Arrivals & Departures

Leaving Istanbul

When I first arrived in Istanbul in September 2018 I wrote…

Istanbul would this time be a love story. Not between me and another but between me and the city.

A few years ago I had left Istanbul confused and afraid. I had bought into someone else’s limitations and realized that I had begun living their story instead of my own. We were married for about three and a half years, when thankfully, the marriage shattered like glass when the resistance kicked in. The relationship was difficult and traumatising and it had coloured my entire experience of the city.

After I left him, in order to heal and start again, I needed to return to Istanbul.

At first I began to return to the city through books and images, connecting them to my memories of things. It was a city that I remembered in pieces. It was during this time in my life when I started to take writing seriously. It became my way of orienting myself in the dark. I wrote everyday to reconstruct what had happened. I wrote as a way of resurrecting my truth of events that he wanted to erase. One night, I told myself that I would write my way back to Istanbul. At that moment, I had nothing. Leaving him, meant leaving with nothing and he made sure of it. It was his way of keeping control.

When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose and I began to write my blog, not knowing what I was doing. This was the time in my life where I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror and preferred to brush my teeth in the dark. This was me broken and bewildered, unable to comprehend what had happened and how I had gotten to this point through the pretense of love.

I focused on finding and re-developing my talent, little by little and going back to what I knew best which was teaching. Through my blogging, a year later, I was connecting with another blogger I was following. He is an author of several books and he offered me an interview to teach at a university in Istanbul. It was the end of a very hard year but a year I lived deeply and fully, walking purposefully in the direction of my fears because I knew that confronting my genuine fears was my only way into a brand new world.

In September I returned to Istanbul to teach and to write. I explored all that I had left behind undiscovered. I would sometimes walk for hours in places where I had once been forbidden to go because everyplace held a reason for him to be jealous. He had no real sense of self esteem and needed so much to have control over me because he had no control over himself. alone. The Grand Bazaar, the Hagia Sofia, Fener, the historic old town – these were places that were unclean to him, crowded with people below this assumed status and worse of all, they were full of other men. He couldn’t handle it.

Still sore from all that had happened, I realized that I was in Istanbul looking for myself. Did I find myself? Yes and no. Istanbul allowed me to work with my fears and gave me time to reflect on and heal my trauma. Istanbul gave me many firsts that I had not had in a long time. My own flat in one of the most historic neighbourhoods of Istanbul. It gave me a friendship that blossomed into genuine love no matter how much I resisted. Istanbul also gave me a mentor who believed in my skills as a teacher, encouraged me and in the process also became a friend. His name is Leonard Durso.

Istanbul gave me one last thing – it taught me that there is nothing to be afraid of. What I learned through my experience of Istanbul was what I am not. Not afraid, not nothing, not worthless, not selfish, not a bad writer, not stupid, etc. Realising through my own determination and experience of what I am not, points me once again in the direction of what I am and that is undefinable.

In the end, I met myself.

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