— Life —

The Ties That Bind

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Recently I was speaking with the realtor who has the listing for selling my family home. It’s been several years since my parents passed away, but I have clung to the house like a lifeline in a turbulent sea. Going over a few administrative details, we discussed what to do about exterior maintenance in the coming months. She suggested I remove a few pieces of outdoor paraphernalia that had remained behind after I moved out the furniture and interior belongings. ”You want to give the impression that you are done with the house” she said to me.

The sentence stabbed me, almost taking my breath away. I know what she means: I need to give the impression the house is a blank canvas, ready to be painted by a new artist, but I just can’t bring myself to commit to being done with it. I keep postponing a trip to tie up loose ends; I imagine creating a social media platform to market the house myself, but despite hours on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest, I never strike the keys that will take me to that place.

I’m not ready to give the impression the house is anything other than MY home. I know this is why the house hasn’t sold. It may be empty; it may look like it’s for sale; it’s even listed for sale, but energetically the bond between the house and me isn’t broken.

I can’t pinpoint why I won’t let go emotionally. Perhaps my friend best described the sentiment: ”I’ve put my mother in hospice care and my father in a nursing home,” she said. ”I’ve advocated for Medicare and set up trusts to protect assets. I rented the family home to generate income, and I’ve done all this with a sense of detachment, because it’s too painful and emotionally draining to really think about what I’m doing.” I get it. I think I too went through the process of closing up my parent’s estate with business like detachment. But when it now comes to the final piece – the actual sale and transfer of the deed of the family home – I can’t do it. If I do it with emotional disengagement it dehumanizes me to some degree, and if I let myself experience the range of emotions that come with this last act, I fear being reduced to a pile of maudlin rubble. Right now, at least, I don’t have the time or the space for that.

Maybe in a few weeks, or a few months, or a few years, selling the house – giving the impression I’m done with it – will seem OK, or at least easier to do. Or maybe this is one of those gauntlets you have to run to find out who you really are and what you are made of. Whatever it is, I’m tired of running it, of always being one step ahead of the feeling of loss and being emotionally orphaned.

Perhaps that fatigue is the first cut in breaking the tie that binds me to a piece of property that no longer allows my spirit to rest.


  • Tara Sayers Dillard June 22, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Perhaps you don’t need to show you are done with the house. Instead, show the house is loved. How? That is your joy to choose. Honor yourself, your parents and the new buyer.

    Sold my beloved 30 year home, a rental home, and a friend’s lake house, all 3, last year. My home & the rental sold within 24hrs at the top price in several years for their market. Friend’s lake house had been for sale 6 years/3 realtors, he took my offer of staging it and listing for-sale-by-owner.

    How did I do it? Showed each home was loved, and the focus was on anyone buying the home/s would find their joy there too.

    No doubt you love the house, show it. Let the new buyer get that love there too, for their new life. And, your new life….moving on !

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

    • esrcornell June 22, 2016 at 9:25 am

      What a lovely idea! I do want the new owners to love it as much as I do… perhaps an attitude shift is EXACTLY what the realtor and I need… thank you!

    • 1010 Park Place June 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      There’s great emotional freedom in Tara’s suggestion. The alternative is to saddle ourselves with mental, emotional and physical baggage that will only serve to eat away at us and tear at our energy levels. That’s not what you, your parents, even the house if it could talk, would want for you. I’ve sold two important homes in my life, so I know how hard it can be. I also know the longer you resist the idea, the harder it becomes. xoxox, Brenda

  • Diane June 22, 2016 at 9:30 am

    That last tie…

  • Jen Lawrence June 22, 2016 at 9:35 am

    It’s amazing how the things (and people) to which we tether ourselves can be so very draining. Perhaps there is a formal way you can say goodbye and cut the cords, freeing yourself from the property. I’m a big fan of sage. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts about something many of us face. We recently sold the family cottage as it was too much work for my parents and, at the time, for me. It was hard but necessary and has allowed me to move forward in other ways. xo

  • Susan Tolles June 22, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Beautiful words, Sara! My attic is full of “stuff” that is tied to my children: elementary school papers, books, baby clothes and toys. I just can’t bring myself to toss any of it! Though my children have asked me to please clean out the attic before I die. 🙂 It’s hard to let go of things that tie us to such warm memories, but what is most important is the memories themselves! How blessed you were to have that beautiful place that can now build new special memories to someone else!

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