Feeling Out of Place
Surrounded by friends who love me
Tonight I went to the weekly contact jam.
It is social dance gathering that I have been going to
every Wednesday and Sunday for the past 10 years.
Most of the people in that room are my friends.
They love me and care about me.
They enjoy dancing with me and
I enjoy dancing with them.
Feeling like a stranger
Yet tonight when I walked in that room
I suddenly felt so out of place.
I felt like a stranger, like I didn’t belong.
Looking around at all the dancers my first thought was
nobody here really wants to dance with me.
I felt like there was no way
that I could ask anyone to dance.
I sat and stretched on the side of the room for about 15 minutes
with raging butterflies in my stomach.
Butterflies with claws and fangs!
I was so overcome with fear that it almost made me leave.
Stay With It
Fortunately I have learned over the years
to sit with these kind of feelings
rather than run from them
and I was able to observe myself.
This can be very helpful because I have found that
when I can stay in the feeling
there’s always something for me to learn.
So I stayed and eventually worked up the nerve
to get up and go dance with somebody.
After that I danced with one person after the other
for the rest of the evening,
but the feeling of disconnect never left me.
I continued to feel that sense of not belonging
and it was very disconcerting.
This is where I Belong, and yet…
There’s probably no other place where I belong more,
and yet there I was
in the midst of so many friends
I wonder how many other people feel that way?
I suspect I am not so alone in my aloneness.
The Seeds of my Lack of Belonging
Were Sown in Childhood
I also suspect that this is something
born and bred in childhood.
It is very likely that through experiences
in my formative years I got the message
that I didn’t fully belong here.
The feeling that I I’m not accepted or acceptable as I am
seems to be something I carry with me to this day.
I will say that I am much better than I used to be,
but the effects are still very much with me
as my experience today demonstrated.
Make children feel they are accepted
This is why it is so important for us to
make our children feel like they belong.
We have to do all that we can so they feel they are unconditionally accepted by us.
Every time our children are criticized,
everytime we judge them,
every time we deny them their natural impulses
and especially when they are punished
we give them the message that
they are not acceptable.
Be aware of every word
I know it is challenging, but we must do our best
to try and be conscious of every word we say to our kids.
Every time we are tempted to correct or control them in some way
If we can change that to acknowledgement and positive reinforcement
we will be continuously giving them the message
that they really do belong.
Most of the world will give them the opposite message
This is not something we can protect them from.
All we can do is try and give them as solid foundation of
self-esteem and self-love as possible so that they have
some weapons with which to defend themselves.
Work on reclaiming the feeling of belonging
As I sit here in the Starbucks writing this post
I can still feel the emotional residue from this evening.
I still feel disconnected and out of place.
In a way this is a blessing because it is shining a light on
an area in which I need to give myself more love.
Newborns know they belong
When I think of a newborn baby
settling into the warmth and comfort of
drinking from her mother’s breast,
I can see that she knows she belongs there.
Layers of unworthiness are placed upon us as we grow,
but our original self
knows, loves and accepts ourselves unconditionally.
I can feel that my work now will be to
peel off some of those layers
so that the unfettered love
I have inside can be freed.
The more of a foundation of self-love I have
the more I will feel I belong.
Developing unconditional self-acceptance
Perhaps the extension of this would be
the opposite of what I experienced tonight.
That even in a room full of people
who can’t stand me and don’t want me there
I can still feel connected.
I can still feel like I belong and am worthy.
I think this is a good goal for us to work towards.