Belonging & Holidays

December 3, 2013

belongingWe all need to feel like we belong.

This sense of not fitting in or having a place in the universe can more easily surface during the holidays.

You might think you don’t belong if you’re grieving and feel out of sync with holiday cheer.

Maybe your parenting plan doesn’t allow your kids to celebrate with you.

Perhaps your family has rejected your partner and won’t allow you to bring her to dinner.

Or, you’re single and tired of tagging along to your friends’ festive traditions.

And what do you do about religious services when you no longer believe what you were taught as a child?

These are just a few examples of stories I’ve heard in my office over the years as people struggle to come to terms with belonging and the holidays.

Your situation might be different but still create that sense of isolation and loneliness that comes with thinking that you don’t belong.

If you saw Sandra Bullock in the movie, “Gravity”, you’ll know what I mean when I describe it as feeling like you’re tumbling, untethered through space because you’re cut off from the mother-ship.


waterOne thing you can do at times like this is go outside and be in nature.

Take a breath of fresh air.

Walk a little.


Touch something.


Take another breath.


Mary Oliver says it beautifully in her poem, “Wild Geese”


“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”


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