Polish Girl Independence

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This month there was 100th Independence anniversary of Poland and such a celebration  made me wonder what it means to me? Poland disappeared from the world map for 123 years. Only after the First World War it gained its independence back. How about its people? How about me? What does it mean to be independent?

For me independence, and in the same freedom, is the ability to make my own decisions, deal with its consequences, and most importantly – not to be judged as well as lead the life I want to live. When I have a good look at Polish history, my analysis brings me to a conclusion that during the communist times I would never be able to buy my own flat and live on my own! I would need to get married to leave my parens home. It wouldn’t mean to live only with the husband and starting a new family with him, probably I would need to move from my parents’ to my husband‘s family as during these times it was not at all easy to get your own apartment. You had to sign up a wating list and wait a few long years to be assigned one. Of course it was not even certain you would! I remember in the flat of 54 m², where I spent my childhood, were living three generations: my grandparents, my parents, me and my brother. Three rooms – three separate ones – each for one of the generations. Nowadays, when I compare the conditions I spent my childhood in with the ones I live now, it shows me how my perception of having my own space changed. I live in a flat of 48 m² and cannot imagine having a kid there. However I remember spending my childhood and sharing a room with my brother of 9 m². We managed, there was no other way. I remember I envied my friends who, when living with their parents and their siblings, still had their own room. For me that meant they had their own space and were allowed some privacy. I can’t say I had such an opportunity. That is probably why now I need a lot of my own space and privacy. In my opinion everybody needs it. We need to have our own corner where we are able to calm ourselves down and know that is the only place no one else has access to without our permission.

From one hand independence and freedom for me is to have my own physical space in life. On the other hand it is also making my own decisions without being judged. I tend to claim that the only person, at the end of each day, that is allowed do judge me in any way – is myself.

I also think that I happen to live in the most incredible times! Yes!!! Amazing ones 🙂 I can travel as much as I can, and where I want, as long my budget allows me to do so. I think money is just money, these can always be earned. The most important is that I can choose whatever destination, then take a flight and just go! 🙂 Isn’t that lovely? Within a few hours I can be on the other side of the globe! I wouldn’t be able to do so, in such an easy way, during the communist times. Luckily I was only seven when capitalism arrived to Poland and I don’t really remember a lot from communism. I think with my free spirit and eager to travel, meeting international people, visiting as many places as possible, I would feel a prisoner in Poland about 40 years ago. I am incredibly happy living in a free country now that allows me to buy my own flat, to make my own decisions, keep the passport at home and use it whenever I want it, to host foreigners, to observe how the city I was born in and live is changing and how colourful blocks of flats are becoming as well as notice how many tourists are coming to visit Poland. I am amazed how much Warsaw, the capital, grately changed during only 28 years of capitalism. Looks like freedom also means development.

Independence is something you cannot buy in my opinion. It is something you need to fight for, like I was fighting to buy my own flat that brought a lot of autonomy into my life. Nobody controls who I am inviting into it and in the same into my life. If I was still living with my parents, they would see who I am meeting and most probable they would make their own observations and comments about my friends I would not really want to listen to. I do not like being controlled by anyone or judged, even if these people are parents who do not wish me bad. As a grown-up I know, and I am aware, that the only person responsible for my life is myself. I stick to my beliefs, try to make reasonable decisions, and if some occur to be wrong I deal with the consequences, so I only try to make these that don’t hurt. 😉 Apart from living on my own, making my own decisions and sharing my positive emotions with others, taking responsibility for myself is the biggest independence and freedom I have ever achieved in my life. Even though capitalism may not be one the best systems, it gave me the possibility to have at least a bit of autonomy in this crazy, egoistic and commercialized world. 🙂

73-year-old Couchsurfer

Can you imagine how surprised I was when a few weeks ago I received a request to host a 73-year-old woman?! I consider the couchsurfing website as the one mostly used by quite young people, aged 20 to 40. This time however, and for the first time in my whole couchsurfing adventure, I received a request from an old woman! Unfortunately I need use such an adjective as “old” because there is no better equivalent. I accepted her even though I had some doubts if we get along. And again another person brought new perceptions and a lot of new ideas into my life! 🙂 What makes her amazing is that she learnt English only when she was 40, as her biggest dream was to visit the United States. She managed to do so, and even worked for a whole year there. She started travelling once her two sons grew up and moved out to make their own families. In my opinion it was her second chance to make the most of her life. In her case the statement in which some claim that life begins after 40 makes sense and proves it right 🙂 While observing her I noticed only the generation gap between us, especially when it comes to technology. However she made me so surprised and amazed with her eagerness to travel, willingness to get to know the world, being incredibly open-minded, having such a free spirit as well as using couchsurfing both ways –  to be hosted in strangers’ houses and hosting others.

