I have struggled with the decision to keep or sell my house. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I've changed my mind in the last four months. It is a major decision, and I am now fully on board with the belief to not make any major decisions within the first year of a life change such as divorce or a death. So I’m keeping the house at least for now, and am happy with that decision. I am moving ahead thinking about what possibilities there are for me. I've not had a house of my own. The last time I had this much freedom to decide what I wanted in my living space, I was 19 and living in a dorm room. That was nearly 30 years ago.
I am recalling being a newlywed in a brand new home. It was 1988 and I was 24. I was excited to decorate and to give our place that personal touch. One of the warning signs that all was not good: Tony made a huge issue about what went on the walls. I needed his permission before anything could be mounted. I’m shaking my head because that is crazy! I had pictures leaning up against the walls for over a year waiting for him “to approve” my choices. I wasn't treated as a wife, I was the young, naïve girl he married. The stifling of my maturity had already begun. The rejection of me as wife, a woman, and a creative and spontaneous person had also began. And I took it; I allowed him to treat me that way. I must not have thought much of myself then, or for that matter, through most of my marriage.
When I was told to ask myself why did I tolerate the intolerable for 24 years (From now and on, I’m going to start referring to that whole question as merely WHY, so remember this for future posts!) I see how early this addict behavior started within the marriage, and that really pisses me off. He knew there were issues with his behavior, and I was quite clueless. I’m a bit mad at him still – what a controlling, arrogant way to treat that young bride. I’m mostly mad at myself for not standing up to him and the outrageous demands. Debra has asked me to show a little compassion for that 24 year old Sara. I am working on that. It is difficult, though, when my thoughts are saying that I should have known better. I remind myself, “how and why would I have known any differently?” Still working on this. Some progress is being made.
Thinking about decorating my home today has some context to it and why it is a big deal to me. I have had the overriding sense of Tony’s approval throughout my marriage, even though I eventually stood up for myself and took some authority over my home’s décor. It took a lot of years, though, and it was always something in the back of my mind. He would make comments if he didn't like something, and there was an overriding oppression permeating the home. But all that has changed. I’m free to reflect who I am, and put up any god-awful looking absurd thing I want. I will like experimenting and putting into practice some of the creativity that has been squelched over the years. I may decide I like paint by number pictures and velvet Elvis paintings. Who knows. I’m not blaming Tony for my decisions to be or not be who I am; I must take responsibility for my own choices. I’m recognizing that I feel released and liberated to do things to my own liking without anyone’s approval. Tony's or anyone else's.
Perhaps this is the lesson after all. When I think about the amount of energy and time I have spent in wanting and seeking others’ approval, I am amazed. Not in a good way, in a surprisingly sad way. Why would I allow what others’ think about me, my decorating taste, actually my choice of anything be placed above my own? What others think is their business. Their thoughts and their opinions are theirs. And mine is mine. And mine is what matters. To me.
I opened up that decorating door today. I spent the afternoon with my mother doing adult mother-daughter things. It was a great joy. It was a gift, and a reward for the work we have been doing in seeking to relate as two healthy adults. We poked around the new Hobby Lobby and talked about all the different options and likes and dislikes. I bought some things, and I will continue the transition to make my home my own. What is really exciting to me is thinking about entertaining. Welcoming people into my home to create happy memories: that is why I can call this my home. It is where love abides, and my decorating can reflect that. That is something to get me motivated. Let the good times begin!