Starting afresh in paradise
Last week I completed on my very first home. 🥂✨ I thought I’d make a MFW diary that very same day, but it turned out I was busy collapsing in utter relief and enjoying a well-earned glass of fizz and a takeaway with my partner.
This dream has been a long time in the making – I’ve wanted to have my own home since pretty much forever, and I’ve wanted to become a member of the MFW forums for about 15 years now (around the time I was an active member on the DFW boards, under a different username), and I’ve finally managed it. As a result my life is, I sincerely hope, finally about to stop being a vortex of chaos, crashing from one thing to the next. I actually get to choose my life for myself now, and take it at the pace I decide to. It’s taken me this long to buy because of a lot of trauma and a couple of abusive relationships, the first of which in particular did heavy damage to my finances.
So, here I (finally) am, so let me introduce myself ... I’m mid-thirties, major trauma survivor, including more than one abusive relationship. Worked all my life until my mental health reached breaking point a couple of years ago. Been right through the mental health system, including one major hospital admission. Not had much help, paying privately for good therapy, might be on the verge of NHS help 4.5 years after first asking for it (but obviously not NHS therapy 🙄 that would be too easy). Want a cat, can’t afford one right now though. One day, maybe a service dog as well. Very frugal; I actually have to watch to keep this in check, as I can go too far with saving and forget to actually live a life, predominantly because money and trauma have been interconnected things for me, so when I get triggered I shut down on spending beyond all reason (sometimes I can splurge too much as well, but thankfully I rarely do that these days). Mature student and, despite its awful effect on my mental health, good at academia (scholarship recipient, my average grade is a first). Published author, no books written, maybe one day (have an on again/off again wish to write about trauma and surviving it).
Complex relationship with family of origin. Few, close
friends. INFJ, if you’re into that sort of thing. Very private, so writing a
diary, especially online, is new and hard for me (worry about bad people from
my past identifying me from what I say, and/or tracking me down). Permanently
up for outdoors adventures – hiking, camping, swimming, kayaking, rock
climbing, anything at all really except running. But I should try it again, I
desperately want to be fit and healthy again. Secretly harbour dreams of going
on longer adventures (expeditions, races, world travel). I’ve never found I
have the willpower for exercise or paperwork, but been severely hampered in
both by repeated trauma. Overweight, not drastically but enough to cause me issues, largely due to living environment over the
past five years. Ferociously organised when not a total failure. Enjoy playing
games (the computer kind, I’m allergic to the interpersonal kind). Bisexual.
Have a wonderful partner (dear friend for a long time), polyamorous
relationship - although my life has been a hot mess so I haven’t had the energy
to explore this yet. Figuring out gender identity, for now on here I’ll run
with they/them pronouns, which will be the first time I’ve officially tried those.
Went back to study to change career and accidentally founded a non-profit instead,
as you do. Good at looking after others, terrible at looking after myself. A
frozen, useless mess at conflict, unless defending someone else, when I can and
will take on the world. Invisible disabilities: C-PTSD, BPD, OCD, RSI. Mental
health stuff is basically the result of trauma. Still recovering from a head
injury, just counted and that was six years back now. Waiting for assessments
for autism and a dissociative disorder. Soon I could have a lot of letters
after my name, I guess. 😉
I'm writing a diary because I need an outlet to keep me sane (although some would argue that ship has sailed! Lol). My first few posts in particular will be long (but fear not, the rest of my diary will be served in more sensibly-sized portions!). I’m unwell physically and mentally right now, and I’m also quite lonely. Even though everyone is really nice where I live now, and for the first time in my life I really feel at home, it still takes time to settle into a new area and so I’m in need of a bit of connection and community, and I’m hoping this diary will help with that. I’m also having something of a panic about how much bills might end up being due to the cost of living crisis we’re all going through at the moment, so I thought writing it all down and making a plan would help.
That is enough about me for now, as obviously we are all really here to be introduced to my new home. 😉 It’s a one-bedroom postage stamp of an apartment. It’s small but aesthetically pleasing, despite a few things that need updating, and as soon as you walk in you’re surrounded by light from the big windows, which is so uplifting and energising. As an outdoorsy person, my apartment is set in (my version of) paradise, aka a small market town that feels more like a large village, with a national park as its backdrop. Hence the name of my diary. Paradise turns out to be pretty much as you’d expect – it’s a nice area, some historic buildings, beautiful views, some gentle nightlife, lots of little independent shops, easy access to public transport, and welcoming, friendly, genuine people. In short, it’s exactly where I need to be to heal. For the first time in my life, I understand why people settle in one place. I am so ready to put down some roots. I don’t see myself leaving here for a very long time, perhaps forever. (I still want to travel, but now I want to come home again too.)
