So I’ve been thinking the past few days about something my grams said to me when I was hugging her goodbye the night before I left for Tennessee. It was a total sob fest that night–which I think goes without saying–but I remember her saying in that last moment before she let me go that no matter what–I could always come home. Yeah…
Tomorrow’s the first of April, which means I have exactly 23 days before my little trip back to New York comes around. Maybe it’s nothing and I’m just having some kind of weird mood moment here, but I don’t feel as excited as I think I probably should feel about it. I mean, I should be over the moon, crazy ecstatic about seeing my family again for the first time in months. But I’m not. As crazy as it sounds–truth be told–I feel more stressed out about it than excited. Maybe even a little scared. Just a bit. Weird, right? Yeah. So weird.
I miss my family. I truly, truly do. Especially the kids. I mean, I’ve talked to them on the phone or over Skype here and there…but it’s just not the same as actually being there with them. I miss Angelina filling me in on all the ridiculous 6th grade drama and gossip and that frustrating eye-rolling of hers. And Emmie’s huge, happy grin when I’d simply just walk into the room. I miss Ava’s Hands-On-Her-Hips-I’m-Four-Going-On-Thirty attitude of hers and our little “love you to the moon & back, love you the most-est, love you too much” thing that we’ve done for as long as I can remember and pinky promises for secrets that we both know she’s going to yell from the rooftops the first chance she gets. And oh my gosh, I miss my little Twinnies something fierce. My mother and sister both like to constantly make it a point to remind me every time we talk on the phone of all the boys’ moments I’m missing out on by me being here in Nashville. I know they’re mostly just teasing and don’t mean to be deliberately cruel…that they understand that I’m happy down here but would, at the same time, prefer that I didn’t live 900 some odd miles away…but the reminder still stings a bit. They’re right. I am missing out on a lot. They’re walking and running and talking like crazy now, and really coming into those little personalities of theirs that I only got a glimpse of during the year I took care of them. I miss them so much and it literally breaks my heart that I’m not there…but at the same time, I feel torn between what I want to do and what I need to do in terms of what’s going to make me happy and what’s best for me, both career-wise and personally. I’m content here in Nashville. I feel alive here. And not just going through the motions like I’d done for so long back in New York. I feel like this is where I need to be. Where I belong. I’ve met so many amazing people down here and I’ve made some great friends. I’m happy here. I don’t want to leave. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I just feel so guilty for saying that.
I just wish things were clearer. Just black or white. And none of this grey-area stuff. I wish there was a guide I could follow or someone to tell me that I’m doing the right thing here…one way or the other. Because honestly, I feel like I don’t know what’s right. Or what’s best for me. That is, not with 100 percent certainty anyhow. I don’t know what’s going to happen once the semester ends in May. I mean, yeah, I’ve been searching around for apartments and I have my work–possibly even a second job as my friend Alan wants me to work this summer camp with him as a lifeguard. But as we all know, things happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen one day to the next. And I’m trying not to stress over it. Everything happens for a reason and what’s meant to be, will be. I truly believe that. It’s just the waiting and wondering that gets me into trouble. Having too much time to think about things is well…for me…a recipe for disaster, usually.
Anyhow, back to my family and this month’s visit…it’s not so much that I’m worried about being weak and caving into my family’s pleas for me to stay. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue per se. I mean, it’s a no-brainer. I’m happy in Nashville. I’m miserable in New York. And all the guilt-tripping in the world isn’t ever going to be enough to get me to willingly walk back into that misery. I love my family…but moving back isn’t an option. Call me selfish, but I like this feeling. I like being happy and feeling like I belong somewhere, like I’m a part of something. I’d have to be certifiably crazy to pass that up…and I’m completely sane, trust me. The guilt is part of it though, I guess…why I’m having some second thoughts about this month’s trip. But then, it’s not really guilt either. Honestly, I think it’s just a matter of my not wanting to hurt them by choosing Nashville and my happiness over them. At least, that’s what it’s going to look and feel like to them when I have to leave after a just few days, with no real timetable in mind of when we’ll be seeing each other next. I love them and it’s not my intention to choose this city over them…it’s just what it is. I can’t pretend to love New York or act like I’m happy there when I’m definitely NOT. They’ve never quite understood me I don’t think…and they definitely don’t agree with my decisions to turn and run when things get tough instead of facing my problems and working through them. I don’t blame them…I don’t understand it some times easier. It’s what I do. It’s horrible, but it’s what I’m good at. And it might not work for them, but it works for me. I’m not like them. I can’t sit there and “talk” about my feelings or “let it all out”. That’s just not something that I do…that I’ve ever done. I’m the girl with the stacks of journals that I lug around, thousands upon thousands of pages detailing every heart break, ache, and every significant moment or feeling I’ve ever had or felt. I can pour my heart out with a pen on a piece of paper, or to complete strangers in a blog post…but I can’t open up to my family, the people who are supposed to know me best. I just can’t. I don’t understand it. Never have–likely never will–but that’s me. I’m not perfect. I’m just as screwed up as the next person. Just in my own way.
