Leaving Another Nest

portrait_week41.jpgI have decided something huge in the past few weeks. Something I have been working to make space for in my heart for about the past 3 or 4 months. It’s time, much sooner than I’d planned (story of my life)... I am moving in with my new love, Mike.

As I spend most of my time at his house, it is getting harder and harder to live out of two different places. I’m constantly in search of various things, and they are usually at the other house when I need them. That and the now seven kids that live next door to me… and working for my landlord in place of a rent discount is getting to be very draining too. While I love my little house, and especially my art studio room, I’ve come to the conclusion that holding onto it is starting to add more stress than good now. Which means, it’s time to let go.

Are you kidding me? ANOTHER time of letting go and learning to grow? It seems that is all I have done these past few years. And it seems to always be in warp speed, dammit. I mean, I just moved my entire life across the country nine months ago, and now I have to box it all up and move again? *sigh* No matter how many times I go through a period of letting go, it never seems to get easier. It always feels like losing a piece of me. Moving in with Mike feels no different. It has nothing to do with my love for him, and everything to do with the countless losses I’ve had in my life. Loss hurts, whether it’s a person, your home, or a job you love… losing anything we love hurts.


On top of this, is the new area that has developed in my brain since Drew died… which I’m calling the “sudden death” corner. In this tiny but effective little bit of my brain lies all those fears that Drew’s death has now instilled in me. The “knowing” that it can all be gone in a moment’s time. Drew and I were just months away from moving in together after all. I thought I was safe from anything bad happening back then.

Now, I know different. Now, I have a sudden death corner in my mind, and it’s all I can do to keep calm lately as my brain reacts to change with thoughts of Mike dying in some horrible, sudden way… in the middle of my moving in. The day after my move in. A month after moving in. In a car crash on the way to my house to help me move boxes, leaving me responsible. In an accident on the way to work. In a sudden heart attack in the back yard while I’m sitting inside not knowing anything is wrong. And then me, with what will then be all of “our” stuff, a house, and a devastated 9 year old girl looking looking to me. And me with no job, and no way to support myself much less a 9 year old. I am fully aware of the weight of my decision to move in with him… probably far more than anyone who has not suffered a major, sudden loss. And it is terrifying.

Mostly, I just try my best to distract my thinking and keep busy, and reassure myself that I cannot know what will happen, and I have to keep moving forward anyway. I cannot sit in fear and never make any moves. Despite all the things I know could go wrong, I have to just trust that things will turn out okay no matter what. Easier said than done, but it does help to try and remember to trust things.

Unfortunately, I can’t even say that I am excited about this move. I don’t feel 100% ready, but I suppose I feel about as ready as I will ever feel for something that so scares me. With a lease agreement to decide on renewing or not in 3 months, I know, the universe is pushing for me to grow. I hate that. Really. It feels like surrender. It feels like being backed into a corner and being made to see that the best choice is the one that scares you the most… and that yes, you’re going to have to do it. I really hate that feeling.

I know the process of all this is disappointing for Mike. I know he wishes I could be more excited about it. That it could be all romantic and full of possibility… like how normal people feel when they move in with someone they love to pieces. I know he wishes that every big change for me did not come with this “what if you die tomorrow” complex. But I think that he’s happy just to know that I have come around to making this decision. He knows by now, that I take my time deciding big things, but when I have decided, I am very grounded in those decisions. This one is no different.

One of the things that has helped me the most, is seeing his response to my fear. When we first talked about me moving in, I freaked out so bad. I just totally lost my shit for an entire week. And he was there, and realized he needed to give me space to wrap myself around the idea alone… so for months, he said nothing about it. Any time I began to bring it up, he would support me without adding any of his own pressure to it all. It helped me so much to know I had the space I needed and the freedom to choose not to decide on this for another entire year if that's what I needed. 

Over the past few months, we have worked tirelessly to clean out at his place and make room for my things to start migrating over. My art studio will soon live in the back corner of the basement, which has been a huge undertaking to clear out, but is nearly done now, to my amazement. Just yesterday, in fact, Mike finished installing an entire floor in the rafters of the garage to act as more storage space. He and Shelby spent hours moving at least half of the boxes from the basement to this new attic space. All of this was done while I sat inside preparing photographs for an upcoming art show I’ll be in, working on my ecourse content, and replying to some business emails.

For them to work so hard to make space for my things, and support my need to do my work from home when I need to… it’s meant the world to me. I suppose I was worried that my stuff would all just sit in storage, like it did for 3 years after Drew’s death, and I would feel like a visitor here. I suppose I wasn’t sure my need to work from home would be given space. Both he and his daughter are making it abundantly clear that it won’t be that way… that it will be as much my home as it is theirs, and that I will have the work space I need, physically and mentally.

The way he has taken charge of making room for me here has given me a wave of relief somehow. I’m not even sure why… but it is helping my heart to relax, and maybe to begin to get a glimpse of just how wonderful this could be. It is showing me more about who Mike is as a partner, and what an incredible support he is not just to me personally, but also to my work. I think my fear of losing a piece of myself is finally starting to wane a bit. As the dust clears, I am beginning to see, that I’ll be gaining so much more than I am losing.

I just hope I don’t end up losing either of these people, too. But who can know? All I know for sure, is that it's time to build a new nest, and leave the old one behind once more. I just have to close my eyes and spread my wings... as I have done many times before...  

About the Image: This photograph, titled "The Promise" is from my self-portrait series on grief. View the full series here

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  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2016-07-18 08:28:11 -0700
    Oh I love you. And this life you are building. I still think you should rent out Mike to us other widows. He is so supportive and thoughtful. Its not fair for all of that great guy energy to go to just one person lol. xoxo
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2016-07-17 17:46:23 -0700
    Sarah… I can so relate to this post… In the last three months I decided to remarry… Put my house up for rent, the one my late husband and I were working so hard to update… And move to another town not too far away, but still a different place… Living in the home my now husband shared with his late wife…. All the feelings that you put in writing I have felt… And I’ve had to push aside all the doubt and fear of being left behind… Especially since my new husband is 11 years older than me… (my late husband was just a little younger than me…. ironic, isn’t it ?) However we decided to seize the moment and go ahead and live our lives and take whatever comes at us … There have been no regrets….however living in a different place, different from where I have lived my entire life… has had its challenges… But as far as the relationship and being together, absolutely no second thoughts…
    Packing up my home of 25 years was heart wrenching on soo many levels…..yet very freeing at the same time….We are now busy trying to make what was their home our home… Yet still honoring the memory of our late spouses… And allowing our grief journey to continue for each of them… I feel that your move will go better than you think it will… And I’m glad that you decided to just live your life.