There are always things to purchase when you move into a new home. The curtains from the old place don't work, the shower caddy from the other house didn't fit the new shower correctly, the laundry area has no place to store the detergent, etc. Of all the practical things I needed, one of my first purchases for my new home was this door mat. I looked at some pretty sweet styles, brightly colored, seasonal, funny sayings, but the one that made my heart leap was this one that simply said "home sweet home".
God I hope this fortune cookie prediction is true.
In spite of all the helpers and love and support I've received, this move has been really hard. The day after moving day, my oldest daughter and her little family came to help me unpack. Her first words still ring in my ears, "Mom, just remember, there is no deadline for unpacking. Take all the time you need."
Wise words but hard to heed when there is so much to do. I've been plugging away each day unpacking boxes and trying to decide what goes where. The process takes extra time because each item has to be cleaned before it can be put away to ensure that absolutely no mold spores from the old house make their way into the new one.
I've spent a small fortune on special cleaners and enzymes. If it is made of fabric, it goes in the wash with special detergent and an additive designed to kill mold and mycotoxins. If it is a hard surface, it gets sprayed and wiped clean with a special surface cleaner. There is special dishwasher detergent for all things kitcheny. And if it can't be cleaned with any of these methods, it either gets sprayed with a special enzyme that eats mold mycotoxins, or it gets thrown away.
Each and every item that is part of a household, no matter how tiny or seemingly insignificant - makeup and hair products, nail clippers, chotskies, magazines, office organizers, clothing, bedding, each thing that I unpack, utilitarian or decorative. It all has to be cleaned before I can decide where it goes in the new place.
I've become somewhat obsessive with the cleaning, also with the arranging of my things.
In the midst of it, I realized I am nesting. Building my sanctuary. A place where I am safe and can begin to heal. To care for myself as if I really do matter. Not that I have flat out ignored my health in the past, but it was always treated like a nuisance, something I had to endure on my own without much complaint, and maybe with a small dose of shame. Okay, a pretty hefty dose of shame.
I've had something of an awakening about how I've treated myself in the past. How I've acted without mercy and without compassion towards myself for not being able to do everything. All the time. On all the days. Perfectly.
Not to say that suddenly I'm so enlightened that I'm never mean to myself anymore, but that this awakening keeps presenting itself to me as a challenge. Will you heed to your own needs today? Will you treat yourself as kindly as you would a friend, family member, or even a stranger? If I spend a few extra dollars on something pretty for my home, I'm allowing the voices that get excited for it to be the ones that prevail, while reassuring those frantic guilty voices that it's going to be okay. That creating this safe harbor and making it as comforting and comfortable to live in as possible is okay.
My present plans include being in this one place for many years to come. To dig in my roots in this one place. To focus on caring for myself like never before. To write and to read and to live and breathe and heal. To find peace in my home. My own safe harbor.
God these are the plans I bring to you. Will you bless them? Will I?
Even with this new awakening to the call to be kind to myself, I find I am still acting out in my old behavior patterns some days. I woke yesterday exhausted and feeling a rise in my symptoms. I had to reschedule a hair appointment and canceled my weekly play date with my granddaughter. Yet, I couldn't let myself rest like I intended. I started to feel a tiny bit better midday and decided it was okay to do a few errands.
I blame this medicine.
It's been something of a godsend after the mastocytosis diagnosis. I couldn't tolerate it at first, but the mast cell doctor had me try again by rubbing small doses of it onto my gums. It has been helping to calm my system and allowing me to eat certain foods again. I've had some pretty good days since I started using it. My energy levels have improved and I started to have more hope for a better future. For the first time in months, the stabbing pain in my gut was gone and the whole body migraine finally broke.
When that pain cycle finally released me from it's grip, it was startling. I hadn't fully grasped the severity of it until it eased.
And then the move and all the activity involved. And then the nesting. And then little by little, I let myself forget how bad it was. And little by little those old behavior patterns started to creep back in.
Activity is both a necessary part of life, and my kryptonite.
Overfunctioning is my go to dysfunctional behavior pattern. One that goes back so far in my personal history that it is perversely comforting. I can operate under the delusion that doing all the things I do, doing them well, and doing them all RIGHT NOW, are saving me from complete disaster pretty damned convincingly. I tend to slip into doing things in a frantic zombie-like state in an effort to prevent all disasters from happening to me ever again rather easily. Dysfunctional behavior patterns are a part of most of our lives. If you're human and you've got a past of any sort, you've developed your own ways to help you cope with the uncertainties of life.
My wiring as a highly sensitive, intuitive person tends to make me keenly aware of all the things that can go wrong at any given point. My inner fear driven voice tells me that danger is lurking around every corner and that the only way to stay safe is to control the circumstances with activity. What looks like danger to me doesn't necessarily look like danger to you, and vice versa.
Recently the dangers I've been trying to ward off with my zombie level activities have been centered around finances and the ever-present fear of what other people will think of me.
There have been a lot of necessary expenditures hitting my bank account. I'm careful about it, but some of those expenses are fairly big - a moving truck, moving helpers, the aforementioned special cleaning products, deposit monies on a new home, new utility connections. As the bank balance decreases, my anxiety increases, and I start feeling panicked that I'm not bringing any income in during this transition. Instead of doing any self-soothing, or asking for help, I start ramping up the activity in an effort to get it all done faster so I can get back to work sooner.
Zombie control says if I'm productive enough I won't lose everything I've worked for. Zombie brain agrees that it will be my fault if anything bad happens to me again.
At the same time, I've been learning about self care and how important it is to give myself this place to rest and rejuvenate. I'm learning about healthier behavior patterns centered around including my well being in the equation. If I have any hope of making the transition to creating online coursework to replace the workshops I've been teaching as a source of income, if I have any hope of giving myself a life that doesn't revolve around panic driven anxiety and chronic illness, I need to change the behavior patterns and thoughts that drive me.
I need to listen to what my body has to say. I need to take this most seriously.
I'm giving myself permission to make this nest cozy, and pretty, and restful. Not going crazy with it, but adding small touches that make me feel good. I'm choosing a color pallet of soft blushy hues and adding small feminine touches. Even though the new place is still quite chaotic with all the half emptied boxes, and things I don't know where to put yet covering most of the surfaces, there are little sweet spots starting to take shape. I can sit in these sweet spots and relax, and I catch myself feeling happy.
Like really, really happy.
And then I start feeling guilty that I bought that rug when the money could have paid for a tank of gas to get me to work. The accusing voice in my head starts telling me that people will regret helping me because I'm frivolous and took them for granted. The "what will people think" voice starts freaking out about the calm. I can't sit in the sweet spot too long, I have to get up and prove my worth with extra busyness.
And zombie brained extra busyness is what brought me here today. Sitting in bed at 2 in the afternoon with a heating pad soothing the stabbing pain in my gut after a night spent in a full on flare up of masto symptoms. It was not pretty. Or restful. Or clean. To say the least. And the rest I am getting today was forced on me by a body that gave out in protest.
But you know what? I've decided I'm not going to beat myself up for backsliding. I'm not going to agree with the false belief that this is evidence of my inability to change. Because change doesn't look like a straight line trajectory. It isn't a happy little hop and a skip and a jump from A-Z. Change is a steady progression over time and it can be messy.
There are good days. There are really, really happy days. And there are days when you sit in bed with a heating pad reflecting on it all. To quote Jane the Virgin- It's not about the day, it's about the pattern.
And I know my patterns are starting to change.