I just arrived at my hotel in St. Louis. I was greeted with the most welcoming smells: hot buttered popcorn and fresh baked cookies. The scent immediately ingratiated me to the space. I felt at home. Feeling at home is something for the last few years I have only experienced away from my home, because my home didn’t feel welcoming; it felt hostile, stressful, and full of betrayal. With my foreclosure and the dissolution of my marriage, home was definitely not where my heart was.
After five years of limbo, my divorce finalized at the end of March, but my ex only just moved out on May 3. I hadn’t realized how much I was hiding from my own life, how shallow my breathing was, how resentful I was of my surroundings, until he was gone. I had been carrying such strife inside of me and associating much of it with my house. It was destroying me, and worse, it was destroying my kids. Like “Monster House,” our house was soaking up all of the negative energy of our situation and spitting it back at us, pitting us against each other instead of bringing us together. Once he was gone, I had no more excuses. After the divorce I had to do something.
Years ago, I wrote a blog post about the importance of reclaiming spaces and places after a loss or a betrayal. I recommended making new memories in old environments that felt negative in order to empower your recovery. When my ex left, I took my own advice and reclaimed my home for myself and my kids. Well, not the whole house, but that’s the goal. I am working my way through it, room by room. I took out all of the cleaning supplies and dug into the dirt to start. I threw out, recycled, and donated as much as I could, as quickly as I could. Truthfully, I couldn’t move fast enough. I was desperate to change our circumstances, to make us feel welcome again, to feel at home in our own home. But cleaning wasn’t enough. We needed a new outlook, so we needed something new to look out at. I turned to craigslist for help. I trolled the listings in search of economical options that we could add to our house to improve our mood. I’m adding some artwork here, a new rug there, and it is working. The other day I sat on my new used craigslist couch, which was sitting atop my new used craigslist area rug, next to my new Ikea lamps, under my newly hung old painting. I sat curled up with a blanket, my kids, and a bowl of popcorn at my side and watched a movie. It may sound inconsequential to you, but I haven’t sat in my living room for a prolonged amount of time, for any reason, for almost five years. I instead would retreat to my bedroom nightly hiding from the pain of my life. But on this night I freed myself from the binds of shame, depression, and disappointment and took back my home. A small moment that symbolized a big victory of self.
My house is still in foreclosure, (which is scary), and even after the divorce I still have wounds from my marriage, (which can be draining). My kids do still occasionally try to bite each others’ heads off, (which is normal), but I am hopeful, and most importantly I am determined. I’m determined to make myself welcome, to feel at home in my own home. Hey, it’s never too late to start again.
Image courtesy of Flickr.
If you enjoyed this empowering piece please read 10 Things To Do Before Filing For Divorce, 13 Things To Do Once The Divorce Is Finalized, 12 Ways To Be Your Own Valentine All Year Long, and 13 Things To Do when Fighting Foreclosure.
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