Piecing together the puzzle of freedom, independence and relationship.
I grew up with a mother who mowed all of the lawns, changed all the light globes in the house and cleared all the gutters come summer. Not only that, if I had asked her to do all three at once, she probably could have and would have still succeeded in getting my brother and sister and I to school before the nine a.m. bell sounded.
I was raised thinking that as a woman, there was nothing I couldn’t do. When I turned 13, and my school friends were obsessing about their hair and what shade of blue mascara to wear, I decided to become vegetarian. When I was 16, and a curriculum day appeared, I caught the train into the city to the art house cinema while my friends hung out at the skateboard ramp and ate at Subway. When I turned 18, I dreamed of university, and when I had finished that by 21, I dreamed of traveling the world.
So I set off with a backpack that was barely lighter than my body weight, and a one-way ticket to Asia, unsure of where exactly I was going. I remember Mum watching me struggle my way into the departures lounge after dropping me off and kissing me goodbye.
If she was concerned about me venturing out into the world alone or the fact that I didn’t have a clue where I was going, she hid those fears in her warm embrace, instilling me with enough love and courage to defeat anything that came across my path.
I spent the next five years traveling, working, couch surfing and volunteering. I would call Mum from random payphones on the beaches of Thailand or from the noisy streets of Bali, from Golden Gate Park or Vancouver Island, from the jungles of Costa Rica or the Eiffel tower, often forgetting the time difference, but knowing no matter the time, Mum would be thrilled to hear my excited voice.
I returned home once for my brother’s wedding, but mostly, we would communicate through emails. She would ask me what color I thought she should paint the bathroom walls while I looked around my bamboo bungalow in the middle of the jungle that only had a ramshackle roof and I would smile at how different our lives were, but how connected we remained.
Yes, I faced times where I doubted myself, or where I felt fear rise inside of me. I had moments when I wanted to share a breathtaking moment with someone or have someone to come home to at night. But I always felt whole in myself, always at peace with my own company. I met men who changed the trajectory of my road and the foundations of my heart, but I held my independence and my freedom above anything else.
I believed wholeheartedly in the wings that rested behind the shoulder blades of my back, and I felt that nothing would change this fierce determination that had been passed down to me.
But, I was wrong.
I failed to see when I was growing up that Mum did all she did out of necessity, a need to be strong and fearless. She was a true lioness and her cubs were the most important thing in her world, but what I also failed to grasp was that these cubs were her company, her pack.
Somewhere along the line, I made the connection through my deep love and admiration for her, that to be strong and independent, I had to be alone. So when I have faced love, I have never allowed myself to give all I could, for in my mind that was admitting to being weak, to relying on another and a declaration that I was not complete on my own.
Recently, I felt the walls of love closing in on me, collapsing around me with loving arms and future dreams that had the voice in my mind telling me to run! So run I did, to the other side of the world, to the opposite hemisphere, to the biggest city I could lose myself in so I could prove that I knew how to find myself.
What I found was that I was depressed, and lonely, and that I was indeed lost. And with this came anger, came feelings of defeat and failure. What was the realization that spelled disaster? That I felt myself to be more whole with another. Alone, the puzzle only felt half finished.
I was mortified, dismayed.Where was that courageous young warrior princess that could do anything, go anywhere, be anything? Well, she was right here. And she could also love, she could share experiences and she could find joy with another by her side.
I ran across the world to find my freedom, only to realize that freedom is not an outside entity. Freedom exists within, in the day to day decisions and choices we make. In admitting my love for another, I am not casting my independence to the winds, instead I am asking my partner to take my hand, to walk by my side, to be independent, together.
I shared these insights with my Mum on the phone as we sat side by side a million miles away from one another. I could hear her smile in the words that she spoke to me. I could hear her life echoing around her in the background; her partner banging pots and pans in the kitchen as he made them dinner, the dog barking at the neighbor’s car, my stepsisters relaying their day to anyone who was or wasn’t listening. And I smiled also. We were two peas in a pod Mum and I, but that didn’t mean that there wasn’t room for anyone else in there either.
Kelly Kaiana is an aspiring writer, a raw food chef and a passionate yogi, practicing and teaching in the style of Ishta Yoga. A lover of travel and culture, this gypsy poet calls Byron Bay home, a place abounding in natural beauty, spectacular sunsets and endless inspiration. An eternal optimist, Kelly is passionate about community, vegetarianism and all things environmentally friendly and sustainable. The spirit of bhakti inspires her creative flow, whether that be through making jewelery, creating a new yoga practice, serving beautiful, nourishing food or collecting natures treasures for her alter. When she is not traveling the world or making raw wedding cakes in the kitchen, you can find her strolling through farmers markets in the sunshine, dancing barefoot in the rain, or etching spirals and dreams into the sand.
Editor: Seychelles Pitton