I love being home.
The peonies that I picked up with french bread and cheese at the market are in vases and their sweet fragrance is coating the apartment in a kind of mist that mixes with the lavender in our kitchen. The twinkle lights in my kitchen light up pictures of my wedding (oh, happy day!) on the shelves that my husband put up for my precious trinkets, and my little dog is cuddled with me on our rug as I sip coffee and listen to NPR’s tiny desk concerts waiting for C to get home. (C is my husband, by the way. It’s still so strange for me to say that, even after three years of marriage it makes me blush a bit. Sorry for the mushy side note but there it is.)
Three years ago, a newlywed in a strange city far from home, I got a call from home that made my blood run cold. I rushed to the airport. But as soon as I landed, I found it was too late, and I started weeping on the plane. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I didn’t think it would ever get better. I still, to this day, think about those moments and shudder. And I don’t write this to be dramatic, only that all of us have at least one such moment in our life. Maybe it’s the loss of a friend or a parent or a sibling. Maybe it’s the boy who broke your heart. Maybe it’s a phone call asking you to come quickly, echoed with the word hospital. Maybe it’s the moment after you wake up in a stranger’s bed, violated. And we want to give up because we stare trauma in its ugly face and it hisses at us that it’s over. There’s nothing left for us. The things that gave our life meaning and purpose and light are gone. The things that define us are stripped away, that we are irrevocably lost.
There’s this thing about trauma. It lies.
It lies that it will never get better. It lies that this is all there is. It gives you this skewed black view of the world, this hostile sense that everything and everyone is against you that you are irretrievable. Your pain lies to you. And I need you to know, right now, wherever you are, that it will get better. Maybe not in the way you want it to. You certainly won’t come out the same person. But it will get better. You will get better. You will be found.
I’m a survivor of abuse. I lived in it for fifteen plus years. And I’m here to tell you, if you’re in the dark right now, here’s a light. Here’s my hand. It will get better. So dear heart, don’t give up. Don’t listen to it. Conquer it. Allow yourself to be human, and realize that this experience of humanity, this pain, is only temporary. And home is never far away. But until then, stay here in this corner. I’ve placed these pillows on the sofa for you, and here’s some tea. Stay a while. You are safe, and home is near.