What we want, what we get

That’s a favourite song of mine, by Dave Barnes. It’s an oddity to me because it’s a breakup song, but the lyrics call to me in a way that not many songs do. (I highly recommend searching out the song and listening to it sometime) The gist of it is that what we want is not always what we get – in case you didn’t figure that out by the song title. I think we all have those things that we want, that we know we’ll never have, but which doesn’t stop us from wanting them regardless. Sometimes even selfishly.

When I moved back to San Diego in July 2008, I told myself that it was a temporary thing while I sorted out several life altering things that had turned my world upside down. My goal was always to get back to the place I loved. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is back in South Carolina. Well, here I am 7 years later, and I still haven’t made it back “home.” I’ve gotten to the point mentally where I question myself as to whether I love South Carolina because that is where I truly was at my happiest (barring a couple really bad months) or if I’m fondly remembering a place that my mind has altered to seem better than it really is, simply because I despise San Diego so much. And I do despise San Diego that much. The only things I love about this place are a few people who have made my life richer by being here.

Everything happens for a reason, and right now, I’m extremely torn. It looks like I will be given the opportunity to relocate back to my beloved Carolinas as soon as my knee is completely healed, and that is screwing me up mentally. I loved the Carolinas very deeply. Maybe because it was my first taste of true independence. I basically threw a dart at a map and ended up there by chance when I had the opportunity to escape San Diego back in 2004. I drove for three days with a two year old and two crying cats, arriving in the middle of a hurricane. Ivan, if you care. From the very first day, I was in love. I’d never seen a place so lush and green, with water everywhere and gorgeous old buildings.

The longer I stayed, the more I loved it. I met some incredible people and found my way to a job that I actually really enjoyed, and at the end of the day, I could dip my feet into a lake or stream and mentally escape. It wasn’t all wine and roses though. Towards the end, some things happened that caused me to move back to San Diego. I started regretting that decision almost as soon as I started driving west, and by the time I reached the California border, I had to pull over because I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see. I hated myself for moving back and swore that as soon as I could afford to, I’d head east again.

Then, the doubts crept in. Do I love the Carolinas or do I just despise San Diego and anywhere else would be better? I flew back to Charlotte for my birthday the following February, and said that the only gift I wanted was to see snow. It almost never snows in the Piedmont, so I knew it was a long shot, but minutes after I collected my rental car and started driving to my friend’s house where I would be staying, the flurries started. It felt like the Carolinas were welcoming me back with open arms and begging me to return. Getting on the plane to return to California hurt even worse than driving away. I told myself then that I couldn’t return unless I was returning for good. It was like running into an old love from whom you parted amicably. Best not to spend too much time or mental energy chasing down all the what ifs. And there are a lot of what ifs.

So, what’s next for me? If everything falls into place, do I return to my true love knowing that time changes things and that the enchantment may no longer be there? Heraclitus once said “You cannot step twice into the same river” and that is true. By your second step, both you and the river have changed. I just don’t know how the changes I’ve undergone over the past seven years will affect my love of a place that once filled me with happiness. Perhaps I should consider a new place to call home, so I’d be out of my hated San Diego, and can keep my fond memories of the Carolinas as fond memories. Maybe I should stay in San Diego and remember that the people I love here outweigh the hatred I have for the city. I’m lost. I’m confused. I’m even a little bit scared. This is something I’ve wanted so badly for so long that I no longer know if I actually want it or if the wanting of it is just a mental twist. Sometimes, having mental illness really sucks. I can’t trust my brain to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. A niggling thought in the back of my mind is yelling to GO FOR IT! Even if it’s no longer the perfect oasis that I remember, I still have a support system there, and it would be better than living somewhere I hate.

Words of a parent

My parents and I have never had the best relationships. It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me to find out that my father and I have gone on years’ long periods of not communicating with each other. In many ways, I think our problem is that we’re too much alike. As I approach 40, I find that I’m mending fences and letting go of old hurts. That’s not to say that my relationship with my father is great now, but we’re slowly getting to “good.”

Throughout my childhood, it was very evident that my older sister was the favorite. She had free reign to do as she liked, and our father frequently bankrolled her. He did things for her that he later refused to do for me. I could write an entire blog entry on all the things I missed out on that my sister got to enjoy, but I’m learning to let go and release that anger. I can’t change the past, all I can do is learn from it. The funny thing is, when my mom and I were discussing this, she admitted that my sister was treated differently than I was. She called my sister “the experiment” and my upbringing was a direct result of what they learned from how they treated my sister. That’s not to say that it was fair, but it did explain a lot to me.

Another thing my mom recently told me was that she was a horrible mother. I don’t think she was, but I don’t have another mother to compare her to, so I don’t know. She admitted that after she and our father divorced, she gave up cooking and left my sister and me to essentially raise ourselves while she put herself through law school and worked full-time. She stated that she thought it was amazing that we turned out as well as we did, mistakes and all. Then she brought up an article that she had read in a magazine from a mother’s day issue where women talked about the things they learned from their mothers. Mom asked me what I thought I learned from her. I told her that I learned that I can be independent and to follow my heart, even when it leads me down the wrong path. There are so many things I wish my mother had taught me. I wish she had taught me how to balance a checkbook and learn to live within a budget, so that I didn’t accrue so much debt. I wish she had taught me about relationships. She and I have never discussed any of the boys (and later men) that I dated, and never held me or talked to me through those painful high school breakups. She never talked to me about sex, and in return, I never talked to her about being raped and later beaten. We didn’t talk about serious things. We still don’t talk about serious things very well.

I wonder sometimes if my son thinks I’m a horrible mother. After all, I’m never around. I don’t call nearly enough or visit hardly at all. I try to inquire about what’s going on in his life, but I get the normal teenage answers of “nothing’s going on.” I think of the things that I want my son to know, so that he grows up to be a better person than I am. I want my son to feel like he can come to me for anything and I will give him honest answers, even when those answers are painful.