Thursday, November 1, 2007

June 12, 2006

It has been exactly a year. One year ago I made a big move from the Eastern Panhandle back to the town I ran away from 10 years prior. The last time I had lived in Charleston I was 18, angry, confused, and ready to get the hell out of my parents' house. I spent the next ten years angry, confused, and ready to get the hell out of someone's house, be it a boyfriend's house or my own brain.

I have lived an interesting adult life. Some say I should have been the first reality based TV show. If that were the case, I would have never been employable. The right people knew the right things at the right time. Some tales aren't worth telling out of school. Nonetheless, I have always been on some search, and today I woke up with a very unfamiliar feeling, and I think I am now well on my way to obtaining my goal. For the first time in my life, I woke up with a twinge in my heart that felt like contentment. I finally felt for a small moment or two that today I wouldn't have to run from something uncomfortable or attempt to create a solution. For those few seconds everything was alright in my world. What a fabulous feeling!

A year ago I moved from a quaint, artisan community snuggled in the mountains in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. I had been there for about 3 years. I moved there after doing a crazy-assed, bizarre 7 year stint in Morgantown. I LOVE Morgantown, but at the exact moment in my life I had to leave there. My life was rolling in a downward spiral of excessive partying, all the wrong men, and poor mental health. I have a crazy wonderful group of friends still there that I refer to as the family that I was able to pick. However, even their love and support wasn't quite enough for me to get my shit together. I needed to physically move myself to a safe place, a place where I could start a new and heal.

I made a decision in haste to quit the bar scene that had been paying my bills and habits, and start teaching again. Within 2 days of my decision I had applied, interviewed, been made an offer, accepted the offer, and was looking for living arrangements in a town I had NEVER been to or heard of before! A lot of sad goodbyes, and one week later I was living in the world's smallest town and smiling through tears of unexpectedness.

For the first week I lived in a one room cottage, and the closeness of that room forced me to begin a process that I was desperately needing to do, yet didn't quite no how to do it. I began getting to know myself, I tried really hard to like myself, I wanted to learn to love myself the way that the people in my life thought I should love myself. Obviously, this can't be done in a week. I had 20 some odd years to work through. It was just in that physical place at that exact moment I was able to finally get some of the noise to stop and breathe. It was scary. It was obscene. It was liberating.

I remember my first night there. I was miserable. I hated my life more at that moment than ever. The only difference was that my brain was clear enough to listen to the misery. It was the first time it had been that clear in years. Not wanting to accept defeat and admit to making yet another huge mistake, I didn't want to call my parents. However, I needed to call someone familiar. I called the bar in Morgantown instead and asked for a daily update of what the regulars had been up to and how everyone was. A small egomaniacal moment...I was hoping that life didn't continue on there without me. It did, thankfully. Deep down I knew that mine was going to continue as well. I hung up and did something I hadn't done in years. I called my mom, but it wasn't our typical "Heather just called mom to appease her" phone call. I called my mom because I wanted to. I called my mom because I just needed my mom. I called my mom because we had been working for a couple of years on getting through and getting on. She answered the phone to listen to a sobbing daughter tell her how miserable she was. How she knew that she needed to be miserably alone for a while before anything was going to be okay again. My mom listened. She didn't try to fix it. (Perhaps we had both hit a level of enlightenment that day.) She listened and breathed with me. She said the right words at the right time. "You will learn to be okay if you would just learn to listen to what your heart tells you that you need." In that small one bedroom cottage, located in a town that I never had heard of before, isolated not only by the mountains, but from everything that was ever familiar to me, I began to listen to what some people refer to as your heart song.

My heart song kept me in this safe haven for three years. I met wonderful people, accomplished wonderful goals, and created life long friends and memories there. I can't tell you what a therapeutic place Berkeley Springs is. There is some type of energy there that you can't explain and wouldn't want to. You just have to experience it for yourself. It truly is a beautiful place. I began to get healthy in this place. I learned a lot about what I used to be, who I currently was, and who I wanted to become. I learned that being angry is useless unless you use that emotion to fuel some sort of proactive behavior. I learned that sometimes it is okay to feel like shit; you just need to know that it isn't okay to stay feeling like that. I learned there that it is okay to trust people and if the trust level is broken life will continue, it is just one more life lesson to put in your repertoire. I learned unconditional love. I learned respect. I learned professionalism. I learned a great deal. Then I got antsy...

I began feeling like things were going too well for me. I needed to shake my life up again. I needed a new challenge. I was feeling to good there, like I was hiding out or something. I needed SOMETHING. The greatest challenge that I could think of was to move to Charleston where I had run from before. I knew that my parents were leaving there for at least 5 years due to a job offer that my father couldn't refuse. I knew that my sister and grandmother were there. One of my best friends from college was living with my sister and I desperately missed Jeremy. I had several friends from pre-school to high school that I still kept in touch with. I figured what the hell?! Lets rock and roll.

I moved here and within the first week I was screaming "What the fuck?! What had I done?! " I had friends, but didn't have any friends of my own. The people that I ran around with were always friends of friends. I kept running into creepy blasts from my past. I didn't care for my job at first. Loved my students, but kept comparing it to the first placement. I was already pulling out the map looking for my next crazy adventure. I kept telling myself to slow down and breathe, that it takes about 1 year to really get your feet on the ground. I have been counting down the days to the one year with gritted teeth, then this morning I wake up and realize that I have been here for a year. When did I quit counting? I feel content. When did this happen?

It must have happened a few months ago without my realization. I realized this morning that somewhere along the way I decided that it was all going to be okay. Life will work out the way it is suppose to. I like my job. I like the life style. And in the process I have made myself a friend to myself and developed a peer group that is strong in character, funny in personality, brilliant in the intellect department and uniquely different from one another. Lawyers, paralegals, political movers and shakers, teachers, doctors, nurses, scientists, artsy fartsies, mothers, fathers, number crunchers, suits, dredlocks, you name it; they are it. They all have their own story to tell. They all add something to this world. They all are working on the same goal that I am...listening to their heart song. For that I am thankful today. For them I am thankful today. With these thoughts on the forefront of my mind this morning, I realize that today will be a good day. You can't ask for much more. Today for the first time in a long time I think I am going to stay right where I am. I don't want to be anywhere else other than HOME.

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