Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is Home?

I've really been struggling with the concept of home lately, and I feel like I'm going to be exploring the concept some more, but here's the first thing that I wrote about home.
The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
~ Maya Angelou

For my entire life...I've moved from one house to another to another. I've had many different bedrooms, schools, groups of friends. Each time, I have had to adjust to a new "home".
Unfortunately though, I've never felt safe at my house, my school, or with whatever group of friends I have had at a certain time.

I have never had a true home.

You make ask, "What? How could you have never had a home?"

Well, to me, a home is a safe haven. It is a place where I can go escape from the troubles of my world and just be myself. It is a place where I know that I am loved unconditionally and I will never be rejected.

To me, a home is consistent. There is a sense of continuity - a place that I am comfortable enough to put down roots without the fear that everything will be torn out from underneath me. It is not a place where I don't know what to expect from day to day. I have never felt safe enough to settle and put down roots.

There is a sense of privacy and boundaries are respected, but there is also a supportive environment that enables a person to grow into the best person that they can be. There is balance somewhere between having to be independent and take care of myself and being smothered and overprotected.

A home should be a place where kids are allowed to be kids. They shouldn't have to take on adult responsibilities in elementary school. Age appropriate expectations are so important.

I have lived my entire life in fear - of my parents, of my peers, of lack, of myself.

Throughout my life, I've come up with different ways to keep myself safe and meet my need for security. The most consistent method that I have used is my eating disorder.

My eating disorder has been there for me to fall back on in times where everything seems uncertain. It is the perfect place to retreat into when I don't feel safe. Through my eating disorder, I was essentially able to say that I don't have needs, so I wasn't disappointed when they didn't get met. At the most extreme times of the eating disorder, I didn't feel anything. I couldn't think about anything other than food, and that was good. My life was crumbling around me and I was being abused and taken advantage of, but I was okay because I had my eating disorder. Thinking about it now, it's like the eating disorder became my protective shell...it became my home, and it stayed that way for many years.

The only other place that I felt safe was at Mercy. I allowed myself to come out of my protective shell and put myself out there. I still feel at home whenever I walk through the doors of Mercy Ministries. At Mercy, I fit. I belonged there. All my needs were met. I had support, and I created a family. Sometimes I get glimpses of "home" when I talk to some of the girls I was there with, specifically my friend Katherine. We may not be related by blood, but there is no doubt that we are sisters.

Anyways, now that I am going to treatment and the eating disorder isn't functioning in the role that it used to function in, I feel lost. I feel more lonely than ever, and this time, I don't know what to do about it. I kind of want to move - to recreate Alexis yet again...because that's what I know how to do.

Every time I have moved, I have gone into it hoping that I finally find a place to call home, but after all those unsuccessful attempts, I've come to the conclusion that it's not location that determines a home.

I have to find a place within myself where I am satisfied with myself in order to be at a place where I can maintain a "home" environment. I need to surround myself with the right kind of people.

It's not the location that matters.

It's me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


"I asked someone, as I often do, "Who's your community? Who lifts you up?" And this person -- who's had a life that would shake most of us to the core -- said, "Well, I'm talking to you!" I share this because sometimes we might be all the community that person has. That's sobering. (So let's be the best community we can be.)"
~ Barb Todd, All Saints Church-Community Centre

I found this quote as I was looking for placement options today. It really struck a chord with me.

All Saints Church-Community Centre has a drop-in program for women involved in the sex trade in Toronto - specifically in the Regent Park/Moss Park communities. I would LOVE to get involved with them in some way, shape, or form. I have a connection to someone who works there, and I'm definitely considering getting in touch with her.

Also, I'm trying to figure out a way to get to the Restore Toronto conference on Saturday. It's in Markham, but I would love to go. They're providing an opportunity for you to eat lunch with a number of different speakers/people from various organizations, and Barb Todd is one of them. I'm hoping that I can figure out transportation so that I can get there. I'd really love it.

Now...about the quote. Why did it strike such a chord that I decided to blog about it? Well, allow me to share. I understand what it's like to crave community, to desperately long to be a part of something. When the woman was asked, "Who's your community?" and answered, "Well, I'm talking to you!" it really got me thinking.

How often do I get so focused on being a part of something bigger, something better...that I forget to see the people who surround me on a daily basis? It's no wonder that I feel so lonely all the time. I'm always wanting bigger, better, more. I have yet to learn the art of simply being content with the people that I have in my life - whether I'm close with them or not. God has placed me in relationship with them, in community with them, for a purpose. I can't ignore that anymore just because they're not my ideal community.

Also, the quote got me thinking about how it's possible that I could be the only community that someone has. If I'm so focused on me, me, me...then who's to say that I'm not contributing to someone's sense of deep, profound loneliness. What's the point of striving to rid myself of my own sense of loneliness while contributing to another's sense of isolation?

Instead, I need to shift my focus from me to them. From me to you. I need to stop looking for community, stop looking for where I fit. I need to start investing in people and being community to them. I need to be the best community I can be, not out of a place of selfishness, but a place of selflessness...and then as I walk in that selflessness, I'll begin to benefit myself.

How profound.
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