Mr. Jones advised that the entire contents of your home is contaminated and the house is not habitable.
What can I say? This sentence in an email from my neighbor who supervised an inspection of the new army of tiny moth-eaten spots that invaded my home, seemingly over night hit me like as if it were a truck careening out-of-control down the highway straight towards me. My heart stops and I am in a state of utter panic, wanting to flee but having no where to run. My inner paranoia rises up like a terrified drama queen, is it the end of the world as I know it?
What does one say, or do, when they are told that they suddenly homeless?
I have just learned that, due to a mold infestation in my home, probably preventable had I been living there, may cause me to lose everything except, perhaps, the house, for which I would have to pay to have treated. It is a daunting proposition to embrace the idea of losing everything and I feel like I am treading water just to stay emotionally afloat. It is quite obvious to me if my move to Florida results in a loss of all my possessions, that my life is obviously trying to take me in a different direction, and I can’t help but wonder where that will be. I doubt that I would stay in the state. I doubt that I could afford to stay there after paying to have at least the house salvaged. One of my greatest fears and one which I have spent considerable time and energy trying to prevent — mold in my home — has come to be. I can’t help but ask What’s this all about?
I have, of late, been contemplating the question of living and dying. Knowing how much longer I have to live, and what to do with the time that I have left to me, has become more and more of a question upon which to ponder while I have been living overseas, confronted with the suffering of a world where so many people have so little while a small number of people have so much. I honestly don’t know if I can actually live through the “letting go” that I might have to do over the coming weeks. Nor do I have any idea what I would do once the “letting go” process has completed itself. Where would I go after losing everything?
Okay, settle down Ms. Drama Queen. After all, we’re just talking about giving up things and you don’t really know yet if that is even going to be necessary. Whoa Nellie!
But what if it is the worst? The voice of my paranoia is, if nothing else, persistent. I feel sorry for her, and even sorrier for me that my ability to keep her under wraps has just disappeared in a puff of smoke or, perhaps I should say, a shroud of spores?
The irony of my current emotional turmoil, if I shine the light of reality on the situation, is that things don’t really matter in the larger schema of the human experience, particularly since we can’t, as they say take anything with us when we go. I understand that this misadventure, should the worse case scenario prevail, could foreshadow great changes in how I will live my life in the coming years. Still, knowing that when the unimaginable happens, I am provided with a unique opportunity to transform myself does not diminish my discomfort with the current state of affairs. I don’t like what is happening.
My greatest challenge over my life has been how to settle in myself when I do now know what is happening and I feel that life as I know it is falling down around my ears. I have been here before — when my father didn’t come home one night and we didn’t know where he was. When I walked in on my husband in the arms of another woman in our living room.
In point of fact, even if this entire episode turns out to be a false alarm, and is a situation that is easily remedied, the little blanket of complacency in which I had previously nestled, created by the illusion that I had a safe haven to which I could always run if things didn’t work out overseas, has been irrevocably torn. I won’t be able to continue to live in that delusion. The idea that everything can change in a heartbeat has become an emotional reality.
This is what it feels like when the world stops.
I must also confess that, as I agree to spend yet another year abroad next year, I had begun to idly contemplate the wisdom of having set up a new home in Florida in the first place. I know why I did it at the time, but some of the reasons why I did it, like the prospect of a changed quality of life due to having chronic Lyme, have not come to pass. Although I think my stamina is less, and I can be wiped out if I take on too much physically or mentally for a day after such an indiscretion, I am not, as I have mentioned in a previous post, someone who believes that everything happens for a reason, I cannot deny that my current circumstances are causing my anxious mind to scrabble around and ask why why why?
As for feeling at home in the world, the topic of one of my more recent blogs, how in the f–k does one decide where to go when one could – quite literally — go anywhere? The decision that I may be facing over the coming days may be whether to simply walk away from every thing that I have accumulated in this lifetime, i.e. not try to save any of it, just save the house so that I can sell it, and then just put on my walking shoes and set forth with nothing but what I hope would be an open and willing heart to step completely and utterly into the unknown. Can I do this? Certainly many have done this before me, some by personal choice, others forced by circumstances beyond their control.
Would I even want to do this? Clinging to what I already know — and have — seems so much more reliable. Perhaps I should not have just purchased a new car? ….
