Heading into a tailspin

I got some bad news yesterday about our living situation. We moved into our current rental, which is a duplex, in October. The family on the other side were just moving out, so it’s been empty since then. Our original plan was to rent at least a year, and ideally until early 2019.

Two things happened yesterday: The landlord was having some work done on the other side, and it filled our side up with smoke. When he came to investigate (because it was so bad Dan thought our furnace might be out again), the landlord informed us that a nice couple with a large hairy dog is moving next door.

I love dogs, but we can’t live with them. Dan has severe allergies. If it were a poodle or a husky or one of the more hypoallergenic dogs, we might have a chance, but according to the landlord the dog is a mix of two breeds that are more in the “deadly to allergic people” category.

Still, it shouldn’t be a problem if the two sides of our duplex were properly sealed and vented, but they aren’t. Maybe dander doesn’t travel like smoke, but maybe it does. We are consulting the allergist to get some advice.

The landlord is trying to work with us and see if the couple will move into another property they liked. It didn’t have a fence so he might add one. But if they won’t, we may end up house-hunting on short notice less than six months after we just found this place. He mentioned he would be willing to install filters…somewhere…and possibly do some duct work, but I’m not sure that will help. He is OK with us breaking our lease “if it becomes problematic.”

If there’s anything I dread more than packing up all our shit and moving for the 2nd time in less than six months, it’s weeks of uncertainty about whether we will have to pack up all our shit and move for the 2nd time in less than six months.

It’s times like these that my brain has a field day making things seem worse than they actually are.

Look what happened last time you had to find a place to live on short notice!  You ended up in this Motel Hell!

Your daughter loves her new school but you can’t possibly afford to buy a house in the same area! She’s going to be crushed!

If you don’t find a house NOW NOW NOW, by the time Dan shows symptoms you’re going to have to pick up and move to whatever crappy place you can find before he gets even sicker!

What if he’s bullshitting about breaking the lease and we have to go to court?

What if you don’t find a place and Dan has to get on meds and they don’t work and he can’t breathe?

And those are just some of the thoughts rattling around on Level One, which I’ll call “Freaking Out About the Situation at Hand.”

On Level Two we have the “It’s All Going to Shit” thoughts:

How can you get your job done when you’re so distracted?

You have to take more time off for this appointment! You’re taking too much time off!

You won’t have enough vacation saved to take any time off moving!

You can’t afford to hire movers this time!

You won’t be able to find a place as close to this one and you’re going to have to commute forever and miss even more time with your kids!

You’re going to go broke paying double rent while you move!

Etc.

I’m sure well-meaning people who don’t understand anxiety would tell me “Oh, stop worrying. It will all work out.” As if that ever in a million years works. Believe me, if there was an off button or even a sleep button for this sort of thing I’d gladly hit it right now. But that’s where the big fat O in OCD comes in. OBSESSIVE.

I think of obsession as the “enemy” part of my brain. It’s the part that just keeps walking back through the minefield when stuff like this happens. What’s the worst possible scenario I can come up with based on these recent events? We aren’t stopping until we find out! Woohoo!

Even when I try to distract myself, Enemy Brain doesn’t retreat. It sits and waits for an opportunity. That’s why for me, all those mindfulness relaxation DIY fix-yourself tactics just fall flat.

Take a deep breath and relax. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in, like Dan won’t be able to when that fucking dog moves next door…

I try to look on the bright side. There are other issues with the house so moving wouldn’t be a bad thing, necessarily. But I wanted to move on my timeline, and the bright side seems way over there somewhere.

The only tactic that works against Enemy Brain is to make plans. Dan goes to see the allergist next week. Then we’ll have more information to plan further. I hate not being able to plan further NOW, but thankfully I’m on Zoloft so I’ll manage. Meanwhile, the waiting part makes it hard not to walk around in the mental equivalent of a giant doom-cloud.

I’m not calling a realtor yet, but it wouldn’t hurt to jot down a few names.

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