It’s been a weekend of wonderful interaction with amazing people whom I love dearly – Friday night, Saturday night, and all day Sunday. Weekends such as this remind me of just how blessed I am: I have friends, who love me and who allow me to love them, and who want to spend time with me. Friends who, at a choir party, put wine into my hand because they know I’m probably needing it. Friends with whom I can sing at the tail end of a night rather bigger than I’d intended it to be – this may or may not have been after some quantity of the aforementioned wine – without me second-guessing myself and the appropriateness of my behaviour. Friends with whom I can debate contentious issues over a dinner table in the knowledge of the mutual respect and liking which underpins the conversation and allows disagreements to be points of challenge and intellectual stimulation and growth, rather than battles which must be fought and won regardless of the cost. Friends with whom I work hard to create beautiful music, and who understand why it’s sometimes harder for me than it should be, and who care for me in that. Friends with whom I can have a scrappy takeaway dinner around my dining table after a long and demanding day of singing, without having to worry about the fact that I haven’t done my washing-up or folded my laundry since the middle of last week.
I don’t know whether I’ll ever get to the point where I can take such friendships for granted. Friendships for me have always been dangerous: people to find out the secrets I can’t share; people to take me away from my ex’s control; people to “radicalise” me into thinking that it’s not ok to face abuse and denigration day after day after day. And after ten years in captivity, I haven’t yet become desensitised to the utterly wonderful novelty of being able to be completely myself, and draw attention to myself at times (hello, wine), and laugh with abandon, and debate a fascinating topic without being afraid of punishment in the dangerous privacy found behind locked doors. At several points during the weekend, I found myself sitting stunned at my good fortune, unable to believe that this is my new reality, and has been for over a year now, and will continue to be. I no longer cringe in anticipation of the blow that will shatter my newfound freedom, expose it as a pretty and vacuous illusion – but there are times when I gape in wonder at the realisation that it’s not.
Having said that, my liver is in the running for Employee of the Month (I think we’re going for a hat-trick: December, January, and now February), and so I think it’s time for a quiet week.
A week of grateful reflection and a reminder of the fact that I am in fact this blessed. No idea why, but then, I don’t need to know.