hide, heal or die

My friend Steffi told me that when she first moved to this island a drunk lady said to her,

“Everyone that moves here comes to either hide, heal or die. Which is it for you?”

Hide, heal or die. Are those seriously the only choices? I’ve thought about that a lot since she shared that with me. For starters it’s just plain funny. I can see the moment. But, if those are the only choices, which is it for us?

Perhaps at first we were here to hide. Perhaps. Hide from our past. From L.A. and the pain of no longer living that life.

And then for sure we were here to heal. To heal from that pain of loss. To heal from the pain of just a really hard couple of years. To heal from the stress and anxiety.

But we certainly aren’t here to die. I mean, there are people that move here and plan to live out the rest of their lives on this island, but that’s not us.

So are we still healing? Maybe. I think it’s possible to always be in the space of healing to some extent. But that doesn’t fully describe our present state of being here.

We’ve moved through so many emotional spaces since we first arrived.

After 21 days living on the island, I was LOVING it. I declared that I was adjusting brilliantly and wrote this post about how much we loved being here.

Not one month later I was struggling with HATING being here. Yes, I used the word hate.  I hated it. And wasn’t afraid to say it out loud… well, at least to Bob and a few family members and friends. I wrote this on Dec. 9th about our struggle to be happy here.

Here we are now several months later. And how do I feel?

Like this is where we are supposed to be right now.

It’s not perfect. It’s not paradise. At least not to me. I don’t think that any place is paradise as long as I’m there. Unless I’m there on vacation. Otherwise I bring all my ‘crap’ to it and taint paradise. So, perhaps his place is paradise when I’m not here. Or to someone else. Can anyone relate to what I’m trying to say here?

My point is that it’s not perfection for me. But it’s also not hell for me anymore either. I no longer hate it. I’m no longer desperate to leave. I’m actually happy being here. (I am aware that to many people, this place is their paradise. And I can completely get that. I’m only speaking for my own experience and it’s not at all an assessment of the island. This is, in all objectivity a wonderful place. But whether a place is wonderful or not doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for a particular individual.)

So, I’m happy being here now. I’m happy that I get to have our baby here. That it’s calm and peaceful. That people here care so much about their surroundings and neighbors. That it’s beautiful. That the air is so clean. That there’s water all around (can’t wait to get out on it.) Yes, I miss things. There are challenges. But I can’t help but embrace this idea that we are truly here for a reason.

I’ve always felt that it’s your community that really makes a difference. When we first arrived here, I pretty much got pregnant right away. Then I was dealing with the idea of having a baby so far away from friends and family as well as all the symptoms which included depression. I locked myself away and turned into a hermit. I didn’t want to meet new people. I didn’t want to be outgoing. I wanted to hide and escape this island. I felt like meeting new people would turn into putting down roots and I wasn’t ready to do that.

So what changed? Well, the sun reappeared. That helped. I entered my second trimester. That REALLY HELPED. And I suddenly began involving myself in life here. Bob too.

Bob joined a bowling league– every Monday night he was bowling in league. And we began to go to the bowling alley more often so that he could practice. He met new people at league.

I volunteered at the San Juan Community Theatre as House Manager– it felt good to be a contribution to the community and I’ve met some really wonderful people volunteering at the theatre.

We joined the gym– we’d been putting this off because of money. But we realized we had to put our mental and physical health first. We began going to classes regularly and getting to know the members and the employees. One week when we hadn’t been to the gym because I had been sick, one of the employees (Ali) called us at home to make sure we were okay and to find out whether or not we’d be at class. Ali is a neighbor too and now a friend. We actually ended up hosting her surprise birthday party and meeting yet more people that way.

We got out of the house– the more you get out, the more you run into familiar faces and the more you feel like a regular part of the community. There are people we know just by going to the dog park, the bakery, etc.

I got a job– this is new. I’d been looking without much success. Until just last week. My friend Steffi- the one who told me about the drunk lady- called to see if I was still looking for work. How I know Steffi is from our stay at the local motel- Earthbox. We stayed there when our pipes were frozen in December and got to know Steffi pretty well. She and I kept in touch and took our dogs for a soggy hike one day. To make a long story short, I now work at Earthbox Motel in Friday Harbor. Today was day 2 of my training. I’ll write more about this in a separate post. But having a job is not only going to help our checking account, but also how I feel about being here. Already, after only two days, I feel more grounded.

So what is it now?

Hide, heal or die?

Well, none of the above. If I had to pick one word, it would be grow.

Like the grass on these four acres (really can’t wait to get our lawnmower back from the repair shop) and my belly, we are growing. Visibly. Every day.

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3 Responses

  1. What a timely post for me. Sounds like you’re growing in maturity as well.
    Love Mom

  2. Hi Stephanie, I have to say, like you I escaped Los Angeles to a small community north of Santa Barbara county, a very small town, 11 square miles. It will be one year on April 1. I am SO thankful that you are sharing this, I’ve gone through loving this place, then hating it. I work from home so I’ve become a hermit, refusing to go out and meet new people or get involved with my community. What you said about not wanting to put down roots struck a nerve for me… a very familiar feeling. I am now liking it here, but I do need to get out more and meet new people. Thanks for sharing what you did that made a difference because now I can go and do the same.

    • Veronica,
      I’m so glad that my post struck a nerve. It’s funny how I have no idea what will connect with people when I’m actually writing it. Anyway, it sounds like we’ve had similar experiences. Thanks for sharing yours with me.

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