In this case the art of moving house. In which I am pretty well versed.
I have just moved in to my 23rd home – so in the past 35 years I have moved approximately 22 times. The reason why I say approximately is that, while I was writing out the list of places I have lived just now, I realised that there have been a couple of times where I have been on the move from place to place while waiting to move in somewhere more permanent… Looking at the list I wondered if those times would fall under the category of being homeless? I’ve never thought of myself as having ever been homeless but there has been times where I had to live with my sister because I had no place to live. And when I was very young my mother and I stayed at a camping site for some time and later rented a room until we found a place to live.
It always feels slightly odd to look back at my life; it is very much defined by the places I have lived. It’s like my life is divided into these different little slots of time and space, little boxes where certain things happened and then that box was closed and the next one opened.
The shortest time I have lived in one place is probably 1-2 months and the longest is 10 years. And now I have just moved house again; I am yet again going through the process of uprooting myself, letting go of a home and gently trying to let myself settle into this new and – at the moment – still somewhat unfamiliar place.
There is so much I can write about this way of living, about the processes of moving from one home to another – it has shaped me in so many ways. But today I want to link it to my voice-hearing experiences.
In the past couple of months all my energy and focus has gone into the move. I haven’t had the energy to check in with the voices – or the courage I suppose. I just couldn’t face having to deal with whatever might be going on for them during this time.
There has only been space for being practical, forward thinking and organisational. I have tried to look after my own emotional well-being but the thought of the possible complexity of what the voices might feel, think and need has just made me keep my distance.
There hasn’t been too many complaints from them and no violent uproars, for which I am extremely grateful. I have explained the situation to them and asked for their patience. I have gone through some difficult emotional states and I have been physically ill 3 times during this time. I have felt exhausted and overwhelmed but also excited and highly alert.
But I am settling in to this new home; finding new routines and getting time to just relax and recover. And the more I have slowed down, the more the guilt of keeping the voices at bay have haunted me. It always feels like a looming scary mountain to reconnect with the voices when I have avoided them for a longer period.
Even though I know them pretty well I just fear the repercussions or that something might have changed massively; maybe some might have given up and left without saying goodbye. Or maybe some are holding grudges. I guess what I fear the most is that they have needs that have built up and I feel incapable of meeting them. When I haven’t checked in with them for a long period of time there is a huge element of not knowing – and fearing the unknown.
This morning I woke up feeling an intense tiredness. Like a numbness, a listlessness. My body felt heavy and weak and my head was cottonwoolly. Luckily I am working from home and can be flexible with my time so I decided to stay in bed and wait. So I just lay there – maybe for half an hour. Nothing shifting, nothing moving, nothing coming or going – just heavy numbness. I started thinking about my options; I could get up and have a shower, shift the energy purposefully. Or I could stay where I was and wait. I could read, escape into another story for a while.
Then I remembered how I can see the trees on the hill from the bed now so I opened the curtains and the window and sat up against some cushions and just looked at the trees outside. For an unknown amount of time. My partner brought up a cup of tea which I drank. Looking at the trees.Thoughts coming and going and still nothing shifting. So I gathered myself once again and tried to think if there was anything else I could do. I thought about the shower again. Thought about things I need to do today. Tried to form a plan.
This time I remembered the aroma therapy diffuser I have just bought and I wondered whether this would be an appropriate time to try it out. My favourite smells to soothe me are rose and vanilla so I put them in the diffuser, turned it on and looked at the changing colours for a while. Then I looked out the window again.
And I thought to myself: ‘While you’re just lying there, waiting, maybe you could use the time sensibly and do that check in with the voices you keep putting off.’
So I did…
I let go – did that shift in mind state that helps me reconnect. I looked out the window at the trees, felt their solidness, their rootedness and their life. The sap moving inside them, slowly but like me just waiting. Soon the sap will be flowing more freely, buds will form and the trees will get that special glow that happens just before the leaves start unfolding. I felt my body rest into the images of the trees, felt myself carried by their branches like they did when I was child and I was always climbing trees, always playing in trees.
Then I thought; ‘Where is Aslan? Is he still with me?’ And there he was coming over the hill above the woods, bigger than I have ever seen him before but also less solid. He shook his mane, sat down on the hill and looked over the valley, emitting this deep low growling sound. I was still just wondering about his size, he seemed almost as big as the hill itself. I listened to his growling and felt myself surrender.
And then there they were. First Domina, waltzing into the room and perching herself on the windowsill in front of me, arms crossed and looking aloof but amused. Then Bellissa in quite a state – bouncing around the room, more like a thing than a human form. She seemed to be ecstatic and distressed at the same time. No one else came in to the room but out on the hill others appeared; Søren, Pan-Ra, Elysia, Amazone and Xhabbo. Everyone quiet and with this air of apprehension.
I looked at them for a while. There was a feeling of ‘let’s wait and see how things go’. Whether it was aimed at me or more generally at having moved, I don’t know. I checked in again to see if there was anyone new who’d come along. All I felt was the Dragon slithering along the walls of the house, beating her tail and with an air of restlessness and anger about her.
I tried to check in with the MotherVoice but even though she was there, she seemed elusive and it sounded like she was mumbling to herself rather than talking to me.
It is only while I have been writing now that I realise that DeMon wasn’t there. Not during the check in any way. I’ve felt her on and off on a regular basis but she didn’t show up today.
Whatever happens in my life it directly and indirectly affects the voices and my relationship with them. Big changes like moving house creates a lot of uncertainty – for me and for them. I am not sure what is going on at the moment. They might be waiting to see what I’ll do or they might just be reflecting back my own apprehension.
I asked them what to do, what I could do; for me, for them in this situation. And from Aslan came this soundless answer: ‘Art can make a difference’