House Therapy: Chapter One
This afternoon I’m sitting, feet up and tucked under a white, down blanket, in one of my most-favorite spots in the whole world. I’ve settled in at one end of a Mid-Century style couch that’s dressed in a mellow Scandinavian-blue fabric and pushed up next to a picture window. Through the glass, I can peek through pine trees to see my beloved high-country lake ringed by mountains. It is full-on cozy with a view.
I, in fact, specifically designed this spot to be exactly that: a place that allows our guests (and me) to be able to curl up against a comfy, pillowed backrest, gaze at something awe-inspiring, and find tranquility.
But …. I’m getting ahead of myself.
I greet the lake from this nest each morning, with my coffee. “Good Morning, Lake!” Sometimes early, there’s a smoky mist rising from the water. Right now, though, the sky is clear above with signs of magic light arriving, the bright light softening as an early-November sun begins to set.
Two weeks ago, I didn’t know if I’d ever sit in this spot again, and so I sit here now with constant thoughts of gratitude, pinching myself (figuratively) to make sure this is all real, and wrestling with a déjà vu of survivor’s guilt that I am still here.
I struggled with that sensation two years ago. Now this house, which has become an extension of me in the two years since that time, has survived as I did after a great threat. And I feel – in addition to immense relief – a pain in my heart that is something akin to guilt, as I witness major loss around me.
There is so much pain in our state and country right now, as well as a feeling of overwhelm this week with the election and rising COVID numbers. I don’t have the head space for deep emotional examination of pain and loss right now, and it’s probably the same for many of you reading this. I’m tired. So I’ll just simply connect the dots by saying there was a massive wildfire, and we were spared.
Instead I want to tell you about something that makes me smile, and has helped me find peace. It’s a story about creating and healing.
I want to tell you about this house I’m able to reside in still and how it came to be.
My husband and I birthed this house in the first half of 2019, during the same timeframe as the court process for my case.
A few months after I was assaulted in 2018, John came to me and proposed we finally buy a mountain property, something he had always been itching to do: to have a retreat we could both use and rent out, to be closer to cross-country ski venues in the winter, and to create a family legacy we could pass down.
To be honest, buying a second home had always been something I was reluctant to do. I had felt like it would be “another thing” to manage in our hectic lives and that we would then stop travelling to other places. So when he brought it up again, just a short way into my recovery, I thought he was insane, and I pushed back, letting him know I just didn’t think I had the mental energy for a house project. I didn’t think I could handle one more thing “to do” in my life. Recovery, by itself, was a full-time job.
But then after I reacted, I did what I always do and sat back and privately chewed on the idea.
I pushed aside my gut reaction and thought about it from a “wait a second –this is a new normal” perspective. I was in my early 50s, already in mid-life, and had just survived a big threat.
Suddenly, I felt my mortality. …. And John’s. And, yep, our mortality together as a couple. And then my regret ethic worked its way into my idea-chewing.
I have this thing about not having regrets. It’s a pretty strong personal philosophy, and I’ll do some really hard things just so I won’t have to live with regret. And I don’t want John to have any regrets either because I love him.
Having a cabin or a house in the mountains was his dream. Who was I to say no to his dream? And with all seriousness, I thought:
Time isn’t going to last forever.
So I acquiesced. I took a leap of faith that we could do it together.
I said, “Yes.”
And I will always be happy I agreed to the project that day and trusted in myself. And in Us.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of House Therapy.