Last time I posted, I posted about the final straw.
I swore I’d try and use it – and the resilience from not buckling under it – to build myself a new nest. From the inside out.
Well I’m now, after all the run-of-the-mill horrendous house-moving, sat-in-a-van-waiting-to-exchange-and-for-money-to-come-through-shizzle, IN my new nest. The actual physical one. And this picture was taken in my new and perfect little patch of garden.
It is the opposite of the final straw – it is in fact a first green shoot.
And it shows (through entirely accidental timing) the dawning light as I step out from the long jagged shadows of my old life.
Into the new one.
I know lots of people who stay. In their old marital home. For lots of reasons – mostly school catchment and kid stability… Or lack of any damn choice, obviously. They invest in fairy lights and cushions to banish the shadows and change their shape. Their colour. I’ve seen it work.
But I didn’t realise how much the old echoes still rang in my ears, how much the grey and dull and dim of my relationship, it’s physical brick and mortar borders, still clouded my view of everything, including myself.
Moving has been a whirlwind, but it’s blown away the echoes and the clouds in a way so physical it’s literally left me swaying on my feet.
I feel free.
The old stuff can’t touch me here. HE can’t touch me here. I can’t be hurt in the same way. It is a step change, a step forwards.
Freedom is a bit scary, too. Because it has its own pressures.
And I do feel pressure.
Partly that’s because I’ve been under so much stress for so long I’m finding it hard to come down and slow down and stop living at a hundred miles an hour fuelled by pure adrenaline and copious nutella, and a pathological fear of my own bank account. I can’t sit and stop and relax into it.
And I want to.
Because I LOVE this house.
I love that I’ve literally filled it with colour and that the old crap brown sofa has been replaced by a bright blue one, and with yellow and red and green bits all at once (not all on the sofa). Yes, there are fairy lights. And cushions. And upstairs a duvet cover so girly my boyfriend feels his testosterone levels drop at the bedroom threshold (he gets over this).
I love that it’s small. That all the downsizing and tip trips mean me and the Smalls fit it perfectly, and it us, and everything has its place, or will do when I finally get some wardrobes, and that the first thing the distressingly middle-class Big Small tells people who ask about her new home is that “it’s VERY small”. I love that we can see and hear our neighbours (which is also shocking to her), and walk to a park and a shop and a cafe, and that it feels MANAGEABLE. It feels like I’m on holiday. It feels perfect.
I love that it’s not the old place, with it’s gas leaks, and asbestos, and woodlice, and space – detached physically and metaphorically – and too much quiet, it’s tweeting twatting boiler, and memories, and huge ridiculous mortgage that no one should pay out on a house every month ARE YOU MAD???
I even love that I haven’t yet got blinds in the velux above my bed, so I can’t sleep, but who the FORK needs sleep anyway when you’ve got all this to take in, and I can watch the clouds roll past and feel small and blessed – yes even with the row of threatening pigeon bums lined up directly over it (and my flowery duvet) at 5am.
I love that it has given me the things I always wanted, and couldn’t have when we were chasing bigger and better and more and STATUS, and that every choice I have made from the choice to ask him to leave has been about redefining MY values, and that what I get now is what I begged him to prioritise – less stress, more time, more quality, less rat race, less strive, less STRIFE, more LIFE.
But that’s where most of the pressure I’m feeling comes from. Because this is my new start. And I have to get it RIGHT.
I have to start LIVING my values, not just planning for them, imagining them. I have to now actually create the family and the environment I want, and be the MUM I want, and the ME I want when I’m not in a mould and on a path and living a life that didn’t suit me and eroded me and I couldn’t breathe in, and when I’m not fighting my way out of that and coping and managing and juggling and organising and packing and working and FORGETTING to breathe.
This isn’t just about new green shoots. It’s about new leaves. Turning them over. Keeping them turned.
And while right now I feel like the physical change of moving has boosted the emotional change I’ve been working on for the last 20 months and longer – there is still part of me that is afraid.
I’m afraid I’ll still be the person that doesn’t turn ON the fairy lights because it might waste the batteries. Or the one who will never be able to sit, or stop, or settle, because she’s mostly momentum, and without that she’ll collapse, and maybe there isn’t anything else underneath worth a damn anyway. Or the one that is always so on the edge of her tether the anxiety turns to anger on a tuppence, who shouts, who is broken by straws, big and small. Who doesn’t let the kids make mess or go outside again or stay up late because the hassle is too much and she just wants to sit, and lie, and work up the energy to face the next day. The one who focuses on surviving not living. The one who leaps at every shriek convinced it’s a disaster. The one who can’t sleep because her mind is running on wheels. The one who overplans, forgets to enjoy any of it, and who lives a life of thwarted expectations. The one who can’t bring herself to get up off the sofa – even now that it’s blue – and go to bed – now a whole extra floor up – because it means the next day and doing it all, all over again. The one who squanders or sabotages opportunities because she is afraid. The one who is always, always afraid. The one that doesn’t look out of the window. The one who lets pigeon bums stop her opening it. The one that doesn’t live up to her potential.
This new house, this new life, this new freedom – is a gift. It is also a responsibility.
The fact is I don’t do well under pressure. Which is why every choice I’ve made to get here is about having LESS of it. And why now I’m here I feel MORE pressure to make the most of that. A Catch-22…
This is it.
And I’m going to do the only thing I can do to start getting in right – I’m going to start small. As I mean to go on.
Because all of this, ALL OF IT, has been about going smaller, and slower, and simpler.
So today, I’m going to remember to breathe. It doesn’t get simpler than that.
I’m going to stop.
I’m going to see what happens when I stop. Who I am when I’m not stressed, and rushing, and worrying.
I’m going to turn on the damn fairy lights.
I’m going to open the velux.
I’m going to leave the unpacking and the nesting and the DIY.
Hell, I’m going to LEAVE THE WASHING UP.
BUGGER the routine. We’re not even going to brush teeth if we don’t feel like it, and we’re certainly not wearing shoes.
I’m going to enjoy my children.
I’m going to enjoy ME.
I’m NOT going to have a plan.
I’m not going to achieve ANYTHING.
I am going to let happy come to me.
I am going to go outside.
I’m going to watch the clouds.
I’m going to paint a picture.
I’m going to GROW, upwards, towards the sun, if it ever decides to shine again, like a new, green shoot.
I’m going to turn my face up to it, and bask, and APPRECIATE.
Although, as you can see from this picture, I AM probably going to have to mow the bloody lawn first…