I’m very tired this morning so I’m not sure if anything I write is going to make sense, just to warn you all, and I should really be cleaning the kitchen because it looks like a flour tornado has passed through there. I don’t think the flour can be blamed by itself because it only behaves in this way in my presence. As for me myself, I looked like I had wallowed in the stuff. And dough. Fortunately, however, it is a lot quicker and easier to change myself than it is to clean the kitchen. Unfortunately.
I find it very difficult to talk about current problems, maybe because I just try to block it all off. Which is obviously a great coping mechanism. I’m also only just starting to process through some of the thoughts and realisations so not all the ideas that I’m planning to talk about have been fully developed just yet. But I need to get this off my chest, out of my head so I’m going to offer up another ‘whinge’ post. It’s a follow-up to yesterday’s post. That was, if you will, the back story and today I’m going to develop some of my thoughts and analysis (don’t expect anything profound even if I did use that word) of the situation.
My sense of humour survives but even it is sorely tried by this ongoing saga. There is only so much that I and it can take and we are being pushed to the outer limits of our limits. The problem is that the whole thing has become a constant nag on the spirit, the soul. And never-ending. Losing hope is the worst thing in the world.
Other People’s Views
Despite the ordinate amount of money the statistics say that people spend in this country on DIY and the Bank Holiday rituals and festivals of DIY, a lot of people who I meet and who talk to me seem to think that it’s a complete waste of time and effort as well as a sign of some over-proud, materialistic urge to want your house to look ‘nice’. There was a brief spell in the early 90s when turning each room of the house into an encyclopaedia of paint effects and a smorgasbord of draperies was popular and that trend has resurfaced, although in other manifestations such as the overblown patterned wallpapers, during the Recession, nesting perhaps becomes important when everything else is going down the plughole. Wanting to do more than slap the infamous magnolia paint across every wall in the house and laying cheap white tiles in the bathroom is something of a vanity. A luxurious vanity. Of people who have obviously got their priorities seriously messed up. We tried to find a bathtub which would fit in our bathroom, preferably also sized to allow us to have a basin in the room too. There are some fairly short models but they were all too wide to fit between the wall and the door frame. Seriously. So we decided that we’d just fit a shower enclosure. Because there was only going to be a shower, we opted to buy a double-sized tray. Why would we do that? Showers should be this size (please imagine the appropriate hand gestures). A luxurious vanity. Probably delusional too. Large showers also seem to be perceived as kinky and perverse as the American hot tub, for some reason. (No, I can’t fathom the workings of the stereotypical English mind either). Nor are you meant to rip out entire rooms. The English are great believers in the grin-and-bear-it ethos. When passing judgement on other people, they therefore conclude that you had no pressing need to do the work which you were forced into starting by some such disaster or another. You really should have asked your friend or elative’s permission before starting. They would have probably told you it was fine, you can survive.
Even though, ironically, another faction are pressurising you to do all the work right now regardless of necessity, budget, time or anything else. They egg you on, telling you that you’re a failure whilst the work isn’t finished, that it’s no way to live. They lend money, they lend support. But walk out the door the moment that they’re actually needed.
Other people will wear you out with their views. Most of them will condemn you or judge you but they never really help. Other people induce the guilt that you have to live with day in, day out. Other people make you question everything you’ve ever done and all your values. Other people mess with your head and your house.
Other People’s Help
Other people, as we have seen, are very willing to offer up their views on anything. But only when it’s negative. (It again seems to be a quirk of the stereotypical English. They’re quite happy to bawl abuse at you for wearing a Western hat from across the street, despite the fact that they’ve never met you, but to offer up a compliment requires much blushing, stammering of apologies and many excuses). They will give advice and make all sorts of suggestions with authority. It’s only months later that you find out that their expert opinion was actually erroneous. Usually when it’s gone completely belly up.
There are people who are quick to help, the generous so-called Good Samaritans who promise time, resources, labour with enthusiasm. Many times they never deliver. Other times they kindly start and then leave. Do you trust these people and allow them to walk their hobnail boots all over your home, your heart and your mind? Disappointment is a terrible thing to leave with. And you end up wondering if you should trust anyone at all. Because even the tradesmen who’ve come through haven’t always been up to the job.
Oh, yes, other people mess with your home and your head.
