Under the bed

I was scared of going back home.

I feared return more than I missed my parent, or my dog. I feared going back to the same patterns of screaming and fighting that resounded throughout the house. I feared the unhinged monster that my other parent seemed to have become, from my parent’s account, and from my own conversations. I feared getting into a fight myself, one that would cement my fear into a reality that yes, my house was no longer the safe haven I could go back to.

So I convinced myself with all my heart that I was better off where I was. I told myself had too much work, I was mentally exhausted and that this would just add to the exhaustion. With so much unrest, I wouldn’t be able to recover. With twelve hours left for my flight home, I considered cancelling, and just… Not going back. I didn’t want to stay where I was, and I didn’t want to go back. But, with no other options, I got on that plane, and I got back home.

And home… Home became another opportunity to realise that the Universe would place me before my worst fears, until I opened my eyes and saw it for what it was – a lesson.

Through all this mental rumination and shadow play, what I didn’t take into consideration was that I had changed. I had been my lone caregiver, and my sole responsibility had fallen on my shoulders. I had stayed in a house that was as big as my living room back home, and I’d managed to make that house a home for me, as well. I was no longer restricted or repressed – I had been as free as I could ever be in this life. I had flown, I had roamed, I had seen. I had seen so much.

The walls that had once seemed stifling were now comforting. The small, isolated chunk of heaven that was my room now seemed palatial. And my demonised and harried parents both seemed… Familiar and welcoming.

And most importantly… I was no longer part of it. I was a guest.

In fact, things were worse than when I’d left. My dog was feeling his age – in fact, all the geriatrics were feeling their age. One parent had given up on sanity existing in the house, and the other was feeling the effects of their first attempt at trying psychotherapy. It was chaos, to say the least.

But, the sense of familiarity, the sense of being known, seen and heard, of being safe and in the company of those who knew and loved me was quite heady. It did take me some time to get comfortable, as my knee jerk reaction to having my door opened as I slept was to sit up straight in bed faster than my conscious senses could follow. But in the few days that I had, I emotionally recharged myself, physically refreshed myself, and found myself in a space that was, despite my initial thoughts, the safest space in the world.

And as I sat in my bedroom on that last day, I was filled with dread, loneliness and reluctance. I felt like a bird that had perched after a long period of migratory flight, with wings rested, thirst quenched and hunger alleviated. Excitement was no longer the lone emotion that filled me at the thought of the journey ahead, but was accompanied, and sometimes overshadowed, by a sense of exhaustion. I was already so weary, and the journey ahead seemed drawn-out and daunting. Why couldn’t I just stay here, where it was safe? Where I wasn’t all alone? Where I was known, heard and loved?

I let the anxiety and the sadness wash over me, the waves reducing in intensity as time passed. The distortions I created in my mind about the path ahead of me were the same distortions that I had created of my home – a large prison where one parent was the jailor, and, the other, the prisoner. The new city I lived in, a chaotic jungle, and my new home, a lonely, but safe, enclosure.

The loneliness I feel now is so intense it’s almost awe inspiring, rather than overwhelming. Looking at my own feelings with some detachment, I realise that so much of what allowed me to be happy in my home town came from what I learnt in my new home – independence, responsibility, self awareness, and a newfound interest in washing the dishes. If it wasn’t for this experience, I wouldn’t have grown enough to see home for what it truly is, and my life for what it needs to be.

So as I grapple this insane sense of seclusion, I remind myself to enjoy even this feeling because one day, I’d look back on these days, and recognise the freedom and self sufficiency for what they truly are – a opportunity at living my life the best I can.

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