Moving house and surviving
Moving house and surviving
As I walked through my (our) house for the last time, my footsteps echoed in the empty rooms. The blue floral curtains I loved were still hanging at the windows and the mirrored alcove that Norbert had built looked strangely bare in the corner of the lounge room.
Carefully I laid out all the keys on the kitchen bench, slowly removing the final key to the front door from my key chain and adding it to the number. With tears in my eyes and my head filled with visions of ‘what might have been’, I walked to the front door and closed it behind me for the very last time.
As I said goodbye to the house where Norbert and I had lived together until he died, I asked myself…”Any regrets?“
No, no regrets. YES….it was a tough thing to do, but NO….not for a moment did I wish I could roll back the clock and make a different decision.
Some time ago now I wrote a post called How to Make Big Decisions where I explained how, after much angst, I finally reached the conclusion that selling the house was the right decision for me.
It might not be the decision that everyone makes (or should make), but it was the right one for me and there are a whole lot of good reasons why.
Simply because the whole process of selling the house, finding another place to live and all the packing and cleaning and moving brought me to the edge of my physical, emotional and mental limits. It was utterly exhausting and during the weeks of effort that felt similar to running a major marathon, the thought kept running through my head….
“Imagine if I was trying to do this in 5 or 10 years time?“ “Eeeeeek!!!“
As I write this I am 65 years young (not old at all 😋) but in 5 years time I’ll be over 70 and in 10 years…yes, OK, you can do the maths. Right now I am fit and healthy, but the sheer effort of packing and moving has left me so physically exhausted some days that I ached all over.
So YES, it was absolutely the right decision and I am grateful to little ol’ ME for making it, and not procrastinating and waiting until I’m really old! [pats herself on the back] 🤗
I’m always grateful for ‘lessons learned’ on my life journey as these don’t just help me in the future, but sometimes they help others too….which is why I share them.
Apparently, moving house is number 3 in the top 5 stressful life events. Losing a loved one is number 1 so rolling one into the other has gotta be right up there for major stress! (Number 2 is divorce by the way 😏)
Anyway, hindsight is a wonderful learning tool so here’s what I’m grateful to have learned along the way, and what I’ll be taking forward.
Click/tap on the headings below…..
I am normally a very independent person, but as my stress levels increased into the red zone I had to come to terms with the cold hard fact that I couldn’t do this alone.
At this point I need to mention that I have family who were planning on coming to help, but a virus called COVID-19 meant that they couldn’t come. It has a lot to answer for…grrrr….
I am so lucky to have wonderful friends though, who not only supported me, but actively worked alongside me to physically pack and move stuff.
They know who they are….and I am forever in debt to these wonderful, generous people. It taught me that it’s OK to be independent, but sometimes you have to say “yes please” when help is offered!
Once I made the decision to sell, I immediately began the (very painful) process of going through cupboards and working out what I was taking forward in my life, and what needed to be sold or given away.
As many of the items triggered memories of Norbert, it wasn’t easy or quick. I am so glad that I didn’t leave it all to the last moment though. By starting immediately I was able to give it the time it needed.
The other benefit was that this gave me spare space in cupboards so that I had room to temporarily stow items in order to de-clutter the house for the many Open Inspections.
What helped HUGELY was having an overlap of time between the house I was leaving…and the house I was moving into.
I am still in transition so only renting, but I took over the rental property a full 10 days before the house settlement, which gave me precious time to transport boxes and start the unpacking process before getting too overwhelmed with everything arriving at the same time.
Of course it helps a lot that my ‘new’ house and ‘old’ house were only 15 minutes away in distance, and this luxury might not be available for everyone. It made a massive difference for me though.
I began each day with a ‘talk to myself’ over my morning coffee. Yes…SERIOUSLY!
One of the advantages of living alone is that you can talk out loud to yourself, and nobody questions your sanity. 😅 I would first smile and congratulate myself on how well I was doing, always making special mention of times when I took care of myself eg accepting help.
Then I would set my ‘intentions for the day’ where I stated what I would like to achieve that day. This sounds like a simple ‘to do’ list but it isn’t as although sometimes it might be “I am going to box up one shelf in the bathroom“, sometimes it was “I am going to take the afternoon off and not feel guilty about it because I deserve a rest.”
But the biggie is…”What am I grateful for right now?”
It really helped me to stop focusing on my aches and anxieties, and realise that I have such a lot to be grateful for.
I’ve raved on a lot about self-care so I won’t bore you with all my opinions about how important it is. I guess what is worth mentioning though was that I tried to keep a focus on staying ‘tuned in’ to my mental state.
By that I mean I would figuratively ‘stand outside myself’, and do a mental stock-take. I would ask myself “How am I feeling? How is this affecting me? What do I need?”
I think by doing that regularly I was able to stay ahead of any mental health issues, and keep myself relatively sane. Well…as sane as is possible for me. [grin]
What do I mean by this? Well, while I have a Type-A personality that absolutely insists that life needs to be lived at 110%, I quickly realised that I needed to take the whole self-care thing to a much higher level and literally parent myself…look after myself….set myself limits and boundaries.
In the beginning I was drowning in boxes, packing and making the tearfully difficult decisions about what to give away or throw away.
On top of that I was dealing with the dictates of real estate agents, demands from prospective buyers, the needs of the volunteer group that depend on me….and what felt like a zillion other pressures.
In a word, I needed to get a lot better at saying “No”.
I wrote about this scary time in a post called When you want to run away. Those weeks taught me a lot about myself and specifically how to recognise when I’m out of control.
In the preceding weeks before ‘Moving Day’ I worked hard on maintaining a positive attitude and focusing on the future.
For example, while I was mowing the extensive lawns I’d say to myself “In 3 weeks time you won’t have to do this anymore. You’ll be able to just potter around with a little mower and have it finished in ten minutes flat.”
Or when I was head down in the skimmer box of my pool trying to fish out soggy leaves and yukky stuff, I’d say “Just imagine…in a very short time you will NEVER have to clean a pool ever again!”
Of course I’m only human so sometimes I failed miserably and started looking back at what I thought I was losing, but I forgave myself for that.
I kept telling myself “Don’t look backwards…you’re not going in that direction.“
As usual I’ve made this post waaaay too long. One day I’ll learn how to write more succinctly! Hmmm….nah….. [grin]
This morning I got up early and walked up the hill next to my new house so I could watch the sun come up over the ocean. OK, it’s only a rental property and I have yet to find my ‘forever home’, but you know what? I feel so lucky.
I’m only halfway through this journey of finding a new home but I’m grateful to have got where I am, and I’m sure the next move will be easier because I’ve learned so much about moving house…and about myself.
Have you experienced a similar move…or maybe you are contemplating it? Please tell me about it in the Comment box below. I’d love to hear from you. 💚
Marlene is an Australian widow who has written about all the good, bad and ugly stuff that happened after her husband Norbert died tragically. Marlene responds to all comments.
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