I sit down at the dinner table. It is six pm, the designated dinner time for the family ever since I can remember. By six, my father would be home from work and he loves having a routine. I look into the faces of my brother and sister across the table, picking at their food while the conversation revolves around school deadlines and a discussion on politics. And in our family, a discussion on politics means a monologue initiated by my father that leaves no room for opposing opinions. No one shows interest in providing a different perspective, a lack of knowledge and intellectual repartee leaves us feeling inferior. This evening dance has existed my entire life, everyone is playing their part perfectly. And it bores me. I find routines restricting and predictable. Instead, I strive to be independent and explore varying options. I struggle to understand the priorities my parents follow which have built a life dominated by patterns. In my head, I want to do everything contrasting the routines that I have encountered my whole life.
I sit on the bed in my first apartment and I feel an unknown void within me. My insides are screaming for comfort and protection. It is 2am, and sleep seems as far away and unreachable as my mother appears, tough she is only 200 kilometers away. Right now, there is no routine in my life. And I have celebrated this – for a while. In broad daylight, when I was surrounded by life and distracted, I felt great. But as obstacles introduced themselves into my new life, I have been struggling. A round of University exams are coming up and an unfamiliar pressure has been weighing me down. My study sessions have been interrupted by what I assume to be panic attacks. I am constantly at the brink of tears and I have lost my appetite. To be honest, I struggle to find a reason in it all. I long for safety, a routine and a home. The secure feeling I took for granted growing up has vanished. I think back to all the evenings spend in the house that I grew up in, the movie nights in the living room and the video games played with my brother. I cannot imagine how I could find it boring then – and how I will ever feel safe again.
It is many years, cities and apartments later now – I have found and lost home in places and situations, friendships and relationships. I now know that home is a feeling I have to create within, it requires me to take care of myself. I have learned that certain routines help me while I find others restricting. I now understand that I need to feel physically comfortable in my surroundings and how important human connections are. Occasionally, I forget this and I relearn. I remind myself to soften the voice in my head, encouraging it to be gentle. It is exam season again, and while I know I will be relieved when it is over, I have not lost my sanity in it all. I still look left and right when crossing the street, knowing this has not always been the case. I have encountered what dark places my mind can go to and I am grateful that it currently does not. All the trauma, work and dedication is starting to manifest into something good: I am rebuilding myself, breaking thought bad patterns, listening and trusting myself again. I always thought I would be striving to feel as safe as I did during my childhood, but after having seen darkness, I know this will never be. This does not make me feel sad but grateful instead. I am thankful for being able to build a own home within myself – a comfort which no one or nothing can take away from me. I have also accepted that no one fully understands what I am doing to get there. But this is also true for my parents: I will never comprehend and share their choices, yet it is dooming on me that they have shaped me in more ways than I can yet comprehend.