Friday, 15 August 2014

#24 Seeking Home

It came to my mind as I was writing this; going back to the beginning, that I have moved an incredible number of times. From the time I was divorced, twenty-seven years ago, until now, I relocated twelve times. That averages a little more than 2 years at each location. Some of those moves were justified, many were not.

The first move was from the house we shared in the country to my own place in town. I liked that little semidetached house, had enjoyed picking out my cupboards, counters and carpets, as the house was new. The kids had their bedrooms on the lower level with a bathroom/laundry and a family room. The school was just down the street. I was working part time, and with some extra shifts here and there, I could manage financially. Reality hit when I broke a bone in my foot and realized, no work, no pay. As soon as I could get my swollen foot back into my duty shoe I was back to work. The next year I hurt my back and I knew I needed a new job, with no heavy lifting, benefits and full time hours. That need became even more urgent when I was laid off.

The next move was out of necessity, when we moved to the city for my employment.

But once in Toronto I moved another four times. Why? We had moved into a duplex apartment, then into the townhouse complex where my mother lived. Once there I moved from one townhouse to another, can’t remember why. After Mom died and my son moved to his Dad’s, I bought a condo for my daughter and me. A lot of moves, but in my own defence, the kids were in the same neighbourhood and never had to change schools. When his Dad divorced for the 2nd time I thought my son might move back to the city and moved again to a townhouse where there would be room for him. It was maybe some wishful thinking on my part, for I missed him terribly. Deep in my heart I knew it was not going to happen, but I moved anyway, just in case.

In retrospect, I can see these moves as examples of poor judgement in my thinking. If I’d been close to someone, a friend or family, would they have seen this faulty thinking and helped before I really messed up? I don’t know. I was functioning at work, excelling really because I gave it all my energy. Mistakes were made…stupidity on my part or the disease making subtle changes in my personality, my thinking and responses?

During that time I lost both my parents, had a major depressive episode and faced the beginning of my health issues. I can see now how truly lost I was. But I was so involved in my job and the challenge of raising teenagers that I couldn’t see beyond that to anything else. These were difficult years, with overwhelming stress, and experiences best left to the past.

And then I took that job out of the city, another move for good reason, or so it seemed at the time. The stress of everything associated with the move and the job brought about the end of a thirty year career, and put me on disability. Leaving that city was for my own peace of mind, the need to escape a bad experience. I was on disability and needed the fresh start away from the pain of that lost identity. I needed to find my way to who I was…’disabled’.

After that, the many moves were for emotional reasons, trying to find my place, that place where I could feel at home. I moved looking for something that can’t be found in bricks and stone, but had to be found from within. I recognized that, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to seek out that sense of belonging.

I don’t mean to sound like living alone was part of the cause. I'm not one of those women who need a man to feel complete. I like being alone, I like my solitary pursuits and the freedom to do what I want when I want. There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely.

It’s because I have always been a loner, that I don't let people close, don't trust them to be there in the long run, that I feel so lost. If you don’t let people close to you, what can you expect but to feel alone? I needed to find that connection, that sense of community.

One of my last moves was to an apartment in town and I actually stayed there for six years. I found a community in that building. Many of my neighbours were older, some married, some not. I made friends, had people who looked out for me, and for the first time in a long time I didn’t feel lonely. There can be nothing more comforting than to walk down the hall to share a cup of tea with a friend when you feel the need of some company.

The reason I moved again was strictly financial. I’m very close to retirement age and needed to find housing that was more affordable for the future. I moved here last summer; to what you would call a senior’s complex. Each building is made up of four units, for a total of 64 units. The space may be small but I have a front and back door, a small patio and neighbours who are close, across the path if not down the hall.

If not for my recent relapse, it would have been ideal.

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