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My kingdom for a mantra!

August 7, 2012

The house has only been on the market for a week, here in the dog days of summer, and yet it has been looked at by several people, and by dozens of brokers. This is good, correct? Still, no one has fallen in love and demanded to purchase it, which I find (though I know I should not) discouraging. My mother told me to ask the realtor not to tell me anything about any of the people who looked, unless there was a written offer; this struck me as brilliant advice, but I am weak, and I crave information. Information about potential buyers makes me crazy–I know this from the previous times I’ve listed the house, when I’d get all hopped up after hearing that the couple from the 1:30 showing had twins and were from Boston and LOVED the yard and the town and were really just deciding between my house and one other house and oh my god, they’d be perfect, I bet they’ll make an offer today. I’d imagine the whole damned thing, right down to which bedrooms the twins might like, and then they’d vanish into the ether, which was massively infuriating. Who did they think they were, with their twins and their snotty Boston attitude? I’d mutter to my reflection, as I windexed the bathroom mirror for the millionth time. I’m going to figure out which house they finally bought, so consoling-windows friend and I can egg it. This actually happened, more than once–the muttering, not the egging, more’s the pity–and trust me, it’s not half as much fun as it sounds.

“I’m going to hit a wall of worry at some point, again, I can feel it coming on,” I told my long-suffering boyfriend on Sunday night, as we lay chatting before sleep. We were both a little glum, the way we always are at the end of a weekend spent together. “I know it, and I don’t want to. I have wasted too much time worrying already. Let’s think of some magical way to think about it all, to stave off lunacy, shall we?”

We tried. But we were tired. We had been camping and hiking and canoeing, all of which were glorious, and then we had driven a long way home. We mumbled a bit, but nothing brilliant came of it. I slept badly, and woke up worried, and we said goodbye and he went off to work and I drove home, collected the children, and immediately commenced to fret.

Two close friends recently had their mothers die, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, and there is nothing like the unexpected death of a couple of beloved friends’ mothers to put one’s own petty problems in perspective–which, after all, is where they belong. Still, the heart has its palpitations of which reason knows nothing. I have tried to understand why this damned house-selling drives me up a wall, why it fundamentally unnerves me so much (the idea being that irrational emotions are much harder to cope with than emotions with distinct and fathomable etiologies) and I have failed, again and again. Yes, it’s a pain in the neck to keep the house clean. Yes, the house is a symbol. Yes, the house is a yoke around my neck. Yes, the house is a bad combination of predictable overexpenditure (the day-to-day) and unpredictable, terrifyingly bottomless overexpenditure (the furnace that may break, the roof that may leak, the appliances that may act up). Yes, it’s where the marriage and its sad, sad end played out. Yes, it reminds me of my ex-husband and the life we had when we were happy. All that, and much more (I despise feeling powerless! I cannot move until it sells! I am by nature impatient!) and yet really, does this need to be an existential crisis? People put houses on the market. They sell. Or don’t. It happens, quite literally, every single day.

I had a ghastly dream the other night, in which I seemed to revisit the very worst days of the divorce. The dream hangover was bad; I haven’t felt the way I felt in the dream in a very long time. I woke up hating and dreading my ex-husband in equal measure, wallowing in guilt and rage. I am massively grateful that those days are gone. But the dream brought everything back; hearing my ex-husband’s voice today on the phone made me nauseated, even though he was perfectly polite. As was I. He and the kids tended to the house between showings while I was off having a lovely time in the woods. After we hung up, he texted me. “I put some tomatoes and herbs from my garden in a bag for you by the front door,” the text said. “I told the kids to remember but I wanted to make sure you did, too.” (Yes, he has a lovely garden in the Cottage Formerly Known as Dream. My cottage. A feeble paroxysm of jealous rage bubbled up, then was gone. I am, it turns out, too tired to worry about the cottage any more. Oh, yay, tomatoes, I thought, in an absent minded way. How nice. They were. I ate them for supper.)

So nothing is wrong, all is well, but I am anxious anyway, and I want the house to sell, and there is nothing I can do to hasten the process, and so I have simply forbidden myself to worry about it until the end of September. A banishing spell. Nothing else–not putting the situation in perspective, or trying to stay positive, or even trying just to peacefully coexist with uncertainty (I sound like a yoga teacher, don’t I?) works at all. So consider yourselves warned. I’m not going to write about the house (unless something remarkable occurs) until the end of September. I’m not being coy, I’m just trying to maintain a shred of equipoise.

Unless, of course, I get an offer. Then all bets are off.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. SarahB permalink
    August 7, 2012 12:45 pm

    Having recently completed a very stressful real estate transaction (short sale as the seller)… I found it maddening that my life depended on the whims of others. Will the buyer wait out the process? How do buyers like or not like the place? Will the bank decide in our favor? How do our bank statements look to the bank? Better not spend extravagantly… on and on, being judged by faceless entities with my financial future on the line…. awful. Hang in there.

  2. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    August 7, 2012 1:35 pm

    Ah, but you completed it! Congratulations, and it gives me hope. Thank you.

