Hey guys! I really wanted to chat with you about a part of you that can both positively and negatively affect your mental health- and that is going home. Back to your roots. Where it all began. For some of us it brings nothing but sweet memories, and for others- memories you’d rather forget. Our upbringing really determines so much of our adulthood and the things we struggle with.
Two weekends ago I went home for my Mom’s birthday, and wow, it was such a wonderful time! I loved seeing my family, friends, and all the familiar spots I went to growing up in Southern Maryland. Places that will always be a part of me and places I’ll tell my grandkids about. But anyone’s hometown can drudge up things they’d rather now reconcile with and that’s what this blog is about.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health expert. I love my hometown and appreciate the place my parents decided to raise me and my sister in. I recognize that not everyone had the great childhood I did and that’s who I’m talking to in this blog.
Going Home for the First Time
Everyone has a place they call home. And everyone has a place they’d rather not visit again. For me, that place is Leonardtown High School. I’m totally okay with never walking those halls again. I was an outcast, awkward freshman, and a big nobody. No one was ever mean to me per se, but I prefer not to go back. I just felt out of my element.
I visit my hometown a few times a year because my parents and sister still live there. And I’ll be honest and say I had a great childhood full of love and memories I’ll have until the day I die. But for some people, going home, especially for the first time, can be scary. If this is you, wanting to reconcile with your past, take a deep breath, this next step isn’t easy.
Admit Your Feelings
This is so hard. ADMITTING what you’re feeling and being willing to accept it can be the hardest thing you’ll do on your visit home. It’s okay to feel scared, intimidated, worried, and a million other emotions. Admit to yourself how you feel and most importantly, why you have those feelings. Say it out loud. Let it sink in. Don’t hide it. Honesty with yourself is one of the most important parts of healing.
Reconcile with the Places that Hurt You
Obviously “places” can’t hurt you, but the people they house can. I remember being a kid in our church feeling absolutely hurt by people I thought were my friends. The church didn’t hurt me but the people did. Of course every time I drive by that church I turn away knowing that I had been hurt there.
Wherever that place is for you, sometimes reconciling with the structure in which the hurt occurred can be enough. I’m a believer that you leave your energy (whether positive or negative) everywhere you go. So go back to the place where the hurt occurred and replace the negative energy you left with your positive energy, knowing that you have grown so much as a person and won’t let a bad memory control your happiness!
Sometimes it feels impossible to forgive the people that hurt you. But let the tears flow and the energy release. When you’re ready, you’ll find the ability to forgive in your heart and spirit. Most importantly, you’ll move on.
You Don’t Have to Love It
Really though. You don’t have to love your hometown. Not everyone does and that’s okay. You don’t have to have fond memories of Christmases and Fourth of July’s. We don’t all have those happy memories. I have delightful memories of holidays spent at home but I’m one of the lucky few!
It’s ok to say “yes, this is the place that I grew up, but it is not my home.” I love that Miranda Lambert song called “The House that Built Me.” I dread the day my parents sell my childhood home, it literally is the house that built me! But for some people they rather not revere the places that shaped them as people and that’s completely okay no matter what their reason. Their feelings are valid. Acknowledge the places that shaped you as a person, but don’t feel pressure to revere them.
Talk to Your Counselor
I hate going to the Internet for help so I always say talk to your counselor. Be honest about the things that have formed you as person. We all have a history. Talk with your counselor about the places and people that make up your earliest memories. A licensed professional will be able to create a personalized strategy that allows you to reconcile with your formative years and find a way to move on or feel better about the place you came from.
Photo by Monica Bourgeau on Unsplash