I Needed Courage to Leave the World My Parents Created
The Stuck Place was a place where honesty and emotion couldn’t survive
I grew up in the Stuck Place. The main difference between the Stuck Place and any other place is that in the Stuck Place, you can’t really be your whole self. Strangely, the Stuck Place is the safe place, the love place, the family place, the “home is where the heart is” place. You simply can’t find happiness in the Stuck Place.
The Stuck Place — though I was born into it in Nashville, Tennessee — followed me to Washington, D.C., Afghanistan, and New York. Right when I thought I’d arrive somewhere new, I’d run back to the Stuck Place. Cozy up to all the confusion, indecision, and claustrophobic Stuck Place vibes.
The Stuck Place, was home and home is the best place. Even when you can’t be yourself, even when you have to hide things, even when your voice is quiet and your heart is hiding — even then—it’s home. It’s where the embrace of your mother is, where the laughter of your father is, and where the meals are. It’s home.
So what? I’m gonna choose the other place over the Stuck Place?! No way!
But to leave the Stuck Place, to really leave it, I have to tell its story. It’s sweet, but it’s also a bit yucky. So I prefer not to tell it.
A key aspect of the Stuck Place was the meals. They were these sort of quiet yet loud events. We loved to eat; my mom loved to cook. Cooking was how she loved you, and your eating was how she felt loved.
The four of us (my sister, my mom, my dad, and me) sat around the table, focused primarily on eating and definitely not on sharing our thoughts or feelings or opinions because we knew that those — if they were true and different — could be misunderstood at best and offensive at worst. And who wanted that kind of blow? It was almost as if certain truths or words brought physical discomfort, and so you had to be careful who you harmed or, worse, the attack it would bring on you.
So instead, Mom and Dad did some nitpicking and some criticizing of each other. My little sister told some story about her life because she was a source of…