When children are born, they are looking in the faces of all these strange people with one question in mind- Do I belong here?
What we are seeking from birth onward is the question: Am I worthy of connection?
As a culture, we refuse to see it and recognize it as normal, healthy and human.
As a child of divorce, I will always have a sense of loss and not belonging.
I suspect that children of divorce grow up with the understanding that things can and often do change without warning and usher in the expectation that things simply have to be “dealt with”.
Growing up with parents who married super young, I never felt at home in my own home.
Many people feel that the home in which they were raised is true North- a place to venture from and discover the world.
I can always recognize those who were connected and welcomed with reckless abandon once they entered the world and those of us who had to fight to get and or keep a place of connection in our homes and families.
Home for me has always been an ongoing process. An event that never seems complete or adequate. During my younger years, I dreamt that home was all over the map.
I believed that home was an intellectual space and way of being.
As an extremely smart and intellectual precocious child( I was reading at a college level in the fourth grade), I often sought out places that placed emphasis on mind development.
Living in a home filled with depression and homophobia, it was clear that the places for boys were places where you could play sports and inflict pain.
Taking my education into my own hands, I sought out places that focused on the intellect.
At fourteen, I discovered an incredible prep school that was expensive as hell and miles away from my limited Detroit neighborhood.
My only problem: parents who failed to see that this financial challenge would pay off in the near future. When the person writing the checks doesn’t see the value of what’s being offered or worse, doesn’t understand what’s being offered then steers you away from a life-changing opportunity, the home loss is reinstated.
During my younger years, I did manage to create a home space that I still can return to at 50.
My grandparents home was home to me.
Between the smell of bleach and camel cigarettes given off by my grandfather and my grandmothers’ fried chicken, my grandparents’ house was my home.
A place that I felt seen and wanted.
My paternal grandparents were always excited to see me and forever willing to welcome me with a good, hot meal and a genuine question about what we were learning in school.
Being seen is the main point and true definition of home.
Home is not where the heart is home is where you are seen.
Many of us grow up being seen for the wrong reasons.
I recently read a quote from somebody that says everyone is looked at what we all want is to be seen.
Here’s the difference- most of us are looked at and critiqued- told what is wrong with us. Anyone can tell you what’s wrong with themselves and you.
As a sensitive, smart child who hated sports, I was constantly provided with an ongoing diatribe of what was wrong with me and what I should desire and how I shoud act/present myself to the world.
Everyone looked(to be able to critique and “help”).
Few saw me(loved me in with no suggestions that I would be loved more or better if certain things were changed about me).
So for me, my concept of home has always been skewed. We are taught, myself included, that home is with people who look like you, have your same name and multiple shared historic tidbits.
Does home come at the cost of your personal and emotional health?
For several years, I struggled with claiming space in my immediate family.
As an out gay men, I was given the option – hold on to yourself (create a home situation on your own) or join us- (we will allow you a space in our home as long as you have no needs or firm boundaries).
Home should never be a place where you feel threatened or have to negotiate emotional safety.
When I think of my early childhood and home life, I don’t have warm fuzzy feelings that anything was possible.
I recall a home that couldn’t handle a male child who was arts-centered and my sister who was a math whiz.
Healthy and happy doesn’t mean conflict free or without an occasional hiccup.
It does mean that differences are negotiated and viewpoints shared without fear of shaming and humiliation.
How do we create a happy, healthy home life?