    • SarahB permalink
      August 12, 2012 8:55 am

      I will add…the weird thing that happened when it was over was that I could finally think about all the good memories of the place. It was a place we had left and been renting (and not seen since we’d moved). It loomed as a financial burden, not the place of so many happy memories. Once it was sold, all the goodness came back, and I feel like my perspective of it shifted to a happier place. It reminds me of times family members have died after a long illness….the illness and the loved one’s suffering take precedence for so long, and once that part is gone so many good memories come tumbling back in the flood of grief. It’s not exactly the same with a real estate transaction, obviously, but it was the closest thing I had in my experience.

  3. August 7, 2012 1:52 pm

    Here’s you a mantra, honey:

    “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.”

    You don’t have to believe it. You only have to say it to yourself, over and over again, until you do. And you will. And all will be well.

  4. Fidi permalink
    August 7, 2012 5:15 pm

    I never sold a house, just wittnessed someone selling his, and I found it totally nerve wrecking. I completely understand your state of mind.

  5. August 7, 2012 6:58 pm

    I’ve never sold a house but have renovated one (my ex’s) and truly understand how much work goes into that. I hope and hope you can sell your house soon! On positive-thinking, I don’t think you always have to think positive. I much prefer being optimistic, and dealing with negative times with the idea that that will pass, and I’ll be optimistic again.

  6. August 7, 2012 8:14 pm

    Argh, I can only imagine the stress. A long time ago I was in a similar situation, but I wasn’t even 30 and so I didn’t have the intelligence or consideration to be concerned about keeping the damn place clean, on top of Everything Else. It sold, eventually – to my stupid dumb-ass neighbours, who having known it was on the market for months then went through the broker….
    Anyway. It WILL sell. Not in a positive-thinking nonsense way, just have you ever heard of a house (outside of Amityville – and then, even that one sold…) which has never sold? Of course not. As one of my great friends says, every old sock has its shoe. Not that your house is an old sock – or indeed a shoe – but someone will love it, just as you once did. Now go have a slice of cake*. Or two. Sugar and fat are both well documented anti-anxiety remedies, particularly when taken together.
    (*Shop-bought – you have enough stresses in your life) xx

  7. Bent but not broken permalink
    August 7, 2012 9:07 pm

    I so empathize! I, too, am trying to sell my house — the one I love but now, going through a divorce, must sell. At first I could not imagine not living here. But now it’s become an albatross. So nice to read of your experience that mirrors my own.

  8. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    August 7, 2012 10:50 pm

    Oh, Bent but not broken, hang in there. Reluctant Launderer, I know, EVERY HOUSE SELLS EVENTUALLY, or so they say. Even an old shoe. Sock. Whatever. And the rest of you, thank you for kind encouraging words. It actually helps to know that I am not a lunatic for being so undone by this. We bought and sold two houses before this one, back in the good old real estate boom days. Back then, all the anxiety attached to buying, not selling–to sell, all you had to do was whisper you were thinking about it, and people would swarm your yard, throwing buckets of money at you, begging you to pick them, pick them! I had no idea. I remember my parents struggling to sell various houses, but I was young and had no responsibilities.

    Anyway. There’s nothing for it but to wait, though I wish there were. This time, at least, I know that I really have done everything I can. Repairs, painting, sprucing up–I’ve done them all.

  9. August 8, 2012 1:18 am

    Sending quick sale (with large offer) vibes your way…

  10. Celeste permalink
    August 8, 2012 9:21 am

    I am really sorry for this frustrating time. I can only hope it will be short. (((hugs)))

  11. August 8, 2012 2:26 pm

    I think any situation where you aren’t in control is stressful. You’ve reached the end of what you can actually do and are forced to wait and that’s beyond frustrating. (Reminds me of sending out querie letters…) But with a house it’s such a huge thing! The stress is so much greater! You are crazy in my opinion if you don’t find it maddening. Hang in there.

  12. telechick permalink
    August 8, 2012 3:19 pm

    I am trying to get my house on the market – but so far my realtor is not acting like the determined pitbull I’d been hoping for. Whenever she finally gets her act together, I hope I can achieve your level of detachment over the whole process, but it’s unlikely.

    Fingers crossed and many wishes for a quick sale and top dollar!

  13. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    August 8, 2012 3:22 pm

    My level of detachment! Ha! I have no level of detachment. I have only psychotic attachment at this point, no matter how hard I try.

  14. telechick permalink
    August 8, 2012 5:26 pm

    well, I’ll be right there with you beginning this week!

  15. Anne permalink
    August 8, 2012 5:56 pm

    People buy and sell houses every day, which makes it a *common* occurrence, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s not stressful for everyone who goes through it. It is. You are in good company. And I think the forbidding yourself to worry/write/obsess over it is a good idea. I was named in a lawsuit recently (long story, with happy ending: complaints against me all dismissed) and after I did what I needed to in terms of calling the insurance company and getting a lawyer through them, I literally put the complaint in the back of my file cabinet for several weeks and forbade myself to think about it. It worked.

    Good luck!

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      August 8, 2012 11:17 pm

      Ahh, now THAT is an inspiring story. The more space you make for worrying, the more worry moves in. If I can manage to just box the situation up and ignore it, I’ll be much happier. True, true, true.
      Such good news about your lawsuit and the happy ending, and a very sane approach to it all, you should be proud of yourself.

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