I have lived in this new home since June 2012. The number of parties I've hosted in the past 6 months hovers around 5 (maybe 6?) ... the number of parties I hosted in the previous 9 years? 1. Yes, that is one... it was the year my daughter was two and I hosted a non-traditional Thanksgiving, making instead a favourite Hungarian chicken dish.
If I love hosting parties, why so few in such a long time you might ask?
For me, the answer is two-fold:
Domestic violence isolates in so many vast and varied ways. As a victim, your home is never a safe place. You never know when or where your abuser's anger is going to strike -- oh, you learn the warning signs right quick; you learn not to make loud noises in the morning, or never to run out of his favourite juice; or to always have dinner ready when he gets in; or to keep the children quiet when she is resting; or to come immediately when called, respond directly when spoken to, or be very, very quiet, unheard, make no unexpected motions, lest they take your abuser by surprise and enrage him/her. But inviting an unsuspecting friend into this scenario? One who doesn't know all the rules? That just begs for disaster -- and if the disaster doesn't befall whilst this friend is visiting, it is almost certain to explode the moment the guest leaves.
I learned through two very abusive relationships -- home is where privacy is expected and guests are never welcome.
The second aspect revolves around money. As a single mother on assistance, I could never before afford a place that was decent enough to invite friends into. In fact, for a year when my daughter was in the First Grade, we lived in a one-bedroom apartment. She had a wonderful loft bed that fit nicely above my queen-sized bed, and other than my dresser in one corner, the bedroom was essentially hers -- full of toys and books and dress-up clothes. The small eat-in kitchen barely sat two at the table, so there would be no dinner parties -- and the living room was just narrow enough to hold a couch across from a tv-console. It was home; we were happy together, we decorated and did crafts and enjoyed the time spent with just the two of us... but there would never be a place for guests and it was guaranteed to be a short-term rental, as my daughter grew into needing her own privacy and her own space.
As an aside, I often think I got into the second abusive relationship for all the wrong reasons. I wanted a partner and companionship, but I also wanted a real space to call home; I wanted to give my daughter more than she had and I couldn't manage that on my meager income. I was looking for a second bread-winner, not just an equitable, loving co-parent.... ultimately, when he said he would "take care" of me, he was exhibiting the first signs of power and control. But then, when I was with him, finances got even more out of hand than when I had been on my own, so it entirely back-fired in more ways than one!
Now that I am in my own rent-geared-to-income apartment (a newly built apartment building at that!) with just my daughter and myself.... I can finally let my wings spread. This two-bedroom apartment is spacious and clean. I have responsible landlords whom I can depend upon. Finally I can play the music when I want, I can buy the foods that I want, I can invite whomever I want, whenever fits with my schedule... I have to answer to no one but myself. I can breathe deep and shout for joy as loudly as I like. I am not afraid every time I enter a room. I am not watching the clock to see when the next shift ends. Suddenly, the freedom, the relaxation, the amazing potential -- it's nearly enough to make one's head spin. And I love it! For the first time in a very, very long time, I am relaxed inside my own front door. Having stable housing, and a safe home to live in can change your entire world. I will never advocate leaving your partner; that is a decision no one can make for you, it is one you must come to on your own. All I can do is share my own experiences and speak of where my life has brought me along my journey.
Right now, I am looking forward to the next time I will have the opportunity to invite my friends into my home for the evening, perhaps try out this new idea of a "progressive potluck dinner" ... It seems like such a small desire, but to me it means everything. What do you want to do in your home?by