“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself-Well…How did I get here?”
It’s like a woke up one day last week and didn’t even recognize my own life. Things I used to always have, gone. The routines I used to do every single day, gone. Even major self-identifiers, gone.
Where are all my things? Where are my dogs? Where is my predictable job? Where is my furniture? Where’s my DVR full of my favorite TV shows? Where is that god damn mason jar I use to make dressing? (I can’t find that thing, it’s driving me nuts.) Who am I if I’m not self-described bad-ass, independent bitch, who lives on her own, and doesn’t depend on anyone but herself? Who am I if I’m not the girl who lives behind a porn shop in the quirky apartment that she decorated all herself?
Don’t get me wrong — I’m definitely beyond excited and happy to be living with with Mike. But, I find that I’m struggling with living with someone who owns a house for a lot of reasons…
Reason, the first: I really wanted to buy my own place. At least I tried a few times. And, though I ended up living in an amazing home, I’m still sad that I didn’t get to live out that empowered “the sisters are doing it for themselves” narrative.
Reason, the second (and maybe based on the first): I feel like I didn’t “earn” this living situation. To put it bluntly, I feel like a fake. I feel like an asshole. I feel like a failure. I feel like a spoiled brat. I feel like everyone is judging me.
Reason, the third: I feel so disconnected from the place in which I live. Not only is this not my beautiful house that I’m living in, this is also not my dining table that I’m using. This is not my chair that I’m sitting on. This is not my rug under my feet. Those are not my chotchkes on the side table. Those are not my photos on the walls — all of travels and experiences that also are not mine.
I look around our house (oof, I had to force myself to type that) and I realize that I really had no idea how little of an impact I’d make on this space, once I moved in.
In fact, the other night Mike’s childhood friend was sitting with us in the living room, when she looked around and asked me, “So, where is all your stuff.” And I responded (a lot more bitterly than I intended to) “Yeah… where IS all my stuff!?”
When I finally looked around and realized what I have left over — in the aftermath of divorcing and moving — of the parts of my collection of things that remain, it’s really not much. Basically one rooms-worth of furniture, and lots of boxes full of photos and old journals in the garage.
Yes, these are all just things, and things aren’t what matters. That was a lesson I learned this past year, when all these things that I thought were so important just weren’t anymore. But I’m also learning right now that things also have a way of grounding you. Stuff that is familiar is actually great stuff in times of crisis!
Think about how nice it is to curl up in your own bed, and pull your own comfy blankets up over your head, and cry with your head on your pillow, resting up against your old familiar headboard, as you let those spent Kleenex pile up on your trusty bedside table, as your cat purrs, immune to your feelings, on the also-your-pillow next to you. That sometimes feels like the most comforting shelter during the shitstorm that can be life.
So, I’m in a weird place right now. “Unmoored” was the word that Mike used to describe it. That feels right. But, now that I think of it, what I actually feel like is a ghost…
I float through this house moving objects around in an attempt to make my presence known. I linger as long as possible in the room filled with the remains of my furniture, because that’s where most of my concentrated energy is collected. I wail in the shower, and on walks around the neighborhood, leaving a stream of tears in my wake, instead of Slimer-esque ectoplasm. I feel like a ghost in my own life and in my home and my head — a trace of what I once was.
I talked to my friend who’s boyfriend moved into her house full of her things, and she told me that he also had similar feelings. At times they would bubble in angry “yeah, where ARE my things?” moments — surprising them both with his unexpected rage. And then he would wrestle with feelings of guilt, because what little things he still had were residing in a beautiful home, instead of a shitty studio apartment.
It’s a weird place to be in — feeling so lucky, and feeling so shitty, and then feeling shitty for feeling shitty about being lucky.
When I shared these feels with another friend who’s gone through a similar experience, she said, “Welcome to the secret society of imposter syndrome ‘housewives.’ (Note: none of the women I know in this position are actually housewives.)” Imposter syndrome housewife is totally a thing for the one partner living in a home entirely purchased by another partner! Just knowing that made me feel slightly better. My friend assured me that it does get better, but it may not ever completely go away. She said, even though they’re married and her career is also awesome, that she “struggles every day to justify living under his roof.” Oof.
For now, I know that this is not my beautiful house, and I still do not know how I got here. But the fact of the matter is, I am here and, despite my struggles, I am thrilled about it. I’m also going to continue to work out my imposter syndrome housewife issues with my partner and my therapist.
It’s going to feel a little strange as the ghost of Old Stubbornly Independent Megan remains as New Healthy Dependency Megan regenerates, and learns to share a living space and a life with someone else. And, one day, as the bathrooms morph and the closets expand, and we start to re-decorate together, this will actually feel like our beautiful house.
Anyone else find themselves in this position? Living with a partner who already has ALL THE THINGS? Was it a struggle? Did it ease up? Was there a magic fix? Where are my fellow imposter syndrome housemates?