Sometimes we have take a long hard look at where we came from to appreciate how far we have come, where we are and where we are going. Or, at least, that’s what they say.
So, as I am currently in life repair mode, I took a trip back home to remind myself of how far I’ve come. This is where I grew up:
The dilapidated, cluttered state of my childhood home feels like a metaphor for my life right now. Sagging walls, chipping paint, missing floor tiles, dirty vents, boxes everywhere; just a damn mess. But I have to remind myself I’m not that place. I never was that place. I just grew up there. I am the ambition that escaped.
That house contained me and all my overwhelming emotions for 18 years. It staged fist fights between my father and my siblings. That yard was the track I ran to escape my mother’s scolding backhand’s to the face. It was where my sister disappeared into the attic to worship Satan because it was easier to conceive of a fallen angel with truth than an almighty God who would allow all the bad in the house and the bad in the world. That was the place where the 6 of us fought for the one bathroom. The place where my mother dragged me from bed, stripped me naked, put me on the side of the tub and ripped my hair out. It was the arena of many a screaming match between mother and father and between parent and child. It was the place where I struggled daily for life. If the struggle wasn’t with one of my siblings or parents then the struggle was within myself. I return to that place to remind me of the fight I have in me; the fight that got me out of that place.
I told myself I would not get stuck in that place. I told myself I wouldn’t waste the gifts I was given. So, I got out. Not that my value is measured by where I live but this is my current home:
I made a home for myself, a home which I’m about to leave because I made the choice to uproot. I am taking a risk, leaving my security for the hope of happy uncertainty. Because, the truth is, I’m still not happy. I don’t know if I ever will be. But, I know happiness is certainly not a home. It’s not how much money a person has or doesn’t have. And, on that front, appearances can be deceptive. It might look like I’ve got a lot from a material perspective but, atm, I’m kind of poor again. In other ways, however, I’m endlessly rich.
I’m still learning. I’m still fighting for something better. I have been wallowing in a lack of hope for a good while now. I’ve been worried. I’m scared. But I think I’m realising something.
Home really isn’t the place, home is the people. Today my friend from work talked to me about how I can use my art to help people. She helped me plan. She reassured me that she knows people where I’m going and that I won’t be completely cast adrift. Then my friend from an online group I was part of years ago, told me about a way I may be able to get out of my contract early if necessary (and it wouldn’t harm my ability to be hired again by another district). And my BFF, is going to have coffee with me while I search for jobs out East. She has been with me every day of this depression.
I don’t know anything right now. I don’t know if I’ll have a way to pay my bills in coming months. I don’t know if my debt is only going to get worse. I don’t know if taking on more student loan debt is the right choice. But what I do know is I have a lot of beautiful people in my life and they’re here for me, willing and wanting to help. I just never gave them the chance. I never asked. I was afraid that if I had needs or if I let them see the darkness, they would bail. But that isn’t how it’s gone. They’ve surprised me, shown me how beautiful humanity actually can be.
I can’t say for sure if my therapy helped me or hurt me overall, but in tearing me down recently it put me in the position to build myself back up. It made me realize how resilient I really can be when I’ve got no other choice. It showed me that I need to trust my gut because my instincts are wise. And it gave me the chance to really test my support network. But, you know what, I’m not giving therapy the credit for that. Not all of it. Not even most of it. Because, I did that.
I got back in touch with my inner survivor. I found the girl who came from poverty and abuse, grabbed her hand, and said “no ma’am, this isn’t going to be our story. We aren’t going back there to stay.” I’ve lived through things and survived a kind of struggle my therapist never could have known or understood or properly empathized with (having come from a multi-million dollar household herself) and that’s okay. Turns out, I never needed her to understand or validate or reassure. It has been in me and around me this whole time. I was built for this. I’m a survivor.