Coming Home – another post in my series called a Day in the Life about my life growing up with a mom who had paranoid schizophrenia.
I am now living within two miles of the house in which I grew up; a fact which amazes me. How could I, the one who was going to leave and never come back, be the one that lives closest to our childhood home?
After graduating from high school, I went 300 miles away to a college in Nashville. After getting kicked out of that college (stay tuned for that story) I boomeranged back home for a brief moment and then was propelled back out into the world, where I floundered aimlessly trying to make a living and overcome my lack of maturity. Gradually I gained living wages and an apartment, but the maturity didn’t evolve until much later.
Once I was back in the city, I would visit my parents occasionally mostly to see my baby sisters. Usually these visits were bittersweet. I wasn’t my mom’s favorite, and there was always tension between us, causing the rest of the family undo stress. I would stay long enough to pick up my sisters to take them to a park, museum, or the mall, returning them a few hours later. Sometimes I would stay for dinner, as my mom had become quite a chef and I couldn’t resist her cooking. Invariably I would end up leaving in a huff over some spat between us, but not before pilfering her hidden stash of goods. My mom stock-piled toilet paper, canned goods, soap, toiletries, etc, and upon my exit, I would often smuggle some of these out as well as a $20 bill from her purse whenever possible. I think it was my way of taking from her what I felt I’d been deprived of all those years.
After I married and came face to face with my own issues which I had been holding at bay for years, namely my anxiety and eating disorder, it seemed to become harder to visit home. I saw several therapists who insisted on querying me about childhood memories and feelings, which they believed led to my issues. Eventually, through individual and group therapy, a 12-step program, and going to anxiety “classes” to learn to cope with the panic attacks I was having, I began to recover and feel better.
At one point in my recovery process, I decided it would be easier to move away, and we headed off to the east coast. It was there that I had enough space to listen to my own head and start working on my on goals, like finishing up college, becoming a nurse, and concentrating on my family. It was there that I began to grow and mature. I made some wonderful friends, joined a support group, and became a better parent. Still, I missed my hometown.
Eventually, after my mom passed away, we moved back to the midwest. It was hard at first and I was flooded with a lot of memories. I resisted the instinct to flee again, and I’ve remained in my hometown for almost twenty years.
After my divorce three years ago, I moved to a little neighborhood closer to my childhood home. Instead of causing feelings of anxiety, I found it strangely comforting. Maybe it is because it makes me feel closer to my brother, who passed away in 2008, or maybe I am finally able to remember the good times too, rather than struggling to keep the bad memories at bay. It all happened so long ago and my life has become so full, it almost doesn’t even seem real any more.
And now for the lessons I have learned:
- I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter where I live, what I do for a living, or how many possessions I have accumulated. What matters is how I view my life and knowing deep down inside that I am good enough.
- I remember how I used to desperately pray to God for better circumstances only to feel forgotten. Then one day I realized that I already had everything I needed to improve my life. It was like I was asking for a sandwich when all of the ingredients were there in front of me and all I needed to do was learn to assemble it. I kept asking for more when all I really needed was to see the gifts I was born with and learn how to utilize them.
- The same concept is true for love. Love has always been in my life even when I couldn’t see it. Love is a constant that never changes. It isn’t love that grows with time, it is my capacity to love that grows.
Writing this blog has opened my heart to a new level of understanding and compassion for all those who are doing the best they can each day, including myself.
To see the last post in this series, click here.