begging to belong

seeking safety in the wrong places

begging to belong
Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Picking up D from school at dismissal time can sometimes become a nerve-wracking thing for me.

D has a classmate whose mum can be a little moody. It's funny because she'd ask me for all kinds of favours — like putting down my name as her daughter's emergency contact on school forms, or asking me to sign a CRA form for her that no family member can sign.

Yet, the very next day she'd look right past me and not even say Hello, even if I'm giving her a big, wide smile. It's a weird dynamic.

I often remind myself that people are doing the best they can in the moment. At the same time, I can't help but feel triggered by this kind of unpredictability, because I'm human after all.

This also reminds me of a time when a close friend of mine from university days ghosted me in the years that followed on several occasions. Once, I was visiting Houston for a month. She lived there, and we made all sorts of plans to hang out and do stuff.

We met up once, and after that I only ever got her voicemail. Years later, when we reconnected on of our university WhatsApp groups, she said that she was battling depression at the time and had taken off to her brother's place in NJ or somewhere else.

Understandable. Still, hurtful.

This time when we connected, we got back to chatting frequently. Until she got triggered again. She was railing against a political figure, and I was telling her that there are all sorts of people in this world. When we expect people to think/behave like we do, we're only setting ourselves up for disappointment.

This triggered her too and marked the end of our rekindled friendship once again.

I later learnt that she had even been to Canada in the years since, just a suburb away from where I now live, but hadn't reached out to me.

Understandable. Not so hurtful anymore. It hurts really badly the first time. Not so much the next time.

Almost 20 years ago now, a very close family member made his way out of our lives. He and his wife had their own reasons, but the grief it gave my parents was terrible.

They made their way back into our lives about a decade ago, but since then it's been a relationship on a rather shaky footing. Periods of closeness followed by unexplained silence for a long time. Promises to stay in touch, followed by the passage of weeks in which we'd get no responses to our texts or calls.

With all these experiences I've come to realize that this kind of instability in the behaviour of others, especially close friends/family, affects me a great deal. I'm high S (stability/steadfastness) in the DISC personality profile, meaning any disturbances in the environment around me affects me significantly and hampers my ability to create, to love, to laugh, to live in the moment.

Of course, the world around us is changing all the time. Over the years, I've come to learn some techniques to soothe myself and process my feelings. Journalling, deep breaths, meditation ... all these have been helpful.

Yet, when I encountered brusqueness yesterday while picking up D from school, it set me back. It hit me unexpectedly, and I went in a tailspin.

I was quite upset all evening, snapped at little D for no fault of his, and decided I didn't want to follow through with any of the plans we had made for the weekend.

Of course I felt very differently when morning came and KrA hugged me. I couldn't help but reflect, though, on how I got derailed last evening.

Well, I'm only human, after all. This need to be accepted and to belong speaks to our sense of safety in far-reaching ways. And that's alright.

Yet, nothing is permanent.

Not our Zen state of being. Not the brilliant sunrise or sunset. Not a single season. Not the unbridled joy in our hearts at the sight of blue skies and white clouds. Not the sadness at receiving unkind behaviour from another.

Not the feeling of safety that comes from good company. Nor the sense of instability that comes from it lack.