Friday, January 4, 2013

Betty's Year in Review: Part Two



2012 was the year I renovated my house.

Oh. My. Gosh. 

I had not planned to do it.

It all started with what I supposed would be a small job of fixing a spot on the ceiling of one of the bedrooms.   It ended with the total gutting of the house. 

It was a massive undertaking and one that just kept growing and growing. All my earthly goods were moved to the garage.  The inside of my house was systematically destroyed. I stayed at the house as long as I could, sleeping on an old twin mattress in a small back room. Men arrived to carry out sinks, bathtubs and toilets.  During the asbestos removal, I had to move the cats and Evan into a hotel for two nights.   



Later, I had to move out completely, moving my beloved cats to the garage and leaving my door unlocked for the parade of workmen.  Every day I came to the house, crawled over the piles of things in the garage, found the small working refrigerator, made myself a sandwich and sat there, listening to the sounds of machines in the house, smelling the paint, soothing the freaked-out cats, praying that I was not making any major mistakes.



It was crazy I suppose to do all of this right after my divorce.  My world was still upside down.  My life was chaotic and now I was adding this stressful process to the mix?  Really?  There were many times when I broke down completely.  I was not used to making decisions on my own.  I doubted myself.  I kept signing scary-looking contracts with large numbers on the bottom lines.  I was scared I was making all the wrong moves, that I was getting taken advantage of.  What was I doing anyway?  

Several times, I just sank down there in the dark garage, between two dressers and under a mattress piled atop them and cried. 

Every time I thought things were hopeless though, some light shone through.  

Through all the dust and violence of the demotion I would see a glimmer of what my house would be some day.  My ceiling was swept free of the asbestos and soon a smooth surface appeared.  Before I had no ceiling lights and then one day I had them.  I remember the first time I flipped on the switch and the room was flooded with light.  New interior doors appeared, new windows, new plantation shutters.  New smooth floors were installed.  New bathtubs and new showers were installed.  It happened so slowly, but it DID happen.  


When at last the furniture was moved in and the last workman left, I did a little jig and looked around at MY house.  Yahoo!

It WAS crazy to do it when I did it, but maybe crazy was just what I needed at that time.  Maybe I needed the symbolism of the renovation more than I actually needed the renovation.  In the cleaning out of my house, I found I had to sort through endless material items that represented our marriage.  I had to decide what to get rid of and what to keep.  There was no shoving things back in a closet to sort though another day.  It was time to make decisions, time to get rid of things.  I had no room for things that didn’t work in my life anymore. 



Destruction, despair, rebuilding, catching glimpses of what life would eventually be like.  The parallels to the renovation and the process of healing from divorce are obvious and wonderful. 

During the divorce, I thought about selling this house.  Many people said I should.  It would be a new start, a chance to begin again without the memories associated.  The house is too big, I would be living alone in it, and the yard would take work.  

There were lots of sound reasons to move, to leave, cut my losses and let someone else deal with all the work that needed to be done.  However, there was something inside me that just needed to keep the house.  Even though both of my wonderful sons gave me full permission to sell the house, I knew I didn’t want to.  

You see, to me, this house is more than just real estate.  It is my home and my children’s home.  

This Christmas when they came back from their colleges, when their friends from high school dropped by, when we sat on the front porch, when we had the Christmas tree in the same place we always did, I knew I had made the right decision.   

They were not coming to Mom’s house.  They were coming home.  

The outside looked just the same.  The layout of the inside was the same dependable floor plan, but there were improvements, some predictable and some surprising throughout.  

Maybe, just maybe, they found the same was true of good ol' Mom too.  


26 comments:

Shelly said...

Such a lovely parallel. And you, too, are swept clean, just as your home was from asbestos. Viva la new beginnings~

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think it probably did you some good to renew the house. It probably renewed you.

Along These Lines ..... said...

Asbestos and a crummy spouse - sounds like you're lucky to be rid of both. Have a Happier New Year.

Leah J. Utas said...

The renos were in and out and it was clearly good.

ellen abbott said...

