The feeling of Home is one I have always desperately craved, whether I was aware of it or not. It was a void that was authentically filled once in a while by people and places that didn’t realize how much they soothed me. Home was the feeling of recognition. Somewhere I felt completely seen and could just simply be. This stemmed from my deep desire to feel safe, have something predictable, something I could trust and something that I could completely rely on.
Why did I have this void that yearned for the soothing feeling of home?
Well, my house wasn’t home, so I began searching.
I have had glimpses of home in the house I grew up in. Friday nights we would walk down our street to Rogers Videos to pick a scary movie to watch as a family. The store was lined with a deep purple carpet and the walls were filled floor to ceiling with the latest nominated films. My sister and I would race along the wall checking behind each DVD to see if there was one we could rent behind it. My mom gave us a quarter so we could get a gumball before heading back home.
Friday night was pizza night, and our house filled with the smell of melting cheese, green peppers and onions. Once it was dark our touch lamps gave our home a soft glow that never failed to make me feel warm and cozy. Once our plates were filled with homemade pizza, we headed downstairs to start our movie. The living room ground was layered with the back cushions of our couch, and my mom made my sister, brother and I a cozy bed to lay on.
“Close your eyes!” my mom said during explicit scenes and we threw our palms to our face, but always peeked through the gaps of our fingers.
When suspense started to build in the movie and my sister, brother and I were all gripping each other my dad would alarmingly yell, “AHHH,” just a little too soon to scare us.
Those nights felt like home. The fresh air walking to Rogers Video, that purple carpet, the smell of green peppers, the soft glow from the lamps and being cozied together, yelling “Daaaad!” after giving us a fright. These nights were predictable and safe.
I found home in some of my closest friendships throughout the years. When friends didn’t feel predictable and safe to me, I couldn’t fully invest in them. My first time feeling fully recognized by friends was when I travelled alone to Thailand. I met a group of people volunteering in Chang Mai, Thailand, who saw me for my authentic self. They saw the story-teller in me before I knew there was one.
My friend Cat would say, “Jessie, tell us another story!” when we met new people from around the world and I experienced a confidence I never had before. They saw a brave, confident girl who had yet to see herself.
Recently, I have found the feeling of home with my friend Megan. She sees my good, bad and my ugly and accepts it all. We have this funny balance of characteristics in our friendship that helps me soften and helps her speak up. People envy the relationship, and I believe it’s because we see each other for who we really are. That recognition is powerful, irreplaceable and genuinely hard to find.
I deeply appreciate the people and places that made me feel safe and seen. Change, instability or trust that was broken in any of the places where I felt that feeling of home would throw my neurological system into a state of alarm.
YOU ARE NOT SAFE! It would alert me. First, coming up with anger and quickly turning to that familiar panic before I would inevitably break-down. The void would pulse again until it found something else to soothe it.
But, the people and experiences above were a constant. Ones I hold close to my heart and ones I will cherish forever.
Jessica Jones is a teacher living in the Manitoba prairies. For the past year she has been actively writing and sharing her experiences with co-dependency, alcoholism, and the impact it’s had on her and her relationships. Her interests include psychology, photography, and her brand-new podcast called Mulch. For more stories and articles by Jessica follow her on Instagram @from.mulch, listen to her podcast Mulch or visit her website frommulch.com.