Mental Health Monday: Thoughts on Home

by Janie Jones

“I’ll be home for Christmas.”

“Hey it’s good to be back home again.”

“Sweet home Alabama, Lord I’m coming home to you.”

“Our house, in the middle of our street.”

“Home, where my thoughts escaping, Home, where my music’s playing, Home, where my love lies waiting…”

“Take me home, country road, to the place I belong…”

Just a few song lyrics from the top of my head about the concept of home, and I’m sure there so many more I probably can’t think of right now.  Home is an important concept to me and a lot of people.  Home, they say, is where the heart is.  And to me, a home is like a second skin.  It holds me in, holds me together, it provides safety and security in every sense of the word.  To me, having no home is like having a painful burn on my whole body.  Sure I’ll survive, but every moment will be painful.  My home in Small Town Great White North USA might have been a rental, but I loved it all the same.  I repainted every room.  It reflected me.  It was me.  It was my second skin.  And, while there were other homes I had to leave that I loved, this one hurts more than all the rest.  Possibly because I hoped against all hope that it might be my last home.  But that was not to be.  I had to leave and let go.  But a piece of me is still there.  Leaving ripped off a huge layer of skin.  And it hurts.

A real home, in my opinion, has a soul.  It lives and breathes like any other entity.  To lose a beloved home is like losing a loved one, someone who loved you no matter what you did, who gave you strength when you were weak, who sheltered you when you were cold and tired, who shared years of happiness and sadness, who had a history with you.  Knowing I had to leave it has been like watching someone you love more than life itself die a slow painful death from some hideous disease these last few years, knowing you can do nothing but try to love every last minute you have with it.  Knowing each moment is tainted with sadness as it might be the last time you do whatever together was sad and depressing.  A terminally ill loved one can’t live forever, and I couldn’t live in that house forever.

So, for those of you who worry about my depression, know what I’m going through feels a lot like I imagine it would be like coming to terms with a deforming accident like being burned over 90% of your body, or grieving a death of a family member.  You have to accept that there’s things you can no longer do after you heal or you have to accept that you’ll never see that person again.  Now I have to come to terms with it and accept that I have to start over.  But starting over can’t happen until I have some income to start over on.  So it’s not just the grief of loss, but the grief of knowing I can’t fully move on until I am done with school and hopefully land a real job again.

I was at the farm this past weekend, and I was thinking about my belongings out there that I will have to decide to leave behind for the winter.  My bed.  My furniture.  My brand new washer and dryer.  While we are not the sum of our material possessions, many of them do act like anchors for me in the craziness that is my life.  With all the stress of school, my tumor, being broke, cars falling apart on me, sending my daughter south to live with her dad, and all the other mundane daily trials of life, I relied on the consistency of a beloved home and familiar objects to keep me together, centered and feeling secure.  When you’re tired and stressed out the simple things like not being able to find your cookbook, or that box of envelopes, or the fact that it takes 15 minutes of digging through boxes to find something that always used to reside right there at your fingertips is bad enough.  But now I have to decide which things I can fit in my room in town and what I can live without for several months.  The knowing I can’t have access to things that are mine, and used to be ever available for whenever the need might arise, is its own kind of stress.

I think about what it might be like to lose everything to a fire or a natural disaster.  Those people must be devastated.  And perhaps it’s wrong of me to say this, but in some ways perhaps really losing everything would be better.  I could blame it on acts of God or Nature.  I could file an insurance claim and resettle.  But I’m in a limbo.  I have things I just can’t have them.

It’s like life is teasing me.  “Here’s your favorite chew toy, Fido.  Whoops!  No you can’t have it.  It’s going to stay up here on this high shelf where you can see it but you can’t touch it.  Now, just try to forget about it until I get home from work.  And, if you’ve been a very good dog Fido, maybe, just maybe someday I’ll take it back down and you can have it again.”  So Fido can either knock over the trash can and make a huge freaking mess, or he can try and forget about it.  But, you never know when he might catch a glimpse of that toy and he’ll start howling for it.

I’m trying to move on, to accept.  It feels like I’ve been maimed, I’m grieving a death and fighting the anger of not being able to move on.  It’s a tough road to travel.

“Go home, said the man in the moon, go home.  We didn’t know who we were, we didn’t know what we did, we were just on the road.”

 

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5 Comments to “Mental Health Monday: Thoughts on Home”

  1. “With all the stress of school, my tumor, being broke, cars falling apart on me, sending my daughter south to live with her dad, and all the other mundane daily trials of life” Janie, these are not mundane daily trials. Any one of these is a huge challenge, and you are doing an incredible job just keeping going at all. I want to embrace you, hold you tight and help just give you a break. I hope virtual hugs and warm wishes can be of some use.

  2. I lost everything I owned, except the clothes on my back, when I was 12 years old. It left me realizing how nothing is permanent. That, and how our perception of security can be shattered in a moment.

    So, I understand how you feel, It’s not a good feeling. Hang in there.

  3. I’ve been in that limbo in my life and it seems to last forever, until it’s over. The trick is to keep on keeping on (as we’re talking in song lyrics here 🙂 ). Not an easy trick, but you’re doing it. x

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