By Sarah Huntington
For a long time I have lamented not having “the perfect childhood.” I always thought growing up with a white picket fence, a mother who made lunches everyday, and being born and raised in the same place, “where everybody knows your name” was the key to happiness. This is the life I longed for.
"I always thought growing up with a white picket fence, a mother who made lunches everyday, and being born and raised in the same place, “where everybody knows your name” was the key to happiness. This is the life I longed for."
When I met my ex-husband he offered me all of those things. His family had two Christmas trees, his mother made Sunday night dinners, his sister was (and still is) a wonderful friend and the sister I always longed for, a sibling I could talk to. (My brother, wonderful and beautiful in his own right, was diagnosed with Autism, so it’s always been a little “different.”) The man I eventually married offered stability, a sense of belonging, a place to call home.
"I never really had a home."
I never really had a home. And, for as long as I can remember I felt out of place. While both my brother and I were born in Kansas City, Missouri (GO ROYALS!), we moved to a suburb of Boston. (I converted into a Red Sox fan, but only because when I wore my KC hat I got hit in the head with a beer bottle – that’s a story for another time.) Then after that we moved to Cairo, Egypt. My parents later traveled to Jerusalem, Israel; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Knoxville, Tennessee… In comparison to the man I would later marry, my life felt chaotic, unstable, and I lived the narrative of disconnection, resentment, and longing for roots to call home. My story was of a young girl abandoned and alone.
However, after my divorce, a divorce that broke open my whole world and shook me to the core, my perspective on my life and my narrative on who I was shifted. Initially, the word divorce never entered my mind. Divorce is rare in my family, and divorce, for me, was unfathomable. My narrative was: divorce doesn’t happen. When I got married, I truly thought it was for life. My narrative and what I had been taught was, “you stick it out,” and I took “for better or for worse” quite literally. For years, I was lamenting a “failed marriage,” a “broken heart,” the “what-ifs,” and my narrative was of “failure” and “inadequacy” — it was that of “not good enough.”
But, with meditation and many of my wonderful teachers (writers of course) — Meister Tolle, Gabrielle Bernstein, Byron Katie, Marianne Williamson, JK Rowling, Rainer Marie Rilke, Thich Nhat Hanh, and so many other authors — I have learned empathy, compassion, and “reading the word to read the world.” I learned that oftentimes it is in the darkness that we can experience the light, like Joseph Campbell in The Journey Inward, had to enter the abyss. And, as JK Rowling said, “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life.” I began to “love what is” (Byron Katie).
"I learned that oftentimes it is in the darkness that we can experience the light..."
After visiting my parents’ new apartment in New London, Connecticut, seeing the old woodwork frame the windows and the beautiful wood floors (granted my mother needs a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but she has always had a problem with clutter), the beauty of their new home, a home which is only about two hours away instead of a twenty-three hours on a plane, overwhelmed me with gratitude instead of shame. While sitting there, my father shared with me poems he has written for my mom while he has been away on various jobs around the world (he has worked everywhere from Afghanistan to Knoxville, Tennessee), and my eyes welled up with tears. While we did not have two Christmas trees, perfect ornaments, and my mom can’t cook (every time she would try the fire alarm would go off), and my memories are of going out in the swamp and cutting down a mangy Christmas tree (think Charlie Brown) — I realized the love my parents have for each other, despite what they have been through. My narrative and perspective about my life is changing, it has changed. It is now one of love instead of lack.
"...the beauty of their new home, a home which is only about two hours away instead of a twenty-three hours on a plane, overwhelmed me with gratitude instead of shame."
Now, I feel grateful. While marriage is still something I hold in high regard, my father told me the other day, “Well, guess what, you get to try it again!” And, I am looking at this opportunity of singledom in my thirties as a way to find my own voice, find what I love, and follow the path of what I want. It has allowed me to explore what many people experience in their twenties but with strength of experience and a bit more depth. When your heart breaks you realize how deep you can love and feel.
"My narrative and perspective about my life is changing, it has changed. It is now one of love instead of lack."
My travels, my vagabond lifestyle, my hippie parents, my brother with Autism, are no longer points of contention. They no longer make me feel inadequate. My life is not perfect, and there have been difficulties and sorrow, but in these moments of despair I am reminded of how deep my love has been able to root itself in my being.
My papa (grandfather) turned 92 yesterday, and as he blew out his candles, my memaw (grandmother) gave him a heartwarming kiss on the forehead. This exchange is now the narrative of my story. It is of a #tribe who care for each other no matter what. This change about where I come from, and who I am today, has truly helped me envision a future where I longer feel scared or alone. It is of abundance instead of scarcity, and it is truly about loving who I am, a journey that is not always easy, but always worth it.
A vagabond by nature, Sarah Huntington has traveled to Egypt, Argentina, Turkey, Austria, Vietnam, London, and France... to name a few. She loves to travel, hike, and explore the world. She played collegiate basketball and studied Literature, History and Education at Connecticut College, and is currently a high school English teacher and basketball coach. Sarah is also a runner (completed the NYC Marathon), and her newest workout obsession is kickboxing. Sarah currently lives in Wilton, CT with her pitbull Jada, and enjoys spending her "free" time writing, reading, practicing yoga, working on meditating, and investigating all things related to fitness, fashion, and literature.