As mentioned in my previous post, Alanna, Sammy, and I recently road tripped from Southern California to Western Massachusetts. The journey itself had its ups and downs, but overall it was a blast. We arrived in Massachusetts the second week of June for a friends’ wedding, and we’ll be here through September, for another wedding.
Warning: This post isn’t a fun road-trip story. It’s probably not a feel-good read and touches on some potentially triggering things. If you prefer to pass over this one, that’s fine. I’ll post the rest of the pictures from the road trip soon.
I have mixed feelings about Massachusetts. I was born in Springfield, and I spent the first 23 years of my life in Western Massachusetts. I take pride in where I’m from. But it wasn’t always the easiest place to grow up. And some of those years were tough. I had friends pass away. I had issues at school. I had issues with anxiety. I had issues coping.
At 23, I moved about 2,800 miles away, and thought I left much of that behind. I made a life. My beautiful and incredibly supportive girlfriend became my fiancee, and then my wife. We adopted our dog Sammy, who quickly became a part of our family. Through therapy, patience, and persistence, I worked through a lot of my anxiety and past-traumas. I learned how to cope. I learned how to be happy. I got my shit together.
Fast forward a few years to June 2017, when we rolled into Massachusetts. Everything that I thought I left behind punched me right in the face. And for the first time since being 23, I was in MA, and I had no plane ticket home to LAX. The first few days were okay. A lot of catching up with old friends and family. A lot of processing. And not a lot of sleeping.
When I was younger, my anxiety would manifest itself in insomnia. Over the years, I learned how to deal with it. And I hadn’t had a bad bout of insomnia for quite some time. I knew MA would be tough at times. But I didn’t realize just how triggering it could be. And I forgot how shitty insomnia can be. It’s been a few weeks, and I still find myself struggling to get a decent night’s sleep. Sunrises are beautiful, but not when they signify another failed attempt at sleep.
Beyond that, I found myself without access to some of the tools that I use at home to deal with insomnia. I found high-CBD marijuana to be a huge help with sleep issues. But my medical marijuana card doesn’t work in MA. I found a good therapist who helped me work through insomnia and anxiety, who is now 2,800 miles away. I have a good primary care doctor, who can’t prescribe medications across state borders. I felt like I tried all of the right things, and hit a wall every time.
But I have Alanna. I have Sammy. I have my support network. I do have tools. And I’m not that same scared kid that couldn’t figure his shit out. 19 year old Ryan would’ve gone off the deep-end. 29 year old Ryan is figuring it out. So, with the support of Alanna, Sammy, and my friends and family, I’ve been working at it. And I will figure it out.
My mom always says, “Every cloud has a silver-lining.” Which I think is complete bullshit (sorry Mom). But lately, I can see it. I’ve gotten my anxiety in check. The insomnia is still there, but sometimes you need to take a step back in order to move forward. And it’s led to a lot of self-reflection.
I wouldn’t recommend insomnia to a friend. But I’m figuring out what’s really important to me. I’ve been getting out of the house. I’ve been taking walks and going for hikes. I’ve been revisiting nature. I’ve been walking train yards, taking pictures for my next zine. It’s nice to disconnect and reconnect (insert XML-RPC joke here). I’m figuring it out.
I still don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, nor does every cloud have a silver lining (what does that even mean?). But this has all forced me to make peace with parts of my past. And I’ve realized that when we head back to CA, I am indeed ready to settle down. And with facing some parts of my past, I can take the good parts with me back to CA, and make peace with the rest.