Finding Our Inner Home.
Home is so Sad.
Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, Shaped to the comfort of the last to go As if to win them back. Instead, bereft Of anyone to please, it withers so, Having no heart to put aside the theft And turn again to what it started as, A joyous shot at how things ought to be, Long fallen wide. You can see how it was: Look at the pictures and the cutlery. The music in the piano stool. That vase.
Time passes. We change. Home changes. Yet, the longing for home is a familiar theme across literature, poetry, drama, music and art.
Sometimes, this might feel like an unmet need, one that is impossible to satisfy externally. People erect magnificent edifices as their homes, each bigger than the one next door.
Yet there is often still a desire to seek further. What is the meaning of this desire?
“This is because home, the real home we are seeking is something within ourselves and our own being. Symbolically, it is the center of the mandala. Home is connection with the centre of our own being; it is to be accepting of and at home with the deepest part of the self. But to find that, we must undertake an inner journey.”
For this journey into the self, we might use meditation, religion, psychotherapy. This journey is surely one where we must discover for ourself; we are at the centre of the mandala.
It is true that a home inside the self is what many people might be seeking when they come for psychotherapy. In this case, home means so much more than a place, a building, bricks and mortar. This home is related, not to physical space, but to psychic space.
This home is about feelings, unrequited and unmet; it is about memories, some traumatic, some wonderful, yet gone forever. It is also about unresolved loss and grief, perhaps guilt at letting go of loved ones.
It can also be related to fear of change and a need to live in the past. There might be a fear of letting go of objects and people that may once have felt secure.
People with such issues often want to shed their ‘baggage’, as it is often described, but they feel unable to put it down, to feel relieved of their burdens, to relax into their internal space and their present lives.
Perhaps it relates to a fear of growing older and of the responsibilities of adulthood. Just as some people hold onto material objects and hoard them, so we can do this in a psychical way, holding onto the past. We may hold onto both good and bad experiences, which prevent us moving forward in the present.
“There’s nothing more difficult than saying goodbye to a house where you’ve suffered.”
The ‘rubbish’ that blocks the room in the image below may be compared to the psychological jumble of ‘messy’ feelings from the past that people bring into therapy. This past luggage blocks the person from moving on and really living, just as the junk is doing in the picture.
Household of Compulsive Hoarders Donald Trung. Wikimedia Commons.
The journey is one into acceptance of the reality of the self, past and present. For the home that has been longed for is a kind of displacement, a dislocation of feelings onto a fantasy, an idealisation. The longing for home is a longing for a place that has gone, that belongs in the past.
Places change, the people in them change, yet often the idea of home remains unchanged, the same in our memory. Years later, one’s childhood home will look different in reality. Some things will look smaller, other things bigger. Buildings may have altered, been destroyed, or extended, repainted, redesigned, just as we have redesigned ourselves, since.
Loss of Home.
Losing one’s home can precipitate depression and fear. Such distressing experiences as eviction, fire, flood, demolition, divorce can all result in loss of one’s home and all are traumatic and highly unsettling. Hopes and dreams are shattered, as is “the rhythm and comfort of everyday activities.” (Thompson).
We are a part of our environment and it is important to us. Moving house is one of the greatest stressors, along with death and divorce. Some people refuse to leave their home when it is threatened, even risking their lives.
People need a place to go to, to return to, where they can feel warm and safe. With no place to call their own, many people feel disorientated, lost, unwanted. How many people want to return home to die? It is as if they can then rest easier, knowing they have departed the world from a cherished and familiar place, perhaps surrounded by loved ones.
Home is not only represented by bricks and mortar. There are many ways of describing home.
People, and objects, may be defined as home. Here are some quotations which illustrate this fact:
“Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?”
“Books, for me, are a home. Books don’t make a home–they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and a different kind of space.”
“Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home.”
“Home was not the place where you were born but the place you created yourself, where you did not need to explain, where you finally became what you were.”
“Thank you, Mr. Rochester, for your great kindness. I am strangely glad to get back again to you: and wherever you are is my home—my only home.”
I don’t care if we have our house, or a cliff ledge, or a cardboard box. Home is wherever we all are, together,”
“I don’t mean what other people mean when they speak of a home, because I don’t regard a home as a…well, as a place, a building…a house…of wood, bricks, stone. I think of a home as being a thing that two people have between them in which each can…well, nest.”
“Your true home is in the here and the now.”