COMING HOME TO 26
I’ve never felt at home. The kind of home that feels like comfort.
Like walking in and immediately feeling lighter, as if all of your worries have vanished. Like curling up under the warmth of your blanket and immediately falling asleep. Because you know the walls you’ve built will protect you from the darkness.
No, I’ve never felt at home in my own skin.
I spent my time building homes for others. Lending pieces of myself to strengthen their walls. And patching up holes to keep them from crumbling.
Maybe it was the role I assumed at a young age – one that I moved into when I first witnessed the walls deteriorating around me. Or maybe it was a learned trait – one that I adopted through condition. Or maybe it was a combination of both that taught my hands to build for others to find worth.
Nonetheless, it kept me busy. Much too busy to pay attention to the darkness, to the demons that were always one beat away.
But they grew tired of waiting in the shadows. And the more restless they grew, the busier I kept myself. Refusing to acknowledge them, keeping them locked away.
Until they began to knock. On all of the doors of the homes I’d built for others. Seeping in through the cracks, infiltrating the deepest crevices. Taking the form of the things I held closest, consuming the relationships that made me feel safest. Taunting me, daring me to misstep, they would not be ignored.
At first it was a nightmare. The kind where all you have to do is scream for help, but nothing comes out. Your voice is gone.
Paralyzed in fear, in shame and guilt, in confusion; I couldn’t move. And my hands could no longer build.
But the longer I stayed there, the more I understood. The better I got to know my demons, the less I feared them. And once I began to ask myself the hard questions, I found the courage to start building again.
As I do my first walk-through, I feel it; the solid ground beneath my feet as I step through the doorway and the light breeze that flows through the wooden beams. In and out, in and out. I hear it; the steady pounding of the hammer as my heart learns its new beat.
And then I see it; the light pouring in through the open space; shining down on the beams and sawdust, hammers and nails – down on the mess that lies within the woodwork.
And for the first time, I’m comfortable.
The kind of comfortable that feels like home.