The feeling of not belonging

Today I experienced yet another deep-seated sensation of not belonging. I realized that I wasn’t just feeling uncomfortable, I specifically felt like I didn’t belong. I pondered this, and realized how many other situations I find myself in where the uncomfortable feeling is also specifically not belonging, or unwantedness. Where do these feelings come from?

I have a few ideas.

People pleasing and perfectionism are a deadly duo that will destroy your entire identity and life if left unchecked. I’m constantly bringing up these two in my writing, because I am so affected by them and they are often viewed as positive attributes or overlooked in regards to mental and emotional health. Perfectionism and people pleasing are attributes that you could ride right onto the shores of conventional success, but it comes at a price, because when you arrive, you are not your true self. While you might be superficially happy, you will probably experience a deep feeling of dissatisfaction with life.

I asked myself – why do I feel like I don’t belong? If I do not belong here, then where do I belong? The answer: nowhere. Why don’t I feel like I belong anywhere? Answer: because I do not allow myself to. Why don’t I allow myself to belong? Answer: because I don’t want to be defined by it. Why would that be a bad thing? Answer: because when you are defined, less people will approve of your actions, participation, and/or identity. The more you define yourself, the harder it is to people-please…

Ah ha!

And isn’t that one of the most awful connections to draw? I’m not allowing myself to fully immerse myself into anything, because I have a subconscious fear that if I define myself too permanently, I will be less socially marketable.

Another idea, is just the simple fact that I don’t allow myself to belong. You can belong anywhere you would like to, if you can muster up the feeling. You aren’t “supposed” to be anywhere. It’s obviously easier being familiar places, with familiar people… but that doesn’t need to define how you feel about yourself if you step outside that comfort zone.

I’ve learned that God really is the answer to everything. Draw close to God, and you don’t need anyone or anything else. In this circumstance, it applies in the sense that God is where ever we are. When we live our lives in the presence of God, we are never alone, and we are forever belonging. We belong to God, regardless of where we are or who we are with. This is simple, but important, and something anyone can take great comfort in.

Despite the seemingly finite conclusions I’ve just drawn, the feeling of not belonging is difficult to pin down as an emotion and especially difficult to pin down a source. The example above is just an example… an explanation of an instance. Other times, the feeling of not belonging is your intuition telling you that you do not, in fact, belong in what ever place you are finding yourself.

It’s important to walk the fine line between going with the flow and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Pushing the boundary allows for enriching, challenging, awakening experiences – this is truly what life is all about. However, in finding our life’s purpose, we must also follow the flow of our lives, which we can only feel out in the dark with the help of God and our intuition.

I think the take-home message is this. In a moment when you feel like you don’t belong, wade through the uncomfortable emotions and find out why do I feel this way. The answer will lie in one of these two general categories: 1) you are in some way not allowing yourself to belong or 2) your intuition is telling you that this place where you find yourself simply disagrees with the purpose of your soul. In the first case, try to summon the feeling of allowing. Allow yourself to exist fully as yourself outside your comfort zone. Pray to God for loving support, and for the reminder that where we are, God is. In the second case, ponder the answer, find the clues, and carry on gratefully with this circumstance behind you as a lesson.



Yesterday I got sucked into yet another argument with my ex. He is everything short of, including, and beyond unreasonable. He uses a combination of distraction and emotional manipulation to send me spiralling into a rage faster than my own parents are capable. For me, my parents are some of the only people besides my ex who can make me very quickly very furious.

Oh, I didn’t mention, now I have an ex – instead of a partner. Yes, that was a change of pace indeed.

Our relationship had barely been hanging on for some time. I knew for a very long time that it wouldn’t work out. Finally, I got the solid gut feeling that the time had come, so I ended it. There was any number of deal-breakers that I could have chosen along the way to end it leading up until this point. It really wasn’t even the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was just finally time.

Since we broke up it has been the exact same drama triangle (attacker, victim, rescue) as it had been all along. The main difference now is that the topics of argument have changed from bills to child custody, and there is no affection or love to pacify the terrible arguments after they happen.

I have improved significantly. It is far easier to diffuse either myself or the situation when I am less affected by his choices and opinions, and not constantly in his presence.

