Home can be many things. A physical space you occupy daily, a place you grew up but moved miles away from. Home can be a person; your friend, your lover, or even your child. We all have different homes, different ideas of what a home can be, but there is one common denominator in all of our many interpretations – and that is safety. Home makes us feel safe.
But sometimes in life and mental health, we can feel detached from our safety. We feel like we are packing our bags and calling the moving vans to take us away from where we feel most comfortable, despite being torn over leaving. Perhaps leaving wasn’t our choice, outside forces can often play a role in uprooting us and transporting us miles from where we should be. Out of sorts and in the unknown with no familiarity to ground us, we become a version of ourselves that we would never think possible. We act out of character, detaching ourselves from reality and begin lashing out. Only we don’t necessarily realising we are lashing out until we take a step back.
In November, I had to change my social media usernames and take a step back from the internet owing to a new, highly sensitive job. Fast forward to Christmas Eve and overnight, I became the nations home wrecker thanks to a gin fuelled mistake on that Twitter. I often tweet about my dating disasters, because I accidentally became associated with never getting it quite right. Let us never forget this time last year when I finally gathered the courage to tell a boy I loved him and he told me it was too late. During the time of that disastrous thread, I began to receive messages from the usual faceless keyboard warriors. At first I managed to cut through the noise, and carried on in my messy existence. Until I couldn’t anymore. The noise was too loud and almost unbearable. And so, I removed myself from the internet and took a step back from the people around me in order to protect myself. It was only when I had fully retracted in order to heal that I started a journey home.
For half a decade now, writing about my messy life has been my home. Sharing my latest dating disaster or sharing my sadness with you has helped me feel safe. I never, ever want anybody to feel how I have felt at times, and so by sharing my meandering through life, you feel that you aren’t alone in not always getting it right. Equally as important, however, is that I I managed to create this outlet for me to ramble, to admit that I made a mistake, to share my sad so it isn’t always internalised. I lost sight of that in November when I had to take a step back. I was completely blinded in the wake of HelloPleaseReply and the trolls. But now I feel calm. Now I feel like I managed to come through the other side with a sense of accomplishment that I made it through another instalment.
Home for me has always been a bit of a question mark. Being adopted means that I often feel detached from home, because I am not in the home that I should have been, if that makes any sense. My new home was demolished nearly a decade ago when I lost J and ever since then, I’ve been bouncing round from metaphorical location to metaphorical location, looking for somewhere to unpack my bags and create a little space of comfort and safety. It’s a journey which I know that so many of us are unknowingly taking. Running away from our problems, mistaking the excitement of new situations as a false sense of security created by the buzz. So many of us have physically moved away, for university, for jobs, for partners and sometimes we return to the familiar surroundings of our home town and remember who we were before it all changed. Others amongst us often lose ourselves in the fantasy of a new job or the excitement of a new relationship and when we face the reality, we realise that we have changed enough to no longer recognise ourselves.
The biggest lesson I have taken from the last few months of my life is that it is so important to find out what home means to me. It is a vital lifeline to have a safe space to return to, where I can feel myself coming back from wherever I’ve been losing myself. There were times over the last few weeks where I wasn’t sure I’d make it home at all. I’ve had moments where I wanted to run, passing thoughts of wanting to just completely hide forever. I reached out to my oldest friend, we had tapas and we drank gin and a man came to our table and performed magic tricks. I took a trip to Lush and in turn, had a lot of baths. I read books, I googled quotes, I changed my usernames back. I bought some new snazzy trousers. I cancelled all my public engagements, knowing I needed to heal. I spoke with my therapist every day for 8 days and I sent shit memes to Laura.
Slowly but surely, I began to heal.
It took me reaching my breaking point in order for my fight or flight response to kick in. Please, do not get to your breaking point before realising that you can make it home, too. Book a train back to your home town, take baths, watch a man perform magic tricks. Do what it takes to find your way home, take every possible step to return to the version of you that is true, and that you love the most. I’m still coming home, but for the first time in a long, long time, I can see the front door.
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