Yes, the title of this post is one you might’ve heard; it’s a song title by Miranda Lambert and when I heard this song tonight, it reminded me so much of ‘home’. Home … the very word implies safety, love, family. My home was anything but safe. There was no real love. And while one member of the 12 member household was my family, he was also one of the ones molesting me.
“I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
this brokenness inside me might start healing.”
I’ve went back from time to time over the years, drove up to the gates and stared at the house and yard. Nine bedrooms, two full baths, two full kitchens, two porches. In another world, it would have been so much fun to live there. I loved the yard. We had twelve peach trees, a fig tree, a pomegranate tree (40 years before they would become so popular), a white grapefruit tree, a pink grapefruit tree, a pear tree and a sour orange tree that my Cuban neighbor loved as she would use the oranges to marinate her pork roasts. We had a good sized garden and a small grape arbor. There were probably a dozen oak trees for climbing and Australian pines that lined one side of the yard. Over the years, we had ducks, chickens, dogs, cats, parakeets and cockatiels.
“Out here its like I’m someone else,
I thought that maybe I could find myself”
I rode my 2×4 horse on the back porch for so many lonely miles and climbed the tree beside the barn to lie on its roof, out of sight, incognito. The porch steps were hollow and they hid me from time to time. I knew every step of that yard, having pushed the lawnmower over it twice a week for most weeks out of the year. The trees behind the house were smaller, camphor berry trees, easy to climb, leafy, perfect for hiding in the branches to read for hours.
“You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can.
I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am.”
I don’t think I ever knew who I was until I grew up and even now some days I’m not sure. I just learned my grandfather’s name this past week and the names of my great-grandparents. All of my tormentors have died. I found out the date of death of one of them today. 1995. It’s been so long and yet this hurt surfaced again, to rake its nails down my back, to pull my hair, and rape me in smothered secrets once again.
Someone asked a question of me today, because I’ve been posting my ‘gratitudes’:
HER WORDS: Are there aspects of your life that are so hard, so painful, that it’s hard to be grateful when it comes to them? How can we seek radical gratitude, even in those experiences and moments?
MY RESPONSE: I am grateful for surviving my childhood. I am grateful that my adopted brother stole food from our own house for me to eat and I’m grateful I was able to return that favor.
I am hopeful that by molesting me, my uncle left some other kid alone. I was strong enough to survive it and I did. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that I didn’t pass along those kinds of genes, and I’m thankful that I didn’t use my childhood as an excuse for my adult behavior. I am grateful that my uncle’s siblings understood when I told them years later and held it against him and not me.
I am grateful that my child never lived through such things.
So, The House That Built Me, as far as I know is still there; it’s been a couple of years now since I’ve went and parked in that old dirt driveway and stared at the place where I learned to hide, to run, to scream inside my own head, and to cry quietly in the dark.