Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! My Name is Cait and I am 31 years old and currently living in Upstate NY. I work for a not-for-profit Family & Child Agency as an assistant. For fun I enjoy playing with my dog and making costumes (True Story: I’m a Cosplayer! haha) and I also spend most weekends traveling with my boyfriend.
In your teens and twenties, what did you imagine life would look like at 30?
I imagined that I’d be married and have a couple of kids. Have my own house have a career… Basically, have my act together.
What were you doing three years ago?
Three years ago, I was living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with my previous boyfriend. I was working for a popular top 40 radio station doing promotional work, and also as counter help at a bakery in Manhattan.
What lead to you moving back in with your parents?
In the summer of 2012, my ex and I decided to move out of Brooklyn and go to (His native) Michigan. I figured that moving away from my family and friends was okay, because it really seemed like he was IT. That we were in it together. We found an apartment outside of Detroit and took our dog and put everything in a truck and drove out.
Things were really good for a while. But there were always money issues and crappy jobs with conflicting schedules hanging over our heads and after almost 3.5 years, he felt the pressure (self imposed) to move forward or end it, and he chose to end it. Quite suddenly.
When you and your partner broke up, what other options did you consider before you called your parents?
I tried my hardest to hold things together, to suggest things that might help fix it all. But he had extremely low confidence that anything would help. So my options were to stay in the apartment we shared (I didn’t have the money to move out) working as a temp and try to make it work in a place with very few friends of my own, or go home and be with my support system that I had missed so much. It kind of seemed obvious what I should do.
How did they react when you told them what happened?
I talked to my mom on the phone and she just kept saying how sad she was. She wanted things to work out for us, but I think deep down, she was a bit relieved that It was over. My dad was just mad at him.
How did you feel on the day you moved back in?
I had been through a whirlwind few days. From Saturday and Sunday trying to convince him to change his mind, to packing and taking care of my affairs (including going to work, and cleaning out my desk, and saying goodbye) on Sunday night and Monday, and then loading up the rental truck with my parents on Tuesday (who drove out less than 24 hours after I told them I wanted to go home. They are the best.), to driving the 10 hours home on Wednesday.
When I finally got home, it all caught up with me and was really rough. Not only dealing with being without a person I thought would be around forever, but to being a single (doggie) mom, and being back in the house I swore I’d never move back into. It felt comforting to be back in a familiar place, but also awful, because I felt like I had failed at life. I had many moments in the first few weeks where all I wanted to do was hop in my car and drive back.
About a month after I came home, I found a new job at a fantastic and caring place, and from there, things started looking up.
Do the people in your life know that you’re living with your parents?
Yes. Everyone is supportive. Most have said that they are really just happy to have me home. They all see it as a good opportunity for me to get myself back on my feet and functioning again.
How is your relationship with your parents? What are they like?
I’d classify it as somewhere between functional and really good depending on the day! My parents are both retired and have their own routines. They’ve always been really supportive of me, but mostly on their own terms. Which, is frustrating at times, but fair enough. They have hopes and dreams for me and just want to steer me in the direction that they think is best.
They have made comments on how I seem much happier now and tell me that I can stay as long as I need (within reason, I think! haha), But I can tell that they are a bit anxious to have their empty house back.
What’s it like living with them on a day-to-day basis?
Day to day it works out well. I get up in the morning, I let my dog out and make sure he’s set for the morning and head to work. I’m gone from about 7:30am-5:30pm (I have an hour commute. Ugh.). While I’m gone, my dad takes my dog for a walk (along with his dog, they’re besties!). When I get home, my mom is usually making dinner. I tend to spend the evening in my room and keep to myself. I’m usually away on the weekends, so they carry on with their days and will keep an eye on my dog for me.
As far as chores go, I help out when needed, but I’m in charge of keeping my space clean. I have “temporary” use of the 2 guest rooms and hall bathroom. “Temporary” means that I can’t decorate anything, or use my own bed spread, or set up my own furniture. I’m still living out of boxes and suitcases and most of my stuff is in a storage unit about 10 miles away.
I’ll occasionally spend time with my parents. Watch TV with them downstairs, or sit and chat. Sometimes they invite me out to events or dinners with them. But mostly we all do our own thing.
My Friends are always welcome to come over and my parents are very accommodating to them. I do have a relatively new boyfriend, who they love and are okay with staying over some weekends. But that’s not ideal when you’re in your 30’s, so it doesn’t happen often.
Do you have an exit strategy?
Right now I’m working as hard as I can to save as much as I can and pay off my credit cards. When I moved, I had just enough money to pay the minimum payments on my bills for a month.
I just managed to surpass my debt with my savings (I’m super pumped about that!)! I already know where I’m going to move, I just have to save up enough to feel 100% secure, which should be sometime in the next few months!
I’m sure going through a serious breakup and moving back across the country is a very, very emotionally challenging experience. How are you taking care of yourself? What are you doing to keep your spirits up?
At first, it was very jarring to be home. I didn’t have any time to mentally prepare myself. I just left my life behind. It was a big adjustment. But I figured it all out (much faster than I thought!). I realized that I hadn’t been very happy in a long time and it was better this way. I felt like myself again, I could smile again, I laughed so hard, I cried. I felt 100% comfortable in my own skin.
Now, I make sure that I see my friends as often as I can, and I try to be there for them when they need me, because while I was gone, I couldn’t do that. I’m spending as much time as I can doing what makes me happy. I have no time for anything else. I’m traveling the world and coming up with exciting things that I want to do with my life. I’m making sure to make good decisions and to have fun.
What advice would you give to anyone else who’s going through something similar?
As far as living with your parents, just do your best to make it work. They are (most likely) doing you a big favor and you need to remember that (I sometimes have trouble).
Also, have a plan, and stick to it. It’s much easier to deal with things when you have a light at the end of the tunnel. Whenever I need a little motivation, I just look at home goods and dream of outfitting my own place someday soon!
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Cait. I’m sure it’s a lot more common than we’d expect. Have any of your guys moved back in with your families as adults?