The Chair, Why I(BD) Can’t Have Nice Things
My husband (fiancé at the time), was handling the finances for buying our first home. This left me feeling like I had to pull my weight in other avenues. I handled all the paperwork, phone calls and emails, as well as the inspections. There were so many! I also wanted to be the one to furnish our home. During this process, I decided to visit a furniture store’s clearance room… because you never know. It was like something straight from a movie. My world was rocked. If it was possible, the chair and I would’ve locked eyes.
It was glorious. Yet unobtainable.
This object I speak of so fondly is a plush, velvety gray chair that looks like a throne. It was welcoming and majestic. I also assumed it was too expensive for my budget. But, it called to me, like a siren to a sailor, and I sat. I may have wept a little.
You see, the phrase extravagant purchase is no longer a part of my vocabulary. In 2012, when Crohn’s, Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis, along with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis became too much for my body to bear, I lost my job. My contract for a job I had been with on and off for 3 years was terminated due to my health. I was a contractor at that point and had no formal protections. I had to make a lot of hard decisions in 2012, like short selling the home I built from scratch, selling its contents, moving back in with my parents and filing for disability.
My former self, the one who had a vibrant career and financial stability was still in there. Sitting in this chair brought her out. When I wept, she wept.
Spending money is different now
These losses I experienced in 2012 have impacted how I look at spending money. In my past life, I was very responsible with money. However, having a chronic illness lead to premature retirement and also lead to what I call chronic debt. This in turn, also left me with what I call chronic financial fear, like the fear of spending money you’ve saved. Even money you’ve purposefully set aside.
As my health has improved over the past couple of years due to a new treatment, I loosened the spending reigns slightly. Especially since I’ve been able to freelance a little. But I never truly let go of my death grip on those reigns. I budget strictly purchases like clothing, groceries and even travel to see family.
Panicked for the future
It should come as no surprise that when my husband proposed, I panicked (a lot) a little because sh*t was about to get real.
Almost a year into our engagement, we found a house. It met almost every checkbox on the list we gave to our realtor. As soon as the bank approved the mortgage, I sprang into action to find things for people to sleep and sit on. The important stuff, you know?
A lot of items I was able to find gently used via social media garage sale groups. This also brings us back to that moment I saw the beautiful gray chair. If love, at first sight, was possible with an inanimate object this may be it. You see funny skits on TV and bits in movies, where someone is so beautiful that men and women become enamored with her. If this chair was a person, it would have its own dedicated bit.
My mother and I visited a local furniture shop because their clearance room was known for its great deals. A flood of emotions washed over me while sitting in this chair, I got up and somehow ended up back in it.
Emotional and financial turmoil
For some, the idea of a piece of furniture making someone emotional will probably not make sense. But the past six years of emotional and financial turmoil due to what Crohn’s and Arthritis stripped away, flooded my brain.
Finally, I looked at the price. It wasn’t full retail. In fact, it was within the budget I had given myself for the store. I didn’t go in knowing what I wanted, but I had given myself a budget for it. I looked at my mother, like a child wanting permission to get ice cream from the truck. She encouraged me. I balked at her. I instantly shot out of the velvety gray chair and strode over to another piece of furniture.
A little while later, fiancé, now husband, joined us. I was trying to show (convince) him why a particular couch in the clearance area would be beneficial to our new home. And then it happened. He and the gray chair locked metaphorical eyes. It looked like a tractor beam pulled him in. He sat, and I instantly felt protective over this chair as if he could possibly sit wrong and harm it.
My eyes leaked again.
This chair made me feel things
He too encouraged the purchase.
I don’t truly know if he or my mother understood what brought out my emotions when I met “The Chair.” But I think for many of us who have had so much stripped away from us due to chronic illness, we can end up becoming detached from coveting material objects. Sometimes that can translate over to people, as well, because you fear being left behind by them. It’s so easy for “healthy people” to take things for granted like the ability to be carefree when it comes to making a big purchase, let alone investing in relationships.
It’s now eight months later and the beautiful, cushiony velvety gray chair sits in our bedroom in all of its majestic glory. We affectionately refer to it as “The Chair,” and I use it in some of my advocacy videos. We cradle our Pitbull, Poppy, in “The Chair” and maybe one day we will cradle a baby in it, too. Although, the clock is ticking on that front as we only have 4 years and 4 months left on the store’s bodily fluid cleaning warranty.