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.
Beautifully written and very powerful. Your photos and writing on Istanbul have opened my eyes to a city I have never visited but yet it has come completely alive to me through your words and images. I wish you great happiness wherever you decide to go and look forward to seeing more of your work. All the best for the next phase of your journey!
Stuart, such a beautiful and thoughtful comment. I really appreciate all that you have said. It means a lot to me. Thank you with all my heart. 🙂
Martina, you have a beautiful voice. I’m glad I found you! Where to next? And also, what theme are you using for your site?
Thanks Anthony. 😊 I’m using the Silvio theme.
Looking forward to your new adventures.
Me too Neil 😊
All the best for your new opportunities!!! Look forward to reading about them:)
Awesome, so excited for you! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your words are beautiful.
This makes my heart happy, that you have found so much healing and joy and growth in the same place where you were shattered. <3 So excited for your new adventures!
Thank you 🙏🏻 Jamie
One day you’ll send yourself to sleep thinking only of where you are, and who you are with. And then you will be home.
So happy your journey has led you to such a place <3 Can't wait to see where you go next.
Thank you. 🙏🏻 It’s a place I’ve never been to before so we will be exploring it with new eyes. I look forward to sharing it with you. 😊
What a beautiful read ❤️ I feel as though I’ve been on a journey from start to finish. All the best on your new adventure 😊
Your writing is beautiful.
Your pain and hurt did a lot of damage to your soul. But you are healing!
That is the most important.
I’m truly sorry you had to go through that. Growing and healing has made
you a wonderful expressive writer. Your Photography is as wonderful as
Thank you Mark 😊
Oh dear, this post just tugs at the heartstrings. You will know if a piece is well written and powerful if it can invoke emotions even from someone who hasn’t been in the same shoes.
I know for sure you will find home. It could be anywhere or in anyone. You just have to “see” not just with your eyes, but with your heart open.
Beautifully said Tina. 😊
I’ve loved visiting with you in Istanbul and look forward to visiting you in your new destination. I’m glad you found so much love in Istanbul.
Hi Deborah! Hope you are well. Yes, he will eventually join me here. He needs to complete his work contract first and I also wanted him to get used to the idea of making another big move. For me, I was going home to Europe but for him it would be a new period of adjustment and he needs to make that decision when he is ready. I need this change to be his decision. 😊 How are you these days? I’m very busy and have little time to think but I feel good here. I feel like I’ve come home. Have you ever been to this part of Italy?