Usually 70 something people are considered more as grandparents who usually stay home, watch TV, do some crosswords, take care of grandchildren and tend to have many illnesses. She was completely not that type! She is a great example that at any age you can fulfill your dreams, only if you really want them to happen. In my opinion it takes a lot of courage to travel alone when you are a pensioner. On the other hand she made me wonder who I will be by the age of 70? First of all will I still be alive, second of all will I still be travelling alone? Will I be in good physical condition to travel? Will I be willing to be hosted by strangers? Will I still be hosting? She made me wonder a bit about my future and where my life experience may lead me.

I think the most important is that she brought a lot of positive energy into my life and shows an amazing example that it is only a matter of strong personality and willingness to achieve your goal –  the age cannot even stop you! I realized I only want to be surrounded by such amazing people who show me there are no boundaries in anyone’s life and the only one who can stop us from fulfilling our dreams is ourselves, our fear of failure and million excuses! 🙂

Guilty Laziness

Today I came into thinking why do I, and probably most of the people, while resting and doing nothing, feel guilty about it. I woke up in the morning, around 9 am, as it was a Sunday and I did not need to rush anywhere, had some breakfast, some morning coffee, watched a bit of TV, and by 11 am I decided to lay down again and have some rest. A few hours later I found myself lying on my bed, hugging a teddy bear, [I know I’m 35 and still hugging a teddy bear ;)] and almost falling asleep again. I did not allow myself to do so, as I kept having this thought on my mind that I’m not being productive. It did not matter it was a lazy Sunday morning, and I did not have to rush anywhere, I was being unproductive!

Then the question came to my mind – why the hell do I feel guilty? It’s my day off, I don’t have any kids to take care of, moreover it’s a national holiday in Poland, so all of the shops and shopping malls are closed. Not that my way of spending Sunday morning is shopping, it just came into my mind as an excuse and explanation to allow myself a bit of laziness. Why don’t I allow myself just to lay down for a couple of hours on a Sunday? Do I always need to be productive? Do I always need to do something to feel useful for the society? Isn’t it good sometimes just to do nothing even if it takes the whole morning? Where does it come from that we quite often feel guilty when we allow ourselves to take things slow, even very slow? 🙂 Probably these who are mothers would envy me having such an opportunity to do nothing for a few hours, yet even by being a bit privileged I felt guilty. On the other hand I don’t feel that guilty when I’m lying down on the couch watching TV, but lying down on my bed and being with myself in silence made me feel acting lazy. The weather also wasn’t helping, because it was grey outside. And after a few hours of doing nothing I decided to put my clothes on and go out jogging. It made me feel at least a bit productive for the day 🙂

However it still makes me wonder why, even if I allow myself such a Sunday once in a few months for this kind of laziness, it still makes me feel remorseful. Why do I always demand from myself to be so responsible and reasonable and not to waste time? Isn’t spending time in silence, just with yourself and your own thoughts, also a productive time? May you then find out many things about yourself as well as develop emotionally? I decided that I will allow myself  to be lazy on Sunday mornings more often 🙂 It is really not a bad thing, especially if you don’t have a day fully planned and booked with tasks. That is usually how my working week looks. Isn’t it that we kind of feel obliged by the society to be always in shape with many tasks on our hands, just to feel useful? And it feels soooo good to lay down, from time to time, and just do nothing! 😀

When Enough is Really Enough?

