I thought I was an outsider all my life. And then I came home.
I was sitting in a meditation conference, feeling like an outsider. And I realized – why? These were “my people”, if ever there were any people like me. Psychologists, most of them. Though there was a Reiki master/horse massager, too, sitting near me! People experienced in this world. People who loved to learn. People who wanted to meditate. And Lord knows I’ve been meditating for more than 30 years now. So how could I still feel like an outsider?
I always thought I’d find where I fit, someday…but instead I brought “outsider-ness” to every new encounter in my life.
It makes sense, really.
My dad was overseas when I was born. My mom and I lived with my grandparents. We were outsiders in their home, as much as they loved us. We didn’t really belong there. We were just there on sufferance.
And being close to my Grandma made me an outsider with my mom, too. Which didn’t help.
Then my dad came home, and we moved away. To our own place. Far away in a different kind of world. And I discovered, to my shock, that my mom and this very large man, who didn’t quite know what to do with me, already knew each other. They had a relationship. They were close to each other. Already. She was glad to see him. Me, not so much. Nor he, me, as far as that goes. Though I know he loved me.
I was an outsider with resentment and fear this time.
When they had my sister, she belonged to them both from the beginning. She was part of their whole. I loved her too, but I was not one of them. I was from before.
When my handsome, confusing father left again, this time we followed. The new place was days and days away, riding on a ship where we certainly did not belong, and probably weren’t safe at all.
And in the Philippines, the world was different. Palm trees. Beaches. Servants. The people were different. Different color. Different hair. Different language. Children got worms and died here, and grown-ups did scary things. Hanging meat with flies on it. Dousing us with water on John the Baptist Day. Whipping themselves and flinging blood on Good Friday. Slitting the throats of pigs in the yards nearby.
Pigs squealing till they died.
We lived behind a wall, with rows of barbed wire and shards of broken glass set in concrete at the top. Not so hard to get over, though, if you were 5 and didn’t know any better. My friend Ne-net and I played by her mother’s fire, under their bamboo house. But while I loved Ne-net, we were certainly outsiders in each other’s lives. Getting inside meant risking trouble, if we were found out. As well as cuts and bruises.
Then my dad left the Navy and we all moved back to the States. A new vision, a new life, focused on his school, his preaching. I knew it was important. No more palm trees, no more beaches. No more servants. New churches. New schools. New rules. I never knew where the bathrooms were, or how the pledges went in the morning. And then, just as I figured it out, back into the Navy, now as an officer’s kid. A new thing altogether, and a rarified one at that. More new towns, more new schools – 3 in my Senior year alone.
Maybe that’s when I decided I just WAS an outsider.
It became my core internal experience. I brought “outsider-ness” into every aspect of my life. Even when I was much loved, even when I myself was the core of the group.
But no more. It’s time to let myself experience the fullness of reality.
I’m tired of feeling outside, never at home, trying to find my place, while at the same time others call me valued, even loved! My old experience of “outsider-ness” limited my enjoyment of my connection with others.
And I’m ready to be done with it.
I’m sure it will still show up at times. But I’m ready – though it feels odd and a bit scary – to know that I’m also an insider. Because I’m a person, with deep connections to other people.
And so are you.
Even though your experiences are different – you care about the experiencing. Even though your beliefs – maybe even your deepest held beliefs – are different, you believe.
We are people, you and I. We want to belong to the true thing. The real thing. We want to matter. Even when we come at it differently.
So how do I find the space where you and I can connect? Where can we experience that connection as heart-mates?
Sometimes it happens in folk art. Or in a story well-told. Sometimes it happens in meditation. Or by sharing the love of our various children.
I want to connect with you, down into our hearts, even if it’s just for a few moments. And know we are together. We fit.
We belong to the same world, you and I. We are connected to the same universe. To the same God behind the universe.
And we finally and forever belong.