This blog was started a year ago in the weeks after we lost our house. It was one of the most devastating experiences of my life.
One minute I was a home owner….
And in the next the bank was changing the locks.
We didn’t even have time to get everything out of the house. The court made the order to repossess just a few days before Christmas and we decided to spend the holiday celebrating with our kids rather than packing.
Most folks would say that loosing your home has to be one of the Most Terrible Things Ever. And it’s true. When the bank forecloses on your house, you feel like shit. To deny that would be a lie.
But here’s the thing – it’s not at bad as you think.
And in some ways, it’s a gift. At least it was for me.
We were driving through a quaint Welsh village (Betws-y-Coed, since you asked), just getting ready to sling-shot free of civilization and head for the pass at Mount Snowdon, when my husband showed me an email.
We’d been waiting to receive our security deposit back from a short-term vacation rental. The email was from the “letting” agency informing us on a “without prejudice” basis that the owner had discovered blue crayon on a wall in the property and since he had been unsuccessful in removing the crayon, he was keeping the deposit in order to repaint the room.
Because you need to repaint an entire room when you are touching up some blue crayon.
I was blinded by anger. My face became hot, and my blood pressure soared as my stomach dropped. I raged against the injustice.
You see, my youngest boys – who, at 2 and 3 years old are the only ones who still consider colouring fun, and colouring walls exceedingly so – do not have any crayons, blue or otherwise.
Not only that, but my husband and I went over that cottage with a fine tooth comb before we left, cleaning it as if Jesus himself was going to be the next guest there. There was no blue crayon marks. Not one. Anywhere.
The guy was lying and it sent me into a mental tailspin. I was overwhelmed by fantasies of revenge. I mentally composed my negative review for Tripadvisor (take that!), drafted my arguments for small claims court, and imagined an internet
Campaign of Destruction whereby I’d buy up all the domain names with his company name in it and write negative blog posts (SEOd up to the gills) so that anyone searching for his cottages would find my bad reviews first.
He might be able to keep my money, but I’d damned well make him pay for it.
Like most women, getting naked is one of my least favourite things to do.
From the age of about 10, I have been able to catalogue every fault that has appeared on my body. I know the location of each misplaced freckle, bulge of skin, and stretch mark. I know that my legs are too short, my waist is too long, my arms lacking in definition.
My belly is something that has not been seen in polite company for 14 years and will likely never see the light of day again. And like the craters of the moon, I have named my most distasteful wrinkles and each nasty inche of cellulite.
Here is the Sea of Fattitude, there is the Double Chin of Doom….
I cover my face in makeup every day. Yes it is a mask and, yes, it hides my vulnerabilities. It also feeds my vanity and like a good suit of armour, it gives me a false sense of security. A sharp sword wielded by a women’s magazine or red carpet event on TV and I am laid out again, reminded that I do not measure up and, as middle age makes its inevitable advance, never will again.
Despite my physical faults, like all humans, I crave intimacy – true intimacy. Not sex, although that is certainly a fine thing to crave and has it’s place in the world of human interaction.
What I crave is acceptance and a level of trust that proves that despite all of my many faults, I am still perfect, I am still worthy, I am still desirable.
To be honest, I never got Lent. I went to Catholic school and everyone would debate what they were going to give up, but I never really understood how to turn this sacrifice (as if giving up potato chips or chocolate is sacrificial in the context of the man we were trying to emulate) into something spiritually meaningful.
Lent always felt…childlike. Like we could give up partying, smoking, or gluten and magically get right with God.
Somehow, I always felt this was not exactly what God had in mind when he sent his only begotten Son.
It’s taken a few years, but I am starting to understand.
Quite possibly I should not. I am well educated, have 5 beautiful and healthy children, a loving husband, and more books on my Kindle than I know what to do with.
But I often feel like I am shit at everything.
I have no career despite my expensive education. I used to be many things – a teacher, a lawyer, a civil servant – but because of my family and my Asperger’s, each of those careers is now…impractical.
These days I beaver away at writing with little discernable success. As a 21st century writer, success is measured in sales, yes, but also in the number of “likes” your Facebook page has and how many Twitter followers you catch.
I have been at this for 3 years. My Facebook page has 314 likes. I know bloggers that have been at it for 3 months and have 3 times as many followers.
There are many things in life that will make you afraid. Some will even keep you awake at night.
I do not mean “The Boogey Man is hiding in the closet/I’ve had a bad dream/I don’t like heights” kind of fear. No, I am speaking of the “self-doubt/risk averse/I’m not good enough” kind of fear that haunts us all.
To learn how to live with fear such as these is to lead a life of courage. And it isn’t always easy.
Here are some lessons on how to live with fear that I want my children to remember:
1. You will fail
You are a child of the Most High, my own little piece of Cosmic Stardust, capable of moving mountains and lighting up the Universe with all that you have the potential to achieve. But there will be a time in your life when you will fail.