I live in Toledo, Ohio and have only been here for about six months. While the city may be the smallest and most oppressed I’ve ever resided in, I’m actually quite happy to call it home these days. Unfortunately, there are many others I meet here who don’t feel that way about their city. In fact, most usually ask me in negative tone why I’d ever choose to move to a place such as this. I know where they are coming from, as I’ve been there before. But I’ve learned over time it was never the cities I lived in that I didn’t like, it was always myself.
There is that age-old adage that says, “No matter where you go, you bring yourself” and that was once 100% accurate for me. Up until I started working on my recovery and my relationship to my Higher Power, I continued to create a mess of a life all around me. My character defects constantly lost me jobs, friendships, relationships, and many other things in life and when enough of that transpired, I’d begin to resent the actual location I was living in, thinking life would be better lived elsewhere. But it never was and I kept proving that adage to be true.
This pattern started when I lived in Rochester, New York during my college years. There I told everyone how much I hated that city and I moved away from it as soon as I graduated. I then lived in Northern Virginia but after just two years, I was saying the same thing. That led me to move to a small town outside Boston for just seven months, where I came to say how much I despised that area as well. I’d go on to move back to Northern Virginia, then to the Delmarva Peninsula, and finally back to the Boston vicinity, where at each I eventually came up with a million reasons why I hated those areas.
It wasn’t until I began working the 12 Steps in recovery did I realize the thing I hated in each of those cities I had lived in was myself. It was those twelve steps that showed me how much my hatred was never really about any of those cities, jobs, people, or any other aspect there, it was always about myself. I had been so spiritually sick that I looked at the world with a spiritual sickness. My eyes had only been able to see with negativity and thus I saw each city I had lived in look that way. Thankfully, my hard work in recovery helped to change that. So when my partner asked me several years ago to move to Toledo to live with him, I decided to wait a while longer, as I didn’t want to make another geographical cure again. Two years later and much healthier, I moved away from a city for the first time without hating it or myself.
While Toledo may not have been my first choice for somewhere I ever planned on moving to, I came solely because my partner’s home was here. At first, there was definitely a culture shock because I had lived outside a bunch of major cities in my life. But as time has passed, I have grown quite fond of various aspects of both this city and its residents. But ultimately, I think what I’ve grown the most fond of is the love and light that’s increasing within myself.
It seems as if the more that happens, the more my eyes aren’t seeing with that negativity anymore. And the more my eyes aren’t seeing with that negativity anymore, the more I’m noticing the beauty that exists in and around me. And the more I’m noticing the beauty that exists in and around me, the more I’m able to love the city I call home today and that’s Toledo, OH.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson