What It Feels Like To Come Home

By Anonymous // As Told to Kristina Esdale

Sometimes, I compare my life to getting out of bed in the morning. It’s a struggle, one that never really seems to get any easier, no matter how used to it you may be: ripping off those warm covers to the harsh cold of the morning, and opening your eyes to complete darkness; wanting nothing more than to close your eyes, dream again, and escape reality. Except, for me, there was no snooze button. There was no soft blanket of comfort. There was only a cold, harsh reality.

Oftentimes, I compare myself to a diamond, which is kind of ironic considering diamonds are supposed to be perfect. Well, my life used to be perfect, at least on the outside. I walked around without a care in the world, no noticeable flaws. I was living in a dream; it felt so real and stable. But, life happens. And it sure as hell woke me up when it did.

I still compare myself to a diamond, just not in the way that I used to. Diamonds come from dirt. It’s fascinating that something so ugly can turn into something so beautiful, but in a way it makes sense. Things change. People change. But for me, it was reversed. If diamonds could crumble back to dirt, I would do just that. I would crumble. Now, I see myself as ice cold and unbreakable. Not because I want to be, but because I have no other choice.

I don’t remember the exact moment that I became such an angry, independent person, which is a weird thing to say. Some may say being independent is a good thing. But that’s not how I saw it. Maybe I see it as something so negative because that’s what the social worker told my mom. But instead of saying independent, she used the word “abandoned.” I liked that word more. It made me feel like the way my life was now wasn’t my fault.

“A word I would use to describe her is…angry. She’s just angry.” This sentence has been engraved into my brain. Ever since the social worker asked my dad how he would describe me, I feel like it’s written on my forehead. I feel like it’s tattooed on my body. I can’t make it go away. It was the initial shock of understanding that my dad noticed my struggle, but couldn’t fix it. My mom found her new relationship. My dad found his. But I didn’t lose a significant other. I lost my foundation. I lost my glue holding me together. I lost my support system. I lost my parents. I lost my home.

Being at school is like my vacation. I get to wear my favorite mask. I get to pretend to be that person that I want to be: smart, confident and unstoppable. On the surface, I’m fine, at least, that’s what I tell people. No one would ever know with skin as thick as mine. No one would ever know with a game face as good as mine. No one would ever know when I’m as hard as a diamond.

Pretending to have my life together, that’s the easy part.

Coming home. Now, that was the hard part.

When I open that door, I don’t feel comfort. I don’t feel warmth. I don’t feel much of anything, really. I feel out of place and disconnected. I don’t get a welcoming family to come home to. I smell scents that don’t smell like my home. I miss the smell of my home. I don’t get to be close to my friends. I miss being close to anyone. Walking over the threshold is the heaviest step of my day. I feel the weight of homesickness around my ankles as I pick up my foot. I feel it latched onto my body as I try to make it up the stairs. I feel it settle into my chest when I lay on my bed. It never goes away. I’m never comfortable.

Maybe that’s why I’m so angry. Or maybe it’s because every time I walk through that door, I get a reminder of how messed up my life has become. I get reminded by the drink in my mother’s hand. She’s probably on her third or fourth, but I don’t waste my time counting anymore. Or maybe it’s when I see the look of regret and guilt on my dad’s face when I visit him. That’s even worse. Maybe it’s the fact that I had to learn how to do everything for myself. Not just get out of bed on time or make sure I’m fed, but to be there for myself. I’d like to think that I’m strong enough to be my own best friend. Sometimes it works. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I don’t just want to cry and pout about the bad hand I got dealt. Sometimes I just want it to end. But each and every time, I make it. Somehow, I make it.

The phrase “home is where the heart is” has haunted me. It still haunts me. It eats me alive. Every time I see a happy family, I feel sick. This monster inside of me: this monster made out of hate, anger and jealousy, it’s slowly consuming me. It swirls in the pit of my stomach, black, heavy and thick. It makes its way up my throat, choking me. I don’t speak of it. It wraps its hands around my heart in a vice-like grip. I don’t feel it. It threatens to spill out of my eyes, but I hold it back in fear. I would never show it. So I carry on with my day, like a diamond. You would never know that I have this monster hiding inside of me; it never comes out. I won’t let it. The only time it comes out is when I’m safely locked away in my room at night, all alone. Loneliness is my savior.

Because the only one who ever really understands me, is me.