When we left Waco I was so excited to live in Chicago. A big city with lots to do was a complete 180 from our life in Central Texas. Plus, we’d be moving closer to my family, and since Billy’s family is scattered across Texas and the Midwest, we figured Chicago would be the best fit for the next stage in our lives.
And while we loved Chicago and made some amazing friendships, it just never worked out the way I pictured it would. A big part of this was commuting to my job outside the city everyday. I was driving so much, I began to feel like a visitor in my own neighborhood. And then things really took a turn when we make the decision to start a family. All I could think of was being able to take our baby out for walks around the neighborhood, to Green City Market, to the zoo, but as the months turned into years and still we weren’t able to get pregnant, that dream began to fade, and I started to get more frustrated with where we were. Noises that always existed became less manageable, and I became more and more stressed. I finally made the decision that this city life was just not meant for me, and Billy eventually agreed we should move.
Now that we are in the suburbs, I feel like I can breathe again. The slower pace does have its disadvantages – especially drivers that never seem to be in a hurry – but we think it was the best decision for us (for me really).
As someone who never felt like anywhere was home (we moved around a lot when I was a kid, including a pivotal move during the summer between elementary school and middle school), moving from Texas to Chicago felt like one of the simplest decisions I’ve ever made. So, when we began to talk about moving just 30 miles west of the city, I was surprised at just how difficult it was to make the decision to leave.
Kelly and I had only been married for a year when we left Texas. Neither of us really felt like Waco was home. It was our college town, and a place we stuck around probably a year too long. The majority of our married lives together have now been spent in Chicagoland, and we’ve grown the most in that time, too. We made new friends together, explored a new place together, and made many of our first truly big decisions together in Chicago.
In Chicago, I also started to recognize, maybe for the first time, just how difficult living with misophonia truly is. Most of our lives together, Kelly had always owned some measure of control over her surroundings. In the city, it’s impossible to have any control over your environment. You’ve got to be extremely wealthy to have the kind of home that far enough from trigger noises and sheltered enough from those who are your immediate neighbors.
If you’re not wealthy, you’ve got to create processes that give you control. For us, that looked like only being able to habitate certain rooms on sunny weekends and putting some extreme discipline around activities like washing dishes and using the computer.
The control we slowly lost the longer we lived in the city was the last straw for me in making the decision to finally move. It’s difficult to say whether we would still live in Chicago if misophonia weren’t a persistent part of our lives, but we’re certain that misophona was a major reason we decided to leave. As someone who spends his days doing life with a misophone, I’ve realized that people don’t understand the longer-term impacts of having misophonia. It’s not just about escaping trigger noises. It’s about building a life that can be, in many ways, soundproof. This can result in real consequences for relationships, for livelihood, for income, for work.
Today, our prayer is that we’ll slowly begin to gain some control and peace back in our lives so that we can once again gather the mental and emotional energy to explore and live life again.