One year ago today I took possession of my house. It was a bittersweet day. Yes I was excited to start the next part of my journey. Yes I was proud of myself for finally being able to purchase a home for myself. But I was sad to leave my old home. My marriage had ended 8 months before and the house, the neighbourhood was the last grip on everything I had known. It was a security net for me because I was terrified to go my own way alone.
I have always been good at hiding. On the outside my house was immaculate, the kids were always put together, my hair and nails done. I organized and hosted parties where details and loving touches were always in the spotlight. I was able to shine in social situations, laugh at the jokes, contribute to the shenanigans like climbing fences to retrieve stray nerf bullets or late night swims in neighbours pools. In the inside I was a struggling to hold it together. I had lost a lot of weight – 70 lbs intentionally because I thought that would bring me the joy that was lacking on the inside. I won’t lie it did feel great for a while. I felt unstoppable – and I did things, acted in ways that now I regret. But looking back that was definitely a pattern in my life. What I know now is it was just part of the cycle – the weight loss, the extreme attention to detail, the life of the party behaviour, extreme training for my half marathon, a manic episode. Which was always followed by a crash, a depressive episode. But I was good at hiding it. I’d stay inside and “clean” while my ex took the kids outside and interacted with our neighbours. In between folding loads of laundry and scrubbing bathroom floors the tears would stream down my face. Once, we had our neighbours over but I stayed in my room. I had my ex tell them I wasn’t feeling well. I sat in my bed in tears because I didn’t want to be missing out but I just couldn’t bring myself to join.
I was good at hiding. Some people in my life feel that this has made me a liar, like I hid from them who I was like they never really knew me at all. This isn’t exactly true. It’s hard to explain what you are hiding when you don’t really understand what’s going on yourself. When you are afraid that opening up means your whole life will drastically change. It’s hard to open up when you don’t even know yet the vocabulary for a very real medical issue. It’s easy to hide when the things you are hiding will bring judgement or likely a fear of judgement. It’s easy to hide when when you feel like the only reason people want you around is because you are fun and they don’t actually care about the struggles you are going through. I know now that for the most part this was a perceived fear.
When my marriage ended, I didn’t return to work. I stayed off in order to pick up my broken pieces and stabilize life for me and my children. My daughter, just about 8, who was so strong through all of it said to me, “mommy I just don’t want to change school.” So I fought very hard to make that happen. I found the perfect townhouse, It was really close to my old neighbourhood. A quick 2 minutes. It would have worked out to be a private sale to me it seemed like the stars aligned especially since I had just sold my house in a private sale.
For several reasons, it didn’t work out. Part of that reason was my own fault. For not being confident and strong to make my own decisions. But at the same time I do feel like things happen as they should and if that house was meant for me I would be living in it now.
I would be involved in several bidding wars and each time I lost a little piece of me crumbled. I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to stay in the kids school zone – the only thing my daughter wished. She would have been fine if we had to move elsewhere, we all would have been but my heart told me I needed to make this happen.
I decided to switch Real Estate Agents. That was a hard decision because my previous agent had helped me purchase/sell my previous homes and disappointing people wasn’t something I was ever good at. But I decided to make a hard decision for myself and I switched. The agent I decided to work with was someone I had met a few years before, we had played baseball together and she lived/worked in the area I wanted to stay in. Everything that happen in life isn’t an accident. Sometimes things that happen seem insignificant or don’t make sense at the time but it’s all a series of doors closing and door opening, paths being chosen to lead you to moments that clarity happens. I don’t think being placed on the same baseball team as Lori was an accident because within days of signing on to work with her she called me with a house that was just listed, that didn’t have the for sale sign up yet and before that even happened I had in a offer, a counter offer and an acceptance and the home was mine. Lori got me through a really difficult time – she offered words of support and comfort that I always go back to. I’m not sure she really realizes the difference she made for me.
Move in day was the rainiest day pretty much the worst day to move. The rain held in my tears. I was proud and scared because this was the official start of my reset. It hasn’t always gone well. I’ve had some unexpected setbacks but also a tremendous amount of growth. It’s taken me a year to fully appreciate and understand the strength and resilience that I have shown, not only this year but my whole life.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is life is not black and white and I have no room in my life for people that are black and white thinkers. You don’t have to forget about the past and move on. The past is a very real part of what has brought us to this moment. The past is lessons, life and memories. I’ve learned that you can be grateful and excited about things that are going on but also be really sad and grieve the things and people that you have lost. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. “Life is about change. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s beautiful. But most of the time, it’s both.” – Lana Lang.