Who do you belong to?

“And so when I started to look at belonging, what I realized is that it is a spiritual practice, and it’s the spiritual practice of believing in ourselves and belonging to ourselves so fully that we find what’s sacred in not only being a part of something, like our DNA calls us to be, but also, we find sacred the need, on occasion, to stand alone in our values, in our beliefs, when we’re called to do that, as well. And so, to me, this idea of true belonging is a type of belonging that never requires us to be inauthentic or change who we are, but a type of belonging that demands who we are — that we be who we are — even when we jeopardize connection with other people, even when we have to say, “I disagree. That’s not funny. I’m not on board.”

–Brené Brown

Listening to Krista Tippet’s recent interview on OnBeing got me thinking. I decided a while ago that I don’t belong in the U.S. It just stopped making sense when I got back from Nicaragua in 2015. All of the things I love doing don’t pay and I didn’t feel like I could be a service to my own community. How could I belong here?

Brené reminds us that when we decide we don’t belong, what we experience lines up with that belief. I decided a long time ago that I don’t belong in Austin. I never felt like I belonged in my family. I didn’t feel like I belonged in church. I don’t remember when I started to feel that way… it may have been when I was little after being sexually abused… or maybe it was from the negative feedback I received constantly from my older sister about never being good enough.

I use to always want to know why. And now I know. So now what?

Lately I’ve been focusing on my foundation. Belonging to myself. Not simply connecting the dots about where I’ve been and my experiences that brought me here. But what makes me who I am? I want to live in alignment with my core beliefs, and now that they have shifted from shame to love, my foundation shifted too. Establishing a life based on self-love is a completely different way of being. It means that I don’t say “yes” to everyone else. In fact, I’ve spent the week saying “no” to job opportunities, people, and events.

“We must be able to say what is ‘not me’ in order to have a ‘me’. What we like has no meaning unless we know what we don’t like. Our yes has no meaning if we never say no.” –Henry Cloud

My boundaries have been violated over the years, so I got pretty comfortable with living without them. Creating them now feels strange, like walking into the unknown. And I often have to feel uncomfortable before I recognize my body is expressing the need for a boundary.

When the body speaks, it shouts sometimes. Lately, I’ve felt a sharp knawing at my heart that says, “Listen.” And in order to listen, I have to be willing to feel. I couldn’t feel my heart for a long time. It was easier to ignore it. So as I sit on the floor, writing songs and sitting in my mess of emotions on a Saturday night, I’m saying YES to myself. And when the tears come, they come… and then they go, like clouds passing through the sky. Some linger for longer, and some just pass by. I tell myself, “Take it easy, take it slow,” and that’s what right now is for. Eventually, the sky will clear. Until then I sit and sing to myself.

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