I have a new writing coach and together we are exploring voice. If you recall, I had a coach for poetry a couple of years back and shared my assignments. I did the same thing when I was working through my Women’s Issues classes last year. This is not that much different. We all have stories. We find connection in those stories. Through owning our stories we learn to own ourselves and we show up to live authentic lives. In sharing our stories, we find out that we are not alone. I’ll be adding these writing assignments here from time to time.
“You will always be welcome here.”
Fat chance, I thought. Just wait till you get to know me. You’ll regret those words. Even as I thought that, I giggled like a little girl. Does he really mean that? I have no idea. I mean he meant it innocently enough – nothing weird or anything like that. They just aren’t in my life at the present moment because I can’t drive. And yet, those words still ring in the back of my mind.
I had to travel once and told him that I would be gone for a while.
“I’ll still be here.” he said.
I hang onto that, now that I have a broken leg and life has kept me away. It doesn’t matter if he’s ever back in my life. Those words were a healing balm to a very hungry soul. I hang on to them when I’m feeling adrift. They anchor me, if that makes sense. The timing melted my soul a little. My cold, angry, shaking, and fearful heart saw light. I smiled, put on my sunglasses so he wouldn’t see the tear and left the store.
Welcome is not a word I heard a lot. I’m still in awe of it some days really. I used to hunger for it. I looked for it in all the wrong places when I was younger and settled for far less. I am careful of it so as not to over stay my welcome. I’m learning as well that for the right people, there is no such thing. I just didn’t know that.
I learned that at a very young age I’m sure. Truth is I wore out my welcome at home when I was 12.
“Fine, if you want to see your father so badly, how about I pack your bags and you can stay there! Not that he’ll take you either.”
She tried to kill herself while I was gone, and wound up in treatment for alcoholism.
She never did pack my bags either, and it’s just as well. He only wanted me on his terms and only when it was convenient. I was his inconvenient truth most days.
I didn’t visit him again until I was 19.
The poets Simon and Garfunkel sing about being homeward bound. Musicians on the road, wishing they were home. Lovely song really. Sweet sentiment anyway.
I’ve lived in over 20 different cities and two countries. Home is an elusive term to me. I used to travel for business but back then home was an empty apartment in Hoffman Estates IL. There was no love waiting silently for me. Or was there?
What if, you were that lover waiting silently? Not for me, that would be weird. And awkward since I’m married and all.
But what if… you were that lover waiting for your truest self to return? Possible? We journey far from home some times. We try on personalities, beliefs, careers, relationships in season and out of season. That’s not necessarily a bad thing mind you.
But sooner or later, that small secret place inside all of us beacons us back.
My friend David went “home” this week. That’s Christian code for heaven. He passed rather unexpectedly due to multiple embolisms. Poor guy didn’t stand a chance. He was young too. A writer, a husband, a father, a son, a friend. A great guy really. He always wrote of adventure and about finding out who he is and what he is made of. He’s the reason I want to climb Pikes Peak and why I dared take my boys swimming with sharks. I’m going to miss him. I wonder if he ever found his truest self this side of heaven? I’d like to think so. Now that he is there, I’m guessing he knows even more so how dearly loved he is.
I bet he heard the words “welcome home.” And “You are always welcome here.”
I have lots of thoughts on the word “home.”
- We can be running away from home.
- Heading home.
- Be at home in our own skin
- Hit a home run.
- or even “Walking each other home” as Rumi says.
But what is home? I have ideas on what it should be.
Home should be a safe place.
Some place in our lives where we are welcomed with open arms.
A place where you are filled up with great things and released back into the world, happy and whole.
I try very hard to create such a place for my boys and my husband.
I’m only now learning how to create such a place for myself. I deserve a home as well. A place where I am happy and whole. A place where I am still enough to be loved.
But that definition of home isn’t true for everyone. Home is sometimes filled with strife, and disappointment. Abuse. Anger. Silence. Home for many people (yours truly included at times) is a place of judgment, anger, unmet expectations and needs. A dumping ground for other people’s baggage.
Not the home I live in mind you, just the one I go back to sometimes. The one I feel obligated to visit.
“She is your mother after all. You need to treat her with respect. She raised you. She deserves that much.”
And I do. I have learned how to give her what she is incapable of giving me. The one thing, she’s never been able to receive. I love her completely, unconditionally, and with as much grace as possible. I stink at it some days. But I still try.
I’ve returned from those trips at times, broken, hurting, questioning my value in the universe. But I still go back. Why? I believe in making choices I can live with. That is one of those choices.
The chance to love my mother – for fun and for free, no strings attached. I do it every chance I get. Not because I have to really, but because I want to. This broken alcoholic who hates Christians, who told me if abortions were legal, she’d have had one in 1965 is in as much need of love as the next person. Maybe more. I don’t know. Took me years to land there. Who knows, once she’s gone I may believe something different. Just not today.
No. I won’t believe differently. She doesn’t know what love looks like, therefore receiving it is painful for her. She doesn’t trust it. And that’s okay. It’s not my job to make her trust it. It’s just my hope to love her no matter what.
Do you know she told me once told me that I should never wear long skirts because I am short and chubby and they make me look like a hobbit? She did. Then she called me a few months later to give me the great news. Doc has her on steroids and now she’s just as fat as I am. Isn’t that a hoot?
My mom is mentally ill if you haven’t caught that. Home is something I’ve had to create for myself outside of my birth family. Some people write off homes like that. I choose not to.
Home is some place I was never allowed to return to once I married a Christian and moved to Oklahoma. There were no family gatherings. No Christmas with the grandparents or Easter either. Only annual visits on her schedule when she chose to visit and always for her birthday. My boys grew up without cousins, or aunts or uncles. They did however have a grandmother who came to see them. Who made them cards from scratch and loved them completely. She does Grandma very well. I do love that about her.
Even so, we’ve had to create a second family for them. I have had to create a new home for myself. Home is now my husband, my two boys, my new church, my friends, my life in Oklahoma.
Home is my swing on the hill overlooking the water at the cove.
Home is that place of peace inside of me that nothing can touch. White velvet. The hand of God. Unblemished by abuse.
Everyone has that by the way, we just don’t always see it, neither in ourselves nor always in others.
I think the person who told me I was always welcome, he saw it. He chose to show it to me over time through his kindness and his gentle caring.
When I tell people I am going home, meaning the other home – I’m braced. I’m ready for the insults. The anger, and the disappointment. I am covered in prayer, released of expectation and take with me the only traveling companions I have, the God who loves me and the prayers of my husband.
I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be loved unconditionally by a parent. That has never been part of my reality.
My mother was my abuser. That’s probably why I have such a hard time getting along with women and why I sometimes prefer the company of men. Less drama really – and I have daddy issues on top of that, so wow that’s a mouthful. And yet, she is my mother. No less a child of the universe than I.
My best friend from grade school is back in my life – (cyber wave). She is the one who gave me this writing challenge and while it took me forever to write it out, I appreciate her. She is part of my “home.” The truest self of who I was and who I’ve yet to become. Having her back in my life give me roots. I think I understand their song now – I wasn’t born broken. I was born beautiful. Whole. Innocent.
Then life happened and now I journey. I think. I get lost. And yet, I don’t have to wish anymore.
I am finding my way home.
Where the music plays.
And my lover (me) waits I am indeed
And it is glorious!
(excerpt from a writing assignment: What does it mean to be homeward bound?)