• justtrace10

How my Haven came to be…

I have always dreamed of having a she-shed. I spent several years collecting vintage windows, searching flea markets, yard sales and antique stores. I hit the jackpot when a friend gave me several from the historic home she was renovating!

I had the vision, the windows, we had the property. But time…well, that was a problem! I was working full-time as the Program Manager and sole forensic interviewer of our county’s Child Abuse Interview Team. And my husband was the Chief Deputy of Operations for the Sheriff’s Office, never working less than 50 hours a week. By the time the weekends rolled around we were exhausted! Instead of building my she shed we would binge watch HGTV shows about tiny houses, fixer uppers, and anything Chip and Joanna were doing! And my dream of a she shed seemed to be just that…a dream. I truly did not think it would ever become a reality so I tucked it away into its own little compartment. It turns out I was very good at compartmentalizing things…including my job.

Compartmentalization is often a strategy used by those who suffer from abuse or traumatic events. It is also used by those who are subjected to long term exposure via vicarious trauma due to their profession, often law enforcement or social services. It is not a healthy long term strategy but I became very skilled at it and masked my pain with a smile and what seemed to be an infinite capacity to absorb the hurt of others. Meanwhile, I was starting to experience spells of dizziness that resulted in passing out, sometimes leading to seizures. I would overreact to situations completely out of scope, and snap at those who loved me unconditionally…my beloved husband and children. My cortisol levels had skyrocketed, resulting in a weight gain to an amount I had never reached even in pregnancy. No matter how hard I worked out, no matter how drastic the calorie deficiency, I could not lose the weight. This resulted in severe depression on top of everything else. And yet…I continued to compartmentalize. I did not yet have a name for my condition, to the contrary doctors told me time and time again that despite the seizures and episodes of fainting, and periods of rapid and erratic heartbeat, my heart was healthy and it was stress related.

And then Covid-19 hit our world. And despite the horrors and loss that accompanied the pandemic, I experienced a brief period of respite. The entire country shuttered and, while I was considered an essential worker, I was only allowed to go into my office to conduct exigent or acute interviews. For me, this meant going from interviewing over 200 child physical and sexual abuse victims in one year, to a handful over the course of several months. My husband was also ordered to work from home for a brief period of time. Finally we had some time to breathe! I know it sounds strange to say that some good came from Covid…but there were some silver linings!

Several months into Covid, my husband looked at me and informed me that he wanted to start working on my she shed! We finally had the time! My father, a retired contractor, said that he would help us with the construction as long as we built the pad. We started working on the pad in June of 2020, on the hottest day of the year!

We both almost collapsed from heat exhaustion while moving hundreds of wheelbarrow loads of dirt in 100 plus degree heat! We  later learned that day set a record-breaking temperature of 115! Once the pad was built, leveled and squared, my dad and husband started the framing process.

Luckily for us, my dad is not only a general contractor, he built custom homes that belonged in magazines! The same care and detail that went into building his homes went into the building of my she shed! When we started this in 2020, my dad was a “young” man of 71! But he climbed those rafters like a much younger person! He and my hubby worked on the frame over a couple of weekends, and then moved onto installing the wall panels and windows.

About two months later we were ready to put on the roof! I chose to go with a metal roof because I love the way it looks, it was cost effective, and quicker to install than sheeting and shingles.

With the roof on, it was finally time to paint and decorate!! It was also about this time that I was getting called back in for more interviews. Covid kept children home from school which meant that some no longer had a safety net. I would go into my office to conduct interviews, then come home to finish painting and decorating my she shed.

That she shed became my haven…hence the name. I could tune out the horrors I heard during those hours at my office and lose myself in the mindless act of applying endless coats of white paint. My father and hubby created a safe space for me to escape. And I will always be grateful!

There is so much more to my story, and I am continuing to document it for a someday book. For now, I spend time sitting in my Haven, dreaming, creating, and being grateful for a soft place to land.

I can’t wait to share more of my Haven, she is so fun to decorate each season! And I hope you have a soft, safe space of your own. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. It could be a chair in your yard, listening to birds. It could be a quiet corner of your favorite room. Just be sure to take care of yourself, sweet friend. Speak kindness and grace over yourself.


XO Tracy

16 views0 comments