Our whirlwind year.
On November 26th 2016 Dan asked me to marry him.
I was pleasantly surprised- we had been together for 5 years and had settled into some nice patterns. We both had our own homes and would spend time at both. One of my favourite things to do was to pack my bag on a Friday afternoon and head to his place. He would cook and do all the jobs and I felt like I was having a little holiday each fortnight.
Blending two families is tricky. We all have our stories, habits, expectations, routines and goals. These rarely match up on their own and it takes time, effort, trials and errors. My children had experienced the separation and divorce of their parents and were trusting me to keep them safe and protected and the five of us had settled into our own routines together. Having Dan initially start to stay with us changed things and suddenly my attention was divided.
On our engagement day we went out for lunch at Mr Wong in Sydney and he started talking about fresh starts and making things permanent. I sat there thinking ‘OMG- he is going to propose’. Then he didn’t. He suggested a walk around the harbour and we walked past a band playing and he said we could stop but that he had wanted us to keep walking. We headed to a spot where we often went to in the Botanic Gardens near the Opera House. We sat there for a while chatting and then he asked me and then he gave me my beautiful ring. I called his parents and Andy’s response was “About time- welcome to the family”.
So 2017 became the huge year of our wedding, selling two houses and buying one together. We should have had a baby (our 7th) to keep the themes of new beginnings going! Our speed hump was different. When I first got sick and was suddenly MIA at school one of my colleagues thought I was pregnant. Not surprising since I had gone missing just after returning to school from our honeymoon. My response to him? “I wish”. And it is true, if I knew the universe thought this mix was missing something huge I would happily have had another little one!
When their dad and I had first separated, the kids and I moved into a unit in Wollongong near the harbour. This felt like a holiday in many ways. We could see the water from our balcony and we were close enough to the beach and to town that we could walk everywhere. After 8 months my rent was going to be increased and my Mum invited us to move back in to my childhood home with her. The plan was to help me to have some time to save up for a deposit for a house. That was late January and then she got sick suddenly and just five weeks later she died on March 4 2013.
She had been being treated for cancer for 3 years and was doing well- even her specialist was surprised to hear that she was gone. He told me that he had thought she would be able to continue with her treatment and live for many more years. This was the saddest time of my life and I am pretty sure I really haven’t dealt with losing my Mum.
Later in the year I purchased the home from my siblings and had hoped that it would be a place where they would come back to for Christmas and for us to continue to all have a home base connection together. That this hadn’t happened after 4 years was a way that I gave myself permission to sell and to move forward.
We bought our beautiful new home after selling one of our homes and before the second was even listed for auction. On a sunny Saturday in May we attended the auction and after a heart stopping race we walked out as the new owners. Daniel cried as he knew this meant changing schools. I was so happy later in the year, at the end of Term 4, when he told me that he was glad we moved and glad that we bought the house. I was so relieved as he had come to this realisation on his own after making friends and seeing the positive changes for himself. He had even been having friends pop over after school- this had never happened in his whole career at his previous school.
Moving day was locked in for Monday 19th June 2017 and we had packed up both houses and were all ready for the move. Lining three house sales and settlements to happen around the same time is tricky but we had managed to get everything sorted. Then Dan’s house sale didn’t settle on the scheduled day. We had weeks of stress and nightmares waiting to see if we needed to put it back on the market. Eventually we decided that our plan was to move out of my house on the day it settled and into Dan’s house. We all packed a suitcase and took the minimum furniture needed. We needed to arrange a delayed settlement on our new home and there were days of unease with us worrying about how we would be financially able to complete the sale.
Finally the purchasers stopped playing around and gave us a settlement day with 48 hours notice. We booked the removalists again and finally we were in.
None of this stress helped me. Around this time I was having headaches every day and I had started telling Dan that I thought I had dementia- I often couldn’t recall conversations and I was forgetting to do routine things. At the time we were putting everything down to stress and even now it would be impossible to differentiate what was stress related and what was MS starting to niggle.
Finding things in my new kitchen? Forget it. So many cupboards and drawers and the girls had done a great job of unpacking the kitchen so I hadn’t seen where everything was going in the first place. Some mornings I needed extra time to orient myself to where I was and what I needed to do- we had lived in three houses in a 2 week period so surely some of this was to be expected……
I come back to the water. I always have- from my first breakup where I headed to North Wollongong Beach and (cringe!) sat on the sand singing “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston. I love the flow, the symbolism of cleaning, the views across the water and the possibilities that lie underneath the depths.
We are now living on the lake with amazing waterfront views and I am grateful every time I catch sight of the water. Whether it is the first sighting in the morning or when I walk into the lounge room during the day and the wind has shifted, or late at night when the lights are twinkling across the lake. I feel safe here and I feel connected to our home. Dan and I have talked about how we both instantly felt like this was home as soon as we moved in.
We had been talking about living on the water and when we had started talking about the possibilities it had seemed out of our reach. Then we started to look seriously at the property market and what the reality of us selling both homes might look like. This was a huge change. I had gone from being fiercely independent and being proud of this. I had gotten to a position where I knew I could protect my children- I was working full time and running a part time private psychology practice and my steady income was our safety net. I was now choosing to let someone else into this. People around me noticed this and commented on the healing that was involved in this- I was able to trust another person and in doing this I was letting go of past hurt and able to trust that this person wouldn’t hurt me. It’s been great so far and I’m so glad I let him in.
Thankyou for reading my story,