El Viaje, Fasten you’re seatbelts

12 October, 2019

Somewhere in the airspace between Spain and Belgium

Thursday, 10 October 2019

It’s just incomprehensible, once, only a few years ago I was like death for flying. I was in a constant state of panic from about 24 hours before the flight, until the moment of landing, and then the whole process began again with the return flight. I could handle a maximum flight of 4 hours, and in the beginning only 2 hours. Wim always ‘persuaded’ me, or let me be honest, tried to make me realize that there were quite a lot of fun things to see outside of Belgium. Because of him, I always recharged myself to travel by plane. And fortunately it always turned out to be more than worthwhile to endure these fears.

I couldn’t handle a flight without a sedative, and I got all the clammy sweat as soon as we had to drive to the airport. I found it anything but pleasant experiences. I couldn’t control it, my body was totally in control of me, and my thinking was completely taken over by my fear. I constantly had to hold Wim’s hand, and then planted my nails in his hand, each time the landing or take-off was initiated. I forbade him to sleep, and together we did crossword puzzles, just to force my thoughts to think of something else. I clung to my handrail, sat stiff, my body completely stretched, my muscles in combat mode, my heart in overstroke and forcing myself to breathe in and out deeply.  He went through it all together with me.  I couldn’t think of anything else but a crash. And coincidentally, almost always, in the week before we flew somewhere, an airplane crashed somewhere, or there was an emergency landing, terrible. I then tried to reassure myself by thinking that statistically the chance was much smaller, that now our plane would crash as well. But Wim pulled me out of my bubble by saying that statistically the chance was the same for every flight… damned.

I wanted to fly further, or rather, make further journeys, see beautiful places, and so I took therapy with a psychologist that I immediately had a good feeling about, a click even. I had every confidence in her, and together we tackled the anxiety problem with cognitive therapy. I learned a number of methods to deal with my fears, I learned a lot about ‘normal’ things during a flight, like the noise, the valves, turbulence and so on. That made me gradually, more and more confident in the pilot and able to control my fears. In fact, slowly they started to disappear, not completely, but almost. So we were able to go on our honeymoon to Jordan, a beautiful country, a beautiful trip, and more than 6 hours of flying. On top of that there was a stopover on the way back… as if there wasn’t enough challenge yet. But I survived, and how?

At this very moment I’m on my own, on the plane, at the window, writing my blog. The place at the window was not my choice, I admit that, I was assigned them, and still thought it worth a try. And I can’t believe my own abilities: during the whole take-off I looked outside, and I didn’t even force myself, but really enjoyed the view, the view of my new homeland. I love these mountains, the sea, and again I know that this is my home, my new habitat, that I belong here. And no longer in Belgium, my first chapter is finished, my life in Belgium, and I started my second chapter. Although not with resentment or anything else, but with a lot of happy and beautiful memories, of my children and family, of extraordinarily beautiful friendships, of special acquaintances and experiences. This book is a separate adventure of which I don’t know where it will take me, us, but it is already a very nice prologue….

Of course I will be very happy to see the children again, even if it is a real blitz visit, because tomorrow evening I will be flying back again. Wim couldn’t come along, because there are 2 villas for rent, and tomorrow new guests will arrive. So there was no choice, I had to go alone. This is my very first time all alone on a ‘trip’. Soon I’ll pick up a rental car and drive to Beveren, to the kids. It’s all so unreal, and I’m incredibly proud of my evolution and growth in self-confidence that I’ve been through in recent years. I can only attribute this to my relationship with Wim, which gives me the opportunities, the support, the trust, the enormous respect for me as a person and as a woman and his unconditional love. I cannot be grateful enough for this, but I also know that I mean as much to him. And that makes me twice as grateful. Because I found my soul mate, who with my backpack filled with things from the past, has taken me into his warm heart.

It may be a little strange to make a declaration of love to the world here, but I see it as my novel, my experiences, my personal life, and I find no secret in making it known to the world.

Turbulence is beginning to appear, and now it’s getting a little more difficult for me. But I keep concentrating on my fingers that help me to put my thoughts on paper. Maybe in the end this will be a piece of text in which you may notice the slightly panicky feelings that I do feel bubbling from the inside. I listen to relaxing yoga music, and hear a stream running, reassuring, but a little less for my urge to urinate… 😊

Yesterday I was again surprised by the Spanish way of life. Apparently there was a holiday for the hundredth time this year, and all shops were closed… The Valencian holiday. What do they like to party here. I thought it was strange that there was so much space on the parking of the supermarkets. Because I had nothing in the house, I had to find something. Luckily I found a small Turkish mini-market that was open. I had to improvise on the spot, and determine my ‘menu’ on the basis of what they had available.

We decided to concentrate on the organisation from mid-November until the end of December, especially with regard to bookings and such like. There has been so little time for it, that it really needs to be looked at thoroughly, so that as much as possible can be done automatically, so that Wim is relieved of a little more pressure and can concentrate more on other things, instead of having to postpone everything over and over again.

Maybe then we will give our friends (not naturists) the chance to come and stay with us. But that’s not certain yet. Actually, we’ve hardly been alone for the past few months. Very nice, very much our thing, but probably a little bit of we-time will be needed to relax mentally for a while. To be able to get out together, enjoy the sauna, beach walks, our own Lavinia-motto ; everything is possible and nothing has to be done. We’ll see.

Two days ago we appeared on the frontpage photo and a real three-page article (which I wrote myself) in Athena, a Belgian naturist magazine. We have received a lot of nice reactions about it and the last few days our website is being watched more than before. It gives a strange feeling to know that at 6000 households in Belgium you end up on the letterbox…. And then again via digital means, I suspect. I feel a bit proud, especially when I think that about 8 years ago I went through life full of complexes and as a very insecure woman.

Naturism has changed my attitude and my personality, and gives me the opportunity to make choices that in the past would only have given me fear and avoidance behaviour. Now I seem to be able to face every challenge with confidence. That this has only made me a happier person is the topping on the cake!

In the meantime, we are just one hour away by plane, halfway between my new home and my homeland. It feels strange to know that I have to wear clothes all the time for the next 24 hours. That I will have to adapt to the ‘normal’ world again. Fortunately it is 12 degrees fresher in Belgium, about 17 degrees I thought, which will make it a little easier for me to digest.

Belgium, here I come !

Hasta luego,

Annemie ofte Ana

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