Where do I Belong?

Searching For a Tribe to Call My Own

“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.” 
― Tahereh Mafi

For the past couple of years I have withdrawn from the community, and except for my husband (and adult children who all live away from home), I only see the man I am employed by each day for a few hours. I have a few friends I can count on that I sometimes catch up with, one on one, for a coffee.

It has suited me.

I have wanted both the time and space to journey inward to understand some deeper truths and find a deeper connection within.

I also love spending periods in wild solitary places where there are no other humans.

  • After I left the religion of my childhood twenty years ago, I immersed myself in therapy, attended university, and then postgraduate study.
  • I worked part-time jobs during this time and brought up four children on my own.
  • I then worked seven years full-time as a parole officer in community corrections within Australia, the last few years in a management role.

None of this allowed much time at all to get involved socially with others, or build up deep connections outside of what often felt like the daily grind of life. Most relationships outside of the university, work or family felt very superficial.

My husband and I met 12 years ago and have been married ten years now. I left my full-time employment two years ago. When I left my full-time job we downsized our home, I started to work part-time, and we both have enjoyed spending more time with each other and pursuing our passions. For myself that involves immersing myself in art and writing. I am now in my mid-50s. I have no regrets over these decisions. I am happy in my relationship.

However, just lately, I have felt an urge and a longing to find other people whom I can form deeper connections with.
I am not sure if what I am seeking is realistic or elusive?

In the last couple of years, I have worked hard at developing self-compassion and acceptance, and I’ve tried to find a sense of belonging inside of me.

I even paired back my external surroundings to the bare minimum to try and find me. Does that sound counter-intuitive?

Embracing minimalism allowed both my husband and I to feel weightless and also gave us both room to breathe. I have no regrets.

However, in the last few days, I have been self-reflecting and seeing my paring back in another way.

By removing everything unnecessary for daily living around me, and superfluous to need, I am trying to create space for ME to fill.

A me that has always been in the background faded, incongruent, unnoticeable. A me not sure who to copy, who to emulate, what apparel to put on, what gadgets to have, what decorations to adorn me or my house.

Cutting back on all my possessions left my space around me empty. Empty requires ME to fill.

I go inward. I journey within.

What do I like? Who am I?

How shall I inhabit this space?

My space is still very minimalist. It tells me I still do not like to be noticed. I am unsure how to be “out there.”

Tattoos: I look at others who adorn their bodies with ink that has meaning for them in the messages portrayed. They move through life like a canvased artwork announcing, “Here I am. See me.

Music: Others move through life with earplugs absorbing music and sounds, adopting them as their own, seeing life through a symphony, a cascade of movements with all its ebbs and flows. They choose certain music as their tunes and attribute their own meanings to them. Music fills up the spaces both inside and outside where they live and influences how they journey through life.

Dance: Other people dance. They are aware of how their body looks and moves through space. They wear clothes for ease of dancing. They like flow. They choose movement and action, and physical expression. They allow their inside selves to come out through their body in space. They occupy. Their movement says “Here I am, see me. I am here. I have arrived. I stomp, and prance, tiptoe and crawl, and pivot.” It is like they are proclaiming, “See me.” They take their place amongst the whole throbbing throng of life.

Some dance as if no-one is watching and do not care if they dance only for themselves; and others dance as if everyone is watching, and seek admiration and acknowledgment.

I do not know yet where I belong, or how I move.

I feel like I sit, still and small. I am waiting and watching.

I do know some things about me. I love most country and folk music. I like some modern pop, and I love rhythm and blues, and reggae and some more modern music. I love my art (painting). I love writing. I love certain foods and drinks. I love solitude and wild places. I love listening to my husband play music. I love talking and spending time with my adult children. I love walking and meditation. I am immersed in discovering what spirituality means for me. I love traveling and seeing new places. I recently wrote a post about 40 of my favorite things. I do know alot about me.

Where I am NOW: I am sitting inside of me. I am alone. I am sharing my thoughts and feelings through my fingers writing out words typing. My fingers movements are small and precise, and the constant quiet tapping noise sounds like baby birds peeping as they slowly start to find their voice and learn their peeping can be a locator beacon for their mother to see them, and give food. Chip chip chip ..click ..click.. click.. my fingers move across the keyboard in perfect rhythm barely needing to stop to correct mistakes. Instead of real food, it is like I am putting out a signal, peep peep peepfeed me, feed me, feed me,” seeking nourishment from sharing in communion with fellow humans.

“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” — Pierce Brown

Thoughts from within me flow.

I am living.

Am I belonging?

Is it okay to have silence and space both within me AND all around me? Where am I within this space?

I think its okay. But I know I have not yet wholly found a place where I am a hundred percent at ease all the time.

Agoraphobia: I long to still totally accept my body. The physicality of me. To be able to accept and allow myself to occupy public spaces which I avoid as much as I can.

I long to occupy public spaces with ease and without fear. Being a bigger woman in a world that celebrates thinness has been hard.

It’s like I can be in a public space, and be seen, but I also want to be ACCEPTED in those spaces to claim my right to be there entirely. I can’t just CLAIM the right. To go and be. To be whoever I want to be in that space. Talking or silent. Eating or moving. Quiet, at rest, talking, dancing, or moving to music. Loudly laughing.

I avoid being in public spaces most of the time.

I ache at times to be a part of a group where I feel accepted. I feel like I am an island, in the middle of the ocean, with climate change causing imminent sea rise causing me to feel like I am about to disappear under water, and nobody will know or come to my rescue. I will be ignored, and my pleas go unheard.

I am okay with being alone. I love and crave solitude and solitude revitalizes me. But this is more a yearning to have deeper connections within a community. To be able to find people who share common interests and not just share those interests but to bond on a deeper level.

“ Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.” 
Janet Fitch

When I am one on one with people I am fine. I have a few friends that I meet up with regularly and enjoy their company. The lack of being part of a community I find is now making me feel small and inhibited.

“I think this life is hard without assistance from others” ~RuPaul

So, I have had a few thoughts on how I am going to find my way back into a relationship with a community.

  • Continue to build up those around me when I am with people.
  • Find like-minded groups who feel the same either politically, environmentally, or about social justice. I would quite like to share common interests or projects with them. I completed a permaculture design certificate with my husband a few years ago and enjoyed every moment of associating within that community during the study.
  • Look at joining a local walking group (instead of only walking on my own I could walk once a week with a group).
  • Join a class to learn to dance.
  • Go to more live music and theatre performances in our area (many are a nominal cost).
  • Continue to build and strengthen relationships within my online communities.

If I start doing some of these things, it will increase a feeling and a sense of belonging in me, and strengthen my connection with people. I know that it will take effort not just to attend, but to tolerate and accept the ebb and flow and ups and downs in the process of building connections.

“Tell your story. 
Shout it. Write it. 
Whisper it if you have to. 
But tell it. 
Some won’t understand it. 
Some will outright reject it. 
But many will 
thank you for it. 
And then the most
magical thing will happen. 
One by one, voices will start 
whispering, ‘Me, too.’
And your tribe will gather. 
And you will never 
feel alone again.” 
L.R. Knost

Who else says “me too”?