*Please note this post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commission I make if you decide to buy something.See my Privacy Policy for more information.*

My inner child speaks to me in my dreams all the time. Sometimes we visit the homes where we used to live or parks where we used to play. Other times we’re back in the schools we attended. What’s this have to do with a self healing journey?

As I continued my trauma recovery I realized the importance of this dream message. Specifically, that healing was calling out to me.

Embarking on a journey of self-healing and discovery often conjures exotic destinations and serene retreats far from home. Yet, there’s profound healing power in the familiar streets and corners of your hometown. In this blog post, we explore 13 compelling reasons why revisiting your roots and the places of your past can be a transformative part of your self-healing journey, offering unique opportunities for reflection, reconciliation, and renewal.

Because I have always had a very good memory, it has always been easy for me to visualize the many places I’ve lived while growing up. Since I still reside in this region, these eight or 10 hometowns are still very much within reach. But what if you’ve not visited your hometown for many years? What of your life requires you to go back there? Or, like me, what if your inner child is calling you back there for the purpose of self healing?

You may wonder if it’s a bad idea to return. Here are 13 reasons why it is a very good idea for you to revisit your hometown. Whether it be a playground, school, forest, or the actual house you lived in…all can bring healing and peace.

Finally, if you’re a regular reader of my blog (if so thank you!) then you know my lists never countdown to a #1 best. Everyone is different and varied, so I leave it to you to decide which is best. Besides, deciding what YoU like is the best part of self-healing! So here we go:

1. Reconnecting with Roots

Returning to your hometown allows you to reconnect with your roots and understand the foundational aspects of your identity. It offers a unique perspective on how your upbringing has shaped you. 

Example

Long before I took an ancestral healing trip to Ireland to heal myself, I was doing the work in my neighboring communities. I longed to reconnect and therefore realign the fragmented parts of me and my childhood. The inner call to my embrace my roots has solidified my identity as the person I am today. I’ve learned that I am more than the sum of my parts.

2. Confronting the Past 

Visiting places that hold traumatic memories can be challenging, but it also provides an opportunity to confront and process and journal these memories in a safe and controlled manner.

sand mine shore of shallow water and clear view of pine trees in backgound

Example

In Millville, NJ there’s a wildlife management area named Menantico Ponds. These freshwater ponds were created as a result of sand mining, so they appeared much different than any other natural area I’d ever experienced. I loved the magical landscape, and I knew when we approached the Christmas tree farm that we were getting close.

This unspoiled sandy area and crystal clear water had acres of exceptional off-grid camping. It was wild, beautiful, and scary. This was the setting for some of my best and worst memories. For example, gliding silently in our canoe amidst hundreds of bright sun specks flickering off the water. This is where I first connected with nature spirits. It’s also where my parents and their friends came to really lose control under the influence of drugs and alcohol. 

The memory I sought to heal was the image of my father tumbling recklessly down a long sand-dune. Being completely oblivious to reality, he had no physical ability to stop his fall. Since all the other adults were also strung out on drugs, there was no one there to comfort me.  So the trauma stayed locked in my little body until I found inner child healing. 

millions of tiny water specks to beautify the sand mine shores for your self healing journey

Today, Menantico looks very much the same, but like all childhood settings, it seems smaller. When I go there these days, I sit quietly with my face to the sun, and feel. Most of the time, my feelings are joy and peace. I bask in the beauty of such untouched nature. I don’t replay the horror of my father losing all control of his body and possibly falling to his death. Revisiting here has enabled me to confront the past terror and helplessness, and show up for myself today.

3. Reclaiming Power 

You have the chance to confront your past on your own terms and reclaim control over your story. Here’s one that I transformed:

Example

I loved my Pop Pop Jim. He was such a warm-hearted character, so different than the other adults I was used to.

When I was around seven years old, my beloved grandfather used to come to visit and play with me. He gave me safe, personalized love and attention. My abusive father didn’t like this, so he told my grandfather to stop coming around. There was nothing I could do about it.

small child representing the author's pain of broken relationship with her grandfather

However, I always remember the last time my grandfather was at my house. We were playing catch with a ball. It made me so happy. Today, I ride my bike in that old neighborhood and look at the spot where we stood, 45 years before. Of course, the house looks different, much smaller. And some of the tall pine trees are gone.

But I look at the place where we played and I remember my grandfather and me. Not my father sending him away. I replaced the trauma memory that replayed the old hurt and reinforced abandonment with one of joy for the physical space my grandfather and I held together. This is not only extremely healing, but also empowering.

4. Perspective Shift 

Seeing your hometown as an adult can change your perspective and help you understand your past differently. This can relieve guilt and create compassion and forgiveness for yourself.

Example

When I was in fifth grade, I had a best friend who seemed perfect. I was jealous and held anger inside my ten year old body. It didn’t seem fair that I couldn’t have her life, one without parents attempting suicide, getting arrested and institutionalized, and sexually abusing me.