I was wondering lately what does it mean to have enough. When enough is really enough? And what does it mean to have enough in life?
I started analyzing it was after hearing in a radio a commercial created for one of a discount shop in Poland. The guys there were singing about buying more and again buying more. It made me then wonder when it will be enough? Not only for them, but mostly for myself. What enough means for each of us? What is enough for me? Do I still want more? Do I really need more? Or do I have enough?
In my case enough was buying my own flat, even though I am still paying the mortgage for it. I can’t say I need a bigger one or I would like to buy a house – that would mean not having enough and still wanting more. Do I want more? No I don’t. So I think I have fulfilled my need of having enough. 🙂 By realizing this fact I am now able to enjoy my “enough” fulfilled dream 🙂
However what is enough for others? Have they reached their enough level? Will they ever have enough? Will they always want more or will they get into the point when they will finally have enough? Will they even enjoy their enough? Or are we, as human beings, will always be wanting more and will never have enough? Is this happening because of the society always requiring from us to have and want more? Do we feel better by buying more and more things we usually don’t need that much, but the commercials we see around and on every corners are so convincing, that we believe we don’t have enough and shall want more?
For me enough is to have a nice and warm flat; to fulfill my basic needs as having something to eat and a central heating for the winter; to afford incredible and adventurous travels; read an interesting and educating books; go to the cinema or theatre once in a while; meet and talk to interesting people over a glass of wine or a beer from time to time and exchange our points of view about life; host some foreigners and learn from them their way of life; and the most important – to feel free. Kind of basic needs I would say 🙂
Summing up I need to admit I have reached my enough level. It makes me feel happy in my life 🙂 How about you? Have you reached your enough level? Or are you still searching to get an answer of what enough means in your life?

Parentification

During my whole therapy I came across a term parentification. What does it really mean? And how does it affect adult life of these who have been through such a trauma?

Parentification is simply quickly becoming a parent once you’re still a child. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? There are two types of parentification, one is a physical one meaning you need to take care of a sick parent, for example a handicapped one; the second is an emotional one and happens when you take care of, in an emotional way, a parent who is incapable of handling their emotions. I am sure many of us have been through such situations, yet we do not realise it. However it has an incredible affection on our adult lives and the way we build relationships with others. I noticed, and it also concerns my example, that people who lived through parentification always know everything best, always have the best solution, always try to predict consequences of somebody else’s actions, most of the time feel insecure, and the worst is that they think they have the power to make somebody else’s life better by giving good advice. At least now I am aware of me not being able to have the best solution to every problem and I just don’t give my opinion when I am not asked. Everyone has their own way of living their lives and it is not possible to make anyone happy if they do not want to feel so.

The parentification that happened in my life was an emotional one. As my mother abandoned me emotionally when I was a child, I instinctively got closer to my father, and everything would be totally fine if not the fact that I became his partner while still being a kid. My mother was not able to handle her own emotions, be right next to him and create a partnership marriage. For me it is incredible how subconsciously we, as people, create toxic relation within the same family. Handling my father emotionally, while being a kid and later on a teenager, was too much. Listening to his complaints, to what he’s been through at work, comforting him, cheering him up while he was in a bad mood, in my opinion was really too much for a young girl. I think when people get married, both of them a man and a woman, are looking for partners in their lives. If it happens they do not find a partner relation with the one they married, they are looking for it somewhere else. That is probably why people cheat. In my family case my father could’ve cheated on my mother and find another woman who would fulfil his emotional needs, yet he didn’t do so. In return he found in his daughter, that is me, a potential to become his life partner and unconsciously continued it for about 20 years. That was the amount of time for me to realize it and change dependency between us. Amazing, isn’t it?

Another hard example from my life showing parentification, and the one I still remember, is paying the bills when being a seven-year-old girl. The technology was not that well-developed as it is now. Today what I do is just several online bank account money transfers and within a few seconds all of my bills are paid 🙂 However in 1990s in Poland, and probably in other countries too, to pay the bills you had to go to the post office. As everyone was getting their salaries by the 10th every month, you can imagine the queues there! My duty, as a kid, beginning of each month and after school going to the post office and stand there for about two hours to pay all of the monthly bills. Was that really a task for a seven-year-old? Now I know it was not. Now I know they shouldn’t have done that. What is more, during the time I was standing in the queue paying all of my parents bills, my father was sitting in front of TV smoking cigarettes and drinking tea. At least he was not an alcoholic 🙂 Thank you the universe he usually was drinking tea after work! 🙂

From one hand I know it was too much for me to handle, as managing a grown-up while still being a kid is not really a task to fulfill in the childhood. On the other hand it taught me incredible responsibility, but now when I observe myself I would even say too much of it as I keep demanding a lot from myself as well as I can be quite hard on me too. Anyway I am on a good path in changing that 🙂 I start being less responsible, give myself permission to make mistakes and not being perfect all of the time.

