Welcome back to San Jose, California. Where the streets are flooded with over caffeinated drivers with heavy hands on their car horns. The land where you live to work and clocking out at 60 hours a week is the norm.
The Best of Intentions
I returned home to San Jose after not seeing my mom for over a year. I had expectations, grand plans, good intentions and naturally walked out with an entirely different experience than what I walked in with. I have expectations that parents keep their promises. Expectations that I know exactly what I need to do to stay in emotional sobriety at 2 years sober. Expectations that it’s obvious that I love you. Expectations that I still don’t make my mother cry. Expectations that I have accumulated a stable enough life to sustain peace wherever I go. This was not so.
I planned to be in San Jose for a month and intended to spend a lot of that time with my mother. The plan was to be with her as much as possible and to give her as much of myself as possible. I thought that I would be able to provide much more than I could. After a couple of weeks being there I began to get physically sick again. My throat slit glass slivers through itself. I felt like there were daggers pushing into places deep inside my mouth. I was unable to speak and eat.
The stress of being around my mother pushed me back into who I forgot I used to be. The parts of me I don’t want to be. “I thought I worked through this shit!” is what I kept thinking during the trip. The silence that rests between me and my mother I find to echo one thousand made up stories. We so desperately want to love each other but have difficulties accepting one another.
There’s this need we both possess to try and fix one another. To help one another heal. However, with the intentions of helping one another we try to read the others mind. We predict what the other one needs. There’s a line of codependency between the two of us and during this trip is the first time I clearly saw that cord….. and I cut it. I cut myself away from my mom for the first time at the best of ability in hopes of loving her better, and in hopes of loving her more.
I didn’t follow through with my original plans. Although we were together often it just wasn’t what either of us thought would happen. Lots of doctors appointments. Lots of running around the smog filled San Jose. Lots of passive aggressive silence.
I felt like I was on a merry go round. I kept watching old patterns pass by me. Jealousy. Victimization. Being meek and submissive. Not speaking up for myself. Stress.
Friends to Lean on
The trip wasn’t entirely wasted. I was able to see friends I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I did manage to get myself to meetings only when I felt like ripping my fingernails off. I saw a friend in recovery who has been the only friend I’ve kept in touch with besides Benny. Seeing Pilar means a lot to me because she’s the only person who has kept in touch with me in San Jose fellowship. Being sober and without a fellowship made my sobriety feel lonely.
What I began to remember is old habits. I don’t like to make myself vulnerable. I don’t like to put myself in a position where I can potentially be rejected. This is part of the reason I experience isolation is partially because I isolate myself.
So having friends who are my chosen family was vital to my experience back home. Remembering what makes friendships last. Remembering that it takes a lot to maintain friendships. In my experience, it takes a lot of vulnerability, because when I’m by myself I don’t risk rejection.
Every time I was with friends I felt like I could breathe again. I was reminded of where I actually am in my life. That I have grown and that I am strong and that I am loved.
We linked up with Alex and did one of the best things and that was hit the late night taco truck at 1 AM. This was by far the most banging mexican food in San Jose hands down.
After that we went to San Francisco and we got to hang out in the mission with friends for the night. Seeing Ian and Amanda was a breath of fresh air. I never thought I would meet someone that was as funny as Amanda….. and then I met Ian. I love seeing my friends in love. I love seeing my friends be appreciated for who they are and what they deserve. Being with two folks in love and introducing them to the person I love and adore….. well that’s a whole lotta love right there and folks, that love is what makes me blessed.
Being with my family wasn’t entirely bad. I got to see my little sisters and how they’ve changed and grown. Standing next to my 12 year old sister and looking up at her was a satisfying experience for us both. She got to smile and feel older, accomplished, like she isn’t little anymore. I got to look up at her and see that she’s a young woman.
Isaiah did get to meet my family and experience California. He saw San Francisco, Santa Cruz, got to eat In N Out Burger and real mexican food. I wanted to show him so much more but alas…. life has it’s own plans.
Even with all the love I still let myself get overcome with isolation. It’s a hell of a trip. To be surrounded by groups of people and still feel alone. I didn’t know where to turn to. I did try and meditate often. I even was able to meditate with my little sister. What a loving experience!
However I just had all this loneliness inside of myself. I didn’t feel understood most of the trip and generally I felt like I just wanted to go back to Portland. I realized that all these feelings of aloneness are something that I carry within myself. It’s a feeling that I have to break up with in so many words. I have to begin to nurture friendship and community and love.
This loneliness is a universal feeling. Bring up the subject of isolation and there will be a room full of people who raise their hand saying that they have experienced that exact feeling.
When I got back to Portland I did exactly that. I made a commitment to myself that I would nurture the word yes. Yes I will meet up for tea. Yes let’s do brunch. Yes let’s take a walk in the park. Yes I will go to that show. Yes I’ll pick up that phone call. Yes yes yes yes. YES.
A friend told me if I want to move away because I feel like I don’t have community, there likelihood of feeling isolated in a new city is high. No more taking my friends for granted. No more disenchantment of Portland. I’m trying to remember the magic and honor my friendships while continuing to make new ones.