YOU ARE THE ADVICE COLUMNIST: How Do I Detach Myself From My Emotionally Haunted House?

What I need to do now is somehow ‘re-frame’ what that house means to me so that instead of puking when the thought of it even passes briefly through my brain, I feel at least neutral about it or, at best, see it as something positive.

Oct 10, 2013 at 6:30pm | Leave a comment

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I moved in with my partner two years ago into a house that he bought but that we chose together and am very settled here and extremely happy with the relationship.
My issue is to do with the house that I left, which is still languishing with a ‘for sale’ sign and that I can’t bear to go back to. I bought that house several years ago for myself with the ordinary but still worthy ambition of living there for many years, gradually doing it up and making it ‘mine’, having moved around a lot in my life until that point.
Not long after I moved in, I started a relationship with someone who had been my best friend for half a decade but who ultimately turned out to be a manipulative and deceitful person who deliberately and painstakingly destroyed my trust, confidence and self-esteem over a long period of time (the details of that should probably go into an ‘It Happened To Me’ but that’s another story for another time).
We lived together in that house for 5 years, during which I never did end up doing up the house, just wound up with a load of debt and emotional turmoil. Eventually, he left me for someone else and, after toying with me for another few months for his own amusement, pretty much walked away and started his new life. He ended it two days after I’d lost my job (and I believe that this was the catalyst for him leaving; I was no longer capable of financially supporting his lifestyle but his long time other girlfriend was). So the time I should have spent getting over the relationship and building myself back up mentally, I instead spent looking for work, making ends meet, living the whole unemployment nightmare and eventually, for lack of other options, setting up my own business (which is now going pretty well but hasn’t quite broken even yet, so I don’t have a lot of extra cash to spare).
For a number of reasons, the house is not going to sell for a very long time (bought it in the boom, new affordable housing has been built nearby, the area didn’t get the regeneration it was promised and so on). The best I can do is fix it up and rent it out and hope to at least cover some of the mortgage.
The problem is that to me, that house is so mentally tied up with such awful memories and experiences, feelings of failure and destroyed hopes and trust that I just can’t bear to go back. The mere thought of it makes me physically sick. My old neighbours have been very kind, keeping an eye on it but that can’t go on for ever. I really need to get back in there, fix it up, decorate it and get it rented. While I have zero regrets for moving in with my new partner (I wasn’t expecting to meet him but, you know, ‘YOLO’ and all that) I’m aware that the situation has allowed me to run away, bury my head in the sand and ignore the old house and all its related baggage.
What I need to do now is somehow ‘re-frame’ what that house means to me so that instead of puking when the thought of it even passes briefly through my brain, I feel at least neutral about it or, at best, see it as something positive. How do I do that? I know part of it will mean dredging through all the related feelings it brings up and I’m prepared to do that if it means I can move on – I just don’t know how to make sure that process ends up with the result I need. I don’t want to just start rummaging through all those old memories if it’s just going to amplify them or send me into another spiral of depression and anxiety. How do I detach those memories and feelings from that house and move my thought process from emotional to practical? 

What do you think? How can our reader remove herself from her emotionally haunted house? Let her know in the comments below!

 

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