Since I’ve been an adult, I’ve gotten this feeling - in my gut, my heart, and my head at the same time - that I’ve only ever thought to call ‘homesick.’
It seems to happen mostly at random, but sometimes when I’m reminded of something. I can’t always identify what I’m being reminded of but there’s a feeling of familiarity and longing. But the thing is, when I think of what homesick means, I think it would mean missing that safe place I want to be or a familiar food I want to taste or a favorite person I want to hug. My feeling is nothing like this. It’s more of the ‘sick’ than the ‘home.’ I want to curl up and lay in bed, preferably go to sleep. There’s definitely a sense of longing but I have never, after years of trying, been able to figure out what I am longing for. It’s as though I’m reminded of that sick feeling from my childhood that I would get at my loneliest and I want to crawl into the deepest corner of my bedroom with the lights off and just be left alone.
My childhood home is not much to miss or long for. Like most homes, there were ups and downs, fun and not-so-fun, tension and relief. In my adult life, I’ve come to realize that the downs, the not-so-fun, and the tension were much more extreme than in most homes. I won’t go into those details - it’s dark and depressing and the sun has finally just come out. I wouldn’t do that to you.
But I will say that when I was 15 and my mother died, I became a ‘ward of the court.’ I was finally taken out of my abusive home, the only home I ever lived in, to bounce around a combination of foster homes, psychiatric hospital, juvenile detention, and a group home until I was released when I was almost 18. I was free to do what I wanted. But what was that and how was I supposed to find out?
I know now that it's someone else's childhood that I'm homesick for. A happy one where the children and adults ate dinner together and where the kids weren't terrified when Dad came home from work. But I never wanted to live in someone else's house, in someone else's life. Even when I was safe in a foster home or at a friend's house, I wanted to go home - where my dad bred fear and anger. But when I was home, I wanted nothing more than to leave...at any cost.
Fast forward 16 tumultuous, formative, and inspiring years later and I have an awesome husband, a home of my own, and nobody has hit me in a really long time. But I still get that gross feeling in my guts out of nowhere. I tell Travis, ‘I have that homesick feeling,’ and he gets it as best as he can, and then I go on with life. This short story doesn’t have an ending. And it's just one of the ways my depression and anxiety manifests. Just because life is good doesn't mean the past is gone and the hard times are forgotten. It took all of that to get where I am today and remembering the twists and turns is important. I'm not good at it - I put the past on hold to be in the moment and focus on a better future - for better or worse.