Indeed, today is a special day, exactly 3 years ago we arrived in Spain, eager to start a better life. One of the main reasons for leaving Belgium was to be as far away as possible from the toxic people in my life. The people who had made my life a living hell were my parents aka my principal mental abusers who liked to remind all the time that I was “stupid, fat and ugly”. But after some months, I realized that I felt safer, and more relaxed, yet I wasn’t fully enjoying myself, but why not? Why wasn’t I happy? Even when we moved to Iznalloz, something was lacking. Wouldn’t you feel happy if you lived in a cozy apartment with 2 bedrooms, a spacious kitchen and a huge terrace with a killer view, all this for less than half of the rent we used to pay in Brussels for a 1-bedroom apartment with a kitchen designed for Lilliputians?

Relaxing Viking and chocolate milk while I am writing outside, because this Belgian girl still needs chocolate!

A view to die for, the swimming pool we share with our neighbors!

Seriously, why wasn’t I happy? A certain virus gave me more than enough time to ponder this question. Wasn’t it about time that I accepted myself as I was? Wasn’t it about time that I put the hurtful words of my parents behind me, once and for all? Moreover, when we left Belgium, it was merely weeks after having received my diagnosis as an aspie. And then it dawned on me: as long as I did not accept that diagnosis, I would and could never be completely happy. I became a member of a group of aspies on Facebook (I highly recommend this in case you are a struggling aspie yourself), I also started reading scientific articles about my disorder, especially about the positive traits (I will devote an article on this), and last but not least I started following channels about autism on YouTube (ask me in the comments if you want to know which ones I recommend). All of these made me fully accept Ingrid Dendievel with the quirky brain. And once I did that, I reached happiness. I now fully realize how lucky – and happy! – Lars and I am.

Some other big changes

When we had just arrived in Torrox, I felt restless because there were no trams or metro like in Brussels. In the meantime we have realized that living in a small town like Iznalloz is better for us, we have everything we need, the locals are super friendly and whenever we have a bad day, we can seek refuge in the surrounding mountains, where we have a canine friend, a Pyrenean mountain dog called Floof. When I meet him, he comes to greet me and then pees on our car, I think in his own way he has accepted us. And we have become friends with some locals here. All this contributes to our happiness.

I think it’s safe to say that we have become obsessed with the local tapas! I actually come from a family with the worst cooks ever, and I sincerely can’t tell you who was the worst, my mother or my grandmother. My grandmother, who raised me, because my own mother didn’t have the time for this, managed to cook a whole dinner in barely 5 minutes. They both were masters of turning pork into something abominable, a gray mass that smelt, felt and tasted like rubber. Even when I was an adult, I still disliked pork so much that the mere sight of it could make me vomit. Guess what? I have come to love it, thanks to the tapas culture! Not so long ago, I prepared pork tenderloin with a wine sauce for the very first time in my life. Last summer, The Viking almost fell off his chair, when I ate grilled pork fat with garlic as a tapa. I actually felt a bit guilty the other day when I saw a truck full of pigs on its way to the slaughterhouse, but the Viking crushed that feeling by telling me that pigs could behave like cannibals. By the way, I taught myself to cook and the very first dish I prepared was … paella! Actually, the Viking is spoiled with food here!

Happiness can come in small portions. My favorite moment of the day is the evening, when I can hear a lot of neighborhood dogs barking. It always makes me think of “101 dalmatians” (the animated movie, not the one with Glen Close), where dogs far and close bark to spread the message that Pongo’s and Perdita’s puppies have disappeared. This moment of the day always puts a smile on my face.

Anyway, up to many years of happiness in Iznalloz!

What about you? Would you be able to move to another country and to live happily ever after there?

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