Adverse Childhood Experiences and the path towards healing. You are not alone.
I share my trials, my victories, and my stories with you in hopes that if any of you were ever touched by childhood abuse or neglect, as I was, you will see yourselves in my experiences and feel strengthened to voice what you had not been able to before. I hope we can learn together why we respond to life through a particular lens, and that there are ways to climb out of this prison of pain, silence, and shame.
My name is Bess Hilpert

No Place Like Home

Seeking what is within…

Welcome back, friends. Last week I encouraged you to sit in stillness as a way to find your way to a homecoming deep, deep inside of you. Were you able to hear through the quiet to that still small voice calling you home, wrapping you in a knowing? As Sufi mystic, Rumi, so beautifully addresses:

“If light is in your heart,
You will find your way home.”

I have been thinking this past week about the process of finding and returning to that inner home.

Often when we think of home, we think only of an external place, out there, a fixed place — the place we live and grow, create fond memories, and establish familial bonds. It’s the place we leave when we come of age, and where we return when things are hard. For others, that home was a never-ending nightmare, a place to flee with no desire to return or revisit. When home is not a place of comfort, and there is no sense of knowing or nurture, it trains a person’s body and nervous system to be in a constant flight-or-fight mode, hyper-vigilant for any and all threats. This training does not leave one’s body easily or at all. It is the world view that dominates your interface to the world well into adult life.

Dorothy’s companions, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, in the films The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz are examples of bodies in constant protective mode. One runs to isolation, invisibility, and separation, choosing to hide.  (This could be me.) The other blusters to cover a lack of courage, with a body that remains on full alert, suspicious, and defensive. (And me again. How about you?) When the Tin Man became vulnerable and cried, his body rusted, rendering him unable to move. Whether self-protecting or hiding, one thing is true: neither posture offers the soul any type of rest, which is the goal of our search for home.

Renowned Canadian trauma specialist, Dr. Gabor Mate, reminds us “Trauma is not what happens to you, it is what happens inside of you as a result of what happened to you. The essence of trauma is a disconnect from the self. Therefore, the essence of healing is not just uncovering ones past but reconnecting with the present.” Finding our home.

He goes on to say, “Knowing oneself comes from attending with compassionate curiosity to what is happening within.” Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion would benefit from a dose of compassionate curiosity.

Dr. Mate is echoing shame researcher, Dr. Brene Brown’s words on belonging that we explored last week.

“Belonging so fully to yourself that you are willing to stand alone is a wilderness- an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking.”

Iconic American singer, Diana Ross, sang these words about home in the movie The Wiz:

“When I think of home,
I think of a place
where there is love overflowing…
And I’ve learned that we must look
Inside our hearts to find
A world full of love
Like yours, like mine
Like home.”

The evolution of Dorothy’s journey on the yellow brick road expands her idea of home beyond the narrow confines of a fixed place to a vast inward sea. She must navigate this sea in order to arrive at her place of true belonging and deep ease.

I admit, it can be a pretty scary place to allow yourself to free-fall into this place of solitude and searching. It also can be a beautiful unlocking of blockages by recognizing our unconscious reservoir of personal expectations, assumptions, and beliefs in which we are so deeply immersed and invested. In this recognition, we can begin to let go of the patterns that have kept us tethered to the wounds of the past. Contemplation, going inside, experiencing our home, fills our reservoir with clear, clean water that allows us to encounter an experience, free of our old patterns. It brings us into the present, as Gabor Mate calls us to as we heal from our pasts.

Author, speaker, activist Brian McLaren challenges us:

How we see will largely determine what we see and whether it can give us joy or make us pull back with an emotionally stingy and resistant response. What we are able to see and are predisposed to see in the outer world is a mirror reflection of our own inner world and state of consciousness at that time. Most of the time, we just do not see at all, but rather operate on cruise control.”

Brian McLaren has an eye-opening Podcast called “Learning How to See” that explores this and many more aspects of seeing, believing, and experiencing life from our myriad of human viewpoints. It’s also available on many different podcast services.

I use contemplation, my journey inward, my quest for an internal home, as a vehicle to free myself from the bonds of the past. I use it to self-regulate my nervous system, self-soothe, when it feels like my world is spinning out of control. I use it as a tool to better see the world, be a part of the world, and give back to the world.

I find ease from the tangled chains of my mind and body walking alone in nature with no agenda beyond each moment. The walk is not exercise. The walk is a momentary break and release from the patterns erected by my psyche for self-protection. I find ease in the silence of the morning hour when my only companions are the sweet symphony of the birds calling the world to wake and my cup of coffee. I find ease holding my grandchild in my arms, closing my eyes, pausing, and breathing into the moment. I find ease in listening to an inspiring podcast with Ear Pods on while doing mundane household chores. And I find deep ease as I sit alone in the silence lost in prayer for extended periods of time. It is in these moments that I find and feel home.

And home travels the I-35 corridor with me as I breathlessly pray for my safety. It dives into the cold waters of the University pool with me as I shake with fear of failure and judgement. It holds my hand when I am alone in the house and scared someone will break in and hurt me. And it lifts my head at just the right moment keeping me safe from harm.

Where home may be an external dwelling for most, for me it is an internal abode. It is the place where I belong, however fleeting. A place of acceptance and welcome. There is no shame, no judgement, just an embryonic cocoon of unconditional love. It is a soft place for my body to land, a safe place for my soul to fully disrobe, a place where my failures don’t kill, my sins don’t crush, and even when I am at my worst, I am SAFE. Home is, to me, a place where I am free to take my deepest, fullest, least-encumbered breath.

I feel safe every time Ed holds my hand, looks into my eyes, or wraps my broken pinky finger with tape (yes, I experienced my first broken bone this last week). I feel love overflowing, as Diana Ross sang. Is there someone whose hand you find home in?

Glinda the Good in The Wiz gently reminds Dorothy:

“Home is a place we all must find, child. It is not just a place where you eat or sleep. Home is a knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we are always home, anywhere.”

Home is not ‘somewhere over the rainbow,’ it’s inside all of us.

How do you find home? Please share in the comment box below.

If you are new to a contemplative practice, or would like some ideas for new ways to explore your inward journey, the Center for Action and Contemplation has a wonderful array of methods and wisdom to sample on their Practice With Us page.

Until next time, friends.

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  1. A wonderful yoga teacher once told me that as I breathed in and out, I should repeat the mantra, “Arrive / Home”. Breathe in: “Arrive”. Breathe out: “Home”. It is a simple way that I find “home” when I am in an environment where I have no control and where it feels like anything but home.

  2. Hello Bess. Thank you for opening yourself up and sharing the good and the scary parts of your journey “home”. Remember, Dorothy makes it through the forest (“lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh my!) with the help of her friends. None of us can make it through this life alone.
    Today’s post particularly resonated with me as my father passed away 13 years ago and I am a month away from the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. I am in Colorado and tomorrow will walk a half marathon through mountain canyons where the start is half a mile from my childhood home and the finish is half a mile away from my “new” vacation home (thanks
    Mom!) Every twist and turn of the road will be familiar and i’ll be walking it with gratitude that I have the strength to do this and a loving husband by my side who for the past 30 years has been my “home”.
    Keep on living the dream. You never cease to amaze me. ❤️

    1. Nancy,
      Thank you.
      This made me cry.
      Mind you, tears of gratitude.
      You changed my life by introducing me to Christ in the Desert. May I give back all that has done for me to you.
      Love always.

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