I have intense anxiety about going home for the holidays now. I’ve never felt this way before, but my current sentiment stems from the recent realization of home not being a safe space for me anymore. I’ve always considered Detroit, Michigan, (the city where I was born) to be my home. Since I was a child, Detroit, amid all its dilapidated homes, assumed lack of vibrancy, and recently gentrified neighborhoods, has always created this irreplaceable aesthetic of belonging for me. Most of my family was there, and that offered a brief refrain from the loneliness I felt living with either my mom or auntie in the suburbs of Illinois. Detroit was a fucking MOOD for me— one that was welcoming and warm enough to make me forget about my issues. It was happiness. It was triumph. It was peace.
Now, the beloved city that was dear to my heart represents pieces of broken promises. It’s the place where I tried and failed at being intimate with someone who I knew didn’t care about me. It’s the place where the cousin of that person sexually assaulted me a month later. It’s the place where I tried and failed at rebuilding relationships with people I grew up with. It’s the place where I didn’t feel protected by my dad and stepmom. And having no cousins my age or any siblings made the situation worse.
Three weeks before Thanksgiving, all of these dark thoughts clouded my mind and stifled my energy. There were times that I’ve cried alone in my room because those thoughts were too overwhelming for me to function. So, in the words of Solange, I tried sexing those thoughts away. Long story short: I failed miserably. I came to the harsh realization that there wasn’t any amount of sex that could help me ignore the real emotions that I was feeling.
At the time, I felt betrayed and powerless by people who I assumed had my best interests as a priority. While I’m sure that my dad and stepmom will always have my best interests in mind, I find myself still having to question that notion based on their reactions following the incident during the summer. And, although going to therapy has helped me significantly, I often still struggle with those feelings of betrayal. Thus, I knew I had to stop using sex as a temporary fix for the pain and start dealing with the real issues: being afraid or generally reluctant of going home for the holidays
This is the first time that I haven’t went home for the holidays since being in college. I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving, and I have anxiety about going home for Christmas. The only reason I’m going home for a couple of days during the Christmas holiday is because I wanted to see other family members whose loyalty I didn’t have to question. I didn’t want to neglect those members like my auntie who was the main one who had my back following the incident. Her house became a safe space for me during that time, and I’ll be eternally grateful for that.
Home isn’t the same anymore, and going home certainly incorporates a lot troubling thoughts and ideas that are the exact opposite of what home should feel like. However, I’ve grown significantly since the last time I came home, and acknowledging that growth is a crucial aspect of the healing process for me. I’ve adopted the bad-bitch confidence that was long overdue. I’ve gained true friends. My writing was published on different outlets. I’ve started making significant changes for minority students at my school. I came to the realization that I enjoy sex more than I enjoy being in relationships, and I’ve learned to be ok with that. And, more importantly, I have a better grip of the woman I’m becoming.
I’m not the same woman I was when I left Detroit four months ago, and I’m certainly proud of that. Although going back home has conjured uninvited feelings, it certainly has made me reflect on my journey to becoming the woman I am now, and I refuse to compromise anything for the sake of her growth because I’m starting to fall in love with her.