I place high value on a healing home especially because I didn't grow up in one
Two weekends ago, I found this book at Goodwill called, “The Healing Home.” It caught my attention, and instant gratification is inexpensive at the thrift store. The book inspired me to write a post specifically geared towards creating a healing space in your home, as it’s a topic that has been on my mind for some time now. However, it is impossible to think about creating a healing home without first reflecting on the home you grew up in.
What kind of vibes did your childhood home give you? Did you feel safe and loved there? Was it a place where you found wellness?
Physical environments impact us in ways we may never understand. In The Healing Home, Suzy Chiazzari wrote, “Our physical home can help us build self-esteem and enhance our sense of self.” In the same way, a home can destroy our self-esteem and ruin our sense of self. Our home environment also plays a large role on our physical health and measurable well-being, because it is the place where a lot of us spend the most time.
Together, my mom and step-dad built our house from scratch. They gradually built it piece by piece, as they saved up cash to avoid getting a mortgage on it. The house in total had 4 floors, 4 bathrooms (3 full bathrooms, 1 powder room), 6 bedrooms, two kitchens, and a double porch with the upper one available by French doors from the master bedroom. Mennonite woodworkers made all of the wood furnishings in the house from the trim to the doors to the door frames to the closet shelves to the 3 sets of hand carved stair railings. After my mom and step-dad separated during my junior year in high school, my mom, my sisters, and I got to stay in the house.
A little over a year later during my senior year of high school, the Coors Light Drinker moved in the big house, and everything went downhill from there. Within a week of him moving in (honestly it might have been the very day he moved in but I can’t remember exactly), he installed an outdoor lock on my mom’s master bedroom door. It required a key to open, and I’m not talking about one of those straight pin keys that you stick on top of the door frame. That wouldn’t have been secure enough for his kind of funny business.
At the time, I was a “sheltered” church girl who got made fun of her whole life by the church kids specifically for being “sheltered”. The church kids were clueless about the kind of life I had at home and I wasn’t about to disclose it to them. But to give the church kids some credit, I was sheltered. I had no idea why he needed a lock like that on the door. I thought that maybe my mom and him had some kind of erotic sex book they didn’t want my sisters and I to see. I wasn’t dumb enough to rule out the possibility of drugs as the reason for a special Schlage lock, but that seemed too serious for something to be found a few doors down from where I slept at night.
My mom and the Coors Light Drinker fought on a daily basis. Every fight marked the house with violence, and it was evident in every corner, floor, wall, door, ceiling, and room. They threw anything they could get their hands on. They slammed doors so hard that picture frames fell off walls. Most of the frames hanging in the house ended up glass-less. They drank a lot of Coors Light and didn’t care where the empty cans piled up. By the time I graduated college about 5 years later, the place looked destroyed.
One thing that always bothered me were the chisel marks on the two wooden door frames on the 2nd floor of the house. It was easy to see that someone had locked someone else out on multiple occasions, in two different rooms, and the invader took a chisel to pry the door open. One of those locks that were picked, was the same lock the Coors Light Drinker installed the day he moved in, the one on my mom’s bedroom door. The solid wood door frames looked so bad that the only way to make them look nice again would be to replace them. I can’t put to words why this particular act bothers me so much.
In 2010, my mom tried to kick the Coors Light Drinker out of our house. Afterwards, he broke in when she wasn’t home, and physically destroyed the place as much as he could. He took a hammer to the walls and several light fixtures throughout the house. Some of the light fixtures he shattered were the first light fixtures installed in the virgin house, ones excitedly hand picked by my mom when she was still with my step-dad. During the Coors Light Drinker’s revenge, he also took a knife to the wires of the furnace, completely destroying it for good. Even after all this, she wasn’t able to get rid of him.
In 2011, the Coors Light Drinker died in that same house from a carbon monoxide accident. My mom thinks the house is haunted now, and I don’t doubt her (even though I question other things she says like the bear that frequents the back yard).
After the Coors Light Drinker moved into the house during my senior year in high school, it became a house of destruction, abuse, empty Coors Light cans, fear, pain, screaming, moldy food, and f-words. The house chisels the message into my heart, that my mom let this guy live with us, we lost her to him, and he destroyed everything in his path, including her.
What about you? Was your childhood home a healing home? How did your childhood home affect your sense of self?
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