I survived (and it wasn’t that bad)

So today I celebrated Thanksgiving with my kids (plus Amy’s boyfriend, who is by now like a family member.) And even though I was dreading it, it really wasn’t that bad at all. Thinking about it was definitely worse than the actual experience.

Dylan did all the cooking and all I had to do was mash two sets of potatoes (vegan and regular.) Then, of course, I washed up all the dishes. That was time-consuming and not fun but it was nothing compared to doing all that cooking.

We had lots of very interesting conversations as usual. I wrote about one thing we discussed in an article for Medium.

But I wanted to talk about something else we discussed because it was enormously helpful to me. Amy gave me some very smart and wise advice about what to do with my future.

First, she told me that I should stay on disability and not try to pursue a full-time career. Not becoming a therapist. Not hoping for a FT job at the Trevor Project either for some very good reasons.

She said that I can try to cut my expenses for now but that I should plan on moving somewhere cheap that’s about 90 minutes to two hours away from a big city. She knows from how I was in Michigan that I will get in moods where I need a fix of city life.

If I do that, I don’t need to live in a big city, which is unaffordable anyway.

She also told me that I need to make friends and told me how, because she used the same techniques herself when we moved here and she didn’t know anyone. Once I gain that skill, I can go anywhere. The world is full of potential friends, she said, and I just have to learn how to meet them.

She discouraged me from meeting too many people in widows’ groups because that focuses on my status and identity as a widow. She also similarly discouraged me from say starting an OnlyFans account and having that be my primary social interaction because then I will base my identity on my sexual attractiveness. I honestly can’t argue with any of that.

Most importantly, though, she very strongly discouraged me from going back to Michigan. She had much the same arguments that I gave her when she moved down here and wanted to move back home, which she now says was absolutely the right thing to do.

In fact, she said that if I ever seriously tell her I’m moving back to Michigan, she’ll 5150 me. (That’s an involuntary psychiatric hold of someone who’s a danger to themselves. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t stick but her point is well-taken.)

Now that she’s here, she can see what’s wrong with Michigan in particular. She described it as an essential stinginess, a refusal to help anyone else because you see anything you give as a personal loss to yourself. She said that she even sees it in her friends back home. And I can’t argue with that at all; I see it, too.

She reminded me about how much I hated it there, reciting a litany of my frequent complaints. And I didn’t disagree with any of it.

She also ruled out southern Illinois, which is one place I’d considered, simply because she knows about how bad my seasonal affective disorder gets. She said it would be just as bad there as it was in Michigan. It’s true; my mood really doesn’t do well with a ton of cloudy days.

She said that I should look somewhere between here and California for a smaller town within driving distance of a big city. Then, I could probably qualify for a USDA home loan, which requires no money down.

I agreed with everything she said. But the hardest part for me is accepting that I’m really disabled and I’m not going to get off of it.

I still fight that with everything within me. Dammit, I’ve always, always believed that I could get off disability. I’d be able to make a shitload of money if only I could get motivated.

But deep down, I know that’s not really true. It’s still hard to accept it anyway but maybe now I have to start trying to come to terms with it.

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