When it comes to trying out new food, new media, new clothing styles, new hairstyles, new philosophical ideas, new reincarnations of The Doctor, and so on, I tend to dive in head first and without issue. I think that’s why I’m not a writer whom generally sticks to one kind of genre, I’ve experimented with and written almost all of them. Poetry, funny haikus, teen/young adult fiction, sci-fi, horror, comedy, romance, political satire, and crime novels – just to name a few.
Anyway, I find it a bit odd that I am able to accept something new in culture, art, expression, etc., yet when it comes to physical spaces and personal social situations I can’t stand “new” or changes. It’s okay if a person changes the playlist to some new music I’ve never heard before, but when they try to transport me to a new location for it, I will flip out! O_O
in August 2013, I had no choice but to leave the only home and city I ever known. My old home was one that I grew up in since infancy. The room that I had occupied the most and called my home, shabby that it was, is a bedroom that was given to me as a little girl after my older brother had moved out. I was so happy to get it, to have my own room at age eleven, and I first decorated it with my crayon drawing. I had made it my own safety bubble.
As I grew older and my mental issues got worse, this room became my personal hiding space from the world. This is where I isolated myself and spent hours writing, listening to music, and playing video games. I became a hikikomori (a hermit) since age sixteen, but I didn’t really began to stay indoors full time until after high-school age. At that point, I wouldn’t leave the house for YEARS at a time.
As I hid indoors, the small park in my neighborhood, that I use to play in as a child, was removed and replaced with a bank. The sidewalks were redone and other familiar landmarks were removed. When I did finally step outside again, I felt like I wasn’t in my neighborhood anymore. This disturbed me profoundly and encouraged me to try to get out a little, because I didn’t want to be disturbed like that again. I would leave my home in Philly once a month, after those changes. In Minnesota, I leave the house four times a month, which I am quite comfortable with that number and don’t plan to change it.
Gradually, my safety bubble was no longer safe in Philadelphia, as my mother insisted on having a violent drug addict living with us. And he often bought shady friends to visit, although a few were actually nice guys… I never understood why they were the addict’s friends in the first place! Anyway, the shady friends would steal items and take advantage of my mother’s trusting nature of handing them her credit card to buy groceries for her.
Every time she handed over her card, they would steal money from her account, which resulted in us not having said groceries or being able to pay an utility bill. I’ve spent summer nights with her, sitting in the dark, because the electric bill wasn’t paid. That’s because two or three hundred dollars was stolen from her account before. So, my safety bubble was highly compromised!
However, it got worse… much more worse! The violent addict decided to have fits, whenever he couldn’t get money easily for drugs, and began to threaten both myself and my mother with “You’re old and D is sick… so if something were to happen to either of you, the neighbors are not going to be suspicious of me.”
I bought myself a nice hunting knife (because I couldn’t afford nor would be able to apply for a firearm) in order to protect us, in case he ever tried to make good on his threat.
He would kick down doors and break appliances, in order to intimidate my mother for drug money. It worked, as she began to pay him just to go away for a night. And then my nephew was murdered, unrelated from this addict’s chaos, but with the loss of my nephew on top of everything else, my home AND city didn’t seem so safe anymore. I was stressed ALL THE TIME. u_u
At this point, I decided that I wasn’t going to stick around and virtually fade away in such an awful and abusive situation. In my desperation, I had decided that I would give up all of my things and live in a homeless shelter located in a nearby city… which probably wouldn’t have made things any better, but I was panicking. I had no living relatives in Philly who would take me in, no friends to speak of, and I knew that if I had stayed things were going to turn deadly.
I asked my mother to kick out the addicts and make our home safe again, but she would not. So, I had to make the very painful decision of leaving her behind and saving myself. I had to leave my beloved cats behind too. I sent an email to my sister, letting her know that if she didn’t hear from me anymore, that I was okay. That it meant I was without my laptop and no longer in my old home in Philly. I guess the email was a little too ominous, because she was frighten that I was sending her a suicide letter and rushed to call me! Oops! O_O
Anyway, I told her what was happening around me and she refused to let me run off to a homeless shelter. She had a talk with her best friends/roommates, and all three wonderful ladies agreed that I should move to Minnesota and live with them!
At first, I tried to wave away the offer, because I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. I tend to wave away offers from others, because I’m always afraid of asking for too much or taking advantage. So, I bought up the issue of how would I get there, because I’m always poor financially. And there was the issue of me getting onto a plane for the first time and being around a crowd of strangers! Eep! And wouldn’t it take some time to sell my things or give them away?
