When The Outside Doesn’t Match The Inside – By Nicola O’Hanlon

I find myself lately, missing my house. The house I lived in ten years ago, when I was married. The place I thought would symbolise a functional, abundant, happy life. It was spacious, and decorated how I liked it. It had a big kitchen that I loved to cook in and a dining room that could seat all our family members.

It had a huge garden that backed onto fields, with hedgerows abundant with different plant life each season. Snow drops and bluebells in Spring. Flowering wild fruit trees in Summer. Crab apples and slows in the Autumn, and even in winter the red holly berries appeared like little red jewels against the receding greenery.

And the peace. Oh the peace and quiet. Sounds like an episode of Little House On The Prairie. But reality was, we were far from the Ingalls family.

One day, it was necessary for us to leave. I packed what I could into my car, along with my two children and we left. While our home appeared beautiful and peaceful, our lives were not. The external picture of our world most definitely didn’t match the internal.

We left, and we never went back. I still cannot drive by that house to this day because it is too painful. I’m grieving still for my home. For a home. And I’m continually searching for ways to have a permanent and secure place for my children and I. It is the last raw space inside me. The part where I feel most vulnerable, most inadequate and where I am still letting my children down. Yuck. The shame I have around it is sometimes unbearable.

This area of my life is a work in progress…..and all that stuff.

There are times in everyone’s lives when something happens that we perceive as bad. We feel like the bottom has just fallen out of our world and we are in a freefall tailspin to impending doom. But often, the doom we are so sure is coming, never actually arrives and we find we stay in unbearable situations because of the great job, the gorgeous house, and the illusion that without these things we cannot survive.

I have a meeting tomorrow to discuss plans for a new business venture. Yes, it’s another attempt at security for us. I’ve gotten to know this person over the last few weeks, and it looks like a promising project. I’m excited about working with her. I’m excited about the possibilities and a new adventure.

As I spoke to her on the phone this morning giving her the address of the house we live in now, I found myself apologising for it. I heard myself saying, “it’s just rented, and so it’s not very pretty”….yadda yadda yadda.

Immediately she said that instead of berating myself, I should be very fucking proud of the person I am, the lessons I’ve learned and the experience I’ve gained in the past ten years and that no amount of external fanciness can depict that adequately.

And you know what?…she’s 100% right.

Despite what I see as a grotesque failing in me, what I have gained following the loss of our home, is quite astonishing. Where loss is, there is also opportunity. A void is left that you can fill with absolutely anything you want. It leaves space for things that perhaps there wasn’t an inch of room for before.

Once, I was obsessed with curtains and matching cushions. When all that was forcefully taken away, it left room for my writing, which led to travel and meeting people I never dreamed I would meet. It opened endless opportunities, most of which I’ve grabbed with both hands. It afforded me a choice of expansion in my thoughts and experience and the development of myself.

Sometimes, what we attach ourselves to, what we identify ourselves with, limits our growth and expansion. Be it houses, jobs, people, places or things, the external is worthless without the internal being solid.

Most days I don’t look so shiny on the outside, but the inside is doing better than I give it credit for. I guess that never judging books by their covers is something I should pay more attention to.

Nicola O'Hanlon

About Nicola O'Hanlon

Meet our Editor-In-Chief, Nicola O'Hanlon. She created this website, along with the help of the InTheRooms team in September 2015. Her work has been published in several recovery magazines, including Recovery Today, In Recovery Magazine, AfterPartyChat.com, Psychology Today and Reach Out Recovery to name but a few. She has also had her work published in two Feminist anthologies and a book of personal recovery stories. Born and raised in Wexford, Ireland she still lives there with her two children, Christopher and Jessica. Her background is in healing through Massage Therapy, Reflexology and Sechiem Energy Healer. She has combined her professional and life experience and now coaches women on how to empower themselves. She runs the Womens Wisdom Healing Circle meeting, on InTheRooms.com every Sunday (Noon est 5pm UK & Ireland), which is a non program specific gathering of women seeking support, encouragement and healing. Already an expert on how not to live life she is a constant seeker of new and better ways of being. Nature is her Higher Power and she believes in magic, crystals and blames the phases of the moon for her multiple personalities.
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3 Comments

  1. Very similar scenario that affected me greatly. Losing my home where my children grew up in for 11yrs was one of the most difficult times I endured. Allow yourself to grieve the loss. I continued my recovery through this difficult time without medicating myself. Gained self respect, character, and working on a new career. One door closes 5 more open up. Enjoy today.

  2. I think no one knows how messed up I really am. 🙁

  3. bravo nicola. said what i was thinking,failed my children.but both of them could not be happier,that ive finally got my act together.sometimes ‘if only we could see ourselves as others see us’ applys.great read

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