There are numerous reasons why we choose to live the way we do, living an alternative, low tech and simple lifestyle. One of those reasons is the sense of community with like minded people, people who accept you the way you are, for what you are, without judgement. To many, we live on the fringes - there isn't room for people to choose to live as we do within mainstream society. Our politics or lifestyle choices don't fit, our want to not be pinned down to bricks and mortar clashes with the status quo, and like any other human being, we gravitate towards those of a similar mind.
I doubt I'll ever be able to feel completely at home anywhere, or at least, feeling settled is something that will forever elude me. Yet here, I feel more at home than I have anywhere.
I was born in Essex to a working class family. I was sexually abused as a child. My parents divorced when I was 17 and I shouldered more responsibility than most teenagers should. I survived a violent attempted rape in my early twenties; attacked by an alcoholic ex-partner, ironically only months after I saved his life following a suicide attempt. I put myself through University and 2 degrees, by working every spare hour in pubs or shops and taking every student loan offered to me; I'll forever be in debt for wanting an education. I've had 3 breakdowns - 2 mild, one major where I volunteered myself for sectioning, and have been in and out of therapy and off and on meds for enough years. I can remember staring out of my bedroom window at night, when I was about 8 or 9 and should have been asleep, feeling so sad about where I was or who I was and wanting to escape, somewhere, somehow. I've had clinical depression for a long, long time.
I'm not telling you all of this for sympathy. None of this is news, it's all in the archives if you dig deep enough, and sympathy has little use. No, I'm telling you this because it's REAL.
As real as the fact that we live in a converted double decker bus and we have a beautiful 4 year old son. As real as my need to constantly create and play with wool and 3D forms. As real as having built a business through my own determination and individuality. As real as having published 4 books. As real as supporting my family from the earnings that business provides, in an industry where the pay is poor and the hours long. As real as my art degree from a highly prestigious college. As real as the 6 years I spent in full time teaching, helping others to not only be creative, but in turn to accept themselves. As real as having the most amazing and beautiful friends, all of whom I love and miss dearly. As real as having a supportive family who have learnt to understand me better over the years. As real as the fact that it's now been 2 years since we stopped smoking, and 3 months since I kicked the coffee habit.
My point is this: life happens. It isn't a jolly little journey through which we can happily skip without a care in the world. Shit happens. And amazing stuff happens, too.
I, for one, am sick to death (almost, quite literally) of those who insist that we should all be happy, all of the time. That isn't real life, it's a veneer. This idea that we all have to grin and bear it, or better yet, sweep it under the carpet and pretend it doesn't exist, is a damaging one. This mentality that is alive and well in many areas, that suggests that the negative should never be mentioned or the different should never be accepted, is a problem. A big problem.
It's this type of small mindedness that helps keep people like me prisoned in their dark corner.
And I for one want say it as it is and keep it real, and would like to be free of judgement for that, too. It's time to lose the veneer and break the taboo. I have had enough of living in fear of people who lack understanding and compassion.
We live the way we do because we're trying to be the change we want to see.