How do you leave your dream behind?
When I was three years old, my parents got divorced. My mom packed us up and moved us from place to place. I was that kid who moved around all the time, who literally attended five different elementary schools. You could say I knew what it was like being the new kid on the block.
It was a pattern I did not want to repeat with my own children. My plan was to raise them in a ‘forever’ house, a beautiful concept to me.
We all know someone who spent their whole life in one house. Either their parents still live there, or they bought it from their parents. And it’s this gorgeous, proper house with lots of bedrooms, plenty of space, a lovely yard and amazing neighbors. (And it was bought so long ago that the amount of appreciation and equity the house now has is staggering!)
My ex and I were fortunate because were able to buy one of these spectacular ‘forever’ homes: a 3000-plus square-foot architectural. It was gorgeous and everything I’d ever dreamed of, with an open floor plan, 11-foot ceilings, large spaces, four bedrooms, plus a huge playroom and plenty of outdoor space. There was even room for a pool, for if we ever desired to have one.
I was in love. Life was sublime, until one day when it wasn’t anymore.
My ex and I got a divorce when our children were seven and five. In lieu of alimony, I fought tooth and nail to keep my ‘forever’ house. I struggled for two years, paying the mortgage on time and watching as my savings dwindled away. But, in my head, I knew it wasn’t smart choice financially; I was suffering under the weight of this house and it wasn’t good for anyone.
I had to come to terms with letting it go – not a remotely easy thing to do. It was my dream, my promise – to myself and to my children – to NOT move them around.
I struggled with what I should do. Many dark nights were filled with tears. Sometimes I would lay on the floor of my children’s rooms and just weep (as quietly as possible). It was a weirdly effective way to mend a broken heart.
But one day my perspective changed. I decided I was going to stop feeling sorry for my children and myself and instead feel grateful that I’d had the honor and the privilege of living in such a beautiful place, even if it was for a far shorter time than I had planned.
I walked around my house, gave myself time to appreciate its beauty, its craftsmanship, and recalled the happy times I spent with my family in each room. Out loud, I said “thank you” to my house. I cried tears mixed with joy and sadness; nostalgia is a powerful emotion.
I had no regret about taking my house in lieu of alimony. Doing so allowed me independence and I was able to sell my home on my terms and my timeline. I saw my house as as a means of financial freedom from my ex. When I ultimately sold it, I was able to walk away with a chunk of cash I could then invest on my own, supporting my two children and myself.
Slowly and carefully, I allowed myself to feel my emotions so I could move forward. I wrote in a journal for 40 days straight, just to get my feelings out. I enlisted the help of a friend to go with me to see the rentals first, examining them before taking my kids. He offered a shoulder to cry on when reality hit home that I would be living in one of these temporary abodes.
Saying goodbye is challenging. Divorce is heart-wrenching. Moving is stressful. And putting a dream to rest is overwhelming. Combine all these and it’s too much for one person to experience all at once.
Eventually I found the place I was looking for: a large condo in California. The location allowed me and my kids to have a space that was all ours, and the novelty of it meant I wouldn’t feel all alone when my children were off with their father. I’ve heard stories of women who spent years away from their kids and felt better for it – that was never going to be me. It was affordable, convenient and easy, plus there was a pool, hot tub and ping-pong table!
I was apprehensive when I took my kids to see it. My son, in particular, loved our old house, and was so upset about the idea of moving. To my surprise and relief, he LOVED the condo, and told me after the showing that we should move there.
We ended up renting the place for 15 months, which gave me time to regroup. It was indeed easy living. We walked, swam, hit countless ping-pong balls and laughed – a lot. And it gave me the time and space to heal, and to realize my kids and I were going to be okay. We loved being together. And I was proud of myself for facing and embracing reality.
Today I’m a homeowner once again. I live in a slightly smaller version of my first ‘forever’ house. Built the same year (1959), it was a mid-century architectural with slightly lower ceilings, but it was a much larger piece of property. Our neighbors are fabulous and we’ve got a nature preserve right behind our house, where I go hiking with my dogs.
Truly, I’ve never been happier in a house. Life is funny that way.
I won’t say it’s my ‘forever’ house, because I don’t want to tempt fate, but I will say it’s a dream come true and I’m forever grateful.
GIFs via giphy.com and imgfave.com.
Comment: What happened when you gave up on a dream?
This article has been republished from Your Tango with full permission. You can view the original article here: What I FOUND After Losing My Husband, Home & Dream For My Kids
If you liked this story, read more like it on YourTango.com: