Teeter-totter

We had moved 16 times in our 16 years of marriage and the last move was perhaps the hardest. It wasn’t a big one in terms of distance (just an hour and fifteen minutes down the interstate), but it took a huge emotional toll on me.

We were living in Severance (a town near Ft. Collins), in northern Colorado. I had gotten into flipping and moving houses when my house mover told me about this cool remodeled 1950’s ranch just outside of Denver. My FH (former husband) and I went to look at it and I instantly fell in love. It was set to be torn down and I couldn’t bear the thought. “We need to save it,” I said. And like a little girl drawn to a puppy at the pound, my heart was set on this house.

As we were preparing to have it moved, HGTV contacted my house mover to see if they could film one of his moves. They decided ours would be the perfect candidate because we would be navigating through town in the middle of the night, dodging traffic lights and electric lines, making for some good, dramatic “reality” TV. We had a full film crew there for the big move as we zig-zagged our way through several towns and eventually landed on a lot near our land in Severance.

Once we had the foundation ready, the house was brought to our property. I clearly remember the day they set it in place. It was leaning slightly to one side and our construction crew ended up putting in something they called dead-man bolts (still not sure what those are, lol), that secured the structure to the foundation wall. That did the trick. Everything was lined up and ready to go and we remodeled and added on to a home I thought we would be in for a long time.

In fact, on one of the interviews for our episode, I alluded to this thought. As they filmed footage of us walking through the house in its original location, I said something like, “This is the house where we will raise our family.” Jake was just a little guy at the time, maybe a year old. And Luke was five.

I remember the night our “Haulin’ House” episode aired. We had worked for months to get into our home and it was in the finishing stages. The plumber was at the house working that evening when it came on. It was fun to look back on the adventure and replay the details as we gathered in our new media room.

I had let myself emotionally settle into this home because I did believe we would be there a long time. We were out in the country, backed up to a small lake. We had unobstructed views of the Rockies and flocks of geese that would soar over the house in perfect formation. It was truly a slice of heaven. But we didn’t end up staying there long. A job change triggered another move and we ended up relocating down to Castle Rock where we live now. I announced to my FH that after that move I didn’t think I’d have another one in me. My heart was broken leaving Northern Colorado but I worked hard to embrace our new location.

My FH got sick within a year of us moving and a couple years after his transplant, he approached me about moving again. At that point I was so depleted I didn’t think I could pack even one box. He pushed and pushed but I couldn’t do it, I literally had nothing left to give. We were basically on a teeter-totter, one of us wanted to stay planted on the ground and the other wanted to take off. And we were stuck.

If I think back to my childhood I remember LOVING teeter-totters, especially the big ones. I enjoyed the art of finding the balance and the healthy tension of the back-and-forth. I figured marriage would be much the same but slowly, over time, we stopped working in rhythm and eventually I was sitting on the ground while my FH was up in the air yelling, “Let’s go!” We were at a standstill.

I look back at this time and wish I had the tools I had needed to say, “Hey, we need to regroup here. Let’s hop off and have an honest talk. Let’s get some help and see if we can work this out.”

Through the break-up of my marriage I learned so much about relationships in general. I am so much more honest now about what I can give to my friendships, I try to offer real-time feedback (hopefully delivered in kindness) about what I can contribute and I try to provide a platform for the other person to do the same. I’ve learned to recognize signs that things are getting off balance and try to be more proactive in addressing those things.

I’ve also discovered that I’m not meant to teeter-totter with everyone. Sometimes friendships naturally come to an end, other times we recognize they are toxic and intentionally pull away. The difference for me now is that I try to handle these endings in a more honest and healthy way.

A few years ago the site of a teeter-totter brought me anxiety and pain. Now it reminds me of the lessons I’ve learned and the positive changes I’ve made in my life. Perspective is a beautiful gift often birthed out of difficult situations.

I am humbled by what I’ve gleaned through my own failures, especially my biggest failure–the disintegration of my marriage. What is your teeter-totter? And does it still represent pain or is it now a symbol of strength? If it still triggers heartache, please know that with God’s help, some hard work and a willingness to change, it won’t always be that way. Someday you’ll be able to drive by an old playground and smile, realizing your story has been redeemed. May your heart be encouraged today!

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If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need or want to hear. 

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