First of all, let me say that I remain generally content with the imposed way of life over the past weeks and months and have generally remained positive. However, on a nightmare filled night, this feeling of not belonging kept popping into my head. It proved resistant to being set aside and ignored, so I decided to go with the flow of responding to its insistence. I had accepted the fact that I didn’t belong to those isolating as families, as couples. The folk who I still look at with envy when they walk down my lane chatting away, holding hands, simply sharing their thoughts and their space. I accept that this middle of the night thinking was skewed away from the concept of home learning, possible relationship issues caused by the close proximity etc etc. My mind would only allow me to focus on the positives – those very aspects that are not open to me. Subsequently, in the cold light of day, I corrected this thinking and threw in for good measure those for whom such circumstances were fraught with hardship, emotional, financial, physical. Those who probably spend time seeing only the positivity of a singleton’s way of lockdown.
IS IT BELONGING OR FITTING IN?
I believe it is easier to feel that you fit in, rather than that you belong. They are different. You can fit in with some people, in some situations but not feel that you belong there, with them. You may feel a bit like a duck out of water, that square peg in an ill-fitting round hole. You may choose to accept, to tolerate these feelings in order to be considered a part of this group as not being a part would come at a greater cost.
However, a feeling of belonging comes when you are fully accepted, and feel at ease to be yourself without any necessity to adapt or adjust. You accept, just as you are accepted – without judgement. You are comfortably one of the clan. You don’t have to put on airs and graces, speak in a certain way, earn a certain amount. Belonging is a wonderful feeling of knowing that things are right with your world as you sigh and simply are.
I imagine that once the lockdown continues to gradually be eased that many will feel that they are not belonging, and are struggling to fit in. Maybe your job has changed significantly due to social distancing and the pressures of ensuring the safety of yourself and others. OK, this may gradually morph into the feeling of belonging back in your old grouping, or slotting into your new one.
We need those feelings of security, of safety, just as we needed them as children, when we needed them in order to feel a secure in a family in which we truly belonged.
I have to say, I wonder if I am endeavouring to get back these childhood feelings with my present efforts. I have spent time looking at old family photographs. Happy holidays with my parents and granddad; pictures of our garden, our street. Add in to the mix that I have found myself yearning for things that we used to eat. Things that I haven’t cooked for many, many years. Just this week-end I have made potato cakes and lemon cheese. For both, I know I could have easily googled the recipes; but no, I HAD to go through my Mum’s and my old cookery books to get the original recipes. If the pages were well thumbed, through regular use, so much the better. I was back to where I once belonged cooking and baking in my Mum’s miniscule kitchen with me on a stool by her side, helping and learning – and obviously storing up memories that are serving me well over 60 years later. I can relive those feelings of security and attachment which accompanied the original event. Add in to the mix my ability to spend time ‘pottering’ in my greenhouse, smelling the scent of my tomato plants, especially when I pick out side shoots or remove leaves. Whizz – straight back to sharing these tasks with my Dad – even down to washing my hands afterwards and watching the tomato plant scented water flowing green. Hearing the reminder to make sure I washed my hands thoroughly or I would stain the towel. Guess an appropriate reminder for here in now, if a different reason. These feelings are acting as a substitute for my lack of actual belonging at present. I know how lucky I am to have these memories. I feel for those who do not have such a happy childhood on which they can draw. I yearn for a hug from my Mum, even though she died many years ago. Apparently, I am not alone with this feeling; so maybe, I DO belong to a group. I am part of a group which isn’t bound or bounded by any current bubbles. I sincerely hope that such invisible connections serve in some small way to prevent that aloneness becoming loneliness, a feeling of being left out.
ONWARDS & UPWARDS …. MOVING FORWARDS
Here’s to hoping that once we are able to mix a little that we will appreciate this – and not just for the short term. That we will no longer take for granted things that we did in those pre-lockdown days, and have missed during it.
We will have gained strength from having got through our recent past experiences. No matter what format these have taken. That we have, or will, become a better version of ourselves for it.
We will have a greater acceptance of the person that we are – in our flawsomeness – a knowing brought about by our imposed opportunities for self-reflection. Whether we realised this or not. We would also benefit from accepting the fact that others have been coping with the lockdown in their own way; a way that is right for them even though it may not be a way we would have chosen, or had thrust upon us. Each and every one of us can only do our best.
Don’t forget to look for those new doors to open, or those keys to unlock doors previously closed to you. Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you have always got….. So maybe you can see your re-emerging as a time to change those previous habits. Habits that could have been holding you back, limiting your ability to progress as you would wish. How good it would be to see something positive coming out of the past months’ experiences.
Take care – keep safe and well as you move forwards through this quirky year of 2020. If I can help, I offer counselling by phone or Skype. Do get in touch.