Heads Up: This post is written from my personal perspective, as a white person in white supremacist society. I want to acknowledge that people of color are three times more likely than white people to face homelessness, because US policies (and ingrained racist mindsets) favor opportunity for white middle class. Deep truth, such as what I’ve found on my own journey, requires physical safety and stability. This essay is about the anchor to myself, to my own belonging, and I’m able to find it because the community that I’m surrounded by has such stability. Trying to integrate these new lessons and commit to justice has been messy, so I welcome your comments and conversations.
When I was still with my ex, I had stretched myself financially to move into our apartment. As he ended our relationship he uttered, “You can’t stay here.” I felt a pit in my stomach where a boulder dropped. I hadn’t planned for this life change.
I remember reading that Danielle LaPorte created The Desire Map because she had to. Rent money, she said. I never wanted to be in her position.
It was ironic, really. I’m a seeker obsessed with home and belonging. I’ve found Home with activists working towards a common purpose. I’ve found belonging through storytelling performances– all of us prepping to get on stage together. Sometimes it has come in physical form– hardwood floors and cascading windows that welcome sunrises. The coffee aroma that fills the air as I scribble my hopes and dreams into a journal. Belonging I’ve written about before.
As my physical world crumbled, I was terrified of the instability that I felt in my body. I crammed my belongings into two suitcases in tears and packed the rest into storage with what I called, Break-Up Brain. How did I pack the coffee maker and not the coffee pot?! A generous friend invited me to stay in her home while I figured out the next step.
The poet David Whyte says:
“It’s interesting to think that no matter how far you are from yourself,
no matter how exiled you feel from your contribution to the rest of
the world or to society — that, as a human being, all you have to
do is enumerate exactly the way you don’t feel at home in the world —
to say exactly how you don’t belong — and the moment you’ve
uttered the exact dimensionality of your exile, you’re already taking
the path back to the way, back to the place you should be.
You’re already on your way home.”
I spoke openly in trusted circles about how it was going for me, moment by moment. I was surprised at the deep feeling of being at home in myself. It seemed that where I lived didn’t matter as much. What mattered was that I didn’t deny any truth that rose up in my body. I cried when I needed to cry. I slept. I went on long walks and I worked. Belonging appeared when I was connecting with friends, family, and creating new community that cared. I found that I could hurt from the missing in my heart and in the next moment feel deeply connected to the person sipping coffee in front of me.
Due to my work, I had been unknowingly cultivating deep resilience by living into healing, life-giving practices, and safe space communities. All of this has allowed me to be in deep uncertainty and still forge ahead.
I anchored to myself.
Yet sometimes in the quiet moments, I was also shocked by the shame that I felt. I had two college degrees and there I was needing help. I wanted to hide. I wanted very few people to know, to see me. More than once I called people that filled me up to tell stories of my strength back to me.
Dad, I said. I’m having a tough day, as I fought back tears in the car headed towards a meeting.
“Jess, I’ve been telling people how proud I am of you. How life has taken some turns and you took it and you started a new life in a new city and how strong that is.”
It was a reminder that I might be living in an old story, and shame is often an indicator that shadow self is showing up.
Two important things here:
I had to be present to the shame, to name it and to let it go, even as the next moment gave way to a hug or connection. I had to accept the dark and receive the light the connection in it’s moment. Both/and.
I did none of this alone. I’ve been buoyed and bolstered every step of the way. Friends opened their homes and gave me a safe and nourishing place to heal. Folks introduced me to people in my new city with open arms and open hearts. People sent cards and gifts that I kept on my nightstand as reminders of love and connection. Some friends stayed on speed dial. Others showed up at speaking events around the country. We have a collective myth in America that we have to do it alone. That the right way, the strong way, is to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. It’s killing us. Literally.**
If you are going through something right now and it feels unstable, trust that your truth is rising up. Speak to that. If you are craving being seen, I read every response and am here to bear witness. Just reply here <3.
To your deepest belonging,
** This collective myth hurts each of us, because we stay disconnected in our shame. We don’t reach out and get resourced and supported. This also means we don’t help the most disenfranchised of our society. We are each individually suffering from this belief, and our communities and our world suffer as a result. We can change this. I’ve gotten pretty deeply involved in moving towards creating homes and changing housing policy here in the Twin Cities and want to share more as I journey.
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