Is a House a Home?

Point Seven: Think about your house growing up. What was it like?

I was lucky enough to spend my entire childhood in one house. My parents owned our house and we lived in a narrow but real friendly road. We always had great neighbours and the majority of them had children around my age two play with. We were friends, our parents were friends and some even became family. From that point of view I was extremely blessed.

All adults go through financial struggles, but my sister and I never went without. My parents always worked extremely hard and our parents always made sure we had the best that they could afford, which was a lot more than some people I grew up with.

Our house was a terraced house, three bedrooms and it was a complete building site when my parents moved in, about 5 years before I was born. My Dad pretty much rebuilt the majority of the internal structure of the house, along with wiring, plumbing etc and he certainly rebuilt both mine and my sister bedrooms.

Our house was one that was never finished, other financial matters took president and it got to a point where I really didn't want to bring anyone home because all my friends houses were beautifully decorated and looked after.

Dad made sure our bedrooms were always decorated well and fit for purpose, even if it meant him giving up all his free time to physically build the cupboards himself, he did it. Dad is a proud man and would never allow Mum to employ anyone to finish a job, even if it took him years to finish! It was frustrating and annoying, but my Dad is a highly skilled man, he can put his hand and brain to anything and accomplish great things - so I understand he didn't want to pay out money they didn't have, if he could do the labour for free. Now I have my own house, I understand that more.

Because of the way my house looked aesthetically growing up, I am extra house proud and like things a certain way. Everything must be finished, it must be clean, everything has its place. It is most definitely a control thing for me. This obviously doesn't just stem from the appearance of the house I grew up in, it also represents the emotional and physical abuse that I suffered in what was supposed to be me safe haven.

I was raised to never air your dirty laundry in public, to always plaster a smile on your face, to never talk about any issue that may bother you at home. Essentially, act like everything is okay even if its not. An approach many family members still take as gospel, but by the time I met Anthony, I just couldn't live the lie anymore! I spent years of my life hating myself because I felt bound and repressed by these rules. I thought something must be wrong with me for feeling this way and I just wanted to scream. Little did I know, my Dad felt exactly the same way. This house was no longer a home, it was our prison.

I used to sit in Anthony's car on a Sunday evening outside my house and sob. I never wanted to go home. By now, it was such an unhappy place, filled with anxiety and tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. As always, its saving grace was my boys were there, my beautiful, loving and sweet puppies, Buttons & Chippy. When I finally left, it was leaving them behind which broke me, nothing else.

When I finally left, I felt like I could breathe again and I was empowered to start living my life as the actual person I was, rather than the person I was expected to be. I was no longer suffocated and forced to fit into a box that I had never truly fit into.

This place had not been my "home" for about 8 years at the point where I left and that wasn't started by my parents, they finished it, but it never started that way.

It was started by multiple rapes, continued sexual assault, threats, blackmail, psychological and emotional abuse, at the hands of my first boyfriend, in my bedroom.

There is a large age gap between me and my sister, so when she went away to university it was my turn to have the big bedroom. I was allowed to redecorate it, put my stamp on it and make it mine. I was so proud to finally be able to live in a space all my own. My previous bedroom was barely able to fit in a single bed, so this was a lot of space and freedom for me and it was stolen away from me by the biggest coward I have ever known. He took my virginity, he took my body, blackened my soul, filled me with self loathing and hatred, he took my safety, my innocence and my home.

I had the happiest childhood in that home until this point, I can vividly remember the day that changed. From that point on, this house was no longer a home. It didn't always feel prison-like, but it certainly never made me feel safe anymore.

When starting my own family and finding our first home, that has always been my first priority - safety and I know it's Anthony's too. With a diagnosis of Complex PTSD, which was originally caused by the trauma from inside my teenage bedroom, safety is what I look for first in all situations, including my home. It's one reason I chose this particular building to live in, this area to raise my family - it is nothing like where I grew up and for that I am so grateful!

Our daughter will always have sanctuary here in her home and she will always have a place to call home. She will not ever have to feel what I felt or her Daddy felt. Her Daddy and I will protect her to within an inch of her life within these four walls. Home is a place of love, a place of safety, of honesty, authenticity, freedom. It is something that every child needs and craves and she will always have that here with me, with us. A house is not a home, home is a feeling. Anthony is my home, our Daughter is my home. We could live anywhere, wherever they are, that's my home.