Friday, April 23, 2010

Home - Deep thoughts and a regift!

I recently read a post at Jennifer's lovely blog entitled "The signs pointing home" and I asked her if it would be OK if I linked to it.

She graciously said I could and I will re-gift you the link in a moment.

The last line of her post says "And just as where everything ends, it will all begin here: home."

And I thought and thought about that line.

And I was amazed because I could read Jennifer's post without crying, without breaking down.

Robert Frost wrote, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in".
That simple collection of vowels and consonants used to rip my heart apart. I would hear those words or read the beautiful quotes on calendars and little wooden signs with all those sentimental sayings about love and families and homes, and I would literally and completely lose it.

My house WAS NOT a home for a long time to me. My home WAS NOT that place where they have to take you in.

Not only had all but one of our children moved on, but my husband and I had made one of the most horrific and difficult choices in our lives.

We had closed our home to the daughter that remained.

In the deepest times of her addiction we could not let her into our home. At all.

And she lived on the streets with addict friends.

We left food and blankets and toiletries outside on our porch and they were often gone by morning but she did not come inside our house or yard for a long, long time.

I cannot tell you the heartbreak of this as a parent. Or perhaps I do not need to if you have endured something like this.

For years whenever I would hear a quote about home or see one of those signs that say "Home is where they have to take you in" I would cry until I was a hollow shell...empty, aching and hopeless.

A year ago our daughter chose a different way and has been working herself out of that awful lifestyle slowly and steadily.

And I really thought for a long time that it was her changes that changed me.

Because, after all, I could read Jennifer's post without tears.

Jennifer's sentiments did give me a sad moment while I toyed with the regret and loss and remembered horrors.

But her poignant words also reminded me that it had taken a long time to recognize it was not our daughter finding sobriety that was the catalyst for the change in how I felt.

I think what finally changed me is when I recognized how unrealistic my idea of home had become.

I used to have to remind myself that it is still my home with or without our children living here. It is still my home with or without Sunday dinners and chaos.

Oh, I want all the kids here and I want everyone around the table and I want everyone ready to play a silly game or go for a walk or go to the store with me.

But I don't have that anymore.

And I never will again.

It is not necessarily always how I like or want my home to be.

But, for now, home for is where I live. And a place that everyone in my family can come and walk through the open door. Home is where I burn my candles, and leave the newspaper in a messy pile, and where flowers from my garden drop petals in piles of pink and lavender on the old weathered wood of my coffee table. Home is where I write and where I gaze out of the window at the pink streaked evening sky.

Home is now different. But it is still home.

And I really need to remind myself once in a while that just because things have changed doesn't make it bad. And Jennifer's post really helped me to do that.

“The key to change... is to let go of fear,” says Roseanne Cash.

And I really believe that it was fear that fueled a lot of my unrealistic ideas of home for so long.

How could I call this home when our daughter had nowhere to live? How could it be a home when our children were all gone?

My fears were very real to me.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of being lonely. Fear of not being needed. Fear of being forgotten by children who had gone on with their lives. Fear of loosing all control and much of my influence over the people who had counted on me their whole lives.

Letting go of the fear has let me be able to breathe again.

And to be home.


And totally.

Like Jennifer says, ""And just as where everything ends, it will all begin here: home."

Let's find new beginnings.

Let's find new ways to make sure our homes are not just places of endings...but places where hope and possibility can still bloom and begin again.

Please click here to read Jennifer's post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

And Jennifer? Thank you for reminding me.

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Julie Schuler said...

Unrealistic expectations! You are right, they ruin a lot of people's enjoyment of their homes, or holidays, or of their families. How can we love things we can't see through a fog of idealism?

Cheryl said...

Good stuff both here and over at Jennifer's place. Thanks for including both your thoughts and hers. Expectations breed resentments; acceptance brings serenity.

I'm so glad your daughter is embracing sobriety. As hard as it was, you did the right thing for her. She couldn't have turned things around if she didn't hit bottom. She had to find her own way back home.

Lucy said...

