Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot of the concept of home. What does it mean to be home? To return home? To find or build the home we’ve always been looking for? What is home? Is the concept of home always tied to a physical location, or is it rooted in something deeper? How do people play into our definition of home? How can we find our way back home, time and time again?
Home is a funny thing when you’ve moved away from the place you once called home. I just returned from a trip to my childhood home in the city I grew up, and it was an interesting experience. As I’ve spent the last year shedding girlhood and stepping into my life as a young woman, being back in my old house was uncomfortable. It felt as if I was stuffing my feet into a pair of shoes I’d outgrown. I didn’t know how to exist as this new version of myself in that old place with all its old fear and doubts and insecurities.
At first, my emotions were overwhelming. I didn’t know how to deal with all the sensations and thoughts swirling in my head, with feeling as though I never had enough time or space to process everything. After about a week and a half of emotional buildup, I reached a point of being done. My heart largely numbed out and left my brain to deal with anything else that might come up for the remainder of the trip.
There was a part of me that wanted nothing more than to return to the girl I’d once been, the one who was young and naïve and held by her family. I wanted to put down my responsibilities for a few weeks and let go of the expectations I felt stacked on my shoulders. I wanted to hide from the world and all its heartache in the shelter of my old life, in all its ignorance and bliss.
Our desires are a funny thing. Sometimes we think we know what we want, but in reality, we want something different.
We confuse our desire to return to some childhood version of ourselves with the deeper desire, to be held and loved and accepted just as we are.
We think we’re feeling tired or irritable from lack of sleep when truly the thing we were lacking is time and space to ourselves.
As we grow and change, our needs do, too.
We learn things about ourselves, shed old habits and ways of being in the world. Returning to a place we lived when we were in a state of sadness or distress can trigger old fears, memories or patterns of behaviour we thought we moved past long ago.
There are some versions of our self we are never meant to return to once we have outgrown them, some things you will never unlearn and a smallness you will never shrink back to once you have learned how to live a free life, how to take up space.
Once you chose to live life consciously, it can be impossible to live any other way.
In reality, I don’t think I truly wanted to return to some version of my past self. There was a lot of darkness in the years I lived in that bedroom in my childhood home. And I love this woman I am becoming, this freedom and joy and healing.
Oh, the healing. So much healing.
What I was feeling was nostalgia for the past, and perhaps the longing to be held by my family in the exact same way I once was. Perhaps I longed for a time when I didn’t know so much about the world, a time when my days were simpler.
This kind of comparison is always interesting because I can’t say my life was better as a teen struggling to find my place in the world. In fact, there are very few things I miss. We often look back on our past with rose-coloured glasses, but I can say my life is so abundant and beautiful now, there are few things I would change.
It was only in coming home to my little apartment in my new city I felt a returning, an exhaling of sorts. Here is the space I have built, space where I am free and safe to be myself. All of it, even the less pretty parts. There’s nothing to hide from, nothing I have to block out. Sometimes I’ve sat on the floor of my kitchen crying my eyes out, and sometimes I’ve sat in my living room overflowing with gratitude for the life I get to live.
I think home is something we define and redefine for ourselves throughout our life, more of a feeling than a fixed location in time or space.
Spending the holidays with my family, we had so many beautiful, mundane moments together. I am so grateful for the time we got to share. I may not be that little girl any longer, but I am still held by their love.
Of all the things that have shifted in the last number of years, the thing that has changed the most for me is my ability to hold space for myself. To live big, to take up space, to know my worth and accept myself for who I am.
Our relationships grow as we do, a process of expansion and contraction and returning to the love that is there all along.
Maybe that’s all home is.
Home is love.
Love is home.
Come home to yourself.
Come home to love.