Going Home

Walt Whitman said, “You can never go home again”, but we seem to go back there all the time.
Home is where your heart is, especially if you’re broken. We don’t even need a memory to take us there – just a feeling.

There was a time and a place where we shut down and we know it all too well. Like tip toeing through the rooms of an old house, our minds wander through shadowy places and familiar haunted places. We were children seeking safety and what we failed to learn was what other kids took for granted – how to feel safe.

The child we were remains a part of who we are today. It’s the part of us that feels and remembers and takes over when we’re overwhelmed. Too many of us hate and resent that child for taking control. We forget that as adults it is we who allow it.

Children believe that they want control and they seek it. Fostering the development of a child includes teaching self control. We learned this about control: we either have it totally (illusion), are completely out of it (emotionally overwhelmed), or we believe that we are being controlled (abuse, illusion, or our standard approach to authority figures).

Each of us needs sanctuary. We need at least two places where we feel safe. One is within us and the other can be a place and/or a person. This is a starting point. Most of us have found that ultimately we need many people and a place to call “home.” Having a place where we belong makes us feel grounded, makes us feel like we have an identity. This is who I am to others. This is where I belong. We seek to feel a part of something greater instead of apart from everyone.

The purpose of family is to provide for its members. We are seeking that which was denied us. We are hurt and we are angry. We know that much is missing but we’re afraid to know what it is. We say we’re looking for “answers” but we don’t know what questions to ask. We try to find ourselves in others. Desperately we search for those who might understand us – that through them we might come to know ourselves. Kindred souls attract one another, but our fears and our shame prevent us from becoming intimate with would be friends.

We look everywhere but in our own hearts because that is where the child resides. We think too much. We sense things but don’t trust our gut feelings to guide us. Our ability to survive is great but we don’t know how to have a life or sometimes even how to be. We seek the familiar and the comfortable. We seek to not feel. So much of what we consciously choose is unhealthy and yet everything we truly want is healthy. We need to learn how to get it.

Of all the things that you can choose; choose you. To have hope that things will get better is scary. To have hope is to risk disappointment but without it we are just going through the motions. Stop looking for “all better” and make a choice to take some baby steps. Let’s start building a place within and a place to belong.

Journaling is a great way to get on the same page with yourself. Try writing a letter to yourself. If you wrote letters as a kid you probably just hit the highlights: how you’re doing overall, what’s new with you, what are you looking forward to and what are you worried about. It’s too easy to get caught up in the weirdness of writing or talking to yourself. Truth is you’re probably afraid to but if you don’t know you, how are you supposed to feel like you’re in control of you? Furthermore, how is anyone else going to know who you really are if you don’t?

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.