We moved constantly when I was growing up. My parents had a habit of giving away all of our furniture and just striking out for greener pasture at the drop of a hat. I owned very little that was mine, and even fewer things that could be taken each move. I was determined to own my own home “when I grew up.” I wanted roots, permanence and stability. I wanted something that couldn’t be taken away. I wanted something that was mine.

It may be no coincidence that I  married a carpenter. I designed my home on graph paper, and my husband built it. It was a simple house, but it was mine. Every square foot of that house was used and loved. My children spent their childhoods there, the yard hosted forts and tents and the most magnificent treehouse. I healed there, where I felt safe and secure. I adored that house more than is probably rational. It was a loving home, and I was so proud of it.

Things here have been so complicated lately. My sister couldn’t live alone, nor could my mom. I originally moved everyone into my house, but managing their houses on top of my own, and living in far too small a space for so many people really took a toll on all of us. And on my house. It was meant to be a temporary situation, but as these things do, it became more long term and I had to face the fact that my home just wasn’t practical. It made better sense to move us all to my mother’s house.

And so my house sat empty for a while. We tried to rent it, and then, with heavy hearts, we tried to sell it. The burdens of the mortgage and the upkeep were as heavy as the weight on my heart. Moving into my mother’s house was the last thing I wanted to do, losing my own home because of it felt like … well, it felt like hell. I’m bitter. I feel as if my mother has again taken away my stability, even though it was (and has always been) my choice to care for her, for my sister, for my family. The irony of my losing my beloved stability in order to provide the same for them is not lost on me.

As of  last week, my house was gone for good. I no longer own a home. I no longer have my own space. I am heartbroken.

Every step I’ve taken has been by choice. I realize this. But we can so rarely see very far ahead when we’re taking these steps; there are so many curves and obstacles in the way to make our vision short. I had no idea that the emergent situations I stepped in to deal with would lead to this. I try not to wonder if I would have still done the same, had I known. I’d like to think that I would, that caring for my family would be more important than even a house. But I can’t say with certainty that I would have.

I still have my house key on my keychain.

I can’t decide if it would hurt more to toss it, or to keep it.

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16 thoughts on “Burdens

  1. Oh, Whiskey, I’m so sorry. Caregiving is like quicksand. You step in with the best of intentions to help others without realizing how much of yourself is going to sink into the muck before it’s all over.

    Carry the key as long as you need. It’s a loss you’re mourning, and you deserve to have as much time as necessary to do it.

  2. Keep the key…..holding onto a memory…isn’t wrong and it will always remind you that with love, hope, and determination anything is possible. You will have a safe haven again one day…

  3. Having lost a much loved home due to other reasons, I understand how deep the pain of letting go of it can be. I would drive by that house for many months, getting annoyed at the changes the new owners were making. Time eventually did it’s healing thing and I began to let it go, knowing I was creating new memories elsewhere and one day, I’d have another home to call my own. And I have one now which feels more suited for me than the much loved other one ever did. A happy surprise.

    Perhaps houses are like lovers; you aren’t necessarily destined to love just one. You can keep the memories of those that have drifted from your life in whatever fashion suits you best; be it a box of trinkets, photographs,a key to the heart or the one to the front door. I have the key to my old home too; in a drawer in my bedroom dresser, I just don’t have the need to look at it anymore.

  4. What I do with things like that key is to keep it, but not on my active key ring. On my ring of memories in my nightstand beside my bed. Where the wedding ring from my former marriage is also attached, instead of being on my finger. You don’t need to get rid of it, but you don’t need constant reminders either. Keep it until it doesn’t hurt to not keep it anymore.

  5. Dear Whiskey,
    I’ve been in a comparable situation. Took care of my folks for, what turned out to be, a long time and when it was concluded, had lost the best part of my life and gotten aged…
    So what’s the consolation? (and I’m still coming to terms with that myself) That you did what had to be done. That you were a real human, a Mensch’ (as they say in Jiddish). That you where there to serve, the highest good one can do. Good karma on your soul, there was no choice for you. You did all the right things. New houses on the horizon… In the long term the fulfillment is worth the dues…

  6. I’ve also been struggling recently with both the experience of loss and the visceral realization that everything I love will eventually be either surrendered or taken away. Sometimes without warning. Sometimes at the end of a long, hard road. My pull is to intellectually make peace with such thoughts and then distract myself. Hence my recent focus on parody. But there’s no avoiding the type of process that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross describes in her Five Stages of Grief. It’s hard. It sucks. You’re not alone. Thanks for sharing your story to let us know that we’re not alone. We’ll make it through.

  7. I read this at work and now I am making a fool out of myself sitting and crying with empathy. Apart from wanting to offer words of comfort that coming from a total stranger like me, most likely will not help, I want to say you are such a talented writer. Outstanding.

    I rarely read blogs and even more rarely I post comment. I have just a handful I found interesting and worth the time. This is one of the ones I always come back to and follow with interest. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

  8. This brought tears to my eyes too, I’ve been here more than once. In fact, after the house I grew up in was levelled (we sold it after my grandfather passed away; they knocked it down to build two in it’s place), I didn’t want to buy a home of my own. It was a trap, I thought, and then I ended up loving it. And when I had to sell that after the divorce, I felt that loss again. But I fucked off to Scotland, so that helped…

    I know it won’t be the last time I feel that kind of loss either – I have rented the past 6 years, but the space feels very much mine, and I may have to leave it in the not-too-distant future. But now I do my best to make what space I can my own. I hope you can find some little nook to make yours until you find your next home. And you will.

    Tuck the key away when you are ready, and take it out later when some of the pain has faded, and it can be a symbol of hope. And thank you for sharing this.

  9. Ouch, rough. I don’t honestly know what else to say. I’ve lost my own home within the year, so this really does speak to me.
    Hang in there, I guess, is the best thing I can come up with saying.

  10. I am constantly shocked that you and I lead such parallel lives, I have been in the same situation for almost two years now and I too find myself resentful at times. Luckily I can rent my home for bits and pieces and go home for “sanity breaks” but still, I know what you feel, we make the choice, we at times are angered by the choice we make, then we feel guilty for being resentful. If you ever just want to talk Whiskey, I am here and inworld, FB and yahoo mail, I am here and I have really big ears and a soft heart. Happy weekend to you <3

  11. Even though I’ve only now decided to reply, I want you to know I understand perfectly whell what this is all like. Hang in there and keep fighting. Fighting to stay alive and sane is all we’ve got left after our “leaders” sold us off to the banksters.

  12. I’ve rented all my life and, although trained as an architect, I know I will never own my own home in this life. It’s tough. Not sure if it is “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved” … some things are just not in our path in this life.
    For you, and all those who relate strongly to what you write, the changing path brings loss …we must also, though, live in hope that gifts are sometimes disguised as loss.
    I’ve lost all my ‘keys’ over the years … that’s OK too.

    There is a spirituality in ‘homelessness’ as many of the wise have testified over the years, but it is a hard burden.

Talk to me, people.

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