The Dark Side of Paradise. –A

How many times have I heard people tell me I’m so lucky to be in Spain right now. I’ve heard it at least 7 times in the last week that I can think of. They mean well, either as a complement or something positive to drive the conversation on abroad life. What it really does instead though, is sting just a little bit, another laceration on top of a bigger issue: everything is not ok here in paradise.

It’s not the usual culprit, homesickness. It’s something that I rarely see acknowledged: the exhaustion that comes with maintaining long distance relationships. I’m not even talking about the elusive–well for me anyway–romantic relationship. I’m talking about friendships. Keeping up with people we love and care about when you’re in different places in life, both literally and figuratively, can take its toll. Our stories require more explanations than a simple text can manage, phone calls aren’t always convenient, and time zones make nearly everything impossible.

And of all the interactions we have, how many of them are just to check in and see how the other person is doing? A genuine, hey how are you? If the act of communication is finally established, it’s almost always based around some obscene drama. Animosity surrounds the whole experience, and when you’re in the position having not just one person leaning on you, but several… well, that’s when it all just becomes entirely too much.

What it comes down to, I know, is I need to stop taking on everyone else’s issues. I’ve become a sort of crisis manager to too many clients when what I needed to be was just their friend. I’m the go-to solution finder, I’m the “consider it handled” gal. But I can’t do it right now. I can’t be that person when I don’t have the support I need, let alone the emotional tolerance for all of it. I’ve found myself surrounded by people who don’t understand that I have so much negative energy around me sometimes that  I can’t deal with 24/7 bombardment today. I’m not going to say that though. Because I know that if people are calling, messaging, whatever…it’s because well, how many other people are going to be able to relate? Or be that judgement free character?

I got to the front of my building for class today and I just broke down crying. It was 70 degrees and sunny. The ocean was completely tranquil less than 200 meters away. The convergence of animosity, too many people needing me, along with my own issues, had finally sucked me dry. As I climbed up the stairs I just felt the world around me crumbling. And so I stopped. It was time to take care of me.

As I walked back home by the sea, it hurt me more to think that surrounded in all this beauty, that I could even be this remotely depressed. How can everything look the way that it does, and I’m sitting here, feeling empty and helpless?

I guess I’m still learning that paradise has its dark side too.

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