My sister is very patient with me, so she walked through each scenario and possible answer to all of my concerns. She was kind enough to pay for shipping of a few of my things to Minnesota and the storage fees for the rest of my things in Philly. I was very adamant that I didn’t want any of my stuff left behind for the drug addicts to profit from. I rather give my items away on the street, even to other addicts, than for those particular addicts to win my home and my items too. So, most of my things are still in storage to this day.
I took my gaming system, laptop, collection of video games, a few books, my Kindle, some DVDs, an old iPod, my Doctor Who figures, my music CD collection, and cheap cellphone with me. I had very little clothing at the time, so I stuffed those into a duffel bag. My sister would fly in for a week to help get my things into storage. Next she would travel with me on the flight, that way I wouldn’t have to face a crowd and find my way through a huge airport alone.
She would have tried and pay for my flight too, but I insisted that I had to do something! It took me four months to save for a ticket to Minnesota, one way with one layover ($450!). The airport was a new space and there were so many people. I began to panic, the moment I stepped into that place! However, I somehow stepped out of myself and kept an internal dialog of, “You’re escaping to a better life! You’re getting away from the abuse! This is important, so don’t freak out, otherwise you’ll have to go back to that house!”
I made it through security checks and I asked my sister if we could sit down on a bench before reaching the gate. I was tired from the long walk through the airport, but I was also trying to calm myself, because panic attacks were rising to the surface. I made it onto the plane and when it took off from the ground… I had a blast! It was the best experience I ever had in my entire life! Whee!!!! \^o^/
I enjoyed both flights, but when we landed, I was ushered off to a new neighborhood, a new house, and new housemates. My problem with “new” sucker punched me in the neck. The environment was so very different and on the first night I got here. I cried and had a panic attack. u_u
I kind of pissed off my sister because I took off my shoes and she told me I could place them by the front door with everyone else’s. I gasped and said, “Won’t someone steal them!?” I was so use to living so long in that old house, where the rule is that if you leave anything valuable out and in the open, and an addict steals it, it’s your own fault and you won’t be compensated. It didn’t dawn on me yet that I was no longer living with or around addicts.
Even now, I still hoard my items in my room and fight the urge to hide my laptop, before leaving the home. It’s just ingrained in me to protect my items from thieves. I’ve lived here for a year and no one steals! The guests who come over sometimes, they never steal! Not even toilet paper, or the laundry soap that’s just sitting out for people to see, or condiments! Seriously, that was the world I once lived in, people stole condiments! o_O
I fell into panic attacks, every other day, for the first six months of living in Minnesota. I was having a hard time coping, because it was so new to me. I felt like a fish out of water, like I didn’t fit, and I missed my safety bubble like crazy! Oddly enough, I had gotten so use to the chaos and the rampant thievery, that it had became sorta “normal” for me… it’s madness! u_u
Finally, in April 2014, I decided to go to therapy and talk about it with a professional. It was luck that I got a therapist who is originally from New Jersey! In Philly, I would travel that bridge all the time to Jersey, so it felt like I was in familiar company! Everyone else here is Minnesotan and is use to the brutal cold winters, but around her I don’t feel so out of place. We talk about the old stuff in Philly and Jersey sometimes. We both think the cold weather here is crazy.
Before I knew it, I’ve felt more and more at home in Minnesota. My anxiety went back to its usual: crowds = panic, and home/room = safety bubble. I guess, I can adapt with a new environment after some time, it’s hard, but it can be done!
And I feel more safe in Minnesota than I ever felt anywhere else. Honestly, this is the first year in my entire life that I’ve not lived with or around addicts. I am age 33, almost 34 in two months and a few weeks, so I’ve spent over thirty years around or living with addicts,,, not just drug addicts, but also a few alcoholics and gamblers too. I love not having to pay the consequences of someone else’s addiction. I am not an addict, so I shouldn’t have to.
I hope I can adapt with new people someday. I’m so use to the usual types that seem to fit my “safety bubble”, which isn’t a good thing because my usual type can be real jerks! I’ve yet to try getting use to different people who are outside of my comfort zone, nicer people who have their “crap” together more or less.
Or to try being in crowds… Ugh! Just the thought of crowds makes me feel a LOT anxious! I don’t want to go! But… maybe someday. ^_^
Thanks for reading!