Monday was a sad day for me. I gave the keys to my home for the last 13 years to someone else. I will never walk down those stairs in the morning to my cats greeting me. I will never sit in my meditation garden and write. I will never enjoy Christmas movies with my family in the living room with the fire going, and the tree twinkling and our cats sleeping peacefully on our laps. That house will now be someone else’s, to create their memories.
My daughter was 8 when we moved there. We were the first owners, and it was brand new construction. I remember saying to my daughter, ‘If it was possible to hug a house, I would do it!’ Because we had looked for years, and we finally found our home. It was perfect. My imagination filled in the future with friends and family gathered in our living room, of my daughter’s friends giggling in her bedroom, of my husband and I spending lazy Sunday mornings in bed with coffee in the master bedroom that had huge vaulted ceilings.
I was in love with what the future held for me. I was in love with what I imagined would happen in that house. I wanted it so bad. I wanted to create a peaceful place to escape from the world for my husband and daughter, and those close to us.
We had given our very last penny to get into the house, because we bought it at the height of the housing boom. So, we had the house, but we were broke. I worked long hours at my job, and took the offer to become a manager to try and bring in more income to our household. I thought that if we could just get to a certain income level, then my vision of all the love in our house would come true. I poured my heart and soul into it. I didn’t have good relationships with my family of origin, so this was it for me. I wanted my new family to be all about love, peace and understanding.
I used to think when I died my tombstone would read, “I tried!”. It sounds funny now, but I really used to think that. Because sometimes I felt like for all my efforts I got nowhere. I used to think it was because I came from a dysfunctional family, so it was my fault. I used to think that I was doing something wrong, and that is why things weren’t working out. I used to take all the blame when things went wrong. ‘It must be me, I need to try harder.’ But, now I know that isn’t true.
If love solved all problems, that my family would still be together. Because I loved my husband more than anyone in the world. He was my world! I used to call him my earth. When I first met him, if I just touched his arm I would calm down. He was my safety blanket in a world that had been confusing and hurtful to me for most of my life. We found each other! And then we had our daughter. We were a trio. I was the happiest when the 3 of us were together.
About 5 years ago, my husband and I started drifting from each other. I felt it, and it scared me. My world was crumbling, and it broke my heart. I became frantic trying to keep it all together, but relationships take more than one person trying. Maybe I tried too hard, maybe I didn’t say or do the right things. I know my intention was out of love, but my hope and my actions to try and keep my family together ultimately failed.
Our house that was supposed to be my refuge from the world is now someone else’s house. I am living in California and my husband stayed in Portland. We are taking a break from trying so hard to make it all work. I know we love each other, that isn’t the issue. And honestly I still don’t have an answer of how our relationship got to the point that it is at now.
I transferred with my finance job to Los Angeles because this area spoke to me. When I would visit here, it made me feel alive in a way I hadn’t for a long time. There is an ease in my relationships here, as people reach out to me and want to be around me. They want to go to lunch with me just to talk and find out about me. They want to come to my art shows and collaborate on projects with me. My head fogs over sometimes with the sheer input of niceness and genuine interest coming my way. It is different, maybe because I am different. Maybe because I am more comfortable with myself now, and not looking for a refuge to hide in.
I feel happy here in Southern California, but also sad about my family. This is not the way it was supposed to turn out. My vision of eventually giving our house in Portland to my daughter as an investment isn’t going to happen. My vision of my grandchildren playing the the backyard, and my husband and I smiling knowingly at each other isn’t going to happen.
My vision of me pursuing my art career with my husband by my side, is just that, a vision. It is a hope that will not become a reality. We went through a lot together, and he didn’t even stay for the best part; me blossoming. It hurts more than anyone will ever know.
It is okay for me to pursue my dreams, and what I am doing now is a dream. Sometimes when I am driving home from work, and I see the orange sun reflecting on the ocean, and people walking and smiling at each other and I feel like I am dreaming. Am I really here? Yes, I am! I have to let go of what I thought my life was going to be, and embrace my new life.
I feel myself opening up to the world, rather than trying to run from it. I feel myself embracing friendships rather than defending myself against them. I feel my spirit awakening to possibilities that just 5 years ago were not part of my consciousness. I know now that instead of my tombstone saying, “I tried!”, it will now say, “I lived!”