I discovered something about myself today and it all started with this:
Just looks like a chair, huh? Well, it is.
Yesterday my family set out on a walk around our new neighborhood. A neighbor was emptying his house and he had thrown some beautiful chairs in the trash pile. I’ve reupholstered many a chair, so I knew this piece had great potential. I’m lacking a desk chair and this would be a lovely addition to my workspace. So Artie hauled it home for me.
Let’s pause and back up a bit so that you’ll understand what my discovery really means.
I’ve loved antiques since I was in my 20’s. I’ve spent countless hours reading, studying, and learning everything I possibly could about certain types of antiques, furniture in particular. I developed a good eye and I’m able to look at something that might not currently be in the best condition and envision its potential.
I started reupholstering out of necessity — when my family was young and I didn’t have the money for new furniture I simply took apart my kitchen set and turned it into something new. The refinishing bug bit me and every opportunity I found, I would take furniture in need of attention and make it new.
My ex-husband and I opened an antique store during our marriage and at the onset it fueled my passion for antiques and antiquing. It wasn’t long before that love was vanquished by his abuse. He did a fairly good job of putting on a front for the customers, but sometimes it slipped and his true nature would show as he screamed and berated the kids and me in front of customers for some completely unintended mistake. As his belligerent behavior became more pronounced, I grew to passionately hate that store and everything associated with it. I disliked being in the shop where he could completely humiliate us at any time he chose. I was as equally mortified for the people who were witness to his rants as I was for us, the people who received the brunt of his rage.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was the day we locked the door for the last time and walked away from small business ownership. I grieved the loss of the regular customers I had come to know, but not the loss of the shop. Since that day I have had no desire to even look at an antique. My new husband, Atticus, asks me every once in awhile if I’d want to do it again. He always receives a decisive NO and he lets it go.
So that’s where my mindset was this morning when I sat down outside my garage to start removing the upholstery from this lovely chair. Jem and Scout were playing around me and drawing with chalk on the sidewalk and I relaxed and got into a rhythm removing all the staples. My mind started wandering and I realized just how much I’d missed this. It dawned on me that I had allowed my abuser to continue to rob me of something I enjoyed because I wouldn’t allow myself to separate the bad experiences from the physical items associated with them. What a waste.
I need to relearn how to enjoy certain activities that have bad memories attached, but it’s the greatest way I can possibly think of to own my life again.
I don’t have to do anything ‘antiquey’ on a grand scale – like open a shop – to enjoy a passion I had experienced long before my abuser was even in the picture. Maybe reupholstering this chair is all I’ll ever want to do again with an antique, but that decision is mine and mine alone to make.
Sometimes I think I’ve taken my power back from the lowlife who abused me, then something like this happens and I realize I’m still letting him hold power over me.
Guess what, Rail? You took so much away, but I’m gaining the strength to take back all of what was mine. It may be a slow process but it’s another step forward…and farther away from you.