I spent my childhood playing on my own. Instead of with people – I played with toys, because I did not have brothers to keep me company. When I learned how to read and my social circle expanded, I realised books understood me better. They talked less and said more. I was bothered by all the noise coming from the loud-mouthed, because in the world full of hollow hearts, it echoed even more loudly.
Raised in that solitude of mine, I trained myself never to miss people, to love them endlessly while they were with me, because they would soon be going home. And usually when play reached its peak. They all had their own homes that I did not share, had someone who would say “It’s time to go”, and it wasn’t me, and they would leave without fail. Neither my sulking nor sadness nor anger would work. With time I realised the only solution to that was – letting them go.
I have learned not to expect people to always stick around, to always like me, to always understand me. In my expectations from others to show me they cared about me, that was where my fears resided, my insecurities, monsters, witches, ghosts and other unseemly creatures. In my expectations from people closest to me, that was where things that hurt me most resided, not in the people who did not live up to my expectations.
Just as I would, perspiring, my cheeks ruddy and feeling exhausted, let my friends go home although the play was in full swing, knowing that I would feel again the kind of silent loneliness that just an only child could understand, that is how even today I let all the people closest to me go home when they feel like it. The same way books let you go, they hold you, but after reading, they let you understand them the way you want, that is how I let people nowadays understand me the way they can. Because everything they think about me is just their version of themselves. I have learned that a bad person thinks all people are bad, a liar thinks all people are liars and a good person that all people are good. Not only do I let them leave and misunderstand me, but also at times I let them even condemn me without any justification, forget about me from time to time and leave me without their support.
I know that only those who fear whether they are going to live to see the next day need support. I see myself with grandchildren. Support is necessary to those who have doubts at present. I have lived in my visions of my own future for years. Support is necessary to those who do not have a higher goal but only a wish to succeed. Support is craved by those who are scared of something. I freed myself from my fears in my childhood when I realised that what I thought to be an evil witch was actually my father making a noise while sitting on the edge of the bed.
There are not many things that can hurt me nowadays. Not because I am so strong, but because blows on the wounds that have healed do not hurt the way they did the first time. Today I know that people hit you not because they want to hurt you but because they do not know how to caress. My retaliation will not teach them that, but embraces will. Today, when I know the difference between being alone and being lonely – I am not afraid of being alone; when I know the difference between a mistake and a sin – I find it easier to forgive; when I am not afraid of the end but believe in eternity – I know that is where we’ll all meet one day.
On that side of the horizon, where the sun goes down, that is where, among childhood toys, books that teach and kisses that bring us back to life, we’ll live without any expectations. Those who live on love, not expectations, who put the wind in their sails, not take the wind out of someone’s sails, those who kiss where it hurts, not where it itches, those are the ones who will make it to that place. There, we’ll be in need of one another only because we’ll want to love something in others, not because we need something from them. It is said that such a place, which does not echo with noise but serenity – is called Heaven.
Translated from the Serbian by Svetlana Milivojević-Petrović
This post is also available in: Serbian