A year ago today I made a change that I’d always wanted to make: I moved into my own apartment. I couldn’t really write about it the entire time because it felt unsafe to do so in such a public way when I was living solo but I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to pour out what I was going through onto this page.
For the longest time, I envisioned living in my own place (owned or rented). I watched movies where women came home after a long day of work, poured themselves a glass of wine, and enjoyed the solace of their own apartment. I never fantasized about getting married or having kids, but I fantasized about having a fully independent life.
My whole life I’ve clung to doing whatever I can on my own, knowing there’s things I’ll never be able to do on my own because of my disability. I think with moving out on my own, I wanted to prove to myself that I could live on my own and totally excel at it.
Unfortunately the dream didn’t turn out to be what I hoped. I actually hated being alone most of the time and the place I chose (and its owner) turned out to be an instigator of more anxiety and mental health problems than I ever could have imagined. I handled it as best I could and I learned a lot, but in the end, living alone just wasn’t for me (especially in this particular place). On top of so many problems with the place itself (almost all of which I got blamed for), it was much much harder because of my disability and with as hard as everything already is, I just couldn’t take anymore on my plate. Throw COVID in there too, and it wasn’t the fantasy scenario I had dreamed up all those years.
I think in a lot of ways I was trying to prove to myself that my disability couldn’t interfere with any goal that I tried to achieve. I wanted to do this big, independent thing that I’d admired on TV and in movies for so long. I also think it was a lot of my internalized ableism coming out…refusing to accept my physical challenges and just trying to do the hard thing to somehow prove to myself that I could.
It was the hardest year of my life, even after a global pandemic, but I learned a lot. I had some great memories with friends. I was able to go into the office which I had missed so much during lockdown. It led me back here, back home, to my real home. Back to friends I haven’t been able to see for a long time. Back to the start of a new chapter that I’m hopeful will bring a lot of great new things.
I know now it’s ok to say “Nope, I can’t do this.” It’s ok with everything going on right now to walk away from something that was unnecessarily hard. It doesn’t make me weak or incapable, it just means I chose to put myself and my well-being first. I’m allowed to take a step back, regroup, and figure it all out again. I’m very lucky that I have a job that would allow me to do that too. I tried something I always wanted to and I’m glad I did. Just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean I failed.
I don’t know what the future holds now but that just means it could hold a lot more amazing things and experiences.