Reflections Pt 2: Home

Home is wherever I’m with you.
I feel home when I’m chillin outside with the people I love.
This is my home. It’s where I go when I don’t know where else to go.

Particularly around the holiday season, I think about what it means to be home, what it means to have a home. I used to have this idea in my heart that I would feel home when I found another person that wanted to make one with me. Well, that didn’t go so well considering my repressed sexual identity. Then I thought, maybe if I live the place where my heart feels settled, I’ll finally find home. While certain cities energetically vibe with me more than others, even as I moved and felt the electricity course through me from connecting on a deep level with a place, I know that wasn’t the answer to finding home. Then I thought, maybe if I found a group of people who believed in the same things I did, I would feel home. That idea got me closer to the truth but it still wasn’t everything I knew home needed to be for me.

A few years worth of challenging contrast later, and it finally hit me. In every one of the variables that I tried to manipulate, the assumption was that home exists outside the self. In order to find it, I needed to attach myself to something else that wasn’t me. That reads as: I am not enough to be a home. 

Where does this trope come from? Why is this the story that I have ben telling myself for nearly three decades? Where did I learn that I couldn’t be a home for me? Tragically, this is what we feed our little girls as they grow up. Look for prince charming. Fall in love. Live happily ever after. That’s where your home is. Even in Pocahontas, girl saved a white boy from being killed by her father because of the genocide that the white settlers were inflicting upon the native. The most important part of that sentence is “girl saves a white boy”. Then she runs around the forest sad because her white boy left. Historically she is also 10. So there’s a lot wrong with the story, but mainly, she is lost and without a home because she doesn’t have a man.

A long winded preamble to get to the heart of the matter: What does it mean to feel home?

Security. Stability. A place where you feel safe. A place where you belong. Warmth. The best koala hug in the history of koala hugs. It feels like not having to worry. It feels like letting your hair down. It feels like that feeling after a big sigh of relief. 

And, I suppose those things are incredibly gratifying when they come from people outside of you. I get that. It feels nice be validated in that way. The problem, or perhaps the catch, with that idea coming from outside the self is that it is circumstantial. It will go when those people go, when that place goes, when that experience goes. When they do, as is the nature of the universe, you will be left in the same place you began: a wandering soul searching for a home. So the work is to find that quality of home within your first home. You body, your mind, your heart, and your breath will be with you for as long as you are around. They are your first home, and I speak to my women particularly when I say that we have been trained to treat those things as hostile things in need of changing. How do we flip the script? These two practices are what I’m using to nurture the feeling of home within myself.

  1. The way you speak to yourself - Sometimes, I make myself write down all of the horrible things I think about myself so that I can see them. It breaks my heart because I would never speak to another person that way, but for some reason I’m okay with belittling and hurting myself. Become aware of the self-talk that happens nearly constantly throughout the waking hours. Meditation is great for that. Mindfulness practices are great for that. Journaling is great for that. In the beginning it may be that you can only realize that larger forms of self talk like, “You got that promotion. Good. You’re a good person. You have worth and value.” But there are tiny instance of tearing the self down on the daily that you might not recognize like, “yeah I’m definitely not wearing this shirt it makes me look fat,” or “damn, that was so stupid. Why did I do that?” Much of the thinking and behavior patterns we engage with today, we’ve been learning for our whole lives. If your homeostasis is to treat yourself in a hostile way, why would you ever feel safe, secure, or stable inside yourself? Changing that pattern can be difficult but recognize the benefits is one way to encourage growth.The thought experiment that resonates with me now is this: What would my experience of the world be life if I felt safe and secure and stable within myself? What would my life be like if I was my own biggest supporter? How might it impact all of my other interpersonal relationships if I encountered them from a place of feeling secure and stable and safe?

  2. introspection and rituals that encourage care- You clean your house all the time. Why wouldn’t to do the same for your heart and mind? Think of introspection is the way that we assess what needs to be spruced up and self care as the way we spruce. Introspection means looking inward, reflectively consider what has transpired, how it makes us feel, what we need and what we want. It gives us the ability to approach even very challenging situations with grace. Introspection also deepens our understanding of the way that we need to be taken care of. It any relationship with other people, one of the ways we build that stability and safety and trust is through taking care of each other. It’s the same with the relationship with yourself. How do you need to take care of yourself today to feel safe and valuable? Similarly, that idea of having a ritual become a marker for the feeling of home. Think about your family home and all the rituals that you might have around the holidays. In the same way that the rituals with your family signify home, the ones you create with yourself can inspire those same feelings.

The corollary to the above: think of the immense impact the sense of stability, security, safety, warmth, will impact all of your other relationships! The idea of finding home inside of the self is not to discount the immense joy and fulfillment that relationships with other people bring us. Instead, creating a stronger positive relationships with the self will allow all other interpersonal relationships to flourish.This is the goal: do the inner work so that the outside world tastes sweeter.