I just saw some beautiful new photos of my nieces that made me cry. I cried because they are so grown up. They have been changing and growing everyday, and I have not been there for it. It's been three years since I left home, or home left me. They are just children. They don't understand the things that have happened. It's all a terribly complicated situation. Home is a touchy word for me. Home hurts. I feel homesick and there is no cure. I ache for home. But the home I grew up in doesn't exist anymore. I can't go back to it.
My oldest niece keeps asking when I'm coming home. I can't tell her home isn't real. So I try to explain to her that moving back isn't logical. I tell her I can't get a job there. But the real reason is because being there hurts too much. I can't be so close to the place where my childhood played out knowing that I can never get back to it. The land is still basically the same. The maple tree in the front yard is still the same. The creek that runs alongside is still the same. But nothing else is. The house I grew up in is still standing, but it is not our house anymore. My mother couldn't pay for it after my father passed away. So my brother and his wife and my nieces moved in. My mother signed over all legal rights to the home. She lives next door now in my grandmother's old house that is falling down around her. She is all alone and looks out the window at the life she used to have. My old bedroom belongs to my youngest niece. It is not mine anymore. It will never be mine again. All of the memories I have of that place circle around with nothing concrete to take hold of. My family has fallen apart. My Dad is gone. My mother and aunts do not speak. We are all shadows of our former selves. My nieces don't know this because everyone smiles in front of them. Everyone pretends things are okay.
It's probably no surprise that my eating disorder was at its absolute worst when my family life began to dissolve. When we lost our house, I wasn't eating anything. I didn't care if I died. I didn't feel like I had anything to live for. Moving to Las Vegas was me running away. It was less painful to escape than it was to face the situation. But truthfully, by the time I moved, I had no choice. My brother and his family had already moved in. I had no where else to go.
I feel so attached to the land where I grew up, even still--acres and acres of beautiful trees and mountains and creeks and forest. My father is buried there in the midst of it, about a mile from our old house. When I was at my sickest, I wanted so badly to die. I wanted so badly just to lie down beside his grave, to stretch out in the meadow, and to go to sleep.
Before I moved to Las Vegas I saw my nieces everyday. They feel like sisters. They almost feel like daughters. I have missed so much. And I love them more than anything. I hope they don't resent me for moving away. And I hope they never know how hard this has been on me. Sometimes when we talk on the telephone I don't know what to say to them because it's scary to consider that maybe I don't know them anymore, at least not the way I used to.
I can't even think of home without feeling the weight of absence. As painful as it is, the situation is better than it used to be. I don't want to die anymore. It will probably always hurt, but me being healthy and strong is the only way I can ever be happy. Healing myself is part of finding forgiveness and acceptance. Healing myself is part of forgetting. It's part of moving forward. I have to try and make my future as good as my past used to be.
I hope my girls understand.
I love them.
But I can't go home.
It's theirs now, not mine.