After graduating from college in 1999 I spent two years in Phoenix, Arizona where I learned, truly, what a downward spiral is. No matter how good your circumstances are in the beginning, and how much control you think you have, that one slip into the spiral takes everything under.
I call those the lost years.
Me: "Anywhere but Texas. If it's Texas I'm staying here."
Him: "It's Texas."
Me: (pause) "Well, at least it's not El Paso."
Due to my unhealthy trait of bearing unrealistic expectations (which I promise to explain eventually) I really thought it was possible for central Texas to be not completely horrible, even livable. I was still employed, though not full-time anymore; The sun always shone and the skies were beautiful, though accompanied by unrelenting heat; Scattered, desolate small towns beckoned to be photographed, though peering and leering eyes of locals kept me away; I put myself out there socially and attended functions, though I still felt pushed towards the wall.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein.
I gave up. I am not strong enough to handle such repeat failures. Once the stress of trying to connect was removed I accepted my situation and lived day-to-day the best I could. I knew that time would be filed under "Years, lost." The two Texas years were nothing like my two Phoenix years, which I don't even talk about. But when thinking back on my time in Texas there were definitely more bad days than good.
[I blame Texas because it's easy. The real issue is small towns set far from urban areas. I call myself a city girl even though I've never lived in a downtown setting. I want transportation options besides a personal vehicle, like walking or public transit. On that note, I want to walk somewhere with actual sidewalks, where you're not stared at by people driving because you're the only person they've seen walking outside all week and probably assume you're doing so because your car broke down. So Texas is my scapegoat because it contains the small town I lived in that meets my criteria for "where I don't want to live".]
Most people learn from experience and alter their actions appropriately so as not to repeat them. What concerns me now is how my Texas experience has changed me; it has, I just don't know how. This brings my anxiety issues to the surface again with worries of finances, personal growth and social inclusion. I would like to think that I've learned to let go of worries and take each day as it comes, but to avoid the trap of unrealistic expectations I think I'll just take it a day at a time.