Do you crave your own space and solitude?
For those who visit the Clouds regularly, you’ll know I moved house five months ago and you’ll also know that it’s one of the best things that has happened to me. It seemed to take a long time coming, it seemed to be the answer to so many problems, and it seemed it couldn’t come quick enough.
One of my main worries, going into the house, would be the lack of space. I’m a big believer in having space, having some time to yourself where you’re alone, where you can watch something rubbish on TV, snack on something guilty, just basically indulge a little without fear of judgement. My concern was that, with Kirsty and I living together, I’d never get any of this space; really the opposite occurred. Not only does she give me enough space to keep me sane, but I don’t actually need as much as before; I’m happy and I’m chilled even when were together. Pretty perfect, right?
One thing you may not know, regular reader or not, is that when we moved in one of my best friends came with us. He was my old housemate, and his housing plans had fallen through prior to the move. We couldn’t leave him stranded, or paying out for the old flat on his own, so we moved him in to us. We’ve lived together 8 years, and this would just be a short stopgap that enables him to get on with life, so where’s the harm? Well, five months later, I found myself having descent into pettiness and irritability, I found our friendship becoming tense and delicate. I’d become a Shaun I wouldn’t want to know.
As of Saturday he’s ‘Moved Out’, though a lot of his stuff still remains, and as such I’m not going to use this as a forum to promote negativity; I’m not going to bitch and moan. In the end, we were helping out a friend, and in his own way I’m sure he’s grateful, so I just want things to return to the way they were… not something that will happen if all I do is focus on the bad. So, instead, I’m just going to tell you what I’ve learnt.
Space as a Couple
I’ve learnt that space isn’t purely personal; it isn’t just a case of wanting to leave ‘me’ to ‘me’. As a couple, we desperately just wanted the house to be ourselves. Five months on from getting the keys, and I can count on one hand the amount of times we really felt the house was our own. Even now, with the scattered remains of his half-move, the house doesn’t fully feel like ours… but it’s almost there.
I’d always thought I’d need space away from Kirsty, time to be myself on my own, but it couldn’t be less true. I actually craved time to just be with Kirsty, for us to just watch a film together, to lounge around together, to be have no interruptions besides when Toby wants some fuss. It’s not the same when someone else is around, even if they’re upstairs, even if they’re out at the shops, you can’t just relax and fall into each other, you’re waiting for that interruption.
The Positive Lesson: I’ve learnt how much Kirsty and I need our time together. Where before I would have looked forward to nights to myself (and only to myself) I now look forward to nights when we can just enjoy each other’s company. I’ve learnt it makes our relationship stronger, hell it makes our love stronger, and it’s more important than I’d ever give it credit for before.
Space as an Environment
Space needs to be a positive environment, it needs to be somewhere you feel completely comfortable. I can’t tell you where your ‘space’ is, it’s something entirely subjective, but what I can tell you is that it needs to be free from anything that will serve as a reminder to your stress.
I’ve learnt that if the house is in a mess, Kirsty can’t relax, and if Kirsty can’t relax neither can I. I’ve learnt that when you look around, and there’s things to clean, to put away, reminders of a house that isn’t in order, then I can’t just be. If your stressors are work, you wouldn’t surround yourself in papers, overdue deadlines, or email notifications. Similarly, I’ve learnt that one of my stressors was the constant reminder of living with someone else. Scattered shoes under feet, open doors and windows, impromptu visits and plans without clarity… I couldn’t relax in that environment. I watched the clock more than I even do at work; calculating how long I had, when I’d need to cook dinner by, whether I’d have time to watch an hour long TV show uninterrupted. It made for a tense environment, it made for a situations where nobody felt comfy, and yet where there was nothing anyone could really do to help.
The Positive Lesson: I’ve learnt how much I want to promote a good environment in my home. I’ve started to learn to keep the place tidy, and I’ve learnt mess plays a bigger role in my life than I’d ever thought possible. This may be more a symptom of home-ownership than anything else, but I’ve realised I actively want to keep on top of my housework. I can’t relax when there’s dirty plates, scattered books, or messy tables… at least when they’re in eyesight. It’s important to identify the things that are affecting your environment, sometimes without your knowledge, and this has helped me to realise what I can do to ensure that those moments when we do have peace, that I can maximise their potential as moments of care.
Space as a Sanctuary
Most of all, I’ve learnt that when we require our ‘Space’ it’s often that we require some Sanctuary. I’ve always believed a home needs to be your Sanctuary and now seems as clear as day for me. It needs to be a place where you feel safe, where you don’t have to ‘do’ anything or ‘be’ anyone. It has to be a place of utter comfort. When your home isn’t that place, when you’re walking on egg shells, when you’re scheduling your life around others, and when you can’t just cry and break down if you need to… it becomes a weight. Most of all, it becomes a place you don’t look forward to being, or a place you even avoid going.
Six months ago, before the keys came to my hands, I imagined that getting home would be like having a weight lifted off my shoulders, I imagined bad days fading away into the backdrop of the outside world, and I imagined just being in this perfect bubble, unaffected by anything or anyone. It hasn’t been that way. I’d get home more concerned with the plans of others than with simple, stress-free relaxation. The environment put me on edge, and the lack of couple time, between Kirsty and I, made us irritable. Our house wasn’t a place where we were free from the pressures of everyday life, it wasn’t a place where we could simple be.
The Positive Lesson: Home needs to be our sanctuary. I’ve learnt just how important it is to be able to get home and free yourself from the shackles of everyday life, lest your home become its own chain with its own anchor. It means I’ve learnt to take on board the potential issues that can jeopardise this sanctuary, the ones in control at least, and it means that in my spare moments I look to actively keep on top of things I might have otherwise ignored or put out of mind. I’ve learnt the importance of letting go of stress, of just being relaxed at home.
And there we have it, three positive lessons I’ve learnt in the first five months of living in my house. Part of me wanted to do five lessons for five months, but one of my other lessons was almost as long as this post all together, and it’s already planned for its own entire blog post of its own. Instead, it’s over to you…