One day, I projected my anger at her by pushing her in a mud puddle. My 5th grade teacher had such a disappointed look on her face when she found out what happened. I carried that shame with me for forty years. It took years of work to forgive yourself. Today, when I go past my old school and look at the place on the playground where that incident took place. I send love, forgiveness and healing to my former best friend, and to myself. 

two women hugging metaphor of forgiveness and healing from trauma relationship

5. Connecting with Supportive Community Members

Reconnecting with individuals who have been supportive or understanding can reinforce feelings of love and belonging. Even forming new connections with locals on a similar healing journey can be incredibly affirming.

Example

My favorite Facebook group is called New Jersey Pine Barrens. On that page, members post pictures of lakes, trees, animals, sunsets, trails, and everything nature. All in the name of love for the NJ Pine Barrens. 

pine trees reflected in swamp water of Pine Barren ecosystem

For most of my life, I had a love / hate relationship with NJ forests, complaining it wasn’t as wonderful as Vermont, New Hampshire, etc. Today, the Pine Barrens are cherished as my beloved forest home. It’s where I fell in love with camping, hiking, swimming, canoeing, and connecting. Finding a group of people who respect, value, and celebrate the Pine Barrens is deeply healing to me, because it reminds me how nature was there for me when no one else was.  

6. Healing Through Familiarity

There’s a certain comfort in the familiarity of your hometown. The sights, sounds, and even smells can evoke nostalgia and foster a sense of belonging and safety, aiding in emotional healing.

Example

As a kid, I received love for achieving. School and sports were the two main ones. I grew to rely on this external validation for all my self worth.

One team sport that significantly boosted my need for approval was cheerleading. The distinction of wearing the team uniform and being part of a group, especially one that held the power of excluding others, was powerful.

The child part of me, the one that got a break from the pain, neglect, and abuse, felt very happy when participating in this activity. 

Once a year, at the community Halloween parade, I got to march proudly with the other cheerleaders.  Today, that Halloween parade still takes place, and I go. I think back and remember the excitement of lining up in the parking lot before the parade started. I remember grabbing candy thrown from the crowd and eating it between cheers. And I remember how bad my feet hurt from walking on concrete in saddle shoes. 

Even though I’ve lived in dozens of different towns and cities, this hometown is my heart. It’s where I experienced the most abandonment and neglect, and also where I felt the most belonging and love. This town comforted me in the most terrifying times of my life and gave me a sense of safety. Today it gives me familiar fun.

7. Empowerment Through Overcoming Fear

Choosing to face the places and possibly people associated with trauma can be empowering. It’s a bold step towards reclaiming control over your life and personal narrative.

Example

Of all the painful events in my life, none was as hard as being alone. Without someone or something to take care of, my anxiety was unbearable. It’s ironic, how trauma isn’t your fault, but you end up hating yourself as a result of it anyway.

Childhood Trauma author in darkness sitting on porch feeling alone

So I began to anticipate the misery that came with spending time alone, and did everything in my power to prevent it from happening. Until one day, as a result of a drastic change I made in my life, I found myself with an extraordinary amount of alone time. And it was miserable.

But instead of the same anxiety I experienced before, this misery was much different. Now, my time alone was spent grieving (journaling helped). This wasn’t something I planned, not consciously. This was a tidal wave of pent up trauma that literally just exploded. My life for the next five years was one long grieving process. 

black and white blurry photo represents grieving of author

At some point along the way, a friend said to me, “The grief won’t kill you.”

That was the lightbulb that changed the trajectory of my life. I really believed I would not survive the grief. I thought if I exposed all the child tears and fears that I might crumble and never recover. Connecting the dots, my fear of being alone came from being terrified I wouldn’t be able to live through the pain of remembering and feeling. Once I saw it for what it was, courageous clarity followed.

rock climbing and gaining elevation to represent overcoming trauma pain

Today I love being alone. It’s my cherished time with me, my inner child, my inner teenager, all parts of my internal family system. Though it was like the pain of childbirth, I overcame my fear and it didn’t kill me. Instead I am renewed, authentic, healed, and my true self. This healing is ready and waiting for you, too.

8. Creating New Memories 

By exploring your hometown from a new perspective, you can create positive memories that overlay or even replace the painful ones. This re-imagining of your past can be a powerful healing tool.

Example

One of my favorite summertime activities is to take long walks on the beach in Atlantic City. The beach is vastly different from when I lived there in the early 1970’s.

But the music is the same. According to my particular mood, I choose playlists that represent the happy music I loved as a child.

author on Maine Ave beach in Atlantic city making new memories

Walking and listening, looking out at the ocean and moving my body to the beat, creates not only new memories, but remaps my brain. It infuses my traumatic memories to these new, happy times I spend with myself. I always leave the beach with a new appreciation for the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and the power of music to heal and renew my spirit.

9. Understanding Cultural and Familial Impact

Understanding the cultural and familial contexts that shaped your experiences can offer insights into your trauma and healing. It can also help you to separate your sense of self, or your identity, from the trauma.

