“Home” is a complicated subject for a lot of people.
I wish it was simple, straightforward. I wish that nobody had mixed feelings or associations with the word “home.”
But we do.
In the best of all possible worlds, “home” speaks to a place that is safe.
A place where we feel wanted. Where we ARE wanted.
In the best of all possible worlds, “home” speaks to a place where we established a safe “base” from which to explore and experience the world— and to which we can return to rest, recharge, and remember.
But for many people, it’s more complicated than that.
For some people, as they were growing up, “home” was a place that was unpredictable.
We WANT “home” to be a place where we’re able to kind of lower the mask that we were out in public, and be ourselves, let our hair down, let our defenses down.
But a lot of people weren’t able to do that growing up.
For a them, “home” was a place where they had to engage different kinds of defenses and wear different kinds of masks, than they did out in the world.
A lot of people don’t know what it’s like to feel truly safe.
There are different kinds of safety, and different kinds of danger— both out there in the world, and even back at “home,” for a lot of people.
When we grow up feeling fundamentally unsafe, we tend to blame ourselves.
What’s wrong with us, we wonder, that we can’t or don’t feel truly safe?
After all, we hear other people speak affectionately or nostalgically about “home.”
What’s wrong with us that we don’t feel that way, we wonder?
If you grew up feeling that “home” wasn’t a safe place— a place where you felt safe, wanted, understood, supported— it wasn’t your fault.
It wasn’t on you to make “home” a safe place. You were a kid.
There are people reading this who really, really want to go “home”— but not to the house or the place where they grew up.
We want to FIND “home.”
We want to FIND that place where we DO feel safe, wanted, understood, and supported.
Even if we kind of doubt it exists— part of us STILL wants to find, and go, “home.”
As it turns out: a big part of recovery from depression, anxiety, trauma, and/or addiction is creating that sense of “home”— inside us.
We will try, again and again, to find or create that sense in other people, or places, or institutions, and we may even experience bits and pieces of it here and there…but the truth is, it’s on us to make the inside of our own head and heart that fundamental place of safety for us.
We need to know, without a doubt, that we are safe inside our own head.
We need to know, without a doubt, that we are safe with ourselves.
We need to know, without a doubt, that we can retreat inside our head and heart, and find a landscape that is familiar and non-toxic.
For some of us, that may be completely unfamiliar territory— and we may have doubts about our ability to create that safety, that “home,” inside of us.
But that’s the work of recovery. That’s what’s in front of us. Nothing we do in therapy or recovery’s going to matter all that much if we don’t make the inside of our own head a safe place.
I wish so many of us didn’t have to work so hard to create a whole new meaning for the word “home.”
I wish “home” was a default place of safety for all of us.
But this is the hand we’ve been dealt— and all we can do, is what we can do.
So let’s do that.