I took my shoes off in the garage to keep the dirt to a minimum. I opened the door to darkness, but quickly the empty rooms were illuminated with a flip of a switch. This was my last time in my home for the foreseeable future. I had spent three weeks working hard to haul, clean, sell, and pack all of my items. I walked through each room thinking of the past four years. Thinking of the person I was when I first walked through the front door and the person who now leaves it. Thinking of the process of finally learning how to love and care for myself and finally realizing that I am what I need.
I started my time at this house in a place that I didn’t know how to get out of. A time that I had lost myself completely; I didn’t sing anymore, didn’t dance, didn’t laugh as much. I was gone. I remember the moment I realized the departure of my joy; the moment where I didn’t even know myself anymore. Then, I realized the relationship I was in at the time was not healthy. I wasn’t growing the way I needed to be and I felt suppressed to try to keep things going in an even-keeled fashion. I ended the relationship and with that my ten year old support system was gone. My partner and my friends at the time all left. I was alone with a one-year old lab and a four-month old spaniel puppy.
It was about eight months that I wouldn’t sleep. The stress and anxiety of life, loneliness and inadequacy would flood my brain. I would lie down at night for about two hours, but would arise at 1AM to clean the house to make it feel like mine until 5AM, exercise the dogs and then go to my 10 hour work day. During this time, I tried to work on myself. I would go into my house and scream. I would cry. I would write frantically. I would sit in the backyard for hours throwing the ball trying to be a good dog mama and feeling inadequate in everything.
One evening, I climbed into bed and I vividly remember thinking “one more day down.” This immediately jolted me. One more day closer to death? Is that what I meant? I was shocked. I never had thought that and I never wanted to think that again. There in that moment I realized I need to make a change. I wasn’t living- I was enduring.
Over the next two years I played. Hard. I tried to break through my bullshit. I allowed myself to do what was best for me and to try to not feel guilty about. I tried to shake the habit of sacrificing myself to make others happy. I tried to break the habit of thinking “I should…”; I’ve been should upon enough. I started to live in my house the way I wanted to. I did things or bought things that I never thought I would. I was my own person and I was in charge of myself and my surroundings. The house allowed me a place to always come back to and feel comfort. To have my dogs. To have a place to call my own.
But, for now the time in my house has come to a close. Every item is gone. Every surface has been wiped down. The renter moves in tomorrow. I think back to the woman I was when I signed that mortgage. Unfulfilled, sad, repressed, uncertain. Today, I walk around this empty house proud to think of the risks that I am willing to take for me. For the love and confidence that I have in myself and the joyfulness of life that I know is out there. For finally being able to listen to myself and know what is right for me. Now, this house that has allowed me sanctuary through some of the worst and some of the best times of my life is going to be someone else’s shelter. I belt out a few notes of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to hear the reverberation in the empty rooms while I pry my keyring open leaving the key on the counter. I put my shoes on and now will walk out more myself than I have ever been before. More than I ever knew I could tap into. In closing this door, it allows me to shed a little more. Which will provide me so much more life than I ever could have had behind this door. This house is not my home, I am my home.