Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Where Do I Belong?

By: Angela Mayah Solstice

When I was around 13 years old my parents moved us from Chicago to Arizona for a business opportunity. I hated it. Here I was coming from a diverse and culturally stimulating city to dry heat and not a brown person in sight. I struggled. Although I am certain either way I would of continued to act out (I had some hellish teenage years), perhaps Arizona came into my life as a buffer. Maybe it was my saving grace that didn’t let me go through my phase in the inner city streets of Chicago. Yet in still, I always thought of Chicago as my roots. Michigan as well, it was close by and my birthplace, and where all my favorite memories were created with my grandparents, aunts, and cousins.

Throughout all these hectic years, it feels good to know that I am where I belong geographically. For now, that is Chicago. In fact it was one of the most boldest and courageous decisions I ever made and I'm glad I did it.

When I was married I lived in Long Island, New York. I made it a point this year to continue my tradition of sending out Christmas Cards to friends and family, the last one being sent four years ago when I was still married. Tears literally came to my eyes as I brought out my old New York address book and thought of the families who would receive my card in the mail. Long Island was my home, my community. It is where I created my first real family of my own and it was where for a number of years—felt like I belonged. Yet during my final year in New York and going through a divorce I felt anything but a since of belonging. In my children’s circle of friends divorce was an oddity. In fact with my son who is fifteen now, within his core group of friends since first grade, I can think of only one family that had a divorce. So between the divorce, single parenthood, and financial troubles by the end I felt downright shameful and embarrassed—but didn’t show it. I projected my guilt on the community. I branded them as superficial and judgmental. I was a victim and wanted the whole world to understand—and well, I’m sure you can imagine what that looked like. Pretty hopeless. The residue of the storm still lingers in my mind as I wonder what they will think receiving my Christmas card this year. Will they see the picture as I do, me as a strong and capable woman, or will they see a fragile single mother holding it all together. I force myself to dismiss the harmful mind chatter. 

I believe we all come into adulthood and especially parenthood wanting to be “stable”. Buy a house, raise our children, and make a good name in the community. If your really shooting for the moon, no divorce, all your children by the same person, and lots of family offering a helping hand nearby. I have lots of family that actually live that ideal—making me the spiritual, quirky, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on granddaughter-cousin-niece. I also knew of an older woman friend who was a quintessential  “hands-on” mom and wife, even going far as baking fresh bread for the family a few times a week. Yet she cried herself to work everyday.  

There is a great book by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes named, “Women Who Run With the Wolves.” I would like to share with you an excerpt from where she is talking about the luckiness in failing to fit into the mold:

You may be an exile of some sort, but you have sheltered your soul. There is an odd phenomenon that occurs when one keeps trying to fit and fails. Even though the outcast is driven away, she is at the same time driven right into the arms of her psychic and true kin, whether these be a course of study, and art form, or a group of people. It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires. It is never a mistake to search for what one requires. Never.

Even though there are negative aspects to it, the wild psyche can endure exile. It makes us yearn that much more to free our own true nature and causes us to long for a culture to match. Even this yearning, this longing makes a person go on. It makes a woman go on looking, and if she cannot find the culture that encourages her, then she usually decides to construct it herself. And that is good, for if she builds it, others who have been looking for a long time will mysteriously arrive one day enthusiastically proclaiming that they have been looking for this all along.

I have come to peace with the fact that I am that wild soul. Slowly but surely I’ve even become less critical of the world for not being the same, although I deal with the harsh judgment that is a result of me being this way. In the meantime I continue to build and live my life, raise my children, and be of service in a way that is true to me in the moment, knowing the next season may be different —and that’s okay. I’m okay.

You are okay.

The holiday season can be very confronting for an array of reasons, years ago I had a friend share with me a small quote that has helped me so much it goes, “Go where you are adored not ignored, celebrated not tolerated.”  I’ve allowed it to be my mantra when I am struggling socially with friends and even family.

Perhaps there are those of you who are struggling in more severe or hostile environments. I will share with you another quote from Dr. Estes:

If you are surrounded by people who cross their eyes and look with disgust up at the ceiling when you are in the room, when you speak, when you act or react, then you are with the people who douse passions—yours and probably their own as well. These are not the people who care about you, your work, your life.
A woman must choose her friends and lovers wisely, for both can become like a bad stepmother and rotten stepsisters.

I pray you find the courage to change and the strength to remove yourself from such harshness. It’d be better to be alone—even if for one Christmas day. No one deserves such abuse.

For all, I hope no matter if you're married, single, widowed, a parent, or childless—that you find your since of belonging this season. It may not fit into the common mold, but I am confident you will be happy nonetheless J

Be bold & courageous and create your happiness. Create your tradition. If your way already brings you happiness—God bless you—invite someone in who could benefit! If your somewhere in between action and inaction, it’s okay, we’ve all been there and had an uneventful holiday! Ha!

We are in a beautiful new moon and the New Year is approaching. It is a great time for reflection, gratitude, and the creation of new goals. I send you all Loving and Healing energy!

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  1. Love it and love you. I am so happy and proud of the place you are in right now in life. Linda