Imagine: one day you wake up and everyone you know is gone. You are in a strange place and everything smells a little funny. You get up, make the bed, wrap in your robe and walk into the kitchen. You are immediately taken back by the delicacy and enormity of just this one room alone. Still shocked you decide to wander into the next room, which looks like a living area…and again are taken back. You start to get a queasy feeling because you’re not sure where you are and the beauty and magnitude of this new space is overwhelming. Slowly walking through gorgeously decorated hallways you start to holler your loved ones names. No one answers and out of the corner of your eye you see a glimpse of the china chest filmed in dirt that used to fit perfectly in the hallway of your own house. You start to gravitate towards the chest and with each step you take you notice more of your belongings: small trinkets, a table, some chairs, even a bit of that burnt sage paint that covered the walls in your home. You sink to the floor in confusion looking back and forth between the two styles: one fairly lived in and used and the other beautiful and eloquent. Then you hear the cry of your mom and your head quickly turns to that warn down bench that used to sit at the doorway of your home, and there sits your mom. Then you hear the laughter of your daughter and your head snaps to the elegant staircase and descending from them, dancing, is your happy daughter. You sit there for a while and the two sides of this strange place start to fill…the fairly used side with memories of your past, that sometimes were hard and hurtful and that held you back and on the elegant side, memories to come, dreams fulfilled and cleanliness–which you’ve always strived for in your fairly used home. Confused and torn you start to wander towards the side full of dreams and memories. As you walk towards it though you start to see a storm rolling in, outside. You’re not a fan of thunder or lightening but the pull of the elegance is so enticing. Slowly you try to move around and work through the storm, but eventually it is just too much to handle so you recede to your original place between two homes. You start to weigh the options of the storm against the dirty, fairly used house that has brought you comfort for so many years of your life. Remembering the comfort of the old home, you start to wander deeper into that side when you realize that your dad, who abused your mom for years and is an alcoholic, walks in. Terrified you quickly recede, again. Now you are feel you must decide but both sides are terrifying…you are overwhelmed and all of the sudden you start to smell an awkward smell. You’ve never smelt a smell like this before. It’s potent and not to bitter but not quite sweet enough, either. It draws you in and you walk towards it and find yourself stuck in the middle. The longer you stay, though, the more potent the smell becomes and you start to develop a pretty bad headache. In order to disperse of it, you decide you must choose a home that will serve you well. Torn, you chose the elegant style because that is what you always dreamed of. After a few days the smell of the newness that you encountered that first morning has now become familiar and the size too has started to feel normal. Still, being in a new home, you are weary. Things start to shake as the weather outside is turning grey and you have a small dispute with your daughter about the appropriateness of her outfit. You start to get uncomfortable and decide to slightly move towards your old home side of the house. This pattern continues often until one day your back in your old home. You are angry because even though it is SO comfortable, you know that the other side is what you want and what you need to be happy. So you move back in.
I think this is our lives, those of us with trauma more-so. We seek comfort rather than discomfort and doing so, we hold ourselves back. Sometimes we’re given a glimpse at what life could be if we are willing to come outside of our comfort zone and too often we fear the path from where we are to what could be, so we stay. We then become angry or depressed but we are unsure of the solution. We turn to blame and at times hurt others because we feel that they’ve held us back. But we are held back because we are too fearful to put that toe into the deep water, we stay in the shallow.
Moving here, to where I live, proved to be a lot like this story. Though I drove myself the 9-12 hours and made the conscious decision to move here, every morning I wake up and do a little dance in deciding what side of my house I want. If I want to go back to my home that Ive always known or to continue to move forward in my relationships here even though there have proven to be some hard times. Sometimes I do go back home, to where the most comfort lays…and I stay there for a bit before I start to get antsy for the future and move back into my elegant side of life. Its not easy and so often feels foreign, but I find the more that I accept that my fairly used house will always be there, that I can always revisit the good or the bad memories, the more I am able to step into my magnificently beautiful home and keep walking towards my future. Its hard. But my future is worth more than my past ever will be.