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Everyone needs a home. A place where they can retreat to recharge, contemplate, and feel safe. Home means different things for people; for some, a home is a place on a map or a memory. Wherever your home is, it matters.

Of course, HOME is a magical word; depending on your personal experiences HOME can conjure up feelings of contentment and joy, or it can bring fear and dread.

When I would think of my home, my early childhood memories would come up, and I would feel anxious and scared—that little girl hiding from the world to recharge and feel safe. When there was tension in the air, whenever I felt alone or like I didn’t fit in with the family, I hid.

For as long as I can recall, hiding has been my home. Quiet spaces where I didn’t have to pretend to be okay, pretend not to be “sensitive” or “emotional.” When I felt like I was “too much” for anyone to deal with and handle hiding became my comfort. Of course, just as there are two sides to every coin, there were two sides to these safe and quiet spaces. After a while, the comfort would become uncomfortable. A few times, I would fall asleep, and since I didn’t answer their calls, when they found me was scorned and labeled as a troublesome child and worse still when I was hiding, and after several hours when no one came looking for me, I felt utterly alone and abandoned.

In the abusive “home,” I was forced to live when I younger; there was a massive yellow shepherd mix chained up outside. I never thought it was fair for him to be out there all alone in all kinds of weather. I spent a lot of time sitting out there with him, and I found myself spending more nights hiding in his doghouse, where he would block the opening with his body, and I felt warm and safe. Since the adult that was supposed to be taking care of me worked a night shift and the abusive teenage boy with zero interest in my safety put in charge of watching over me, I found this dog and this space to be my home.

No one can tell you where or what your version of HOME is, and I hope that in this time of uncertainty that you find a place to feel warm and safe.