“Home is where one starts from.”
– T. S. Eliot
There’s nothing more primal than our quest for home. The dilemma is that our childhood homes may have been confusing, chaotic, or even violent. Whatever your experience, in our adult lives we often unconsciously attempt to recreate it in order to resolve it.
In her book, When Things Fall Apart, the Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, suggests we’re all addicts in one form or another, in that we’re seeking something outside of ourselves to fill an inner void. Perhaps what we’re drawn to is that particular “feeling tone” of our formative years, and while it may not have been ideal, at least it is familiar. We often experience a strong loyalty to home, adopting a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. Whether consciously or not, you keep the secrets you were raised on and hold fast to those values or belief systems, while simultaneously rebelling against them. You might complain about your parents, but heaven help the person who agrees with you.
There’s something unnatural about turning your back on home.
It is both a betrayal and a self-abandonment, and while it wasn’t perfect, at least you survived. Right? Except, at some point, you start to realize that mere survival is an exhausting long-term life strategy. Somewhere inside, you hear the siren call of your soul. You wonder: What if there’s a place where I’m not only tolerated but celebrated? What if my weirdness is actually an asset and not a liability? What if my thoughts and feelings actually matter?
Is it possible a place like this exists?
For some of us this notion can seem heretical, almost beyond belief, and so, we push it away. You can hear the call, but feel doubt. What if it isn’t true? You fear you couldn’t endure the disappointment of having your hopes dashed one more time. It seems easier, at least in the short run, to steel yourself from discomfort, to keep your secrets, to wear that cloak of propriety that keeps you safe but is also preventing you from experiencing the richness of life.
The pull of the familiar is strong.
You may even believe there’s no escape, that you’re destined to orbit your familial dysfunction. Even when you make a little progress, a simple misunderstanding pulls you right back to the helplessness and despair of your upbringing. Why bother? How can you escape the deep roots of these unconscious patterns?
It’s true that when you start writing your story, the gravitational pull can feel strong. But you can be like the first astronauts who escaped the earth’s atmosphere and were suddenly thrust into a sea of quiet wonder, traveling at 17,000 miles an hour in eerie silence. They gazed down at this pale blue ball, and suddenly saw their home for what it was — a microscopic part of an infinite vastness. They were free to experience home with a new perspective, with a detachment and objectivity they didn’t previously possess. Perhaps they saw their home simply as a place they came from, but that no longer defined them. Perhaps they connected to a much larger force, a force that was compassionate, loving, and always had their best interests at heart, a place of wisdom and truth, of stillness and self-trust.
I believe something extraordinary happens when you see your childhood home for what it was: it was simply the beginning of your journey, the beginning of a story that is being written by you, and no longer by your past.
Your true home is within. But first, you must choose it.