When Dreams Collapse
This post is the post that I never thought I would be writing.
After three and a half years of dreaming of going back to the land, of writing about it and sharing it, my worst case scenario has come true.
The dream has collapsed.
Hence my silence over the last three months.
Not really knowing the best way to go about writing this blog post, I remember that old song that goes something like: ‘you should start from the very beginning, the very best place to start’.
…Which means the beginning of this whole journey.
At the end of 2019 when I stepped forth towards achieving my dream of an alternative life in the country, I did so with the love, support and companionship of my partner Sergio.
In the original ‘About’ page of this blog I wrote: ‘I certainly don’t have any skills that would be useful for a back to basics life in the countryside’. That was true.
However, the same could not be said for Sergio, who was working as a carpenter and whose artistic background mixed with his handyman skills meant that he was more than useful in the kind of life I was envisioning for myself.
Over the past three and a half years, he has been a silent background figure in this blog, appearing now and again during our joint adventures around rural Spain. It was with him that this dream seemed to make sense.
However, over the last few years, our relationship started to decline. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t working any more. We were both unsatisfied and wasting too much precious life energy in conflict.
I told you in a previous blog post that I had been considering the question: ‘what would you do if you knew you only had six months to live?’. I shared some of the re-prioritisations that I had made as a consequence.
However, I was also considering this question in relation to other areas of my life. I was asking myself: ‘if I knew I only had six months to live, would I stay in this relationship as it is now?’.
The answer unfortunately was no. Therefore, after months of trying to make it work, at the end of the summer 2023, by mutual decision, Sergio and I decided to separate.
This perhaps had been a long time coming. However the heart ache I felt at losing the person who had been my best friend and support over the past eight years has been, and continues to be, sad and painful.
This has meant that I have had some important decisions to make.
I had been living in Sergio’s place since late 2020, having moved in just before Covid hit.
Now where was I going to live?
I needed to act fast so that I could be settled somewhere in time for the start of the new academic year. But with rent prices in Madrid at an all time high, I found myself without many realistic options.
Also, I wanted to live in the countryside, didn’t I? Without my relationship and a normal job, I no longer had any ties to the city.
I could go anyway where…but where?
If you remember, over the months of July and August, I had taken some time off from teaching to focus on my writing (one of the outcomes of the six-month-to-live-inquiry). With the space and free time to reflect on life and what I wanted, a desire to return to the UK had started to stir within me.
So once it became clear that my relationship was ending, the decision to move back to the UK was a straightforward one. Something was calling me in the UK and I wanted to find out what it was.
Plus, I badly needed to move on from being in Madrid. I had achieved everything I had set out to achieve there. I had outgrown it. Nothing excited me about the place or resonated with me. I was bored and needed a change.
Yet despite this need to move on, Sergio and I were no closer to achieving our dream of moving to the country. If anything, it felt further and further away.
Nothing seemed to be working. The dream that had once filled me with enthusiasm felt heavy. My need to move on with my life and put down roots increased the pressure. These issues plus relationship incompatibilities meant that by the end of the summer we had reached a breaking point.
I had so badly wanted to make our dream happen for us both, but somehow, love ran out on us.
Unfortunately, my decision as to where I was going to go had to be made quickly. It was clear that we couldn’t have gone on as we were.
I had the opportunity to go up to Galicia for a while to stay with a friend there to give us both some space. But eventually, life insists that you keep moving and soon I found myself back in Madrid with a single ticket back to Manchester.
That was early September. In that time, another very significant friendship that pertained to my life in Madrid also fell away unexpectedly. Without doubt, it has been a complete severing from the life I previously had.
I know that for the last few years I have written in various posts that I felt as though I were going through a death process, whereby all that I had created and built up for myself was slowly coming to an end.
Each time, I thought that the process had finished and at last the new was finally dawning. But alas, no! How naive I was in my rush to get to where I wanted to be! There was more letting go to do. More releasing. More dying to the old ways, my life, my old identity.
I think we can agree that this must be the end of the process now. There is frankly nothing else to lose.
This has been the complete spiritual winter. It is a humbling experience. I thought when I started this blog that I would be sharing a journey of birth and creation, but the opposite seems to be true! Ha!
The good thing about winter though is that spring is the next season around the corner.
Whilst it may seem sad and shocking for you to read how this story is playing out (I had promised a dream after all), there are some very positive changes that have come out of all of this.
I am happy to report that I now find myself in a new place with a new way of life.
Through the tears I have been carried on the wings of grace.
Maybe the dream hasn’t collapsed after all, maybe I am closer than ever….
I am not going to give up so easily 😉
There is surprising but positive news coming in the next blog post…
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