life

An Update on the House…And My Sanity

Three weeks ago I saw my new home for the first time and proceeded to meltdown for the rest of the week until moving in. I was so disappointed. Even made a YouTube video about it.

I was being dramatic; it’s not that bad. However, I stand by my reaction. There was nuance, which I’ll get to later.

By the time I posted the blog about the situation, I was kind of over it. By “over it” I mean I had come up with some neat little reason for why I was so emotional.

But the following day as my son and I experienced escalating allergy symptoms, I became suspicious there was mold. I had recalled seeing a fuzzy power outlet but had not dared to consider what the “fuzz” might actually be until that moment.

Then I went out of town to my mom’s house, and of course, she hyped me up about it. And then my dad did as well. I showed him the picture. “That’s black mold. You need to get out,” he said.

I couldn’t believe my fortune! God had given me a way out of my wretched lease! I was enlivened. That weekend I discussed with anyone who would listen, except my husband.

But alas, I made it home to further investigate what I had thought was mold only to find it was…dust.

Something died in me. Maybe I began to accept I was just going to have to live here. I didn’t want to live here.

What made it worse was the standing work orders we had in. We submitted four work orders before we even moved in. Management didn’t get started on any of them.

The Monday after we moved in our realtor went to the office to complain, which resulted in a maintenance worker being sent to the house immediately. As those original orders were completed, new things would be added to the list.

At one point I had decided I would be a good sport and unload the dishwasher. Half the dishes were dirty, the lower rack wouldn’t slide out, and the spraying mechanisms kept falling out. Then my husband alerted me to the fact the ceiling fan that had just been installed had been broken in the process. I was done.

Anxiety

My anxiety was ratcheting with each sighting of disrepair or evidence of deterioration. Noticing every little thing wrong with the place became more and more unbearable. I would go to simply wash my hands and notice the rusty door hinge and just feel depressed.

I didn’t want to use the microwave or drink the water. I wouldn’t dare cook. And I surely wouldn’t dare going down to the basement with its basement smell and who knows what surprises.

The only place I felt “safe” was our bedroom. But we had just gotten a new bed, that turned out to be entirely too high. That was a source of stress.

I eventually mopped, which helped the smell quite a bit, but not completely. One of my readers suggested I purchase an air purifier, but my husband didn’t think it was necessary and didn’t support the purchase. Which was another source of stress.

My friends didn’t want to hear about my issues with the house. They thought it was fine. I was disappointed that I wasn’t trusted or respected. Then my one friend that usually cares about me couldn’t really understand where I was coming from. I felt isolated and helpless.

My husband didn’t want to hear about it either. He had been in the exact same situations as me and was making the best of it. He was doing his part calling property management and going to Home Depot, but I was still sulking around. This turned into conflict.

The anxiety I was feeling around the house was like what I imagine people with phobias feel like. Remember back in the 90s, before the baby daddies, when Maury would have shows about people afraid of lettuce and cotton? Remember how stressed they were just knowing lettuce was in the building? That was how I felt.

I became wary of everything. I didn’t feel like I could relax and let my guard down. It didn’t help that we only had a loveseat with one of it’s recliners broken because the couch wouldn’t fit in the house. So I literally couldn’t relax sitting next to Spencer.

Since I signed up for Club Fitness, I realized I could find eight to 12 minutes of respite in my day by showering there after working out. I knew it was messed up that I found a public shower relaxing, but a lot was messed up at this point.

One night as my husband and I sat side by side on the one loveseat, he confronted me about how I was acting, which according to him was “like a zombie.” “I keep talking to you and all you say is ‘mm.’ What’s wrong with you?”

I tried to avoid bringing up the house because enough already, but ultimately had to try to explain how heightened my stress was. It was so overstimulating to be in the house I was starting to shut down (#triggered). He was not sympathetic presumably for aforementioned reasons, but I don’t really know because he’s a man.

Earlier in the week, when the dishwasher was being repaired, Spencer noticed the sink was backing up. Then the toilet wouldn’t flush correctly. So we had to use the basement toilet only for about five days. For some reason I trusted the basement bathroom less despite the bathroom being in better shape.

Although preferring to shower in a public place rather than at home was pretty psychotic, it wasn’t until I left my house with a full bladder so that I could use a public restroom at IKEA that I realized I needed professional help. (I bought a chase to go with a loveseat piece we acquired from a friend, so we have a sectional now, except I forgot to purchase the armrest.)

