Belonging but not belonging

It is not a question of whether or not there is a community. The question is now whether I belong. I was told “you’ll have to walk away from this relationship before we do”. Truthfully, I haven’t walked away but neither have they. We just no longer circle each other in our daily lives, social contexts or work relations. There is no longer work that brings me face to face with my former colleagues. Most of the relationships that were welded by the rigor of our work and needfulness of relationship have eroded, not with the thunderous avalanche of snow caving in and roaring down the mountain. More like the subtle trickle of a stream that runs down a mountainside, carrying the mountain away from itself bit by bit until a canyon has formed. Due to time, neglect, and lack of usefulness to one another the relationship has disintegrated.

But I still want to belong. I want to be part of a community, of THAT community but there are no longer threads that sew us together. What can be done with the lingering feelings of being left behind, of being forgotten? How do you bottle the jarring emotions of feeling like you’re still part of the family but aren’t going to be included in the family portrait.

They didn’t leave me. I didn’t leave them. We have just become distant relatives who used to have a great relationship. This seriously sucks.


It started off with trying not to drown. I really wanted to learn how to swim but my buoyancy is equal to a sack of gravel, at least it feels that way. A year ago I took three swim lessons at the local YMCA. After three lessons I succeeded in getting myself from one end of a regulation pool to another without sinking. Success. As the year has progressed I have faithfully continue to practice going as many as 20 laps, which feels like a lot to me. I have grown in strength and endurance and patience with myself without throwing in the proverbial towel.

This fall I took 8 swim lessons from another teacher. I learned so much about stroke, hand depth and placement, head position, hip rotation, aerodynamics in the water and lengthening my stride in the water. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about swimming until my teacher told me. So, I am now buoyant and a fair bit more graceful and efficient in the water.

We never know how little we know about a topic until we delve in. Engaging the large ideas first, opening ourselves up to medium size curiosities next and finally digging deep into the nuances of the subject. Learning is a process. We may not be naturally buoyant in certain area of life but that is a learned behavior. The old adage is ‘sink or swim’ and in so many situations life offers us the challenge is just that – sink or swim.

I choose to swim. Each day offers me an opportunities to sink. Mental illness, depression, anxiety, overwhelm all threaten to pull me down. My float-ability is challenged by feelings of inadequacy, uselessness and irrelevancy. But I choose to swim. To keep moving intentionally toward a goal of becoming stronger. I choose to keep learning new skills that propel me towards becoming the woman I am meant to be. I choose to swim.

Writing in the dust

From dust to dust. Thats what religious people say. We had our origin in the dust of the earth and will return to dust as our bodies decay. I once heard about a kid, upon observing the amount of dust under the bed, said to his mother “I don’t know which, but there is either someone coming or going under there.” Well I don’t know if the same principles apply to the creative process but it always seems like something is coming up and something else is winding down. The cycles of creativity are a whirlwind, stirring up old things in new ways, and new things built on old skills.

Thus is this blog. It’s time to dust it off and experience once more the daily thrill of creating and the disappointment of low readership. The high of having your voice to heard to the low of realizing you’re the only one who heard it. It’s a lonely trek, but a beautiful one – the beauty often realized in the landscape that is created over time, not just in a single image, memory or story.

I took a trip going nowhere this weekend. I was to fly with my husband as he had his first leg as a captain for his airline. His trip was cancelled. Sometimes I wonder if blogging is like a trip that goes nowhere. However, I have decided, that unlike a trip with a specific destination, a blog is meant to meander and wander, making sharp turns and unexpected dips. It is meant to have slow starts and abrupt stops. It is unpredictable. And so I embark on the journey for another season of discovery. Thanks for walking with me.

PTSD Sucks

“Can we talk?” The words fill my heart with dread. My heart pounds and the panic button in my regulatory system gets pressed repeatedly,  I’ve said something or done something wrong. They’re angry with me. They hate me. I know it. I can feel it.

My past abuse amplifies the fear – after conflict there is inevitable anger, rage or a beating. I steel myself for whatever might come. I can handle it I tell myself. I’ve survived before and I will again.

The speaker just wanted to have a gracious conversation with me about something I said that came off inappropriately.  He was kind, loving, curious and corrective.  All good things. I was in the wrong. I apologized.

However, after we got off the phone I began to panic. Did I apologize correctly? Did he hate me? Was he angry? Was this the end of a friendship? I feared emotional harm and ultimately rejection.  The feelings or potential of rejection are ominous and palpable and paralyzingl 

This is Complex PTSD in action – reacting to a present situation as if an old threat exists.   It is waiting for the other shoe to drop and the guillotine to fall.  This is what it feels like to be stuck in the vortex of the disease that always tells you that you are not safe or loved.

My anxiety was so high it required medication to calm it down and for me to begin to think rationally. PTSD sucks.