Finally! We have arrived at The Cabin Diaries. Thank you to everyone who has sent in letters. Please send more! Also, like many projects, this one continues to evolve before it's even really taken shape. I've decided to answer letters once a month, rather than every week. For now, they will appear as blog posts, like this one here. This may change in the future...we shall see. With that, I leave you with our first letters and answers, below. I have a couple more to post this month. Remember, send me your letters!
Dear Cabin Diaries,
First and foremost, I'd like to thank you for opening yourself to this idea and to your fellow women, it’s so heartwarming.
I'm moving from my apartment up to my boyfriend's property into a trailer (we've been together a little bit over a year now, so I feel this is a mostly safe move). There is teeny tiny cabin, with just a sink, an outhouse. I was unfortunate to lose my apartment to unfavorable circumstances and so I feel lucky that he invited me to move in with him. He helped me buy the trailer which needs a lot more work than we had hoped.
However, as happy and thankful as I am to be welcomed into his space and to get out of the city and up into the woods, I am scared silly. I had become attached to my apartment, it was a symbol of my independence and strength to carry on after my divorce, and I relished in having my own space with my own rules. This was especially nice for bonding with my son (in our own house, just us).
Moving into what I feel is “his” space is a bit scary because that's how I see it, as his space. I was raised and taught to be a matriarch, a leader in my family, so putting myself in this position where I am leaning on my boyfriend to provide a home feels uncomfortable to me.
I guess my question for you is if you have any advice for me in this new step in my life journey. I want to be a steady anchor for my loved ones, I want to know how to choose my battles wisely and speak my truth with compassion and understanding so that I may be more readily heard.
Thank you so much for your time and thoughts.
Mama Moving In
Dear Mama Moving In,
Thank you for writing and for sharing your words here. I’m sorry to hear that you lost your apartment due to unfortunate circumstances.
It’s par for the course to be scared when we make big changes. Moving is a big deal. Moving in with a partner is a big deal. Moving in with a partner when you have a child is an even bigger deal. I know this because I have done it myself.
As I read your letter, a few things come to mind. First, in my own experience, I know that moving in with a lover will most certainly do one thing: It will illuminate the truth. Cohabitating with anyone, especially a romantic partner, is a fast way to learn about what works and what doesn’t. There’s no more “going home” at the end of the day. You are home, and everyone is there. In effect, this is a tremendous opportunity to refine and bolster your relationship.
Second, it sounds to me like your fear of moving in might not just be coming from joining homes with your man. From what you’ve told me, I gather that you divorced your son’s father and spent some time and energy getting back on your own two feet in your own apartment. This is very important as a parent, and particularly as a single parent. As single mothers, our children depend on us for stability. And to provide stability for our children, we must first provide it for ourselves. Then you lost your apartment, which means you also lost a large part of your stability; and from what I can tell, you chose to move in with your boyfriend based more on this unfortunate circumstance rather than waiting for the “right time,” or until other, more positive indicators moved you in that direction.
When I was a very young single mother and my son was barely 3, I was speaking to a much older woman about how I got by. I told her that I worked a little bit but that I also got child support checks each month. She looked at me hard and clear and told me not to count that child support as my income because it could disappear at any moment and it wasn’t me making that money show up. If it wasn’t my own doing, it didn’t count as support, she said. I remember feeling a bit miffed and embarrassed, but months later when—sure enough—the checks stopped coming, I was glad I had been warned.
My point in sharing that story is this: As long as we rely on someone else for stability, we will always feel a sense of fear that is eradicated when we fully support ourselves. I think moving in with your boyfriend will teach you a lot. Listen to what you learn. Do not cast it aside. Use this opportunity to learn about yourself and to teach your son new things. Use it to build love with your partner. I encourage you, however, to also use this time as a pathway to becoming able to provide that stability for yourself again. Even if you never want to move back into your own apartment, knowing that you could, at a moment’s notice, will make you feel strong and empowered. To be a steady anchor for your loved ones, make sure that first you are able to feel steadily anchored in yourself.
Good luck with everything, and I hope it unfolds with much love and light for you all.
Sadie Rose & The Cabin Diaries
Dear Cabin Diaries,
My question is brief. You know sometimes when your friends tell you how in love they are, or how happy they are in a relationship? And you want to feel happy for them? Well, I want to feel happy for them, I mean. But sometimes my friends tell me those things and my stomach aches and my heart feels heavy. I don't want to be desperate for love, but the truth is that I so desperately want to be in love. How do I sit in this feeling and still be okay and happy? How do I navigate the discomfort of not feeling happy for a friend when I should? Is this just a phase? I know I should be focusing on myself...but I can't help these feelings sometimes.
Hoping for happy
Dear Hoping for Happy,
I understand your plight. And guess what? It's okay. First of all, you can go ahead and take some pressure off yourself. Like the rest of us, you are human, and so the way you learn and grow is through experiencing discomfort. Envy and jealousy are generally quite unpleasant feelings, and sometimes we feel ashamed for experiencing them at all. But I think that when they rear their ugly heads, we can, in the best of times, use them as tools for self-reflection and growth. What I'm saying is this: It's okay.
It's okay to feel uncomfortable or even unhappy when someone else is telling you how in love they are and how happy they are. The truth is that you probably are happy for them, and yet their reflection of your current situation makes you feel unhappy. So don't beat yourself up. It's more about you than about them, and that's okay.
If I've learned anything in life, it's that the best way to get through an uncomfortable feeling is to allow it in. Let it settle in your body so that it can move on. If you resist it, it will hover at your doorstep for longer than you care to admit.
There's something else that's okay: wanting to be in love. Wanting to be in love is not desperate, it is part of life. Some may argue, in fact, that this is our entire mission in life, and that much of what we do is so that we can, in fact, be in love while we are alive in this lifetime. This is another feeling that you can allow yourself to have. Don't feel bad about it. I don't know you, but I do know this: Love will find you, and you will find it. It happens. It's okay to want it.
One of the best things I've read about this "waiting period" is a blog post from one of my heroes, Danielle LaPorte. It's called The Principles of Active Waiting vs. Feeling-Like-a-Loser Kind of Waiting. I recommend that you go read that to get inspired about how to channel your energy while you wait for your next adventure in love to show up.
In the meantime, when your friends share that stuff with you and you feel the jealous monsters rear their heads, take a deep breath. Rather than forcing yourself to say, "I'm so happy for you!" you can instead try different techniques that are more honest. Asking questions is a good place to start. "What is the most fun thing you've done together?" "Has he given you flowers?" "How did you meet?" And so on. Engaging as a listener will start to give you back your power to be yourself in those situations, and it will make you feel like a good friend as well. Win.
Sadie Rose & The Cabin Diaries