I moved out of my parents’ house when I wasn’t quite 19 years old. It was February of 2005. I was going to school at the local community college with a full course load but also worked a full time job. After moving out, I couldn’t afford to do both so I dropped out and started working three jobs so I could afford my rent, utilities, car loan and insurance, and still have food to eat.
Today, 15 years later, I was standing in the kitchen of the home I share with my husband and our children, and I was suddenly back in the living room of my one bedroom apartment. The sun was coming into the windows, casting a warm glow on everything around me. I had a window cracked because the sun was warming up the inside too much. Something about the combination of that sunlight and the cool air triggered a moment begging to be remembered.
February days and warm sunshine and bright, blue skies and cool air coming through a cracked window make my soul awaken. I can feel it, stretching and shaking out after a long nap, like a cat who has been curled up in a blanket for hours and finally decides to exist again.
Sometimes I will miss that apartment for no reason other than it was the first thing that was my own. I did a lot of growing up there but also a lot of breaking too. I had my first away-from-my-parents relationship which is always a big deal. Because I didn’t go away to school, I wasn’t experiencing the same things so many of people I knew were experiencing. But I had my own place. And a boyfriend.
The boyfriend started staying with me pretty much constantly until he cheated on me. I think about that moment in time often and how things tend to play out. I ended up forgiving him and broke other hearts along the way but had it not been for that awful relationship I subjected myself to for years, I wouldn’t have met my husband. I mean, I probably would have met him because we had already crossed paths at my job but I wouldn’t have talked with him outside of that. Who knows, really.
I remember sitting at the table my aunt gave me. It was placed in front of a window with excellent lighting. I would sit there and play music on my stereo and write my heart out. Sometimes I would cry, sometimes I would laugh, sometimes my heart would feel so full I thought it would burst.
Some things don’t change, I guess. I am sitting at my desk in front of a window listening to music on Spotify. It is dark and there isn’t any light pouring in but during the daylight hours it is flooded in light. I love to write here, as I loved to write there, and before that I loved to write in my open window in my parents’ house.
Today I was feeling heavy with emotion, as I am sometimes, and the memories come like a flood. I was sitting on the couch, looking at my eldest child, thinking about how I had let them take him to the nursery the night he was born because that is what everyone told me to do. So I could sleep, of course, but a new mother doesn’t sleep after she has given birth. I didn’t sleep at all the first night any of my children were born. The other two I held all night. In the moment I realized I missed that with my first born child, my eyes welled with tears and I wanted to be taken back so I could do it over.
Sometimes I think about our getting another dog and how I wish I didn’t feel like I needed one so badly. It’s another living creature I am responsible for and I didn’t realize how much being allergic to my dogs is probably affecting my healing journey. But she hasn’t even been here for a year and I can’t let her go. I think about how my other dog should still be here, holding me up when I want to fall.
When the weekends start to get warmer, I think about those early days in childhood, walking home from the bus stop without a coat on. I remember staring out of the window of a classroom, longing to be anywhere but there. Sometimes, in these moments, I remember my best friends from childhood and the ups and downs we had. I don’t usually want to go back there, I can feel the pain I was in still. The smell of Smartfood can bring me back to when I would buy a family size bag and eat the entire thing, calling it my anti-depressants. I didn’t realize that was probably not really an okay thing to do. The smell of Subway will bring me back to when I had sleep overs at my best friend’s house and we would walk to get subs for dinner. White bread, turkey, lettuce, extra pickles, american cheese, lots of mayo, salt and pepper.
February 2005. I just gave my 18 year old self a hug and the tears are flowing. I can see how badly I wanted to be loved, how badly I wanted to be free of the heartache. I didn’t know why I was so sad all the time. I already had a headache for two years at that point. I was holding so much pain. I started drinking 7&7s occasionally. I liked to be drunk, to be free. It wasn’t for a few more years that I was drunk as often as I could be but I can see the pattern, now, looking back.
I was full of so much shame at being who I was, this person who was molded by things I’m not ready to talk about and things I’m not sure I will ever share here. But. I was full of shame, and full of sorrow, and full of questions. I had so many questions that nobody could answer for me. I can smell the air, I can taste the drink, I can feel the hurt, I can feel the confusion, I can feel the chaos. Fifteen years and some things have changed. My healing has begun. I have more self awareness and love. So much more love for the person I was all of those years ago. I can feel how much I needed love then.
I have pictures from 2005. Trees and horses, old barns and lakes. My sister. My brother. My family. Flowers. Life. I have pictures of so much life. I was unknowingly searching for life. I guess I have always wanted to live, after all.