Nov. 22nd, 2016

I once paid off a student loan. Well, twice, but one of those times I used a student loan to pay off another student loan, so I only count it as once. Do you have student loans? Maybe a car loan, a mortgage, a credit card?* There's nothing quite like paying out your, say, $150 a month, all proudly, then checking the balance and realizing $95 of that went to the interest, which will simply compound itself again next month, and the pride you feel in whittling that loan down is replaced with the numbing knowledge you have as equal a chance of getting hit by lightning as paying it off before you retire.**

Now, without listing out my struggles - which are long and mighty and sometimes depressing, let me assure you - student loans are one of the constant struggles. They are there, like that oddly greasy fart that lingers with you the entire day, even if others insist they smell nothing. So what did I do after I paid off this student loan? I bought a car. With a loan. And then I moved to a more expensive apartment in a different city because fuck it, I was rich! I'd paid off one of the handful of student loans, like a real adult!

The move was necessary, the car not so much, though I got a really good deal (despite the payments). But here I'd scrimped and saved and budgeted and paid extra, all to kill this bitty little loan off, and immediately replaced it with more expenses. This is representative of my entire life. When things are going well, I get nervous. It's often pervasive and low-level, but my conscious brain will be very pleased: Bills are handled! Extra money! No family drama!*** Everything is great! So obviously I have to have a panic attack because things are so good, and my subconscious brain fully believes my life is not allowed to be good. Ever.

Right now, as long-time readers know, I'm stuck in yet another situation that I created for myself, that is emphatically not good. The unfortunate part of this situation is that it's depressing, I'm prone to depression anyway, so it's a horribly affirming vicious circle of not-goodness, and I'm content here. Comfort zones are a bitch, you know? I hate that "completely dissatisfied with myself and my life choices" is my comfort zone, but there it is.

My task is to create a new comfort zone. I just today, just a few hours ago, stopped thinking of it in terms of depression versus happiness, success versus failure, but in terms of creating a new comfort zone.

Step 1: Mike**** called me earlier and told me that he loved me, and I told him I loved him as well. It is very strange, but luckily my current comfort zone includes strange, so that's familiar. It's a much different kind of strange, of course. I'm still tasting it, learning the flavors of it, but I'm determined that love-strange will be part of my new comfort zone, whereas lonely-strange will be left behind.

Step 2: The panic that is already starting to creep in? I don't know. Because it is already starting. I also feel at peace, happy, and excited. So good that I'm not even going to enumerate all the problems I will have to face tomorrow. For now, I'm feeling alive without the struggle. This was, in fact, the easiest thing in the world, which is mind-blowing on its own, so perhaps I can simply enjoy the struggle to understand that good things can also be easy*****, and that will placate the part of my brain that thinks without horrible things happening, I'm not really alive.

*Please note I don't know how mortgages work, are they compound interest loans?

**Please note I also don't understand "odds," though I do understand hyperbole.

***I'm actually trying to avoid family drama as much as possible these days.

****Mike being a guy I met just over a month ago who lives in Florida.

*****I had a neighbor who once told me, when I was complaining about how difficult a brand-new relationship was, that when things are meant to be, they're easy. The whole "no pain, no gain" attitude was, to her, stupid and self-sabotaging. I've parroted her in the past but never fully believed it until today.

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