“Where do I belong,” was a question that haunted my soul for as long as I can remember. While some children worried about where to put their hands when under the scrutiny of a disproving adult, I had no idea where to put me, ever. Deep, soul-wrenching questions haunted my nights, robbing me of sleep. My days were consumed with trying to undo the one thing I knew with every fibre of my being. “I did not fit in.” I did not need to wait for other children to taunt me or run away from me on the playground, their cruel words and actions already had a place carved out in my being where they were meant to live. I did not fight against them, I welcomed them home.
I saw a world painted with deeper shades of meaning and I was burdened with a responsibility to it. Lacking understanding of what it all meant, it consumed my attention and kept me from being a child. I raced through those days, and everything I was, how I saw life and my thoughts about it, even my endless questions, just made me seem all the more strange to those around me.
An elementary teacher once emphatically stated there was no life on other planets, it was impossible. I could not let it go. I was upset she could not see there was a possibility of life if it was different from us. I told her that we could not be the only life in all the universe. I just wanted her to admit even science could not say for sure that life did not exist anywhere else. Instead, she became angry with me and I was sent to the principal’s office. The results of that was a detention for being rude, which I wasn’t. Not everyone appreciates the truth, especially if it gets in the way of what they are wanting to do.
It was so incredibly lonely. It seemed I stood outside of every situation looking in. It was easy to be seduced, to convince myself that all happiness lay beyond the line my toes always stood on. I felt so alone and miserable in my own space, surely “in there” was the answer to my pain. “Just go in,” I would tell myself. It seemed so effortless for all of them and they were laughing and having fun. The physical child “me” recognized it was where I belonged while the weight from the 1000-year-old soul I had inherited pinned me to the ground. I could not move.
It might have been easier if I hated them, but I didn’t. I hated me.
None of it felt like a gift. I struggled to see anything about myself as lovable. It would take years of struggle for me to get to the point where I could let go of the pain I felt from not fitting in. If I was being brave, why did I feel so scared and small? And why did others only see me as strange if I was so “special.”
The reason I could not just let go and join in was because the price of entry was conformity and I could not. I abhorred conformity. It felt like death to me. My inability to surrender to the group choices was seen as a personal slight. “Being myself” was not only hurting me, it hurt others, but I desperately wanted in. I wanted the problem to be that they were mean because that meant it was not my fault. If the problem was me, then that meant that I was somehow “bad.” That place between those two thoughts almost drove me insane.
Somehow I survived my childhood and eventually made it to adulthood. I accepted the problem was mine. I knew the only way to find the answer to that was to go deep within and examine the evidence. I was fully prepared to discover I needed professional help and that I would have to make my way to the asylum where I would need to live out my life. I was so worried I even tried to reach out for help. My grandmother “reassured” me that I was at fault. If “everyone else” agreed that I was unlikeable that was it. She reasoned that it was impossible that “everyone else” was wrong and I was the only one who was right. She basically confirmed, for my fragile psyche, that “everyone” hated me, that it was laughable to consider I might be right, and that she herself clearly had surrendered her soul to what “everyone else” thought many years prior. I remember she sighed, clicked her false teeth and left the room. Not even super Grandmothers have enough power to take on “everyone else.”
Funny how the bite of someone confirming what you already know, can be so much more painful. Hearing her say it made me angry and so I fought even harder against the truth. I was fighting it because trying to smother my heart with logic only made me more confused and unhappy. No-one can live like that. I did not feel that Life had any right to ask that of me. I know now that Life was not asking me to surrender my heart and that those people who seem to ask, only do so because they are afraid of themselves.
Accepting yourself is a life-long process of discovery. I don’t always like what I find but even though I am sometimes disappointed, I am also sometimes amazed. The one thing I do fight against is my own unkindness to myself. I try to be gentle and patient with my many failings. I remind myself I am a work in progress and am learning as I go.
I have found tools to help me achieve my goals. I have found strength to hang on and even to survive. I have found a brave heart that is willing to stand up for others and to speak out even when I know the cost. I have learned that as long as I keep my integrity intact, I can love myself, even when no-one else will.
Gifts can bring opportunities but they also require responsibility. Truth is not always sunshine and kittens, sometimes it comes with a bite and painful lessons. I used to hate my sensitivity but time has taught me to embrace it with gratitude. It is still hard for me at times but now I understand its purpose in my life, and how I can use it to bless the lives of others. I have learned I have a life purpose. If I ignore it, I feel unbalanced and incomplete. I know I will honour that sense within me until I draw my last breath.
My inner journey confirmed I should never compromise or “settle. ” I wanted to hold on to my uniqueness but at the same time I wanted acceptance. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone wants to belong. Everyone wants to have a place and a purpose. Most of us equate that love to be something that comes from others, from a source outside of ourselves.
When I looked at it, I did not actually want to do what all the other kids were doing at all. I wanted to to be accepted and loved for who I was. I thought, and everyone told me, that the two were linked. They aren’t at all. On the one hand, I had to accept that if I was going make choices that were different from everyone else, I would have to live with it. In order to stop me from being hurt, I had to stop expecting validation for my efforts from others. That left me with being myself but without a place to be.
This world reflects our inner struggles. We are at war. We are fighting within ourselves between what the world offers and what our hearts really want and need. The world wants us to believe that answers and happiness are something we acquire in the world. I have come to know that all of this, and so much more, comes from within our own beings.
I had to learn that my “enemy” was not the other kids. I was fighting myself. I turned that into fighting for myself. I fought like a warrior and I do feel reborn. I no longer fear the darkness. All around me I see people stepping out of their pain and standing, ready to heal the world with the love they found on their inner journey. It is not the kind of love where you sit on pretty pillows with candles lit and speak of everyone getting along, but a dynamic love, fought for, in the darkest caves of pain and sadness. It is a love that is prepared to stand strong and not allow the hate and anger to move it. It is the kind of love that can heal.
Place your hand over your heart and feel it beating. Breathe in and out. Stand. Everything you need can be found within. Truth, forgiveness, healing, power. It is your birthright . . . because you are a human being.