Well, I totally understand why you jumped into the renovation during your divorce. it's a small parallel, but I went through something similar. I had a group of friends, good, best friends, or so I thought. but there were times when I didn't 'go along' with whatever the group song was at the time. One day I basically found myself shunned. No one would talk to me, answer my calls, explain to me why I was getting frozen out. finally one guy took my call and boy did I get an earful, a long list of grievances. I was shocked to say the least. then I got a letter from the woman I had thought was my best friend. I didn't open it for a very long time as I figured it was more of the same. I went through my house and got rid of every photo, note, small gift or memento, everything that had any attachment to any of those people. I sent back some things that I thought had value to the giver. some things I threw away, some things I gave away. but in the end, my house was purged of anything that would remind me of them. when I finally felt in a safe enough place I opened the letter and it was as I expected, a list of grievances and also I was told to never try to call or contact her again. wow. all those terrible things I had done? stupid petty things. I could just as easily have come up with a list of grievances just like it for each one of them. the funny thing is, after about 10 years, she contacted me via FB acting all friendly like none of that had happened. I don't carry a grudge, I do feel I am better off without those people and the whole group had disintegrated shortly thereafter but I had no desire to pick up any relationship with her. fool me once...shame on you. wasn't going to get fooled again.

Pearl said...

The house, while perfectly solid, was the perfect metaphor for your life at the time. We are so proud of you, Betty. What a year it's been!

Hugs.

Pearl

Furry Bottoms said...

Aw, Betty!! I can see what you're saying about having to sort through things as a cleansing process of the renovation, but of the life you shared with the ex as well. And I am glad you kept the house too!

Alison said...

Crazy? Maybe, but you do Crazy well. ;)

Madi and Mom said...

Morning BB...
Mom and I are caught up on part I and II. We know you are an English teacher but each time we read your blog we reminded of just how good a teacher you MUST BE and we say TELL your STUDENTS we said so.

Your home has been renewed just like your spirit...w/o losing one iota of the BB we know.
Hugs all around to you and the resident Divas.
Madi and Mom

Cranberry Morning said...

I'm glad you kept your house, a bit of stability during a storm. I think that was a smart move - and renovating it was also smart. It looks lovely. Always more fun looking at it finished than the process of renovating, isn't it! We've done that a number of times, and actually, the house is ready for an update. All the best in 2013.

jenny_o said...

Ahhhh, nicely done - both the reno and the story of it :) Your home is beautiful, and so are you, my friend.

Ms. A said...

A renewal of the house AND you, and the knowledge you can survive anything! The value of that is priceless.

Daisy said...

It looks beautiful! New beginnings for both you and your house--seems appropriate to me.

Pat said...

The house looks great! Remodeling the house was a lot like going through a divorce. Messy, expensive, tearing down the old and rebuilding new. And in the end, it was ALL worth it!

Mamma has spoken said...

Great paralleled between your life and the remodeling of the house. And in the end, you both look marvelous!

Dreamfarm Girl said...

I love the light in your house. (That can be a metaphor if you like.) Here's to a well-lived 2013!

Out on the prairie said...

During one remodel I lived in my backyard in a tent, with a TV dresser and queen size bed. A home is hard to give up, but I have had 8.

Peggy K said...

I'm delighted you took on this huge project when you did. This was exactly what you needed to do. And I love the results, both with the house and in your life!! A good choice, BB!!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I really believe home is where the 'mom' is. Your home is lovely.

Anne Gallagher said...

You said it all. They were coming home.

I'm so very proud of you. Amidst all your chaos and heartbreak of the past year, you stuck to your guns and kept your children in the forefront of your own heart. You are a very brave woman, Betty.

Here's to you and 2013! Shine on!! Your light is very bright these days.

CiCi said...

You have lived through pain and you have grown as a woman and made decisions such as the house renovation. You will never be the same. You are a better person and have a new strength. New wisdom. Congratulations to you. Enjoy your new life.

Lin said...

I'm not sure there is ever a good time for a renovation of that magnitude. But, I'm glad you did it when you did, cleaned out the bad vibes and the sad feelings, and made it a happy new place to be. It looks lovely!

I'll bet your boys are glad you saved their home. :)

Domestic Bella said...

Your house is beautiful. I respect your bravery in turning it all upside down. Now you get to enjoy a house that holds so many wonderful memories after having also making it your very own. Way to go, BB!

Pat Tillett said...

It totally makes sense to me. In fact, I'd say it was all a pretty good metaphor for your recent life.

Retired English Teacher said...

What an undertaking! I am proud of you. You did the right thing.

Baby Sister said...

I think it was good that you made the changes when you did, and that you didn't sell the house. You were able to keep the happy memories of you and your sons, and still have a fresh look that didn't necessarily remind you of all of the painful memories. And I think making the renovations when you did helped you handle what was happening with your marriage also.
Anyway, that's just my two cents. :)