Home Sweet Home?

After 4.5 months of living in the spare bedroom(s) at my parents I have finally returned home.  It was wonderful to be at my parents, a good chance to hang out with them, but it’s nice to be back in my own space.

That being said, there’s a problem.

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Over the summer, only a couple of months before I moved, I got a new upstairs neighbour.  A noisy new upstairs neighbour.

She’s an elephant.  Honestly.  It’s the only explanation.  I can literally feel the couch shake when she walks directly overhead.  She has parties on her deck until late at night.  She gets up for work at 4:30 am and slams dresser drawers, clomping around, until I am wide awake and stressing about my own early morning.  She does this repeated tapping (tap, tap, tap, tap, tap) again and again.  It might be elves making wooden toys for Santa’s shop?

It was making me crazy before I left and now that I’m back it’s making me crazy again.

This sounds like an exaggeration but: it’s ruining the peace of my home.

It makes me feel trapped and panicked.  You have to understand that I don’t process noise the same way most people do.  There is no “ignoring it” for me.  It gets under my skin and causes anxiety.  It makes me feel like I am going to cry, or yell: more likely both.  My heart starts to race as soon as I hear the first footstep when she arrives home and my whole body tenses, waiting for the next noise (and the one after that and the one after that).  Last night it took about 30 minutes for my heart to stop racing after I crawled into bed.  It’s galloping away again now that she’s home.

I feel trapped because I love my home and it’s the best I can do.  I can’t afford more and most likely never will.  I will always live in an apartment.  Or a townhouse.  Somewhere with shared walls and ambient noise.

I always pictured a house with kids running round a backyard. That isn’t a reasonable expectation here.  Fine.  I’ve adjusted the picture in my mind of what it’s supposed to look like.

But I don’t know how to handle the noise.  I don’t know what the solution is.

I don’t know how to get rid of this feeling of being trapped.

Speaking to her directly might be the best first step.  But, frankly, it could go badly and make the situation worse.  (From what I’ve heard I’d expect it to go badly.)

I’m going to look at insulating the ceiling better.  I currently have the sound on my stereo turned to 25… I never used to put it above 15.  I have white noise playing directly next to my head as I sleep.  I turn it up each time I hear anything.

There aren’t choices available to me beyond finding ways to cope.  I can (and probably will) write letters to strata.  They’ll write letters to her.  I doubt that changes will be made.

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(Sample letter I found online…)

I don’t think that the Strata Act has much ability to police unreasonable ambient noise.  I think it’s going to be more and more of an issue as more and more people live in high density housing.  Though maybe I’m just one of the few crazy enough to really be made crazy by it?

I’m spoiled, I know.  I know.  But I can’t handle this.

So, friends, do any of you have an idea?  Anything that has worked if you’ve been faced with this situation?

My Brand of Crazy…

Yesterday A and I were out and about.  It started with a lazy morning (for me: he went grocery shopping and to the gym before I’d even crawled out of bed…).  I drank too much tea, talked to my sister, read a book.  Stayed in my jammies until noon.  Was made a breakfast of bacon, kale fried in bacon (yay, we had veggies!), and pancakes.

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Early afternoon we headed to White Rock.  We were going to a cafe, for a walk.  A lazy day in the sun.

It devolved into a shopping trip.  I needed sunglasses.  And a new outfit.  Poor A.  He was a total trooper.

(Particularly when I decided to change into my new clothing in the car and I was wearing just a t-shirt and thong in the passenger seat.  He maneuvered through traffic as I struggled to pull up, and do up, a pair of tight new blue jeans without jostling the stick shift.)

(… giggles…)

The plan was to go to the beach for a walk in the beautiful sunshine.

Turns out we had different ideas of what that plan would look like.

See, A thought that we would park at the top of White Rock and walk down.

I thought that that sounded like the worst idea in the history of the world and I was wearing a new outfit and did he think that I wanted to get all sweaty and gross and if he saw how out of shape I was he would definitely stop loving me.  And I would really prefer it if he didn’t stop loving me Thank You Very Much.  

The result was that we went to the beach.  In a car.  On the first really beautiful day of the year.

Oh, did I mention that yesterday was a holiday in BC?

30 minutes later we were still crawling along the waterfront, no parking spots in sight, no way out.  A was feeling grumpy.  I was doing the nervous babbling that I do when men get grumpy.

(I should pause here and mention that A’s version of grumpy is almost unrecognizable unless you know him.  He just gets quiet.  He continues to be his usual patient and kind self.  Just quieter with occasional proclamations about all the things he’d rather be doing than driving at that very moment.)

