I’ve been a little absent from the online world but for good reason, I promise.
After five years of living in sunny Smethwick, I’ve packed up and moved 30 minutes away to Walsall. It’s been on the cards for a while, a change that I needed but was entirely sure how it would happen. But it did and I’m typing this blog post while sat at my desk in my bedroom, enjoying the peace this new environment brings me.
But before I tell you about my new home, it’s important you know the story behind our old home…
I’d moved to Smethwick on a whim. I was desperate to leave the house I shared with my ex partner and I browsed on Gumtree for an escape. You see, I didn’t have savings and couldn’t afford Letting Agent fees, and experience told me that communicating directly with landlords worked better. You can dazzle them with your personality. You can get a sense of who they are. You can negotiate.
I once loved the semi-detached house I lived in, it was the type of house I dreamed of living in when I was still living on council estates. I always thought that a bigger house would mean a better life, but it didn’t work out that way. I’d gone through a messy break-up, was enduring harrassment and emotional abuse still. It took 8 months for me to receive his keys, and until then I would return home from work to see he’d been in my room and leaving notes under my pillow. It was too much. I couldn’t relax at home. I felt like he would turn up whenever he wanted and he did. So I had to move.
I arrived in Smethwick to view the house and felt a sense of belonging as I stepped out of my car. It was an open viewing and I could see families with two parents queuing up outside the house waiting to view it too. I could have panicked about that, and perhaps should have, because I knew then the stigma single parent familes, or more specifically single mothers face. But I was determined the house was mine because it just felt like it was. I had a good look around, asked the landlord lot of questions, lingered after the other viewers had left and asked how soon they’d like to let it. I was honest about not having a deposit but told them I’d be able to move in pretty quickly and pay full rent. To add a little flavour, I gave the landlord my business card (a boss move!) and told him to give me a call because I was serious. It may seem like a cocky move but I’m serious when it comes to things I want and I know a first impression counts. I know how to be memorable, and it worked. Less than two weeks later I had moved in and begun a new chapter in Smethwick with my girls.
I didn’t plan on staying there for five years but I did. The girls attended Stay and Plays, nursery and then primary school there. We made friends from school and became part of the community. When I left work and finished my Access course, I sold my car and claimed full benefits while I figured out what to do with my life. We managed on the buses, we found local parks and created adventures on a budget. The house wasn’t perfect but it was home and we made it our own. It was the first time as an adult that I lived alone, although I was with my children. I had a breakdown in that house, sucked deep into mental darkness and operating like a zombie while trying my best to be a fully present mother. I struggled with money, sometimes going without dinner to make sure my girls had enough to eat. I got creative with meals and eventually it was in that house I learned to manage my money and be resourceful.
I brought friends together, made memories and laughed until I cried in that house. I had a few lovers in that house, a few visitors over the years who left before the sun came up and gave me what I thought I needed. My heart was broken in that house, and was forced to face my self-sabotaging ways and choose to make a change. I stood up to the narcissist in that house, stood in my hallway with no fucks given and demanded respect, against a raging, pacing bull who towered over me.
I was so unsure of myself, scared of the world and haunted by past trauma, I didn’t know who I was when I moved to Smethwick. I found myself in that house and I’ll forever love it for that, but it was time to move on.
There are a few things different about the house I’ve moved to. Yes, it’s still privately rented. It’s in a posh area of Walsall (such an area exists, believe me), it’s semi detached and has a gorgeous garden. The street is quiet and peaceful, and it already feels like home. Like before, I found the house on Gumtree and, like before, I moved in without a deposit.
But I moved here because I wanted to, not because I’m running away. I had four weeks to pack, and that was hard because I’m used to less time and more pressure. After five years of living in Smethwick, we had accumulated so many belongings and it was only when we moved that I realised how settled we were. Interestingly enough, some of the decorative household items I have seem to suit this house much better than they did the old one.
As I type this, I’ve been here two weeks and already feel settled in. I’ve unpacked and organised our belongings, and it feels like we’ve been here longer. My girls seem happier, having their own bedrooms was a big adjustment but now they love their own space. My oldest has sorted out her books on her bookcase and keeps her room tidy. The little one gives me more kisses and is obviously the messy one of the two. I feel happier and lighter, more motivated and more at peace.
It could be because the house is light and airy. It could be because I have a much bigger bedroom and a nicer kitchen. It could be because it’s summer and the weather is better.
But I know what it is.
The woman I was when I moved to Smethwick needed that house to heal and grow. I needed to fall apart and make mistakes and unlearn all of what I had become.
Now I’m the woman I was meant to be, who has outgrown the environment she grew in and is ready to spread her wings.
I’ve left my coccoon behind because I’m finally ready to fly.
It’s butterfly season.