Although I have briefly alluded to some recent personal struggles, it occurred to me that it might appear to the outside world that I live a charmed life, that I "have it all." After all, I live in one of the most beautiful cities on earth, I enjoy my work, I'm married to a romantic Italian man who is an involved, amazing dad to our adorable kid, and that kid is taken care of very well at little expense.
However, my careful curation of what I share on this blog has been intertwined with efforts to stay positive by focusing on what I have, being grateful, and seeing the cup half full in the face of one of the most challenging periods of my life. My nuclear family has been living in my mother-in-law's small apartment for close to two years now. My husband recently closed his business after fighting valiantly, for years (and putting everything we had on the line) to make it profitable, leaving us with crushing debt. We are the micro of the Italian crisi macro: struggling to find decent employment and living with mamma.
The MIL in question is a freaking saint. I have such profound admiration, appreciation and respect for this woman. She is a courageous survivor of difficult times herself, and we are lucky as hell to have her. So my struggles have nothing to do with her. But I. Want. My. Own. Nest.
I feel like some people do not get what lacking a nest can do to your head. Or maybe it's less important to some people than it is to others. Certainly here in Italy it's no big deal to live with your parents into your 40s or even beyond, especially considering Italian law requires parents to support their children if they need it.
It was only ever supposed to be temporary. Now I'm going on two years of living with only my clothes and accessories, toiletries, some linens and a few office-related things. No framed photos or albums. No favourite kitchen tools. No CDs or DVDs. No room just for Peanut (though he does have a little playroom he shares with his cousin). No work space for me besides the end of the dining room table. I realize a solution would be to try to create a nest within this one. But that would feel like the beginning of the end, definitively acknowledging we could be here a LONG time. And I'm not ready to face that yet.
Believe me, I am not looking for sympathy. I really do appreciate all the privileges I'm afforded for being white and having enjoyed a comfortable middle-class upbringing. I know parts of my life are enviable to others. I just realized that so many of us are trying so hard to put our best face out there and not be downers, especially on social media, that we're developing these warped, falsely "perfect" ideas about each other's lives, which just makes us feel more horrible about our own.
So I'm putting it out there, because we need to get real with each other more often. And maybe one of you is having a similar struggle, and is comforted knowing you're not alone. I personally am battling envy towards pretty much everyone I know for being able to live in their own homes. It is formidable and hard to repress. But I want to acknowledge and respect this unsettling emotion while doing my damnedest to keep it in check so it doesn't poison my relationships.
You might imagine the strain this has put on my marriage. Fortunately, in just the last couple weeks there has been an incremental upturn, which has made it easier to continue gritting my teeth and getting back to the work of refocusing, again and again and again, on the silver linings. And believing that this too shall pass.