We finally made it off the strip, parked up by my apartment building and wandered the neighbourhood.  We found a new brewery bar that we got pretty excited about and chatted with the owner.  We wandered around until his grumpiness, and my nervousness, had faded.

I explained how anxious I was about having to walk up a giant hill with him.  About the extent to which it filled me with dread.  Even trying to explain I could feel the tears just under the surface, the humiliation and shame about my body.  The panic that that humiliation and shame leads to.

Yesterday I revealed a few things about myself:

  • If I say I hate my outfit when we leave the house in the morning there’s a good chance that I’ll suggest a quick stop at the sales racks…
  • When I know someone is grumpy I get nervous and giggly and rambly – no matter how much I trust that that person is going to remain kind and good.  I’m working on it.  (Pretty sure he’s known this one for a long time actually.)
  • My issues with my body go far beyond just not liking the way that it looks.  I have a dread of the way that it functions.  It’s an issue that is going to take a long time to work through.

I learned a lot about him through this experience too.  But that’s mine to keep.

We went to dinner at a friends, met some new people.  Had interesting conversation with great food and wine.  Stopped on the way home to buy a bag of candy to go with a final beer.

Yesterday was a good day.  A day of learning and a day of laughter and a day of fun.   The type of day that leaves one smiling and hopeful, whatever the struggles you may have.

I hope your family day was as well spent my friends.

 

Shifting Selves…

The first man who loved me: loved the idea of me.

I was the Wife.  A character in the picture of a perfect life.  (That’s what it felt like anyways.)

I was sixteen when I met this man and he was twenty-three.  I had never really drunk alcohol, or gone to parties.  I had only ever kissed one boy.

Suddenly I was in a grown up relationship.

(I wasn’t a grown up).

I’m never sure how much ownership I should take for this relationship.  Because, yes, it did start this way.  But I was a grown up when I married him.  I was a grown up when I stayed with him.

When I look back at the self I was with this man I see a petulant, anxious, spoiled, scared little brat.  I was frozen in time.  I didn’t grow as a person.  I grew into myself, curled up in a ball.  I don’t like the self I was when I was with him.

He wasn’t good for me, and I certainly wasn’t good for him.  The self that I was when I was with him?  I wasn’t good for anyone.

The end of this relationship felt like relief.

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The second man who loved me was a good, kind man.  He knew me well, I think.

We had fun.  We had passion.  We were connected.

When I look back at the self I was with this man I see a woman growing into herself, learning, changing, opening her mind.  She’s still anxious and scared, all the time.  She’s a bit of a pain in the ass.  She’s trying so hard to be enough.

There is less to say about this relationship because it was good.  It was fun.

He was good for me, he pulled me out of my shell. I don’t think I was as good for him.

The end of this relationship gutted me in a way that I had never been gutted.  It made me stronger.  I got sad, then mad.  Then I let it go.

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I am a pain in the ass, to be honest.  I am anxious.  I fall too hard and too fast.  I am quiet when I should speak up.  I am self conscious.  I will cry after a day of shopping because I feel fat and disgusting.  I text way too often.

I am also warm and kind and sexy and funny.  I am smart.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to mold myself into what men have wanted me to be.  (What I thought they wanted me to be.)

I have been patient when they were uncertain.  When they didn’t call or disappeared for days at a time.  I have stared at the phone and prayed for it to ring.  Wondered how I could be sexier, funnier, smarter.  How I could be enough to make them want to keep me.

(I once had a guy I was seeing tell me he would really want to be with me – if I lost 30 pounds.  And I laughed.  I agreed with him.)

Recently I stopped wanting to do that.  I don’t have the energy anymore.

I didn’t grow much in my twenties.  The worst of me, the self-conscious girl who didn’t like herself, was the part the flourished.  Suddenly, at 29, the world opened up and those voices started to fade.  Almost three years later I can’t recognize who that girl was.  I have dreams sometimes that I wake up and am back there and I can’t breathe.

The self that I am today is nothing like the self that I was with the first, or the second, man who loved me.  I’ve grown, shifted, more than I knew I could.  I’m a better person by far.

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Suddenly I’m in a relationship that feels simple.  A relationship that feels secure.  A relationship where I feel like I’m enough.  There are no guarantees.  There never are.  But it feels good.  I don’t feel like I’m compromising any piece of my self.

The beautiful thing is that I don’t know who I’m going to be in another 5 years.  10.  But I know that I’ll continue to shift, refine.  Grow more into the self that I know I can be.