Thursday, October 5, 2017

You Belong to Me

As often happens in my life, when I start focusing on one thing, all kinds of contributing lessons show up. Synchronicity, divine appointments, conjuring things up, call it what you want...I call it all three. A few weeks ago when Chloe and I went to see Stevie Nicks, I really really r e a l l y wanted Tom Petty to show up to sing their famous duet, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." I tried to conjure him up, but my powers failed. 

Then a few days ago, he died. Facebook and I are on a break, so I hadn't heard. My brother text me, "Tom Petty died." Although people dying isn't something we usually joke about, I hopefully responded, "Are you serious?" Yeah. Fuck.

I am going to go off on a brief tangent, but I'll get back to this.

One of my favorite pieces of parenting advice came from my daughter's friend's mom who advised her daughters: “Be your own girl.”* I wished at the time that I had some similar profound advice to give Chloe. I also thought (and still do) that this mom had it all together. She lived in a beautiful house and drove a clean mini-van. She was kind and patient and genuine. I never heard her yell or swear. I was torn between wanting to be like her, wanting her to be my mom, and wanting to turn my kid over to her, apologetically pleading, "I'm definitely gonna fuck this up. Can you maybe...raise her?"

Back to synchronicity. For the first 40-ish years of my life, I felt a sense of being left out. Not belonging. I write about it a lot. It was always my big trigger. Nothing makes me throw up titanium walls quicker than the sense that I don't belong. 

This week I started reading Brené Brown's Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Reading is an inadequate description of what I've been doing actually. I read. I cry. I write down 15 quotes. I text my husband, daughter and friends. Then I read another paragraph. Experiencing the book. That's a better description.

But in reading, er, experiencing this book, I'm forced to sit with those feelings of not belonging. The chameleon role I've played over the years. The times I tried to fit in with different groups...to feel included, part of, less alone. 

Full Disclosure: I never truly fit in. Not with my family of origin. Not with people in school. I felt a real sense of belonging with my grad school people, but that was short-lived. 

I longed for people to get me, thinking if they just understood me, certainly they would like me, and I would finally belong. The level of fundamental fucked-up-ness in that sentiment is staggering, but it's the truth. That's how I felt. Un-sugarcoated. 

I don't anymore. I no longer seek acceptance and understanding. I'm comfortable in my own skin, but it feels sad to look back. I want to grab that younger version of myself who strived so hard for acceptance and say, "Stop! You don't need to do that! You belong to me!" I would scoop her up the same way I scoop up my kids, my husband, my friends. You are loved. You are enough. You are good. It doesn't matter what the world says. Believe me!

So what does this have to do with Tom Petty? I'll tell you. I promise. Also Maya Angelou. Bow down.

Each podcast I listen to, each article I read about Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown talks about a particular Maya Angelou quote she wrestled with: 
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.”

Earlier this week, a lifelong friend posted these lyrics from Tom Petty's Wildflowers

"You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free."

I had mindlessly sung those lyrics so many times and never let them settle into my heart and soothe my soul. 

Brown says, "True belonging doesn't require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are."

I'm never going to fit in. I'll never be skinny, pretty, quiet, ladylike, blonde, smart, conservative, or whatever enough for everyone to like me. I'll always say fuck; it's my second favorite word. Lovely is my favorite, if you wondered. But I am good and happy. I belong over here in my own lane where I can cuss and drink beer and love freely. I belong to me.

xoxo

*Also a line in Stop Draggin' My Heart Around...in case you didn't know 😉

2 comments:

  1. I think that you are skinny, pretty, ladylike, blonde, smart enough for me (I don't especially like conservative or ladylike anyway). Especially the smart. Shove over in your lane because I'm barging in for some fucking fine beer and company...

    ReplyDelete