Blanket of Stars
Summer used to be my favourite season. At the end of each day, I would climb upon a worn red picnic table with my blonde pigtails bouncing behind me and watch the sunset disappear behind the vast field that sat along our backyard. As the sun vanished, the stars would illuminate the sky above me. This was a place where anxiety was never found, sitting under a blanket of stars. As I stared up into infinity, the world seemingly had endless possibilities.
Between the ages of 10 and 13, I had a life planned for myself after pondering all of the possibilities ahead of me. I wanted to marry a nice Jewish boy, become an astronomer, have a son named Sebastian amongst a sea of children, and live a happy family life without the haunting passenger of anxiety or the other difficulties in life for which I did not have a label.
I imaged my life quite like this:
It wasn’t about the big wedding or the white dress. On the contrary, being the center of attention was a frightening thought. It was about the look in their eyes, the enormous smile that couldn’t be pried off their faces when together. They looked as if they held an immense joy, loneliness a forgotten feeling. I looked at the adoration surrounding them and within them. My dreams were set around love and community. My dreams entailed a mundane life surrounded by routine.
But as I grew, I was taught that dreams were impractical and the endless possibilities of life were clouded by circumstance, opportunity, and finances. The life I had planned all, but faded into a film of reality with the onset of adulthood. The path I had mapped went completely off course and I lost myself to chaos, settling for existence rather than life. I settled into unhealthy routines because any routine seemed better than none. I chose a less than ideal partner for myself. My difficulties remained unlabeled and without awareness, became worse.
A little over a year ago, I began to awaken from the zombie-like state I had been trapped it, merely existing instead of living. I sat in an office in the Department of Psychiatry located within a prestigious university hospital begging for answers as counselling wasn’t helping the anxiety that would at times be a destructive whisper and others, a force that took the wheel and crippled me. There was also something else. The year before an answer had been suggested to me by my daughter’s doctor, but I swept it under the carpet in a fit of denial. I had had enough, however, and begged at the feet of university staff to relieve the suffering I felt.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and multiple anxiety disorders. A myriad of guidance was at my disposal, but the constant mantra was one of change. I hated change which is why I was in the situation that I was in! Nearly every visit to the new therapist assigned to me ended with, “You can’t keep doing things the same way and expect a different result.”
So, I took a leap of faith and went to England. Why England? I had to see about a boy and freedom. I needed to open up possibilities in my life again. It was imperative to crush the monsters of fear and doubt. Of course, I didn’t get there without cancelling first in fear. The night I was supposed to leave (and didn’t), brought an intense surge of panic that woke me. The moon burned through my blinds as dread filled every cell of my body. My birthday was fast approaching and I was allowing for another year to slip away without change. The thought of spending another year in misery was painful. My therapist’s words haunted me. The next morning, I called her for support, booked my flight, and boarded a plane that evening. I didn’t allow myself to think because I knew if I did, I’d talk myself out of it.
I landed in England on the morning of my birthday; it was the best gift I’ve given myself. It was the first real blow to the shackles that chained me to a life I didn’t want to lead. It was a step toward happiness. It was the scariest step I’ve ever taken.
The love I envied so dearly in that video? I had found it with that Englishman and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. As he also had Asperger’s Syndrome, there was a comfort and understanding I’d not felt before.
I spent the next months visiting England again, ultimately planning to settle there with my future husband and children. In order to finalize such a step, I had to fully and completely take a chance on love. I had to put my dreams to the test. I had to continue to tolerate change.
I walked along the boardwalk, the evening before our wedding in the states. My hand fit into his perfectly, but I looked up at him with looming anxiety. Was this it? This is far from perfect plans of childhood. I was divorced. He was not Jewish. The road ahead would be arduous. Is this what I wanted?
We walked by a band whose music filled the air on that humid summer night. The lyrics were familiar, “..and it’s our god forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved-”
It was the music from the video above – the one I watched a million times with tears in my eyes, hoping to find what they had. I looked as my hand fit perfectly into his while the music enveloped around us. I glanced up past the boardwalk and beyond the ocean, just as I would as a child. We were covered in a blanket of stars.
That peaceful feelings from childhood washed over me. Possibilities seemed once again limitless. I married that man without any doubts and followed him to his country a couple months later. And that’s how I ended up in the UK.