Why do I feel uprooted (panicked, dismayed, trapped)?
I blame a four-letter word: Rain.
Remember Milli Vanilli? I was nine when “Blame it on the rain” came out. We weren’t supposed to listen to “secular” music but my big sister sneakily tuned in Casey Kasem’s Top 40. The chorus never left me: “Blame it on the rain/that’s fallin’ fallin'”.
Growing up on the central Oregon coast rain was a constant. The occasional days a high north wind pushed away the clouds were bitter. Wet and cold were the warp and woof of my childhood. They crept past windowpanes and under doors of the crumbling ex-holiday cottage where we lived. The small, square black wood-burning stove and ancient electric heater never made a dint.
The other constant was the wild fluctuation of my father’s moods. Fear permeated the air like water, raised goosebumps like a chill.
The things I carry
My brain learned, fast and young, to blur the present and project itself to the safety of the future. This let me survive and escape. It also sapped my ability put my experiences and emotions in context, leaving vast gaps in my self-awareness.
It took moving to Glasgow in an unusually cold, wet year to acknowledge rain’s hold over me. Rainfall elicits anxiety, hopelessness, depression, anger, helplessness. I feel like a child again.
Living in Glasgow catapulted me into clinical depression. I wanted to die; also, stubbornly, I wanted to live. Which, at that point, meant leaving as quickly as possible and promising myself to never again live somewhere that required GoreTex.
Plotting the resistance
Now, I’ve broken that promise in style, husband and cats in tow.
Maybe it’s a dumb risk to leave a lazy, sunny town for a cold house in rain country, thereby putting my mental health and relationship on the line.
How else can I overcome my fear of rain?
I don’t want to be a prisoner of my childhood anxieties. Avoiding uncomfortable emotions and circumstances is a strategy, not a solution.
To be happy anywhere, I need to cultivate my capacity to be happy everywhere.
As Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:
People have (with the help of convention) found the solution of everything in ease and the easiest side of easy; but it is clear that we must hold to the difficult…. We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it.
Whatever the year brings, I want to live with intention and integrity, in the rain.