How was it in other people’s’ lives? How much parents demanded from them? How much of their unsolved emotional problems were put on kids? Are there people who had a great childhood with parents who knew what love is all about? In my case and in my childhood life everything was all about my parents, it was never about their kids. However now, when I am myself an adult, and try to live consciously, I am able not to repeat my parents’ mistakes. Becoming self-aware is the best thing that ever happened to me! 🙂

Psychoanalysis – to Go or Not to Go?

Why did I decide to go to a therapy and what is its result? There were three reasons for me to do so. The first one was the toxic relationship I was involved in with in and out for the past 20 years, the second was my friend who encouraged for me to do so by revealing his life story and a nasty divorce, and the third one was a new manager at work I couldn’t completely get along with.

So I searched the Internet for a good psychologist. At the beginning I did not know if she was good or not, yet I decided to give it a try. It’s been around three years I am going to the therapy and now I know it was the best decision I have ever made. Quite an expensive one though. The whole therapy and revealing the biggest subconscious secrets from your life to a stranger, and in the same time realising them yourself, made me more self-aware, more conscious, and more intelligent. I do admit at the beginning it was painful and I remembered many evenings after the sessions that ended up in tears. Anyway the pain was worth it. Now I am able to lead a very conscious life and the relationships I am building with others are more honest, sincere and real.

In my opinion not everyone had toxic parents, yet there are always things in our minds we are not aware of and in some cases they may lead our subconscious resulting in making decisions that hurt us. And later on we keep asking ourselves why did we do that to us?

I knew that I was always doing a lot of analysing and I loved thinking why things happen and what was the reason for them to happen, and the psychoanalysis helped me in putting all of my thoughts together and getting a result out of it. It also gave me knowledge how to analyse my dreams. Previously when there was a person in my dream I knew like a friend, or a parent, or an aunt, or somebody else, I always thought the dream was about them. Now I know it was always about me. These people were only symbols reflecting my subconscious. Once I learnt how to read them, I know what my subconscious wants to tell me. And I listen to it as it has an incredible power.

I was always interested in psychology, so thanks to the therapy I got to know how my brain works, read a lot of interesting books that helped me to understand the emotional part of human being that I was never really able to show because of my toxic mother and became smarter. I have also learned what my parents were through in their childhood. That made me realise the way they treated me wasn’t because they wanted to hurt me deliberately,  but it was the result of their unsolved emotions along with their childhood issues. As a small kid I was an easy target to suck all of their toxic emotions as I did not know how to protect myself from these. Now I do and now I do not allow others to cross my boundaries. I do feel sorry for what my parents have been put throughout their early lives, yet I think they were not allowed to hurt me the way they did. On the other hand I’m grateful for what happened because it made me an amazing, strong and independent woman who knows how to enjoy life and is not afraid of living 🙂 It only proves the relationships we have with our parents are always difficult to judge and to be in. Now I’m trying to rebuild and learn how to create a healthy relationship with my father. I am aware I’ll never have a normal one with my mother, because it’s just not possible, and it will never be as she ended up mentally sick.

Coming back to the clue, in my opinion it is worth going to the therapy. The only factor that may stop you is the fear of getting to know the truth with the whole pain that goes with it. Once you deal with the pain, in return you get consciousness, honesty, self-awareness and then you can do whatever you want with that knowledge. I chose to be happy, to enjoy every day life and being grateful that even though my childhood was not a perfect one and my parents occurred to be weak human beings, I managed to grow up a wonderful person who loves to live, loves people and appreciates small things that every day life bring 🙂 Thanks to the therapy I am able not to hurt people the way I was probably doing subconsciously. And not to hurt the person I love the most – that is myself  🙂

A girl – a Lonely Traveler

Why I am travelling alone? Is it still such a strange thing to see a girl who travels on her own? Lots of my friends tend to admire me for doing such a thing. And for me it is not a big thing. I just want to do it, and I am doing it!

