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Christmas isn't so holly & jolly in this place I can't call home

Updated: Jan 7

A lot of people I know went through breakups in the past few days. If you ask me it’s an interesting coincidence, if you ask my best friend it was because of the cold moon that pushes you to the people you feel best around.


Whatever the reason, seeing friends go through the process of breaking up or being broken up with brought back a lot of feelings.


Not only the feelings of my own breakup, which was three (!) years ago, but also the ones that I haven’t acknowledged. The people I’ve dated for a significant amount of time, but because I’m always moving (and so are the people I meet), it would simply never work out.


The ones that I dated for an amount of time or at the intensity of a “real” relationship, but never defined them as such. And as a semantics professor might argue, things without a definition do not actually exist.



Maybe that’s why I never truly processed those little breakups, the ones that felt like a natural consequence of finding someone you enjoy spending time with. I never acknowledged that losing those people still hurts and that even though they do not count as breakups, they might have to be dealt with like one.


I realised that the last time things ended with someone I never even dated, and I realised it when I met up with my ex I hadn’t seen in a long time.


The hard part of living abroad and moving around is the people you leave behind on the way. The people you love, the friends you made, and the strangers that made your day a little bit better.


And while I’ve always prided myself on being independent and self-sufficient, I’m learning that I, too, need my people around. Trusting people with my emotions is a challenge, and even more so when I realise that I might not even be in touch with that person in a few months’ time anymore.


I’ll admit it: I’m horrible at vulnerability. I like to smash stigma and break taboos, but I get to pick and choose what I put out there in the public eye. While I like to be as open and honest as I can, it’s not easy for me to open up about deep emotions to the ones that are close to me.


And maybe that’s part of why I’m constantly on the go, or end things prematurely. Commitment is a big, scary thing, and I prefer keeping to myself and not getting hurt over being vulnerable and trusting someone.


Apart from people, there are places that I hold dear, and I guess you could say Malta is my first love. A week after I was “home” in the Netherlands, the breakup hangover hit. And it hit me hard.


I’m lying in bed, Sir Godwin next to me, distracting myself from the fact that I just survived a Christmas brunch yet have a Christmas dinner coming up in a few hours.

I came to the Netherlands for Christmas, hoping I would get to see my family after two years of Covid, only to be faced with a lockdown a few days after I arrived - and that isn’t even the depressing part.


I’m not sure if the way I feel about people’s lives in the Netherlands is jealousy or disappointment and depression in their place for not having experienced the beauty that the rest of the world has to offer.


It’s a weird mix between feeling both better and worse, both sad and happy for having left this country behind.


Coming here reminds me of the feeling that I got whenever I was sent to my dad’s place for a weekend, and I felt like I was left behind in a family of strangers for no apparent reason.


I feel like every time I set foot in my home village it takes me back to a time where I wasn’t who I am today, and every reminder of the fact that I grew in a completely different direction than anyone I know here hurts like a knife in my chest.


I can’t tell if it is the fact that almost everything here reminds me of my childhood and teen years, and not the happy memories, or if it’s the weather that’s bringing me down.


So I’m sitting here crying on Christmas day, not because I am alone but because I am lonely, surrounded by people I can no longer relate to in a place I no longer call home.


It’s the fact that I only have two good friends here, and that includes my friend who is trying to escape the country as much as I am.


I left Malta for what I hope will be better and more exciting, although, of course, I cannot know for sure. It’s taking big leaps and bigger hits without knowing what it’s for, yet.


It’s not feeling home in the country I grew up in, while everyone I grew up with does.


It’s my ex moving on and catching feelings making me realise I can’t just tell myself I can fall back on whatever I think that I have here; because I don’t have it.


It’s the inhumanely deep lows that are the price of the manic highs I pay. It’s feeling alone while there are plenty of people who love you, because they can do anything but make you feel understood.


It’s getting a dog at 21, by yourself, and people wondering both why and how you manage to do all that you do.


Why and how I do things is a big question for me, too. Maybe it’s experiencing life to such an extreme extent, where you either feel like a god or a monster, reigned by the voices and demons in your head, that takes you to the outermost part of human emotion, for better and for worse.


God, I cannot put into words what I am going through and even if I could it wouldn’t make much sense.


This Christmas isn’t so holly and jolly. Maybe next year.

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