When Home is Not Home. (350 words)

Parents are the first homes for their children. We exist to welcome and nurture them–as the protectors of their souls. This is not a perfect job, nor one where you can take off when you are exhausted. We were chosen. Given an opportunity to pour purpose and breathe life onto their innocent, blank slates.

Slates that are always, always influenced by their surroundings.

Parents/mentors/extended family have an important responsibility to guide children away from hardship–but to stand firmly by their side when pain is inevitable. We are NOT meant to wound these innocent spirits with self-righteous ideas of who we THINK they should be. Especially, when their idea of who they are conflicts with what we were taught to believe.

If home is not SAFE, children will learn to outsource their needs. They will run–into the arms of others who may give them false information and take advantage of their hearts. They will lie and tell you what you want to hear when they think you cannot handle their truths. They will form guards against any connections to you.

I am reminded of children who “come out” to conservative parents. And parents who then attack the very thing they were meant to protect. There are parents who refuse to listen when their child is screaming for their attention. And parents who later blame themselves for the consequences.

I am reminded of myself. When I was younger I did everything I could to get away from home. I felt invalidated and broken. So much so, I delayed my potential for nearly a decade before I discovered that I was worth so much more.

Now I know that I am my home.

Sometimes, parents fail and we are left to keep our home safe. This is okay. Things like this happen to people everyday. We fall off our paths and run in a million different directions. We chase after things we do not need and leave our homes open without any security. We make mistakes then drag ourselves back in the game.

But with or without them you will find your way.

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– Jen Cosby

My Broken, Blended Family.

I know plenty about the blended family culture. 

Being a child of divorce at a young age–I cannot remember living with both of my parents under the same roof. Shortly after my parents formally separated, I was introduced to another woman who would ultimately become a major influence in my life….my stepmother. She would later bear (3) more children for my father–boys, who by blood would become my brothers. Tacking on my sister and me–we were one large, blended family.

During my childhood, I recall feeling misplaced every time I visited my father and his new family. I was his part time daughter, not quite content to be seen only when it was convenient for his schedule. In reaction to sharing this limited time, I was passive aggressive and angry. I fought to stay with my father as much as possible.

My sister however, took a different approach. For the most part, she chose to stay at home–with our mother. She did not have the same amount of time with our father that I had. She did not get to spend days at home with him potty training. She was never wrestled to sleep by firm, tree branch-like arms. She did not have to go to therapy in elementary school in an effort to get used to missing him.

Our experiences with both of our parents was unique.

For a long time, I admired my stepmother over my own. She was organized and focused, taking meticulous care of family. She made absolutely certain to give that extra attention to her children that I craved. This left me searching for comparisons in the relationship between my mother, my sister and me. They say parents do not partake in favoritism–but if you lived in my home you would know this was not true. Ultimately, my two examples of “a mother’s love” left me feeling like I could not be loved equally. I know now this was not done purposely to hurt me. Still, as a child trying to find my place in the world, it was an open wound.

I am not a stepparent. I do not know what it is like to combine lives with a spouse who has children from another family. I have never had to endure an unpleasant conversation with the person to which my significant other once pledged forever. I cannot fathom what it is like to deal with the emotions of a child who resents you for “breaking up their home”. I do not know how to look into a little girl’s eyes and tell her you consider her your daughter only to turn your back on her when it no longer fits your narrative.

I imagine it is difficult and uncomfortable.

From the perspective of the child who is now an adult, I realize I still have a flurry of unanswered questions. There are items of unwanted experience I had to forcefully check off through no fault of my own. The only constants in my life were my sometimes inconsistent parents who I now understand are not infallible. They are human beings who made mistakes but did everything within their capabilities to prepare me for the future ahead. I am convinced my parents love me unconditionally and support me in my actions. Even my stepmother had her part in helping me become the person I am, today.

But when a blended family begins to unravel there are desperate measures taken and harsh realities you cannot expect. Lines are drawn and sides are picked–children and (in some cases) grandchildren are thrown into the conflict. I am not the one to convince another to engage in a fair fight. I do not care who was wrong more often or who stonewalled when they should have been trying to cooperate.

