Home is Not Where the Heart Is.

Stories of COVID-19
6 min readSep 27, 2020


Home is the place you build for yourself when you’re tired of being in pain.


The smoke these past couple weeks did me in far more than I anticipated. It reawakened a pain in my chest I haven’t felt since before my divorce, a pain I neither asked for, nor could understand, no matter how much I tried to. I don’t know what about the smoke triggered it, but what I did notice was that, the more time that passed, I began to feel myself believing that the pain was “my fault.” Not because I’d done anything wrong, but because I wasn’t doing something right. I began to get frustrated with both myself and the Universe that, for some reason, I wasn’t figuring out my pain in the right way, I wasn’t spending enough time with myself, I wasn’t sitting in stillness enough, I simply wasn’t… enough.

It’s funny, how often I consistently have to remind myself to release the illusion of control I seem to keep thinking I have over my life. I’m pretty well-versed in releasing control for external circumstances, as they’ve shifted so many times in my life without my having any say in the matter, I’ve learned objection is futile. Shitty things happen, things you don’t expect, things that are often no one’s fault, but become suddenly a part of your life, and you have to learn to deal with them. To swim with the current rather than against it. For the most part, I know how to do this.

What I keep seeming to have to learn, however, is how to release control over my internal circumstances. Over and over again, as I try to control my emotions — the evolution of my soul, my growth and understanding — over and over again, I get exhausted by it. But of course, I don’t realize how exhausting it is until my body starts shutting down, and I’m reminded to calm the F down and chill out already.

I looked back on an old journal today when I first started reading Jen Pastiloff’s On Being Human, and I was reminded of the question she posited:

In order to be where you want to be, what do you need to let go of?

Here’s what I wrote in response back in July:

“Control, man. It always comes back to control.

“My need to control my emotions, to control my schedules, to control… my damn emotions some more lol

“I think I focus too hard on growth. I didn’t used to be this greedy about it.”

I didn’t used to be this greedy about it. Even re-reading that and knowing I was the one who wrote it, that line sticks curiously out to me. Why so greedy about my own emotional growth? As though there’s a finite potential for growth out there. As though I’m on some sort of time press and if I don’t get everything figured out right away, that makes me less significant, or less learned or… a ha, there it is again: Not enough.

These “Not enoughs” that we create for ourselves are what Jen calls bullshit stories. They are not to be trusted, and they are not to be listened to. Don’t even give them the time of day. Pay attention to them, yes. Keep a wary eye out for them. But don’t allow them to take you by the hand and lead you off into the night, for the night is dark and full of terrors. The longer you spend in the darkness, the more you will think you belong to it. That that’s what you deserve. That you’ve made your bed of your own volition, and now you have to lie in it.

But sometimes, whether through sudden pain of depression or anxiety, because you were the victim of some abuse, or because you suddenly found yourself in circumstances you didn’t expect — the darkness can just… stick to you. Through no fault of your own.

Through no fault of your own, the darkness can just cling, but you must not ever believe that you belong to it.

You belong to light. You belong to goodness. You belong to the Sacred, and the Sacred is a part of you. No matter what bullshit stories your mind tries to tell you, you must remember that.

We often associate darkness with safety.

We will associate whatever we’re most used to, whatever we’re most comfortable with, even if it’s harmful, with safety because the familiarity is easier to bear than the unknown. And then we will continue to look for safety our whole lives. We will look for the Familiar, for what makes us feel like what we think of as “home,” whether that’s an abusive relationship or simply a busy, crowded, non-stop schedule. If we perceive it to be home, we will pursue it.

But our concept of “home” must adapt. There is never one single home or one version of it. You make your home whatever you want it to be. You have that power to create it. You can even create love, too, if you want to.

They say home is where the heart is, but honestly your heart can be in a dark, unsafe place for a long time before you realize that that’s not home. You may fight for someone for far longer than they deserve. You might not let go because you think letting go is weakness, and you don’t want to give up, and so you fight.

For a long time, I fought to keep someone that I thought was my home. I fought to keep them grounded, I fought to keep them sane. I fought to keep them alive.

But the fight just kept getting harder, and I soon saw there would be no limit to what would be asked of me. I would just keep fighting until I’d shredded myself to pieces.

And this, I knew, I was not willing to do.

And so I began to fight for myself. To rewrite the bullshit stories of “Not enough” into “I tried my hardest, and I now know that in order to truly love myself, I have to let go.”

I built a new home. I adapted.

Home is the people who see you. Who know you, and fully accept all that you are.

Home is Being and Love and so much light and forgiveness.

Home is the place you build for yourself when you’re tired of being in pain.

Sometimes, pain is just a distraction from the bountiful Stillness within you. Sometimes, pain needs to be worked through, sorted out, and understood. Other times, it needs to be left alone to eventually dissipate as you nurture the other parts of you whose light can slowly and gracefully drown out all that darkness until only peace remains. And sometimes, you need to ask for help from those who matter most to you, those in whom you trust most deeply. Don’t ever try to keep it all in your head. That pain is too great a burden for anyone to bear, and you will only constrict yourself the more you try to hold it all in. Freedom is so much more satisfying, after all.

I want to share with you something I wrote in my journal just a couple days ago; something that I want you to read and to know is true. It’s a little letter I wrote myself that, at the same time, didn’t feel as though it came from me. It felt like it came from what Glennon Doyle would call my Knowing, or what Liz Gilbert might call Love or my inner child, or what my mom would call God, or what I would acknowledge doesn’t even need a name because it doesn’t matter what the name is, what matters is what it said, which was this:

You need freedom, my love.

Do not allow this foul thing, this pain, to keep you from flying. It is separate from you.

The pain is not your fault.

You do not like to victimize yourself, but my dear child, you have been a victim. And you’re strong, resilient, graceful, resolute, caring, and tender. You are sacred. You are Divine. And there is Divine within you who loves you so, so much.

You know what you need. Trust it. Trust yourself.

Be brave, my sweet darling. Be kind. Be still

and know.



Stories of COVID-19

My name’s Julia. I’m a writer, and these are my COVID-19 weekly letters of encouragement.