I can’t tell you how many families have moved in and out of the old, weathered birdhouse in our flowerbed in the front yard. I can’t tell you all the materials used to create their nests. I can’t tell you how many eggs were hatched or how many babies were tossed to the ground to fend for themselves. But I can tell you about the family of two living in our nest.
I hate change, so it was tough moving from the city of fifteen years to the country thousands of miles away, it seemed, from civilization, wondering if anyone would ever visit us again. To make matters worse, my son had just gotten married and we made our first move ever without him. Hardly adjusted to the empty nest syndrome, I felt lost, lonely, abandoned. Walking through each dimly lit room, looking through windows into unfamiliar surroundings only intensified my grief. Finally, I crawled in a corner, buried my face in my hands and bawled. Not quite the reaction anyone would expect after buying a new home. And if my husband was confused, I was totally flabbergasted!
But it would be years before I understood why I felt I was living in a house without walls, and before I could honestly call it “home, sweet home”.
Before moving, my mother and I hadn’t spoken to each other for six years. Because of her abusive childhood, she had a ton of emotional baggage that she dumped on me. I was her scapegoat for everything that went wrong in her life. Being just a child, I couldn’t process the guilt and shame that I felt, so I internalized it and became an emotional time bomb of anger and rage.
My dad wasn’t much help either. He just sat drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and staring into space. He rarely, if ever talked to me. And when mom was in one of her rages, daddy got up and went to his shop. There was no place for me to go except my tiny bedroom. Even there I wasn’t safe from her barging in, slapping me around and screaming and yelling. Most of the time I didn’t even know why she was so angry.
My tiny bedroom, insecure as it was, became my haven. I’d go there to cry, draw, play my accordion and sing, write poems, and paint. Hours later I’d come out, hoping to find everything under control; that the “good” mother was whistling and preparing a delicious meal. That daddy was sitting at the table reading the paper. That my brothers were laughing and horsing around. That our family was back to normal again.
As I grew older I just learned to cope with the raging war inside. I wore a mask, pretending that everything was okay when it wasn’t. But that was before I stepped into the twilight zone of full blown panic, phobias, and desperation. That was before I turned into my mother.
People move to the country for different reasons. Mine was for peace and quiet. The first night in our new home the neighbor’s dog barked nonstop all night long. That weekend, an army of remote control airplanes flew over our property, sounding like a million bumble bees on a rampage. Then came the dirt bikes and four-wheelers zooming through the neighborhood, and boom boxes vibrating the windows. I felt that I had died and gone to hell!
I’m a runner when things get tough, so I cried and begged my husband for us to move. But we couldn’t afford to move. This was to be our final destination, where we would retire and grow old together. The choice had been made, the money had been spent, and there was no way out.
I had never felt so frustrated, so helpless, so hopelessly trapped as I felt during the first ten years of living in this house. Sometimes I could barely make it through the day without crying. Other days I’d go through uncontrollable fits of rage. The least noise threw me in panic mode and I wanted to bolt out the door and run off the face of the earth!
I believe in God. I believe in faith. I believe in miracles. I also believe that God gave me a brain and expects me to use it. So I began researching my phobias online as well as proper treatment for them.
Not that it came as any surprise; I have an anxiety disorder and will be on medication for it the rest of my life. My only regret is that a doctor didn’t diagnose it sooner. I would have been a far better person, wife and mother. I would have spent the days laughing more and crying less. I would have been more trusting, caring and loving. I would have embraced our home and felt safe as I do now. But I can’t dwell on all the-would-haves of yesterday. My focus is on doing my best today with all the wisdom and understanding that God has given me.
Our neighborhood is much quieter now. Not because I’ve lost my hearing, but because I fought for a noise ordinance and won, and confronted the property owner where the club members flew their planes. They found another place to meet. Highway Patrol eventually weeded out the dirt bikes and four-wheelers. The dogs don’t keep me up barking all night. I didn’t shoot them, I wear earplugs. My mother and I worked things out. Although our relationship was never what I wanted it to be, it was the best it had ever been.
Had we not stayed and worked through our difficulties we would not be experiencing the peace and joy we have now. I’ve learned that running from my problems never solves anything. Sometimes we have to trudge through the mire of painful memories before we can experience real joy and happiness. I will always have anger issues, but talking and medication help me keep it under control.
God has a plan for each of our lives. He wants to have a personal relationship with us. He wants to free us from our fears, our anger and rage, our rusty chains of the past. And He will do whatever it takes to help us see the brokenness within so that we can experience His healing touch.
Together we’ve built our nest, my husband and I, securing it with love and faithfulness, prayer and dedication, honor and praise. We are blessed with four awesome grand-children and a great-grandson on the way. We’ve weathered the storms of sickness, sorrow and grief. We’ve argued, kissed and made up. We share our failures and shortcomings, hopes and dreams, fears and concerns. Best of all, we are sharing our golden years together; hand in hand, heart to heart . . . till death do us part.