Sunday, August 10, 2014

Don't Sit Still for too Long

Despite the number of times I have moved in the past three years - and it's been a lot of times - I have lived alone, supporting just myself & Miss Juno, since November, 2011. It's been me and her, with no one else to worry about, take care of, or rely on.

Don't get me wrong, I have had a ton of support. I have had to go back to my mom & dad's, I've rented from family, I've stayed at someone's house as a long-term house sitter, and I've lived on site at my properties at a discounted rate. I've needed help, and I've received it, for which I am truly grateful. I wouldn't be where I am today - standing on my own two feet, a nice place to call home, bills paid, money in the bank - had I not had all of those people to take care of me, without hesitation, three years ago.

When a woman finally leaves a man who has been abusing her for a long time, it usually happens fast, and the same was true for me. One day, I owned a house (I call it a house because it was certainly not a home), where I lived with my boyfriend, his daughter, his teenage brother, and our new cat. I was miserable, sad, and bitter. I had no money of my own, despite having a full time job. I rarely had enough gas in my car to go much further than my office. I rubbed pennies together to buy wedding gifts and worked overtime to pay for bridesmaid dresses. The money I did have, went to food for the cat or school clothes for the kiddo; it certainly wasn't going to dinners or drinks with friends. I had no means to take care of myself whatsoever, because when you're being abused, that's part of the game: don't give her the opportunity to get away. So that was one day. The next day, I was packing frantically, throwing things in boxes, tearing shelves from walls, shoving things into my car wherever they would fit. My dad was speeding to Vancouver with a trailer to pick up what wouldn't fit in my car. I was squeezing my cat into her crate and buckling her into the front seat. And before an 8 hour work day had passed for him, I was driving away, heart racing, head rushing, not looking back. And from my childhood bedroom at my parents' house, for the next six months, I continued to look forward, save money, and heal. 

And since then, I have lived by myself, just me and Juno, happy as can be. In control of my own space. Comfortable. In my apartment, no matter how many times I've moved, I've been the one hanging pictures where I want them, putting things away the way I want, moving furniture to the way I prefer. No one else's opinions mattered, no one else was telling me what to do, what to buy, how to decorate. Just me. My stuff. My money. My responsibility. My finances. My bills. 

I am afraid of losing control of my own life; this is a topic discussed frequently in therapy - the ways I can let people in and let people take care of me, without letting them take over my life. I don't need to lose all sense of myself in order to let someone in. I don't need to push with all my might to keep people an arm's length away. And I don't need to be alone to be in control.

Day two of facing my fears: I'm moving in with someone. A roommate, not a boyfriend, but still, with someone who I will need to share living space with. I am not moving off my property, I will still be living on site at the building I work at, because I like it here and it's home. But next week I am moving from my one bedroom into a two bedroom - ironically into the exact same two bedroom my best friend lived in just a couple months ago, where I stayed for a couple weeks last summer - where I will rent the second bedroom and bathroom (as well as half of our shared space) to a college girl I met through one of my residents. She's young, quiet, super responsible, and a total "good girl." We're not friends, we've only met a few times actually, and I think it'll be ideal that way - I didn't want to live with someone I'm super close with, with whom I'd be content to sit home on the couch with night after night. I didn't decide to get a roommate so I'd have someone to live with; I decided to get a roommate so I would have a ton of extra money.

I'm excited. But I was also scared. Scared of telling my family I was moving again. Scared of judgment. Scared of sharing bills. Scared of sharing space. Scared of someone else living in my place, someone who doesn't love Juno as much as I do, someone who doesn't watch the same shit television or drink the same smoothies I do. Just scared of relinquishing any level of control. I vented this fear to a friend, who reminded me that I'm not the same person I was three years ago, and that in no way does making a smart financial decision to save $750 every month mean I was losing any level of control. In fact, if anything, saving that much money on a monthly basis is going to give me more control - it will definitely give me more opportunity, more of a safety net, more chances to do what I want and try new things, more means to find things that make me happy. 

You should never let fear keep you from making decisions to do things different. Change is good. Change is healthy. Surrendering control is healthy, and it's what will make you happiest in the end. I'm not thrilled about living with a roommate, but while my friends are all teasing me about moving yet again, I'll be the girl with an extra $750 in my pocket every month, for the small price to pay of renting a room to a college student. Laughing my way to the bank. Because I decided not to be too scared to change my obsessive need for control of the 1,000 square feet I live in.