I haven’t been reading much lately. I have no problem finding books that sound interesting and I can afford to buy books I want (I also live a block away from a library so I could get access to books easily even if I couldn’t afford to buy them), but I still haven’t read much in the past couple years. Most of the reason for that ties back to the pandemic, my current living situation, and issues from my past coming together in a way that leaves me unable to relax enough to feel like I can get lost in a book. Any time I hear my neighbors thump around their apartment, any time I get stiff from sitting still from too long, or any time I start to lose track of time and feel a brief moment of panic that I’m breaking from the routines that have let me survive the stress of the pandemic, I get pulled out of the book.
There’s a lot to unpack there, but it is can easily be summed up by me admitting that I don’t feel “at home” in my apartment. Even as I attempt to address the stress and past issues, I still find myself thinking “I don’t have a home, I have a place I live.” It’s a difficult mental space for me to break out of because I grew up in a situation that made me feel the same way. Even with making a home at my college and in one of my apartments since then, I’ve spent so much more time in a living situation that feels like a place I merely occupy for now, rather than a place I feel safe and like I can control or own. Which is why I am having so many problems sleeping and why I can never seem to nap. It’s why my insomnia seemed to go away the instant I left the house I grew up in and didn’t return as an actual inability to sleep until my current living situation.
That’s the thing about rest. You can only do it if you don’t feel anxious about your safety. I didn’t ever feel safe in my parents’ house (and still don’t thanks to all that trauma) and one of my first experiences in my current apartment laid the groundwork for not feeling safe there. I got my wisdom teeth removed the summer I moved into that apartment and discovered that I have a bad reaction to oxycodone when I developed severe paranoia, had bad nightmares, and couldn’t sleep until the two doses I’d taken left my system because I kept instantly waking up thinking someone was trying to break down my door. It was probably just my upstairs neighbors being noisy as they continued to do until they moved out despite my requests that they quiet down during the late night hours, but it’s difficult to parse that information when you’re in a drug-addled sleep-state.
I stopped taking the oxycodone and made-do with Tylenol (which worked just fine since I have a pretty high pain tolerance) and it didn’t really come up again until late January of 2021 when my upstairs neighbors got even noisier than they had been, to the point of waking me up repeatedly in the middle of the night with their thumping and banging. It didn’t help that I was perhaps the most stressed and alone I’d ever been in my life, so I wasn’t in a good place going into that period. I got through it, though, and I’m doing a lot better now, but I’m still struggling with the feeling that my apartment of almost two years still doesn’t feel like a “home” to me.
As someone who definitely can’t afford to buy a house and the types of rentals that would allow me to live without noisy nieghbors banging on walls or floors are not something I could rent without roomates, there aren’t many good solutions to this problem. I could maybe move somewhere less expensive, find a better paying job, get a roommate or two, or move in with a friend who just bought a place despite how terrible a location it is for me and everything I’d do other than hangout with that friend (a minimum 45 minute commute in heavy local traffic, so I wouldn’t even enjoy the drive). None of these are guarenteed to succeed or even likely to happen before I have to renew my lease again. I could try moving, of course, to another rental with similar issues but fewer negative past associations, but rent is increasing so fast I’m not sure I can afford to live in a place of a similar quality to my current apartment (which, honestly, isn’t that high even if I ignore all factors other than the noisy neighbors).
There really aren’t a lot of great options, right now, which definitely isn’t helping my current stress levels. I’ve been trying to work on reclaiming my space and making my living space feel more like a “home” instead of just the location I sleep most nights, but that’s slow work. Slowed even more by my almosted0 recovered financial position, mounting stress as a Human in the world, and the increasing isolation of frequently feeling like one of the only people who is still taking on-going pandemic seriously. It’s not great, honestly, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I’d hoped that writing my thoughts out here would provide a solution, that I’d come up with some kind of idea for what to do or at least feel a bit better about my slow but steady progress, but I just sort of feel tired. Which is all I’ve felt lately, if I’m being honest. Tired.
I’m going to do my best to relax a little bit, to try to reclaim my own space in a way that will help me work on my other goals, and I hope you make some progress on relaxing yourself. Or on personal goals. Whatever you’re working on, I hope it goes well.