Monday, October 4, 2010

You Can Go Home Again

Day 19 is just about over and I have now gone longer without drinking than I have since my youngest son was born 26 years ago. Today I'm thankful for long road trips minus the hangovers and I'm also thankful for moisturizer. Just like my poor old Stanley, the blind killer bichon, my skin never knows where I'm going to take it. It may go from a place with 90% humidity one day to almost 0% the next.
It's been two days on the road so I'm cheating a little and posting a blog I wrote for my other blog. I think a lot of it applies. Whether we are abstaining or modifying we are finding ourselves in a new place in our lives and the changes can be scary. Oh, and I've added the lost verse that only the readers on this blog get to read.
I'm back in Kansas, the place of my birth and the following 40 some years. And while the cap'n cringes when I say this, it feels like home. It's hard to explain but it just feels like there is some kind of recognition deep in my DNA. My heart beats more sure. I know the smells and the feel of the air. The way the sunlight slants on an autumn afternoon is a touchstone for all other afternoon suns. I can tell what the day will be by the light that shines in my morning window.
I was born with wanderlust though. Always dreaming of faraway places and the unfamiliar. A wishful restlessness. And so I wander. To distant shores and lands that are as different as imaginable from where I came from. I'm not sure what it is I'm looking for but I haven't found it yet. I'm a little afraid that it's back here where I started. But it could be in Mexico. I had forty plus years to let Kansas seep into my marrow. I've been in Colorado for six "half" years and it's just starting to feel like home. I'll give my new home a fighting chance.
The cap'n is starting to sweat bullets while he reads this. Don't worry cap, I'm not ready to put the house in Mexico up for sale and move back to Kansas. Not even! I'm excited about our new life down there and the undiscovered possibilities. But just like anyone that moves on a boat or to a new place, foreign or not, I sometimes feel nostalgic for "home". That's okay. That's normal. But it's easy to mistake that homesickness for unhappiness with our new surroundings. It takes time and effort for strangeness to evolve into familiarity. It's scary, especially if you don't speak the language. And it's so tempting to surround yourself with only the familiar and do only the things that you already know how to do. But where's the fun in that? You have to confront the things that scare you, if you don't you are not giving yourself or your new "home" a fair chance. You will always ask yourself if you did all you could. Most importantly, recognize if it is yourself or the place you are unhappy with. If you are not happy or comfortable with yourself, no place is going to provide those things for you. (How was that for a Zen moment?)
However, if you have given your all and you've given it all the time you think you can spare, it's okay to say, "This isn't what I want." It can be heartbreaking to admit that the dream wasn't what you thought it was going to be. Plus, when you leave a "fringe" community like the boating or the expat community, you may feel or be made to feel that you've failed. You're abandoning ship. This is so not true. You tried. By God, at least you tried, which is more than most people do. It is more important that you recognize that you are genuinely unhappy and do something about it. If that means leaving and trying something else, so be it. Life's too short. I stayed on the boat longer than I should have. I waited until the cap'n admitted he was unhappy. I squandered some precious years and tinged a lot of happy memories with resentment.
Move on. Go back home if that makes you happy or keep searching until you find a place that feels like home. It's okay. You have my permission.
Lost Verse:
I will always ask myself if it was the boat I was unhappy with or was it me. I think I know the answer to that, but I'll never be sure. And when I say that I have to give Mexico a fighting chance, I mean I have to make sure that I am content with myself before I can judge whether I am happy with a place. Hey, you know what? That goes for people too. I mentioned that I've been looking for years for another "home" and still haven't found it. I think that is because "home" is within myself. Until I can get back to a place that I feel safe and in control, I will never have the comfort of "home". I will never find it if I continue to drink the way I have. So that is my first step. But stopping drinking isn't the only step I'll have to take. Now comes the scary part of confronting whatever it is that makes me drink. Now comes the challenges of learning to live a new way. Now comes the rewards of doing all those things that drinking wouldn't let me do.
So I'll be out there doing my best to do all I can to make it home.

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