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Aaaand she's back!

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Hello again! My many, many readers (ehem) probably wondered what happened to me the last few months. After I celebrated my 15 years of Stockholm syndrome I had a bit of an existential crisis and did not particularly feel like blogging. But just like the sun, I'm back bitches!

15 years of Iceland in my life

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This month 15 years ago I moved to Iceland for the first time. Starry eyed and excited to discover this country full of volcanoes, horses, glaciers and adventure.

I left several times, for studies, to travel and live somewhere else (China and South-America) for a year, but coming back was always the path of least resistance when it was time to return to grown up life. Sometimes I had applied to several jobs in several countries, but Iceland was the one that replied, sometimes I was offered a job in Iceland before I had even started looking. Suddenly I noticed I had fully migrated to Iceland in a similar manner as normal people end up returning home after mucking about in the world for a bit.

My relationship with Iceland is complicated. It is the place I have considered home the past 15 years and the place were I have felt least save from all the places I have visited. It sometimes feel like living in a house and forever be treated like a temporary guest, even though you have lived there for years.

I had a small get together for my 15 years of Iceland and here were some ideas for names of the event:

  • "Christina has been 15 years in Iceland and really doesn't know how to feel about it but definitely needs a beer" party

  • Christina's celebration of Stockholm syndrome

  • Sunken cost fallacy feast

  • Christina drinks to a multitude of bad life decisions

My third Chinese cigarette

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I had four cigarettes from Beijing left. They are as awful as six year old cheap Chinese cigarettes who have travelled through three continents in a backpack can be. I did not want to throw them out, I did not just want to smoke them, so I attached a task to each of them. Every task involved something I was nervous about. One was about trying to integrate myself again in the group of my Icelandic acquaintances. Another was my celebration of finding a job after two years of rambling through the Americas. The third came with an epiphany:

Confronting someone who abused you is useless. In most ways at least. I probably would not have subjected myself to the whole experience had I not been subjected to his presence too much for comfort due to Iceland being tiny.
Here is what to expect when one finds oneself in this situation:

  • Denial

  • It simply did not happen. The time you were stuck in a car with him having a go at you for forgetting the keys while you just kept repeating "but I could have just stayed with my friend": a figment of your imagination, just like all the similar encounters you remember clearly and which caused you to tiptoe around him never knowing what would set him off next.

    I actually believe him. It wasn't memorable to him, he just needed an outlet for his anger and there I was. It just goes to show that abuse is not about any actions of the abusee, but emotional issues the abuser transfers to his/her victim.

    The important thing to remember is that your abuser does not get to decide on the importance of these events. But more on this in the next point.

  • Reframing / Downplaying

  • The constant hurtful comments were only a joke.
    Your possessions were kept hostage because he did not know you needed them back urgently (despite the emails clearly stating that you did).

    You misunderstood the situation and him loudly and angrily telling you that you are trying to manipulate people after seeing one (1) histogram when you were in the middle of exploratory data analysis was actually a discussion about statistics.

    It happened only one time (though it didn't).

    I was just worried about you (anger equals caring in an abusive persons mind) and therefore I tried to keep you from doing things / was angry at you for doing what you wanted to do.

    It is simple. If you feel unsafe and threatened no "explanation" can justify that. Which leads us to the next point.

  • The responsibility for the experienced abuse is firmly placed on oneself

  • The pinnacle of not taking responsibility for ones actions. The famous "you made me angry". Or in my case "I thought I would have to hurt you because...". This seems ridiculously obvious, but the sad truth is that it is common for abused people to believe this kind of reasoning. I remember wondering what was it about me that provoked all this anger.

    Which was the only positive result of this conversation. I finally saw through the bullshit. I decided to break off the conversation and to keep this person out of my life, however inconvenient it might be in Iceland.

So what now? I asked myself smoking my awful, awful cigarette. I decided to take the advice from a presentation about being a female content creator on the internet:

1. Your health and safety are important
2. Find a good places.

It might be heartbreaking and terribly unfair to be the one who has to leave. There are experiences and activities I miss doing with our common friends. Friends being nonchalant about the fact that I did not feel safe was hurtful.

I have found some of these good places now. Some with old friends who were extremely supportive and some with new, who did not know what was going on, but are incredibly nonjudgmental about me being twitchy sometimes. I like not stressing out and being able to sleep.

And I have one more cigarette left, though no idea which task to assign to it. Maybe I smoke it when I move out of this closet and finally found a flat with a shower.

new year

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The end of the old year saw me falling into old patterns. New years eve was a bit of a mess, emails had been mis-send or worded strangely and I found out that the group of friends I used to hang out with are planning to do something by hunting down my friend on chat.

I was a bit taken aback that no one seemed to have found it necessary to inform me about the new year plans. But then people here in Iceland do tend to forget the people not on facebook, without any malicious intent. And here is what I should have done:

Suggested to meet up and watch the fireworks from a save distance. I am horribly afraid of anything which explodes, to the extend to panic attacks. I'm sure it would not have been a problem.

Instead I hid away in my room until 1 when I put on my favourite music and went earphones in ears to the party. Where everyone was lovely.

Before I left Iceland in 2012 I was in a state of constant fear to provoke anger. I was even afraid to tell my friends it is my birthday. Reactions I expected ranged from dismissive (why would we waste time on your birthday) to annoyance at me demanding attention, again. Being emotional abused is in many ways alike being a mouse in front of a playful cat. In a horrible position, but knowing full well, that any move will make things worse. At some point this fear bleeds into other relationships and thus one ends up with some colourful social anxiety disorders one never imagined ever having. And crushing loneliness.

However in the last two years I experienced an amazing side effect. I got to rediscover how awesome people can be.

A random woman acknowledging that I must have had a hard time when my mom died.

A friend having frequent, long (and drunk) Skype conversations from the other side of the world with me, before I met my flatmates in Chile (who are their own brand of amazing).

Being picked up from the airport and driving around town when it was way to early for shops to have open with the comment "I don't care what we do, I just want to spend some time with my friend." I'm going to have a word with the hobbit defense league to spare him once we take over the world.

Where am I?

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From the 29th of Dec I'll be back in Iceland.


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