You know that list of Major Life Changes/Stressors? This one (Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale):
Event Life Change Units
|Death of a spouse||100|
|Death of a close family member||63|
|Personal injury or illness||53|
|Dismissal from work||47|
|Change in health of family member||44|
|Gain a new family member||39|
|Change in financial state||38|
|Death of a close friend||37|
|Change to different line of work||36|
|Change in frequency of arguments||35|
|Foreclosure of mortgage or loan||30|
|Change in responsibilities at work||29|
|Child leaving home||29|
|Trouble with in-laws||29|
|Outstanding personal achievement||28|
|Beginning or end school||26|
|Spouse starts or stops work||26|
|Change in living conditions||25|
|Revision of personal habits||24|
|Trouble with boss||23|
|Change in residence||20|
|Change in schools||20|
|Change in working hours or conditions||20|
|Change in church activities||19|
|Change in recreation||19|
|Change in social activities||18|
|Minor mortgage or loan||17|
|Change in sleeping habits||16|
|Change in eating habits||15|
|Change in number of family reunions||15|
|Minor violation of law||11|
A couple of years ago, I decided to do divorce, new job, and moving, all at the same time. I did surprisingly well, or at least it seems that way in retrospect. So, naturally, I had the confidence to approach more stressors without fear of losing it. The story below is about being absolutely open to meeting new people, trusting, falling hard, and picking up the pieces.
My stressors of choice this time were moving, job changes, and house guests. The biggest difference to this cocktail was that I am in a happy relationship for this one– to be honest, I think this makes things harder. Divorce was hard, but the only person I had to worry about was myself in that situation. In addition to a partner, I also have a lot more friends than I did last time. I am always concerned with other people’s feelings, so this magnified my issues ten fold.
Moving, job changes, and house guests– NBD, right?
Moving with the assistance of a moving company is stressful, but mostly sans heavy lifting. Moving without a moving company and for the majority of the move just two people, an SUV, AND a three-story walk up is one of the levels in Dante’s Inferno. If you zoom in on Botticelli’s painting, you’ll see a dude with a couch on his back.
So, there I was, somewhere in the fourth circle with other greedy people, all while fielding some changes in my work situation, stressful. Two days into our time South of the Styx, we welcomed my cousins for a pre-planned visit. Totally cool, and very nice to see family, just hard when you’re in the Inferno and they’re on vacation…
Most of the time they were visiting, I was able to enjoy their company and not get caught up in the whole moving thing (this is why I am STILL moving, kinda sorta done, but not really). Now comes the, I don’t know you, but oh, you’re not super awesome, what? Why!?
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m pretty trusting, and kind, and I really like people. In addition to my cousins, we were expecting new guests as well, people who I had never met before, but my boyfriend knew from online for years, but never IRL. In contrast to many house guests, the trouble began well before their slated arrival. We had offered a place for three people to crash, and they were grateful, but almost immediately began making requests and asking questions that would make any host nervous. They felt they should sleep in my king size bed because there are three of them… They asked for keys to our home…. They asked what the “drug situation” was in the house.
I was freaking out. Oh yeah– and the Russians. In addition to all of this, we had two lovely Russian ladies staying at our old place to alleviate the cost of almost triple rent for the month of July. That’s just kind of icing stress, or sprinkles.
it was my cousin’s last night in town, and Wednesday, the day of “A Month of..” and we had guests arriving/overlapping that night. Everything that normally brings me joy was making me cry. I sat in my bath tub and sobbed, hoping to pull my shit together. It only got worse. My head went in a million directions about how the evening would unfold, a complete slave to my situation. Then, I tried to turn it around, expect the best in people, not pre-judge the situation, and regain control. I put on some mascara. I promptly cried right after applying said mascara when my cousins asked how I was. At some point I spoke to my sister on the phone who took the conversation as evidence that I didn’t like her, ugh.
About 2 hours into my episode I came to the conclusion that I wanted to enjoy the last evening I had with my family and that whatever happened with these people I never met would happen (although I was still preoccupied with fear and stress over their impending arrival). We settled on pizza and beer and my spirits lifted a bit. BUT THEN, my boyfriend said he had to go to meet our new guests– it’s super nice, and host-ly of him, but it felt like they were taking away my control, my night, my happiness (we can talk about the co-dependency of those fears later, I am aware). No sooner had he left that he suddenly returned. We thought our guests were arriving by plane (our explanation for no communication for hours on end) but they had apparently driven and when they found out that we weren’t waiting patiently at our house for their arrival, they were put off and stopped their car. That it seems was the last straw. My boyfriend told them to find another place and that they weren’t welcome.
I would still offer my home to a stranger– I’m still trusting, and although I don’t know you reader, I am sure that you are quite awesome. In fact, I still think the house guests we were expecting are quality people and deserving of all the good things in life, just not at my expense. Hopefully, I know myself I little better and I’ll know when to say no, and remember that we block out the pain, like child-birth (so I hear), and moving, and divorce. From now on I will try and schedule life stressors, one at a time, so that life can be unicorns, rainbows, lollipops, and cupcakes– as it should be.