For the first six and a half months of living here, I could not bring myself to hang framed pictures on the various walls in the house. Something very strong was holding me back, something with more weight than my feeling of DIY incompetence.
It suddenly hit me about ten days ago – and the shock was massive, though it shouldn’t have been.
Almost all the paintings and framed prints hanging on the walls in my old house had originally belonged to my ex-husband and his first wife. I felt as if the artistic decisions had already been made before I arrived on the marital scene. I felt, in truth, as if the vibrations and physical appearance, even the smell, of the place owed more to the previous wife, the first marriage, than it ever did to this second incarnation.
I felt sidelined. I felt as if I had no taste. I saw myself as a woman with no home-making and home-decorating skills. I saw my choice of images, fabrics, cutlery as inferior. I hid my pictures for the most part, felt ashamed of them in an odd obscure way.
When I unwrapped this hurt, courage came to me – and I realised that I was answerable to no one when it comes to the creation of my home; that mistakes were my responsibility, triumphs my joy.
I was scared to start with, certain I’d get it wrong – but confidence grew as did certainty. The look I wanted began to emerge from the blankness of freshly-painted walls, as if I were chiselling a sculpture out of stone. My inner vision, crushed down for so long, began to flower.
As hooks were knocked in, and pictures hung, I saw that I, too, was emerging from a blankness of walls; that, no longer in the shadow, and atmosphere, of a previous marriage, I was free to create to my heart’s content; that interests shut away in dark boxes and corners of wardrobes could now leap out and dance with the wonder of liberation; that colour and beauty and Feng Shui could be used to build a harmonious flow between the rooms and, indeed, between house and garden.
As the house, and garden, came alive and breathed vividly all around me, I came to see that I should never have doubted my home-making and decorating skills: they were there all along, hiding and shy but never absent.
Rather like me, now I come to think about it: I was there all along, hiding and shy but never wholly lost.
For the longest time, I have been unable to bear the tyranny of mirrors, though I had a beautiful rainbow-coloured one (a gift from a sibling) which lurked, mostly unseen, in Lad’s room.
Now? It hangs in the bathroom, a symbol of something bigger and more profound.