I just put Ray down for a nap (still making noises), Liam went to play with a friend and Noah is at school. I have a moment. ah. It’s pretty quiet and as I look at my list of things to get done, I don’t want to do any of them. I feel like I need to validate blogging/journaling …. so here it goes – this is like therapy, to write what I’m stewing about, so I consider writing just as important as working out – this is good for me. And that’s why I am choosing to use my quiet time this way.
WARNING – This is not a happy post. This is one of those therapeutic posts. You were warned.
I feel like I am different now.
I have had this lump of hatred welling up inside my gut toward Michigan over the past 5 years and I started wondering about it this morning. Why? Could I really be that angry about the weather? I don’t think so. I think it is so much more than that.
This time period in my life has been rough. I imagine it is for a lot of women. The years with young babies and toddlers can be a dark time. A time without sleep, food, showers … self respect. A time when your body isn’t your own and you’re … let’s just say it … fat. Not everyone has this experience, but I’ll bet a lot of women feel this way. So, granted, no matter where I resided, I think this period of time in my life would have been hard. Maybe. Maybe not though. It has been a time when I needed a lot of help and love and understanding. And as much as I have dearly loved my friends here in Michigan, I have felt quite isolated and alone during this time of trial and difficulty.
The winters here are long and cold and isolated. You don’t see your neighbors and friends as much during the winter here, it is relatively lonely for about 6 months, at the very least and that is hard. I planned my pregnancies around winter time. seriously. I would not have a baby during the winter months for fear of post partum depression hitting me in the dead of winter in Michigan …. that could be fatal or at the very least, damaging. And I hate that. I hate making life choices out of fear.
The people I ran into at the grocery store, library, park were sometimes downright mean to me. For no good reason. This happened a lot. For many years. I actually had many encounters with people who yelled at me in public places. And this is not speaking in past tense. Someone yelled at me at the movie theatre about a month ago. Totally unprompted, as I was walking past them to get into my car. It has made me feel not only lonely and isolated, but it has taken me to the next level – I feel as though I need to protect myself in public and have a ready retort. I need to be able to stand up for myself and protect my kids from mean, sad people we meet everyday. And I hate that. I hate feeling like I need to protect myself everywhere I go.
Even at church it has been a different experience in Michigan. The ward was hard to feel comfortable in. For years. really. Once I was “in” and felt that I knew people and they liked me, I felt more love than before, but that really took me a few years. Lonely years. I also had to learn a hard life lesson here in my wards in Michigan – how to say “no”. It was out of protection that I had to learn how to do this. I had to protect my family and our time together and …. my sanity. I have been in several situations here where people have asked and requested things of me until I was so frustrated and stretched so thin that I HAD to say “no”. I’ve never been in that situation before. I had no idea people would take and take until you were empty. I have never had to say no to anyone in a ward previous to the ones here in Michigan. And I hate that. I hate saying no.
I am different today than I was 5 years ago. I remember having several conversations with Daniel, when we were a young married couple, about how people were generally good and decent. I thought if you explained your situation to them, they would want to help you. I thought, in general, people were kind. Maybe I was naïve. But up until about 5 years ago, I still believed that. I am different now. And I hate that. I hate that my eyes and maybe my kids’ eyes have been opened to unkind, unhappy people. So much so, that we’ve come to expect it from people. I find myself avoiding people’s gazes at the store, not making eye contact as much, trying to keep my head down and get my errands done without too much interaction with people I don’t know. And I hate that.
It is so much more than the weather here. It is a totally different energy here in Michigan. It is one that has changed me in ways I never wanted to change. I don’t want to fear winter, or avoid people, or be guarded, or expect the worst or be forced to say no.
Wow, as I write this all out, I think it explains what I have been experiencing and feeling over a long period of time. Phew! That feels good. To explain that finally. I always hated it when people told me “grow where you’re planted” or “make the best of it” or “just be positive” or “look on the bright side” or, the worst one of all: “Evidently the Lord wanted you to learn something and if you don’t learn to be happy in Michigan, you’ll never be able to leave, because you’ll never be happy anywhere”. That’s just not true.
The final piece of the puzzle for me is really family. My sisters, my parents. I talk to them daily …. many times a day … many, many times a day. And I love them. And I miss them. There’s not a week that has gone by over the past 5 years when I haven’t said aloud to someone in my family, “if I lived closer ….”. Fill in the blank with anything – I could help you, I could let you borrow that, I could plan that with you, we could go there together, I could see that … I could be there for that. I can’t explain how that breaks my heart. Every week for five years. I just did the math, that’s about 260 times. Breaks my heart.
And that’s the frosting on this cake – no family. And I hate that. It’s not even a choice I can make, it’s not like I can pick and choose which family event to be to, I miss them all. Well, not all. I’ve made it to a few events over the past 5 years, but it has cost me dearly. Not just money, although it does cost an arm and a leg to fly to California from here, but it taxes me – physically and mentally. Do you have any idea what it does to a person to fly with two young children, alone, for 12 hours, with 3 carry-ons, change planes (because there are NO direct flights), have a lay over for 4 hours and have it all end in the Oakland airport with a bloody injury at the baggage claim? I’ll tell you what it does – it ruins a person. It causes a person to see their mom at the curb and burst into tears and fall into her arms. That’s what it does. And so I’m different now.
I can only hope that these experiences will fade. I will hopefully forget, probably never completely, but forget a lot. And it will not be this way forever. I will get out. I will move on. And that’s the bright side.