Monday, February 23, 2015

physiology of belonging

Flowers from loved ones. Community is an

essential part of healing. The freesias

came with a note that said "Remember -

when you can't ride the horse, get off and

walk it for a while. The horse thanks you too."
A few weeks ago, my father died.* I've been trying to get warm ever since. I know emotions are tied to body heat, but it's frustrating, anyway, to keep the house at nearly 20C and still to be cold from the inside out, always. I've been dreaming that I'm warm and cozy in a snow-cave. I drink tea and it doesn't warm me. I boldly go out in the sunshine and it feels cold on my face. I don't even sweat at ballet.

Then today, a tiny revelation: I was wrapped up in warm clothes, drinking tea and busying myself about the house to keep warm, keeping the fire stoked and constantly standing near it. Then unexpectedly my daughter mentioned to me that sometimes when people speak, she sees the words going by. What?! So do I!! I've always thought it was an anomaly - just one more lonely trait in my history of being different. I guess in the family aftermath of my father's death, a feeling of belonging somewhere was something I needed very much.

I was so excited by this revelation and the joyful feeling of belonging that I literally jumped with glee, and my daughter instantly back-pedalled: "Wait, no! It's not that exciting?!" Yes it is. "No! I probably only see them rarely! Or just once!" She was clearly alarmed at my enthusiasm, but she didn't understand how much that tiny thing meant to me. So I let it go. Then I took off my jacket. I'm too hot. My house is 20C and I just had a cup of tea, and - for the moment at least - I feel warm right through.

What physiological change was prompted by the feeling of belonging, of joy, of letting go of pain? I'm no scientist, and I haven't researched this, but the experience is a good reminder to me to appreciate and seek out these moments of joy, for whatever they are, and however seemingly unimportant, because my health and healing depends upon my doing so. It's also a reminder to me, as a parent, that my children's (and all of our) physical health depends upon our emotional health. It depends upon our sense of belonging and self-worth, as well as how we are valued at home and in the greater community. This reinforces my firm belief that healing and personal change cannot be provoked as well by external force or intervention as it can be supported by acceptance, love, and a nurtured sense of belonging.

*Further info is in the obituary, which I linked to. I don't have the emotional means to post about my father's death right now, but I promise that one day I will. It's a big family change; a big personal journey, and a very steep learning curve for me. It's going to take some time to be able to verbalize.

1 comment:

  1. We are wired for belonging, connection, dignity and safety. This is a great post and great noticing of how these things manifest and move through our bodies. I lost my father 10 years ago. His birthday was the 24th. I am sorry for your loss and wish you all the warmth you need in your process


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