This weekend, I was lucky to have the chance to go home for a few days. It was just the break I needed from the stress of school, work, people, and myself. I was able to mend and strengthen relationships with family and friends. There were tears, honest conversations, and a ton of hugs.
Part of my latest relapse was feeling that I was entirely displaced. I felt that I had no home to go back to, no people to fall back on, and no reason to keep moving forward. Feeling so vulnerable, I fell back into a state of personhood that I deeply resent. I became a victim of my situation and allowed myself to wallow in it.
I am a strong believer in the strength of the individual. I do not believe in victimizing, pity parties, or wallowing. However, I was in a place just weak enough to allow myself to engage in all of these things. Part of my recovery process is now digging deep into the strength I know that I possess as a survivor, a woman, a human being, and a daughter of God. Am I still struggling? Of course – and you will, too. You just have to be patient. Bear the battles (that means the losses and the wins) and you will ultimately win the war.
I had 500 solitary miles on the road home to really psyche myself up for what I thought could either be the best Father’s Day surprise ever or a total disaster. See, my family and I really struggled to find common ground after I opened up about the past traumas and the mental illness. They could not understand where all of this was coming from, or who I am, because I am a very good liar. I spent four and a half very long years deceiving friends and family – hiding breakdowns, cuts, nightmares, tears, anxiety, complete panic, and immense guilt. They never saw the side of me that was broken. I was very good at presenting an entirely controlled and focused front while inside my head there was nothing but chaos. There were times when I would lock my door, lay facedown on the floor, and just force myself to breathe because I honestly felt like I might explode.
When I walked through the front door of my childhood home this weekend, I honestly struggled to feel comfortable. I walked into every room in search of the safe feeling I’d always had. However, all I found were memories. I played the piano my two-year-old fingers once struggled to span. I wandered the halls in which I learned to walk. I sat at the kitchen table that once hosted nightly family dinners. Nothing, however, seemed to feel the same. It wasn’t until my dad was there that I began to feel like I was home.
That’s when it hit me – houses are not homes without the people we love. And yeah, I know we’ve all heard that. It was cross-stitched into a fabric swatch that hung in our bathroom for years. But it is so true, even if it is cliche.
I spent about 48 hours at home with family and friends and it was more healing than therapy. Their love, unconditional, grounded me. It brought me back to the person I love to be – relaxed (albeit a little emotional), happy, and selfless. I stopped thinking about the scars on my arm, the trauma in my past, and the anxiety. It all just stopped for 48 wonderful hours.
So, I have two messages for two different kinds of people. First, if you are struggling to feel like you have a place in this world, seek out the people that know you best. Believe it or not, my ex-boyfriend has actually been the greatest support in the last two weeks because he knows me like the back of his hand. Find the people that understand you and that love you unconditionally. Don’t say that you don’t have anybody – because you do. At the very least, you have me. You also have God.
Second, to those who are dealing with loved ones with mental illnesses, be their home. Do not allow your own selfish concerns or desires to cloud your love of them. Be infinitely selfless – give them your time, your shoulder, and your compassion. Don’t leave them in the cold. Going back to the love of my father and my friends was better for me than I could have ever dreamed. Their support and understanding put me back on my feet and on my way up the mountain.
Today was a good day. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I am going to continue on. I am going to smile even when it hurts, and I am not going to allow myself to forget that I have a support system behind me. I want you to make that commitment, too – that no matter how dark or desperate or lonely it seems, you will remember that you have a home to go back to. You are not alone, ever. I love you. I will be your home if that is what you need.
Today was a good day, and tomorrow will be, too. Remember the sunrise – it’s coming.