My heart sinks as I reach key in hand for my front door, I insert the key and unlock and as I turn the handle and enter a small void opens up in my stomach, not large and all consuming but just a small sense of emptiness. I enter the silent house, the only sounds mine the opening and closing of doors of cupboards as I reach for a cup. I stand in the kitchen listening as the kettle starts to wine and hiss and eventually boil. I look without seeing, pondering, why do I feel like this? What’s changed, I smile wryly to myself. Today has been a good day, a great day.
It’s not always been like this, my house was my keep, my place of safety. I would retreat to it with relief, exhausted, the external world such a strain. I would shut the door and all the tension would drop. My place, my space. The silence would wrap me up, comfort me, it was friendly welcoming non-threatening. When I was in that space I could shut out the outside world and fill that space with my inner one. It was the one place where I could be me, not the pretend me the one that tried to convince everyone I was OK, that I fitted and was comfortable the me that wanted to please everyone and feared their judgement, on the alert, ready to flee. people were so hard to deal with in those days, the hours/days it took to ask my boss a question trying to gauge the right time, only for him to leave his office or someone goes in to see him just as I gain the courage, I then have to start again. Have you ever been at a party with a group of people, their chatting and your there listening wondering how to join in and the person next to you shifts their footing and suddenly you find your not in the group anymore but just out side, what do you do? Find a way to shoulder back in? Slink away hoping no one will notice. No you stand there in no man’s land just out side the group pretending this is where you want to be, feeling alone outcast, stuck between the longing to belong to be a part and the desire to flee, stuck in the torture unable to do anything even to think, the terror starts to circulate, hoping for a rescue that never comes. Eventually you may find an excuse to mumble, which hardly registers as you flee.
Solitude, all that tension, embarrassment, fear, they all fall away. The crowded mind, slowly empties, like pulling a plug all the thoughts swirl down the plug hole, leaving the mind deliciously empty, a beautiful void, all pressure gone, released. Sometimes this can be immediate sometimes it takes time for the thoughts to filter away and the mind to become clear. Of course that solitude allows us time to reflect, to chew over, and with that the mortification, each embarrassing incident hi-lighted enlarged to see the fine detail, the horror!
And so further retreat to safety, build a wall, put on a face so no one can see the hurt, keep away from the pain, in that house quiet, safe, the world shut out.
And that is now the problem, I no longer want a quiet safe place. It was quite a shock to me when I realised this, that coming home no longer gave me the sense of relief and safety, but a sense of emptiness a sense that something is missing. This new understanding hit me bang! Right in the face, it was a shock, but it didn’t come out of nowhere, it was the culmination of a long slow period of change. A finding of a new sense of belonging that had slowly been building a belief that there is a place for me in this world a place I am accepted and understood, a place where being me is valued. How did I get there, ultimately by following my heart, stopping worrying about what I thought other people were thinking, learning to trust and believe in myself and in doing so I found people who I connect with, people I was interested in and I found to my surprise are interested in me, this of course did not happen instantly, and I found a lot of support along the way, it took a lot of convincing, it’s very easy to switch back to the “there just being nice mode” the mode that is unwilling to trust the experience you have just had and will look for any sign that can warn of danger. But slowly the evidence overwhelms and the trust comes.
So now I find myself in the position of wanting to be with the people I value doing the things I love, feeling energised and excited and most of all connected. The house feels hollow, empty, because it isn’t filled with such things what was once a safe heaven is now a cold empty cell, drab and dull. A place of dreams and fantasies that now fade in comparison with reality.
So what now? A choice appears before me, abandon the house go out into this new world without a glance back leave it behind and head off into a new future, or bring that world into my house bring it to life and reinvigorate it, open the doors and welcome the world.
I wonder which path I’ll choose .