But yesterday’s argument reminded me of something my sister said. A few months ago we were talking about another typical ludicrous situation involving him and she commented, “He is like your kryptonite.” This popped into my head after I got off the phone with him. He is my kryptonite.

What does it mean for something to be kryptonite? I am not a comic book buff, but my understanding is that kryptonite is the only thing that can take away Superman’s powers, and he is the most powerful super hero of all. Let me repeat that: Superman is the most powerful, capable, indestructible super hero of all time, and his one and only weakness is kryptonite.

For someone to be your kryptonite, means that they are the one person who is capable of disempowering you and reducing you to the lowest version of yourself that is not the real you. When I thought about my sister’s words again, he is your kryptonite, this finally it hit home.

There are many ways of giving away personal power: negative self-talk, distractions, obsessions, addictions. These things can (and usually) exist on a small scale. For example, watching tv, obsessively checking social media, or loving someone who is unavailable. If a person has a kryptonite that is another person, this is far worse, for a few reasons.

In this context, a person becomes your kryptonite because of your involvement with them in a toxic relationship. Toxic relationships are also usually abusive, either mentally, emotionally, physically, or a combination of these and other forms of abuse. Abusive relationships are usually not recognized as such until they are over. They are also usually lengthy, because there is a certain form of psychological addiction that accompanies them. This makes it kryptonite. The combination of the ups and downs, pushes and pulls. The baddest bad makes a mediocre good seem like heaven, and we stick around for those moments. We stay because we feel loved when he apologizes. We stay because we think we are loved, and he tells us so. We stay because we don’t feel worthy of more. We stay because we are scared to be alone. Kryptonite: makes you the weakest, lowest, worst version of yourself that you have ever been.

And when the relationship ends, and you realize you are existing as a version of yourself that is not really you, and you need to get away from your kryptonite… You can hardly bear it. It hurts too good. You want a high, so you take it, and then you suffer the inevitable low that happens when his mood turns or when you realize that what you’re doing is selfish and wrong.

Of course, in all of these things I am talking about myself. My ex is my kryptonite. What does this mean? Where do I go from here? First of all, the very word KRYPTONITE is my mantra. Today when I felt vulnerable and wanted him to hug me, I tell myself kryptonite. When I feel angry because of another argument about our son, kryptonite. When I want to prove my point, or get in the last word, kryptonite. Why? For two reasons.

1. If I really, truly want things to get better between us as co-parents and ex’s (as I affirm that I do), I need to break my addiction to my weakness. I need to be empowered, and remain empowered, calm, and reasonable through all events. I need to be able to affectively communicate without being torn down by my usual triggers. I need to be able to decipher when he is playing the game, and when he really wants to talk about something important. I need to learn when to stop talking, stop arguing, allow the last word to be had and let it go. As long as I keep playing the game, the game won’t stop.

2. If I can overcome my kryptonite, then that means that I have no ultimate weakness, and I am FREE. Personal development never ends. Becoming the best version of yourself is a life-long process that keeps going until the day that you die. However, if you could choose one (and only one) ultimate weakness of your human condition, wouldn’t you try to conquer that first? Wouldn’t all other challenges after that one become much more achievable?

Make kryptonite your mantra. Cut the cord. Take back your power. Free yourself. Only you are responsible for this.

Obnoxious with Opinions

I will be honest, I’m going to have a quick vent about vegans and vegetarians. As a once vegetarian of 6 years, and now passionate about real, traditional foods, I can assure you I understand both sides of the story.

I will start by simply stating one thing. Nutritionally, veganism is neither natural nor adequate, particularly for children, nursing mothers, elderly, or those attempting to conceive. It can be a fine temporary lifestyle choice, and can create a fabulous detox, but in general is devoid of nutrients that are impossible to find without incorporating some animal based foods. Without going on a fact-tangent, there are absolutely no traditional cultures that are vegan. Vegetarian cultures prize dairy and/or seafood. Humans evolved alongside wild or domesticated animal foods, and if that’s not enough information to raise a question or curiosity in your mind, then there is no conversation to be had for either of us.

The issue, for me, is not that other people are making a “wrong” choice, that I’m concerned for their health, or that they disagree. The problem is that vegetarians, and , even more so, extremist vegans, are so damn obnoxious in their tone and word choice. I’ve been very blessed not to have conversed with a combative vegan, but even the more mild folks have an air of superiority and condescension in their speech.

