It has been pretty hard adjusting to life out here. I know I have said it before, but really, it IS hard - harder than I expected. I have made some progress, though, and I surprised myself with just how far I have come.
I have started working again, part time as a transcriptionist. I currently have three days a week on the schedule, but that changes all the time. I only work evenings, so I get to juggle helping get the kids ready for evening and getting myself out the door on time. Part of me really hates the hassle of it all. The kids always whine about my not being here, and of course, the Mom in me wishes I could be here all the time. The Grown-Up-Woman in me is very thankful for the opportunity to get out of the house, talk to adults, and actually make a little money as well.
I usually wrap up what I need to do between 11:00 and midnight, so I usually get home sometime between midnight and 1:00 in the morning. There was a time when even contemplating driving by myself, at night, for almost an hour would have freaked me out enough that I wouldn't have attempted it. When The Gray Monster decides to rear its ugly head, I have a hard time even going to the grocery store alone, so regularly being up and driving so late would have paralyzed me with fear. Something about the dark and being alone just sort of freaks me out. (I know it is irrational, but no one said depression was logical.) I live more than 20 miles away from the major highways. That means at least half of my drive home is through country roads that are lined only by farmland - no streetlights, stoplights, or even porch lights. I was afraid of falling asleep behind the wheel, or having an accident and not making it home, or most often I would fear the possibility of being hit with a headache or other pain so severe that it would impair my ability to drive safely.
Anyway, the breakthrough in adjusting to my new life came as I was driving home from work last week.
It was almost 1:00 in the morning and I realized, as I traveled through the dark and winding roads that there was no fear. I had no anxiety or nervousness at all. I was perfectly comfortable being by myself, in the dark, in the middle of the night. I looked out the window and I saw more stars in the sky than I would have ever been able to see in the city. Somehow, it was comforting to me. I looked in my rear-view mirror and I could see a soft glow on the horizon of the city lights that I left behind when I headed for Home. I felt calmed thinking of leaving the lights and noise and traffic behind me. The radio was on and I was singing along with all the songs, which is something I usually only do when I am happy and in a good mood. Suddenly I realized - I was happy to be heading home to my quiet house on the quiet street on the edge of a small and very quiet town.
I still miss the city - especially grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations - but I am willing to let all that go so that I can see the stars at night. There were so many days and nights that I felt trapped and slowed by being in the city - the traffic and the smog and the crowds of people I don't know and never will. Seeing groves of trees torn down to make way for gas stations and wild animals misplaced made my heart sick. I so often wished I could live somewhere that I could look up and see the red-tailed hawks flying over trees instead of being forced to perch on a streetlamp. I wanted my kids to be able to walk around their neighborhood and meet the other kids who lived nearby without fearing that they would be run over by a speeding car while crossing the street. Mostly, I wanted a more peaceful and a more simple life, where things moved slower. I wanted to feel less pressure to keep up with the neighbors and more encouragement to make friends with them.
I realized that I had been wishing and praying for years to have just the kind of life that I have recently been given. Sulking about the lack of a Starbucks and grouching about the prices at the corner grocery were not very productive, and my complaints were preventing me from embracing the prayers that were answered. My girls run out and play with the other kids on the street almost every night. The people on our street drive 15 miles an hour all the time. The houses are all somewhere between 50 and 150 years old and the trees are big and broad and healthy. I actually CAN look up and see hawks flying over the fields outside of town and hear the birds every day. We found out last night that we have bats living in the tree in the front yard! Yes, there are a lot more critters and bugs around, but they live outside instead of being forced into the walls of houses and building.
Since I have made the decision to go back to school in November and I am already working half the week, I realized that I am not "trapped" at all. I have plenty of opportunity to get what I need and go where I want, I just have to time it so that it is convenient and not wasteful. I will have all day during the week to be surrounded by the buildings and bustle of the metropolitan area. Every evening, I get to come home to the peace and serenity of my quiet, little home. If I want the selection and prices of major grocery stores, I can have them, I just need to make sure that I remember to bring my insulated shopping bags to the cool things cold on the way home. When it is 7:00 on a Sunday and all the grocery stores are closed, it is hard to remember that I made the choice to move out here. It is much easier to complain about how hard life is and wish for the convenience of a Taco Bell.
All the things I disliked in my life are being changed now, whether by choice or by force. Change is never easy, even when you want it, but easy isn't always good. For several years everything in my life has become difficult, painful, strained, and broken. From finances to health I have lost six years in a downward spiral. I've read that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If I want a better life, to get out of the rut that was causing me to physically and mentally break down, and to be able to get back on my feet financially, I have to stop doing the same things over and over. Moving out here was a choice I made to try and change whatever it was that we were doing wrong and try to figure out how to do it right.
I think I might finally be able to wrap my stubborn brain around it now.