getting there

I’m sure many of you are aware that I’ve made it to Austin in one piece after over a thousand miles of driving. Since I arrived Saturday evening, I’ve eaten at least ten tacos, and I feel that’s all I need to say to let people know I’m enjoying my life here.

A short summary of that trip:

-Left West Virginia for Nashville on Tuesday. 10 hours of driving through (mostly) storms in two cars, my parents’ car and my 2008 Subaru Impreza, which had 140,000 miles on it and was Not Having It when it came to driving in the rain. I drove a sizable portion of the way, and when I wasn’t driving, I was playing Ocarina of Time on my new 3DS, because I gave the Xbox to my now ex-husband, so I had to ~treat myself~ somehow. (Why am I justifying this?)

-Once we got to Nashville, my parents and I realized the Subaru was probably not going to make the 800-mile drive to Austin. My brother works at a Toyota dealership, and I had money saved up from living with my parents, so one thing led to another, and that’s how I ended up owning a brand-new slate grey Toyota Corolla.

-Enjoyed Nashville in my new car for a few days, then headed out for Austin at 5am Saturday morning, driving in 200-mile shifts with my brother. By the way, if you have the option to make a drive like that in shifts, take that option, and then treat that person to drinks for the length of their stay for making them endure several hours on Arkansas roads. Did I mention how grateful I am for my brother’s help?

-Arrived in Austin at around 5pm. Highlight of the entire drive? During the part of the drive between Dallas and Austin, there was a gas station that referred to itself as the “Czech stop” that beckoned drivers to try their sausages on roadside billboards. I’m stopping there when I visit Dallas, and I admit I was enticed by the lure of Czech sausages near Waco, Texas.

My room is finally coming together, thanks to: lots of trunk space, the fact that I don’t own much other than clothes/books/art supplies, Amazon Prime, and a fruitful trip to IKEA yesterday.

I imagine that my inner monologue will sound something like I CAN’T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY LIVE HERE for the next few months, coupled with the usual chorus of irrational what-ifs that accompany my anxious self on any journey.

Speaking of which, I had my final appointment with my therapist the Wednesday before I left, and we talked about recovery and what that meant. I take the mildest anti-anxiety medication out there, and it’s been helping me a lot, plus I’ve adopted an acceptance-based approach to anxiety and PTSD alongside therapy and medicine. I’ve felt the best I’ve felt in years – and not just in a sense of feeling happy, but also in terms of having clarity.

I told her “I feel so close to recovery, and I don’t feel ashamed at all that I’ve done so with the help of medication alongside therapy and other lifestyle changes,” and her response?

“I want you to start thinking of yourself as recovered, because you are.”

And then, I realized how it happened: I’m no longer afraid of being afraid. I no longer wade through life with the sense of dread that’s been hanging around intermittently my entire life, feeding off of stress and the near-constant pain in my stomach. I drive anywhere I want to. I engage in conversations with people I’m familiar with and people I’ve just met, and I genuinely like doing so. I laugh, I mean it, and it feels natural. I moved to a new city halfway across the country. I bought a new car, I’ve gone on dates with strangers, and I’ll continue to live my life, even if my brain decides to be a jerk on any given day.