One of the most painful sentences that I have ever been on the receiving end of was, “I didn’t want to come home.”
Those words were a cannonball to the gut, a sharp exhale followed by a tremulous and hesitant inhale.
Because home should be a place where you want to go. A sanctuary where you can recover from the bruises that the world inflicts upon you. Ideally, home is the welcoming hug. The safe space where your armament can be removed along with your shoes.
And so to be told that I was contributing to a home environment that brought dread instead of relaxed anticipation? Ouch.
And yet, I can understand this feeling of not wanting to come home. As I expect most of us can.
Relationships, even the best ones, are challenging. And there are times when having to take somebody else’s emotions and needs just feels overwhelming. Perhaps you’ve fallen into a cycle of negativity and you need some space to untangle the interactions. Or maybe you’re not feeling accepted as you are, which is ever more painful when it happens at home than in the broader world. And sometimes, we outgrow our home, the rigid shell binding when we crave expansion.
Pay attention to that feeling of not wanting to return home. What is it telling you?
In my old life, I always looked forward to coming home. Until that home transformed into an empty shell, a life’s vessel without its lifeblood. The floors echoed, sending out reminders of the years they had been traversed together. The walls seemed to taunt me, speaking of better times. I only managed one night there after he left, an endless darkness spent pacing the living room with a persistent hope that I would soon hear the garage door rumble open. The reminders proved too much for me to bear.
The next day, I escaped to a friend’s home. Which immediately became my home. One I wanted to return to at the end of each day. When it came time for me to establish my own space, I chose the apartment and its furnishings carefully in an attempt to cultivate a space that welcomed me back. Little from my old life occupied the space. It was a blank slate, ready to accept the imprint of a new life.
My home now welcomes me each day. It offers both reminders of the best times and the shared laughter and it also holds the impressions of loss and tears. It’s a place where I feel both accepted and challenged. And on those days when everything is just a little too much, it offers comfort and consolation.
Home holds so much power over us. It is where many of the best and the worst memories are formed. The most important relationships of our lives play out upon its floors. It receives our greatest hopes and dreams and sometimes surrounds us as we say our goodbyes.
It said that you can’t go home again. Yet as long as you accept that home changes with the years and you can rebuild at will, you can always find your way back.