With any major life change, comes introspection.  The deeper you go, the more painful and unsettling it becomes.   You move in circles, winding down, take a pit-stop whenever you hit something particularly raw and cry it all out.  Gather your strength and start again.  Thankfully, I’ve been going through this process for a while now, in the hope that when I board that plane I’ll be free of everything that’s been haunting me.  I never wanted this break to be a restructure…more of a renaissance.

I feel like I’m getting close now to the bottom of the barrel.  I’m picking up dregs of things that happened so long ago, I didn’t even know they were still on my conscience.  Sucking them up, drawing lessons from them and spitting them out.  It’s a right old mess.  Hair’s shedding in larger clumps than I’d like, and my left eye-lid keeps twitching.  Bottom lip trembles whenever anybody says anything kind or cruel.  The slightest shift in routine and I’m thrown completely.  Why now?  Why so close to my exciting, life-altering departure?  I guess the pressure’s on.

I’m currently in a battle.  I see myself in fencing gear, a white padded suit and caged mask.  My left arm is elegantly raised for balance as I shuffle my feet and lunge the saber in my right hand towards his body.  Clumsy, but wanting to be agile, I cheer whenever I strike, curse when I miss, looking utterly ridiculous because my opponent isn’t a man, but a dummy.  He stands still, won’t fight back, can’t fight back.

This dummy is the most recent in a sequence of destructive romantic encounters.  I’ve been trying to say goodbye for months now, and can’t quite figure out why it’s so hard.  Intellectually and emotionally, my investment in this particular situation is comparatively menial, but psychologically and physically the stakes have climbed to a pinnacle high.  In fighting him, I have stirred up and summoned all the ghosts of men from my past.

Frank, Luther, Edward, Simon, Christian and Brendan.  I’ve given them different names in recognition of the fact that they are mere projections.   My interpretations of them based on unresolved loss and hurt I’ve yet to make peace with.

I fly to Bali in three days time, and as much as I’d hoped to have left them all behind, it looks like they’re all coming with me – buckled up in the back seat, petulant and misbehaving.

Except for Brendan.  His name hasn’t changed.  Brendan’s ghost is real, and he’s sitting next to me in the passenger seat.  We’re sharing coffee, laughing about life, and he’s in charge of the music.