More likely, perhaps, as my neighbor has suggested, I am being overly pessimistic… to which I replied I’d rather be prepared for the worst and then pleasantly surprised if I am wrong, than to be caught any further off guard than I currently am. I am reminded of wondering what it meant when women were described as hysterical in some of the great Victorian literature of yesteryear. Now I know, I am definitely feeling inwardly hysterical, even if I am not swooning in my chair.
I met a young woman in April at the airport who, at the age of 30, had simply bought herself a round-the-world ticket and planned a two-year itinerary and left with a backpack and a suitcase on wheels. At the time, I wondered what that would be like, whether I would have had to courage to do this in my thirties, had I even thought of doing it. Now I am faced with the very real possibility that I could do it now. Where would I go? How would I decide where to go? And then, the obvious question, what would I take with me? In my old age, I like my comforts…
I realize that I am probably going through some part of what Kubler and Ross call the five stages of grief. Today, I am finding it helpful to situate myself in the very real psychological and spiritual nature of this process: Denial — anger — depression — bargaining — acceptance, although I am not really sure that my experience is following the sequence of changing mental states that they describe. It feels like that, until today, I have been in a sort of combined state of combined denial and bargaining, well, if I can save this, or that, it will be okay. Anger doesn’t really seem to be on the horizon of my consciousness simply because there is really nothing to be angry about, not really. I tried to do my best to create a safe and mold-free environment for myself and I have obviously failed. What is there to be mad about? That I didn’t do my best? Well, I did. That it wasn’t enough? Well, it wasn’t. That my “plans” have been dashed upon the rocky cliffs of reality? Is that really something to get pissed about? I mean, if I actually lived in reality, I wouldn’t be suffering at all.
The fact is that I am experiencing a loss. But not a loss of something physical, but of something mental – a belief that the world is a certain way and that it will be the way it was yesterday today, and tomorrow. This is the delusion. This is the essential nature of impermanence.
If Kubler and Ross are correct, then I will have to get pissed at some point. But since I am clearly now falling into depression, if and when i do get angry, it’s not going to be in the prescribed order of emotional evolution. Nor should it be. If nothing else, I know that emotions are not linear.
I am starting to fall. How I will experience that fall, where I will end up, and what meaning I will make of the entire process and eventual outcome is utterly and entirely up to me. The one question that I will have to face very soon, and probably this week, will be do I want to try to hold onto anything or do I simply want to just cut my losses and walk away? And if the later, where the heck to I walk TO? I suppose I will have my upcoming year in Tajkistan to ponder this question. I probably should give my new car back before I take it, but I’m not quite ready to do this. It will be, in reality, the only place that I have to call my own for awhile because, according to the mold remediation specialists, I am now officially “homeless”. I have become like one of my street puppy rescues, dependent upon the kindness of neighbors and friends for shelter, if not for sustenance. For someone who has been self-sufficient for decades, this constitutes a trauma of sorts.
Two days later: For any budding homeopath, the preceding piece of “data” about my internal state, is a quintessential example of the symptoms that require the remedy Ignatia, known fondly as the “grief remedy”. It is used under the following circumstances: someone has been going along, living their life under the belief that things will continue as they are, when suddenly, this changes in such a way that the individual goes into a kind of shock, and can’t pull themselves out of it. Hysteria is one of the characteristic symptoms and although in my case my hysteria was not externally expressed, it was certainly alive and well in the form of my internal drama queen jumping up and down imagining the worst and then, neurotically, trying to find a way to see a possible “good” outcomes. Like a cat on a hot tin roof, my mind was jumping around, could not settle, could not get away, and was screaming for things to not be as they were.
After I wrote the piece, I realized what was happening and I took a dose of Ignatia. Within 24 hours, my drama queen had relaxed and I was already mentally preparing myself to divest myself of a much as I could, to do what I should have done when I left Vermont but simply could not do for the simple reason that leaving my beautiful house was the only loss I could tolerate at the time. I hope I don’t lose the valuables in my home. I hope that I am fully prepared for what I will need to do when I do my walk-through of the house with the “pack out” specialist on Monday, the guy who takes all of the material victims of a mold infestation out of the house, cleans them, and returns them to – hopefully – their previous glory. But, if I do (lose things I still think that I don’t want to lose) and if am not (fully prepared emotionally), I will have my trusty bottle of Ignatia at the ready. Ultimately, I think I am a wimp when it comes to accepting the world as it actually IS.