the races (making sense of my brain)

Part 1: The Making

If you come from a background full of conflict and explosive temper, unpredictability, you’ll naturally develop quite a knack for not looking back.

There’s a lot of practice from a very young age.

That being said, it takes time to develop this talent.

If you come from a background where lines are blurred and chaos is a matriarch, to you that is home. Even if you resent your home, your home is what you know. Or rather, it’s what you go back to.

Home is not a person, it’s not a house, it’s a concept. It’s what is familiar to you. What you learned before you learned to adapt.

Home is not set in stone. Just as you can move, you can change.

You are your own home, and buildings, family, that sense of content all follows.

Some people, they become stuck here. Stuck in chaos, confusion, home. Some people become stuck in a resentment, and it follows them through every relationship and every situation this individual finds themselves in as the years go on. Constantly asking the question, ‘why?’. It’s because these people are afraid to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortably secure.

Others of us, my kind, it doesn’t follow us. We always knew that there would be a risk of it following us. We had something to fight. We had something to resent. Something separate to us. Something we knew was unfair while we were living it. We were the ones who for some reason, couldn’t just let ‘home’ sink. We had people to put to bed at night, we had pieces to pick up. I guess that’s why we didn’t become attached to the chaos; because living in it and becoming comforted by it was never an option. But there are still some ways embedded within us. The inability to recognise a toxic situation before you’re forced out of it. The hesitation to leave a situation because you always had the responsibility of seeing things through. That’s a grey area in our books.

So my kind, we grow up with a knowledge of how exactly not to be. Our rebellion is one in which we set out to thrive against all odds, just to say that all our suffering was not in vain. We need to win. If we don’t win, it was pointless. It was all in vain.

Our pain becomes our maker, and it is a blessing.

Imagine a teapot, one of them screaming ones. You’re at home, and you get by for as long as you need to be picking up the pieces, looking on the bright side, working your arse off, feeling the discomfort.

As time goes on, the heat/screaming/bubbling/knowing that this bitch is gonna blow intensifies. Time speeds up. Until one day, BOOM. Kettles boiled. You’re out. You worked your way out. Your sentence is up.

And this is when you begin to ask the question,

“how do I make a home if home is something that I can make?”.

Part 2: The Living

Picture a line up of horses. They have all been cooped in this dim, grungy pen; building a restlessness to get out. They’ve been put here to run. Not just run, they’ve been put here to fucking soar. Make of the discomfort what they will.

Now, picture the moment that the gates of this pen is lifted.

The horses run. They all have their different ways, their restlessness manifests differently in each horses journey.

Some of them, they remain calm and steady. Some of them will be so happy to be out of the pen they run as fast and recklessly as they can only to fall at the first hurdle, and not be able to race again.

It’s much the same when you leave ‘home’.

The chaos that raised you, that’s the pen. It will be as it is for as long as you run the race. That’s why you have to get out. Before the walls start to rot and you begin to suffocate in the stagnant musk of bitterness.

The people you met while you were in the pen, they’re the horses.

The toxic relationships that you didn’t realise were toxic until you ran free enough to know what toxic was. They are the horses.

But there isn’t a big line up, it’s just a two-man race with every man that you can’t take with you to the finish line.

It’s funny, because when you first separate it’s like you’re in competition. When two horses are let out of the pen they’ve been cooped up in, they race each other. Races are a good way to depict what leaving ‘home’ is like. These competitors, they part ways but they look back to compare what they do to what the other is doing. You’ve attached this competitor to your identity for so long that now, you have to win. Am I doing better? Are they feeling remorse for parting ways? Do they feel like I’m winning?

You were in it together, and now, you’re in the big wide world trying to tackle it in your own ways. Not the same anymore.

For so long, you were so tied to this person. So tied to the identity you held with them. You hang on to absolutely nothing else but the skin you wore while you were this persons company.

You were a partner, or a daughter, or a team mate. Now what are you?

But why do you hold on to that skin when you’ve been so desperate to shed it?

Because for so long, that competition was your survival. The knowledge that one day you will be out of that pen. Now that you’re running, it’s a strange adaption you have to make. It’s about the race now, not the competition. You don’t need to compete or hang on to the promise of a brighter future in order to move forwards anymore. In fact, you have to let go and just lookforward.

As you go on, and you just keep growing apart, you realise that in order to move forwards you need to stop looking back. It’s not a race anymore, it’s life. For as long as it’s a race, you’ll have this empty part of you where this other individual was, and that’s not the point of breaking out of the pen. How are you supposed to win if you’re still connected to a person that is losing?

In time, you may hear about the horse you were once racing. Likely when the time comes that they fall over the first hurdle, as they sedated themselves too much.

Isn’t this what you wanted?

No, it’s what you saw coming.

This is why you decided you had to win the race, make it to the finish line, leave them behind.

It’s not a sick pleasure from another person’s failure, its confirmation that despite any fleeting doubts you may have had, integrity won, and you’ve got confirmation that you did the right thing.

Time went on, and there was a new normal. You allowed yourself to get sucked in. Distracted by the bait in front of you, keeping you from looking back.

Sedation did nothing for you, but a new home did.

There are new people, new opportunities, there’s a new normal pulling you in and keeping you from looking back. You look back less frequently, until one day, you look back for the first time in a long while, and you forget what you were ever looking for. You’re your own person.

It’s a strange feeling. Bittersweet isn’t the word. A relief, perhaps? Or maybe a complete detachment from the person you once were? Whole?

Memories are not a place that you can hold as home. You begin to look at them not in a fond, rose-tinted way anymore; but instead just a story that you can tell. A neutral, it is what it is kind of story- because you just are not the same horse that was cooped up in a pen, looking to the other who was just as trapped as you.

Eventually, they are not a person to you anymore. They’re a character. A string of words in your story. Speaking of them, or speaking of it, no longer makes your heart burn and your stomach flip up into your throat.

It just was what it was.

Part 3: Settlement

Running with the horses becomes more of a communal effort as time goes on. You become a good judge of character once you’ve had your fair share of experience in evaluating a line up.

Recruitment is easier now that you are wiser.

As you become less of a screaming teapot, judgement comes with more forgiveness.

You can tell how things will go with a person simply by asking yourself simple questions.

Do they have integrity? Do they have an addiction? Are they too impulsive, or are they at all dependent?

Soon, you will be able to tell yourself the story before having to be stuck in a pen. You no longer need to try and ‘save’ a person, or ‘wait it out’ with a person, because it’s all been done before.

You know the story, and by telling the story without living the failure, you’ll never be trapped in chaos again.

You’ve qualified for a higher class of race.

Picture a line up of horses. They’ve all been trained, primed, prepared, groomed to run. There’s a sense of community in the pens, a shared sense of triumph. You’ve made it this far. You run in a pack now. Competitions are respected, people come to watch you soar, and when a horse falls at a hurdle they’re praised and respected for the way that they would get up if they were physically capable.

You get to the finish line and you celebrate the race in a tent full of the horses that made it out, just the way you did.

That’s home now.

That’s home, and it’s so sweet that there is not a single ounce of desire in you to revisit that pen you once came from.

Not a single ounce of desire to know what that half broke horse once accompanying you is doing today.

It was never about winning, it was about knowing that you could be here one day.

The past becomes something that you silently nod your head to. Without it, you never would have been here, with all your stories and character.

It was what it was, and this is what you made.

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