From the beginning now 🙂 I think it was my dad who subconsciously encouraged me to travel. I remember when I was young he was reading me to sleep “Gulliver’s travels”. It might have been that time my mind started getting used to the idea of traveling. When I was 19 I left Poland and went living as an au-pair girl in Paris for a few years. I need to mention I did not speak French at all then. I spoke English, yet those who know a bit of French culture will immediately figure out knowing English was not much of a help 🙂 I leant French there. Brave, isn’t it? As some may claim that going to a foreign country may be risky for such a young girl, I think it was just an adventure for a 19-year-old girl. It taught her how to manage in such a cosmopolitan city like Paris. It was 2002. In Poland capitalism was only 13 years old, and even though the capital and the country itself was quickly developing, it was nothing in comparaison to a 12 million Ile-de-France region. My 3 years adventure of living in France taught me only amazing skills, like: becoming very independent and more tolerant, counting only on myself, managing in all kinds of situations and finding out what freedom means to me. I am now not afraid of buying flight tickets and going abroad alone. I would even say I love it! What I love about traveling alone is that I do not need to compromise on anything. I go to places I want to see and visit. I do not need to ask anyone for their opinion or plans for the trip or for the day. It may sound egoist, and yes I am aware of it. Yet I prefer to travel alone than in a bad company. Most of us know how hard it is to find a good companion, especially when it comes to traveling. People have different needs and expectations. In my life there are only 2 people I am willing to travel with – my father and one of my girlfriends. The reason I can fly with them is that they know some unpredictable things and situations will happen and they do not panic then. They are both chilled out and relaxed, they love enjoying life, so if we feel like sitting in a café and drinking some, we just do so. Both of them do not care about money that much, so we are not counting penny for each meal in a restaurant or each souvenir that we buy to know how much we have left. Of course we are being reasonable and not wasting money on stupid things, just enjoying every single moment of our journey.  Rest of my friends do not travel the same way I do, so there is no point going anywhere with them, as it would be only waste of my energy.

What does the travelling alone give me? Lots of positive emotions. Facing challenges. Proving myself I am invincible. Crossing my boundaries. Realizing I am amazing. I love the feeling of getting on a plane, then landing in a foreign country and the story begins – finding myself, asking for direction, searching for places I want to visit, tasting different food, enjoying sunsets and sunrises, admiring landscapes, listening to the sound of sea, ocean and wind. Feeling the universe, understanding it, being grateful for such an opportunity of being where I happen to be. This is what I get when I travel. All range of positive emotions. And people I meet on my way are amazing too: couchsurfers, pedestrians, other tourists. They are always helpful and always making me smile.

Many times, here in Poland, I heard my friends saying that traveling alone is not such a common thing, especially for a girl. I keep wondering why? Are women afraid of doing so and being alone? Are we still thinking only by having with someone around our life has a meaning? Are Polish women still brought up the way they need a man to take care of them, as they are a weaker sex and need protection? Really, are they? If so in my opinion they are missing a lot. Especially their freedom, as they have resigned from it in order to get a false sense of security provided by men. I am aware I am a grown up, does not matter a girl or a boy, as an adult human being I know I am responsible for myself. No one else! At least that is the philosophy of life of a Polish girl who travels alone 🙂 And loves doing it! There are so many amazing places for me to see and I cannot wait to buy another ticket after my 8th Greek holiday this year I am starting soon 🙂 I am sure the moment I come back I will be googling some other flights to places I have never been before. In my opinion we are living in such amazing times and the world is so open to any of those who are willing to take the most of it. And I am one of them 🙂 I want 100% of this world! I know the opportunity is there, just waiting for me to take it. So why would I be like most of Polish girls waiting for their price charm to arrive, when I have millions of flight routes to choose from and still at least 100 countries to visit! I may be egoist, I may not be adapting to society by not having a family and kids, yet I am happy in every single day of my life as thanks to my travels I am such and my open-minded person that has so and many plans for the future! Not only these concerning traveling of course 🙂