Belonging, or just fitting in?
I was just watching videos from The Light of the Moon Cafe, where they talk about struggles with food. They really get us highly sensitive people over there.
In one of the videos Dr. Johnston was talking about how many people, especially women, will accept fitting in as a substitute for really *belonging*.
Fitting in: “when you abandon who you really are in an attempt to look like and act like and think like and feel like what you imagine how others want you to look and think and feel and act.”
Belonging: “feeling a kinship, a connection to others while you feel a connection to your true self.”
As children we are wired to *need* to belong, but sometimes our families of origin or friends aren’t emotionally healthy and don’t want us to belong, so we settle for fitting in, as our small (and older!) bodies crave connection of whatever kind we can get. Of course, if we are only fitting in and not belonging, we realize deep down something is missing. We are highly sensitive and can usually perceive the tiny hints that others miss. We know something is “off” even though everyone around us says everything is fine.
When we speak up about this in unhealthy families, it doesn’t turn out well for us. This is when we start thinking there must be something wrong with us. This is when we start numbing ourselves with food, with perfectionism, with addictions.
Why did my mom abandon me? Why did my father get upset when I said I was hurt by something he did? Why isn’t mom talking to me now? I don’t remember doing anything wrong…it must just be me. It must be who I am. I’m not good enough to be loved and cherished.
There’s more good stuff on the website so I won’t, and shouldn’t, summarize the whole video for you (I was watching the free Soul Hunger Video Series on the sidebar).
Oh but that “fitting in” vs. “belonging” — what an eye opening moment. Now, I have understood the difference for a long time, and have probably been studying attachment since I was in college taking psych classes (i.e. in the dinosaur ages, LOL). But hearing it said this morning made me realize how often I *still* do this.
Still settle for fitting in. Still think there is something horribly wrong with me. Still think I’m unlovable so I might as well just fit in, at least then people will stop arguing with me and trying to prove themselves right (and me wrong). It hurts less this way.
But does it? Does it really? In the moment, yes. But deep, deep down, you know it doesn’t. I know it doesn’t. A lifetime of pretending to be someone else so that you can be loved and kept and safe catches up with you. You wake up at 35, or 40, or 52 and wonder who you even are, and why is there this huge empty hole where “I” should be?
The claiming of my “self” has been difficult and painful and I still don’t even really know what I’m looking for, but every tiny gain of reality has been worth it. It’s almost like I actually feel a tiny puzzle piece click into place. I realize now if people don’t know me, even if they say they like or love me, they don’t *really*, because I have never shown them who I really am. They like (or don’t!) the “fake girl” – the nice girl, the calm girl, the helpful girl, the girl who doesn’t know how to say no.
I hope I can get to “real me” some day before it’s too late.