Letting Yourself Belong – How to Heal the Stories of Separation

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You hunger to connect.

I hunger to connect.

And I also clutch my stories that I don’t belong, that I’m too intense to have friends, that nobody likes me.

This weekend I attended a writing retreat on the island and one of the women, who I have known lightly for years, said, “Jen, you are so delightful. Why don’t I ever see you? Let’s have coffee.”

My heart went thunk. Why don’t you see me? indeed.
“Because I hide,” I said, looking into her kind hazel eyes.

Yes, I’m busy, yes I’m a working girl and that has made it hard, over the years, to sustain friendships with women with free time in the middle of the day, hard to attend the yoga class everyone else goes to, hard to have lunch, hard to go for a hike.

But it’s not just that.

It’s my heavy tangle of stories that create a labyrinth of loneliness.

It’s hiding from my aching to belong.

This weekend showed me yet again this story lives in me, not out there.  “Why don’t I ever see you?” indeed – even funnier when another woman asked me that at the end of the weekend.

We all get triggered, tired, or lost in our habitual patterns of shadow comforts and time monsters, in our stories of how things are. We all get disconnected from what we most long for.

Our triggers and patterns create a barren prison… but lucky us! It’s all a mirage!

Meeting Dani Shapiro

After this day of seeing my story of painful separation, I jumped on the ferry to meet writer Dani Shapiro for a drink before her reading. Dani’s an incandescent writer and lovely human being. We connected this summer when I interviewed her for Shero’s School for Revolutionaries. Her interview was superb, a transmission of creative truth.

I’m feeling all soft and glowing from wiggling free from my old story. I’m excited to meet Dani. I’m humming, feeling groovy.

Then the ferry is really late and that is bad as we have a tiny window to connect and I’m getting wound up about being late… the voice in my head starts about how I’m not a real writer and I feel the weight I’ve gained since the wedding pooling around my middle, and it’s icy cold and now the traffic going up the hill is awful and I get turned around twice. I park by the bookstore and I’m kind of sure I parked by a fire hydrant, it’s busy and dark and so cold, and now I’m 40 minutes late and she’s already left the restaurant to go to the reading. So I go into The Elliot Bay Book Company and I’m hungry and I can’t find Dani…

The noise in my head is getting loud…the stories are seeming so real again.

Then I stop.

I remember.

I remember my desire to belong isn’t just the desire to belong to my community but my deep desire to belong to myself.

My deep desire to belong to myself, to always find the home in my own heart.
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I connect with my heart (literally), standing by the poetry table, the dog on the cover of Mary Oliver’s new book keeping me company. I breathe and bring up that exquisite remembrance of belonging.

Then I go find Dani. She’s perfect – beautiful and chic, glowing with taste and talent and presence.
She’s perfect for me to project all my “I wish I was ____” stories onto, and my fashion insecurities to boot.
The noise was there, the old stories swirling, trying to push me away from belonging, to myself, to this new connection.
And the love and presence and connection was far, far more real.
It felt so good to settle there.

I belong.
We belong.
Let us step into the connection again and again.

Any comments? This was a vulnerable one to write, love to hear how you work with your desire to belong.



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