What a wonderful post. I think this happens in the best of families and in more people's lives that we want to know. I know I was the 'daughter' in my parent's lives and I certainly put them through more than they needed. But life sometimes brings a 'homesick' feeling into our spirits and that was what happened to me. It was the turn-around point for me. Life is hard. I wish it was easier, but I suppose if it was we wouldn't learn what we eventually learn. Someone told me once that we should be grateful for trials. However, I'm not sure I'm at that complete point yet.


Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Gentle hugs, Dear...

Ms. Anthropy said...

I've allowed "home" to just become a "house", where I reside.

Michele {The Scrap Shoppe} said...

Hmmmmm, I'm seeing a relation to Tuesday's post. But alas, homes go through many stages. You are lucky that your home at one time had children running through it. It was a haven for them. It probably still is, and you just may not realize it. Just because your home isn't as full as it once was, does not make it any less of a home. Embrace it as it is now. *hugs*

Pondside said...

You will have touched a chord in many with this post, Jenny. Thanks.

Julienne said...

Having spent the last twenty minutes reading your blog I no longer have any idea how I got here which is a pity because I would like to say thank you! You touched my heart...a friend is going through a similar time but has had to take on the extra worry of her daughter's three small children. Just when she thought she and her husband could have time to themselves. I will direct her to you.

Viki said...

I'm happy your daughter is finding her way. I have a brother no one in the families spoken to for a lot of years because of addiction and something he did. It is very hard. As others said, I think we have too many expectations the way things should be. I've learned over time I can be happy with just my husband and me. Not that I don't miss my son terribly but it is what it is.

Jeanie said...

You have found something very strong in yourself, Jenny, that has allowed you to allay your fears and come home again. That strength will be your key to new hope and possibility.

Bossy Betty said...

I understand wanting all that hustle and bustle back, the games around the table, the time before your daughter made the choices she mad and you had to make the tough choice you had to make.

My thoughts are with you...

Allie said...

My darling cousin, I adore you, for all the love and understanding and insight you carry inside that beautiful soul. Blessed we are to have you in our lives, in our own homes.

criticalcrass said...

this must've been hard for you to write. i read it with a hand over my heart, and by the time i got to the finish, there was a physical warmth that might not have been had my hand not been there.

my older brother drank himself to death. literally. his apartment was his hole for doing this, and our home was his haven for healing, unless my parents were gone. then he would turn it into his hole. and i or my mother would clean up the messes after he'd left.

that you barred your daughter from your home might've been the thing that saved her. had you allowed it to be a haven, she might never have missed it enough to want to recover.

Linda said...

Jenny I want to thank you first of all for being honest and open and sharing your life with us. I admire you very much. I divorced the father of my children when they were teenagers and I have felt 'homeless' for years. Now I have a new place to live and I am determined to make it my home, my place to be me. I have changed my expectations and I will try to keep my path simple. This is home for me and my family when they visit and they are always welcome.

Sue said...

Beautiful, Jenny! I love your sentiments about home.

I, too, have practiced tough love. Hardest thing ever, as I'm sure you'd agree. But we kept those home fires burning, and our prodigal (like yours) has returned.

5 years later, I think he would agree that home (and those who live there) helped draw him back. What a blessing!

"Alone again.... naturally!" said...

Your insightfulness continues to amaze me! I know exactly what you mean by not feeling the place you live in is a home. I too have kids that have left home and a husband who is only home a few days a month due to work. I am trying desparately to make this place a refuge for him and I and make it a home. Cathy

Jennifer said...

Jenny, I love you. :) Thanks for re-gifting my post. I am glad it helped you remember something, and remind you of something important.

I think, even for your daughter, in those times of strife, when she would sneak back to steal the little goods you left for her overnight, she came back because that was her home. In her heart, no matter where she was in life, it was her home. And now that she is beginning to find her way again, I think she knows it now more than ever.

A home is more than the things inside it that we hide behind or try to show off. A home is more than the wood and siding that make up the frame. It's an environment. A place where whether you are surrounded by a family or a few cats, you feel comfortable there. You can breathe easier after a long day, you can lie down and actually rest well, you can dance around in your underwear without fear of being charged for public indecency. (...Not that I do that...?)

