Where is Home?

I ask my three-year-old self to show me her home, and she points to the floor beneath the formica-topped table in the kitchen. There, caged within the chrome legs of table and chairs, she is out of the path of adult legs, whose movements are as unpredictable as their moods.

I ask my four-year-old self where she feels safe, and she leads me out the side door, through the rose trellis, into the back garden, where snapdragons grow tall against the brick walls of the house.

Five-year-old me wanders out the back gate and across the farmer’s field, then through the woods, to the rippling waters of a creek.

In my dreams, I am always away from home, and it begs the question: When have I ever felt at home?

Born fifth of six children, raised in a house where alcoholism, and abuse were overshadowed by a terminally ill sister, I seldom felt that I was anything but a burden. I learned the best way to get along was to not need anything, and definitely not to cause a fuss.

I’ve worked through the many layers of childhood in therapy, and would think that much is behind me, except yesterday, in conversation about my mother, who has difficulty speaking up for her needs, my husband mentioned, off-hand, that she, like me, could do with assertiveness training.

Darn. Just when I thought I was getting the knack of it, there is more work to do.

Am I alone in this quest?

(Image my own)

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

20 thoughts on “Where is Home?

  1. I hate when that happens…just when you think/hope/pray that you’ve (pretty much) figured it out, an observation knocks us down. But just temporarily, VJ. I think we get hard wired from childhood deeper than we think. Perhaps comments like you heard unearth one more “wire” to unravel. You put so much out there in your writing and I think that is “speaking up” on the page. This is also a fascinating take on childhood memories. My favorite ones all take place outdoors. Even as an adult, I could fall asleep easier by closing my eyes and imagining running out the back kitchen door from a house I lived in until I was 11. I never missed living there when we moved…except for the backyard and woods down the street.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Andrea. Nature really has been a saviour. I know I share a lot, but I feel like sharing is giving meaning to the experience, especially if there is movement involved.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my senseis says that learning in life is like climbing around a mountain. You get higher, and achieve much, but you pass the same scenery time and time again on your way up. I’ve learned over the years that he’s right. Like you I master something, and think “ahh at last!” only to have it come around again in a few years in a different form. It’s along process, but as sensei points out you are making progress and you need to credit yourself with the improvements and gains you make.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nope! You are not alone – I, too, have been learning my entire lifetime to speak up, say what I’m thinking. I’ve made progress with people I’m close to (progress does not equate to “got it down”) but totally clam up in public. I’m a writer for a reason – I can stare at what I just “said” and tweak it to avoid misinterpretation, reduce others slamming it down as hogwash. (Well, mostly.)
    I enjoyed your young-age perspectives of “safe place”. Though inconvenient to be nonassertive, I think it makes room for some of us to acquire other useful habits (abstinence is often the wise response).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the work of asserting oneself is never really done. If you have been raised in a world that expects women to take care of others and to maintain relationships, your own needs can be easily set aside. It is learning to assert myself graciously that’s been my goal these past years.
    Your lovely creativity in words and pictures demonstrates your assertiveness at its best.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. VJ, thanks for sharing this. There is a melancholy nature that makes us think back on each of our childhoods. I am sorry you felt like you did. Being the fifth of sixth may also have made you feel time was not afforded to you when you needed it. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Keith. I know it wasn’t. After five, my mother got sick, so my older siblings looked after me by locking me out of the house. A very confusing time.


  6. You’ve had s as very challenging childhood. It leaves us with lots of issues too deal with as we grow older. But one thing I’ve learned that don’t let the opinion of others define you.

    Liked by 1 person

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