um, i’d appreciate a break in the heavy words, you bastard randomizer.
this is another toughie for me.
i can remember, quite distinctly, being 10 years old, and slipping a note under my parents’ closed bedroom door after we had argued. the ink was smudged in places from where tears had dripped off my chin. i apologized for being different, for being difficult, for not fitting in. i was not like them, i didn’t belong. i was wrong. i was sorry.
something i said that in that note touched a chord in my mom; i remember her, in return, knocking on my door, her own face tear-stained, coming in and hugging me tightly. it was unexpected, and i didn’t quite understand what was happening. yet younger, ten-year-old me, the girl with the mournful eyes? was glad and sad…and confused. (but was i being seen? or was i a trigger?)
i also remember a couple years later, in junior high, the easy way in which my friends slung their arms around me and each other, the way they leaned in, the easy way in which they touched each other and showed affection. it made me feel like i belonged. it made me yearn for more of that easy, relaxed intimacy, in ways i didn’t understand. i had a place. i was wanted.
i remember studying it in graduate school; the illusive and coveted sense of belonging. how it was esteemed in our textbooks as a way to mobilize and heal communities. how we could assuage hurting hearts, bridge divisions based on socioeconomic disparities. to instill a sense of belonging in our participants was the the desired core of every program we tried to implement. the antidote to brokenness.
when i first met my therapist, i told her that everything was ‘fine’ with my family. it was my inlaws that were troublesome, my own family was close-knit. but, when i think about it now, i was tethered to them, to their sickness, to their stories, to their lies. i belonged to them, i was theirs.
it was not until i stepped away that i could see the the insidious, deadly, silent ways they ruled my life. they fucking owned me. belonging to them, being a part of their tribe, nearly obliterated me.
in some ways, i understand the sense of ownership…the need to huddle in, to maintain a secret language. we want to stake our claim, hold our beloveds near. we all want to belong, be close.
but what the fuck, friends. what does this even mean? how can we even stand to believe these sorts of platitudes, that we belong together? when will the other shoe drop?
the truth is, i rarely let my guard down, i rarely let myself consider that i may fit somewhere, that i may belong. that i am in the right place. that where i stand is where i’m meant to be. that i am welcome. that i am loved. that i belong.
which is why i cursed the goddamn randomizer up there, because fuck you, i am loved. i do belong. i belong as a wife and a mom, i belong to this beautiful family i have built. i belong as a friend to my sweetest pocketbrit. i belong as a valued colleague and health care provider. i belong to my community. i belong on this earth, i belong to the universe, to the collective capital-l Love that holds us all.
…but fuck, if i could only just feel all of that, in my darkest hours. if i could only just collapse down into that sense of belonging, lean into its constancy, sob into its lap when i feel lost and alone. if i could just trust it, if i could truly know it, if i could have faith i would still belong, even when i’m terrified and young and afraid; when i’m not my best self, when i’m not trying, when i’m petty and horrible and spinning and angry…
if i could feel like i belonged, even then, as imperfect as i am at any given moment, i will know i am healing. all i want is to be enough, to be okay enough somewhere, with someone(s), that i will continue to be invited back forever, however i am.