Thankful for my home

(Click to enlarge.)

Every year I post about things that I am thankful for, but this year I’m only going to post about one thing for which I am thankful — my home.

I moved into my first house this year and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I finished refurbishing my beautiful Victorian — with enormous help from my family —  in May and have spent the summer and fall decorating and creating a home.

The other day I was vacuuming my house and was overcome with thankfulness for the fact that I had a place to rest my head, but also for one that was safe, clean, and, most importantly, all mine.

Safe haven

This blog is very personal, and it’s not something that I have shared with most of my guests, but I feel it’s important in case it will help someone else.

I spent years in an abusive marriage and dreaded walking in my front door. Most nights I didn’t know what would happen when I got off work: Would he be drunk and mean? Would he be nice? What would I do that would set him off today?

I walked into my home every day fearful, dreading being there, far from feeling “at home,” in my own space.

I was constantly walking on eggshells. My house was not a home — no matter what type of front I put on for the public. I’d have panic attacks and fits of crying in the basement of the restaurant when no one was around. I spent many a night on the couch at the restaurant sleeping under tablecloths rather than staying at the small apartment we shared because I was scared of what would happen back at “home.”

My family was worried sick about me, but since mine was a textbook abusive marriage, I was divided from them. My husband didn’t speak to my parents and forbade me to spend time with them. If I breached that order, and reached out to them, I was made to feel guilty, with a wrath I’d have to endure for weeks after.

Needless to say, I dreaded the holidays. Knowing that I would have to choose between seeing my family and my husband was wrenching, dreadful, panic-inducing. My relationships with friends also fell by the wayside, as it is nearly impossible to maintain a facade with the people who know you best.

Turnaround

I fortunately got tired of living in a constant state of fear and with the support of my beloved family and friends I was able to leave.

I was fortunate that I had the luxury of having people I could call on when I needed them. So many don’t. I stayed with my brother for months while my house was being remodeled. It was a place to rest my head, but it certainly wasn’t mine.

To have a place that is safe, warm, and free from harm (to say nothing of being filled with ease and joy) is something that everyone deserves — and I have it in spades now. My family and friends visit all the time.

My house has an amazing kitchen, is bright and open with lots of windows, and, best of all, it’s full of laughter, love, and happiness. I’ve got the love of my dogs, a new relationship with a truly good and kind man, the best of friends, and a family who showed me that their love is truly unconditional.

I’ve thrived in my happy, healthy new home and for that I am so very thankful.

I’m here

If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, I urge you to seek help. New Directions Domestic Abuse Center is here in Staunton (540) 885-7273 and Project Horizon is in Lexington (540) 463-7861. Both have shelters available. And, remember, domestic abuse doesn’t have to just be physical — it can be emotional, mental, and sexual. I am happy to be a resource for anyone who may be experiencing any of this.

May you and yours experience a happy, healthy, safe, and joyous Thanksgiving.

— Mary Beth Harris, Proprietress, AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar