It's Been A Year - Update Written May 16th 2014

I cannot believe it. 

A few days ago last year I came here to North Carolina. This is exactly where I didn't want to be a year later. I have been so distracted by things going on. I've been awful at others birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, announcements. So much so I forgot this unfortunate one. I also forgot to re-evaluate my exit plan. I had recently planned to give myself thirty days to leave. On the 15th day I should have been midway right!? I'm so far from doing what I need to do. I'm not even close. I'm just as unsure about everything as I was exactly 365 days ago.

I was last here in 2004. I'd left New Jersey, gotten a place back in Florida and returned up north to help my Grandmother sell her house. In the end I decided to ride with family down to the new place. Once there I felt like I didn't belong. I felt like the world had stopped. I remember sitting in the living room with everyone and blurting out "can I go home?". There had been a series of hurricanes and I didn't expect to get home easily. I guess everyone felt my pain and scheduled me a flight that morning. I think the plane had 13 passenger seats and I had to walk out on the tarmac. During my flight, I looked out of the plane and saw all this destruction and tarps on rooftops. I knew I was going to go home to a war zone with no power and I still hadn't really moved in but I was content. I just wanted to return to civilization even if it was in shambles. I said I would never come back to North Carolina. I told myself that over and over again.

Fast forward to 2013. I came here for my own ulterior motives. I totally could have done something else but that would have been too difficult for me. I admit now I expected a no strings attached favorless unpaid easy stay. I also expected to come back from my lavish tour of Europe and not need anyone or anything. I am the most selfish person on planet Earth and all I wanted was to have myself back. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer I struggled with making the choice to stay. I just wanted to go back home and I didn't even know where that was. She was in denial and very angry at everyone. She didn't include anyone in the processing of it all. When she started to really feel her symptoms and attempt to involve me I wasn't eager to help anymore. I was supposed to feel good about my choice to stay. I never did. No matter what people told me I should feel or the amount of praise I got I always battled with the what-ifs.

As time went on it became more about the what-ifs if I wasn't here in the first place. Timing was everything and if I hadn't been here there would be casualties and for what? Would I have allowed my mother to go this alone to keep a job I didn't like? Would I have went home in August because I desperately wanted to return to drinking beers and playing music? Would I have been able to live with myself had someone called me in the middle of the night and told me my mother had died? All of the above could have been possible had I not chosen to travel, had I not been selfish, had I not been unhappy. In the end even if I didn't feel wanted I was needed. Now I don't feel needed anymore but I have not been formally dismissed. I've basically decided to leave because it's time. I feel like there may be some repercussions in leaving but I won't feel guilty about them. I am really tired of being here. I'm not on speaking terms with anyone in my family. My mother is in remission but again in denial. I can't support her anymore. I have my own battles.

I handle things way differently than others. When I was sick years ago I accepted being alone. My mother did come down and help me but she consistently left when I wasn't ready for her to go. I had to just get over it and get back to reality and her leaving did help in that. At this point my mother acts as if she is still bogged down and mid-treatment. She is emotionally confused. She's not well. I'm very frightened that I could leave and I will still get that phone call. However, I strongly believe I'm just in her way. Leaving is the only way to determine her willpower. Right now all I'm doing is taking that away from her or at least allowing her to pretend that it doesn't matter. I cook. I clean. I wash her clothes. I make her bed. I dispense her meds. I schedule her appointments. These are all things she is capable of doing herself but I continue to do them because I am here. I want to believe that when I leave she will get up and get back to life. She's not in the best shape either but that is entirely her doing. She is absolutely refusing to eat and I've struggled with that. Since I am here the doctors and specialists tell me she is in her own way and it is mind over matter. If I'm eliminated and she goes this recovery alone they can tell her that. She will have to make the decision to live on her own. 

So I'm content in my decision to let her be. However, I am not really prepared to go out on my own. I've been off the grid in several ways. I haven't been in social environments. I don't get out much for helping her. I wasn't too keen on returning to work when I did. I may not be ready to return to my former life. There will be a lot of change I have to embrace. I feel fortunate to have had a real break from life but I'm also deprived. I am going to have to work twice as hard just to get up to speed. I have lost a year. In those 53 days of travel I gained some insight on things but not much I can bring back to the former me. I'm different now and I haven't been able to try that out. Like I mentioned in previous posts my memories and experiences get canceled out because they don't compare to others. I can't discuss how I took year off work to do whatever this was. There are people that are dying for a job. There are people who cannot afford to take care of their own. I can't explain to employers this gap. I can't relate to friends anymore. I don't know what has happened to them and I no longer have anything to talk about. The reason I keep writing, reading is so I can remember I actually exist. If I didn't retell these stories or try to read those of others I would be more lost than I actually am. 

So mid-point exit plan, hmmm…

I am no closer to finding a job than I was sitting in Italy last July. I am no closer to finding a place to live than I was a few months ago sitting in a hotel room. I am in limbo. When I came here I had some things of value and now they are all gone. I also downsized when I left Florida and now I've re-accumulated the crap I wanted so badly to get rid of. I've started all these collections of new things and I still have a storage unit of stuff I've forgotten about it. My car had been dead for about two months and we finally got that fixed but I don't feel too hot about driving it back to Florida. I also have my Grandmothers pug and having three dogs doesn't help when looking for a place to live. I am really trying to stay optimistic and put myself in a mental space of being okay. To me okay looks like taking a pay cut, having a mediocre job, living in a smaller space and not getting a flat screen tv like I say I will every single year. I do want to be more available. I don't want to be in a position again where I have to make fucked up choices. I really want to be able to support my mother if she needs me. I want to be able to forgive people. I want to be content with myself. The reality is in everything that has happened I was never in a happy place. So thats the end goal and I have exactly 15 days to do it. 

Am I confident?

I am far from it. Everyday I question my mothers ability to survive whatever this is. She is not the most forthcoming person. So I'm trying to emotionally prepare her for me leaving and I don't think 15 days is enough. The job hunt is daunting but exciting nonetheless. I'm seeing that a lot of people are in my same position. My former roommate is working with me to move. I'm more confident in her than I am in myself. I really thought I could rely on my other friends but they have moved on. At least years ago I had contingencies and these days I really don't. I can't rely on anyone to take care of my mother. I can't rely on anyone to take me in. I have no choice but to make solid decisions that will affect me for the long haul. These next 15 days determine everything to happen in the next 3 to 5 years. If I make one mis-step there really is no do-over period. I am really hoping I don't get stuck here. If I remain here I will merely follow in my mothers footsteps. I do not want to be the child who is in charge of everyone else's shit. I own the fact that I'm the best candidate but I haven't lived my own life and it is high time I do.

Honestly, my frustrations with being here have somewhat dissipated. I am not as angry as I used to be. In some respect I have gained a new level of autonomy. I have been in a position where someone relies in me. That is a first. I really had to dial myself back a bit to be there for her. In that I was able to build some level of trust with my mother. I gained an understanding of our relationship. I also had the opportunity to try out the dynamics of a family I've always avoided. Things were not successful and the generational gap between us all made things volatile. I don't want to ever have to interact with these people again. I know I'll have to at some point. I just really don't want a phone call from them in the night. I am hoping a true separation will bring me some clarity and put me in a better position to accept that. I personally just want a family of my own. After this experience I know what it is like to be depended on and I know that no one deserves to be alone. My mother was alone way too often and it really wasn't acceptable for her to have to figure out that her children were reliable and there for her. It goes both ways because in years past I didn't expect anything from her either. Everything is still an open wound but very much in perspective now. Hindsight is indeed 20/20.

I think my sister now grasps how bad things were and could have been. So she'll be more hands on with mom and everyone else. My mother also has a very devoted student therapist and an oncology nutrionalist. There are people in her corner. I think I've proven myself and now know I'm ready to support my own. I think if I play my cards right I can get everything I truly want. For now, right now I need a platform to start. I need a decent job where I still have some quality of life. I need to live in an environment that is supportive and living alone isn't conducive to that. I think my roommate and I both need each other. I am extremely happy to live with her again and give myself in another form. Hopefully, if I start working and have the time I'll finish my Bachelors. I am not going to pursue it to gain more clout or money. I'm going to do it for me and it probably won't change anything. It'll just be my first experience with endurance and surviving it because I'm a big quitter. I seriously feel like now that I've traveled a bit, experienced some loss, gotten closer with my mom - I think I'm a little more well rounded. I think I'm capable of a lot more than I used to be. I feel deserving of more. I've never felt like that before and I'm ready for whatever this brings.

So yeah… It's been a year and that is too long.

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