I am glad she is finding her way back, and I'm glad you are, too.

The challenge with homes is often being able to recognize what really is a home. Sometimes it takes having to leave to know what you left behind. I've always loved my home and my town, but being away at school has taught me just how much I could not see myself quite as happy anywhere else... I want to at least come back once in awhile to the one place with people who love me--hug me like that mean it and tell me how much they care--and people who will place a firm hand on my shoulder when I feel myself breaking. When I don't believe in myself, there is a group of people in my town that will pick me up when I feel too weak.

I've lost many friends and family in this town, too. My mom, some classmates, and then quite a few "best friends" faded in and out of my life... But it was what I was able to take from all that that made me stronger. Because, when you lose someone, sometimes you feel like you've lost your world. But all you have to do is look around you. How many faces will be smiling back at you when you turn around? How many arms are willing to hold you when you really need it, or just as a way to say "hello"?

It's those people in my hometown that make coming back home... Coming back home...

And just as you may be reminded or learn from something I post, I learn from you, too, Jenny. Because you've experienced all the things I'm just now experiencing or will experience in the future.

It's that always open door that will always make your house a home, for you and for your loved ones.

Emmy said...

What a beautiful post. I am in just the opposite stage of life but I have watched as my parents and my in-laws have gone through this and can only imagine what it will be like.
I hope your house always feels like a home to you.

Tortuga said...

I hope my house is a constant home to my children. Thank you for sharing your story and the pain between your daughter and you. I know that can't be an easy path. You are a brave woman.

Tina said...

Ah, Jenny. You make me sigh, and cry, and smile, and laugh all in the same post. I hear your heart in this. My brother-in-law's story is an echo of your daughter's, only his parents never said no...and he's 42 and still doing the same stupid stuff, and living off their benevolence. You said no, and she's finding her way back. The right choices are usually the toughest ones. {{{{hugs}}}}}

Julie Harward said...

There are NO perfect families...none. We all struggle to raise our kids, at one time I had 5 teenagers, I thought I was going to loose my mind. Some have gone on and figured it out and got it together, some are still trying. We cam only do the best we can do...they were HIS before they were ours and he will have a hand in their lives...HE loves us and them and he is not going to loose any of them. Cut yourself some slack Jenny...they'll get it figured out sooner or later. Come say hi :D

Rocky Mountain Woman said...


I understand exactly how you feel. I was widowed when I was fairly young (40) and I grew so close to my boys after their father's death. When they were ready to leave home to start lives of their own, I was afraid of all of those things that you listed, but I also knew that I didn't want them to have to worry about me forever. So I started the journey towards buying land and building a new home and a new life and I haven't looked back.

I love my children and grandchildren and I love when they visit me, but I also love my new life now and the freedom it gives me to follow my passions, write, cook, play with my horses.

Love your post, thanks for the link, it was amazing!

Rocky Mountain Woman

Bettyann said...

Home is a shelter from storms - all sorts of storms. ~William J. Bennett

Gentle hugs to you..thank you for sharing such a painful trruth with us your readers and friends...take care..

Mighty M said...

I can relate to this - so glad you posted and so happy to hear your daughter is hopefully finding her way back home again. :)

grammy said...

Such a very touching post.
I have not read Jennifer's post yet...but I will
My only brother...older than me and like a Father
especially since our Dad died when I was three
is an alchoholic. I know that doesn't compare to the pain of a child...but it helps me know just a little of the pain you talk about. My younger years of him turning our house upside down...then recent years of trying to help...but relearning boundaries...I shake my head as I write this...saying, Pam...don't go there.
Honey you are a good Mom and have a good HOME and you have Grands that love you (o: and Jennifer Nancy that gave you that great card. I think that is what I want for Mothers day...a hand written poem, story, verse to Mom

Melinda Cornish said...

I understand exactly what you are saying....I am glad reading Jennifers post helped.......

