The Odd Battlefield Called Home…

Erin Schaden
10 min readMay 19, 2024

I would like to start this blog saying that it was good to return home, and it was. and I would also like to say that what I am about to say is hard to own. I would so much rather be writing about how fucking wonderful it was to come home…but home is this very tricky thing for me. Me being who I am means I make hard terms for myself and those about me. And for some reason, coming home is a huge trigger for me. I need it to be a certain way, and it never, ever is. And I keep this delusional belief (with an incredibly high price tag) that perhaps this time it will be what I need, or that somehow I will not need it to be different than it actually is…

It never works out that way. I continue to need things and others continue to do the bare minimum to take care of any needs I have. And yes, I do understand, I am an adult and my needs are my responsibility…but what I am talking about here is that it feels like I am asking for what I need from others, and they confirm they will do something, and then they don’t. And that causes me disappointment of epic levels…and I believe I have mentioned that I don’t handle disappointment well. Most especially when I ask and am told I will be taken care of, and then I am so not.

The good news is that the house was still standing, the animals alive and nothing tragic happened The house was not a total mess but there were things that were not done that made the re-entry for me hard. I feel like homecoming is like me a video game, like I am a military person on patrol, entering an abode where caution is the operative word and there is danger and triggers everywhere. In fact, this image, me walking in slowly, deliberately, rifle in hand and ready for engagement, is the most apt descriptor of how it feels anytime I come home.

Not a very pretty sight, and I can only imagine how it feels to be a being waiting for me to arrive in this fashion, gun locked and loaded…

I do not like being this way, I do actually work very hard to NOT be this way, but I cannot change this trigger, my best and most diligent efforts have only marginally changed my ability to alter what happens inside me when I arrive home and things are not at all how I need them to be.

I have done a great deal of work on this in therapy. I have worked steps about this. I have done a lot of fucking work…and still, here I am, still returning home armed for combat…even when I have literally done everything I can think of to not have it be this way.

The good news? I didn’t lose my shit which, you can ask my kids, is a fucking miracle. I have been able to hold onto my emotions that spiral out of control to a point where I am not going off like some sort of mother hand grenade. I hold it together externally, but internally, I implode. It hurts.

Mostly I think it is because I feel like I do so much for others, that this one thing that I need, for things to be clean, tidy and orderly when I get home, seems like such a relatively small ask from me. I give a lot to the beings about me, and it isn’t like I want a ticker tape parade when I get home, I just want there to not be fucking mess on top of fucking mess that will require hours of my life to right. I want the people I depended upon to actually care about my feelings and do the work on their part to ensure that I can have a better experience coming home.

But, that doesn’t matter. I am summarily dismissed as “OCD”, “Never able to be pleased”, “standards too high.” And of course, they are right. But it hurts so much that their bar for trying just feels like it keeps getting lower and lower. And sometimes it feels like there is no fucking bar at all.

What I have learned and what has been confirmed for me over and over again, is that the people I have in my life are not capable or willing or I am not even sure what it is, but this is a repeated issue regardless of who I am with (save a couple of people who have in the past not left me hanging in this department).

I think this is such a fucking big deal to me because it just feels like such an easy ask. And something that I need, not want. My nervous system is such that when I walk into my sanctuary, I need it to actually feel safe and sanctified. And when the other beings I share it with, have done vile things to the sanctuary in my absence, it really kills me.

So while I have made some progress, I am still light years away from where I would like to be…

This time though I have a level of acceptance for what actually is. One of the things that I have believed and done that has kept me in perpetual conflict and “dis-ease” is that I think that someday, someone will care enough to take care of this for me. I have thought that it will someday be different…and I have told a story that when it is different I will then matter to others. And this time, I can see that I have, once again, done this to myself. I have done it. Not “them”. I am the one with the narrative that has caused this whole patrol environment to begin with…

So after my initial shock, I was able to just stop the spiraling. I was able to just be ok in the moment and do what I needed to have done to be able to go to sleep. I took care of the things that were gonna make me crazy if they weren’t dealt with and then I let the rest go. I just decided that I would deal with that the next day after I was better rested and not exhausted, and triggered, and emotional fraught.

I was able to end the night on a happy note. Undisturbed. Not in an argument with someone else. Not having blown to bits the sanctuary, or its inhabitants, with my own shitty behavior. And I am going to call that fucking success.

Once I set aside my own expectations, the disappointment I felt at the things I needed being unattended to by the people who said they would and were attending to them and saw that this is just my reality. And the only way that I can ever change this reality is to hire someone who will actually do what I am asking them to do because I am paying them to do so…and then still, maybe not even then.

The only real way for me to never have to re-enter home is to never leave it. And sometimes I think that might be the only real solution. Things are never going to stay tidy and neat and orderly. Even if I lived completely alone, I would always have animals and they will and do fuck things up regularly.

