Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Year of Sand in the Car.


Truthfully I’ve been staring at this blank screen for at least the last 30 minutes with absolutely no clue how to start. As I’m typing this, I’m about 95% sure I’ll go back and change it later before I hit publish. Susannah is curled up in my lap…poor thing, I feel like I’ve been running around so much lately that when I am home, I’m typically collapsing straight into bed, so our time together has been extremely limited. Although all she really needs from me is to sit still so she can cuddle up and take a bath (somehow my lap is her chosen bathing spot). I can feel her tiny sandpaper tongue catching my leg every few licks.

I am writing this ahead of time of course, but by the time you read this, October 10th, we have lived in Charleston for exactly one whole year. It has also been almost one whole year since I last wrote on this blog, hence my hesitation with how to begin. I’ve forgotten. I thought so many times about sitting down to write something about our experiences here, but I have been too afraid…even just to write for myself. Writing has become incredibly therapeutic for me, and I knew it would help me digest some of what’s happened over the past year. But. BUT. I just couldn’t. I knew that whatever came out would be too much for me to handle and would certainly not be enjoyable for anyone else to read.

It’s funny going back to that blog post I wrote after we got here – I sounded so hopeful. I guess “funny” isn’t the right word after all. Shortly after we arrived and settled into our apartment and our new life, I hit rock bottom. In fact, I found a new bottom. I can’t really pinpoint it to one thing in particular, but it’s never really that easy, is it? I was so much more homesick than I anticipated I’d be. I started working a full-time retail job, which meant a lot of weekends. I thought that would be an ok change for me. Besides, it’s not like we knew anybody and I’d really be missing out on anything, right? Wrong. I knew Gabe, and I loved Gabe, and basically all time with Gabe up and vanished. I want to make it clear before I continue that I do not blame that job for this, because it’s not the job’s fault. It’s no one’s fault really. I just thought it was a change I would enjoy. I misread myself, I misunderstood what I needed and I took a path I thought I wanted. But it was sadly far from it. I’ve mentioned this on Instagram before, since that’s apparently where I do most of my writing these days, but basically I came home from work every night and cried. Even when I didn’t have to go to work, I cried. This is how I made the transition from a life I knew to a life I didn’t. By crying my way through it. I went to movies by myself on my days off because movie theaters are familiar and comfortable, and I’d drink wine in the middle of the afternoon and cry there too (I admit I was seeing a lot of very sad movies, so that obviously didn’t help). I became a pro at crying in public places in general – there were quite a few restaurants I was afraid I’d never be able to show my face at again. I tried to find a gym and the right kind of class and a schedule that worked and helped me feel like me again, but like anything new, it took time. And when you are at rock bottom, at least from my experience, you want whatever you think will make you feel better to make you feel better NOW. I very much felt like I didn’t have the luxury of time. On more than one occasion I knew the only way I’d feel better was by disappearing.

Here’s the thing about moving to a new place and feeling the most depressed you’ve ever been in your life: it puts you in a terrible position to make new friends. Obviously we all know it’s hard enough to make friends as it is, especially as an adult, but then to throw oftentimes crippling depression and anxiety into the mix…let’s just say I wasn’t selling myself very well.

Hello person I am meeting for the first time. Do you want to be my friend? I cry a lot, I will most likely spend most of our time together complaining about shit I can’t control and I will debate you at every turn when you try to cheer me up. No? Yeah, didn’t think so.

Who truly wants to be friends with that person? That person is exhausting to be around. Unfortunately that person was me and I found her to be pretty exhausting as well. I spent a lot of time wanting to crawl out of my own skin. I was basically one giant exposed nerve, just walking around waiting to brush up against someone or something that would undoubtedly cause me to spiral out of control all over again. The reserves of strength I needed just to make it through the day intact were being depleted at an exponential rate. The more homesick I became, the more strength I needed and the less I seemed to have. My stupid and cruel anxiety brain told me over and over again that I was a failure. That moving here was an experiment that went horribly wrong and therefore I had failed. I was having a hell of a time finding work outside of retail (which after the holidays had become part time for my sanity’s sake) and so I had failed there too. My days were consumed with doubt, regret and emotional self-harm. Even now I’m not sure if I can forgive myself for some of the awful things I believed were true about me. They are hard to shake.

OOF. Ok. Deep breath. Have you made it this far? Bless you. See, this is why I couldn’t write about this before. Six months ago this blog post probably would have ended after that last paragraph. Depression, as is its nature, gave me blinders to anything positive happening in my life, so it felt like misery as far as the eye could see. What happened to change that? Time. Honestly though…just time. Both the most annoying and the most true thing. There was no big revelation, no big event that turned everything around. Eventually things just started to change. I discovered RedZone and finally got myself into the gym on a regular basis after a new location opened around the corner from the store downtown. I found coaches who challenged me. I felt like I might pass out during every workout (still do), which is perfect for me because I’m sadistic and weird. I stopped worrying about my weight and how I looked every second of every day, mostly because of sheer lack of the energy it takes to do so. And lastly I started to let people into my broken heart. It should come as no surprise that is both the hardest thing to do and the thing that helps the most. You meet someone new and you have to go on blind faith that they won’t let you down. Some do. Hell, a lot of them do. It’s happened to all of us and will continue to happen forever and ever amen. But by luck or happenstance or whatever you want to call it, sometimes you find some of the good ones, the ones who want to stick around. Or rather, they find you.

Can I just tell you how much I love the phrase “here’s the thing”? Because HERE’S THE THING. The biggest thing that this whole experience has taught me thus far. I came here thinking that it was as simple as picking up my life in Minneapolis and transplanting it to the beach. I understand now how little room I left myself to just let Charleston be what it was going to be. I thought I knew the kind of job I would have, the kind of people I would meet, the kind of life I would live day to day. But how could I possibly know that? Don’t worry, I’m shaking my head at me too. I let the relentless control freak inside of me try to tell me that I had failed at all of this, when in fact it was just the opposite. I had done it. I had left everything I knew behind and made a life somewhere else. It might have been a big f***ing mess at first, but sometimes life is a big f***ing mess. I needed to learn to get out of my own way and stop judging whatever was happening here.

Eventually I did get out of my own way, which is how I said yes to becoming a RedZone coach. And how, after a short training period that included a couple of light panic attacks about being on a microphone, I fumbled my way through my first few solo workouts. With every workout I lead, I feel stronger. I feel more sure of myself. A person who has become very important to me once told me he thought this could save me, and he was right.

I think I’m starting to lose track of what I wanted to say here, so it’s time to bring it on home. Are things perfect now? Hahaha. No (who needs perfect anyway). Are things better? Yes. Absolutely. I’ve met some truly wonderful people here, people who have surprised me with their kindness, their support and the fact that they wanted to be friends with me at all. Slowly I am coming back to myself. Slowly this place is becoming a home to us. You can have more than one home, right? I hope so, because pieces of my heart have always been scattered all over the place, and now I’m leaving a bit of it here too. BUT SERIOUSLY CHARLESTON, GET YOUR TRAFFIC UNDER CONTROL.

Oh, also, we have a lot of sand in our car now.

EF1A5263Sadly I have not taken many photos for myself lately, but this past weekend we found ourselves in Beaufort and I brought my camera along.

It felt right to document some of the people who are bringing joy into my life here, one year later. ♥








































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