Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hold On, We're Going Home- Toya

"I'm going to a place where there'll be no more crying... I'm going to a place where I can sit down." Walter Hawkins  "Going to a Place"

After 13 years of being a Nashville resident, Thursday night I pulled up a block away from my parents' home in New Jersey, the house I grew up in for about 20 years, and stopped my car on the side of the road.  "I really just did this." I thought to myself. "This is really real." There could be no turning back around and going ten minutes down the road to my friend Tonya's house to further discuss my decision; no getting on the highway about 20 minutes down the road to my favorite Nashville coffee shop to rethink everything. This was it.  At 39, I was moving back home to get my life together. It's just weird to say that home is no longer Nashville.

I didn't realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in being a Nashvillian.  I didn't even realize that being a hardcore Nashvillian was how other people saw me either until I announced that I was moving. You wanted to know what to do on a weekend? Heck, on a Tuesday? I was the one to ask.   I remember calling a Nashville based organization to change my billing info and when I said my name, the person on the other end said "Toya?  Nashville scene Toya?"  I am known to love that city. And I do. I champion everything that is good for it, have written articles on what to do for fun and have been an ambassador of the music scene there for years while running a modestly successful concert production company.  I never thought that I could give my heart completely to a city; not a person, but a city. And here I am, changing my current city on Facebook to one in South Jersey, trying to hold my face together from the ugliest cry ever.

Let me backtrack and tell you all how I got here though.

I read somewhere once that problems are often the universe asking you questions. Last year my question seemed to be if according to my peers I am so talented and gifted in a number of areas, why am I not getting what I need? I mean basic needs. Like why can't I pay my rent on time? Why can't I find a job that is a good fit and pays all of my bills?  Why am I constantly struggling to keep my head above water, and so on and so forth. The thought of living my life with so much potential and not even coming close to fulfilling it sent me into the worst depression of my life. I got dangerously hopeless and my temper was getting shorter by the day. I was having anxiety attacks where I would have to rock back and forth in order to calm down and get on with my day.  I was buying wine instead of toilet paper and once pulled over in the middle of traffic to yell at a pedestrian riding a Segway.  My mood swings were becoming alarming.

Side note: A few of my friends asked me if I may be going through pre-menopause.  I can't even wrap my mind around that right now.  Pre-menopause? Where did my 30's go???

What freaked me out the most and had me crying myself to sleep at night and sometimes even during the day was that I really thought that if I didn't pull it together that I was going to disappoint so many people. I love people. I have the absolute best friends and community anyone could ever want in Nashville.  However I no longer wanted to help anyone and it was becoming hard to hide what was really going on.  I put up a good front and was always smiling but deep inside I was a person that wanted to run and hide.  I was just so embarrassed that life just didn't seem to be working for me. What exactly was the problem?

The problem was I was getting squeezed out of a place that is no longer suited for what I need in life. That was a hard reality to come to grips with (Tyler Perry wrote a BRILLIANT and moving piece on this subject called "Don't Stay Too Long" here).  I had been told numerous times from various people that sooner or later I was going to have to suck it up and fly.  That while I had done some really cool things in Nashville, that city was just a training ground for me to discover and develop my potential.  It was time to go and the longer I stayed, the harder it was for me to remain comfortable.

So then I had this bright idea to move to LA this summer.

After making a list of all of the things I wanted to embark upon career wise, LA just made the most sense. Now I don't particularly like LA (that traffic is for the birds, literally), but I was willing to do anything to make my life right.  I hated the idea of moving to Nashville 13 years ago too and it turned out to be the best move of my life. So moving some place I didn't like wasn't a big deal to me.  The only thing that was wrong with my moving to LA was that after months of stress I didn't exactly see myself as being emotionally healthy enough to handle moving that far away to something brand new.  I needed to get stable in so many areas: emotionally, financially, and spiritually.  I desperately wanted to spend some time with my family.  You see, I wasn't distraught because I didn't think I couldn't make anything out of my life. I was distraught because I know that I can. I came to the conclusion that if life was just going to come at me sideways anytime it wants to then I need to be in a position to handle things as they come good or bad.  I asked myself what if I got offered my dream job somewhere in LA. Would I take it? The answer was no.  I needed to be in a healthy environment for a while. 2013 had kicked my butt something serious and I barely made it out alive. I needed to get well.  When I came to that conclusion, all arrows pointed to home.

After full disclosure with my parents about dealing with depression and what I was doing to manage my emotions and get back on track in life,  I called them both and told them that I was coming home to get healthy. My parents are some beautiful people. Not only did they express their excitement for me coming home but they showered me with affirmations. They told me that they were proud of me. They told me that what I was doing was wise, brave and in no means a step backwards. They told me that they believed in my talents and would support me the best way they can knowing that there are great things in store for me. I needed that more than I realized. This is the environment I need to be in to move forward.

A friend of mine asked me what was Nashville going to do without me. I told them that Nashville has been without me for about a year. I checked out a while ago. The rest of me just needed to catch up and move forward. So here I am. 39 and not sorry to be back home.  I have discovered that if you can't handle things from a peaceful state of mind, you need to get there by any means necessary and this is indeed necessary.  When I finally got out of my car and walked into my room at my parents house, I saw that my dad had put a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my nightstand. It kind of reminded me of a hospital room.  It reminded me of something I said to one of my friends who said that they didn't want me to go.  Half joking I said "Well, you can either visit me in New Jersey or I can stay and you can visit me in a facility that has actual visiting hours. You take your pick."  I'm at peace with my decision to push the reset button on my life.  I am a bit of a recluse right now but I am definitely at peace. It's a working peace though.  I am not here to kick it.  I'm back in the gym and managing not to scarf down all of my my mom's home cooking.  Also, career wise there are some potentially great opportunities for me here.  I'm here to become the best person that I can be and to be honest I'd rather it be here at home with my loving family than anywhere else, even in Nashville.

"People have the right to fly. And will when it gets compromised. The heart says 'move along'. The mind says 'Got you heart. Let's move it along.'" John Mayer, "Wheel"


Chrissy said...

Super cool! I wish you luck. Thank you for your honesty.

Candace Blackstock said...

Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I have a feeling this is blessing a whole bunch of folks. You dont even know! Its an honor to know you Toya!

Patrice said...

I loved everything, everything about this. But mostly my heart skipped a bit upon hearing that you were coming out here to LA. I cannot wait to see you flourish. And I hope that one day we get to connect! xo