“It’s the most precious thing…. to know where you belong. There’s a whole psychological wrapping-around-of-you-here. You find the same stone, tree, street, clouds, sun – you build a wonderful sort of familiarity with the world around you. To be intimate is to grow, to learn… it is absolutely satisfying. Intimacy, that is my magic word…” – an internal longing for peace and lack of pain.
The Question of Belonging
As we analyze the first steps in healing emotional pain, we must come to center. This might be the most crucial question which you ask yourself to date. Where do you belong? Why? Are you deliberate about that decision, and is it what you dream of for your own life? A friend recently confessed to me:
“I married young. Now that there are a lot of demands on our life, now that I’ve matured, I’ve realized that this is about as far from what my spirit desires as I could be. I’m not who I must be.”
Her dream? To attend college and become a nurse. Her reality? In rural America, four children, low income, higher debt, strained relationship with partner. Counseling is not going well, not because they do not love each other – they do. It’s just grown to a state of near catatonic responsibility. Can it be revived? Perhaps, if they both may find to the location where they veered apart and start to communicate, and even then it is pretty tough. Truth? They’re staying together for there kids. Is there pain? Yes. . .not from loss so much as a lack of fulfillment, from fantasies that slipped into the cracks of active life, lack of preparation. . .no real objectives. I return to this question that I asked her “Where do you belong?” If you do not know where you are going, it makes no difference which path you take. . .so what are your targets. . .where do you belong?
Emotional pain has deep roots in this question of belonging and that we are. As a woman in a western culture, here in the center of America’s corn farm country, I hear the echoes of having to belong in my own soul. I see it in my house choice ~ constructed in the first year of the civil war, our home has deep roots, background. I need this type of stability in my life of tumult. I was raised with no roots, no actual “home” as in a location which you can go back to as an adult from an extremely dysfunctional family. Our “belonging” could be reactive to demands which were hauled in us as kids, young adults, persons that are married, persons that are divorced. . .human beings living life. The challenge is. . .do you know what you want in life?
I don’t mean a new dream or hope that’s pinned on desire or emotion. In the heart of your individual, what and who are you called to be? Emotional pain often limits our capacity to dream and admit our chances by saying “You’re nothing before, you’ll be nothing forever. You can’t ever be anything more than xxxxxx.” Once you fill in that blank with your deep pain, you are likely to have the ability to acknowledge that YOU aren’t restricted by your past. I really don’t care if you have a GED five years following your graduating class, it’s still possible to attain a PhD if that’s your calling.
LIFE PRINCIPAL: Nothing which you could imagine, work for, dream of is impossible if you don’t believe it is. Without faith, even the most simple moments become unobtainable in life.
Ending Emotional Pain: Understanding Belonging
Using a clean sheet of paper, find yourself a pencil and a calm, clear space in which to concentrate for a couple of minutes. Where do you belong? Try to answer concerning need for this exercise, not specifics like “I belong with my kid at home.” Okay, it is a given that those people that are married or parents might well say “I belong with xxxxx.” That isn’t what we’re searching for. What we’re striving to see is that you pray and think into, forming dreams and goals for your future. Here is my case:
“I belong in a world where listening is essential, and there’s a high value on human desire in the eyes of faith. I belong in the area where I can trust that the guy I adore with the depths of my heart and back again, realizing that his word is as dependable as my own heartbeat. I belong in a city where folks know one another, talk at the grocery store, laugh and cry with you. I belong in a workspace which permits me to connect with my own imagination, to write, to speak to people about life, to learn constantly. I belong in a physical area that’s solid, full of nature, unique, historic. I belong in a religion that’s not condemning, not accusing but will still love you enough to speak the truth, and for me especially, the truth in God. I belong in sensual intimacy with the 1 person who shares my most intimate thoughts, my most intimate moments, all of my fantasies. . .and all his as well. I belong in a world permeated by faith hope and love, surrounded by those who breathe possibility in their own hopes as well…”
Without these items, I encounter psychological pain in my everyday life. If I act in violation of these basic belonging demands my nervousness will increase, psychological pain increases and I will react by experiencing diminished joy and happiness. So that question becomes inherently important to the way you respond to life on a daily basis, and how you respond to emotional pain brought on by outside sources. Emotional pain is occasionally our warning sign also. It might be telling you that you’re isolating, robbing yourself of a place of familiarity – you have had to change how you deal with an altered reality. This leads us back to the place of psychological pain from external conditions.