It’s as if they are subtly communicating, you don’t know what I know. But as a former vegetarian, I can assure you that the only way to be passionate about vegetarianism or veganism, is to be ignorant. I researched vegetarianism and veganism intently, but was very careful to avoid reading pro-animal product comments, research, or other sources of information. It’s as if I knew there would be something there to deter me from my current lifestyle choice.

I was incredibly hard headed. There are so many equally obnoxious and ignorant omnivores in the world, and, sadly, that was one of the major reasons I was vegetarian for such a long time. People’s opposition is fuel to passion. Vegetarianism is adopted to one’s identity, largely due to questioning relatives or the look on the barbecue king’s face when you tell him you’ve brought your own veggie patty. The more people were abrasive towards me, or said “oh you’re still doing the vegetarian thing?” the more I swore I would never give it up. If any vegetarian has made it this far into my blog post, a little part of you must be agreeing, and that’s okay.

Only when I was pregnant with my son did I discover real food. The thought of feeding meat to a baby repulsed me, and I even discussed raising my family vegan. I picked up “Real Food for Mother and Baby” on a trip to the library to grab all sorts of pregnancy books; it was in a stack of ten. I was appalled when I began reading, but Nina Planck is so informed, eloquent and dignified, I couldn’t help but read her book cover to cover. What began as feeling horrified that someone would promote animal products for babies, turned into feeling horrified that I wasn’t eating them myself while pregnant. I bought grass fed steak the next day.

I digress. As I was saying, a key ingredient to vegetarianism is informed ignorance. Informed only on what one chooses to give his or her attention to. This is the main reason I am very upset by those who subtly imply that I am somehow misinformed. But alas, my vegetarian self likely would have viewed an ex-vegetarian as a quitter or conformist.

And there lies the rub. The ignorance combined with a completely condescending attitude, where vegans are heroes (because your body won’t allow you to give it all up), vegetarians are potential vegan converts, ex vegetarians are quitters, and meat eaters are uninformed, combines to create this classic model of an obnoxious vegetarian that many folks, vegetarians and omnivores alike, I’m sure are familiar with.

Vegans, I’m sure you don’t appreciate being associated with this stereotype, I know I hated it and felt embarrassed by extremists giving ‘normal’ vegetarians a bad name. The problem is, instead of being open minded and sharing information, conversations on this topic are an argument even one sentence in. Most vegetarians won’t even supply facts, I’ve had several say that “they’re sure” you can get all nutrients from some plant source or other. Them being factually incorrect doesn’t even bother me, it’s the matter-of-fact, I don’t have time for you, I do my research you obviously don’t do yours -attitude.

Omnivores can be just as bad. In the work lunch room I had many people become offended by my lifestyle choice simply upon asking what I was having for lunch. Without even a comment from myself, many would voluntarily provide a mini-rant defending their choice to eat meat. I view this as a chicken and the egg problem – did vegans make omnivores touchy to the topic or vice versa? It was likely simultaneous.

When the topic is raised with me now, I briefly explain my choice. I am insistent that babies should not be vegan, because babies depend on adults to provide nutrition, and heaven forbid a diet fad should lead to a newborn’s failure to thrive, common among vegan babies. Otherwise, to each their own. With the Internet at our finger tips, any relatively intelligent person has no excuse to be uninformed on a topic so crucial to life (literally life, as in staying alive), as food. I passionately discuss the topic with those who understand it from the same perspective as me. If a vegan ever had questions (they never do, they believe themselves all-knowing), I would gently answer them, resisting any tone of finality in my voice. My own blog is strictly for my own opinions.

May we all resolve, omnivores and vegans alike, to be mindful of other’s choices being their own. Let us assume that people are informed in their choice, not ignorant. Let others ask us for more information if they are interested. Surely no vegetarians or vegans became so by experiencing someone heatedly arguing with them, or subtly mocking them. I became vegetarian because I wanted to and because I was interested. As with religion, aggression creates few converts.

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love… often sought after, but what does this mean?

In an adult relationship, unconditional love means no matter what your partner does, you love (in my case) him, despite disagreeable actions, flaws, and mistakes.

