Good morning, everyone ~
Many thoughts are filling my mind at this early hour (2:00a.m.) on this first day of 2021’s October. From the pandemic to a lifetime of losses/gains, to what “home” really means. Like most others, I have lived in many places. A total of 16 dwellings, across 3 states, over a span of almost 67 years. This current home is the longest I have ever lived anywhere. Yet, as I contemplate the changes that have occurred in the past 27 years, this house/property are not quite the “same” home as when I first moved in.
Neither is this body the same “home” that I was born with; yet, it is the one habitable abode that has been a permanent dwelling for me. Within each age-n-stage of Life, changes have taken place in this “body-home”. Not all of them have been pleasant, nor easily adapted to.
I am “me” even though “I” have changed countless times in my lifetime. “I” take “me” everywhere I go; yet, the “I” who is “me” today is different from the “I” who dwelled in her parents’ North Carolina home for 15 years. Nor am “I” the same as when I moved to Gainesville 27 years ago. The “home” of this body that “I” reside within has been continually changing, and “I” have, to the best of my abilities, adapted accordingly, just as but not quite as easily as the house where I reside has been adapted through those years too, to suit our desires/needs.
This idea of “body-home” is a bit different from the building I refer to as “home”. I feel “at home” inside my own skin regardless of where I am in the world. Regardless of how often the indwelling “I” has adapted to the physical changes, “I” eventually feel “at home” again. Adaptation requires time … and willingness. To feel “at home” means that I feel safe, free to be “me”/think my own thoughts/nurture my own beliefs/pursue my own interests.
Our “home” of Mother Earth is changing. So too is our “home” of neighborhood, city, state, nation. We no longer feel safe, thanks in large part to the pandemic, which has affected every aspect of our “home life”, from world politics to space exploration, from the inner sanctum of our thoughts to the public platform of day-to-day living. Adjustment seems impossible, regardless of the degree of our individual/collective willingness.
And that makes each of us feel less “at home” with one another … and, perhaps just a wee bit alien inside our own skin. “I” sometimes do not recognize “home”, in much the same way that I am taken by surprise when I catch a glimpse of my old body in the bathroom mirror. Where did that 100 pound young woman go, who moved into this house 27 years ago???? Where is “home” when invisible threat is everywhere, surrounding us? How do we adapt? How do we feel “at home” amidst such universal change?
There are no easy answers, I’m sorry to say. There are, however, ways/choices/methods by which we each can indeed help self/one another feel more “at home” inside our own skin. I cannot create a safe “home” for anyone else. I can only do my best to be “safe, at home” inside my own skin. If I cannot feel safe with me, I will not be able to feel safe with anyone else or anywhere else.
To better manage my pain (physical/mental/emotional/spiritual), I must first acknowledge the pain. Stuffing “monsters” under the bed does not get rid of the “monsters”. I must name them to tame them! By naming them, I separate myself from them. Arthritis may be a condition of this aging physical form, yet it is not part of the “I” who indwells the body. Arthritis may limit my physical range of motion, yet my mind can carry my mental/spiritual self into realms beyond the reach of Arthritis. I can feel at home in an ever-changing body, despite the normal “monsters” of Life. I just have to adjust my perspective … again/again/again . (I can do that!)
Invisible, abnormal “monsters” (viruses, attitudes, random acts of violence) — we name them every day, and hear their many names with every news report. Yet, where is the taming????
Have we placed the responsibility of taming such abnormal monsters into someone else’s hands? If, for example, we place full responsibility for self’s own safety into the hands of The Authorities, yet neglect to do what we can to be a safe place for self/others … . If we demand of others what we ourselves are not willing to do … . If we blame instead of name … . If we shame instead of tame … . If “I” am not “at home” with my own self, how can I expect anyone else to be?
The author/psychologist Brene Brown states: “… to be open-minded … to listen with desire to learn more about the other person’s perspective …”, to say “Tell me more.” … [is] one of the most courageous things to say in an uncomfortable conversation. … And then we have to listen. Really listen. Listen to understand … in the same way we want to be understood.”
To feel “at home” despite all the external/internal changes unfolding continuously ~ what better goal to pursue than that? If “I” do not feel that “I” truly belong inside this often painful body, in this continually changing house, in this evolving neighborhood/city/state/nation … if “I” am not “at home” here/now, a safe place for self/others, then the “monsters” have won.
I am willing to keep adjusting my perspective. I am naming/taming my own “monsters”. I am “home” (to the best of my ability). It is my prayer that you feel “at home” too!
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:
Who said: ” … most individuals … simply faced up to the complications of emotions and life. They coped. … We do know that if problems have lasted for more than a month … [they] probably aren’t going to remit spontaneously. … But mental health is the most inexact of sciences. Different things work for different people. Even if a pattern of familiar symptoms appears, if it isn’t causing impairment, it isn’t a disorder. … If you’re OK, it’s OK.”
Looking forward to this afternoon’s Group session at the SenCen!
Stay safe. Stay kind. Stay curious. “Home” should not be dull-n-boring, eh?
Gentle hugs/much love,