It took me thirteen months, and thousands of miles on the road, to bury the many obstacles that kept me from evolving into the person I wanted to become. Once we finally parked our car in our new hometown of San Diego, I felt recharged, at my healthiest mental and physical state, and ready to take on new career roles and accomplish new goals. Little did I know that the tasks ahead of me would challenge me more than I was prepared to be. Quickly falling into entirely gutting our new home has left me dazed and confused more often than I’d like.
Everyone is asking me whether I am obsessed with San Diego. I honestly answer them that I am actually miserable. Gone are the days of beachy weekends, extended hikes, morning routines that begin with a workout, and a clear and focused mind. For the past two months, I have been sleeping for four hours a night, waking up at the crack of dawn with a racing mind and heart. There is something that I find deeply traumatizing about breaking walls that remain exposed for a couple of months. Can someone please patch the walls already? In my personal life, I have strategically built walls that often kept me feeling safe and protected. Being completely exposed has never been a place that I have found comfort in. Like my open ceilings and walls, I have been feeling very raw and vulnerable lately. I keep wondering how I got to where I am.
The biggest challenge has actually not been the construction itself. Instead, the most stressful aspect has been dealing with the people I count on to build my home. I have been forced to bite my tongue, give up sleep, and not say a word in fear of upsetting the equilibrium that seems to only stay intact when contractors are not asked questions or told what to do. Regardless of our GC’s resistance (actually, we have two GC’s but that’s a whole other blog post), I continue to be the self-appointed project manager of the construction of my home, knowing fully well that it makes my team angry. I’m not trying to spite anyone, I reasonably want an active role in decision making, alleviating mistakes (and boy have I caught some serious errors), and moving the timeline along to its target date of completion. Personally, I am baffled that my general contractors are surprised that I would like a role in the decision-making and scheduling of my home. Yet I have learned through this process that ego is a far greater disease than we think.
Here is a glimpse of how communication has changed since construction began and specific examples of how my questions have transformed over the last couple of months:
Me (month one): When is the tile crew coming in, to tile the bathroom?
Me (month two): I am not asking you this to challenge you, I know that you are completely in control of everything. I am just wondering for my own knowledge, when is the tile crew coming in, to tile the bathroom?
Where am I? How did I get here? I am aware that I am fully responsible for the choices that I made leading us into this re-gut. But how did I get to the point where I have allowed myself to feel weak, dismissed, and scared to ask a fucking question? Mostly, how did I consciously allow myself to throw away thirteen months’ worth of personal healing in just two months?
It’s one thing to deal with the predictable delays in scheduling and excessive costs that come with construction. Everyone expects that. I guess what I didn’t expect is the drama, machismo dudes, and egoism that I’d face every time I just have a simple question. It’s been exhausting. Draining. Unhealthy, in fact. My only hope lies in what others keep assuring me: “that it will all be worth it in the end”.
Leisurely kayak rides with new friends, coffee dates near the seals, dates with my husband, even time with my kids have all been on hold so that I can give every ounce of my energy to miraculously make an eight-month project happen in three months. My team constantly reminds me of the time limitations, yet I repeatedly remind them that if we stay on task we will get it done. They hate when I say that. But it’s true. I have always been a firm believer that if we say we will, we just will. Although they would hate to admit it, they are keeping up brilliantly. I just have to manage temper tantrums in between the progress.
So, where am I? I am no longer waking up at 5:00 am to journal and meditate, nor am I taking surfing lessons as I hoped to when we moved here. Instead, I awaken at 4:00 am to place orders, send status emails, write checks, respond to emails requiring my input and then spend the next eight hours of my day at the house meeting with electricians, plumbers, contractors, etc… This is just where I am these days. It’s not where I’d hoped to be when we moved to San Diego, but it’s where I ended up. My husband and I have always consciously avoided the “system” of homeownership that everyone seems to gravitate towards. Yet here we are. Please trust me on this, if there was a rental to our liking, we would have grabbed it in a minute. Apparently, everyone wants to live in La Jolla these days and the real estate market is pretty much non-existent, for sales or rentals. Despite the headache, I’m actually grateful that we found a home to live in at all!
Last night, during one of my regular dates with insomnia, I decided to stop pussyfooting around the people on “my team” who make me feel bad about being invested in my home. I also convinced myself to stop self-victimizing. People are tough. Their layers are thicker than the drywall, beams, AND insulation that compose my ceilings. Human beings are complicated. Perhaps I am too. All I want is to get this house completed without a nervous breakdown, a complete deterioration of the strength I mustered during our road trip or a health scare from all the stress I’ve been enduring. I just want to move in. I aim for the day when people ask me whether I am loving San Diego and I proudly answer “I am exactly where I want to be”.