I’m traveling with my kid for about 10 days – we flew to the opposite coast, and are spending part of our time as tourists in a city she’s never been to (one I’ve spent a great deal of time in), and the rest of our time with family.
It’s my second extended trip since the darkness consumed me, the first since it relaxed its grip. And I have been so fucking fearful about it.
Before this round of depression, I would have called myself a traveler. I’ve been privileged to travel many places most Americans don’t go, by myself and with my little family. Wherever I went, I would quickly settle in and get comfortable with my temporary home, whether it was a fancy hotel or an apartment with a complete stranger. One of my favorite songs, Every Little Thing by my favorite band Young the Giant, begins with the words, “Oh, I’m always home…” And that’s how I felt when I traveled.
One of my favorite memories is listening to this song on headphones as I walked through Kyiv, Ukraine while on a solo trip there. That phrase held such weight for me – always home – comfortable with myself, by myself, knowing that where I was, I was. Knowing that I had found my way into the wide world despite the abuse of my past, despite the paralyzing anxiety, despite the asshole in my head telling me I’d spend my life being too afraid to go anywhere. The years of therapy and meds had paid off, and I could go anywhere and just be.
And then last fall, it was gone.
The darkness swallowed every sense of myself, tapped a vein and drained it out of me, leaving an empty shell. I no longer felt at home in my own skin, let alone in the wider world.
The first time “Every Little Thing” came up on shuffle after that, after the depression had settled into my brain and my bones and my heart, I wept big, ugly tears. My home was gone. My self was gone. In its place was this thing, this depression, looking back at me in the mirror with dark, hollow eyes. I was terrified that my self, my home, was gone forever. So afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back.
More, and different, meds.
More, and different, therapy.
Many fucked up detours. Misread road signs, unexpected breakdowns, tears and wine and exposing broken bits to daylight. Battered and bruised, deeply scarred, and still so fucking raw as I emerge from nine months of hell, still broken in so many ways.
But my home is still here. I am still here. I am no longer fearful of losing my place in the world.
And this trip? With the kid I fought so hard to come back for?
Worth every fucking moment of that fight.