It’s just in your mind, they said. They wanted her to somehow be able to relax there. After all, it was her childhood home.
A childhood home was supposed to be filled with warmth, good smells, hugs, and safety. Home was none of those things for her. It was dread. It was a trap. When she was home, she just wanted to leave. As a teenager, she slept in abandoned buildings and in people’s yards. They labeled her a problem child, lazy, and unappreciative.
Sure, it wasn’t all bad memories. But the good times had only been a life raft. You appreciate the life raft, but you still want to get away from the shipwreck.
They wanted her to sleep in the rubble with a smile.
They thought it had been a phase. It wasn’t a phase. The pain was all too real. She tried to drink it away, but then it manifested in her jaw pain. Her nerves. Her inability to even feel her privates.
Also, what did that even mean — a phase? By that definition, wasn’t all of life just a phase?
Here, then gone.
Weren’t feelings really the only part of the phase that mattered?
Get over it. Why? Why should she?
When they said that, they didn’t mean they wanted her to heal. They meant they wanted her to stop making them feel uncomfortable.
That’s why it bothered her so much. They weren’t telling her to let out her anger, to see a therapist, to work it out. No…they wanted her to stop reminding them of a fact they disliked. And if she stopped, then they didn’t have to feel uncomfortable.
They would rather her be in pain than accept slight discomfort.
That, that was what she hated most of all.
On the third day, she got a hotel room. Everyone was upset. She didn’t care anymore. It was either leave, or drink. And she had been sober for too long to let that happen. She had come too far. She was not going to let their opinions drive her back to drugs and booze.
No, she wasn’t going to get over it. They could get over it. They could accept it. They needed to accept that she hated this place. When they talked about the good times, she didn’t have to smile and nod. She could stare blankly at them, the same way they stared blankly at her when she reminded them of what happened to her there.
She could stare at them with that same dead expression and ignore them.
The hotel room was great. Impersonal. Nothing was there from her childhood. Nothing was there to trigger her. Even hotel appliances, like the TV and phone, were different brands.
It was absolutely perfect.
And this, this was better. She could do this. Plenty of people rented hotel rooms and visited their families, but didn’t stay over. She could do that. Why not? She was a grown ass woman.
Sure, maybe they were talking about her. Maybe they were saying she wasn’t grateful for her inheritance. But she never wanted that house. She never asked to be born. So she wasn’t grateful for it, not at all.
And she wasn’t there to hear their comments, anyway. She was liberated from their opinions and questions.
Why didn’t you tell us earlier? But that was so long ago. You can’t let that keep bothering you. Can’t you see how beautiful this place is? Can’t you appreciate what you have?
They wanted to talk? Great. They could do that. That was their business. She didn’t have to hear it.
She just wanted to sleep in a safe place, and now, unlike when she was a child, she could give that to herself.