On Losing a House


Two years ago we lost our house. In the full sense of the word, lost. Some poor business decisions were made very long ago and the consequence of which was that nearly five years later, we weren’t able to keep the house we thought we would live in forever.

I’ve written about this a bit in the past with a different attitude. And I’ve talked about it. If you would have asked me about this a year ago or read anything I wrote about it you would hear me say things about down sizing, about our-treasures-aren’t-here-on-earth and even about its-not-the-end-of-the-world-to-lose-a-house.

All of that is still true.

But people around me were treating it like a death in the family and it just plain irritated me. It’s NOT a death, I wanted to scream. We are just short-selling our house. Frankly it made me more angry at the people I knew who worshipped the American Dream.

A house isn’t everything, you know. It’s really not a big deal.

But it was a very big deal.

Losing our house. Losing my house.

At the time people were losing their houses and careers around me in droves. Many families I knew were moving and many people had been laid off of work. We were lucky, I thought, to still have each other and to still be able to have a roof over our head. We were fortunate, I thought, that we weren’t losing our business and that we were still all healthy and whole.

And I still believe that.

But losing that house was harder on me that I ever let on to anyone. Even myself.

My heart and my marriage had been healed in that house. My life had changed in that house. My friends had met Jesus in that living room. I had seen miracles happen in that home.

My baby took her first steps on that floor and it was the place in my mind that when I closed my eyes, I saw our roots grow deep and strong. I’d poured wine and coffee and baked bread and cakes in that kitchen for people I loved. I’d played games on the living room floor with my toddlers and carried babies on hips as I made dinner.

So when we lost our house, we lost more than just a place to lock up when we left. We lost a sense of identity and I lost a sense of confidence. I lost the walls inside which I felt safe and loved. When I packed up my dishes in that home, I packed up a piece of myself as well.

I hate writing about this because I feel like I’m whining. Oh, poor Sarah, she lost her house. What about the people who don’t HAVE houses? What about people who lose parents or children or things that are far worse?

So, this is yet another thing that I’ve been scared to say, scared to even talk about and worried that I will come off wrong.

But in all honesty losing that damned piece of property made me question everything about myself: I am a stay-in-one-place-type-of-person. I’m solid. You know where to find me. I grow roots. I. live. here. where. I. belong.

But now I had no idea where I belonged.

So we found a place to live for the last two years but for the last two years I have wandered. I lived in a house with my family but I have felt untethered. I have felt not-myself.

My girls talk about it often. “I miss our old, old house” they say and they mean the one we lost. I usually put my finger to my temple and press for a moment. How do I explain to them that I left a part of myself there and if I could change the past I would? That the big adult things that have to do with banks and businesses sometimes are harder to work through than you could ever imagine. And that things don’t always turn out as we plan. How do I say this to a little girl who just misses her pale-yellow room with the stars on the ceiling?

So I say these things. That we had to move. That the bank wouldn’t let us stay. And then I feel like a bad mother, but then a normal one all the same. I remind us all of what is good in our lives and what we have to be thankful for (and I’m telling this to myself as much as I’m telling it to them).

And I finish by saying to them that trust-me-I-never-wanted-to-leave-either.

And now looking back, I know that’s when a big part of our more recent marriage issues began. I can’t explain it but places do have power I think. Even if it’s as simple as what a place symbolizes to you, I now know with experience that a place can be good for a person or very bad for a person too.

Our house loss has been both good and bad, but far more bad than I let on to people who asked. And it wasn’t because I was lying, but it was because I didn’t know how to tell myself the truth about it. I wanted to feel all the feelings I SHOULD be feeling rather than the ones that were truly rising up inside me.

The day we moved two years ago I drove away from that driveway when movers were still loading beds and dressers on to a truck. I live five miles from that house but I’ve never been back. It’s just too hard.

A few months ago, nearly two years after I drove away from that place, I finally said goodbye to it, as silly as it seems. Laying in bed one night, I forced myself to mentally walk through each room in that home, something I had refrained from doing in a very long time. I mentally walked through each room and I “looked” around, I said goodbye and I shut the door. I did that for each room until I was left at the front steps, and then I shut and locked the front door.

It hasn’t make any of this easier for me at all, but I did feel like I could move on.

We’ve moved yet again. I know. Again, it’s not what I’d ever planned for my family. Packing up my dishes almost killed me this time around. But it was different. I knew I was turning a page and it was a different kind of move. It was filled with a little bit of hope, a little bit of joy, {a whole lot of work} and a little bit of happiness.

And it’s been a very good thing. 

What about you? Are places important to you? Do you move a lot? Do you stay in the same place? Can you relate to my story at all?


  1. Lynn says

    After reading this moving article, I was trying to decide whether to post my story. I don’t even know how to begin to express how much your story touched me, and how closely I related to everything you said. I’ve never seen it stated quite so accurately. It was as if I was reading my own feelings. It made me tear up because I too believe that places hold some special kind of magical power, and that they aren’t just “brick and mortar”, which was once stated to me when I was losing my family home of 44 years to foreclosure. I’m only 48, so most of my entire life, as well as my daughter’s life, was spent there. My home was part of the family, if that makes any sense. Losing it completely broke my heart. Knowing it could have been prevented if I had lived my life the right way is eating me up inside. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from this loss. It was nothing less than a death to me. Not only did I lose my home, but I lost all my possessions and pictures I owned. I’m talking about family pictures dating back to before I was even born, every picture of my daughter, and photos of my family who are no longer around. Everything was irreplaceable. I feel that the people who were able to pack up all their belongings are ever so lucky. They can take comfort in the fact that there are worse things that can happen than moving. I definitely hit “rock bottom”, with a crash. I can’t stop thinking and fantasizing about what could have and should have been. I don’t know how to deal with my emotions. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel “at home” anywhere again. Thank you for shining a light on this subject. I know I’m not alone now, and that helps.

    • Barbara says

      Hi Lynn,
      I just read your comment and it made me cry because I’m going through the same thing. I’ve lost my home and I haven’t been able to feel safe or “at home” anywhere, I suffer from severe anxiety since the loss and can’t seem to find a way to overcome the loss and make peace either it. Despite everything I try, I constantly live in the past, what I could have done differently to be able to keep it, etc. I was wondering if you would ge interested in emailing with me about this and trying to help each other?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *