Ever since she was small Sally had wanted to be free to do her own thing, to make her own choices, to live her life her way.
She had grumbled as a moody teenager that nothing ever went her way, life wasn’t fair, she never got to do what she wanted.
She wanted to be free from rules, from her parents, from school.
Now as she sat at the worn wooden table of the coffee shop, watching the rain paint patterns on the window, her hands warming on a cup of her favourite coffee, she realised that freedom came at a cost. The phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ drifted through her mind as she sighed and closed her deep blue eyes tight to prevent the tears escaping.
Today she was utterly and completely FREE!!!
This was what she had always wanted.
She could choose to do anything, be anything, go anywhere and she had never been so frightened or alone in the whole of her life.
It had happened over time, this freeing up.
It had begun when she’d left home and started work.
It was fantastic to be an adult , making her own way in this life.
Slowly the weight of responsibility had squeezed in and she was paying a mortgage, working to live, in a job that demanded too much of her, in time, effort and spirit.
She realised that this wasn’t freedom at all.
Everything she did required the filling in of forms, the monitoring of who she was and what she did, whether buying a car, moving house, buying a bus pass.
She felt caught in the ties of everyday red tape.
Her parents hold had not diminished either, even though she no longer lived with them.
They still wanted to know all about her life, were too free with their judgments and criticisms, unaware of how deep they cut.
Sally often felt that she couldn’t move without making a mistake that was being monitored by the world.
And then she lost her job.
A freeing that awoke her to the realisation that she had been creating the worst chain of captivity of all for herself, financial chains.
Her debts and mortgage and bills, which had never worried her in the past, were suddenly leaden coated fears that kept her awake at night.
If only she’d thought more clearly about the freedom she craved.
She’d begun to focus on financial freedom.
Thoughts of working from anywhere in the world, creating passive income, being paid for doing what she loved, filled her mind. And she’d started to put steps in place.
It was tough to stay focused while the demands for money increased and the part-time jobs she worked hardly covered her mortgage.
She sold her beautiful home, her first illusion of freedom, silencing the demons that woke her in the night.
She started again.
She rented a small flat. Decorated it with the things that meant the most to her.
Her own style, her own taste, her energy.
It wasn’t too long before she met Mark.
Caught in the bubble of her new life , soon she had tied herself in knots wanting to be with, hold onto, never be apart from him.
Mark moved in and suddenly her comfortable space felt cramped.
She stuck with it because Mark was going to be famous one day and everything would change.
He was a writer set to change the world with his provocative opinions and innovative thoughts.
And yes she would support him. After all he made her feel important, loved, that with him she would eventually find the freedom from the status quo that she craved.
Then things had changed and one clear skyed morning Sally had suddenly understood that she’d been caught like a fly in a spiders web. A web that had wrapped itself tightly around her.
She’d allowed herself to be blinded by Mark’s charm, false promises and passion.
She’d allowed him to control her so much that Sally didn’t know where she began anymore.
She couldn’t find the confident, over zealous, feisty freedom seeker she’d been before they met. Instead she was quiet, withdrawn, nervous, obediently working two jobs to support Mark in writing a book that had never been written while three years had passed.
Three years of her life. Three years off plan.
It disturbed her that her choice for freedom had led her to captivity and dependence and a relationship that was destroying the very essence of who she was.
In the shadows behind her eyes, tucked in the back of her mind, freedom beckoned her again.
A different freedom, even a return to where she had come from, would be a blessing, a gift.
How could she escape?
She feared he would never leave. He had complete control. He had her afraid to live without him and yet desperately wanting it to end.
And then it had happened suddenly.
His fascination with her was gone.
He had discovered a new fascination. A new woman to captivate.
One Sunday morning she woke to an empty flat and a note. He had gone. She had ‘let herself go’ and was no longer his muse, his inspiration.
Relief filled her very being and she lived in complete elation for two days until she realised he had empty her bank account on his exit from her life.
She moved so that he wouldn’t find her.
She changed her job so that he couldn’t trace her.
She dyed her hair so that he wouldn’t recognise her.
He still had her, was the realisation that took her by surprise one winter morning, two months after he’d gone.
This wasn’t freedom.
She was trapped in her fears of being found by him.
She began to choose for herself…
What she wanted to eat (he’d controlled that).
Where she wanted to go (he’d set boundaries).
Who she spoke to (he’d been very particular).
How she spent her free time (he’d had guidelines) and she took full control of the remote.
She settled in to a freedom focused life.
She launched her passive income schemes.
She began investing.
She began to like herself.
She began to love herself.
She began to feel almost free…
…then out of the blue…
…Two weeks ago her parents died. A car accident took their last breath, their last hug, their last sigh.
Today, tears dripping into the coffee cup she held tightly, she was absolutely FREE!!
Her parents had left her enough money that she would never have to work again.
They’d left her their home.
After all she was their only ungrateful child.
She had built up her own portfolio.
Money demons would never cross her door.
She could go anywhere.
She could do almost anything.
There was no-one left to tell her what she couldn’t do.
She was her own boss.
She was finally in charge of her life.
She hurt like she’d never hurt before.
She was on her way home from the funeral service. A perfectly rain-soaked, grey skyed, bleak affair.
And sitting here now, examining the price of her freedom and questioning it’s worth, she suddenly got the irony.
It took her breath away.
She had been searching for freedom in all of the wrong places.
Her freedom was a false dream.
Her freedom came at immense cost.
True freedom was wrapped in acceptance and allowing, tied up in appreciation and love and decorated with compassion and joy.
Freedom was a choice she could have made in any moment, if she’d focused on what she had, what she was, rather than what was not.
If she’d chosen, she could have enjoyed more, laughed more, hugged more, loved more and been more to those around her.
Freedom, she realised , was a state of mind, an attitude, a choice, a spirit that could never be broken irrespective of outside circumstances.
Freedom was to choose joy, to choose the best, to respond with spirit, with love, no matter what.
Freedom was laced with responsibility and discipline and belief. A paradox of illogical choices.
Freedom was being able to love and live without losing yourself. Freedom was a journey.
Freedom was life.