Part four: what is love?

I can feel the weariness from the day setting in, I had made my first climb that morning at 6:00 that morning, the second one came at 4:00 in the afternoon and then my third of the day just an hour ago, but I hadn’t just come for the company or the beer. I had a phone call to make and I needed to pray first and tonight in the clear dark night the only place I could think of to do that was in the chapel, built back in the 1600’s, tucked safely into the castle wall behind me in the tower. I didn’t move though, not wanting to do something always makes me a great procrastinator and tonight is no exception. On the last night in August, right before I was to fly back to Austria I had a fight with the man who had given me the ring in June. It started as a stupid argument about something I can’t even remember just a few months later but it quickly escalated into a full on screaming match. He spouted all the reasons I was a terrible fiancé, and finally stopped worrying about conflict and threw it right back at him. I even got the courage to give that stupid ring back but he wouldn’t take it, he wouldn’t concede. In the end we agreed to postpone the wedding until we could sort through our issues but we were still engaged and when I got on the plane it was the first time in a month that I felt free again. I knew in the deepest part of my heart that I couldn’t marry him, that I wouldn’t marry him but getting out of it was still an unknown. Things carried on, texts by the hundreds would come in and if I was busy and didn’t respond they got heated, then the phone would ring. Id take to leaving it at home if I knew I was going to be busy so that I wouldn’t be worried about upsetting him. He started to question my feelings about every male friend I had at the castle, and given that there were a lot of males, all of whom I loved deeply, it seemed I was always upsetting him. One night, back in late September we had a girls night out, Id forgotten to remove the phone from my bag and as I sat in the restaraunt I had so many calls from him that everyone started to comment, when I got home and finally returned his calls I was screamed at for over an hour. He just couldn’t seem to grasp that I thought it was rude to be talking to him while I was out with friends. His jealousy and insecurity started to shine through his anger, he started to make me the bad guy, nothing I did was right, nothing I said was good enough, and yet in his mind at least calling off the engagement wasn’t the right call. I remember listening to him subtly tear me down one night, thinking if I am so awful, so unlovable, so ugly and uncouth then why on earth would you want to marry me? None of it made sense and still I couldn’t bring myself to take that ring off my finger and end it. I stick my hand in my pocket and dig out a cigarette, lighting it in the dark spaces of the wall tower. The end of it glows brightly and I just stare at it, both loving it and loathing it. It gives me more time here, if I smoke this then I am avoiding what really needs doing and I smile when I find myself considering smoking the entire pack rather than get up and make that phone call. In October I was sitting in the glasshouse, a small room made entirely of glass windows that is perched on top of the gatehouse below. I was talking to a friend, trying to explain myself, trying to answer her questions about why I have been doing this for so long and I said to her “I am so tired of thinking someone might love me, then finding out that they don’t. Tired of seeing their backs as they leave” and then I whispered “There is a part of me that actually hates him”, and there it happened, the moment of clarity that I hadn’t known I needed. God whispered to me “You have done this to me your entire life, and yet I will never leave you, I will love you always, no matter how many times I see your back leave, I will always stay close, loving you.” And damn, even now as I puff away on this stupid smoke I can’t believe how clear it all became. My whole life I had been searching for love, unconditional love, from a man, when the entire time it was God who was offering it to me, willing me to accept it, hurting every time I rejected him but never hating me, never giving up on me, always there, always waiting, always loving me. That was when I started to change, when things started to shift inside me and I no longer felt like I fit in this place anymore, that was when I knew he had another plan for me, even if I didn’t like it, or want it , or even know what that plan was. I stub out the half smoked cigarette and stand up, both unwilling to move but also needing too. Sometimes I am like a hamster in a wheel whose legs can’t keep up with the speed of the wheel and then has to stop and roll back and forth a few times in order to stop. This is my brain lately, since that day in June it seems. I go back and forth, up and down and yet, just like the hamster I never get anywhere. I move back to the wall and lean against it, remembering that day when I felt for the first time how much God loved me. The day I knew I was actually loveable and I smile because for the first time I also knew that I loved him too, and that I wouldn’t ever turn my back on him again. That night I finally called the engagement off for good, took the ring off and placed it in the drawer of my desk, the details didn’t matter somehow, what mattered was that I was loved and having finally seen what that should look like, this ‘love’ being offered to me wasn’t it. The biggest hurdle had been jumped but looking at the calendar had chills of fear running down my spine. It was October and I was supposed to be leaving for England, my job, my life here was supposed to be over. To be continued…

Published by lauriehaughton

Author & Photographer

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