I once read an article about first generation college students – and how we’ve sold them on the promise of college, even though they have no idea what it will be like, or even if it will actually make them successful. The author compared it to selling them an éclair – they had never tasted one, but had heard it was good. And they had bought it – hook, line and sinker. Though no one they knew has ever had an éclair, they don’t even really know what one is, but they knew they want one.
I think I’ve been sold an éclair.
I’ve read accounts of people talking about how they want to feel in a relationship – that they want to feel like they’re coming home, that the relationship feels like home. I interpret this to mean that in their ideal relationship they feel safe, secure, and comfortable – that the other person has their back.
But, what if you’re not sure what that kind of home feels like?
What if instead, your feelings of home are full of unspoken resentments, anger, and withholding of love and other emotions?
When I was in 6th grade, all the other kids in my grade bullied me horribly. I didn’t feel I could turn to anyone, so I held the struggle inside me. No one noticed until the spring, 4 or 5 months after it started. Then, that spring, my dad had a kid with his girlfriend, my parents’ divorce was finalized, my dad and his girlfriend got married (all of that in one week) and then my mom, brother and I moved 4 hours away.
Home was fine (and in the grand scheme of what can go wrong in a child’s world, nothing was all that bad – as I’ve said before I know my parents loved me – and still do) – but it wasn’t a place I turned to for comfort. I kept a lot inside, knowing that there wasn’t expansive space for my needs, concerns or fears.
I moved on to 7th grade, a new year away from the bullies. My mom and dad didn’t talk about the divorce, no one processed the new baby with me – life went on. I took the new place as a new start – everything is ok here, no one knows of my past – and put it all behind me – or really, inside of me. And no one asked what was buried deep – home wasn’t a place to share that sadness and regret and dashed hopes.
High school was up and down – 9th and 10th grade full of rebellion and vicious arguments. 11th grade was learning the rules and learning how to escape. 12th grade was escape – as far as France, which in a pre-internet world – was pretty damn far away. My life had begun for me – in that I could live my life the way I wanted without ties of home.
So, the question is… what do you do when showing up for a relationship means being vulnerable and creating that feeling of ‘home’ – but you just don’t have the muscle memory of this? How do you have faith in that which you don’t know?
How do you taste the unknown éclair?