This past weekend I was in Sofia with some old boarding school friends.
It was wonderful.
I love being with those old trusted friends.
I love being able to take for granted that things and standards, ethics, morals ... whatever you want to label it ... are guaranteed, you know?
I love being able to say what I want, disclose anything and not be judged for it.
I love that none of us are prejudiced in any way, be it; sexuality, race, religion or whatever.
I also love that none of us ram religion down each other's throats and that we are more "spiritual" than religious per se.
I also found peace there. We went to see the Rila Monastery, and even though it is a sacred religious place, for me personally, it was a spiritual experience. I found immense peace there. We lit candles which affected me deeply, and I had to walk out of the chapel back into the sunlight quickly, lest I broke down.
All of our little group had experienced loss in one way or another, and I was proud to be amongst friends who are battling their own demons and heartache. It grounds and humbles me.
I didn't like being alone though. As soon as I returned to my hotel room alone, I could feel the dams were ready to burst. So, I changed my top, slapped on some lipstick and banged on Janet's door, and announced that I was going for a vodka. Told her I felt a little wobbly. And she was ready within 3 minutes to accompany me to the bar. The dam was saved.
I enjoyed every moment until I got back in my car at Heathrow. It didn't help that my "meet and greet" purple parking guy was a bit surly... but as soon as I got on the motorway I started sobbing. It was too late to collect my dogs from kennels, and I just couldn't face going home alone.
So I didn't.
I carried on driving all the way down to the coast to see my friend Vicki and when she opened the door, she was greeted by a flurry of tears. Her boyfriend told me I was having dinner with them, which I did, and he even cooked it alone so that we could sit and talk and hug a lot.
For so long I've been pretending that I was okay. And I'm not really. Yes, I have more inner peace, having reached this new level of acceptance. But. And it's a big but ... the pain is worse. It's all that is left of this grief and loss. Pure pain. There are no distractions ... no anger, no guilt, no confusion, no denial, no bargaining, no nothing. Nothing else now. The pain is very real now, and I understand the loss on every level; intellectually, spiritually, emotionally ...
I feel better for admitting it to her. For talking about it out loud instead of just on here.
Today a huge weight has been lifted from me.
Back to work, back to life, back to reality.
A weight lifted ... and replaced ... with wonderful memories of a great weekend with amazing people.