By Amanda Udy
For the first thirteen years of my life my place was with my mother. It didn’t matter where we actually were because I always knew home was wherever Mom was. Wherever my siblings were. Where there was an argument at least once a week. Where there was dog hair on everything. Where you could always count on dishes in the sink or hot water lasting for all of fifteen minutes. Where having friends over meant spending the whole time trying to see how grossed out they were. Worrying and wondering if they still wanted to be your friend. Despite all that, it was my best shot at home. I had my mom, my siblings, my dogs. It felt normal. We had enough money to get by, insurance wouldn’t cover braces so those had to wait. Other than that we had most things we needed and lots we wanted.
And then Alex moved out, he was only 18. He realized he was living in a house, not a home. The once-a-week fights were no longer his responsibility. Fast forward two years. Now looking into the house we have two kids, both kids are embarrassed, both kids get caught up in anxiety and stress. One decides to act on this. They can’t take it any more. In the middle of the night, when all of their loved ones are asleep, they attempt to leave this world, forever altering their family’s home.
Before that day I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Sure, there was a lot wrong, but it was still home. Now every time I walk into that house it’s a physical reminder of how bad everything got. Those stairs are the ones the EMTs forced their way up. That doorway is the one they threw clothes out of the way to get to a blood and puke-soaked teen. That bathroom is the one I locked myself in with my dogs to make sure they didn’t get in the way. That room is the one my mother held her dying child in, begging for them to wake up and breathe.
Some people say when traumatic experiences happen that they’ll get flashbacks, but instead of being forced back into that morning, I get a smell. The smell coming from blood, puke, and tears can only be described as death. It didn’t smell like a rotting corpse or anything like that but it was fresh and the air was thick with it. It’s how I knew it wasn’t a dream. How I know that it will never be just a dream no matter how much I wish it was. It doesn’t matter how elaborate my dreams are, they never have smells in them. But God was there a smell. The biohazard team has been through, destroying any and all evidence of that morning, of that smell. Still it haunts me, stinking up my once home.
Thoughts of that house as my home no longer occur. I’ve moved out into a new home. into a new family. I don’t think my dad will ever be able to understand how grateful I am that he came to the rescue. I don’t think my mother will ever be able to understand that it’s not her fault– I just can’t help but associate her with everything that went wrong. That’s the problem with having someone be your home. One thing can change, a slight shift in thought processes, a single night left alone with depression and anxiety, and boom.
Things will never be the same.
If you or anyone you know needs help, please visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-8255