To listen to the audio version click the link below- on a smart phone you may need to scroll down to find the sound icon- you’ll also need to return to the website if you would like to leave a comment- or you can email it to me.
…I’ve realized that loss creates an opening in our lives. We can fill that space with fear, panic and anxiety. Or we can let it be open for creating something new, something that didn’t exist before. It can lead to something far better. To experience something new, we have to let go of what’s old. We have to remain calm in the face of setbacks.—art of being unmistakable
The house my husband and I owned prior to the one we currently live in was a house I really loved. It had an open floor plan, a huge kitchen and a pantry, so large that when our oldest son was a toddler, he called it the “food room”. There was an abundance of cabinets– so many that I could be careless about the space, never really filling them to their capacity.
It also had a Jacuzzi tub in the master bath that could easily be operated with a little button on the top of the tub and a sizable walk in closet. It wasn’t perfect. The lot was TINY and the next door neighbor had two GINORMOUS dogs that frequently rushed the fence in a threatening way whenever we went in our back yard. And, it was in St. Peters.; a fact that did not please my husband.
One day he came home announcing that he would like to have a little more room to use for his business. He wanted an out building or perhaps enough land to add a building. And then, as if someone magically waved a wand, about 10 weeks later, we were living in the house where we still remain today.
I don’t exactly mean it happened by magic. But rather that, it happened incredibly quickly. We looked at houses for a couple of weeks, saw the one we wanted and bought. We went home and put our house up for sale, and moved the closing to about 3-4 weeks out. It wasn’t as if I wasn’t an active participant. In fact, on a couple of the days, I went out with the realtor on my own and saw houses my husband did not. When we walked into our final pick, I fell in love with a staircase. I imagined it decorated for the holidays. My kids fell in love with a pool. My husband fell in love with 3 acres at the end of the lane. Everybody had something to love….
Until we moved in.
Day one of the move I went to work. I returned home to find my refrigerator in my new kitchen. Only it wasn’t where refrigerators normally go. It was stuck in the middle of the kitchen more or less. It seemed it was a little too large to fit in the spot where it was supposed to go.
Not to worry my husband said “we’ll buy a new one.” The only problem however, was that the spot for a fridge was made for a size that apparently no stores in St. Louis carried. No problem my husband said. ” I’ll cut the above cabinet out a bit and have it cut down.” The only problem however, was that when the former owners retiled the kitchen, they grouted the cabinet stabilizer into the floor. No problem my husband said. I’ll cut it away and the top cabinet will come out with the stabilizer.” The only problem however, is that once the cabinet was removed, it showed a large hole that had been caused by an obviously leaking shower from the bathroom above. A hole that appeared to have started growing mold.
No problem he said, and I began to feel like Goldie Hawn in “the money pit”, just not as cute.
My response was to cry. And cry I did. I cried that day, the next one and pretty much most of the ones after that for about 3 months. And when I cried I said “what have we done to our lives?
the furniture didn’t fit
I had no idea what living with a well and sewer “off the grid” meant
deer ate everything and anything that resembled a flower
there were bugs everywhere since we live in woods, not to mention a snake or two
the sprinkler system groaned at night as if a dying body was living under the front porch
frogs croaked so loudly outside the window it was hard to sleep
the jacuzzi tub was small and to operate it, you have to get out of the tub to turn on the switch
the pool heater broke
every room was painted with sponge painting
and….. did I mention it has a really pretty staircase?
My poor husband was beside himself. He tried everything he could think of- short of decorating the staircase for Christmas in August, to make the house seem more enjoyable to me. But what finally came to me was the realization that I was comparing the new house constantly to the old house. Everything had happened so quickly, that I hadn’t really had time to process leaving the old one behind. And as a result, I felt not ready for the new one. I didn’t yet “live” there.
That insight provided a huge relief for my situation.
I started to realize finally that I needed to say goodbye to my old house. It’s where we lived when we had our second son. It’s the first house we bought together and several other important memories. But at the end of the day it was a house, not our home. Our home was where we lived as a family, and that place was now no longer in St. Peters. I began to allow myself to enter the process of saying goodbye. And gradually over a few days, maybe longer, I began to open myself up to appreciating what the new house had to offer our family.
We painted. We disconnected the sprinkler. We had the hole over the fridge fixed. And we got a dog. Our beloved Snickers, who loves running in the woods around our house and chasing every rodent she can find. We met new people; some wonderful people. We have a life here now and although we probably we won’t live here forever, it gives me great joy for now. My children are growing up here. They will most likely always think of this as the house they call their childhood home. And every Christmas, decorating the staircase still remains my favorite activity.
It’s very hard to enjoy the life you are in if a significant part of your emotional self remains living somewhere else. Are there places or people that you’ve had difficulty saying goodbye? Are there opportunities in your future that you have not yet created space for by letting go?