I recently decided to start facing the effects of my childhood trauma dead on, by simply traumatizing myself on a daily basis.
What I mean by that is I passionately and willingly moved into a 30-foot motorhome with my husband, 3 children and dog to escape society.
Back in June 2020 I started feeling as though I might actually die if I remained in the life I was living. Not in that overly dramatic “ah, I could simply die…”. But actually, I felt physical pain in every part of my body each time I tried to fit into the life I was living. I felt simultaneously the busiest and the most bored I had ever been. I was struggling to find reasons to stay on the planet. I was sinking into the darker corners of my brain and I didn’t know how I would get out of it. I made the brashest decisions I could make. I hired a real estate agent and put our house on the market. We already owned a motorhome that fit my whole family comfortably, including the dog. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I had seen so many people doing this new vagabond lifestyle and I knew if they could do it, so could I. Our house closed escrow on September 30th, 2020.
We had never moved from a house before, especially not with 3 small children, so we had no idea how to prepare or how to leave. We closed escrow at 5pm and we officially left the house at 5:30pm with a truck full of things to go to storage and a “home” full of boxes so tight no one else could ride in it. We pulled our house up to our first camp spot just 20 minutes down the road with nowhere to sit, nowhere to eat, and nothing in the fridge to feed anyone. Naturally, this was the time I chose to sit down and cry on the only clear spot on the ground.
It really didn’t get much easier than that for a long while. Our new home was approximately 12% of the square footage of our last house and still packed with things that were house sized. The space wasn’t really the issue, though it would take me more than 5 months to realize that.
After about 3 weeks of living in the motorhome, I scheduled an appointment with a healer friend of mine that can read right though all the stories I tell myself. She often gets my thinking back on track. I started to explain to her the stories of all the awful things that kept happening. Like freakish things, for instance, the dog ate 4 bees. He had never taken an interest in insects before but for some reason, just a few days in; he decides to eat 4 bees. Naturally, bees aren’t good for dogs and the results were massive amounts of vomit and diarrhea in the 240 sq. ft. home. Needless to say, we lost a few rugs that day.
Here’s where it starts to get strange though.
As I am explaining to her the atrocities of motorhome and mobile living, I start to hear myself recount stories from my childhood. Naturally, she starts helping me make these connections. Although, a tiny bit of backstory might help. Growing up, my mother decided to start a cat breeding business to help us make ends meet. It started out innocent enough but it ended with us owning around 50 cats. Waking up to a house completely covered in feces and vomit, for about 5 years, was a completely normal morning for me.
My mother had a strong sensitivity to fragrances, especially those in cleaning supplies. For that reason, we were only allowed to use certain products to clean up the messes. The one bought most frequently was a product called “Simple Green”. After leaving my home with my mother, I never bought the product myself. The nearly 12 years my husband and I had been living together it had, not once, been used in our homes. However, on this morning, waking up to the messes from the dog in the motorhome, I asked for him to bring me the cleaning supplies, there wasn’t room in the house for them, so he had to go outside to get them. Wouldn’t you believe it, Simple Green. I asked why he had bought it and he didn’t have any special reason. He saw it on the shelf and thought it would work for our needs.
He wasn’t usually responsible for buying the cleaning products.
I felt like I was living in the twilight zone. I started to see all of these synchronicities from early childhood traumas. Although, that being said, these were a far cry different as I was now in the driver’s seat of my own life, pun intended. The synchronicities didn’t stop with the dog messes. Every single day, I would ruin the story if I were exaggerating here, every single day, something in the motorhome broke. First, the toilet wouldn’t seal properly (turns out the manufacturer installed it with no seal – go figure), so it constantly smelled like sewage in the house. Next, the grey water tank, the water that comes from the shower and the sinks, cracked!! Funny side story, we noticed the crack at the exact moment this gentleman “living” next to us decided to come and tell us how he used to have “that exact motorhome” but it “gets really small fast” and so he recently upgraded to a “much better model” that “drives way better…. oh hey, is that a crack in your water tank?”. It would have been such a blessing to die in that moment. Alas, I lived to see the next thing break. Every day went like this for almost 3 months! The last thing that broke before we remodeled the whole thing from top to bottom…. the refrigerator door…it just FELL OFF. We were sitting in the driveway of my college roommate, after saying our goodbyes and grabbing one last snack for the road and very quietly with almost no reaction at all my husband tells me: “the refrigerator door just fell off”.
Back to trauma.
It seemed like everywhere I looked from morning till well the next morning, I was facing old fears and feeling panic that was actually quite familiar to me. It seemed as though I was reliving all of the old patterns with new faces. Simple things like coming out of my room in the morning would send me into a full panic. My heart would race and I wouldn’t be able to breathe, just seeing the steering wheel from my bedroom would make me feel like I was living in a car.
There was a brief time in my childhood where our Volvo was our home and waking up in a car every day was pushing me back into those dark places in my brain. It’s funny, in that moment, talking to a good friend who always calls me out on my stories; I started to realize that you really couldn’t run from your problems. Mine followed me right into my tiny house and put me right up against all of my original fears.
It is ironic to think I was leaving my home because I never felt safe there, but I ran smack into all the things I was afraid of.
I thought my problems had to deal with society and the pressure that is put on women to perform this act of grace that I could never seem to prefect. I started to feel so lost in all my actions. In reality, all those actions were just hiding places. They were all different ways to keep myself from going any deeper into the reason I acted the way I acted. I numbed my anxiety with a very full schedule. I avoided my depression by serving everyone else but myself.
If I could give everything of me to those around me than I would have no energy left at the end of the day to heal myself and I preferred it that way. I’ve been in therapy since I was 18 years old but I never once considered my young teachings, from before I had any say over my own life, until I moved into a tiny house and learned very quickly, there wasn’t enough room for all my baggage to fit inside.