Feeling Home: The Myth of Caretaker Boundaries, and Reasons to Stay.
Changing perspectives always changes things for me.
It’s an internal shaking-up, a stirring inside. I can never expect to go back, yet I still do. I think, every time, with consistency, that I come to Colorado, I feel dizzy and creative and relaxed and, yes, consistently, it has been like that, but not this time — this time it’s different.
I only feel home when I’m not looking for it. There’s a difference between feeling home and feeling at home; I’m at home many places, a byproduct of constantly moving, but the home feeling, it’s something else, maybe it’s more like love.
Real love, not love in the fairy tale, infatuation, falling sense of the word — this love creeps up, step by step, brick by brick, until suddenly it dawns on you that it’s there. Nothing changes, yet everything does in that moment.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. The thing no one tells you, about returning from living overseas, is how hard it will be. This is a lie — one person told me, but I refused to listen. She and I are different. She wanted to always be traveling, while I was looking for something else, I was looking for a reason to stay. And I found it, in the last place I wanted to, in the least place expected.
The first time he held my hand, it felt so strange I wanted to let go. My mind told me, it’s inappropriate — I need to let go, yet it also felt natural, and I knew he, we both, needed it. I need him as much as he needs me. Mutual neediness, like I have with my dog. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Having needs is not inherently wrong, even though we’re taught it is — we’re taught it’s “too much,” our asks cannot be met, we should be stronger, more self-sufficient. Relying on others becomes another psychological complex — I have to do this on my own; I can’t ask for anyone’s help. I can’t expect anyone to show up for me like I would in a heartbeat, like I have done, dozens of times, for them.
I said, I’m blocked, I can’t write right now, and he told me, I watched you write two pages in your journal yesterday. Yes, but that’s not art, that can’t be published, I can’t possibly — but that’s it, this is it, this is the artistic expression of my life, in this moment. It’s real and it’s raw, alive, and present.
I needed a reason to stay, and I found it, in a 12-year-old boy who has high-functioning autism. He held my hand and I haven’t let go since. I tell him, you’re the smartest kid I know. We have to prove to them how smart you are, we have to get it down on paper; they’ll never believe if they don’t see it. Because that’s how many operate. They need to see to believe.
But he and I may be different. We believe in something unseen. He’ll likely never know the extent to which he’s changed my life, how he gave me newfound purpose. He doesn’t know how his smile brightens my day, how I want to share it with someone. He couldn’t possibly know how deeply I hold his fears and anxieties.
And I know I need to be stronger, to not take that on, to not share his feelings as if they were my own. I need to have stronger “caretaker boundaries,” as I’ve been told dozens of times before — yet maybe my ability to be unboundaried, to cross boundaries even, is my inherent beauty, and maybe what I really need is to learn to believe what I can’t see about myself.
Reasons to stay change with the moment. Meeting this boy changed things for me in ways I’m still uncovering. He challenges and teaches me. Since I met him, I’ve begun working with other children and teens a bit on the fringes — those who society may understand less than what is considered the norm.
These individuals are some of the most kind, compassionate, non-judgmental, and empathic people I’ve had the honor of encountering. Yes, they, we, may be less understood, less accepted, less revered even, but not a single one is less than, and I will never stop fighting for this to be understood.
I may not feel home now, but I do feel meaning, and maybe those two feelings can serve the same purpose: a reason to stay.
Bretton Keating is a Yoga-fanatic, clean-eating junkie, artist-because-she-doesn’t-know-how-to-be-anything-else. She never sought this lifestyle, rather it found her; after years of attempting to be ‘normal’ she realized that simply doesn’t work. Now she strives every day to live from a place of authenticity, and aims to inspire others to do the same both through teaching Yoga and through her words. Bretton grew up immersed in stories. Through years of practicing Yoga and meditation, she has learned to ground back down to Earth, and realized that she has the power to live her own story. She is passionate about sharing her experience and the process of exploring this life, particularly in the realm of mind-body-spirit health, however she can. She writes because, quite simply, she knows that she must. For more of her musings on Yoga and life, check out her blog.