Can I stay?

October 29, 2014 LifeThoughts  One comment

My therapist tells me I’m not supposed/allowed to think about this, but being the angsty/moody writerly type that I am, I feel that my feelings aren’t real until they’re down on paper and out of my freaking head.

So here goes, most of you know that Andrew and I are spending January – March 2015 down in North Carolina to see if we want to live there. It’s a trial run, but also an excuse to get the hell out of dodge for the worst of the winter months. If you didn’t, well now you do.

(Side note: It’s been an usually warm and sunny fall here in Michigan and I really think it’s messing with my head and making me think things I wouldn’t be thinking if it wasn’t warm and were it’s usual sucky self.)

I find myself trying to talk myself into staying here in Michigan after the three month stay in NC. Things keep coming up that are making me doubt if I really could handle moving. Things like impromptu movie dates with my aunt and cousin, coffee outings with dad, weekend days hanging out with my sister-in-law. Or getting invited over to my aunts for my cousins baby gender reveal or all the weekends my younger cousin spends at our house gaming it up with my husband or all the times I call up my best friend and say, “Hey, when can you get together this week for a walk?” All these things make me think, “Is it worth giving all this up? Can I actually handle walking away from all of this?”

And I don’t want to sweep those things under the rug like I’ve done in moves past. I don’t want to be reckless and impulsive in my decision to move (which, I’m not. I’m being so mature and logical about it it’s nearly ridiculous. This is something I’ve wanted since we moved back home from NYC — so going on three years. We’re giving ourselves the gift of those three months in NC as a trial run. IF we move, it wouldn’t be until summer 2015. And then we’d just start by renting a house.). I want to be fully AWARE of exactly what I would be giving up. And, on the flip side, what I would be gaining.

Because there is no right or wrong answer. There are just pros and cons to each one. And I will have to make a decision. The best decision I can make. But either one will hurt.

I think more than anything I’m afraid of change.
Which I honestly didn’t think was possible. I’ve always been like Simba cub in the elephant’s graveyard when it came to change.

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I’m afraid of losing the connections and relationships I have with my family and friends now. I know I will still have them, but the dynamics will be different. There’s just no getting around that. And there’s the whole business of how I LOATHE talking on the phone. How am I supposed to sustain relationships with people like my father if I hate talking on the phone? Skype, maybe?

Will it be too hard for me if I can’t just call up, say, my sister in law and say, Hey next weekend we’re doing movie day at my house? Or will it not be as hard once I’m actually gone? Will seeing people in short bursts throughout the year and at holidays be enough?

I’m afraid, more than anything, that I’ll lose who I am. That I won’t be the same person living in the south that I am in the north. Is that stupid? It sounds stupid to me. But it’s how I feel. I feel like maybe if I’m somewhere where the weather is warmer and the sun shines more days than not, than I won’t be as sad and depressed (kind of the whole point in moving), but I feel like that’s who I’ve been for so long, that I don’t know who I would be without it. Without the sadness will I still feel the need to lose myself in fiction(which I love so much)?

So much of my writing is influenced by my experiences in Michigan, and I hope for all my books to be set in the mitten state. Will that change if I move? Will I lose that artistic, creative influence? Will I suddenly become this whole, new version of myself? Will living down south suddenly reveal what my real life is? (Does that even make sense?) Like I’ve been living a charade up north this whole time?

Will I suddenly become this bright and sunny individual no longer interested in pursing and exploring the darker elements of humanity and life through my writing? That’s kind of like my thing. So if I move and I become different, what will I do then? Will I still be inspired to write?

(Could it actually be better? Without the crippling depression, could I actually get more work done?)

But maybe I won’t be different. Maybe I’ll stay the same demented, dark self that I am now, just without the crushing, soul-sucking depression/death that takes over my life for about six months of the year in the north (thank you Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can formally go fuck yourself now). Maybe I’ll just be expanded. More of who I really am. Maybe I’ll be better. I’ll add, not subtract.

No matter where you go or end up in life, you can’t remove or erase where you come from. It’s in your blood and there’s just no escaping it. I will always be the girl who grew up in Eastpointe and Warren who played Dungeons and Dragons in my concrete Michigan basement with my family. I will always have the memories of large family gatherings and apple orchards and snowy winters. That will always be a part of who I am.

 And then there’s the fact that, no matter what, no matter how much you try and fight it, things will change. Even if I stayed and tried to keep things how they are now, things would still inevitably change. My cousin will go off to college in a few years and probably not come over to game anymore. At least not as often. My best friend will move away for pharmacy school. Things will change. And even if we do stay, it’s not like we would stay in the place we are now. We would probably move farther away north into the country. Even if we stay, we won’t be as accessible as we are now. So there’s that.

