In March 2010, Nic and Stef bought some land in Pemberton. And in October 2011 they found they were expecting a baby. Now they just have to build a house... and a home!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pre-building traumatic stress disorder (PBTSD)

I have just realized that I am emerging from a bout of what I will hence-forth think of as Pre-building traumatic stress disorder (PBTSD) (otherwise known as Post-planning traumatic stress disorder – same thing). I realized this when Stef picked up the phone over lunch today and said ‘Hi Ricardo’, and mentioned something about I-beams or frames or concrete, and I experienced only a tiny upwards lurching of my intestines. This felt like a very minor reaction, for which I congratulated myself. It was only then I realized just how antsy the anticipation to the build had made me, and why, exactly, this blog sat dormant for over an ENTIRE YEAR with nary an update. It is, you see, because I was in the grips of trauma. All the unknowns, the sheer, gigantic, incomprehensible size of the task ahead, with a basically-pretend budget and no to-do-lists in sight, was giving me absolute conniption fits. Every time Stef said ‘we really should discuss the house’ my guts did a summersault and all I heard in my head was a very loud voice (mine) going ‘LA LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!!’, after which my flight-or-fight instinct kicked in and sent me fleeing to the bathtub, door locked, where I could curl into a small ball, whimper, suck my thumb and wait for it to pass.

Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad. But nearly.

Now, however, I feel pretty hunky dory. Like when a door slams and a Vietnam vet just experiences a slight tightening of the shoulders, rather than flattening onto the floor. I can express my feelings without having a panic attack, and even write about it in my blog.

I don’t know why. There is still a nearly-pretend budget and a massive task ahead. But now I can see things actually getting done, as if by magic so far as I’m concerned, with some minor hiccups but nothing major, and it all feels more human and manageable. When I give talks in front of hundreds of people, my guts similarly seize the night before. But once on stage, once the words come out, I gain confidence and feel fine. Indeed, one might argue, I gain hubris and feel invincible… which isn’t necessarily a good thing for the project (either a lecture or a build), but it’s better for my state of health. And requires less self-medication through alcohol.

All that said, I have a nagging feeling that Stef might be about to come down with a case of Building Traumatic Stress Disorder. Obviously he’s the one on site, making things happen ‘as if by magic’ which of course is actually ‘as thanks to all his hard work’. I hope he can celebrate the milestones as they pass, and feel proud of all the groundwork he has done to make it all happen so smoothly. But the stress will mount for him. So I hereby declare that I will do my utmost to support him and prevent a full-on bout of conniptions, which I can testify aren’t nice.

Many people told us to make sure we had room in our budget for marriage counselling (ha! No really, they meant it). During the planning, we did have argument-like-debates about whether we really needed a designer or could do it ourselves, or how big the house should be, etc. But now that’s all settled, I’m happy to trust Stef with all the decisions, and the argument-like-events have disappeared. Perhaps they will reappear once we have to settle on kitchen cabinets. But I’m going to bet that we’re the first couple ever for whom the planning was stressful but the build was fine. Until we run out of money, anyway :) (no, really)

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