I know there’s some work that needs doing to my apartment (some cosmetic and some more fundamental), which is probably the reason why such a nice place was in my price range. I’m trying not to think too much about it, because I know how much it could cost if the works turn out to be more than I’d thought, and how easily home improvements can go over-budget. Basically, I’m really hoping nothing breaks too early on, as almost all of my savings have gone on the deposit, and the rest will probably be gone by the time I've moved in and furnished the place. As a leasehold property, I also have a responsibility to stump up 10 per cent of the cash if anything major goes wrong with the apartment block as a whole, although the freeholder traditionally has carried even major costs themselves, recouping the costs out of the surplus element of the service charge, and also carries buildings insurance in case of anything truly drastic. So, I can afford the place as it stands, but there is a clear risk that I could get in over my head if big problems arose unexpectedly. I know this is a risk, but it’s a balanced risk against the much bigger risks of remaining homeless (I’ll get into that a bit more below). Basically, needs must, but it’s urgent that I rebuild my cash savings in case of a rainy day. This is going to be a big challenge on my current income, but I’m hoping now I have a home again, I may be able to recover my health enough to slowly finish my degree, and perhaps even get back to my part-time job. If I really get well, I’ll work on my non-profit and aim to do that as my career. I also have a couple of fun side gigs I could look into, if needed. (I’m a bit of a serial entrepreneur so my challenge is to focus, more than diversify, my income streams.)
I’m really fortunate in that my partner and I should be able
to DIY a lot of that work over time. I’ll need to save up for each project, so
it’s going to take me a long time, unless I manage to get back to work, but this
will give me lots of time to work out what’s important to me and how I want the
finished job to look. I’ve never actually lived alone before, so it will be fun
getting to decorate exactly as I want to, and working out what I want from a
place. I'm kind of nervous/excited at the idea of living alone; I'm hoping I won't get too lonely. It's partly why I'd like to have a cat right now; I can see myself snuggled up with them on the couch this winter, watching a movie or knitting. (I'm getting back into crafting.) But I really need to wait and see what energy prices do next.
In case you’re wondering where my username came from, Maneki Neko literally translates from Japanese as a beckoning cat (it might be hyphenated as Maneki-neko; searching online didn't help me much with the correct way to express it in English). To be clear, I am not Japanese, nor do I have any Japanese heritage, but I do love the legend of the Maneki Neko. There are different versions lost in the mists of time, but in general, the story goes that the cat was adopted by a poor monk, who lived a simple, austere life, but shared what little he had with the cat, who had been a stray. One day, a rich man, perhaps a Samurai, was sheltering from a big storm under a tree near the temple. The cat raised his paw in a beckoning gesture (the beckoning gesture in Japan is different to in Europe), and the Samurai, curious, walked across to the cat making this unusual gesture.
In doing so, the cat saved his life, as the tree he had just
been sheltering under was struck by lightning. In gratefulness, the Samurai
became a sponsor of the temple, which never again suffered poverty, and the
monk and the cat lived happily ever after. When the cat passed on, a
statue was built in gratitude for the patronage it brought the temple. It is
said that the statue inspired the smaller Maneki Neko who today adorn
businesses and homes. I love cats (and all animals), and I love the idea of the
Maneki Neko, which beckons (brings) good things into your life depending on its
colour, which paw is raised, and the amulets and trinkets it may wear or hold.
I used to have a ceramic one as a money box, but my ex smashed it. The same
ones were no longer available to buy, but one day I will find myself another
one for my new home, which I might end up featuring here. Until then, I found
one online to use as my profile photo so that you can satisfy your curiosity as
to what they look like.
Thanks for reading, if anyone at all got this far😅.
Mortgage outstanding: £68,499 £64,841.60
OPs made or saved (2022-23): £315.52
OPs made or saved (2023-24): £690.24
OPs made or saved (cumulative): £1,005.76 (1.47%)
Interest saved to date: £ *to add*
MF date: June 2056 October 2055
Daily interest costs: £3.10 £2.90 and a half pence (as of 12.02.2024)
Debt to DP: £1,423.55 (this will increase until DS repaid)
Debt to non-profit: £4,500 £4,239. 5.8% repaid
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