Tech Free = Less Stress

In the couple of weeks prior to our move to the new house, I also had a weekend trip planned to my hometown to attend a wedding reception for my son and his wife. They married earlier this year, choosing a simple courthouse wedding; but they had this reception planned for friends and family to celebrate their union. They were also in the middle of a move to his first duty station on the west coast which made this the perfect event to see all their friends and family prior to getting settled clear across the U.S. I’m so thankful I was able to attend. For someone with serious social anxieties that often present as agoraphobia, trips are a nightmare! I believe my son and his wife (even her mom) understand this more fully than the rest of my family.

Not only was the trip itself a stressor, but it was terribly nerve-racking (strange and surreal, also come to mind) to see my ex-husband (CF), his entire family, and many of his ex’s there. There’s so much history involved in mine and CF’s relationship, so much pain. Every time someone called me by the nickname he gave me, I cringed — literally cringed. It caused a part of me to cry out in my mind, “Make them stop!” while the outer “me” could only smile and nod or fight tears with nervous laughter. Yeah, my emotions were a wreck; but I hope I handled myself with a quiet dignity that hid the pain I felt behind a mask of tolerance and hope for the sakes of my son and his wife and for their future together. Thankfully, everyone remained civil and everything went smoothly.

After the wedding reception on the following Monday, I pretty much hit the ground running into a non-stop frenzy of activity for about a month solid. I drove straight from my mom’s house to the new house to help KR with the cleaning and preparation for move-in. On Tuesday, my son and his wife spent the night with us at our old place. That was the first time I have spent that type of quality time with my child in many, many years. We had the opportunity to have a long, in-depth discussion about my past and the break-up with his dad, something we never had the chance to discuss prior to his visit. It was discouraging to hear the things CF told my son about me (mostly false), but not surprising. I’m happy that I can speak so openly around my son and his wife. That visit meant the world to me, and provided a small amount of closure that I’ve never felt.

Following their visit, I spent the remainder of the week finishing the cleaning of our new place, shampooing carpets, bleaching every square inch of the kitchen and bathroom, etc., as well as finishing up the packing. We moved into our new place the last weekend of June. Prior to the move, while I was in my hometown visiting family, I told everyone that I would be out of contact for at least a couple of weeks after we moved because we still had not determined what type of phone/internet service would be available. KR and I didn’t have cell phones at the time of the move, only a home phone and PC internet, which were cut off that following Monday.

For whatever reason, we couldn’t get phone service through Charter at our new address, only internet; and that took a lot of complaining and waiting — something about the local telephone company not “sharing.” The explanation sounded like a monopoly to me and left a bad taste in my mouth for this local company. We’ve decided not to do business with them and not to get a home phone at all. We still have our StraightTalk phones from a couple of years ago; so that first week of July, KR put minutes on his cell phone just to get us an emergency contact number. We want to be certain that we can comfortably afford two cell phones prior to getting a second one for me.

During that first week of July, I tried to call my mom several times; but only got her voicemail. I figured she must not be answering because she didn’t recognize the number; so I left a voicemail. When I left the voicemail on July 6th, I had the little slip of paper in my hand with KR’s cell phone number written on it; and I remember thinking to myself that I needed to be sure that I said the number slowly in the message so that Mom would have time to write it down. I suppose it’s possible that I got flustered while leaving the message (I often do) or distracted (I’m very easily distracted) and forgot to recite the number; but I honestly thought I left the number in the message, not to mention the number should have shown up on her caller ID. Apparently, not.

When I finally got through to my mom on the phone this past Wednesday, she told me she had been in the hospital – TWICE! She laid the guilt on thick. Of course, no one could get in touch with me because no one had the emergency phone number. My son and my sister both sent me emails, but we didn’t get internet until this past Thursday. My sister sent another email yesterday telling me it would be “nice” if I would come there this weekend to care for Mom. I haven’t responded to the email yet because I don’t know what to say. Honestly, I’m not up for another trip. I know I’m being selfish; but I’m exhausted, flat-out-worn-out. I’m probably the least nurturing person to be caring for my mother. I’m sure it will only infuriate my sister even more if I choose not to help her out with Mom, but the fact is: I don’t live there. And with good reason.

