You learn a lot about yourself when you’re living on your own. For one, the contents of your brain (why do some old books have more blank pages, and is there a metaphor that can be applied to the human idea of perfection: a 2AM internal dialogue).
Ahem. Anyway. You learn lots of things.
Especially when you’re homesick and lonely. (Funny, I never used to distinguish between those terms…)
You build up this illusion of prettiness, and rename all of your Pinterest boards in lower caps, and it’s really easy and fun. Getting along with people is easy when it’s new, and you aren’t tired. Everything is exciting. Friends are exciting.
And then sometimes you’re tired, and you’re suddenly worried and your gut hurts and you snap at people, and it doesn’t have anything to do with them at all. It’s my problem, not any of the other causes I blame it on.
My Dad is really good at dealing with me. He pushes the logical half of me to the forefront when I have a meltdown with questions without triggering a hailstorm from the emotional side of me. I’m really not sure how. (Always find a calming presence on a mission trip if you can. Life tip.)
“I don’t like girls.” <said with a very red crying face>
“All girls?” <said gently with a hug>
And even when I do snap he’s still calm. And there. And he helps me talk it out, because at that moment I’m blaming a lot of things that aren’t really the problem. Eventually and slowly I’ve gained the ability to sort out my rampant emotions and trace them to the source. It’s significantly nicer when you aren’t doing that on your own, but it is as it is.
When I’m upset, and homesick, what I want to do is push people away, for a lot of reasons all at the same time. Partly because I’m hurting and upset (and the logical part of me has learned to remind me, usually, that it isn’t them that’s bothering me) and partly because I don’t want to hurt them.
It’s really, really hard not to run. At least for me. Closing a chat box can count as running in my brain, because I have this fear of losing people. Acquaintances aren’t something I do very well: fear of losing people is something I’ve acquired and had to fight. That fear makes me grouchy and lonely. Exponential spiral, right?
Except my Dad hugs me anyway, even when I feel (and honestly, am) about as pleasant as a porcupine. (If you read this, Dad, I’m going to rue that comment. Maybe a weasel is a better metaphor, hmm?)
I don’t like missing people, and I don’t like worrying about losing people. I want to be sure that they really want me for me. I like to view it as ridiculous and laugh at it, but there it is. Mask #2 removed. I laugh things off. And then usually insert another laughing comment after admitting that.
There’s something to be said for pretending to be brave, because honestly, bravery isn’t something you feel in most cases. I hate pretending though: it feels like a math class. Insert laughter here.
And while we’re admitting things, I’ll say this: Eleven might beat Ten for me, in Doctor Who, in terms of story arc. Because he learns something beautiful out of paying the price for running. You don’t bolt off, you don’t push away. Even when you’re terrified or hurt, and every irrational impulse is saying turning tail and running. My Dad taught me that first, though, and my Mom.
They’ve always loved me. Totally regardless of how my flouncing, my grouchiness, if I’m any good at poetry at all… They have the whole picture, as much as anyone can see the entirety of the human soul (another topic for another time). They show me I’m loved and brave and pretty and that they’re proud of me even when I’m not at the house. My Mom always manages to chat me at the right time to remind me that she loves me and misses me.
They love me and they know my flaws. After all, they’ve sort of been there all of my life: really been there. I didn’t have long-term friends as a kid – my family is stuck with me, sure, but they didn’t have to love me the way that they do. And that’s a good thing to be homesick for. It’s a good reflection of Home to be chasing..something to run to, not from.
It’s also a reminder to shut up and trust the people worth trusting, regardless of every malignant doubt and panic.
This isn’t a normal post for me, I guess. There’s a lack of essence, science, or Andrew Peterson quotes (shocking, I know). I guess…I’ve been thinking about stories a lot, and how they all connect when told properly, seen properly. I learned that, too, because my parents fed me books. Hundreds of books. At this point, they might honestly regret it a little… *eyes bookshelf*
Stories are an escapism, in one sense, because they pull us into the greater reality. I guess what I’ve been learning, though, is that I have to look for it myself, too. “To be honest, I don’t even know what this means, but those elusive spiritual things have been helping Christians cop out of true holiness for centuries.” [Death by Living, 75] I guess what I’ve been pondering is that you can’t run from loneliness or homesickness, exactly. Fight it back, sure, but you can’t just escape from every twinge because it’s everywhere. There are fault lines all over creation, and the trick is to see the light that falls on everything, the color patches. The happy-ache. It’s hard to miss, and yet you have to look for it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a walk. There are trees with lights on them somewhere on this campus. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
There is good news,
There is good truth,
That you could never change,
No matter what you do.
You are loved,
More than you know,
More than you could hope for,
After everything you’ve done.
As sure as the sun will rise,
And chase away the night,
His mercy will not end. His mercy will not end.