Why do I even want to go in the first place?

The biggest and strongest reason is because of the weather, plain and simple. My family likes to tell me that you don’t move somewhere because of the weather; to which I respond with a resounding BULLSHIT. Unless the cold winter weather affects your mind, body, and soul like it does me, than you’ve got no legs to stand on when it comes to that argument.

It’s easy enough for someone who doesn’t deal with seasonal depression to write it off. To just “stay busy” and “keep moving”. But how do you keep moving when you’re body feels like it’s being ripped apart on a cellular level? How do you stay busy when one of the things you love most in the world is walking outside, and suddenly, due to the weather, you’re cut off from that for several months on end? How do you be yourself when you feel like you’re basically dead for half of the year? And not only do you feel that way, but you know that no matter what you do, it’ll keep happening year after year after year.

This is how I describe SAD: It’s like being thrown and locked into a dingy, damp, dark dungeon cell. There’s no windows, no light comes in. It’s cold. You can’t find a comfortable position against the hard bricks. No matter which way you position yourself, you hurt down to your bones. Happiness goes from something you were, to something you remembered you once were, to something you forget even exists. During the cold, gray winter months, things literally don’t seem real to me. I lose myself. I become cut off from my body. It’s very disorienting and miserable. No amount of companionship or family time or hot chocolate can remedy it.

So apart from the sunshine and milder weather, I’ve always felt drawn there. I always feel like when I’m down there, I’m whole. I’m not restless or seeking, I’m still and at peace. And it’s not just a vacation thing. My attraction to the Carolina’s may or may not have something to do with Nicholas Sparks novels and movies, and country music videos. But really, I think I was drawn to those things because of the fact that they allow you to experience southern living. I sought them out because I liked how they made me feel. I like the idea of the lifestyle there – a little slower, a little more relaxed, not so much pressure to DO something all the damn time.

And the idea that I could hop in my car and be at the beach in about two hours, well that’s a draw too. I love the idea of not being in a land-locked state (granted MI is surrounded by water, but it’s not the ocean. And sorry folks, there’s a big difference). I love the idea of being near the ocean and looking out onto this whole big space that is uninhabited by humans. I love the timelessness of the ocean; that a thousand years from now, someone will stand on the shore and the waves will keep coming in, one after the other. I love that if I really wanted to, I could hop on a ship and go anywhere in the world and become anyone I wanted to. There’s a pirate in me after all.
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There’s also my mother. She lives there. If I lived there, I’d see her more. I’d also see my sisters more. So I would have family there.

 

To be honest, I feel like no matter how much I struggle and strain against it, the choice has already been made. I already know the answer. I already know what’s going to happen. Of course I can’t actually know, but my intuition tells me otherwise.

Because no matter how much I try to make it fit and work, the thought of staying literally fills me with panic. My chest gets tight and I feel like I can’t breathe. No matter how many wonderful perks there are to staying, I feel like I’d be giving up on myself if I stayed. I’d be giving up on what I want just to make other people happy. Or what I think would make other people happy.

All things said and done, whether we stay or go, I am glad to have come home from New York and to have spent the last three years here. I feel like I have really given this whole suburban, metro Detroit life the good ol’ college try. I have tried so hard for this to be where I want to be. I have tried therapy, gratitude journaling, light therapy, and Jedi-strength will power. I have tried so hard to make this what I want that at times I’ve put the whole idea of moving down south out of my mind completely as if it were not an option. But it just keeps coming back.

And I can’t help but wonder, why? Why can’t this just be what I want? Why can’t I want what I already have? Why must I be so goddamned difficult?

But that’s being kind of hard on myself, and I’m trying to work on that. So maybe I don’t know why this isn’t a good fit. Maybe not everyone grows up in the place they were meant to be. Maybe not every one is meant to stay. No matter how much I try to make myself fit, if it’s not a good match, it just won’t work. So rather than being unhappy and worrying why, maybe I should just accept the fact that I need to meet my own needs. And if moving is what I need, than I need to address it and accept it. If moving is what I need to do to be happy, for myself, than I need to do that unapologetically. Because I can’t help it.

I guess we will see what happens after those three months. Maybe it won’t be all that I think it will be. Maybe it’ll be everything I hope it is. Maybe leaving won’t be as hard as I think it will be. Maybe it’ll hurt like hell no matter what.

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