I am achy today. It’s the third day of aches in my hands, my feet, my knees, all of my joints. Body aches come on when I am overwhelmed, and I am telling you, my house overwhelms me. It’s actually the first time my body aches have come on since Peter died because it’s the first time I’ve been this overwhelmed.
My house – no longer “our home”, but mine and mine alone – has been the biggest pain in my ass since Peter died. It is way too big for me. I am slowly cleaning up the messes Peter and I were suppose to get ready to sell together. Some of them are not in my wheelhouse, not part of my talents. The house is also chalk filled with so many painful once were’s. It is hard for me to sit in it without a pit forming in my belly.
So, I leave the house when I can. Oh sure, I do some things when a surge of energy hits. I have thrown away so much junk my love kept for ‘one day projects’. I have packed up plastic storage tubs for things I know I need to keep. I put things in piles with a deadline for my son to go through. And, the walls and ceilings, all of them, are now painted. But there is still so much left in this house lived in for almost twenty five years, a house Peter gave himself three to five years to fix. And that is what overwhelms me, the what-is-left, the what I-can-do-now. And I should. I should take care of the dusty furniture, the bags of donations, the filled plastic tubs, and the less than clean carpet. I should. But for some reason, after the first months of having at it with the house, I can’t seem to do much more. Of course, I am embarrassed of it all. I am embarrassed Peter nor I kept up a house.
If you drop in my apartment, at any time, you will see a fairly clean, crisp, place. Yeah, some dust settles from time to time, and a few clothes are spewed here and there, but it is clean, non-cluttered. I keep it that way. It’s easier at Discovery. I started with a clean slate which are always so much less demanding. And there are no Peter and me memories to exhaust me or paralyze me, or overwhelm. Discovery is smaller and easier to maintain. And it’s my oasis. Who wants a dirty and cluttered oasis? But my house, the one I shared with Peter and the kids for so long? It’s a different story.
One of the things I realized in the past few months after the shock of Peter’s death wore down – not away, but down — is when my nest emptied, it emptied fully and quickly. Within six months, my daughter moved five hours away. My son moved to his apartment. And my husband died. Within six months, my nest blew up and all I see is a shell holding only memories. I am dealing, now, with an emptied nest syndrome, alone and without my partner, who is gone as well.
It’s hard to clean out or move within my house. I like the town I live in. My friends who were with me for twenty four years are there. My heart beats there. Discovery is great for me, but it doesn’t have either. Those absences drag me to a loneliness I have never felt. That’s why my home is important, only it’s hard to stay in a shell of once-was. It’s, well, overwhelming.
I am doing this alone, this cleaning out of the house, packing up, dusting, and all the things that have to be done. I am not one to ask for help. Yes, I get it. It’s my bad then, and my reasons for all of this. And, truth be told, I prefer to be alone in the mess. I don’t know if I can get passed my embarrassment to have people come in and see the mess I am in. I never lie in this blog, do I?
I am hiring out to help me get the house ready to sell. The painters were my first hire, now onto others. And I am getting courage up to ask a bestie to come down and help on weekend. There would only be a few I could ever ask because they’ve accepted my warts a long time ago. But people are busy. People have physical restrictions, and their own lives to live, their own cleaning up to do. So, I get if they answer ‘no’. And well, I kind of fear they’ll answer ‘no’.
I try to hold onto the biggest lesson Peter ever taught me when I ask people, the rare times I do. Peter would say, “when you ask for something, no is an answer and has to be accepted the same way as yes, or else you’re not asking, you’re demanding”. Brilliant, right? I try to live with it. Not as successfully as Peter did, but I do try. I mean, the alone crap is getting old. I am strong, but not steel strong. Not yet, anyway.
Today, I am going to the house to put some size dent in it. I have ideas organized in my mind to get it done. I have to. The more I do, the less overwhelmed, the less pain. I will chip away at it, one day at a time, one hour at a time, one small task at a time. Or that’s my plan anyway.
Here’s the thing, or another thing. When Peter died, it not only broke my heart, my securities, my comfort, my life, my soul, it destroyed everything around me, including the house we made a home. When Peter died, the definition of our place changed, permanently, from our home to my house. And I need to get my house in order to sell with the hopes I can create a home, my home and mine alone, some place else. Not an oasis – which is wonderful and needed – but a home. I have to do it because I am still living, I am still here. I still need to create for myself. And so, in the next hour, I leave my oasis to go back to my house and begin chipping away at my house, even with the achiness in my joints.