I’m telling you, I should have hibernated for the entire month of June!
Hubs and his ex-wife still own a home together in TN. It’s been vacant and listed for sale on the market since the beginning of February. We’d been led to believe the reason it wasn’t selling was due to the fault of an unmotivated realtor, but we decided to see for ourselves. At a 6.5 hour trip each direction, we are relatively close by.
A new friend here in AL had recommended a realtor who sold her home in TN, and I made contact with him early last week. He was quick to respond, and I appreciated his candid and honest feedback on the condition of the home. It was not good. Emphasis on the NOT GOOD. He rattled off a list of 20+ things wrong, and strongly recommended that we make the trip to see for ourselves. I had low expectations, but what we were met with upon arrival was infuriating.
Discarded furniture on the side of the house (visible from the street). Backyard looked like the house was still lived in… kids toys, dog toys, camping chairs, TONS of wadded up chicken wire, makeshift ashtray/ terracotta pot nearly overflowing with cigarette butts, old crumbling sheetrock, an extension cord totally embedded into the overgrown grass, and worst of all – the ceramic crockpot insert, still rancid with remnants of the meal cooked over 4 months ago, left to rot on the porch (?!) – AND THIS IS JUST WHAT COMES TO MIND FROM THE YARD!
I have to say, if it weren’t for my love for my husband and stubborn awareness that this job absolutely needed to get done right away, I would have thrown my hands up and walked away. It was infuriating. So many metaphors here for how I was literally cleaning up his ex-wife’s messes.
We cleaned through Monday morning. In 3 days time, you wouldn’t have recognized the house it was before. We could have stayed and worked for another week, easily. You can’t imagine how excruciating the conditions were, either. The house has no power and no running water. We had to haul in our own buckets of water to clean with. Hold it if we needed to use the bathroom…only made one potty run all weekend, if that helps paint a picture of the heat/dehydration ratio. We took two large truckloads to the dump. Seriously, who leaves behind two truckloads of stuff when moving, let alone trying to sell the house you’re vacating? Painted a whole room, washed every wall, wiped down every surface and cupboard… all in Tennessee summer heat with no AC!
On top of that, I started feeling very sick on Saturday by mid-afternoon. My throat was killing me! I desperately wanted for it to be allergies, but just knew that it wasn’t. I worked through it, but it was not easy. I felt like CRAP. I’m still fighting off this nasty cold; it’s migrated south to my lungs now. Nursing a bottle of Robitussin as I type this. Blegh.
I honestly can’t believe that my blog has already become the place where I
bitch about vent all of my frustrations! To anyone who reads this, I promise, I’m a really lovely and joyful person. I believe I just married myself into a rather enmeshed and backward family (though the man himself is a delight). This frustration, like all things, is temporary. The family dynamic will become easier to navigate as I get to know the playing field. I will have to learn where it’s appropriate for me to set a hard boundary, and where to bend. I pray I can learn where to bend!
I’ve felt so angry and screwed up since my grandfather’s funeral. I think that must have been the trigger that set me off, and I’ve been on a tear ever since. I want to return to my loving and compassionate self. I don’t want my husband’s relationship with his ex-wife and family to be strained because I’m so vocal about how intrusive and abnormal their dynamics are. I want to be open to all of it – but there are some things that I just don’t know how to accept. His kids are now my kids, and my concern for their well being comes before everything else. To know that the home they were living in was left like that, I can really only imagine what kind of conditions they lived in. And now they’re living at his mom’s house? It’s just not normal. I can’t find the line where its appropriate for me to vocalize how absolutely abnormal that is, while also accepting that it’s happening and we have to accept it.
It’s been a hard few weeks. I have to remember that I cannot control the things that happen in life, but I do have complete control over how I react to them. The things about my husband’s family that seem strange and alien to me are normal to them, as hard as that may be to comprehend. I need to remember that it’s my decision how I choose to face each day and each trial. A lot of situations I’m in right now are new, and by definition uncomfortable. New step-parent amidst a family full of opinions and tensions and weird incestuous dynamics, stationed halfway across the planet. Set up to be an outsider. For now.
In time, things will normalize. Young girls will grow into young women, and I can only hope that one day they can look to me and their father with respect. Yes, we’ve made mistakes and we’re going to make a lot more. But we do our best. I want to keep taking the high road, and somehow manage to do so without looking down my nose at the others. Conscious choice! Have mercy.