For most of my life I had been desperately looking for somewhere to belong. I'd forgotten about this, because for the last 10 years I have belonged and felt safe and secure and wanted. Over these ten years I stopped worrying so intensely about what people thought of me and I've learnt to be comfortable in my own skin. I've grown so much as a person during that time.
I was shocked this week at how easily I was drawn back to old feelings.
Very recently I wasn't invited to an event. Now this event isn't even that important to me in the scheme of things. It was not a family thing or anything to do with close friends. It was a public function that my peers and some friends were invited to. I was not. I'm perplexed at how strongly this exclusion has affected me.
To place this power back into the hands of others really has me rattled.
When I'm thinking rationally, no one should feel under any obligation to invite me to anything and I should not have an expectation that I will be invited. In saying that, I don't believe it is unusual to feel a bit slighted if we are left off an invite list, but the feeling should pass.
This has not been a passing sadness at being excluded, but something that has eaten deep into the core of me. I'm embarrassed to admit that it has reduced me to tears, made me question who I am. It has thrust me back to my past.
When I was growing up I didn't belong anywhere. I was adopted into a family that I never felt part of. Not because they didn't care for me, but because they had no idea about love and belonging. This might sound harsh and I might sound ungrateful. I'm not. He (being my adoptive father) was a paedophile. She (being my adoptive mother) did nothing about this. I'm not judging her, I don't believe her life was easy and I don't begin to unravel what makes her who she is. I can only say how their actions made me feel.
Friends and school were where I had to obtain my love and sense of belonging. I placed so much importance on my friendships. I was never truly popular, but always had friends. Looking back I can see how I spread myself over many different groups so I always had somewhere to belong if anything happened in another group. Girls were very fickle and it wasn't unusual for friendships to wax and wane with the moon cycles. I was very easily hurt and spent so much time crying in my room over things that possibly didn't happen or weren't meant to be anything against me.
I did have one best friend and spent a lot of time with her family. In a way I was trying to make her family my family. In fact I have spent so much time jealously wanting to be a part of a loving family. To this day I covet strong family relationships. When I hear women talk about their strong relationship with their mums I secretly wish that was me. For the most part now, the feeling is fleeting. I don't dwell on it like I used to. At times it used to consume me.
It is a fundamental human need to belong. We need to belong to our tribe. Our people. Our families.
When a person has always belonged somewhere I wonder whether their need to be accepted, liked and wanted is any less? Are they less concerned with what people think and more comfortable in their own skin? Do they always feel loved and cared for? I'm sure they can be hurt by exclusion, but do they move on and get over it? Do they actually care that much?
The last few years I have been more popular than I've ever been in my life. I'm sure it has something to do with my confidence levels being higher, my anxiety being under control and knowing I belong somewhere. Knowing there is a safety net to catch me when I fall means I can put myself out there a bit more. I don't need to hold back for fear of rejection. Rejection happens and it doesn't hit as hard as it used to ... until now.
I have no concrete explanation for why now is different. It could be a range of things. My work life has been a bit all over the place and right now I don't really belong anywhere in a work sense. Since school, work was always my safety net. It was the place I belonged. I made myself indispensable at work so I would always be wanted.
Perhaps the fact I was recently made redundant has made my sense of belonging a little shaky. I've never been fired or put off before. This was new. This was possibly the ultimate act of rejection from a work perspective.
The Digital Parents Blogging Conference was on last week. I didn't attend this year, by my own choice. I thought I was okay with this. It wasn't until I saw how it brings everyone together and friendships are cemented even further that all of a sudden I felt excluded. Left out. Not part of the group. Again, not through anyone's doing, but my own insecurities.
It looks like I still have some work to do on this. I might have my safety net in my wonderful husband, my two loving boys and very close friends, but when it comes to my own value on myself as a worthy person, I'm still lacking in conviction.
Thank you for not inviting me, my thanks is genuine. I needed this to ensure I don't take things for granted - I believe I have been doing this a lot lately. It was time to go back inside for a deeper look.
Why am I writing this, putting myself out there? Am I looking for soothing comments and a sense of belonging to my tribe again. Yes there is a little bit of that - I'm only a mere mortal. However the driving factor behind all of my writing is this.
One day someone asked me what I wanted to write about, why I wanted to write? My answer was quick and clear.
"I want to write to help others." Nothing more. Nothing less.
If I'm feeling like this, chances are so are many other people. If I can write my thoughts down and help someone else, then for me, feeling this way and having lived the life I have, has purpose.