Thursday, July 30, 2009

My sappy secret

Last night just before we turned the lights off to go to sleep after a long day, I turned to Bob and whispered, "Do you miss the house?"

There was a pause. A silence.

Then I quickly answered my own question, "I miss it. I miss the house," I said with a guilty face. A look of I'm sorry, but I do. And I'm sorry for bringing it up.

The house.

It's been four weeks since we turned the keys over to the new owners and drove away. Four weeks. I have been trying not to think about it. Consciously. Subconsciously, all bets are off. Unfortunately I can't control my dreams and I have had some house-longing-missing dreams. In one we rented an apartment across the street with a view of the house so that we could at least look at it. Strange. In another, I was in the house, but I don't remember more than that.

Last night we were talking about kitchens and immediately I was back in our kitchen with the bright colors and natural light and incomparable views. How I loved that kitchen. To me, it was perfect.

I miss it. I do.

...When I wake up in the morning and try to figure out where I can write first thing. Because so far I haven't found the spot. In our house, I had my spot. I had my ritual. My routine.

...When I go to get dressed out of my suitcase and everything is wrinkled and impossible to find.

...When I climb into a bed that's not mine. Every night. I think about our bed. Our room... in our house back in L.A.

Usually when I have those thoughts of aching for something that no longer exists, I do what I do... I counter them with perspective:

Okay, yes. The house was amazing. Our life there was wonderful while it lasted. But it wasn't perfect. And look where it lead us. We're on a better path. We're smarter now. No, this isn't our house, but how fortunate are we that my family is so welcoming?! That we have a place to live right now? That we get to spend quality time with family, that we're so close to one of the greatest city's in the world, that we have a place to live rent-free for two years?! We are fortunate, indeed.

Yes, we have many blessings to count. And I still miss it.

Bob's eyes answer my question. He doesn't need to say anything. But he does.

He says, "I miss it all."

That gets me.

"Are you sad?" I ask.

"Yes," he responds.

"Me too," I say and then sigh. I put my head on his chest and listen as Bob says,
"Tomorrow's a new day. Let's get some sleep. We need rest."

So that's it. The secret is out. We miss the house. We miss our friends and life in L.A. We miss having a place of our own and it makes us sad from time to time. Was it obvious? You're not surprised, are you? That's the funny thing. I was afraid to say it out loud. Afraid that it would make things worse. But as soon as I said it, I let it go. It was no longer this secret sadness that I carried around with me alone. In sharing it with Bob, I discovered that it was already shared. And that it's okay to be sad. It's natural. And as long as it doesn't define us or stop us dead in our tracks, it's perfectly fine to be sad from time to time.

Yes, I miss our former life. And yes, I'm happy to be where I am and am excited about our future. I'm sad and I'm happy. I'm... sappy.

And that's just life, isn't it? A long quest for happiness filled with mixed emotions.

In his 1989 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, The Dalai Lama said:
"No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic human needs and is concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature."

The context for that statement was his people. Tibetans. He has lived in exile - away from his homeland - for 50 years. He still stands for the autonomy of his people. For the 'right to determine our own destiny as individuals.'

Just a few days ago in a lecture at the University of Warsaw he said:
"Freedom gives rights. I think you have to realize with rights also there is duty and responsibility..."


We have freedom. What then is our duty and responsibility? I think it's to help others. To recognize our personal freedom as a gift, to appreciate it and share it.

See? This is where I go when I'm feeling sad about something in my life. In this context- against the struggle of people who are not free, who are suffering - my sadness and complaints lose their power over me. I shift my focus from myself out there into the world. As trite as it may sound, "There are people starving in Africa." What am I going to do about it? Well, for starters, I'm going to finish my vegetables.

Now I'm not even thinking about the house anymore. Or my sadness. Or the fact that I don't have the perfect place to write. Or that my clothes are all in a suitcase or that we're broke and living with my family. It sounds pathetic up against something so real. However, it's still okay to be sad. Right? I think so.

This is my feeling about human nature. I think that even when we're happy, part of us is sad. And that's okay. Perhaps we're all just a little bit sappy.

What do you think?

11 Comments:

Claudia said...

Of course there is sadness. And honesty in expressing that. Counting blessings and admitting to sorrows. Nice that you reminded me.

marlsyjw said...

