I’m very comfortable in my new home. Notice I didn’t refer to it as my new place. This is because I’ve taken the time, spent the money and made the effort to make it feel like a home, my home. It’s something I admired and envied about my friends’ homes over the years, but never bothered to do for my own. When I walk in my back door after a day at work, I really see my home and I feel at peace. I love the fact that I have a ground floor apartment with a front AND back door. Easy access too, no security gates to hassle with when friends want to come by.
Let’s back up a little. Before I moved to this new home I lived in a 90-unit apartment complex with security gates for cars and foot traffic. You had to use a key to get in and OUT of the security gates for foot traffic, which was inconvenient. Plus no guest parking inside the complex parking lot. Trust me it was a huge pain in the ass when out of town family came to visit and stay overnight. I lived in that complex for nearly 14 years in 3 different upstairs apartments. When I first moved to this small mountain valley town I was a single mother with three children aged 14, 12 and 7. The safety factor was a plus but I also isolated and lived a very withdrawn, secluded life. I was friendly and outgoing at work, but I was still a pretty negative person. I had not allowed myself to become connected with the 12 step community yet. My meeting attendance was sporadic at best, so I got to know a few faces and people over the first four or five years. Yet I never wanted anyone to come to my place to see where I lived. In fact, I’d been with my spiritual advisor at the time for six years before she was invited to my apartment. Only after she realized she’d never been to my place and kept pressuring me, gently but firmly. She lived here too. My kids and I always went to her house for holidays and special occasions. Her house which was really beautiful and very well decorated. It took me nearly a year to unpack most of my moving boxes and I was never a good housekeeper, so my place was almost always disorganized, cluttered and dirty.
Living inside that complex was both a cocoon and a cage of my own making. When I’d come home from work with fast food for dinner most nights, I barely looked at where I lived. I couldn’t stand to. I would spend evenings on the couch zoning out on television or have my nose in a romance book. I almost never let the kids have friends over to play, and they knew better than to ask if any could spend the night. It was all I could do working full time, still in the early years of recovery/sobriety, raising three children. I knew I was not doing it well, but it was the best I was capable of. I could barely stand myself, so I truly believed no one else would if they really got to know me, deep down where I lived. I went in and out of depressive, isolative states over those first four of five years. Always running back to the 12 step community when “my ass was falling off”. About nine years ago, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired- in sobriety no less. I went to a Sunday morning meeting in the park and fell apart one more time, or really, one last time. My spiritual advisor was there and gave me some very sound advice, which I was willing to follow wholeheartedly.
I stayed connected to my 12 step community this time. They are my spiritual kin. It was through them and strengthening a conscious contact with God that helped me grow. It helped me develop the courage to slowly, oh so slowly, begin to look at myself. Just myself at this point. I had moved to another apartment across the hall about three years earlier. I did a little bit with the place, not much. The television, cable, and the internet were hooked up. My books were unpacked on a few bookshelves in the dining room area. That was the place where my spiritual advisor got an invitation to dinner. I made spaghetti and cornbread because she had never heard of that combination and insisted she wanted me to fix it for her. She obviously was not Southern or African-American. It was a start, this having others, personal friends in my place where I lived. She loved the dinner and said she like my place.
My third and final place in that complex was on the other side of the complex. It was an exact mirror of my old place, but it had been modernized with faux granite counter tops, popcorn ceiling removed, new linoleum on the kitchen and bathroom floors. A new start of sorts as I’d been in the old place about nine years and it was pretty thrashed. Over time and shortly before that move, about eight of my spiritual kin had moved into the complex. I was close to a few of them and I had to get comfortable with friends that had access to me because they were INSIDE my cocoon/cage! That was an adjustment, but not nearly as much of one as I thought. I started to allow Baby Bub to have friends come over and spend the night, as long as we had the place cleaned up. I was still doing my television vegging or book oblivion because I still wasn’t happy with where I lived.
The thing with spiritual and emotional growth is that even when it feels like your stuck or not making progress, you actually are. Like a cocoon, a lot of the work is going on inside, where the world or you can’t see if you’re not willing to look. My avoidance of looking at the place where I lived was actually a Divine Dissatisfaction with how I lived at the time. Through a therapist I started working with nearly 2 years ago and my 12 step work, I finally got to a place where I was brave enough to be honest about how I lived, where I lived and started to do something about it. When my old complex sent a notice in May of this year that they were raising the rent once again, I’d had enough. I reached out to a dear friend, who literally helped me find a place on Craigslist that same evening. I contacted them, arranged to see the apartment, completed a rental application and had the place within three days. It’s a small 5-unit complex with no security gates, on the ground floor. I have no need for a cocoon or a cage anymore! It has an open concept kitchen with front and back door access to the apartment, with a huge front patio that runs the length of the living room and my bedroom! I had a TON of help from friends at every stage of the move from packing, moving, unpacking and shopping for decorations. My home came together within the first six weeks.
I’ve had drop-ins from close friends since I’ve been here and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each visit. I’ve had Dawny over for dinner a few times and I even hosted a Pampered Chef party! Really all of this is possible because I learned to love where I live, inside my spirit and by extension in my own skin. From that love, I have the willingness and energy to create an outward manifestation of it in my home. I have plans to continue manifesting this in other areas of my life. Stay tuned…