May 31, 2021 – Trigger ‘Happy’

Geesh, had I known the weather forecast was going to match our moods, I would have rescheduled our trip. Storms were raging outside as well as inside today and a looming, dark cloud has been ever-present. I am not sure exactly what’s going on but my husband and I have both been on edge. He told me I was being sensitive and I told him he was being sensitive. All day long I’ve been craving chocolate, chocolate with peanut butter, peanut butter pie, apple pie ala mode, chocolate with mint, muffins, cupcakes, regular cake, danishes, donuts, cookies, butterscotch pudding with whipped cream, brownies, and ice cream. The fact that my in-laws have most of the items I just mentioned (located in various places throughout their kitchen and dining room) is not helping. The other thing that isn’t helping is the idea of ‘relocating’. I am using that word because it seems much less threatening than ‘moving’. As much as I’m trying to be open to the possibility, nearly every cell in my body is screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The topic of ‘relocating’ comes up in our household on a regular basis. I entertain the idea for a day or two and then I usually revert back to accepting that I’ll likely die in or near the house we’re currently residing in. I realize that I complain a lot about being lonely and how having family near would make a big difference with regard to my ‘happiness’, but when it comes right down to it, I cannot fathom selling my home, packing up all of my worldly possessions, driving halfway across the country, and starting all over again. I barely managed it seven years ago and we had a lot of help at the time! In fact, the Air Force paid for the entire thing. If we relocate again, ‘Uncle Sam’ will not be involved, it’ll be entirely on us. Needless to say, even though my husband and I are well aware of this, we haven’t ‘shelved’ the idea entirely. But I did warn my husband that it’s probably going to require an ‘act of God’ for it to ever happen. In addition to that, if there ever is a ‘next house’, it has to be ‘turnkey’. I don’t want to buy any more fixer-uppers!

My friends, I have ‘done it all’ and I don’t want to do any of ‘it’ ever again! Every single home we’ve ever purchased has required (at minimum) new flooring (carpet, tile, wood, and linoleum), a brand new heating/cooling system, a complete overhaul of the kitchen and all of the bathrooms, new roof shingles, fresh paint, and new doors and windows. And that only scratches the surface! Trying to mentally process the idea of just one of those tasks makes me want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. If I have to remove one more smelly, urine-stained, shag green or orange carpet, along with the crumbling pad beneath it, and then get on my hands and knees and meticulously remove dozens of nail strips and hundreds of staples with a nail puller and needle-nose pliers, I might seriously consider the ‘D’ word. If I haven’t made it quite clear by now, I’m pooped! This ol’ gray mare just ain’t what she used to be, and I mean that quite literally. I simply don’t have the energy or the stamina to take on one more house with ‘good bones and lots of potential’.

My husband, on the other hand, seems a little more open to the idea, even though he has said at least a hundred times, “No more fixer-uppers!” I think he’s experiencing a bout of amnesia. He insisted on driving around and looking at neighborhoods and/or homes this afternoon. That’s when the trouble or the ‘triggers’ began. The first house was all brick (which I like because it’s low maintenance) but was nestled among other homes that were less-than-desirable. There were far too many with front yards filled with dozens of ceramic or resin ‘woodland creatures’ for my liking. On top of that, the house was right across the street from a city park. No, thank you. If I have a choice, I prefer not to live next to a place that is often filled with overexuberant, screaming children. The second house was well beyond the edge of town and the structure itself was mere steps from a very busy county road. My husband liked it because it had a shop but I wasn’t impressed. It looked worn out (much like the homes around it) and it was way overpriced.

He had seemed quite hopeful until he saw my reaction, and then he became ever-so-slightly agitated. “What are we doing?! You’ve shot down everything I’ve suggested,” he remarked, more than a little frustrated. “I don’t know!” I responded, “I thought we were just coming here to visit family and friends along with scouting the area to see what locations appealed to us.” We continued to talk/vent/bicker/argue and from what he revealed, he didn’t seem to think I was taking the process seriously enough and that I was basically placing most of the burden of relocating on his shoulders, which I was. “I get the impression you really don’t want to move,” he finally stated. “I don’t,” I admitted. When I think about all that’s required to make it happen, it just drains the energy from my body. The day itself was dreary enough as it was, the weather was cold and wet and ugly. Each time we’d exit the car, we’d get soaked due to the pouring rain. Eventually, the impact of it all began to take its toll. I didn’t want to think or talk about relocating or potential homes any longer, I just wanted to numb out by binge eating.

I was clearly getting triggered but usually a gloomy, rainy day isn’t enough to push me over the edge. Looking at crappy, overpriced homes (when I don’t necessarily want to move) on a gloomy, rainy day certainly can get me close to the edge, but not close enough to cause alarm. But there was more to it, much more! Something was needling me but I hadn’t yet determined what it was. And after a great deal of introspection, I figured it out. “There are too many ghosts,” I said to my husband. I tried to explain to him, “It’s going to be really challenging to have to face them all again. I’m not saying it’s impossible but it’s not going to be easy.” The thing is, there was a very good reason we left in the first place. And when we left, it was extremely healing to start fresh in a new place. When I think about returning and continually ‘running into’ people from our past, all it does is stir up a great deal of pain and hurt and regret and shame. There were some good times we experienced but there were plenty of not-so-good times, too.

