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Break the Shackles

I arrived in Warsaw exactly four years ago, it was the coldest winter in recent history and the first items I bought were a pair of long johns and then a second pair, it was painfully cold.

Winter has arrived with a bang in this neck of the woods, the other day I even saw a few crows huddled together for warmth. That said, I have also seen a couple of hardy ladies wearing something resembling summer skirts. Hardy souls indeed. A couple of friends have told me this cold weather is necessary or we won’t have a good summer, but I am very sceptical and consider this a myth because weather, like life, is completely random.

However I do appreciate that the cold spell will kill off the dreaded Mosquitoes, which in my case is great news, because they love my Irish blood. Everyone else in my vicinity is safe when I am around. The bloody things descend on me in their droves, leaving me with lumps that resemble Mount Everest and an itch that goes straight to my core. So the more that are slain during this cold spell the better.

Times Keep Changing

Since returning to Warsaw I have noticed that things certainly don’t stand still here for long, shop fronts are changing weekly, and it’s more than ever a dog eat dog place. I am not just talking about work and business, the world of relationships is similarly unrestrained. Having recently broken up with my long term girlfriend, I have started dipping my toe into the world of dating and have found it a curious and somewhat frightening place. Women these days are more demanding and certainly aren’t afraid to express themselves, their requirements, and desires.

Having been away from the courting scene for a long period, things have evolved. I’m not certain it’s in a positive way, however. Time constraints are a major stumbling block when it comes to seeing someone regularly. A while back I asked one lady out for a coffee, so she produced her phone and proceeded to check her diary. Then she informed me we could meet three weeks from Wednesday. I said well okay, if I am still alive by then. It seems that in the world of the modern business woman, affairs of the heart come a distant second to their careers.

The Power of Nurture

The majority of people are looking for the Mr. or Mrs. Right and that’s fine, but there is a question I have been asking recently and that is, why are we so afraid to be alone? Especially when people reach a certain vintage, they seem to feel that it’s essential to have someone, often it doesn’t matter who, just so they are not alone. I know this from personal experience because I did the same thing in the past. This time I am allowing some healing time, because when you let loneliness and the fear of being alone cloud your judgment, more often than not it’s a case of straight from the frying pan and into the fire.

My opinion is that our training and the influence of religion are mainly to blame, and once again this is where Ireland and Poland have a lot in common. We are brought up and programmed to feel that there is something wrong if you don’t have a partner by a certain age. It’s my experience that women in particular are raised up to believe they have to get married, have a kid or two, and stay that way till death do us part. If things don’t work out and separation ensues, there is a certain humiliation. This is where my homeland and Poland differ.

At home, women have certain freedoms after a breakup that don’t seem to exist here. In Poland it seems (as I‘ve also been told by several Polish women) there is a stigma to being alone after separation or divorce and it can be a difficult place to reside. Many are so frightened of the opinions and judgments from family and friends that the pressure is on to find someone to legalise then, so to speak. People’s upbringing dictates everything; we are so controlled by our belief system that we are completely lost and frightened. I’ve been trying to find myself and it hasn’t been easy. I was lost, very missing so to speak.

Time is a great healer they say, and it’s one of the few sayings that I really agree with. Whether it’s an absent relative or a broken relationship, time does heal the heart. Time won’t heal you if you sit on your hands and think everything is rosy, though. Self-denial is the enemy here and I was an expert at that as well.

Real Life is Offline

Of course it helps more rapid healing when you work a bit on yourself, whether the remedy is yoga, meditation, jogging or (last but by no means least) talking, the art which we are losing at an alarming rate. This is mainly due to technology and its adverse effect on our psyche and the good habits passed down through our lineages. Talking is the entity that helps us to solve everything, but at this time when we have Facebook and so many other ways to communicate, we have never been so lost. These mediums are the narcissist’s playground and that’s all they are good for. People don’t really talk; they show off or brag about some routine part of their dream. The real stuff is left unsaid. The influence of the internet is staggering and the worrying thing is that there is no stigma attached. You can do whatever you want and spend half the day “playing” and not a bother. There are people starting to awaken from this nightmare and growing numbers are looking to free themselves from the dream of this planet.

A few years ago if someone had told me I would be doing yoga and meditating on a daily basis, I would have said not a ghost of a chance. But it has helped me immensely during some stressful times lately and I believe opened me up to more. Unfettered me is maybe a better way of describing it. Talking is the key though, unloading makes you feel lighter and puts everything into prospective, so let’s talk our troubles away and stay light. I have got high hopes. Keep smiling.

Ivan Dlouhy

"Since moving to Warsaw, I have been able to make some great friends and attend InterNations events with other expats who understand what it's like to be so far from home."

Raquel Santos

"During my first month in Warsaw, I attended an InterNations event and immediately felt as if I had acquired a great network of expats contacts and new friends."

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