Ah, community. A hot button topic in my life. First off, welcome to Day 4 of #Write28days of Nervous System Regulation! It is good to have you here.
I’m going to get a little personal here, so you know where I’m coming from. Some backstory, as they say. A few years ago, I made a very difficult decision to set boundaries with my family of origin (my adoptive family) that they did not like one bit. It resulted in being cut off. To say it was painful was an understatement – I had just lost my family, again. I believe this is what turned my manageable chronic illness into a severe, and at the time, unmanageable one. And as I laid in bed for months, and then years, my friends quickly fell away. I don’t blame them for not knowing how to deal with me, but it was (and is) still hard. I turned to the internet and FB, only to find a large group of people — people who I thought were IRL friends from long ago — mocking my feelings about a topic of huge personal importance to me (which is unfortunately a hot button topic these days). So I lost them too, because I decided leaving Facebook was more important for my health than staying and having “internet friends”.
But this left me with pretty much zero community outside my husband and children. And I don’t think this is all that unusual among chronic illness sufferers.
Community, I think, can be hard to come by these days, even for healthy people. But, I am told by experts in the field, it is essential for proper nervous system regulation. They call regulating with others “co-regulation” and it is a large part of being a healthy human.
So where does that leave those of us who struggle to find community? I’ll talk about my personal thoughts on the subject, because I am no expert. First, like all brain regulating practices, I know finding and maintaining community is a marathon and not a sprint. People come and go in our lives, and I will find a new group over time. As I heal I can work on connecting again with some of those who fell away, if I so desire.
But a HUGE thing that I need to work on first, is community with myself. Through a childhood fraught with stress, I learned that to lose myself was the only way to survive. Fifty years later, I realized I had no sense of self, I was an empty shell who morphed only to please others. It had always been safer that way, until my body said, “ENOUGH!”
So now I have to learn to meet myself. Who am I, really? And learn to befriend myself, and accept both my light and dark sides. Only when I can become in community with my true self can I properly move out into the world. Then the people I meet will know the real me, like her or not.
I hope you, dear readers, can glean something useful from my little dips into these topics. If you find yourselves too overwhelmed by anything I am discussing, please step back and find a qualified person to guide you through.
Please join me tomorrow, when the topic will be on: safety.