As we drove around, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted SUGAR!!!!! We drove past Perkins and the memory of their silky, delicious, drool-producing ‘peanut butter pie’ flooded my mind. When we drove past Safeway, I remembered their giant chocolate chunk cookies that I’d buy by the dozen and eat two at a time. We drove past countless places that sent my heart a-flutter, donut shops, ice cream shops, bakeries, even candy stores with offerings of homemade fudge and loaded caramel apples. It was absolute torture! And as visions of ‘sugar coated food stuffs danced through my head’, the tension between me and my husband grew and grew. We couldn’t seem to agree on anything. He’d ask me what I wanted to do and when I told him, he’d make a face and/or argue with me. Exasperated, I finally said, “Why are you even bothering to ask me what I want to do because no matter what I suggest, you shoot it down?” He didn’t seem to want to do anything other than return to his parent’s house and that was the last thing I wanted to do.

Why was I so opposed? The first reason had to do with how triggered I was at the time. I knew if I walked through the door, feeling as I was feeling, I was going to go straight to their kitchen and place a massive chocolate chip (chocolate) muffin onto a plate, along with a healthy portion of raspberry danish covered in whipped cream, a couple of chocolate glazed donuts, a handful of miniature Reese’s, and two large scoops of ice cream, and devour every last mouthwatering morsel in under five minutes. As tempting as it was, I knew it was the last thing I should do. The second reason is because being in their house is awkward as hell. While his dad spends most of the day parked in front of the TV watching Nascar, his stepmom (who has dementia with delirium) carries around a ceramic baby doll, talking to it and treating it as if it were real. It’s bizarre and creepy. For these reasons, my husband and I tend to retreat to the basement and hang out by ourselves. I’m sorry, I didn’t come all this way to hang out in my in-laws’ basement.

Long story short, things eventually came to a head. We continued to bicker, even after enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant, and as we were driving around, when I tried to tell him that the drugstore we were headed towards (to purchase hand sanitizer) was up on the left and he insisted I was wrong, I blew my stack. I was right (by the way). Yes, it doesn’t happen often but I actually said the ‘f’ word. My husband looked stunned and then made a sarcastic comment about how ‘well’ our trip was going. Once we reached the drugstore and pulled into a parking spot, I headed in and he opted to stay in the car. After I made the purchase and returned to the car, that’s when the ‘big shift’ happened, and thank goodness it did! Sorry, I just threw you a curve ball. Since it’s very late and I need to go to bed, I’ll try and summarize what occurred in as few words as possible. By the ‘big shift’, I mean when the situation finally turned around, and it all boiled down to a simple, yet hilarious, misunderstanding (which I largely blame on my bad vision).

To set the scene, this is what transpired. When I returned to the car and opened the passenger door (after making the purchase and exiting the store), I noticed that my husband was watching something on his phone. I thought he was viewing a viral video, and from what I could tell, it looked like a naked baby (off in the distance) standing in somebody’s front yard. In my defense, I didn’t have my glasses on. “What is that, a naked baby?” I asked innocently, as he sat stock still, holding his phone up and staring (completely mesmerized) at the screen. He didn’t respond to my question, however. He simply continued to stare at the screen hypnotically. Suddenly, I noticed movement in front of our rental car and then a giant bird (chicken hawk) flew up into the air and across the street, alighting on a streetlight. “Holy sh*t! Holy sh*t! I had no idea you were filming a bird!” I shouted with surprise and delight. He held the phone steady and filmed the chicken hawk a little longer until he couldn’t contain his amusement any longer, and then he burst into hysterical laughter.

“Naked baby?? Naked baby??!!” he asked incredulously, laughing so hard that tears started running down his cheeks. He was barely able to catch his breath. I’ve honestly never seen him laugh that much in my entire life! Because he was laughing so hard, I started laughing as well. We laughed like lunatics for at least 5 minutes solid. When he finally got his composure, he said, “I think God sent that bird down here in order to break the tension between us. He must have thought ‘that poor couple needs some help'”. I have to admit, it did the trick. It’s just what we needed to get out from underneath that dark cloud that had been following us around for nearly the entire day. Yes, I sound ridiculous on the video, asking if he was viewing a video of a ‘naked baby’, but I don’t care. If it helped to pull us out of the muck and mire, it was worth it. I feel like we’re back ‘in step’ again and am much more hopeful that the rest of the trip will go well. I also feel confident that I’m going to get through the remainder of the trip without consuming any of the sugar and carb-loaded snacks that prominently occupy the shelves and countertops of my in-laws’ kitchen and dining room. That’s my goal, anyway!

Alright, I’m calling it a night. Happy Memorial Day, everyone! And thanks to all who have served.

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