In July of 2011 we lost our home. It was a great house, it was our first house. It was the biggest house I had ever lived in. It had beautiful granite counter tops, beautiful hardwood floors, a huge kitchen, a bedroom that could sleep 4 people, a whirlpool tub to soak away the day in, and a perfectly manicured lawn. I can honestly say that living in that house made me feel secure, it made me feel that I was finally settled.
All of that changed in 2008. It was the first year that things started to go south with the economy. Year after year things got worse but I kept saying that all would be okay. I never gave up hope that our lives would stay the same. Well, they didn’t. When it was time we finally had to let go. We moved into a rental home and never looked back. I tucked away all the sad feelings into the furthest part of my brain. It was over.
We moved into a home that had more land, the house was really small, and I really struggled at first. My husband was thrilled , we were in the woods and he had more freedom. We began to build our lives over. We got chickens and goats and built a huge ramp in the backyard (my husband is a skatepark builder). Then as luck would have it the house next door came up for sale and it had even more land. It was a steal, it needs a lot of work, but slowly it is coming together.
We have even more animals now, turkeys and ducks now call my land their home too. I still dream of my big kitchen and a bathroom that feels like a spa getaway. In time….
Then in October I got invited to a party back in the old neighborhood. Ah, the ghosts of my past come back to haunt me. I kept telling myself I was fine, going to the party would be fine.
The day of the party came. I almost felt sick to my stomach. I would have to look at all the old neighbors, all the people who saw us lose our house, lose our life. I started to feel a deep sadness. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, I had moved past all of that, I thought. Our lives were better now. We barely have any bills, we live a much simpler life, and things are so much easier, right?
It was about an hour until the party. I felt my heart beating in my chest and I was anxious. I didn’t know what I would say to all those people. I started doing my nervous twitch and my OCD kicked in. I count on my fingers when I get nervous or anxious. I wandered around the house and realized I was actually really sweaty. What the heck was going on inside me? I didn’t want to drive past my old house. I didn’t want to see it or ever remember it. It represented so much more than just a house we lost. To me it felt like a failure, a big fat in your face you couldn’t make it. I felt sick to my stomach. I had to go to the party and put on my best face, let nobody know that I was a wreck inside. How could this be so hard, it’s just a house, some wood and plywood with a few stones on the front, that’s all. It was starting to look like I was the house, the structure that couldn’t see it through, I was the thing that was lost. I didn’t know where the house ended and I began.
Truth be told, at the heart of it all was the “what will they think of me” that drives all of my anxiety. One of my biggest challenges in life is letting go of what “they” think of me. So I put on that pretty party face and got in my car and went to the party.
Walking up the driveway I whispered to myself, ‘let it go’ and I did. My sister Jennifer often uses this quote in her writings and workshops. It is a favorite of mine. I had no choice I was getting dragged, I had to let it go.
I walked in and let my ghosts go back to the place that they came from, the past. It was a great party. I had such a good time. Nobody really cared that we lost our house, that we were struggling, or that we weren’t where we used to be. Nobody said a word. Everybody was amazing. In fact in reality we aren’t the only ones who are struggling now. It turns out that having gone through the fire can help somebody else who is in the pit now.
I don’t particularly enjoy the feeling of anxiety, it sucks. This is what my ghosts do, they come back for a visit, and stir the pot up. I can take their hand and walk the road with them, or I can leave them in the car and go to the party.
Here is what I know:
If you lose it all then you have a big open place to fill back up.
and most importantly what I learned from Dr. Seuss
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go….Dr. Seuss, Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
US author & illustrator (1904 – 1991)
And then there is always a handstand on a skate ramp with goats. Now that is living.