How I'm Honoring the Sadness of Saying Goodbye to my Childhood Home

I mentioned on my Instagram stories this week that I said goodbye to my childhood home. UGH WHAT HEARTACHE! It's tough to say goodbye to something you went through so many big life moments in. The place is crawling with memories and every time I came home I found comfort in the reminder of them. Sometimes it would make me sad to realize that while some things were the same (like the concrete, oil, and dirt smell of the garage being more potent on a hot day, the creaking of the floors, the drum of the ice machine down the hall as someone got a glass of water late at night), those tiny familiarities often brought me a lot of sorrow. When I noticed them, it was as if I had traveled back in time -- as if maybe, just maybe my mom would be turning the corner in her flannel nightgown and poking her head in to tell me she loved me. The heartache came calling every time I'd come back to reality and realize the distance between here and the memory I was just wrapped up in. 

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Regardless of how sad those memories made me, they brought a sense of comfort. It was nice to have a place I could go that triggered so much remembering, especially since one of my coping mechanisms has been repressing things. After my mom died, I could hardly function at the thought of her or things left unsaid. I think my brain helped me move on from the trauma by tucking my memories away. 

As I've started to heal some old wounds caused by the tumultuous relationship I had with my mom, walking into that house full of memories felt like walking home to her. Lots of things were redecorated -- but she was still there. She's still there. I think a little piece of her always will be. 

I've been trying to approach endings with more grace and love as oppose to devastation. I've been doing that by navigating to a place of gratitude for what was and honoring the cycle of my experiences. Everything has a season. Some seasons are longer than others, and if we're lucky, the seasons in our lives will be long and fruitful with love and lessons. Approaching endings through this lens has been incredibly healing for me because it allows me to reflect on the immense value of the pieces of my life that were meaningful. The more emotions that come up as I'm saying goodbye, the luckier I am for what it brought me. 

As I said goodbye to my home, I decided to take time to honor the season I lived in it. I got down on my knees, touched my hands to the floor, and asked that I recall the memories I needed to recall for closure in each room. In the family room, I saw my mom's 50th birthday party. It was a surprise and my dad invited all of her family and friends to come. When she walked in the garage door, she hadn't showered all day, had bulky white socks on, sandals, gym shorts, and a baggy t-shirt (I'm giggling through tears as I write this) -- but my god, the combined look of confusion and joy on her face as she scanned the room and saw the faces of the people who loved her... it's the kind of thing you hope everyone gets to experience. 

Then I remembered watching hours of cartoons and running upstairs to sneak more freeze pops at commercials, playing "hide the dollar" with my neighbors while our parents were upstairs drinking wine, turning the fireplace into my "stage." I remembered the year they let us get a second Christmas tree and how excited I was to have it where I watched TV, the smell of the grill outside the sliding doors in the summer time, slumber parties with my best friends, kissing boys on the couch, watching my niece and nephew run around playfully in circles, and the last Christmas we spent with my mom, snuggled up with her on the couch in front of the fire, watching White Christmas as a family one final time. 

Then I proceeded to do the same with every. single. room in the house. Yes, even some of the bathrooms. They all held special moments from the 32 years my family called it home. When I felt like my memory seeing had come to a close, I thanked the room for keeping me safe and moved to the next one, leaving a tiny little drops of tears in every spot I walked away from. 

I think this process would have been too overwhelming for me in years past, but this time around it felt so cleansing. I was happy to remember how much I experienced in the home and grateful for the people I made memories in it with. One of my best friends growing up messaged me on Instagram and said "I remember when we got caught trying on your sister's bras!!" and it felt comforting to have her share one of her memories related to the house. Another friend reminded me that when she arrived for my mom's surprise party, my dad had been up in the kitchen with a hairdryer trying to get the hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries he'd made dry before she arrived. I loved realizing that our house also held memorable space for our community. I think that’s a really special thing about homes.

If you're going through transitions in life or losing something special to you.. whether it's a house, a person, a job, or otherwise, I encourage you to honor what comes up for you. The grief you feel is likely a testament to how deeply you you were impacted by it.

Here are some ways you can honor your transitions:

  • Be a weirdo and place your hands on the thing you’re losing and call upon the memories that will help you get through the process

  • Journal about all the good things it brought to your life and tuck it away or put it in a Chinese lantern

  • Call together a circle of friends related to the situation/loss and ask that they help you remember


Thanks for reading this out of the ordinary blog post that is completely unrelated to autoimmune disease or autoimmune paleo recipes!

xo,

Whit