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.

I’m feeling a little bit topsy turvy

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

 

I think my feeling of being “off” started on July 24th when I walked out to find my roof slashed on my car. Nothing was stolen, but it still felt very much like a personal violation. My car is very special to me. He symbolizes the grown up me who is supposed to be fun and spontaneous instead of dull and boring. I feel good when I sit in my car. I enjoy the attention I get when people comment on what a nice looking car he is. (It never extends to what a nice looking driver he has, but I’m quite okay with that)

Things started to get better once I was finally able to get to the claims adjuster to inspect the tear and get a check to pay for the new roof. I felt like I was finally making some progress. Then, the following Saturday, I suddenly lost fifth gear. Thankfully, I have a dual clutch transmission, and was able to utilize fifth gear by switching into manual mode. Once again, I fell into stress mode, worrying about what this was going to cost me to repair it, even with my super awesome bumper to bumper warranty. At this point I was looking at a $250 deductible for the roof, plus a minimum of $250 deductible on the transmission repair. Since I’m still on disability, this meant that I was going to have to save up for a very long time before I could get either repair done.

I returned to work on a modified schedule, working four hours a day. After the first two days, my knees hurt so badly that I could barely walk. I made an emergency appointment to see my surgeon’s PA and he cut me back to 3 hours a day to see if that would help. I’ve discovered that if I keep my legs elevated at work, they don’t hurt nearly as bad, but I’m still having to ice them for several hours when I get home.

My check arrived from State Farm and I called the auto upholsterer that was recommended by State Farm (and more importantly, but a very close friend of mine whose wife used the same company on her beloved Miata) and found out that the cost of the roof and labor was the exact amount of the check I was given. State Farm forgot to back out the $250 deductible that I was supposed to pay. Oops. I called them and asked, and they informed me that the check was correct, so I was went with it. I ordered my new roof . In the meantime, Morgan (my 350Z) decided that he was going to use fifth gear again, and hasn’t had any shifting problems since. I still want to get it checked out, but it’s not on the urgent list anymore.

Then I went to see my surgeon. He told me that he’s done all he can do with arthroscopic surgery, and the next thing to try is a procedure called “autologous cartilage replacement.” Basically, they do a quick arthroscopic procedure where they harvest some healthy cartilage and send it off to a lab to grow into a patch large enough to cover the two condyles on my tibia that are crumbling. Then, he’ll go in and do an open surgery to essentially sew the new cartilage onto the bone, where it should theoretically grow into healthy cartilage and be just like new. Finding out I need two more surgeries put me over the edge again and I spend a good portion of Monday crying and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that this means I’m stuck here in San Diego for at least the next two years, and possibly as many as four. I’m trying to stay optimistic and think of how wonderful it will be to not have pain and grinding/crunching in my knee every time it bends, but it’s hard to stay positive right now.

I did get my new roof on my car installed on Friday, and it looks very nice. It’s driving me a little nuts that I can’t lower the roof until tomorrow afternoon, because it needs to stretch properly so that I don’t have issues down the road, but that’s a minor inconvenience that I can live with. Also on Friday, I got a surprise visit with my son, as his father had some business to attend to here in town.

At this point, I’m so mentally turned around and upside down, I don’t even know what I’m feeling anymore. I’ve been having panic attacks again since finding out about the new surgeries and I have a pervasive feeling of anxiety that I just can’t get rid of. I try so hard to stay positive and always look on the bright side, but sometimes it’s just too hard. I feel like I’m bogged down; stuck in a city I hate, for the foreseeable future, and every time I try to make any plans to leave, something else comes up to hold me here longer. I should have never moved back. I haven’t been completely happy since returning, and I’m brokenheartedly homesick for the Carolinas. It’s getting to be time for the leaves to change color, and the air to turn brisk.

I feel like I’ve lost control of my life, and that I’m surviving on the whims of others. The depression is creeping back in, and so is the anxiety. No, they’re not the same thing. I’m trying to do the one coping mechanism that generally works for me, and that is taking control of one aspect of my life and setting it right. If I can control just one thing, then I know I’m not helpless. Inside, I’m still screaming though.

Shikata ga nai

The rough translation of that phrase is “It cannot be helped, so don’t worry about it.” This has been my constant motto over these past 11 months, most especially in the past two months when my life started unravelling at a faster pace than usual. I tell myself that wasting time and energy over something one has no control over only causes stress and heartache for the person who is worrying, because worrying alone will not solve anything. That is, of course, always easier said than done. It is human nature to worry about things we cannot control. Living in California, I get asked a lot if I worry about “the big one” earthquake which will level everything and cause massive destruction and loss of life. I don’t worry about it, because I don’t have the ability to stop an earthquake from happening. Living in the Carolinas, I was frequently asked if I worried about hurricanes. Again, why worry about something that may or may not happen. The outcome is going to be the same no matter what. I do try to prepare myself for any eventuality, and do what I can to minimize my own personal losses if one of these disasters were to strike.

What about the little things, though? If you worried about every little thing, you wouldn’t have any time to enjoy the life you have and to make plans to make things better in the future. This has been a very turbulent two months for me. At times, it felt like the universe was “out to get me” but it’s not personal. Things happen that you cannot control, and you either have to accept it, or find a solution. As soon as I stopped worrying about what was going to potentially happen, everything came together. It’s not that the universe was out to get me, it was just that I was worrying so much about hypothetical situations and problems that may have happened that I didn’t realize that whatever was going to happen was going to happen whether I worried about it or not.

I’m not advocating doing nothing and just hoping for the best, but rather to stop worrying about what could or could not happen. Everything does happen for a reason, even if you don’t know what the reason is. Sometimes the answer is not the one that you were expecting, but it’s the right one for right now. I have been very vocal about my dislike of San Diego, and keep talking about how I want to get out of here and get back to my adopted home state of South Carolina, but all I’ve done so far is talk. I can give a dozen reasons for why I haven’t done anything towards that goal, but the simple answer is that it’s just not the right time yet. When it’s time, it will happen.

Since my last post, my two most pressing concerns have been solved. The foster cat that I took in to look after has been adopted to a wonderful couple whom I know will make her very happy, and she them. I have also settled my housing situation, at least temporarily, until I am ready to move forward in whatever direction life sends me. Maybe I won’t end up in South Carolina again. Maybe I’ll end up somewhere completely different. It doesn’t matter. I will find my happiness wherever I go, by always remembering to be the best me that I can be, and not worrying about everything else. As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

I envy small children in the fact that every new day is filled with new and wonderful things. As an adult, I have to remind myself that this is the life I have, and that it is my choice as to whether I will enjoy it, or be miserable. So, I stop to smell the roses (figuratively – sometimes they are other flowers instead), and I laugh out loud when I see a child or an animal just enjoying being in the now, and I remind myself that, while every day may not be a good one – today was a horrible emotional roller coaster for me –  there is beauty in the world. Stop and look around and really look at the life you’re living in. If you are unhappy with it, you have the power to change it. It may be a small change, or it may be a large one, but don’t continue to be unhappy by doing the same thing(s) that are making you unhappy. Do something special for yourself, because you are the most important person in your own life. And stop worrying about things you can’t change. Either let go of the worry, or find a way to change it for the better. And if all else fails, find a kitten or a puppy to snuggle with (or maybe a snake or a gerbil, or some other creature that makes you happy). Life goes on.