Ms. Elliott Leaves Home - My Last (and Final?) Journey to My Old Home Town.

Dear Henry,

It seems a little ironic that the first trip I took after announcing my plans to tackle the Camino de Santiago would be a trip to my childhood home. My dad (aka my mother's second husband) is dying, and I wanted the opportunity to say goodbye.

I didn't get it, and I'm a little angry about it too.

One of the most profound things I have learned in adulthood was that to truly love someone meant to work for their well-being. Unfortunately, as I've mentioned, my family has significant challenges caring about anyone's well-being, primarily due to addictions and criminal behavior. Addicts are too selfish to love anyone. Almost every family member is either an abusive addict or an enabler of addictions and abusive behavior. The focal point of all family activity is caring for the "poor" addicts and applauding their accomplishment of becoming the most catastrophic person in the room.   

After "the accident," I could not do this. I didn't have the energy. As I've gotten older and my energy levels have decreased, I've had to give up the hope of having a relationship with most of my family; I'm just not well enough to be around people who don't have my best interest at heart. 

I had hoped to get into my hometown, see the three people who love me, and return to Roanoke without incident. While the morning with my cousin was great, and dinner with my youngest sibling was fantastic, the visit with my dad was not without incident. Everyone there had an opinion about my health and how much chaos I should tolerate. And those who thought they had " the right" to see me making sure they did so during my final visit with my dad. My last hours with the man who was, arguably, my only parent was spent facing off against the combative belligerence of people who know they are in the wrong but continue to press their suit anyway.

When I crawled back to the hotel room with the hollows, I felt so sad about the state of my family and re-realized a couple of painful truths. The first is that only a few people in my family care about my well-being, and the second is that I am genuinely not well enough to handle the chaos in my family. It took me nearly an hour to release all of the muscle spasms alone, and I pray that I never feel compelled to come to this place again.

There was a good thing that came from the trip. Flying is physically challenging for me, and I have been concerned about the multi-day travel adventure that will take place at the beginning of the Camino de Santiago (read about my goal to walk it here). This trip has made me more comfortable with the effects of multiple flights over multiple days. While I still think places like Australia are out of reach,  I feel I will be ok to begin the Camino with only a day or two of rest following the flights to Spain.

Finally, this trip reminded me how far I have come and that even though I still have so much further to go, I have come farther than most people in their lifetimes. It was good to be reminded of that.

And to close that chapter, at last.

xoxo a.d. elliott


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

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