At least, good reason in my mind.

In retrospect, I’m actually glad that I had a month tech-free because it gave me a chance to enjoy my new surroundings, to acclimate, to de-stress a little. Simplicity during a move — for me — is essential. Maybe it was a subconscious effort to simplify my life during this move that I failed to leave my family an emergency contact number. The knowledge that my mother’s health is deteriorating saddens me greatly. However, I’m worried that the pressure my sister will inevitably put on me to be someone I’m not will break me once again.

(I realize that I haven’t gotten to the point in My Story where I’ve really discussed my relationship with my mother and my sister. I may have touched on it briefly, but nothing substantial. I think I’ve been avoiding the topic, but there’s a lot of resentment there – on both sides.)

Change Is A Good Thing

First, a quick update about my absence for the last month and a half. An opportunity arose for KR and me to move to the community where he works. Given all of the problems we were having with the trailer where we previously lived (the decrepit condition of that “shack” of a home, the neighbors from hell, and the slumlord who owned the property), we ran — as fast as we could, away from the place we called home for the last 4 years. It took every penny we had to move, but running away from home never felt so good. We still owe our previous landlord money, which neither of us are in any hurry to provide; but at least, we got out of a very bad situation.

The place we moved to is much, much nicer. It’s still a mobile home/trailer; but it’s a much newer model, a 1995 model versus the 1972 model where we were living. This one had been vacant since November 2012; so it needed a lot of TLC to make it livable. There are still a few repairs that need to be completed even now; but as it sat that first day we looked at it, this trailer was a mansion compared to the previous one, especially considering the location and natural beauty of the rural, farm-land setting. It’s peaceful, and oh-so beautiful out here.

Two other trailers are on this piece of property, as well — one sits vacant and the other is rented by a young couple with 4 small children. KR works with the father which is how we found out about this place. In many ways, I feel a sense of déjà vu comparing where we live now to where we were; but I’m trying very hard to overlook any similarities and remain positive about this experience. It was a much-needed move. I’m so thankful we found it. KR and I, both, are much more relaxed here; but I still feel like I’m reeling from the stress of the move, even a month later. What can I say? Things like this affect me deeply, and I’m slow to recover.

Due to its rural setting, we immediately had issues getting internet service out to our house even though the national broadband map showed that service was already established out here. Finally, after a month-long wait, our internet was installed yesterday. I’m thankful for that because I was beginning to feel a little cut-off from the outside world, like I was living in some alternate universe without technology. Exploring everything I missed over the last month and a half, it didn’t take long to feel overwhelmed: 2.5 hours just to update everything on my computer; close to 700 emails to sort through (many were bulk-deleted)….

And why the hell are the Republicans suing the President? What else did I miss?! I feel so lost….

I’m still trying to figure out my “routine” here at the new place. I’m spending so much time outdoors that I’ve actually got a half-way-decent tan going on my arms and legs. And it’s not just because KR and I have resolved to only smoking cigarettes outdoors in an attempt to cut down and eventually quit smoking. I actually like being outdoors here. My “space” has grown where I feel comfortable exploring; but leaving that safe-zone that I call home is still a great challenge for me, as is socializing with the neighbors. Just because I keep telling myself that past experiences shouldn’t dictate current events doesn’t mean I always believe it. Some days (weeks) are simply harder than others.

There’s more I need to get off my chest; but for now, I need to run and do my household chores that I’ve put off doing all day. The one thing I can honestly say about the internet is that it is most certainly a time waster. For me, though, blogging is not a waste of time. It’s a way to collect my thoughts, process emotions, and meet interesting people who I would normally never get to meet. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.