I believe in the power of home.
Three years ago, in my final semester of law school, thousands of miles from my family, I called my aunt out of desperation. I had struggled for several years with depression and anxiety, but had hidden my feelings out of independence, pride and shame.
Rather than telling me that I needed to buckle down and finish school, my aunt told me that if I wanted to leave, they would have me home the next day. I called her and my uncle every day for the next four days, resolved to finish school and angry at myself for not being able to take control of the situation. Those days were hellish, and what I felt I can only describe as utter hopelessness and despair. That Friday morning, I called again and told them that I needed to come home. Four hours later, my apartment was locked up, and I was on a flight out of Connecticut with a couple of suitcases haphazardly packed with clothes, books, and a family photo album.
When I arrived in Seattle that night, the tears I had been trying to hold in poured out on my aunt’s shoulder at the baggage claim, and on the ride home, my uncle held my hand and repeated the mantra “Annie’s home.”
Home had a restorative power. I spent the next two months in sweats on the living room couch or in a lounge chair in the yard, reading, watching T.V. and putting together jigsaw puzzles. I took the time I had never allowed myself to do nothing, and I took the time to get well. I planted pots of nasturtiums, petted the cats, dozed in the sun, and discovered the ability in myself to let someone else help me. Before he left in the morning, my uncle would leave my medication and a twenty dollar bill on my dresser. In the evening, I waited by the front window like a child, waiting for my family to come home.
My life came back together. I moved out of my aunt and uncle’s house, finished school close to home, and got two cats, and started a job representing parents whose kids are in foster care. I kept my promise to my aunt and uncle and myself to stay close to home.
I used to have doubts about my decision to leave law school and come home. Now I know that it was the right thing to do. I needed to be home, and what I have learned about family and unconditional love is far greater than any theory I learned during seven years of college and law school.
This I believe: home drew me back without judgment from across a continent, and healed me. Home has the power to cocoon me in the unconditional love of family. Home has the power to convince my soul that I am content and grateful where I am.
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