409 the heart. Mop & Glo the soul.

Toxic

You know that feeling?  The one you have when you’re about to make a horrible decision?  The one you’ve convinced yourself you have to make because there are no other options (even though there are)?

I had that feeling nearly four years ago.

We had decided to take on a new renter while we lived abroad in Brazil.  We knew she was off.  That she was prickly.  That her all-too-nice exterior was covering something toxic.  But, instead of bolting in the other direction, we signed on the dotted line.

The dotted line that stole our peace

AND

our sanity.

The woman who moved into our home (I specify that it was a home.  We had made it that way.  We had loved it that way.) was a horribly sad case.

This week she finally left.

This week we went to assess the damage.

This week we found a revolting reality.

Our home, now just a slab and walls, had become a sub-standard shelter.  A place without life.  Without soul.  Without love.

Looking around, I felt sick and angry and completely overwhelmed.

I can’t do this.

Where do I even begin? 

What’s the financial cost?  The emotional?? 

AND

Is it even worth it?

One look to my husband confirmed that it was, so I started toward the kitchen and opened the fridge.

There was a strong waft of Y.U.C.K against my cone mask.

Worse than I thought.

I removed all the shelving, the bins, the ice maker and started sudsing.  And, after four hours, I stepped back to admire my work:

It. Was. Like. New.

Like the neglect and indolence never happened.

Like she never happened. And I smiled at the thought of it.

Then stepped outside of myself and felt utterly cruel.

And realized…

all that time I’d spent hating her, I should have been praying for her.  Because for her to become the person she is must have required horrible neglect and indolence on the part of those who were supposed to love her.  To protect her.  To shelter her.

And I felt something for her then that I’d never felt: compassion

How much easier it would be if we could just 409 our hearts and Mop & Glo our souls.  If we could be made new, with some sudsy water and some serious elbow grease, like my lovely fridge??  And then I realized…

We can.

Anything that is loved can be restored.  Perhaps it won’t be exactly as it was before.  Perhaps we won’t be as we were before. And maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe what could make us bitter should instead make us better.

Perhaps it would be good for her to know that.

I don’t know if we’ll move back, if we’ll rent again or if we’ll sell.

And really…it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I know now that things are not always what they seem.  And that, oftentimes, the experiences that test the most, teach the most, as well.

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