Monday, 11 February 2013

That weirdly familiar feeling....

Yesterday I took all Charlie's pictures off my kitchen wall - it was quite an eclectic montage he'd created over the years I must say.  From a poem about living in Scotland (I've framed that one and it's now in the bathroom), to abstract art from when we first moved here when he was 8 years old.  They included colourful felt pen drawings of his favourite sweetie, to skeletons and an impressionistic sketch of his favourite brother in law Ewen, he's the only brother in law, just in case you thought I was being hurtful to someone!
I took them down as I'm re-painting the kitchen walls. I say "I'm" it's actually happening while I'm away this week by my husband technically it's not me doing it at all, but I am doing the preparation!
A weird thing happened during this process.  I was piling things up, moving things out, taking framed pictures off the walls and moving them to the study out of the way.  Bit by bit, the more I cleared away the sadder I became.  Finally it was done. I went in again to check all the blu tac had come off the wall that had previously been Charlie's art gallery, and it hit me!
In 45 years of my life I have moved 27 times.  4 of them were in childhood and I was a baby for the first one. But, I've been involved in moving house from when I first left home as a teenager to adulthood, a total of 23 times.
All those moving house memories. Boxes.  Taking things from their comfortingly familiar setting, wrapping them in newspaper, packing them in a box, the sound of parcel tape being unravelled, the smell of the big black marker pen - scrawling a description that is meaningful to me but no-one else on the side of the box so I know which room in the next place I want the box deposited in.  I hated it.
During those 23 moves the longest I've stayed anywhere was 3 years. In June this year I'll have lived in this house for 5 years, and I love what's happening to me.  I bought the house in October 2007, and it took 9 months to renovate - so by June 2008 Charlie and I were delighted to retrieve our boxes, dust them off and unpack into a home that we'd watched become our own through the great work of the joiners, plumbers, plasterers, electricians, carpet fitters and painters.  I love that I know what all the creaks and noises mean in this house, where they come from and I'm reassured and comforted by them.  I love that I've been here so long my kitchen walls need re-painting!  I love that I know my neighbours and when the bins get collected.  I love that only last week the electrician knew where to find me as he remembered doing a previous job here after I first moved in in 2008.  
So, while I was taking Charlie's pictures off the walls and packing things away I experienced a chemical memory of previous emotional turmoil linked to moving house.  Those times, when often, with a heavy heart I'd either had to, or convinced myself I need to move on.  Thank goodness for the understanding I have of that now!  As I made supper this evening looking at the bare walls that are all ready for Andrew to get started on tomorrow I was reminded of a phrase I teach my clients.  I teach this to those who experience a negative, often anxiety based feeling when they're about to embark on something that is simply reminding them of a previous event, "This is a new and unique experience!" The music playing in the background may be the same, the kitchen may have that same echo that previous rooms have had when I've been about to move house, but this is a new and unique experience!  Then I will extend that by asking clients to do a reality check on the facts of this new and unique experience.  So, in my example, yes the walls are bare and I'm having to pack things up and move boxes into the study, but this is so I can have my kitchen decorated and make it lovely again - because this is my home - this is where I live.  By all means acknowledge and pay attention to feelings that come up during your day, but make sure you're not feeling sad / anxious / scared because the man you're speaking to happens to be wearing the same after shave as someone who hurt you in the past! Stay grounded and remind yourself that he is not that person, this is a new and unique experience! Start enjoy engaging fully with life - the life you're in NOW!
"You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present." - Jan Glidewell.
"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet." - James Openheim


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