Last night I did something I’ve never done before. I messaged my next door neighbour to ask him if he was ok.
This isn’t something I would normally do but after seeing him looking so down the day before and thinking about how sad he has been looking for a while now, I felt like I wanted to put my hand out. I know how tough that job can be but also how tough life can be with real life grown up responsibilities. Life is much easier as the dreamy kid I know that much.
It’s a funny thing actually. I’ve known him a very long time and like all my neighbours we are always really friendly and we would help each other out. It’s always been a given.
But I don’t get personally involved. What I mean by that is I always hold people at a safe distance. I don’t share the ins and outs of my life with others. I guess living in flats with thin walls we often hear the arguments.
I’ve been called for everything by P in moments that people must have heard and has made me feel small. Someone did once say to me, you shouldn’t allow yourself to be spoken to that way.
All that made me feel at the time was even more stupid and small than I already felt. I didn’t want to tell her that I had no money and in order to keep a roof over my head that I had no choice but to do what I had to do. I didn’t really need her judgement on top. Because frankly if I was already feeling small I didn’t really want to feel even smaller.
Things are not always how they appear but people like to assume they know.
Financial independence is the difference and as noone was going to pay for me to live somewhere else, and I wouldn’t be entitled to anything, I had to do what I had to do.
Funny what people don’t understand when they’ve never had to think about these basics.
For someone who can be very open with people I’m close to which creates much deeper and more intimate relationships, I’m actually in general a very private person.
You’ll catch the fun version but you’ll never know what sits behind it. Keeping most things very close to my chest. Not many people would know anything about my life. I hide it all. I’m expert at it.
It’s why I write this blog. It’s my release rather than holding it all inside.
But I’m especially private at home.
I would do anything for anyone and I always say hello, but I also really like to shut my door and disappear. I’m not one of those neighbours who is in and out of each other’s homes. I tend to avoid those things. I did a little of that when my girl was younger but I found that once you crossed over that line you were fair game for gossip. Something I really hate. People talking about other people behind their backs. Using what they know for conversations with others, to feel bigger and more important.
The stuff of kids but I’ve seen it sooooo much in adults.
I have no interest in being a part of that.
I rarely take that risk with people and even less so now. And certainly not close to home.
My home is my peace from the world beyond.
When I’m on my own I feel a freedom in not having to be anything.
I can just look after myself without having to worry about being what others need. I really like that feeling. It’s something that I find really hard to find when I’m out in the world. I can only really give to myself when I’m all alone.
But last night I broke that rule. I had a need to make sure someone else was ok. Why did I have that need? Perhaps because I know how much I hide and how lonely that can feel. And because he does that job where you help everyone else but is oh so draining for yourself.
And I’m a safe place. It always makes me feel happy when people share their sadness with me knowing that it will be held safely . That they trust me enough not to feel like they have to hide it.
It feels different actually to that job. That job comes with a sticker that says “ I won’t judge you, I will empathise with you and I won’t tell anybody”.
But the difference in that room is you are more protected. There are rules and boundaries to protect you and them. It’s not real life. I never realised at the beginning actually quite how important they are. That person is in that room because in that room there is protection. What a huge hidden element of power that is in being the protector. It influences how that relationship is built. A trust coming from that person believing that they will be protected in there. That you have their best interests at heart. I wonder how often that is abused?
Whereas in real life its a little more even and a little more risky for both. You have to develop a trust without that safety net. You are both less protected and therefore you are both vulnerable.
Because there is no governing body protecting you. It’s a real life relationship full of consequences. The only governing body of how that relationship works is your own.
He shared back. With all of life’s grown up stuff.
I felt so glad that I asked. The space between us was two thin walls and a stair case . But there was something reassuringly human in knowing that on both sides of those walls we were dealing with real life shit and surviving it… just.
No hidden agenda, no what’s in it for me.
I just wanted to make sure he was ok.