Belonging, Terror, and Love

I have been pondering the past month about the many things that have changed in my life so much in three years.  Since I was in middle school, I have been searching for and also running from belonging to anything outside my family.  I’m fortunate enough to be comfortable with my family, which has always been my rock.  I’ve just expanded it a bit.

I didn’t belong to anything in middle school or high schooI, beyond an environmental club and to a certain extent my church youth group.  Even that was superficial.  I think everyone to some degree goes through bullying in middle and high school, and it affected me greatly-I know I am not unique in those aspects.  It was typical middle and high school tormenting, and it left deep scars of trust issues.  The groups I thought I belonged to, I really didn’t.  I felt awkward, uncomfortable, and painfully self-conscious most of the time.  So I retreated, and built reinforced concrete walls.

It was simple in mind.  Belonging equalled trust that inevitably lead to hurt, which led to me being terrified of letting myself get close enough to feel worthy of belonging.  It was one more thing to lose, one more heartbreak, and it was just easier to cut myself off emotionally.  It was damned effective.

At my community college was the first time in a very long time I felt I belonged somewhere, and it wasn’t superficial.  I found my beloved Garden Club, the Garden Elite.  I am not sure whether it was because some of them were older that I felt more at ease, or just because they were an exceptionally accepting group that made even an awkward newcomer feel welcome.  For whatever reason, I did feel welcome, and more importantly, I let myself feel that I deserved to be included.  As I am writing this, I am realizing what a defining period it was in my life.  I trusted people a little, and it didn’t hurt.  There was just acceptance, love, and I will forever be grateful to them.  I am still in touch with those people today.

Garden Elite 2002. Left to right: Monica, Taylor, me, Lauren, Dustin

Garden Elite 2002. Left to right: Monica, April, me, Lauren, Dustin

After college was a struggle to belong again, and I was back to feeling like I did in high school.  The scarcity mindset had returned, and I wondered if I would ever feel good enough at anything again.  Fast forward to three years ago.  I found friends, a tremendous group of people, and an organization who’s entire philosophy is to empower people.  I feel a true sense of belonging, love, and appreciation I never thought I would ever receive again, or let myself feel like I could let people in without fear.  I found my group, who is a part of my extended family, and to finally feel like I belong somewhere, and that I am worthy of it, is an indescribable feeling of gratitude.  I have surrounded myself with people who love and accept me for me.

Grief, Trust, and Belief

I am not a big trust person.  It takes a long time to earn it from me.  I have been working on steadily for the past two years.  Every once and while, though, I get this urge and almost necessity to speak with someone who I don’t know very well.  I did that tonight, and it was about something deeply personal for both of us.  I honestly didn’t know what would come of our conversation, which started about a family event this past week.  It was an open, genuine, deeply “real” conversation that was both terrifying and quite striking.  And it morphed from a conversation about grieving and that process to one of an oddly fulfilling personal awakening.  The cool part was it all stemmed from my friend Kayla’s firm belief that my Nana was immensely proud of me.

When you spend almost your entire adult life being closed off from the world, and to open yourself up little by little is a bit daunting.  It makes one vulnerable and exposed.

I have had people tell me, “you are such an inspiration.” And I would say, “thank you so much, and I am glad I was able to do that for you.”   In reality, I never understood why I was such an inspiration.  FYI, this is not me being modest, I honestly didn’t know.

Kayla, my friend and colleague, clued me in tonight on why I am so inspirational (her words).

I met her last year in Vegas, and she was brand new.  Apparently, I said no matter what it was, “Arbonne is amazing.”  To me Arbonne is not about the paycheck, which can be incredible.  It’s about the relationships, personal growth, and self-discovery along the way.  And that is why I am an inspirational being in Arbonne (this is what others have told me).  I have persevered much longer than other people may have, because despite some setbacks, I kept going.  Because I SAW the potential, I saw where I was going, and I saw what I could become.  I hadn’t seen that before really, EVER.  I didn’t believe in myself, and I relied on others belief in me until I gathered my own.  My personal definition of perseverance is doing something long after the excitement and what you said you were going to do has worn off.  I am a person of my word, and yes, this is a lot longer than I thought it would take.  It IS happening.  My Nana saw it in me the last time we spoke, and it has provided a fuel for me to get it done.  She was proud of me.  She saw greatness in me, and she believed it to be possible.

I didn’t know what this blog entry was going to be about.  I almost just free-wrote it, and this is what came out of my head.  It’s important part of this journey that I am on to trust myself.