I sure hope so.
Even though the last couple of days have felt pretty bleak for me, I am starting to feel a new me emerging from what has been an enormously painful winter. This new me is still very tender and raw, easily frightened and prone to panic. But it will be interesting to meet the new me once the soil warms and his skin thickens up a bit.
This winter I've gone through some very difficult times. I've spent the winter and all of the last year living in a tiny (200 square foot) cabin with a woodstove and no indoor plumbing except for a rain fed trickle in the sink. This cabin is outside of a tiny town and surrounded by at least a hundred miles of rugged mountainous wilderness in three directions and is thirty miles from a couple of small farming and logging towns in the other direction. I just moved here to a remote corner of northwest Washington State a little over a year ago, leaving behind a place I'd lived for 20 years, Pennsylvania. I'm from the New York City area originally where all of my immediate family still lives -- there is no extended family, my dad's side is all dead or out of contact since my dad's funeral 15 years ago, my mom's side was lost to war and global dispersal. In Pennsylvania I had built a whole network of friends and a familiar life with a steady, mostly satisfying and actually pretty cushy job with a decent income and benefits and summers off. I taught philosophy in a small college for a living and really enjoyed it. Why did I throw everything away and run away to a tiny cabin in the woods? To live on a commune or intentional community in more current jargon -- I'm not entirely alone here since there are two families here living in small houses as well as occasional longer term visitors. It's kind of an attempt to be self-sufficient with our own food production and ways of getting by with minimal involvement in the "system." And conditions here are very primitive. There is no hot water and no functioning shower or indoor toilets. We get our water from a spring. Seemed like a good idea at the time. And the summer here is beautiful. Except it's not really independent of the system. And except all of the quiet time for reflection and living in close quarters with near total strangers, trying desperately to fit in, was enough stress to bring out with a vengeance all of the demons I've been avoiding my whole life, demons created and strengthened by my childhood sexual abuse and 30 years of denial. These demons fully emerged late last summer and were the reason I first started hanging out here. I shared my story with my farm mates and a few friends back where I came from (home?) once the demons had fully emerged as summer turned to fall. I also found a great therapist and started to make serious progress in coming to terms with my abuse. Then winter arrived and the schite really hit the fan. I went back for a visit where I came from (home!) after the holidays and told many more friends about my CSA and brought it up with my family too. My brothers were co-victims and my family were completely non-supportive preferring to think that silence would make it go away. I had never talked about it with my brothers before and that created a huge question mark in my mind. But I felt that as I was starting to heal from the CSA I needed to let the people I cared about in on who I really was. I have to say that I had really mixed feelings about going on that trip. I posted something here to that effect a while back without any of these other gory details.
When I got back to the cabin to face the rest of the winter alone, I also had to face some pretty big facts. Like the fact that I had lived a year on savings and was no closer to finding a way to make a living out here than I was the day I left home. It hit me like an avalanche (and I've been hit by one before, but that's another story) that I had in fact run away in coming here, and what I had run from was nothing other than myself. I was getting too close to people back there and couldn't stand it anymore because I still felt so damn disconnected. I had blamed it all on the place and before I had left I had gotten more despondent and more combative than usual and developed a pretty bleak sense of the future for me and the rest of this crazy messed up world. Then there was the unexpected fact that I really suddenly missed the people back home, especially because they had greeted the story of my CSA and subsequent struggles with nothing but understanding and compassion. And of course just to complicate things there was a love interest that sparkled there for my brief visit. My family was tough to talk to, but still even there dialogue was opened in a way I had never before thought possible. Back here in the cabin in the middle of a bleak and lonely winter I really started to fall apart. This place feels about as isolated Mars, especially in winter.
I had a short delay of a week before I could see my therapist again after I got back, and there was a brand new male survivor group starting up in a town an hour away, and there was a big meeting scheduled on the long term future of this place where I suspected that it would be plain for all to see that my hopes and expectations for this place were wildly at odds with everybody else's. The stress of all that, coupled with intense panic about not having an income or even a viable prospect for one without commuting an hour away and even worse panic about looking for a job in a completely unfamiliar town as an aging former philosophy professor down on his luck, was far too much for me. I was a basket case. I've done nothing for the past two months but struggle to hold on. I've even gone as far as to become sort of spiritual, something the philosophy professor in me would have scoffed at a year ago. I have managed to hold on by regular meditation and immersing myself in modern western Buddhism. I've been living therapy and group session to therapy and group session which are unfortunately on successive days so that leaves me with 5 days in between with nothing but me and lots of phone calls back east to keep me going.
Things might be changing as I have managed, driven by occasional manic panics, to put in motion a plan to move back east. In my lucid moments it seems like a long shot but better than my prospects here. I can't get my old life back, but I am trying to find something closer to what I thought this place was all about -- living sustainably, helping with efforts to relocalize food production and recreate local rural economies amid the spreading wreckage of the globalization project of the last century. I have no idea if the options I am scoping out in the east are any more viable than the place I am at although I'll be visiting soon to see what I can find out. I am still filled with anxiety about the future, mine as well as the world's, although I now know that I have a tendency to see impending doom everywhere at least partly because of unresolved PTSD.
But somehow, somewhere I am seeing a glimmer of hope. May spring be here soon with some possibilities for a new beginning!
Thanks for reading. I've been wanting to share more of what I have been going through. I feel a bit like I've been attempting some caretaking here without really letting people in on my struggles. Lately that's been feeling too much like the old pretend that everything is OK when your insides are screaming routine I'm sure many people in MS land know all too well. I guess I feel like a freak even here.
Jurek ogorek, kielbasa i sznurek, kielbasa uciekla, Jurek do piekla!