Belonging

I don’t understand why some places and some people feel comfortable and others feel so deeply invasive and hurtful I just have to run away. I don’t understand this mechanism very well.

My friends are combative people. Not 100% of them, but I pick people who prefer direct conflict and resolution over people who want to … avoid talking about the elephant in the room. As a result I’m very accustomed to people dressing me down. I’m very comfortable with someone saying, “You fucked up and I’m going to explain how in great detail.” I’m great with that.

I don’t do so hot with “You are rude.” Most people who say that are unable to even flesh out what they mean by it. It is some weird “not comfortable” feeling. I’m different from people they are used to and that means I’m rude.

I’m not a conformist. I do not have a desire to blend in with the crowd and avoid rocking the boat. I want to point out that the boat already has cracks in it and maybe we should rock it a bit more to test the breaking point so it doesn’t break all the way out at sea. Let’s do it near the shore and find out how safe we really are.

Tension, stress, and conflict all enable people to find out who they are. Your reactions when you don’t have time to think really define who you are. That is your Lizard brain in action. That’s the part of you that you don’t have full control over.

My Lizard brain tells me that if people think I’m rude I should be scared. I should be afraid of what they will do to me. When I was a kid being rude was greeted with soap in the mouth, a slap in the face, or a spanking. Hilariously, most of my beatings happened in school. I was not very respectful.

So I distrust and dislike people who want me to conform to middle class mores about avoiding conflict and trying to not be rude. I’d rather just be rude and take the punishment. I’m used to punishment.

Sometimes I think it is interesting how people don’t go looking for the best treatment they can get. They go looking for the treatment that makes them comfortable. For me, a lot of what makes me comfortable is pissing off people. I’m a contrarian. I spent my childhood being told that I was a rude asshole. Now I’m doing my best to prove people right because that’s my identity, right?

If you tell a little boy that he’s aggressive and awful because boys are like that… you are affirming that he should feel comfortable with that behavior.

I was told and told and told how rude and stupid and awful I am.

Why do I have so many assholes in my life? Because they make me comfortable. I can handle them better than I can handle the faux-polite people who want to shame me into conforming. The assholes will just yell at me and let me go about my business.

But I want to be a different person. I want my children to be different people. I want my children to get their sense of belonging from people treating them kindly not from people being abusive. I’m accustomed to abuse. It feels natural and appropriate. Both being abused and being abusive.

I have many abusive tendencies and I work very hard on controlling them. I do not want to pass on the hurt that was given to me.

But in order to learn different patterns you have to be around different kinds of people. I don’t really feel like I belong around people who aren’t direct, confrontational, and rather abrasive.

Part of what I love so much about the friendships I have developed is my friends don’t tend to hold back. They “tell me how they really feel”. I love it. I feel safe. I feel comfortable knowing that when I cross a line I’ll be told in blinking neon so I can’t miss the hint. They don’t soft shoe around problems and that means I trust them. I feel like I belong. I can be a bit explosive and say, “X is not ok for me” and my friends can hear that without shutting me down.

The visit in Nashville was wonderful. This visit in Georgia is shaping up to be amazing too.

Why are these visits so much easier? Oh lots of reasons. These are women I’ve known a long time. They are women that are very comfortable with me being direct because they are direct too. There is no shaming about how I’m doing everything wrong. They are ok if I want to do things for them and they are happy to help me since I’m so tired. I don’t feel like a burden and I don’t feel like I am being inappropriately self sufficient. This is wonderful.

I’m glad I didn’t wuss out and go home and miss these wonderful women. I feel so much love for them. I’m so glad they are in the world reminding me of the fact that there are intense wonderful people littered across the globe. You can’t tell how much you will like someone based on anything about their appearance or where they are standing. It’s a surprise.

I can talk about my insecurities and they aren’t minimized. I can talk about what I really want to do today and they don’t tell me they are disappointed because I don’t want to do something that is 20 times as energetic.

Tomorrow is my birthday. My friend has all the stuff in the house to make me a nice pineapple upside down cake. They are my favorite. And ice cream. Because yay ice cream!

It is funny to me that my friend feels safe in her neighborhood partially because there are a whole bunch of cops nearby. My eyes went wide and I said, “If I found that out about my neighborhood I’d move.” We had a fascinating conversation about relative safety and what makes each of us feel like we belong.

I’m mentally ill. I have to deal with the fact that people think I’m scary. Police officers shoot mentally ill people when they feel like it. It happens weekly if not more often than not. It’s not rare. The police scare the shit out of me. It’s odd to me that other people feel safer around police. I feel like having police officers in your neighborhood is kind of like living on an old mine field. You don’t know if you will explode as you walk around.

My kids feel like they belong anywhere. They are genuinely able to conform in a not-threatening-their-core-identity way.

Their core identity is still shifting so fast that who knows who they will turn out to be. I know that I really fucking like them. I respect them. I admire them. I’m grateful they exist and that I get to know them.

We didn’t hit homesickness until day 89. Until that point it felt very much like we bring the sense of home with us as long as we are together. I believe at this point that if Noah were with us… yeah we could travel indefinitely.

“Anywhere beside you is the place that I call home.”

I miss Noah. I miss the feeling that being around Noah gives me. Not the irritated with a cis-het-rich-white-man feeling. That bit I try to ignore. I’m more talking about the fact that Noah acts like it is an awesome thing that I’m in the world. Noah acts like his world is literally less bright without me. It is fascinating how hanging out together means that both of us fill with energy to go out and do things and create things and talk about things and change things.

We give one another energy. We give one another a sense of belonging and acceptance that neither of us are used to.

I miss Noah. Today is day 91. We see Noah again on day 133. That sounds heinous right this second. 42 days to wait? Evil. Terrible. Not. Cool.

But you know what? I’m glad I’m doing this. It won’t be hanging over my head as that thing I always wanted to do and I never did because I was afraid. I’ve thought about doing this every year since I turned 18. I was always too afraid.

My children give me courage. For you, I can do anything. I want to teach you about the world. I will be brave for you.

You are the reason I belong in a family. I will do anything I must do to have this continue in a manner that is healthy for both of you. You make me want to keep breathing. You make me want to get up and eat healthy food and be physically active and sleep well so I can find out what you are like in 40 years. I want to know you.

I’m so grateful I belong somewhere.