This is a little bit of a tricky post to write. Firstly, let me say that I’m fine and still really enjoying being in Valencia. No regrets. But when I started this blog, I did make a promise to myself that I was going to be honest in it, both with you, my friends and readers, and with myself, now and at any point in the future when I might look back at my adventure. And this week hasn’t been quite as shiny and marvellous as the first few weeks were.
Perhaps it’s just that it’s not quite so new now, or that Christmas is officially over or that the weather this week hasn’t been quite as good. (The sky has still been blue and the sun has been shining, but on Thursday it only got up to 13 degrees, shock, horror!)
Or perhaps it’s just that I’ve had a little bit of an introspective week this week. I have realised that I’ve been getting increasingly anxious about one thing and another. Firstly, residency. I’ve opened a bank account, which is great but the next step seems to be to get on the Padrón (the register of who is living in an area) and I can’t do that until I have a permanent address. And I have been at a bit of a loss as to what to do about that.
The girl in my current flat said that I could stay here longer if I wanted to, and in some ways that might not be a bad idea (as long as she’s willing to give me a contract so I can get empadronado). It is a lovely flat, and both of the girls who live here seem nice (if rather quiet and very private) but it also has some drawbacks. For a start, my room is freezing (although I might not be complaining about it being on the shady side of the building in a few months’ time!) and for another thing, it’s about a 40 minute walk from the language school where I’m going to be taking my CELTA course.
Of course, I have also looked at alternative options, but most of the rooms in shared flats I’ve found (or at least, the nice ones!) seem to be available only to people aged up to 30. Why? Surely someone my age is more likely to look after a place than a 20-something student? I just couldn’t fathom it out … until I discovered there is a tax break for renting to young people. Fair enough, I suppose, but it does make my life more difficult!
Anyway, I have found a room I like the look of and submitted an enquiry. We shall see what happens next. If it comes to nothing, maybe I’ll think again about staying put.
But the other thing that has been worrying me has been that I’ve been really struggling to get out of bed in the mornings and then feeling tired during the day (sometimes even resorting to a siesta). It could just be that I don’t have much that I NEED to do (although there are plenty of things I want to do in Valencia!) or it could be because I’m doing quite a lot of exercise or simply that I’ve been coming off my medication. But I have been stressing myself out about it, thinking that I’m never going to manage to get up for my course if I keep on like this.
I was also asked by a friend whether I was lonely and that made me start wondering … I think in a way I have been, to a point. I like my own company and I’m happy reading and writing and running and doing all sorts of things on my own, but I do also enjoy company. And I really haven’t had any since I’ve been here.
But things are starting to turn around. I went to an (English Language) writing workshop on Thursday and for the first time since I’ve been in Valencia, I really connected with a group of people. It wasn’t the same as the Black Dog Writing Group by any means (how could it be?) but it was fun. I felt accepted. I felt comfortable. I had fun.
And the people there told me about an English / Spanish language exchange group that meets on a Wednesday, so I’ve signed up to go to that next week. (Unfortunately, it clashes with my CELTA course so I won’t be able to go for the next 8 weeks.) I’m also thinking of signing up for a yoga class and joining the running club. And of course my course starts next week (how that has crept up on me!) so I will have lots of opportunities to meet and chat with people over the next few weeks, both in English and in Spanish. And today, I made an effort and sat and read my book in the (warm!) living room instead of staying in my room or going into the park, and when Joanna came out of her room to eat her lunch, we actually had a chat! Small victories.
But I have realised that my anxiety was building because I had started to fall back into old patterns of thinking. Every day, I declare that ‘everything is always working out for me,’ but I’d stopped really trusting in it. And it was only when someone posted in the RED January group on Facebook that she’d recently split up with her husband and didn’t know what to do that I realised I was no longer following my own advice. ‘You have to let yourself go through the healing process. Don’t try to rush it but don’t fight it either. And most of all, be kind to yourself.’
Most of all, be kind to yourself.
That’s what I’m focussing on now. Not stressing. Not pushing myself to meet imaginary goals. Not worrying about things that may or may not happen. Being kind to myself.
And today I got a text message from a British lady I met at Pilar’s flat, who lives up in a village in the mountains, inviting me to go and stay with her for a couple of days. We’ll have to find a date that suits us both, but if we can, why not?
You see, when I stop worrying and get out of my own way, everything really is always working out for me, after all.