Suburbia makes me twitchy.
Five or 6 years ago, it was all I wanted. The big house in the cookie cutter neighborhood, the white picket fence, the neighborly hospitality. The 2-car garage, the big backyard. I so desperately wanted that. I got it, I relished it. I tried so hard to be the person who would fit in, tried to do the right things and say the right things. For 6 years in that seemingly perfect neighborhood I repeatedly attempted to squish my round self into a square hole. It worked for a while. Until it stopped working. Then everything stopped working.
There is a part of me that realizes that I am vilifying suburbia. At least a little. But it still makes me twitchy. When I drive past subdivisions I can literally feel myself tensing up. Once I am back on a country road on the way to my house I breathe a little easier. Those cookie cutter houses symbolize everything I am not and everything I tried to be but couldn't manage.
I inadvertently took a short yet painful driving tour through my past this evening on the way home from Easter dinner at my mother's house. The pizza place that used to be the Thai place that he and I used to go to all the time when we were first dating. The house that used to be the bed and breakfast we got married at. The old route I used to take to drive the kids to preschool from that house in suburbia.
It brought back a lot of unpleasant memories, but it brought back some good ones too. I'm not sure which ones hurt more. I know in my heart and soul I made the right decision when I left him. But I think even the worst of relationships have some sweet and happy remnants when things end, even if those things are hard to remember at first. And I think that applies to friendships too.
I lost friends as a result of staying in Phoenix last summer. Some of these friendships were temporarily patched up upon my return. Most didn't make it though, for whatever reason. It hurt. It still hurts, and it will probably always hurt a little. I ended up rediscovering one friendship I thought I'd lost though. And I've come to realize something recently: this friend is possibly one of two people I've been lucky enough to know in my life who has never tried to change me. Not ever. She's never told me what I'm doing wrong or what I need to do differently or instructed me on how I should live my life. She just accepts me for who I am, listens to me when I'm sad, lets me cry, and laughs with me when life is good and even when it's not. I hope I do the same thing for her.
I'm learning that life itself is a process. It's not a series of absolutes. Life is always changing, flowing, moving. I am learning to grow and change with it. That's a process too though. I am grateful for so many things in my life, even when I feel too broken to remember what those things are. I love the time I get with my kids. I love my tiny, old house with all of it's charms and imperfections. I love my tiny, old house's lack of a white picket fence. I love my dog. I love the people who remain in my life and accept me for who I am, warts and all. Most importantly, and this may be the biggest process of all, I am learning to love and accept myself. Every part of myself. I know it all starts with that.
Suburbia still makes me twitchy though. Learning to get over that will be a part of the process too...