Who Should Do the Work?
I don’t particularly trust tradesmen, nothing personal, it’s just the way I am. I’d rather get on with things myself. There are people who I have trusted, people who have helped. They’re people that I’ve really respected. But it hasn’t been repaid. The people who have helped have marched in with the attitude that we’re useless, clueless and entirely dependant on them. That’s not a pleasant thing to live with. It is rather irksome. I don’t believe having a slightly greater knowledge in some specialist area of DIY makes anyone a better person. If you show me, I will learn, I can be taught. But no, they treat us as imbeciles. Before leaving us in the lurch again.
We were happy to potter at the work, doing it at the weekends and on days-off, when we had the money too. But of course it’s different when you suddenly find yourselves confronted with a major disaster and of course everything changed when husband lost his job.
I grew up in a house that was slowly being renovated from a state of dereliction. I made my first dry stone wall at two. Across the patio. Despite the fact that I wear a skirt, I am not useless. I rather object to being treated as useless. The people who have helped make this assumption and shoulder me out of the project. Now hubby is brilliant at the manual labour side of it, he’s strong and tough, far more so than me, especially when ME strikes. He pays fastidious attention to detail too (which is why it breaks his heart to have the place like this, to have cowboys wander on in and trash the place in their efforts to make it better). But if I’m honest, I don’t think he has as much knowledge and experience. But they’ll work with him because he wears trousers. Isn’t gender bias fun? Drives me nuts.
We could do the work but husband is too ill now, too disheartened too. I know how to do the work, I want to do the work but … always that but, isn’t there? It’s not because I wear a skirt but it’s because I too am ill. I feel so guilty and useless that I can’t do more. I’m absolutely itching to do it. Especially because I know it would help hubby feel so much better. But do you know how bad my health is when it comes to this stuff? When we were doing the sitting room a year or so ago, I was ‘well’. I was able to help with the painting. Now painting is the easiest, most basic DIY task on the planet. I’d have to sit on my low stool because I couldn’t stand to do it. So I’d work a section from the floor up to about 3, 4 feet. I’d have to concentrate really hard and the ‘pain’ I felt was crazy. If it was really good day, I could do an entire wall, some 2-3 metres along. Then I would have to go collapse on the bed. That was when I was ‘well’. I feel so useless. Conflicted too, because maybe I’m just proving that ‘skirts’ can’t do the work after all. I can’t lift, I can’t reach, I can’t turn things. Basic actions but so essential to DIY.
So who should do the work? I don’t know. I want to shout, me! I’ll do it! But I physically cannot. Maybe I can wait on other people’s promises, trust them to deliver like they haven’t on all the other things that they’ve already started. But I’ve lost faith. Home doesn’t feel like home anymore, it isn’t a sanctuary. And it’s the other people who have violated that.
But everyday I ask myself, ifI don’t do the work, who will?
I want the place ‘finished’ or even just the bathroom. I dream of being able to wash my hands in the bathroom, of having the luxury of getting up in the morning and splashing water on my face and brushing my teeth in the bathroom. I’m fed up of having toothbrushes by the kitchen sink. This is the stuff of my dreams. Crazy isn’t it? Just a basin, that’s all I want.
Do you know what? I have the basin. It’s been sat in my spare bedroom for three years. It’s beautiful. I chose it because it’s big and has a shallow slope perfect for handwashing and hairwashing. And you can get your hands in. The object of my desires is a handbasin. How bad is that?!
I don’t know what the future holds but I’d like to live in this house for a while before we had to go anywhere. I want to enjoy this place first, for this place to feel like the home we dreamt it to be.
I want the pressure to be taken off, we’ve lived like this for three years at least. And it’s a really heavy burden. It wears you out living like this with the constant presence of all that is wrong. I am exhausted by it, overwhelmed.
There’s another reason that this work needs to be done soon. It’s a worry that really is on my mind of late, well, it’s probably been there all along but I’ve finally cornered it and labelled it. The kind of stress that eats away at you like acid. We’ve been at risk of losing the place for a couple of years. We are still at risk. That’s a big enough worry. It’s actually quite a huge worry. But … there’s that but again … the place would need to be in saleable state. It’s in a worse condition than when we moved in. Excellent. So if not for anything else, the work has to be done soon. Because I really would like to live in my home before we lose it.