Part of me just wants to cancel the trip and stay right where I am. Where I feel safe. This is HOME now. At least, that’s how it starting to feel. And I shouldn’t have to feel guilty about that. I should be elated. And I am…it’s just bittersweet because my family and friends, the people I love the most in the world, aren’t here to enjoy it with me. It’s hard being this far away. I mean, in some ways–and like I’ve said it before–I feel really disconnected, like we’re living in two different worlds, different lives. Everything is different now. I’m different. I’ve changed. I’ve grown in ways I didn’t even think to expect that I would…or even could. My head is still a bit of mess…but it’s getting there. Slowly, but surely. It’s one thing to pack up your things and run off to another state…believe it or not, that’s actually the easy part…it’s another to actually let go of and put behind you all the things that sent you running in the first place. That part’s a little trickier. But I’m figuring it out, a little more each day, how to do that. And it’s hard, it’s really hard. This coping method of mine–running away–has, for the most part, been my saving grace until now. As illogical as it might sound to some, I really think it’s the one thing that’s kept me going all these years, that’s kept me sane–or relatively sane, anyhow. It’s crazy, I know. And it doesn’t make sense, I’ll admit, but it’s the truth. It’s a solution I’ve found that works…but it’s not a long-term solution. As easy as it would be to keep on doing what I’ve done for so many years–bottling up all the pain and the hurt and the fear…all the bad…just letting it all gather dust in some unused corner of my mind–I can’t run forever. And I don’t want to. It’s as simple as that. I don’t want to. Do I relish the thought of diving headfirst into the same sea of absolute hell I nearly drowned in the first go-round? Hell no. Not at all. But I’ve got to. I’m an adult now. It’s time–well, past time technically–that I put on my big girl pants–so to speak–and take ownership of what I’ve done and what’s been done to me. Granted, it sucks–and I’m sure it’s only going to get worse the deeper I delve into it all–but my focus–my only focus–is on the end-game here, this time around. Moving here to Nashville wasn’t just about running from certain things or away from certain people. It was about finding myself, too. And figuring out what kind of person I wanted to be, and being that person. And though it’s only been a few months, I think I’ve done that. That is, I know what kind of person I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be the girl with the secret past that lets all the bad moments in her life shape and define who and what she is. I don’t want to be that girl. And most of these things that I thought I had to hide–turns out, I didn’t need to hide them. All that guilt and shame and blaming myself for things that I shouldn’t have blamed myself for…it was all just so unnecessary. Those people and their rumors and accusations…they’re the ones that should feel guilty and ashamed of themselves, and not me. While I’d be lying if I said some of the things they’ve said haven’t hurt–they did, in some ways they still do–their words don’t matter. They don’t matter. They never did. And all that time I spent trying to avoid giving them the satisfaction of thinking that they somehow won or broke me, was nothing but a waste of time. There’s this little cliche –“the truth will set you free” one–that isn’t altogether wrong. That whole situation nearly 6 years ago…I spent so long looking at it in completely the wrong way. All the drama and all the devastation from that fallout of having told the truth–I let it take over and totally consume me. At the time, it felt like the exact opposite was true. I told the truth, but it didn’t set me free. Instead, it just turned my life into a prison. And I shouldn’t have let it do that. I guess I was naive in thinking that people would see through the accusations and lies and see him for who really was and see things for what they really were. I put too much stock in believing that most people were inherently good and not as vindictive as certain others. That was my first mistake…and just a start to a long list of many, many others down the road.
Honestly, I’m not sure which hurt more…whether it was the rumors and accusations themselves…or the betrayal of so many people who knew me, some that I even thought were my friends, when they fell hook, line, and sinker into his lies, passing judgment on me without even so much a giving me a chance to defend myself or to tell my side of what happened, for that matter. I was guilty simply for the fact that he’d declared me so. That hurt more than anything, you know…the realization that my friends were not my friends and I was–essentially–alone. I couldn’t understand the injustice of it all. I mean, I thought I was doing the right thing by telling the truth…that it’d count and matter for something. But it didn’t. No one cared about the truth. They heard what he wanted them to hear and they believed what he’d convinced them to believe. I never even stood a chance.
Looking back now, it’s all so much clearer. I should have looked at it in the sense that it was one of the best things that happened to me. I didn’t see it then, but I eventually got it right and realized there was, in fact, a silver lining in it after all…just not in the traditional sense. All that time I spent imprisoned in that world, shouldering all the blame, I was completely oblivious to the fact that it was actually a good thing. It gave me the perspective I needed to get to where I am and be who I am today. The truth really did set me free. Free from him, free from the lies…and free from a life of undeserved shame. All those people who so readily believed him don’t matter. Nor does what they think happened or think about me. I don’t care what they think of me. I don’t care about their opinion of me because–yet again, THEY don’t matter. I know the truth. And that’s enough for me. It’ll have to be. Either way, they can’t hurt me now. That control they used to like to lord over me…it’s gone now. This is my life and I’m control again.
I’m happy. And all it took was my crazy, impulsive decision to move to Nashville. If I’d known how good it could be and is, trust me, I’d have done it a lot sooner….