So the struggle, while quite real, is self manufactured. I want control and I just don’t have it. Not now, not then, not likely ever.

I saw this time that my home is a battleground because I am the one who refuses to accept reality as it is. I am the one that tells myself the story that no one really cares about me because if they did they would do things differently. It is not them, it is me that is the creator of this whole fucking ordeal.

I found some acceptance this time, of myself and others. I found some grace that I didn’t know I had and got o experience all the mad range of my emotions and needs and wants and preferences not being met or addressed well. And I got to do it differently.

Today, I wake up a little better rested, not a lot, but better. And I am grateful to wake up in this place, with these beings, imperfect as it may be. I am grateful I live here. I am grateful that though this home I return to is often a source of stress, worry, consternation and very mixed emotions, it is the place that houses my life. And I think, maybe for the first time, that my home IS emblematic of my own existence. It is busy. It requires constant and unrelenting attention. Things are never just the way I want them. Things are of a nature to change and get messed up and require more of me than I would like to give, on so very many levels.

My home is truly not a sanctuary often but I do see now it is because I live here that is this way. It is not THEM. They are just an outgrowth of all the ME that I have been unable to claim, resist, accept or deal with. And it is when I accepted this, as I defrosted the frost free freezer yesterday at 5:30 am (jet lag is real and not kind). I was so angry at having to do this. But if I didn’t do it then, it would only get worse. And as soon as I found some acceptance that this was the task at hand, I was able to get on with it and stop feeling like such a fucking victim.

And that I will tell you is the first time that has ever happened where my home is concerned. Usually I just double down. I demand (with foot stomping of course) that things change to meet me own needs. And yesterday as I took all of the food out of the freezer and commenced cleaning it and mopping up the water that seemed to be endless, I realized that this is what home looks like for me. It may not always have to be like this but this is how it is right now. And I have a choice, a choice that is 100% my own…I can tell myself all the things that cause me to hate home and the beings in it. To launch myself into a tirade of epic proportions…a tirade that will cause me to tell myself horrible things about myself and every one else…

But yesterday, after complaining and bemoaning my fate, I just accepted it as being exactly as it was and stopped right there. I didn’t take it any further. I just stopped and gave my attention to the task at hand, and in no time at all, the task was done and over and now I have a sparkling freezer with actual room for food (and let me own that it was this perpetual overcrowding that caused this whole debacle in the first place…).

So home is apparently just like everything else in my life…it is a place where I can tell myself all kinds of shit that will spin me out, make me hate it and cause me to suffer. Or I can give myself a new experience. I can just walk in and see that this, whether I like it, love it, revile it, or wish it to be different, this is home for me.

The dogs almost knocked me over they were so happy to see me. The cats were eager for me to put shit down and pet them. My daughter was there, anxiously awaiting me, on a Friday night when I am sure she had better things to do than to wait for her hyper vigilant and sometimes scary mother to walk through that door, armed for battle and annihilation.

And I was able to find some grace, and peace and acceptance with it all. Me, for who and what I am. Them for who and what they are. And I was able then to just stop all the internal narrative that does nothing helpful for any of us. I was able to stop the story spinning that always places me in the forefront of a terrible story that always ends badly for me.

And so while I would love to one day walk into a home that did not feel like a full frontal assault to my delicate internal senses, I was able this time, to just see that while it isn’t the way I like it, want it to be, or need it to be, it is nevertheless the home I created. And perhaps the thing that needs to change is and always has been me. And perhaps this whole ordeal of struggle and strife and militant patrol I have insisted on can be retired to some Army like encampment that doesn’t live and exist on my sanctified home base.

Perhaps I always create this situation because I need to. And perhaps now I can just accept that I don’t need to do this anymore. How other people treat me, has very little to do with me, and everything to do with them. Really. Even when I tell myself a great deal of convincing shit that is really believable. I can just be done with this and opt into some other fucking re-entry protocol that does less damage to all of us.

My daughter and I actually came up with a plan. Next time I leave and come back, she isn’t going to be here. She doesn’t have to feel anxious and I can weather my own disappointment for an hour or so. Rant and rail and kvetch and storm the proverbial castle, solitary and thereby inflict less damage to myself and those about me. Because let me be clear, I do not like myself when I am like this, but regardless of whether I like it or not, it is who I am. And while I will continue to work hard to change it, I am not really sure I can. So perhaps instead I can endeavor to change the ultimate outcome…

After all my internal carnage, I am happy to be home. I am grateful for my life and this place, even when my need for it to be other than how it is, looms large and over-powering. I can change the way I think about it and take corrective action to protect those I love, which would include myself.





Erin Schaden

Who am I? I am all that I write, all that I learn, share and grow. Read and find out? Check out for more.