Why I Left My Hometown

by Brooke Wilkerson
Originally Published: 

As early as 15 years old, I dreamed of leaving my hometown. Good ole Taylorsville, Kentucky had me itching to run.

It wasn’t all that personal. Taylorsville was a beautiful, rural area with some of the most down to earth people you could ever meet.

But I had to go.

I had to get out and see more than those 2 stoplights.

I had to figure out who I really was, outside of those expectations that people who “knew” me had.

There’s something to be said about moving away from your hometown.

As soon as I turned 18, I was gone and I never went back.

I see updates here and there — they finally got a pizza place. They updated the school. Property values are increasing and it’s growing. It looks more beautiful now than ever.

And it really looks like some place that I could call home — if I wasn’t from there.

Because I will never go back.

Maybe it’s because there are too many memories. I firmly believe that when you stay in the same environment that made you sick that you can never truly heal.

The thought of stepping foot on the farm that I used to call home as a kid before the bank took it back makes me cringe. It makes me miss my childhood horse, Shebah. It reminds me of all the time that I spent alone on that 75-acre farm in the middle of nowhere.

That white cross at the bottom of the hill where the girl in my class was killed, reminds me of that awful freshman year when tragedy kept striking and four kids passed away.

It reminds me of the year that I was abandoned.

Seeing my old middle school principal who didn’t take my being bullied by a group of girls seriously enough makes me even madder now, as a mom.

Passing by that car lot where my high school sweetheart used to work makes me feel guilty for breaking his heart.

I don’t want to go back.

I’m moving forward, and sometimes it takes literal, physical, and geographical movement to mentally rehabilitate and recover and grow.

I don’t want to be the 18 year old version of me. I don’t want to be the 21 year old version of me. I want to be this version of me that, so far, is the best version of me.

I moved away, and after a few stops, I finally found a place that feels like home. I’m in my element. I’ve found my people.

It’s good for me, which means it’s good for my husband and my children.

It looks like most people I knew from back home stayed, and they don’t know me now.

They know who I used to be.

Back then, I was defined by my family. I was defined by dysfunction and assumptions.

I was defined by my past.

People assumed I was this way or that because I was quiet and angry for a long time.

And then when I stopped being quiet, they assumed I was okay when I was not.

They assumed my home life was perfect.

They didn’t know the truth.

Who I used to be barely resembles the person I’ve grown into, and man, am I grateful for that.

If you’re feeling stuck or lost or out of sorts, give it a shot. It’ll either propel you forward or send you back home.

You can always go back, but you’ll never know what’s on the other side of that county line if you don’t cross it.

Taylorsville hasn’t changed all that much, but I sure have.

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