can make money from the road. I am fortunate that, if I don’t earn enough from freelance work, I have experience as everything from a fruit picker to a barmaid to a cleaner, and that I have never been afraid of hard work. I am fortunate that I come from a culture which promotes and encourages independence and female equality, meaning that solo female travel is becoming more and more common. I am fortunate that I am able to meet and become friends with people from all over the world. I am fortunate that, when I am older or when I reach the end of my days, I will be able to say that I explored and discovered as much of this world as I possibly could when I was still young.
As for the ex-American, the truth is I do feel fortunate about the way it worked out with him. I feel extremely fortunate that I no longer love a man who was incapable of loving me back. I am fortunate that I no longer have to fight on an almost daily basis to make him appreciate me or our relationship. I am fortunate that the next time he decides he might want to try being in a ‘polyamorous’ relationship or to change his career, lifestyle or entire personality, it won’t be me that ends up crushed in the process.
I’m fortunate that I no longer have to forgive him for repeatedly hurting me – whether it was the stupid things like him ignoring my birthday for two years in a row and him flirting with literally everything that moved or the more serious things…like finding out that he had hooked up with someone else or discovering a woman’s name and number scrawled on a piece of paper just days after I’d flown 5000 miles to see him…I am incredibly fortunate that I didn’t end up moving to another country to be with that man.
I am unbelievably fortunate that, instead of having to constantly worry about the damaged mess of someone else’s head and heart, I now only have to think of my own.
I truly do feel fortunate…and even though it took me a while, I am fortunate that such a horrible situation and relationship led to me making the best and bravest decision of my life…to travel the world alone. That decision, and all of the incredible, amazing, hard, weird, wonderful and eye-opening experiences that have come with it…that’s all on me…no one else…and I’ll continue to be fortunate for every moment of it.