I have been under a great deal of stress, lately, for a variety of reasons, and I have barely been able to relax at all. I realized recently that a good deal of my inability to escape, even temporarily from my stress is a direct result of my current living situation. My space, my home, are very important for my mental well being. I need to have a place that I can identify as my own. It doesn’t have to be grand or luxurious. I have quite happily lived a space just large enough for a single bed and a small table for months on end in the fairly recent past. All I need is a space that is mine, a space that I can control, a space that feels like home. Going on six months now, I haven’t had a place like that.
Reasonably, I should. I am living in a lovely neighborhood, close to friends and relatively close to family. My apartment isn’t gorgeous, and I have my share of problems with the building and the landlord, but nothing that doesn’t come with the territory of renting. I don’t need a lot to be happy, and my basic needs are quite satisfied. My problem is that I have lived with a series of people who have not and essentially refuse to act respectfully toward the space and the other people who use it. My frustration and irritation with essentially being the only person who cares about and maintains the space has inspired in me a deep seated resentment and anger toward some of these people. I don’t feel at home in my apartment in no small part because every time I come home, or get up in the morning, or wander through the shared space, I am smacked in the face with other people’s disregard.
On several occasions, my husband and I have thoroughly cleaned, top to bottom, our apartment, and nearly every time we are then confronted with a heap of garbage, or worse, the end result of a much neglected cat’s boredom. Two of our roommates are moving out, and in preparation for showing off the apartment and finding new roommates, my husband and I spent five hours cleaning. It was torture discovering more and more nastiness that was a direct result of other people’s casual disregard for the home.
My frustration has gotten to the point, recently, that I haven’t been able to maintain a regular spiritual practice. The vast majority of my work is spent in quiet contemplation. I just feel so uncomfortable in my own home that I cannot get myself to relax enough to properly meditate. All I can think about is having to clean that mess in the kitchen, or the bathroom, or wondering why someone thought it was acceptable to just dump their shit in the middle of the living room floor.
It also doesn’t help that our apartment appears to also be home to some rather strange spiritual entities. They don’t seem to do much except occasionally freak out the cats and play with doorknobs, but it can get a bit unsettling. I have been loathe to really do anything in no small part because I feel like I can’t throw them out of my home until, well, it actually feels like home to me.
Part of home is cooking, it always has been vitally important to me. Sadly, the kitchen has been a battle ground for some months now. I don’t like cooking because I don’t trust that someone isn’t going to freak out at me because I left a pot on the stove, or that if I leave something in the sink to soak, that it’s not just going to have a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t need to soak heaped in on top of it and made dirtier and grosser instead of just being washed in the first place. One of my chief joys is cooking breakfast, pancakes, waffles, french toast, bacon… there’s no better way to start the day than cooking for your friends and family. I just can’t do it, as there’s always an unwelcome surprise waiting for me every morning in the kitchen.
Luckily, all of this will be changing soon. People are leaving and people are coming in, and I am hopeful for the future of this living space. I am looking forward to having a home that I can care, comfortably, about again, a home that’s not a bundle of resentment and frustration. I am looking forward to being able to set aside a space for my spiritual practice, a space that I can meditate and reflect in and know that no one will disturb me there. I am looking forward to being able to relax.