Tgoette said...

Beautifully put, Jenny. I am sure you have touched the heartstrings of many of your readers just as Jennifer touched yours. Thank you for sharing. Wonderful post!

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

My mom used to say that when the kids are little the problems are little and when the kids are big the problems are big. That certainly seems to be the case for a lot of us. Where's Norman Rockwell when we need him?

By the way, I always thought of my parents' home as home base. I'd say, "I'm going home to NJ." Now my mom is gone and my dad is here in a nursing home and the house was sold some years back. No more home base to go back to and I miss it. There was just something about that house.

Lourie said...

I can't even imagine having to close your doors on your child, but it is a good and tough lesson. Great post, and thank you for sharing it. It shows that parents can do even the hardest things.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I could have written this with a few minor changes, but somehow I'm not surprised that we have things in common. My son wasn't an addict, but he had issues for a few years that kept our doors locked to him. For a while he slept in his car in a park...while I didn't sleep at all. He grew up...finally, and now he comes for dinner or to watch a game on tv. He is once again part of the family. My other one only gets home once a year now...instead, I go to her. Somehow it isn't at all what I thought it would be...but I've learned to be grateful for what it is. As my mom always says..."go with the flow"!

Patti said...

Jenny: thank you for reminding me that it is okay to have a home that one did not hope for or expect....

bunny said...

Thirteen years ago I basically did the same thing and it was the hardest thing to do. I still had a child at home so I needed to keep my act together, but the dominoes began to fall within the family and it was a very unpleasant time. All is well now and she has children of her own to worry about. When your daughter grows up you will welcome her into her home once again.


"Cottage By The Sea" said...

Jenny, thank you for writing this post. I recently have been going through a similar struggle with one of my own and have had to redefine "home". Although I cried all the way through this post, I think you are very brave to write about this and you have touched me with your thoughts. Sometimes we must lose everything to understand how important is was in the first place. Maybe that is what your daughter is doing now. I feel your pain and pray that your heart will find peace. I'm going to read more of your posts now because I kinda feel like I need more of you. I have a feeling that we could sit and talk for a very long time. I wish you blessings, Tia

Tracy said...

This is my home for now and I love it but I know I wont be here for much longer. SO when time comes to move I will re read this blogg

Wanda said...

A house does not make a home. A home is wherever your heart and memories are. We experienced this ourselves, when my husband's childhood home had to be torn down, our daughter had built a new home on the property(buiding code rules). It was so hard to do when the time came, but it was just wood and stone...the 'home' is still in our hearts and memories.


Terra said...

Everythign we do everyday is a choice, I believe that with all of me...and if choose to love and our home for what it is today rather than what it was yesterday or will be tomorrow then I believe we are home.

My name is PJ. said...

"Fear of the unknown. Fear of being lonely. Fear of not being needed. Fear of being forgotten by children who had gone on with their lives. Fear of loosing all control and much of my influence over the people who had counted on me their whole lives." - This paragraph resonated within me as though it had been the silent soundtrack for a decade of my life. It took that decade for me to realized I'd had unreasonable expectations and storybook definitions for a lot of things in life.

Amazing how different paths can lead us in similar directions. It's wonderful (literally full of wonder) that God put us in each other's path.

I'm happy for you. Generally, totally happy for you and the place you've come to, the place you're continuing to come to.....

charla said...

thank you for writing this... it was so beautiful and thought provoking.

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

Thanks so much for sharing so much of your innermost feelings; love, turmoil, hope, disappointment, hurt... I just know the love and hope will win. Your home will return to feeling like a home and your child will overcome and return stronger and more determined. My prayers go out to you.

Christy said...

I have nothing but cyber hugs and prayers for your daughter's continued sobriety. It is a long road with many potholes in it. But with God's grace, her loving family and the knowledge she is loved it is possible.

Brenda said...

Thanks Jenny. Sometimes it's easy to forget that it's not only our own lives that are "not perfect", everyone has challenge to endure. Some are harder than others but all challenges just the same. Big hugs to you, B=)