The Dragon’s Lair

Somewhere around 2006, when I was working on my master’s degree, my ex husband moved his office from the second floor (across from mine) down to the basement. His reasoning made sense. He was working from home, our undersized AC couldn’t keep up with the strong afternoon sun that beat down on the upstairs location and he needed more desk space than the small bedroom could offer. It wasn’t an easy move; the basement was entirely unfinished and the HVAC wasn’t run to the bottom level. He spent several weeks framing the space, hanging the drywall and building a custom coffered drop ceiling. It was soon filled with his books, computers, a TV and a couch.  I thought it was his office. In reality, it became his lair.

The downstairs location offered him the security of uninterrupted privacy. He had the sound of my footsteps on the wood stairs as a warning prior to my arrival. He had space where I rarely ventured to tuck away items he didn’t want found. He could carry out conversations far away from any opportunity of being overheard.

I thought it was his office. In reality, it became the mission control center where he destroyed his life and our marriage.

As a result, the fear I never had of basements as a child materialized as an adult.

It took a while for this distrust to become apparent. For 2 1/2 years, I lived in homes without a basement. And then Brock and I moved into our current rental. With a basement. That, because of the configuration of the home, would house his office.

I had trouble at first as he expressed his desire to upgrade the pretty much unfinished space. Each plan of his spurred flashbacks of the old. It turned out that the house had my back; the basement pushed back with its moisture issues and bad smells, driving Brock to move his office to the dining room before the first year was up.

I didn’t even realize that I still harbored my fear of basements until recently. In the new (hopefully “our” in a couple weeks!) house, both offices will be upstairs but the basement will house Brock’s dream – a “man room” complete with home theater. This may be his dream (I just can’t understand the desire for another TV room when it’s just the two us but, then again, he doesn’t understand my obsession with ferns and hydrangeas), but he has made it very clear that it is “our” space.

And, even more importantly, I have zero reason to think that he is building out the basement for any reasons more sinister than to watch some silly (at least to me) animated movie featuring Superman.

But still my mind throws up flares of panic.

The damn dominos are set in my mind: marriage>basement>bigamy. Yeah, dumb, I know. Otherwise, wives all over the place would be backfilling their basements. But minds aren’t always rational.

Even worse, I wasn’t even aware of my brain’s protestations as I normally am. (I’m blaming this on the sheer amount on my brain at the moment, by the way:) ) Instead, I made comments like, “I’m never going to see you again” as we discussed the plans for the man cave. Sarcastic? Yeah. But still a cry for attention from a panicking brain.

I’ve come a long way from the woman who halfway didn’t expect Brock to pick her up at the airport (could that actually be over three years ago?!?). I know he is not my ex. I trust him.

But apparently I don’t trust basements.

Much like it takes time to layer over triggers, I also need to layer over cause and effects (or correlations) from my past.

It may be a basement, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lair.

After all, I slayed the dragon.

I think this basement is more a bat cave for a wanna-be superhero.

I can live with that:)


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13 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    Lisa… Great writing! I cried.

  2. funny you write about “triggers”, I had a trigger the other day that sent me spiraling to a place I have not visited in over 20+ years. A place if incompetence, inability, helplessness, deep darkness. I am still pulling out of it two days later. I have promised myself to spend some “sofa time” analyzing what how and why I triggered, and how in the future to control it before it controls me.

  3. stacey says:

    Add me to the adult onset fear of basements after my (now ex) husband’s affair. He spent all of his free time in his man cave playing computer games. Now I suspect he was talking to her, emailing, looking at porn, etc. down there. When she came to visit him (and I unknowingly let her in!) I sent her to the basement where he was hanging out. Alone. So stupid on my part because I trusted my husband and my house. Glad you and I are both moving on!

  4. The Mom says:

    The best part about this post is that you wrote this post! You recognize your triggers, you’re slaying your dragons. And most of all, you are so blessed with a man who does not grow defensive in the face of your triggers, but loves you through them. Trusting you’ll work through it. Go hug that man and beat the dragon until there is no lair!!!

  5. candidkay says:

    Love this. Especially your last two lines. Slaying the dragon? Not much beats that, sister.

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