Going home is such a challenge for me. Every Friday I try to convince myself it's worthwhile and I fail. It's paralyzing, the idea of it. I'm honestly terrified of Chelmsford, my old home town. Before I had that life-changing hospitalization I would go back mostly to work, and the occasional family function. I'd drink, distract myself with work, friends and drugs, and try my best to connect with my family.
But without those distractions there's a palpable wave of anxiety constantly washing through me that brings an absolute certainty that at any moment something monumentally awful is going to happen. Every corner of every room is a trap. Every moment I'm forgetting something vitally important and trying to figure out what it could be. Every word I say, every opinion I have and every action I take is under close scrutiny and assumed to be wrong. When I'm there, I know this like I know my hand is my own: there is no possible way to doubt it, and the longer something bad doesn't happen the more the anticipation builds. I think that's among the reasons why my nightmares are always so much worse there.
I can't handle those feelings, they're too much for me, way too much. It feels absurd, looking at what I wrote in that last paragraph. I recognize how crazy it is. Generally the only way I can handle it is if I dissociate or derealize. The last time I went home I lost my ability to remember anything over a couple years past. I couldn't remember my grandpa's name, I couldn't remember my teachers when Lauren talked about them, I couldn't remember the names of the sidestreets next to where I lived for 20 years. Everything seemed new and surreal, like it wasn't my life, like people had confused me for someone else. There was a funny little fear in the back of my head that there had been some sort of weird mix up a couple years ago and I had usurped someone else's life and never realized it.
It wasn't so bad originally, even when I was fresh out of the hospital and staying sober. It was when I had my major dissociative episode and people tried to convince me to go back to Chelmsford. They made me feel guilty for being in New York because they were so worried for me, and they would feel so much better if I went back to safe old suburbia, where they could keep closer tabs on me. It was one friend in particular who brought this out, but I got it from a number of people back there. I didn't want them to worry, and I felt sick, that people were afraid to let me live on my own. It made me feel claustrophobic. I had images of them digging into me with their claws, grasping at me, dragging me toward them and swaddling me in their secure nest in the suburbs. It was for my own safety, they were trying to take care of me, because they believed I couldn't take care of myself. I felt like I deserved more respect than that, that I deserved more trust.
After coming to grips with the idea that I might be forced to live in Chelmsford, I haven't felt at all safe there. It will take a while before any sense of security there comes back.
The next thing I need to talk about is my relationship with my family.