Where Do I Belong?

It’s been a year; a year since we chose to uproot and move our family, a year since I lost friends I thought were “forever” friends, and a year since we entered into the chaotic space that still is this global pandemic.

I do not feel like I have much to show for the past year, but I also do not have nor feel any pressure to show much. It was and still is a year of introspection and trying to understand who I am and what makes me tick.

Recently though, I’ve decided to acknowledge and come face to face with the fact that the pagan/witchy community I thought I was becoming apart of is no longer something I fit in or am welcomed in to. A year ago I was struggling through an in person herbal class and with a teacher I simply did not belong with. I switched to an online herbal course and loved every minute of it. But. Here I am, 1 year later, and practicing herbalism is not even in front of me. I am beginning to suspect it is one of the tools I am supposed to have in my tool belt, but it is not a primary tool. And I think I’m okay with that.

To be honest, I do not know what my place is. I have moved in and out of various communities all of my life, and not once has one felt 100% that “this is my place.” I thought maybe it’s because I need to build my own community and pick and choose who to bring in and build a space that feels like mine. But that has not happened, and I no longer have any drive or ambition to do so. Where do I belong?

Or should the question be – to whom do I belong? I can answer that partially, I belong to myself first and foremost. I feel like every space I have walked in to where there is group interaction, I have been told that I am too much, my trauma is too heavy, and I’m uncomfortable to be around.

I made a promise to myself almost a decade ago that I would be open and honest about what it is like to live with chronic depression, frequent suicidal ideation episodes, and very dark and heavy trauma. I made this promise when I realized how suffocating and destructive it was to hide from my trauma. Wanna guess what the general reception was to me being open about this? Silence. Discomfort. People avoiding me because I wasn’t going to hide anymore and my guess, they didn’t want to be reminded of what they were hiding from either.

Part of this promise to myself included being honest and not shying away from potentially toxic behaviors or mindsets I discovered within myself. whether I did this publicly in a blog form, or in a private discussion with my therapist(s), I didn’t hide anything.

A lot of people questioned the validity of my words and challenged why I felt I had to talk about these things. And truthfully I didn’t really have any answers for them. That push back only made me more determined to break that taboo around talking about trauma and abuse.

But then I understood why I wrote, why I was so bold and vulnerable…

I just wanted to be heard. I wanted to know that my younger selves were seen and acknowledged and I wanted others who were in my shoes to know that they were heard and seen too. That has only ever been the root of why I write and speak up. I know what it’s like to not be heard, to not be seen, to be silenced and shoved into the dark corners. It’s why I want to write my book and get it out there.

However I am starting to think that isn’t going to happen. My words are not back, writing even this today is a fluke. A random urge to write that hasn’t happened since the last time I wrote two months ago. Is it possible that too many people have silenced me over the past few years that I no longer have a will to write or speak up. It is so overwhelming and all encompassing this feeling of not knowing where I belong but also no longer having any drive to find where I belong.

A lot of this is stemming from and includes a sense of my beliefs restructuring and shifting. I am a witch, this still rings true, but what else am I? I am not practicing consistently right now, and truthfully I don’t want to. I am not receiving any joy from the practices I once thought I enjoyed. It is not a situation of no longer believing or feeling like this is the path I want, it is a situation of my drive to belong, my sense of power, magic, faith is silent. And I am okay with that, I am allowing myself the space to say no, the space to step back and breathe. It is a practice of self-compassion. Giving myself grace and compassion is something I have worked hard on this past year especially.

I think maybe a large part of this apathy is due to my health rising up to be a big issue again. A part of me kicks and screams every time, right as I started to feel like I could think about and devote time to other things, my health crashes. It is a crippling feeling, both physically and mentally. It is something that is so overwhelming and shuts everything down except for the bare essentials. I absolutely ABHOR that my body has this capability to shut me down, but I am also capable of holding myself and offering compassion and understanding when I push through the things I cannot and have no control over.

Even in the midst of all of the health issues that have come back to the surface again, my heart echoes “where do i belong?”

Where do I belong? 

Even when I was growing up, and quickly becoming the oldest of 9 children, I felt this question ringing through my very bones; where do I belong? I was surrounded by chaos and obligation all day every day. My dreams consisted of seeking someone to take care of me or feeling like the shadow no one ever could see. Every church we were in and out of growing up never gave me a place. Any little place I thought I had was swiftly ripped away or we simply moved away and I never heard from those people again.

All of my life, all [almost] 30 years, I have been asking where do I belong?

I’m not convinced I will ever have an answer to this. I think after the past year, I do not believe I will ever have a group of people to call “my place.” I may be able to to say I’ve made my peace with that, but that peace is not quiet or submissive or calm. That peace is a willful acceptance of things I cannot bring about for myself and an awareness of it not being worth my energy to fight for it anymore.

It is so easy to fall into the mind-trap of listing all of the reasons why I don’t think *I* can ever belong to a community/circle.

– I’m autistic: I don’t have some of the social skills that seem to be required for those kinds of circles that I long for.

– I have trauma, heavy, dark, uncomfortable trauma: I have seen that this 99.9% of the time NOT welcomed in those places.

– I am chronically ill, and often have no control (okay who are we kidding, I never have control) over how my body decides to show up and frequently cancel or will just not schedule something.

– I am chronically depressed and have chronic anxiety: this seems to make a lot of people uncomfortable, before my trauma even shows up.

Are these things valid reasons for why I have not been able to find community? Or find what feels like *could* be “my place” and then it implodes or I get pushed out. These are the things my brain has come up with to explain a seemingly unexplainable situation.

I have always ended back with individuals, 2-3 people who reliably show up and have said without a doubt that all of the above things are not too much for them. I am beyond grateful for those who do show up, my partner now being one of them. But that doesn’t erase or ease that aching question. I feel like I have so much to give, but even that isn’t welcomed at times, it is seen as too much, that I am just overwhelming other people.

I will most likely crawl back into my hole after I finish this post. The words are fading again, and I can feel the darkness of frustrating apathy pulling me back in. I feel that I have let myself hope one too many times now and automatically question and doubt any group or situation I find myself faced with. My default is no longer “oh I think I could really give this a chance” to “how long before it becomes excruciatingly obvious I do not belong here?”

And the words are gone. My brain is shutting down and retreating. But even in this moment, it is a battle of wills between the apathy and depression and this deep soul wrenching guttural howl that I just want to belong. It is a battle where apathy always manages to place the gag on and shut it down. Even being gagged my soul whispers,

Where do I belong?