to belong

a stream of consciousness reflecting on loneliness & isolation in a christian circle

CW: suicide, mental illness

one of my earliest memories in canada, one of the stories i often return to, involves me sitting on top of the stairs, kicked out of the room because there was evidently a maximum number of players for the game tag. and they reached it. “sorry, you can’t play.”

they giggled as they locked the door.

it took me so long to realize how for most of my life, i remained that little girl, pounding against the door, desperate to be let into something trivial.

desperate to belong.

Art by Angel Ganev, “Distant”

years later, i still feel the grief of what could have been, of the ideas i once clung to, but i find home in a close-knit circle.

everyone always says how your friend group dwindles more and more as you age, and i’ve long understood how friendships drift — i moved around a lot in elementary school, so i understood the general concept of growing apart.

but i was naive enough to believe i could hold onto these friends — this “family” — forever. i trusted in our dreams of growing old, laughing in rocking chairs. i trusted in the feeling of being seen and held and loved by people i shared a faith with.

until now, my hypothesis, and it’s only a hypothesis, was that they found several problems with me, hence the distance. the SparkNotes version of my hypothesis?

i was too much.

Art by Helen Hyde, “Feeding the Bunnies”

when you have a long-persisting mental illness, especially a real hot, spicy, sexy one like borderline personality disorder (that’s a joke, in case that wasn’t obvious), suicidal ideation and subsequently, suicide attempts are often part of that package.

and let me preface this by saying i fully empathize and have lived experience with being on the other end of engaging with a suicidal person. it’s not easy by any means.

but ultimately, i felt completely thrown out when i reached out to my childhood friends, who have long known of my illness and often volunteered to “be there,” and i was left on read for a week. there were no phone calls. no quick check-in texts.

just …

praying for you.

these friends have since apologized, but what came of this exchange was a hiatus, if you will, where we didn’t speak to each other for months. and truthfully, it felt like our extended friend group couldn’t be bothered with me, either. (whether that was because of this conflict, or another, or because i was too queer or too worldly or what-have-you, i’ll never know.)

my entire illusion of belonging was tugged out from under my feet.

i became unbearably bitter.

Art by Isabel Emrich

i was angry. disillusioned. distrusting. and maybe this is a marker of hubris, but i felt like Job, reprimanded by his friends. i felt like Jonah, demanding God bring justice on my terms. i felt like a broken cistern. like i was stuck in the belly of a whale.

i felt deeply alone.

my thoughts those days consisted of, but were not limited to:

what happened to the four loyal friends of the Gospels, breaking through a roof just to bring their friend to someone who could take their pain away?

why bother singing about how God cares for the hopeless when God’s people are inconvenienced by the hopeless within their own circles?

how does any of this align with all the values we were taught in sunday school?

and so on, so forth.

the one thought that rang incessantly in my head?

why am i never good enough for them?

Art posted on Pinterest

maybe if i was prettier. or perhaps if i was less awkward. oh, i know! if i had their sense of humour … maybe, just maybe, there would be enough room for me, too.

like i said. i was that little girl crying on top of the stairs, distraught over games.

there’s not enough space here to delve into my faith. i am certain, though, that Jesus’ ministry and way of life reflects a community where people show up for each other. this isn’t to say we should never let each other down, but i have trouble picturing Him turning someone away who was in pain, least of all a friend. and i have trouble picturing Him avoiding difficult conversations because of how uncomfortable they may be.

i would much rather believe that community — not just Christian community — is about uplifting and amplifying those on the margins, which means getting uncomfortable, than live my life in a bubble.

blessed are the misfits

writing this has been quite tough. i can’t quite distill all of what i feel and think about losing my sense of community in one blog post. but the bottom line is that i pray i never make anyone feel like a burden.

i feel the need to say i do not hold ill will toward the people i once called my best friends. but simultaneously, i was deeply wounded by their inaction. my heart broke with their rejection.

thankfully, my family and friends have taken my tattered pieces and reconstructed, are probably still reconstructing, what it means to belong.

belonging is nabiha and i laughing over that cheesy teen wolf movie, mariam reprimanding me when i take on too much, my brother holding me when i cry, my dad sending me way too many dog reels, my mom listening to me as i gulp out my worries, becca taking me seriously at every miserable hour i contemplate suicide, lou’s unhinged but affectionate DMs, ate eos sending me virgo content that’s a little too accurate, and so much more.

Art by JAMES (@sunlightafterdark)

honestly, it’s okay that i don’t fit in with that group anymore. i don’t think i ever truly did.

i’ve had to remind myself over and over that it’s natural to be let down, the way i’ve let people down way too many times. i just want to be better. to look out for the little girls on the stairs or the women at the well. and i want to be kind. and to be open.

i don’t want to be bitter anymore. i want to be a reason someone can believe they belong, even if i’m a socially awkward reason. a sometimes suicidal reason. a very much imperfect reason.




One response to “to belong”

  1. H Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this. I can completely relate. I’ve been bullied all my life. It’s hard shake-off that feeling of rejection. But I guess we can only choose to treasure people who lift us up and make us feel loved. But also trying to look outward and share the little bright light with others and see them glow from their own darkness.


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