Question of the day.

When you are with your family, immediate, or extended, do you feel like you belong?

My answer:

That’s a hard one. I’ve always had issues with that sense of belonging thing, for two reasons I think. First is related to my being far from my family for most of my childhood. I am actually just starting to understand these things about myself and didn’t fully realise it all even a year ago. When I was at the boarding school, I felt like I don’t belong there at all, but that if I belong anywhere, I belong only to my family. I think I had a strong sense of… hm, distinctiveness? individuality, don’t really know how to call it best in English, anyway my Dad has it very strong in his character and looks like we all, his children, have too, and my Mum has it as well. I’ve always felt like I’m an individualist and was glad with it and I always needed to have some private, just my own territory where no one else would interfere, which was almost impossible at that boarding school, especially at the beginning when we all (girls from my group) lived together in one room. Our staff always wanted us to talk about everything (including our feelings) with everyone and wanted us to feel the sense of unity with the others, share as much common as possible, they kept saying we’re “like a family”. I think it was with good intentions, but then it only was making me more and more rebellious and the more I’ve heard about all that unity, commonness and “togetherness” the more I hated everything about these words and the more I felt like vomiting whenever I heard them. I liked most of the girls in my group, but, no, thanks, I already have my family and I don’t need another one, I don’t feel close enough with them, that was more or less how I thought about it. So yeah the only community that I felt like I belong to was my family. But then when I was coming home, I was treated like a guest by everyone, and felt like one in some way, it was usually like a big holiday for all of us and I didn’t get that much of normal, everyday family life, besides longer holidays or stuff like that, and the two years in between my stay at the boarding school when I was experimenting going to integration school which didn’t work out in my a bit complex case. It was impossible to catch up on everything that happened during my absence so I didn’t know about many things and in some way felt like a stranger and had an impression that some people in my family perceive me a bit this way too, not in a bad sense like that I wasn’t welcome, but my life was just so different from theirs, you know. And then I was going back to school and had obviously very idealised picture of my family and of family in general and experienced a lot of this hiraeth feeling I described like a month ago or so. So as I grew up I gradually realised that actually I don’t feel anywhere like I’m at home. I mean, I loved coming home obviously and always was willing anything possible to stay longer here, but quite a bit of the sense of belonging to my family has disappeared with time. Btw I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I like Cornelis Vreeswijk so much, one of my musical crushes whom I mentioned already a few times. He was Dutch, but emigrated to Sweden at 12 with his family and lived and created his music and poetry there for most of his life and became famous in Sweden. When he was in the Netherlands, Nederlenders called him a Swede, while in Sweden he was Dutch, hence in one of his poems he called himself “a man (…) without motherland”. You know, birds of a feather flock together, right? Just my a bit detached reflection. I think there are many people who experience such feelings for their entire lives though, due to various situations.

And the second reason is that for almost all my life I’ve felt more or less inadequate to other people, or like I couldn’t connect with them, which can be at times quite frustrating and can make you feel like you belong hardly anywhere. My anxiety in social situations also gets in the way so it makes for quite an interesting mix.

These feelings have lessened in regard to my family as I am enjoying my life with them since more than three years now, although they are still present somewhere in my mind.

Like I’ve never developed a normal sibling relationship with my brother and we have hardly anything in common to talk about, which is so weird and uncomfortable for me, because he is only younger two years than me while with Zofijka who is ten years younger, I have plenty of things to talk about and we have a very close relationship, though also very dynamic, as we are so different and getting on each other’s nerves, as siblings usually do. I still have these feelings of not belonging sometimes when we all are together, but overall I think now I feel much more in place in my immediate family.

It’s worse with my extended. It’s hard for me to open up to them, there are so many of them and I know they all like me and I like them, but… all the holidays and stuff when we gather as a whole family are quite overwhelming for me, especially with my Dad’s family. I get on better with my Mum’s family, probably because we lived very close to them before we moved a year ago to where we live now, so I was seeing them much more often, and I just have more things in common with them, I feel. But it’s also improving and when my family and I are somewhere where there are more people who aren’t my family members, I feel like I belong and am a part of my family. And I am always proud of my family as a whole and of all the people of my immediate family as individuals and I think I’m very lucky for having the family I have. I am also gradually learning that although you’ll be always alone in some way as my Mum says, this is a really good thing if you belong somewhere because of your own choice, or because you’re emotionally attached to the community you’re a part of. and I am a part, and I feel like I’m one, of some other communities than my family, and I am very glad I belong to them and now I know it is so great to have something in common with other people.

How about your sense of belonging? I must say I’m interested about how it is with other people and do they always feel like they belong even if they didn’t have such or similar experiences to mine. 🙂