Here I am literally the moment I pulled into our new home in small town Virginia after our journey from St. Paul, Minnesota. Thankfully, we arrived safe and sound after three days on the road. My husband did the bulk of the driving, but we split up in Richmond so he could buy a new car (easier than moving two cars).
Yes, I’m as tired as I look.
I was tired from the road trip, tired because my daughter and I went climbing in Richmond while my husband bought his car, and tired from the emotional toll of it all.
This post is a week late because I’ve spent the past week in the haze of unpacking and setting up house. We have a way to go, but the house is taking shape.
The bulk of the physical tasks are behind us. We got here. Most of the boxes are unpacked. The fridge and pantry are stocked, and things are nicely organized on and in newly cleaned shelves and drawers.
If only the emotional unpacking were so easy. And so tidy.
If you’ve been reading, you know I was a jumble of emotions prior to leaving my hometown. I was hopeful that once I arrived in Virginia, I would leave the feelings of loss behind and be able to look forward with excitement to my new life here.
It’s only been a week and a day, but I’ve been spending dramatically more time looking backwards than forward. Yes, I know I need to give myself time, but the trend line is not moving in the right direction.
When you suffer from anxiety as I do, there is indescribable comfort in the familiar. In Minnesota, I basked in a cocoon of familiarity, as I’ve lived there my entire life. That cocoon helped me as I fought through the debilitating effects of lyme disease and anxiety. The cocoon held and comforted me as I worked so hard to get back to something resembling the physical and emotional health I once knew.
Here in Virginia, save for my husband and daughter, nothing feels familiar. Everywhere I go, I am reminded that everything is different. Every single thing.
For some people, that would be a bonus. For someone who thrives on familiarity, it’s heartbreaking. Instead of seeing new opportunities, I see only loss. Instead of embracing the new, I’m mourning the old.
Please don’t mistake this as having a bad attitude, which I don’t. I’m trying to keep an open mind, It’s just that I’m very sad and a little shellshocked.
My husband is from here, and we’ve been together for 15 years, so I have spent considerable time here. In fact, I absolutely loved it here — when I was visiting. When I was visiting I could see the charm of it all. The beauty of the water, the uniqueness of the water culture, the quaintness of the small town, the creativity in the shops and architecture.
I could see all that because this wasn’t home. It was just a magical place I was visiting.
But now that it’s home, the magic is gone for me. Quaint feels suffocating. Being an hour and a half from a major metro does not feel charming. It feels inconvenient. Being away from my friends and family and my entire history is overwhelming. In fact, I haven’t even been keeping in touch with anybody via text or email or phone, because somehow, being in contact only makes me feel the distance more acutely.
Again, I realize I need to give this time. It only took three days to cover the thousand miles between Minnesota and here. It’s going to take much longer to travel the emotional distance.
I don’t think I would be having this much trouble if I hadn’t gotten sick. The darkest days of my physical and emotional illness rattled me to my core, and there’s a part of me that will forever be vulnerable because of that. It’s as though a certain rewiring has occurred, and it’s harder for me to feel safe in the world. Harder for me to tolerate change. Harder for me to be in unfamiliar territory.
All day, every day, I am confronted with the unfamiliar. And it doesn’t feel good.
Of course, everything that becomes familiar started out as unfamiliar at one time. I understand that. But this was not the best time in my life to be rocketed out of so much familiarity.
There were many times during my darkest days when I had no reason whatsoever for optimism. My body was wracked with lyme disease, and all attempts to treat it only made me more sick. My doctor was scratching his head, as my response to treatment was so atypical, and he was running out of ideas. My mind was wracked with anxiety that also seemed treatment resistant, and my therapist was scratching her head and running out of ideas.
In short, I was working unbelievably hard to regain my health. And I was getting nowhere. And there didn’t seem to be any reason to believe things would change.
At that point, aside from my husband, there was only one thing I could cling to, and that was my faith. I literally had no other options. I just had to surrender myself to God and trust there was some way out that only He could see. And it turns out there was. There was no major turning point. Just a continual series of minor improvements that ultimately led to me feeling better both physically and mentally. I am not fully restored, but I am far removed from those dark, miserable, hopeless days.
Now I find myself at a similar crossroads. I’m just not comfortable here in Virginia. It’s not rubbing me the right way. I want to go home.
But I need to remind myself that the same God who led me out of the desperate darkness led me to this place. I have to believe He knows what He’s doing. Honestly, I feel like I would be better off if I had never left home, but if these years have taught me anything it’s that God’s plans are better than mine.
So in this time of sadness and feeling lost, I am trying every day to place myself in God’s hands. I ask him to help me keep my mind open to what He is trying to teach me, to what He is trying to reveal to me.
For now, my job is to stay the course. To stay as positive as I can, and to keep my eyes and ears and heart open to whatever it is I am supposed to be learning.
Time will tell.