Home is where the heart is.
That’s a lesson I learned at a very young age when I had to learn to keep my heart protected from my narcissistic mother and my adrift father.
For me, the only safe space for my heart was inside of me, away from the people who would bruise it, who wouldn’t respect or understand it.
I learned to go inside and close the door, going into a book, my own thoughts, or the stories I kept within me.
My actual homes, though, have reflected this inner, hermetic pattern. I have lived in warehouses, bins piled high on metal shelving, with me in a nest somewhere on the edge.
I was never going to be the mom, I knew, so what was the point of building a welcoming, beautiful, safe home? I was off the grid, wandering alone, focused on a job
For a decade, I lived homeless in my mother’s house, down in the basement with all the other junk. Since then, with the estate messed up, I didn’t have the wherewithal to make a home. I lived for seven months without a kitchen sink, and for months and months without access through the front door.
The place is crammed with junk, and what there is is often broken, like the new dishwasher my sister had that man put in which still leaks onto the floor if it is run, which was the reason for the mold which destroyed the subfloor in the first place.
I live in beauty, but only that I can scrape up inside of myself. Outside, it’s rough and ready, not at all pretty or polished.
Of course, this mirrors my presentation in the world, where I stay functional and focus on what I carry inside.
While this stoic existence has benefits, it also has costs. How do I invite people in, make them feel safe, comfortable and impressed? How do I package what I offer in a beautiful way that makes people want to engage me and partake in what I offer?
It’s all well and good to say it is content and not packaging that matters, but it’s not really accurate. As humans, we need a bit of sugar to help the medicine go down, some comforting beauty to let us move away from the sensation of noise & jangle and move into the openness which allows us to relax into something new.
While I may be used to picking threads out of chaos, not creating order and beauty really limits me in ways that I don’t really understand.
For most people, they learned very early to make themselves a home, creating spaces that supported their vision. They needed to surround themselves with a space that represented and fostered them, not just pulling back into their heart and mind to stay safe.
Those were not lessons that I learned. I learned to stay hidden, defended, isolated, because I was told that my heart essence was corrupt, perverted, indulgent and sick. When I showed it, people were not only not supportive, they felt entitled to attack me, calling me abnormal and deluded.
Now, though, at an age where most people are simplifying, packing up their homes, reducing to essence and learning to live inside themselves, now I find that I have the bloody obligation to learn how to build a home, a space and a package that I can offer to the world.
This is a daunting and crushing notion, just another bit of a life lived backwards. I was denied the ability to do what my peers were doing, being adultified early, so I had to go back and learn those “simple” things later in life when there was no support, no caring environment and peer help to do the work of finding ways to connect.
Without mirrors, it is hard to shape expression and design that attracts and engages other people. After so long living inside of myself, the notion of living with an external presence, on the grid, seems futile and baffling. There is no one to say “yes,” to help with the social expectations that others find easy, having learned them long ago when the training of parents and peers came around.
My experience of scarcity has captured my mind, so the notion that you need to splash out to show yourself seems foreign to me. The notion that you have to spend to succeed is much less appealing if you don’t have the notion that success is possible, don’t have hope that somehow, your wishes will come true.
Home is where my heart is. That has always been true for me, even if that home is just not a place that is appealing and safe for others, or even a place where I feel ready to get naked, relax, polish and preen.
How do I learn to build a home that is inviting and attractive? How do I do this for me, for forging connections with a wider world?