Yesterday I began an e-course with Brené Brown, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and the first reading shined a light into a dark corner of my life. When I was a kid, I suffered horribly from homesickness. I rarely made it through a neighborhood sleepover. As my friends fell asleep, I would grow increasingly nauseated until I’d scoop up my pillow, sprint across two or three back yards, and burst through my own front door, breathless but safe. I would crawl shamefully into my bed and fall sleep without ever waking my parents.
As I grew older and my friends lived blocks away instead of one or two doors down, I usually gutted it out. But as the nausea set in, I would cease having fun and go to bed early. After they thought I was asleep, my friends discussed what was wrong with me.
Memories of visits to Grandma’s house include the coffee can by my bed for when I got sick in the night. I never went to overnight camps nor on vacation with my friends. In high school I passed up a French Club trip to Paris and worried constantly about going away to college. I was apprehensive about marriage, sure that I wouldn’t survive that first night away from home without throwing up.
I never did go away to college. I somehow averted disaster by redefining “home” when I got married. I continued to suffer from “travel anxiety” (my grown up term for homesickness) well into my 40s and still experience significant twinges of discomfort the week before any travel that involves an overnight stay.
As an adult, I’ve done a good job of overcoming the problem, but this morning I realized I still have the lingering belief that “there’s something wrong with me.” I still find myself feeling the shame of the 10-year-old who pretended to be asleep as her playmates attempted to diagnose her malady.
As my “Year of Acceptance” moves into its final quarter, I find myself wondering if I can develop some understanding and compassion for my Homesick Self. I think I may be ready to release half a century of judgment, disgust, and impatience. Instead of berating the trait, I wonder if I can find The Gift in this particular Imperfection.
I’ll be carrying that intention with me during the next six weeks as I work my way through Brené Brown’s e-course.
If you’d like to join me, there’s still time to sign up for the class. Registration ends Wednesday, October 23. The cost is $79.99. Click this link for more information: http://www.oprah.com/brenebrown