It means that you do something because they ask you to, not because you’re scared of what their reaction will be. It means you do something because you care, not to receive attention back in return. It means when you make a mistake, you’re honest about it. It means when he makes a mistake, you choose your words carefully and show him you love him anyways.

Unconditional love doesn’t mean no boundaries. It also doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to be upset with him. It means that when you are upset, you manage your anger or sadness.

No matter what challenges you encounter, you stay together.

Keep Moving

My partner was watching a quick youtube video yesterday about a professional body builder who is recovering from semi-paralysis (waist-down). Initially I was disinterested, but this man made an excellent point. He was talking about how in life, you have to always keep moving. When you are moving towards something then things start opening up for you. When you are stagnant, it seems like life isn’t bringing anything to you, but as long as you keep moving, seemingly impossible things will manifest themselves in your life. 

I mentioned in my last post all of the family, financial, and mental health issues my partner and I were experiencing last year, this went on from around March to September. I finished my degree in October, and then we started making plans to move across the country. There were ups and downs, one failed attempt to make it to Alberta, a period where we lived separately for financial reasons, and then finally we arrived here successfully March 12. 

During this time that we essentially existed as victims, there were few successes in our life. It was not a total losing time in our life, though some days it certainly felt like it. Only upon making a drastic change and taking a risk, removing ourselves from the situation we were in, did things really start moving. I did two university courses in two months; graduated. My partner planned and completed a move to Alberta, though ending in failure, achieved much more in two months than he had all year. It then only took 3 months to re-plan a trip for us to move all of our belongings and find a place to live. In two weeks since arriving in this new city, he has one job and I have two. We have daycare, a babysitter, and everything else in place. In two weeks I have achieved more than I have in six months. 

And there lies the difference. When you are taking action, things open up for you. I don’t believe that I am such a great catch that people are swooning and offering me jobs. It’s because I never stopped taking action, because I had a plan and a goal. I have been very blessed, not only to find work, but to find work with great people and opportunity. Time after time we put ourselves in situations that need to go perfectly to plan, and they do. We make ourselves vulnerable to the universe, and each time we are met with blessing after blessing. 

Anxiety Creeping In

My partner is someone who I love very much, and is someone I have had to work tirelessly with to improve our relationship. When I hear about the law of attraction or other like-attracts-like philosophies, this was certainly true of mine and his state entering this relationship three years ago. Both similarly jaded, similar appearance, and similar personalities (for better or for worse), we each had similar bad relationship habits and similar historical family problems. There were countless things that had to be in sync in order for us to ever have crossed paths, and even though in difficult moments I find it hard to believe, I think we were meant to find each other.

Our relationship has not been without problems, though presently there are far fewer than there were at the beginning. Jealousy, anger, and a struggle for power defined us for a long time. The worst external factor to our relationship has been his parents. I love them, but they are toxic. They display all of the symptoms of adult children of alcoholics, and though I love them dearly, I prefer to stay at a safe distance from them. Intentional attempted sabotage, financial ruin, and general family drama are just a few of their influences we have survived along the way. In the end we have learned our lessons… but there have been unexpected repercussions as a result of these struggles.

Anxiety, can we even define it? I will resist actually checking a dictionary and contemplate the word on my own. Anxiety to me is a horrible feeling that develops in the stomach and spreads throughout the body, sometimes resulting in paralysis. It is an initiator to countless other negative emotions and thoughts. It is a catalyst to worrisome brain storming. Anxiety strips us of belief in ourselves or other people. Anxiety shows itself through emotional, metal and physical symptoms. Difficult to define, difficult to pin down… and difficult to overcome.

I think I have struggled with anxiety for most of my life. I have been a habitual people-pleaser, a goody-two-shoes. I always find myself wondering where I stand with other people, generally assuming the worst. I defend myself with a hard no-care shell, and have lost touch with what it means to truly ‘be myself.’ My partner was secretive, overly emotional, and rebellious. Both of us are angry. We habitually don’t give ourselves enough credit, experience regular self-loathing, perfectionism, and spend too much time in our own heads.

My true self is someone of a positive, idealistic, optimistic attitude. I love life and people. I love great conversation, indulging in delicious food and drink. I love the arts and crafting. I love gardens and nature. I love physically exerting myself in work or sport. I am an ambitious over-achiever, love being on the go, but have to remember not to burn the candle at both ends. My partner is endlessly caring and compassionate. He has a child-like sense of humour, loves physical exercise, loves projects of all sorts and seeing them through to the end. He is ambitious and strives for success.

