I’ve seen a lot of shit. In both my personal and professional life, I have either heard, seen, or experienced unimaginable events good and bad. Therefore, I developed an uncanny ability to bounce back quickly. I often can brush off the event with ease or at least process what happened towards acceptance. It should come as no surprise though that sometimes they slip through the cracks.
One particular tale goes back to when my house caught fire. The particular excerpt below comes from a previous blog post to catch you up to speed.
I was eating dinner with a few friends. Suddenly, my phone rang, and I ignored it. It rang again. I figured it was important if the person was calling me again. I pulled my phone out of my pocket to see that my mom was calling. I let out a sigh, figuring it was something stupid. I answered the phone, and my mom muttered four words that haunt me eight years later, “The house caught fire.” I froze in disbelief. She continued on trying to hold back tears, “The house caught fire, and they can’t find your father.” I told my mom I would be there as soon as I could. My friends asked me if everything was okay. I informed them that my house caught fire and that I had to leave. I ran across campus from the college cafeteria to my car. I proceeded to cut my normally hour-long drive in half.
When I arrived at my house, I pulled up onto the shoulder across the street. It was pitch black outside by this point. I stepped out of my car. Through the light drizzle, I saw the outline of my house. Fresh smoke drifted upwards from the windows. I stood there for what felt like an eternity. I saw an unmarked cop car pull up behind me with his lights flashing. Out stepped a heavy set gentleman who meandered over to me. He barked at me asking, “Who are you?” I looked barely turned my head in his direction and responded, “I live here.”
As the days went on, more details became evident. A space heater was too close to a couch, catching fire. Nobody was home when it happened, and nobody (including my dogs) was hurt. My dad left only minutes prior, which is why nobody could find him at first. It was not done out of ill intent, but rather it was an accident. It did not make it any easier though. The damage was already done. The entire community knew what happened. My family was in shambles. I was homeless.
Fast forward eight years to present day. I went through years of counseling, writing, talking to my friends, and moving towards acceptance of the events that took place. I even went down there to visit my house alone as a form of closure. I felt like I could finally move on, but life can never be simple.
During this time, my parents were in financial turmoil, and I was trying to make it through college to obtain my master’s degree. The house sat there for years untouched and unpaid. Nobody was paying the mortgage or the taxes on the property. Eventually, the bank stepped in.
I drove to my house a few months ago just to see how the house was holding up, completely unaware of what I saw next. My childhood home that sat there for nearly seven years was fixed. It was fixed. Walls were replaced and painted. New appliances sat in the kitchen. New ceiling fans hung down. It looked better than it did when my parents first bought it. My shock was followed by confusion. The house was still under my parents’ names.
I had a lot to process with these new developments. After originally accepting that I would have to let go of my childhood home, a new idea popped into my mind. Not only was the house in much different condition, but I was in a much different position than when the fire occurred. I was no longer the desperate college student eating cold pizza for breakfast. I now had an established career, income, and credit score.
A few days later, I called my dad up. I muttered to him, “Let’s try to get it back.” I told him my thoughts on it, and he was on board. I spoke to my mom. I gave her the same speech. She was in agreement.
The plan was to sign the house over to me in hopes of not losing to the bank. I prepared myself for a long, drawn out battle full of paperwork, lawyers, and bickering. I knew my family would likely be at each other’s throats at certain points given the sensitivity of the topic. I set the bar low.
My parents and I expected the bank to provide us with a modified loan. The monthly payments would be lowered and into a range I could easily afford if it was approved. The bank asked for a plethora of paperwork and gave us three weeks’ time to gather it. I called everyone and their mothers to track down what we needed. After missing the first deadline, we started the process all over again. I felt confident that this would be the end of the saga and the beginning of a rebuild.
The bank denied us. For lack of a better term, “f**k.” My parents and I worked on Plan B. We called realtors, contractors, and lawyers to explore all options. The bank backed us into a corner with an ultimatum. Either we opt for a short sale or let the house go.
A forgotten feeling overtook me. I pulled over on the street once again. A light drizzle caressing my cheeks. Plumes of smoke drifting from the windows. It was the feeling of defeat.
I lost my home for a second time.
Of course, this time around was under much different circumstances. It still carried a similar weight with it nonetheless. This entire experience served as a reminder. I recalled all of the work I put in to overcome this obstacle. I remembered all of heartache and angst in the time following. I reminded myself of how I worked with nearly nothing to success.
It allowed me time to address deep-rooted, trauma-related issues. I now had another opportunity to appropriately grieve and gain a sense of closure. It provided me with a second chance that not everyone has.
I am in a much different place now than I was eight years ago. I can look back at such events with 20/20 hindsight. It makes it easier to take in and put the pieces together. The feelings were not as raw. The thoughts were not as irrational. My actions are now purposeful.
I never imagined that this door would be reopened. However, life’s winds cracked it open. I took the courageous step forward inside. I am am grateful for the venture that followed. I now look forward to seeing what is behind the other doors.
-The Caring Counselor
To read more from the original post regarding the excerpt, check out https://caringcounselor.blog/2017/11/28/the-attitude-of-gratitude/)