Steph, I still dream about the house
I grew up in and more often, about our house in Connecticut which had so much of "us" in it and all of our kids were also conceived there. Even though we sold our house willingly I still miss it and although I love our house in New Port Richey(just not in the same way) it is, alas, just a house. I always find that I can usually control, or at least be aware of my feelings and reactions during the waking hours, but during slumber is when my true emotions are revealed to me; the good, the bad, the ugly.

You are so right and "healthy" to be grateful for what you do have and to put the focus on others; it is when you do this that you become free of yourself and your anxieties and self-centered fear and this is what I learned and continue to learn in the fellowship that keeps me sober (as in not drinking) but more importantly, emotional sobriety.

I know that you and Bob will be OK, and then not just OK, you will be damned wonderful! We are all on a path that we really have no control over and when we stop fighting that, life is so much easier.

You are doing fine and your thinking and feelings are normal. Just remember that feelings are not facts, it is OK to have them and we all do, at least it almost always helps me to put things in perspective. Life is not monotone, but we have to embrace and be grateful for the good and learn how to best handle the not so great times. No one is fine everyday and FINE is F'ed up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional anyhow!

Kim Hooper said...

Sadness is very human. I would think it odd if you didn't feel sad. Like you said, sometimes freedom and new-found happiness are accompanied by sadness. For me, that happens all the time. One new opportunity means the death of an old one, so it feels like there is always mourning running parallel to the excitement.

Meg Taylor said...

can't they give you a closet?

Love in the Time of Foreclosure said...

The closet issue is this: we were at my mom & stepdad's house where we have a closet. But for the last week we've been at my dad and stepmom's house where we don't have a closet. And most of our stuff is at Mom's so we just brought suitcases over to my dad's. This is becoming a boring comment. But that's the situation.

Oh- and today's been great because our car insurance was charged EARLY and we weren't prepared for it so now we're overdrawn on our bank account. I need a job. Fast.

By the way, Meg... how are you? Thanks for reading!

Jo J said...

First time poster from NZ:

So very grateful to read about your process. I am a few steps behind you (house goes to auction on August 18th), but I know that there will be feelings galore when it finally happens, and I'm not going to shove 'em down, dammit.

Grief, loss, disappointment: you are welcome in my home!

Robpaterson said...

Years ago I had a great boss who had lost everyone and everything in WWII. A prisoner of the Russians age 15, he came to Canada aged 19 and started life again.

He was one of the most courageous and happy men I ever met. He had learned that he could lose all and still recover. There was nothing that scared him or worried him for the worst of all his fears had taken place and he found he was OK. That did not mean that he did not feel sadness - he did. But his loss also made him free. No person or situation could phase him.

I wonder if you two will find this happen to you?

All the best
Rob

Joy said...

When you come to the island, you'll be so engrossed in all the wonders that are here, the sadness might ease a bit. Sitting on a beach and just watching the ocean will create a sense of calm around you. There's a "Zen-ness" about the island. October will be here soon, and then you'll be surrounded by beauty, serenity, and wonderful people.

Love in the Time of Foreclosure said...

I just want to thank everyone who commented on this post. Bob and I were both so moved and inspired by your responses. Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have family on both sides facing losing their homes. We don't have much financially, but gave what little we had saved up. It only postponed their imminent foreclosures and now we feel powerless to help them keep their homes further. They know our home (rented) is open to them anytime, but we feel such deep sadness that this is all we can offer now. They both have children and the sadness we feel is overpowering. Like an elephant sitting on our chests. We try to tell ourselves that no matter what they will always have a place to go and food to eat, but it just doesn't feel like nearly enough. We feel so powerless. So terrible to know those you love are suffering so and there's nothing you can do about it.

foxyrachel21 said...

Sorry to be reading your blog so late. Heard you on the Story. Couldn't read for a long time because the same stuff happened to me and my husband. We're just around the corner from 1 year with his parents and our 2 kids. Just reading your blog made me fetal and sobbing. One year removed, I can't look at our many family photo albums because so many are in our rooms, our backyard, our home. We were there 7 years. I dream of it, I pine for it. My husband just feels the relief of the foreclosure pressures, and he doesn't miss our old life as much as I do. That's been harder still for me, because it's the 1 emotion we aren't sharing. I'm still stuck in justification land - we put almost 30% down (30,000 down the tubes), worked, did all the right stuff. Til we didn't have jobs anymore. WHY DID WE FAIL SO BADLY? Because to me, we failed, as parents, as grown-ups, as people. This foreclosure stuff is not for wimpy marshmallows. Anyway, you two are inspirational. Thanks for starting this. Here's to better times, for all of Us.

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