Unfortunately these split personalities are all of who we are. Anxiety creeps through our true selves and hinders our real expression. It is a constant battle that is sometimes not even seen by our own eyes. The beginning of our relationship and those negative experiences with his parents compounded on past experiences to double our anxiety levels. I never really realized it was happening. Michael all of a sudden was unable to work or do anything. He existed solely through escapism and secrets. I found myself more angry than ever, searching outwards for a solution to my uneasiness through art and walking. Our relationship was shameful.

A dramatic and intentional shift of circumstances and events improved both of our anxiety levels dramatically, but somehow there is a reservoir that exists below the surface, sometimes lapping up on the shores of our consciousness. We always have just enough to get by, but I worry that this is because we fear only ever getting by, so that is how we exist. I have been at home with my baby for nearly 14 months, and feel incapable of any job, as though my university education is only enough for me to be worthy of washing dishes or scrubbing toilets. I feel utterly useless, as if my personality could not fit any opportunity and I would surely fail.

Sometimes I find myself sitting for an hour, checking facebook, then twitter, then facebook, then email, then my online bank, then facebook, then twitter. I stop for a moment only to consume junk food. Maybe send a text message. Then find myself on facebook again. I long to be out of the house, but have no where to go and no money to spend. I am in a house with absolutely no furniture except for a folding chair, a trunk, and a mattress, where majority of my belongings still exist in cardboard boxes. I am so thankful for our new place, but feel as though I am floating in nothingness. My brain is a philosophical mess.

When I step back from myself for a brief moment, I ask myself, what is this? What is this feeling and where did it come from? and the answer is always the same. Various labels for the same root: anxiety. I resent his parents for deepening our relationship with anxiety. I resent myself for participating in the dance for so long.

If I could do it again I would hold myself to a few rules. Follow your gut, don’t allow another’s need to learn the hard way impact your life’s circumstances. Do not waste your time explaining yourself or engaging in any way with toxic people. Pick your battles, and fight to understand, not to win. Sometimes it’s okay to give-up, stubbornness is sometimes useful, but not always. Watch your life from afar, and look out for evidence of self-sabotage. Your time, your life, your experience is valuable. Don’t sell yourself short, don’t settle for “not that bad”. You deserve the best, and until you believe that, no one will respect you that way either.

I don’t know where the drain is in my reservoir of anxiety. I am always learning, and for now I will wade to the shore and avoid falling in.

Anger as Strength

Anger comes in many forms, but often poses itself as strength. By embodying the beholder as larger, louder, fierce or even dangerous, the subject can forcefully attempt to satisfy the emotional upset that spurred on the rage in the first place. Anger is attempting to take by force. Angry people expend copious amounts of energy attempting to steal other’s, to balance with a surplus. But anger presented as strength is surely indicative of weakness.  

Those who are both angry and weak sway between two emotional opposites. In all the glory of their weakness, they tip toe through life. Their insecurity is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Timidly approaching situations of no importance with the weight of a thousand requests. Yet, moments of grave importance skim the surface of their emotional well. Their uneasiness gives other people that creepy feeling of passive aggressiveness, that always leaves loved ones with an intuitive sense of distrust.  

With time, the victim mentality stealthily immerses itself into the conscious mind, persuading other thoughts that acquaintances, friends, and family are taking advantage and for granted. Self righteousness rises, initiating a rising cascade of resentful thoughts and arguments. The shell hardens and, as a saviour, anger takes over. Anger serves to protect. Anger dutifully retrieves the pieces of the self that had been given as indignant obligations but were ignorantly received as generous favours. Anger fills the void and repays the debts. Anger sugar coats personal flaws and pairs them with sanctimonious, fictional traits. Anger rises up a weak person as alcohol instills courage in a tiny man. In the same way as the later, anger is an addiction and a drug. 

There is no greater sign of personal weakness than anger as strength. It is the last resort of the ego to protect itself. Consider, last resort is to have no other options available: this person is depleted of personal security and spiritual energy. This is the type of anger that should not be addressed by the receiver: to respond is to breathe life into the fire. Perceive this false strength for what it is: weakness, and meet weakness with compassion.