No one can soothe a broken connection from the outside.

It is not my place to parent my parents or make peace for their sake. After all, I am a product of an ugly ending and bitter separation. I know from experience there is a purpose for this breaking–although, when it is said and done nothing will ever be the same.

But all I want is for everyone to be okay.

Finding Home.

Suppose you decide to stop running in circles the rest of your life–where would you go?

We play nice and evasive when forced to answer difficult questions. Hemming and hawing over the uncertainty of the unknown. Having been on the receiving end of this type of insincerity–I wished the hard, honest truth came a lot sooner than it did.

Unfortunately, I was left wondering just how long the truth had been postponed.

Any idea I conceive, all the thoughts I painfully process, every hope I care to own–are thankfully mine alone. I think about other people and how my actions altered their lives, but I do not remain attached to the history. I always leave everything behind.

Today I am reminded that every absence is a choice.

Even though I never expect anyone to come chasing after me, the effects of my disappearances are well-known. It is a selfish act designed to freeze my character in time, when the cover of my integrity is blown. I hurt in ways I cannot suppress, denying feelings I desperately want to change.

Completely aware that until I face them, this is impossible.

I should have stayed and fought to be whole. Not let a liar “love” me, paying rent on a body he could never afford to own. Every time I denied the truth, I lost more and more parts of me. Hoping that if I sacrificed just enough, eventually I would obtain the greatest prize.

I can feel the flood of emotions pooling around the corners of my eyes.

I spent 2 years of my life attempting to recover lies. The bitter dust of history repeating chokes my subconscious reality. Dreams flicker with unpredictable memories. I never know how I am going to feel when I wake up. Usually, it inspires a need to run–to push against the battered conscious that has truly had enough.

I will stand firm in all the damage I caused.

I will repair what is mine to mend and break ties with anything that is not.

Now that I understand and accept my truth, the point comes when I must choose.
Will I continue to walk alone, or embrace the olive branch–and take my long-delayed walk back home?

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Source: Unknown

Only time will tell which way I will go.

19. If You Want to Make a Difference.

 

home_art_healing

If you want to make a difference in the world, honor the decisions you make. Perhaps the world is not the entire planet. Maybe it is not a whole continent. The world, may simply be your home. Maybe it is the beating of your heart. Now that you know what it is, honor it. Honor the place you choose to dwell. Honor the people who come in your life and love you well. As a matter of fact, when you come across people who are difficult to love, love them too. Love them with the full force of your intention. Because the ones who are difficult will have a harder time believing you.

Making war is a choice. When our home is threatened (wherever home may be) we militarize and take steps to defend the honor of our country. Maybe you feel disrespected. Maybe this “enemy” said some harsh things that conflicted with the words in your heart. This person you trusted and allowed to get close enough to wound you and leave this scar. This person who shook you from your solitude and asked you to sacrifice something hard. This person who asked you to come out of your trenches and meet on common ground.

Maybe the real enemy is you.

If you placed your home in a person, be prepared to be moved. It will feel like you are riding on a runaway vehicle. A car you cannot control. A destination you cannot approve. An end you cannot predict, or prepare for.

People make terrible homes.

But if you want to make a difference, it almost always starts with release. Releasing the need
to have control over every situation. The need to be right. The need to be loved by outside company. Perhaps you thought you were loving someone by refusing to let them go. Maybe you held on so tightly, you began to cause damage to your peace, your home.

Maybe making a difference is starting over–alone.

Wherever the battle, whatever you lost–no matter how many times you felt convinced that you would “never get past this”–remember, you were wrong. The narrative of your life will not be limited by 1, 5, or 50 mistakes. Resist the urge to edit out the lessons. Wear your badge of experience and take the necessary steps to recover.

Maybe love dealt you a blow that cut you deeper than any hurt has ever affected you before. It’s okay to sit for a season and sulk. But this hurt will not last forever.

You have to get up.