And I was still nursing twice a night. Twice a night I had to risk an ankle sprain getting off the ridiculously high bed.

I knew I was losing it, and I knew I couldn’t stop losing it. On Thursday, I called Military OneSource for help.

Military OneSource is available to all service members and their families to help connect us with resources like individual or family counseling, a health coach, education, or tax information.

The representative found a therapist in my area, dialed the number and allowed us to make an appointment, which was actually the following day. I can visit 12 times free of charge until September, when I can just call back and get another referral. Even though we are no longer a military family, we have access to Military OneSource for one more year.

Solutions

I went to see the counselor. I told her everything impacting my state of mind right then. I went back to 2016. And she was right there with me nodding, taking notes, and making sympathetic sounds that I knew were only for my benefit but still appreciated.

I told her I wanted her to tell me whether or not I was being ridiculous. I couldn’t trust my friends’ opinions because obviously they didn’t care about me and never had, obviously. Her assessment was that I was stressed and channeling it all into the house.

Dr. Bernard asked if I always had problems with anxiety. She was probably surprised to learn that I do not. She told me I wasn’t being hypersensitive, just sensitive. It wasn’t too much because my feelings were real. I was relieved to hear that.

Her suggestion was that I do what I can to make my temporary stay more tolerable. I decided hiring someone to come clean would be a tenable solution.

Then, I went to the ghetto Schnucks across the street and a nice man with a long beard tried to flirt with me, but my hearing isn’t good right now, and I kept saying “what was that?” so it kind of fell flat, but I felt really good.

The therapist was right. I went home and found myself, surprisingly, not freaking out. And I haven’t freaked out since the session. While I am very good counseling client, I have never been as messed up and consequently as cured as I was from that one session…have I?

I hadn’t been acknowledging the stress from moving. Since I knew it would eventually be fine, I didn’t want to lament over each aspect of change anymore, but since I was still going through the change, I was basically just bottling up my emotions.

Resolutions

I spent a couple days working myself up to pick up the trash strewn about the front of the house. Why did it take all that? I wasn’t all the way cured at that point. I picked the trash up and subsequently stopped rolling my eyes in disgust every time I pulled up in front of my house.

My mother-in-law came for dinner so we had to frantically unpack boxes and make the living and dining areas look livable. That helped. I also had to cook, and that helped too.

I didn’t hire someone to clean because I didn’t really believe I would feel like I could trust them.

The following week someone asked me to make 36 cupcakes, and I think that did the most good. I moved around the kitchen, opened cupboards and cabinets, acquainting myself with the house without thinking about it. Afterward, it was my powdered sugar and red velvet batter everywhere, not some unknown person’s dead skin and pet dander.

This week I picked out a cheaper air purifier. I didn’t want to pay for it though so I didn’t order it. But God! My mom gave me a $50 Amazon gift card. The device was $59.99.

Besides mopping the kitchen and bathroom with a real mop and a heavy bleach-water solution again, the last thing I need to do is scrub the rubbing tubing of the shower door with an old toothbrush. Then I should feel relaxed. I’m not there yet.

Interestingly, that huge shelving unit I had such a fit about is at the bottom of my list of grievances, but I plan to paint it light gray.

My Feelings

The house isn’t that bad! I can see where everyone was coming from. I see why my Mother-in-Law approved of this place. It’s very spacious and the hardwood is nice. My bedroom is huge. Almost too big because we don’t have enough furniture. It’s fine.

Despite that, I would still rather live somewhere else, but won’t focus on that. Things will improve when the house is truly organized, and I find the energy to fix things up to my liking.

But when I have been out of the house all day and anticipating relaxing at home, I picture myself walking in to my previous house. Or when I was trying to prepare for all the baking I had to do, I found myself imagining myself in my old kitchen, with its endless counter space…

Who reminisces about a house? I hadn’t realized how much that house, duplex, meant to us. It was the place I learned to be a wife and a mom. In a way, that was my first real home as an adult. The rest of my life had been preparing for that (since I’ve basically been in long-term relationships for the last 15 years). So maybe that’s why I couldn’t accept this new place.

Anyway, I’m over it. I’m good. Counseling saves the day yet again.

This month I have been keenly aware of the ways I’m growing. I get older and life becomes more new. I don’t know everything, which is the most important thing to know.

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