- by Catherine Joy
Seven years ago I was afraid of being alone, in my own house, with my children there. When my husband was away - I would listen to the creaking of the roof as it cooled, and the rustling of the bushes outside my room, and imagine harm coming for us. Seven years ago the thing I was most afraid of, happened. My husband chose another woman - a momentary lapse in the overall scheme of things, perhaps? But it destroyed my trust in him for good. And I was all alone in my house, with my children. Seven years later I travel on my own, And everyone asks; “Are you alone?” How surprising would my answer be if I could answer it with far more words, and greater honesty, than simply; “Yes.” I would say: I’m surprised by these moments on my own because I’m not alone, I’m talking to you right now.
I’m not alone because a young girl, with her head covered by a hijab, said a shy hello and asked where I’m from. And she looked at me in shock and admiration: Me. A woman on my own. How can I be alone when I shared this moment with you, a hotel cleaner? You thanked me for drying my feet before I walked on your freshly dried floors. I’m not alone because I have children, And the lady who massaged my feet today - she has children - And now I know how old they are and that her husband left her too, because he died first. I’m not alone because my kids visit me each morning, fighting each other to see my face on a tiny screen (despite fourteen hours and thousands of miles). Hilarious as ever, with tales of their own to tell. I’m not alone because I have millions of words - a never-ending reading list, to keep me company beside the beach. My giant pile of unopened books. Seven years ago, I was afraid to walk the streets of my neighbourhood at night. If I wanted to go out and no one joined me - I’d stay home. Seven years ago, I couldn’t say what I wished for myself because it didn’t matter, and even I didn’t know. I buried my dreams deep and couldn’t afford to own them. Until now. Seven years ago I was submissive and subverted, silenced and suffocated, more afraid of being alone, than living. Seven years later, I can change my plans in a snap. Something happens; this brings an end, to that. Perhaps it’s the weather, a disaster, a feeling... a momentary lapse of reason. One spot on the map becomes another. I walk through the dark to find the lights, to find my people, my food, my music. How can I be afraid when you smile in my direction? I’m inside my dream... choosing my itinerary, selecting from my menu, deciding where to point my feet. Sometimes I feel lonely but I’m rarely alone. What I am: is brave and independent and angry and happy and supported and stronger. And I’m part of something much bigger than I ever knew before.
Catherine is a teacher, life coach (linedwithsilver.com.au) and single mother of four. She loves trying to keep all of those balls in the air but fails spectacularly at times. Perfectionism and people-pleasing seemed to be written into her DNA but she's slowly releasing expectations imposed by others and settling into a more generous view of a loving God at the same time. Catherine's goal is to experience life in lots of different places and to use every wrong turn as an opportunity for learning. She resides on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
See all previous articles by Catherine Joy