I'm sure you have probably all heard before that moving is one of the top three most stressful situations that we, as humans, will ever experience (the other two being death of a spouse and divorce). I moved just before Christmas, to what can only be described as my dream home. It's a beautiful cottage-type house that has been updated in such a way that it retained its charm and gained a freshness. It is homely and stylish, welcoming and airy.
Equally charming is the location of my new home. It is in a small village in West Sussex, sitting pretty on the edge of the River Adur and nicely placed on the South Downs Way. When working out what would be my criteria for my relocation, my wish list consisted of, amongst other things, hearing bird song when I walked down the road and a nice pub with a beer garden, within walking distance, in which to while away the balmy summer evenings. I managed to tick both these boxes and so many more. I have moved to paradise!
This time last year, after my youngest son declared that this would be the year that he was moving out, I decided that it was time for a change. I told my eldest that if his younger brother was going to fly the nest, it was probably time for him to think about standing on his own two feet too. Time to be a grown up.
So began the process of getting my house market-ready, selling it, finding another home and actually moving. All of this took place as a solo venture. That was challenge number one, but by no means the greatest challenge. Yes, the physical labour involved in decorating, packing and unpacking, alongside the emotional turmoil and terror of choosing a home without input from anybody, as well as the mental chore of dealing with solicitors and estate agents, pushed me far beyond what I believed I was capable of.
I was really lucky, in that my house sold within four days of going on the market, for the full asking price. What went after that - the hold ups that meant the initial predicted move date of early October eventually became the week before Christmas (definitely not recommended as an ideal move date!) along with dealing with all of the personalities involved in a chain of six, some believing more than others that they were the most important link in the chain, could have had the hardiest SAS member crying to their mum at the end of the day! But as I said, I couldn't say for sure that this was the most challenging part of the journey.
As a single mum of my two (now adult) sons, they have been the main point of focus in my world for over two decades. Every single decision I have made for the last 23 years, from the tiny day to day choices, to the huge life-changing stuff, has been run through the 'plus two' filter. To suddenly be in a position where I no longer make my decisions based on what these two other humans may or may not need or want, caused many an unexpected gasket to blow along the way.
Add to this, the guilt that came with telling my eldest that he, whether ready or not, was leaving home - my heart broke repeatedly throughout the letting go process. All but one of my friends that had seen their offspring fly the nest, had done so in happy-tinged-with-sadness scenarios, such as starting University or going travelling. Those situations, as I viewed from afar, seemed emotional enough to deal with and yet, here was I, instigating it! I genuinely experienced every single human emotion - all changeable from moment to moment. I probably even threw a few new ones into the mix for good measure!
I also needed (for myself and for my boys) to support them both fully in their own transition. Their fears seemed far greater and more real than those they experienced as tiny boys when they awoke from a nightmare and I ran, harshly awakened from my own sleep, to soothe and console them. Where was the chapter in the manual that explained how best to hold them whilst letting go, for the last time, through this final push into the adulthood I had spent their entire lives preparing them for? And who was there to wipe away my tears as I stood at the gate and waved them off for one last time, hoping that they would, as they had at the nursery school gate, only briefly look back before they skipped happily in the direction of new adventure and learnings?
As it happened, circumstances meant that my youngest didn't move in with his friend as he had planned but instead came with me (temporarily, apparently!). This didn't become apparent until after I had been through the emotional wringer on his behalf too though!
So now, here I am, two months into my new residency. Today I sit silently in the absence of my youngest (he's away on a skiing holiday) and my builder (he's been here full time since the start of January but is also on holiday this week) and for the first time, really get to experience what it was that I craved. Space. Serenity. Solitude. Is it all I imagined and hoped it would be? I haven't experienced enough of it to answer that with any degree of honesty or accuracy yet.
What I do know though is this: this whole journey that started almost a year ago was always leading somewhere. Where it was (and is) taking me is still unknown to me. It has taken me to the very edge of what I knew myself to be capable of and then drop-kicked me off the cliff into a freefall of undoing more deep-reaching than pretty much everything that went before it. I discovered depths and strengths far beyond what I previously believed to be in my make-up. I am on the threshold of my new world - a world pretty much solely of my making. This excites me when before it would have scared the shit out of me.
Maybe one of the greatest things to come from the last tumultuous few months was the surrendering of the need to know, or to control, what comes next. I have plans a-plenty. I have a clearer vision of what I desire to make manifest in my life than I have ever had before. And yet. And yet, I am more open to the unfolding of the unknown and more trusting of what the Universe has planned for me than I could have ever conceived prior to this transitionary, transcendent journey that ended and began again in Paradise. Such is the nature of life!