The notion of letting go is overused in our society, the notion of “closure” with no work that goes behind it. It is when you permit the pain of your loss to come into your soul, to feel that the validity of it, to acknowledge it’s existence that you’re more able to take that step of recovery and beliefs that”lets go.” Let’s place this scenario of attachment for a snapshot which we can all understand, a word picture to get the point across.
Imagine being in a comfortable room in which you have history. Only now, you look around and the relaxation is no longer there. . .the area is decayed, and the ground is flooded with ice cold water. It’s dark, with shadows that you’re not comfortable with, though the light still has a small golden to it. The warmth is unkind to you, and no matter what you do, there’s absolutely no comfort to be found save little flashes here and there when the sun rises for only a minute and you can feel the heat through the window. Once that moment of psychological sunlight passes, you’re back to the darkness of waiting for a change that’s not likely to come.
You go to the door and feel the fear ~ you can not take what was in that room with you. “His” memory is there, “her” memory is there. . .your history is there. It’s what you know. You try to reach for the handle and feel panic on your chest, and return to the soggy sofa, reviewing the scenes on the walls, the photos on your heart. You unleash your narrative, the guarantees that used to fill this space. Your mind understands that leaving the room is the best choice, for there are many rooms in the world awaiting love, fill your life with grace, treat you with dignity and respect. Some of the terrain between chambers is tough… and you’re reluctant to leave where you’re. It’s been what you know, and it was not always this way, this tough. But you are tired of being lonely, cold, in the dark. You long for the sun and heat on your face for at least a moment.
Relationship loss is much like this. Those that are left often wait in the area that has fallen apart, not realizing that the connection can’t be revived in what “was.” Those married folks who reunite after any kind of separation have found they should fall in love with the transformed person that seems kind of like the person they married. For Brian and I, it was discovering that we are in our forty something stage that’s far different when we were thirty-somethings. We’re much more fun today. Of course the area is a metaphor for that which we encapsulate in our hearts, and the way we haven pain without realizing that we are feeding the wolf who’s stalking us.
Turning the Knob
How can you receive from the imaginary couch, beyond the haunting loss and into the door? How to grasp the handle? First, realize that pain is in certain ways, your buddy. It’s telling you that something must change. If you are in emotional pain constantly on your own life, male or female, your mind and heart are tying desperately to tell you something. Determining what that is is the real trick.
First, don’t deal with the pain as one instance, start looking for the source. If you are recently single, prevent the idea “it is because she left me.” Although that’s painful rejection, it is not the source of the pain. The pain stems from something more, such as fear of failure in connection, missing the intimacy which was shared, a need for acceptance and love that’s been stunted. Most relationships that end do not do this in a vacuum and many people have time to process long before the last split occurs. Perhaps your pain comes from being cheated by the individual that you live with. Again, the actual pain is that the loss of faith and trust that will be life long, even if forgiveness is present. Because of this, less than thirty percent of couples that experience infidelity stay together long term, particularly when the issues aren’t properly solved in counseling.
Steps for Letting Go
a.) Know where you belong. Have an awareness of self that’s not reliant on anyone else, about what people think of you, on societal pressures. Know thyself.
B.) Recognize your match state. This is life, not a test. I understand that it’s tough to do, but take a significant life evaluation minus any real play. As an example, compose those dreams and goals that support your “belonging.” How can this life mirror the one which you live?
c.) Recognize relational break downs for what they are.
I needed to come back to a time in my life that happened to be captured on video tape when I was teaching a course, and watched myself teach for one hour, realizing that on this day…I was happy and well. The individual that hurt me so badly later in life was already out there and the world just continued turning around. Not only was the world fine without his presence, so was my painful friendship wasn’t worth what it was costing me self respect or damage to possibilities I could conceive. Dreaming had become dependent on another individual, not on religion.
LIFE PRINCIPAL: When you rely on another individual to “make” you happy, you’ve chosen to fail. Happiness comes from inside you, and is your own responsibility.
“Happiness isn’t a brilliant climax to years of grim struggle and anxiety. It’s a long succession of small choices simply to be happy in the moment.” This is the way we turn the door knob into the room that’s attachment, the first step in letting go. It’s on bleeding knees which we grow up from our place of weeping, crawl if necessary into the opening in the wall and throw open the door by understanding that every tiny decision of health takes you one step closer to the edge of the tree line, from the woods and into sunlight.