Have I told you that I have a mad crush on Oregon? Yes. The state of Oregon. The whole state. Well, I take that back. Mainly the north-west part. But still. The idea that I have strong affections for a piece of geography is a little strange. And cool.
I served an LDS mission to Oregon and I never quite got over it. I suppose that is part of the reason I love it so. When the husband and I were first married, I tried to talk him into moving there…for an adventure. You know, before kids and jobs that would really tie us to Utah as a married couple. It was a no-go. So, I spent YEARS of my life wanting to return to “The Beaver State” and fantasized about the places and people I would visit upon my triumphant return. Well, last year it happened and it wasn’t quite what I expected.
I planned a trip back to Oregon in an effort to help myself spiritually, physically and emotionally. Looking back, it was kind of a tall order to fill. I was smack in the middle of a serious depression and was looking for relief. Truth be told, looking forward to that trip was the most happiness that I had felt in a very long time. I was looking for healing and inspiration. Somehow, I felt that I would find it there among its beauty. I felt better even THINKING about my upcoming visit. So, I planned it and made arrangements and on March 1st, I left my little family and hit the open road to the great north-west.
I had a list of things and places I wanted to see. People didn’t really make it onto the list–I was keeping to myself. Fortunately, I was staying with a dear friend of mine that I taught while I was on my mission, so I did have a safe place to stay. The first day or two of my trip was great. I saw beautiful things, did some heavy-duty thinking and was so appreciative I was there. It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that in the state of mind I was in, I wasn’t going to be returning back home without a fight. In fact, if things went the way I wanted to, I wouldn’t be going home. At all. I became suicidal. I was convinced–absolutely CONVINCED–that everyone and everything would be so much better off without me. I knew that I had blessings in my life (specifically the husband and my kids) but I didn’t FEEL thankful for them. I recognized this and it became torturous to me. My thinking was so twisted, so warped, that I couldn’t see anything in its true light. I felt horrible. Worthless. Ungrateful. I was living in an emotional void. All I could feel was blackness. These words don’t even seem strong enough to describe where I was, mentally. It was sheer anguish. When thoughts of your own death become a normal part of your day, it’s beyond time to be scared. I was unable to feel fear. I just wanted it to be over and every scenario I came up with in my mind involved mental pain, either for me or those close to me. There was no way to fix this without serious intervention. I look back on this and recognize how fortunate it was that I knew I needed help. I couldn’t see much of ANYTHING at all, let alone that I had reached the breaking point and needed something beyond what I had. I spent my days driving in my car and writing in my journal. My life had no meaning. Uh oh. This isn’t the way it should feel.
To spare you the gory details (if you really want the full story, just ask) I will summarize with this: My good husband flew up to drive me home. Around the Oregon-Idaho border, I freaked out. In my mind I had already plotted ways to return to Oregon and my husband knew this. We had a lengthy discussion and decided that I would return to Oregon and check myself into the hospital and he would fly home to take care of our family. To put it very mildly, I felt that I couldn’t return home because of the damage I felt I was doing to my children. I didn’t want them to see me this way. To have memories of their mother as a sad and forlorn and desperate creature. I was in the pit, I tell you.
Long story short, I spent yet another week in Oregon (thanks Marsha!) and attempted to check myself into a depression unit at St. Vincent’s hospital. Unfortunately, our insurance wouldn’t work with any of the hospital networks there and I quickly realized I needed to go home to get help. Again, life in limbo. I knew I couldn’t drive home alone. So, I called one of my BFFs who flew up on my birthday (Happy 38th!) and drove home with me. True friendship. That’s what it is. And so, I made it home. Still living. Barely.
What happened after I got home, I will save for another post. The purpose for this memoir is this:
I am going to Oregon tomorrow. Again. Just me.
It was supposed to be a trip with the husband. When he told me that he wouldn’t be able to make it because of work conflicts, I told him I was still going. By myself. Yes, I could see the fear in his eyes when he realized I was serious. Nervous Norman. Oh boy.
I’ll tell you my reasons behind my confidence in having a successful trip: I will be coming home. You see, I have already begun to miss my family and I haven’t even gone yet. I am in love with my husband and my children. I find joy in my family life again. I see the sweet faces of my children and know that I am their mother. No question, I know that I am where I am supposed to be and that THIS is what I want. I find safety and warmth in my home. I know that this is where I belong, without any anxiety or pain. I hold hands with my husband (who is a champ, by the way) and all is right with the world. He heals me.
This time, I am not driving. I am flying. Thinking back, I didn’t really care what happened to me last year, hence, the driving. Not that driving is bad…I love a road trip. The idea of driving this time wasn’t comforting to me. I care what happens to me–I have loved ones to get home to.
Re-reading this, these reasons for my return seem pretty weak and short in comparison to the beginning of the post. The justification for the surety of my return? This is the way it should feel.