Example

My family tree has roots in the British Isles. It also has roots in incest, alcoholism, and domestic violence. For me, making peace with generational trauma included traveling to my ancestral lands. It brought tremendous insight and healing. Learning the struggles of my Irish ancestors, including the 1840’s starvation and disease, created immense compassion for my ancestors.

hillwalking in Ireland to symbolize ancestral healing from generational trauma

Does this excuse those responsible for my childhood abuse? Of course not. There’s no score card. But seeing with my own eyes the struggles and pain throughout my family tree has created forgiveness in my heart. This eventually led to healing.

10. Reclaiming Spaces

Visiting places that may have once been sources of fear or sadness and experiencing them in a new, positive light can help to reclaim them as your own, transforming them into sources of strength.

Example

Camping at Lake Lenape as a child ignited my love of being in the wilderness. However, when I tried to return to it as an adult, I had complicated trauma responses. Since trauma tends to mix up good memories and bad memories, I had to sort through my feelings and try not to jump to conclusions of black and white thinking. It was a process, but eventually I was able to release my urge to run away from camping there. 

author as small child leaving tent to show love of camping

For example, when I first returned to Lake Lenape, I felt overwhelmed by toxic shame. Specifically, thoughts of, “If my family did this activity, it must be inherently bad and wrong.” It was not my shame, because as a child camping in this beloved location, I did nothing wrong. Therefore, this toxic shame was passed onto me as a product of generational trauma. Even as a small child I knew my parents were acting in destructive, abusive, and dysfunctional ways. So I felt their shame. All of these feelings and memories triggered my mental health. 

Lake Lenape sunset displays mindfulness and peace of the region

As I tolerated the discomfort and allowed mindfulness to calm me in the present moment, I began to heal. With each occasion, I slowly released the past shame and replaced it with healthy thoughts and feelings about my life today. In doing so, I reclaimed this space as my own. Most importantly, I provided healing for my inner child that loves Lake Lenape and camping there.

11. Inspiration for Creative Expression

The emotional journey of returning to your hometown can be a rich source of inspiration for creative expression. This may be through writing, art, music, or another form. As a creative process, it can be very therapeutic.

Example

I really disliked my grandmother. She was ‘heavy handed’ and just one touch, even if an attempt of kindness, hurt. Another reason I stayed far away from her was because of numerous stories of her physical and emotional abuse of my 10 aunts and uncles. Whatever the cause, I didn’t like her.

But I loved her house. Actually, her yard.

She had this amazing tree in her front yard that I loved to climb. For most of my life, that memory caused me to assume I liked the adventure of climbing. But no, it was healing from the tree that I loved. How did I realize that? In a college creative writing class.

We had an on-spot writing assignment and I had nothing. I stared out the window and there, in my field of vision, was an enormous tree. Still drawing a blank, I decided to ask the tree what to write. Sure enough, the story came.

majestic tree to represent the inspiration for a creative writing assignment in college

I was mystified, but eventually connected the dots back to my childhood experiences climbing my grandmother’s tree. The peace and joy I felt in the tree as the branches held me was unmistakable. It indeed created a calm amidst the storm of my life. These feelings never left me, and communicated their presence during my creative moment. 

Today, I drive by my grandmother’s old house, and feel sad that the tree is no longer standing. But it still continues to appear as a source of inspiration in my creative writing.

black and white image of grandmother's home in NJ shows the absence of tree from childhood memory and turning point

12. Reflection and Growth

Traveling to your hometown gives you space to reflect on your personal growth and the journey you have undertaken since leaving. It allows you to see how far you’ve come and to appreciate your resilience.

Example

By doing inner child work, I healed fragmented parts of myself that were subconsciously taking over my personality. The internal family system model calls this blending. Since trauma gets stuck in the body until it is reprocessed and healed, it will continue to be acted out. This is where the term ‘adult child’ comes from. I feel no judgment in calling myself an adult child, because I did nothing to cause the abuse in my childhood. In essence, I could not have turned out any other way.

small child with older woman looking out at the sea to symbolize inner child healing

Every time I revisit a neighborhood, park, lake, or home I used to live in, I embrace my inner child. I give her love and acceptance, and listen to whatever she needs to tell me with the feelings that arise at each location. With every occasion, my growth is reinforced and strengthened.

13. Symbolic Beginnings and Closure

Visiting a hometown is a symbolic act of beginning anew or finding closure. It can mark an important milestone in your healing journey and signify a readiness to move forward with strength and wisdom.

beautiful fall foliage of trees in the NJ Pine Barrens to inspire other women to self heal.

Example

What’s your example? How do you choose to heal yourself through the act of engaging with your hometown? What inspirations came to you while reading these stories of new beginnings and finding closure? Sit with whatever comes up. Give it loving and compassionate space. Remind yourself you are safe now.

Final Thoughts: Hometown Self Healing Journey

Should everyone return to their hometown to heal themselves? Yes. But. Only when you’re ready. This journey takes courage and support. Make sure you have coping strategies and possibly the guidance of a therapist to navigate the emotional challenges that might come up.

A trip to revisit your hometown, and therefore your trauma, can be a powerful part of your healing process. Whatever you decide, make sure you ask your inner child what she wants and needs first.

Related Reading

Share