Do you ever feel like you are pretending? Do you ever feel like you are just showing up and looking the part because owning what you are feeling might make you look weak, like you can’t “handle it all?” I’ve been there, done that, and here’s my story….
I always wanted to move somewhere and really see it for the adventure that it is. After high school I went off to school in Seattle and spent quite a few months being miserable, missing home…okay, and maybe missing a boy. I always told myself that I struggled during that time because I was young, in an unhealthy relationship, and probably shouldn’t have picked a big city when I consider myself a small town girl, but I didn’t know that then. I wanted to experience an adventure, but I couldn’t let go of the fear. So ultimately, I moved back home and then life really took some turns.
Fast forward 20 years later, I was now married with 3 kids. After spending most of our life in the same small community, our family chose to leave our hometown to pursue a career opportunity for my husband. It was something we had considered for years and we decided to see where the opportunity would take us.
This is what it looked like:
My son graduated from high school, we then dropped him off at college (and left him there) and we then moved to a new community so that my husband could commute to “the big city.” We made the decision that I would stay home the first year, get the kids settled in school, get our home set up and then we would see what was next. I was excited for the upcoming adventure and was happy about the cute, small community we were going to be a part of.
Here’s where I get confused. So what you just read is the story that I had been telling myself. I envisioned this adventure, this immediate embrace into a new community. No hard work, it would just happen…just like the rest of my life (I hope you are picking up on the sarcasm.)
Somewhere along the way, my heart and my story were not aligned. I think this is where my primitive brain took over. We moved and I (subconsciously) decided to live in fear for the next year. I know you are expecting me to tell you that I moved to some place where there is a high crime rate, or maybe there’s a local mafia family that has paid off law enforcement to overlook their indiscretions, or possibly it’s a town full of Stepford wives, or that it was like the “wilds” of Alaska. Nope, none of that. It’s this cute little Nordic community that just makes you smile to walk through the main street.
As much as I wanted to live this adventure and to embrace this new community, the real story I was telling myself was that I needed to make sure my family was safe, that my family was okay. Every day I waited for my girls to get out of school to make sure their day went well. Every day I waited for my husband to get home to make sure that his day went well. Every day, I waited for a text or call to make sure my son was doing okay at college. And every day, I moved one step further away from remembering the adventure that I thought I was on. In reality, after about two weeks, everyone was doing great. We had a rythym and all was well…for everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, I was okay in terms of functioning and being able to “play the part,” but I look back now and know that I was only surviving.
For some reason, I told myself that my family wasn’t going to be okay and so I needed to be there for them. I stayed in that frame of mind for far too long. All I can say, is thank the Lord for my dog, Izzy. I know, you are probably thinking, what? Did she jump to a different story? Wait for it. I will bring it all back together. At the time, she was a young lab, I had to take her out to exercise every day, otherwise she would have been a nightmare in the house. If not for her, I would never have left my cave. Remember the movie “The Croods?” The story of the caveman family? If you haven’t seen it, go watch it and think of me. I’m the dad. I told myself, it wasn’t safe “out there”…but, I had to go out because otherwise my dog would have destroyed my house. Don’t get me wrong, I picked up my kids, went grocery shopping, got them to all their activities, etc. Remember, I was good at playing the part but inside I was lonely, afraid, and quite frankly, just lost. Going outside to walk my dogs was the ONE thing I did for myself and really, it was mostly for my dogs. I cringe at the thought of what I would have been like had I not been forced to go outside each and every day to get exercise, to breathe the fresh air, to feel the sun, or the rain. There was A LOT of rain. I could easily cry at the loneliness I felt during that time. I missed my friends and family, where I could easily be myself. I missed my community that I could step out into comfort, to be surrounded by people I know and care for and them for me.
I don’t know why I am choosing to share this story now, maybe because I have been doing the work to dig myself out of the cave I created for myself. I think part of sharing is that I know so many people are lonely for so many reasons and I know what it’s like to be there. I know what it’s like to have a loving family and the dearest friends, but yet you don’t know how to ask for their time, their support, because you feel like you are so far down a road, it seems unfair you to ask them to make the journey to meet you there. But I would ask you to try. I think I wrote this now because I didn’t know how bad I was feeling until I started pushing myself back up because I at least knew I wasn’t myself. I guess I would ask that if you recognize yourself in this story, maybe you can make your way back sooner than I did. This has taken me a solid three years to get here and it’s been two years from when I first realized I needed to do something different than hide in a cave.
So, I’m here. I will meet you on your road. Our stories aren’t the same, but our loneliness is and that’s where we can meet. I’m not the “only one” who has ever been “lonely” (hence the title). I’m here if you need someone to help you find you.