For the past two years, I have been living in a former convent. Built during the late nineteenth century (always a winner for me), the building was converted into a number of residential homes a few years ago. The house that I bought is in the former Cloisters. I love the very sound of that word, suggestive of a seclusion that welcomes you within its warm and calm embrace.
I bought the house for a number of reasons, but the one that was paramount in my mind was an almost primal need to have my own space that was completely free from my ex-husband. A house for me and my children that was mine to decorate as I chose and to live in as I chose, free from the stress and tension that so often accompanied sharing a living space with him. It was a space to be free of everything that came with him: all of the hurt, all of the betrayal, all of the lies.
Situated on beautiful grounds, the Abbey became a sanctuary for me as I tried to stitch myself together after being broken by the consequences of my ex-husband’s infidelities. One of the things that struck me as I spent my first night alone in my home was just how peaceful it felt. It was as though all the serenity and contemplation of the nuns who used to live here had somehow soaked into the very foundations of the building, which still resonated with harmony, contentment and peace.
I have very much loved the opportunity to live in a place that is alive with history. And I have relished the opportunity to thrive as my own person, to discover what is important to me, when the needs of my ex-husband are stripped out of the equation. I was also profoundly grateful to have access to the beautiful grounds during lockdown. To live here has been a blessing in very many ways.
And yet… as much as I have loved my life in the Abbey, it is time to move on. All the years of my marriage, and even afterwards, my location has been dominated by the needs of my ex-husband. But that constraint no longer binds me, and the only place I want to be is in the North, the place of my birth, the place of my family, the place that calls me home.
Moving day is less than a week away. I am full of optimism, excitement and hope as my eyes look North. Yet, there is a little sadness in letting go of the Abbey. But, just as I found as I contemplated the fate of my wedding dress, sometimes you have to let go of something in order to get to where you need to be.
Change can hurt. Change can wound. But change can be liberating. And change is often oh so necessary. As I pack my life into boxes and prepare to move, I see only the promise in the future shining bright amidst the sadness of my past. This time in the Abbey has been healing for me. I take the peace and sanctuary that it gave to me with me as I go.