The most influential book that I’ve read in my lifetime is Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.
I had so many moments of clarity and understanding while reading this book. One chapter in particular that stands out for me it was the story of the Ugly Duckling. In the chapter, she talks about feelings of “not belong” in one’s family where you feel totally different from the other members of your family.
I can remember sitting on the train on the way to work and I couldn’t stop the tears from coming.
I can remember as a child I used to think that I must have been adopted and that I had a birth family somewhere who loved me and missed me because I couldn’t be part of this dysfunctional family. I used to go to sleep at night imagining running away and finding my family and that they would be so happy to see me and I would finally feel that I belonged. Of course, that never happened and I know I wasn’t adopted, but that feeling of not belonging never went away, in fact, it has been something I have carried deep inside my soul for my entire life.
I can remember when I was younger, I used to watch 2 TV shows in particular, that had a profound effect on my psyche. They were Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show. They were both about families and their struggles, but mostly it was how they got along with each other and the love they experienced. I wanted to have that same experience. As a result, I tried my whole life, as did the Ugly Duckling, to find “my family”. I eventually did run away when I was 17 and I went searching for my family.
When I first met my husband and he told me about his family I thought they sounded perfect and I would be able to fit in with them and finally feel like I belonged to “a family”. When I met them, I was welcomed into their home and I did feel as if I belonged; however, over the years I soon realized they were also quite dysfunctional. After my husband died after a very long illness, they basically abandoned me and my 2 children. Once again I was so disappointed that I didn’t find my family.
Then I decided I would create my own family with my 2 children. I spent my entire time dedicated to being the best mother ever. Any decision I made I thought over and over to ensure I was doing the best for them. I spent time with them, I went to all school events, something my parents never did. I was active in all of their endeavors. I made sure they never felt disadvantaged by being raised by a single parent. I didn’t spoil them, but I did ensure that all of their needs with met within reason. I loved them and told them often how I loved them. When they were younger, we got along so well, in fact, my daughter and I used to do so many things together when she was a teen. Her friends were envious of how close we were. During my son’s teens he did struggle, however, over the years we did repair our relationship until he married someone who didn’t like the fact that he was raised by a single mom. She eventually convinced him that he was better off without us in his life.
My daughter and I remained close until 2 years ago. She married a man who was very jealous of our relationship. He spent 8 years destroying our bond and now she has excluded me from her life and is not allowing me to see my 3 grandchildren. This was a devasting event and the hurt remains. When this happened, I once again was left without a family and felt extremely devastated.
I decided it was time to do some inner soul work. While taking Meg's Self-Love course her talking about having holes in our psyche that we can never fill. I remembered when I was in therapy years earlier my therapist had discussed this with me too. At the time I understood what he was telling me and accepted it; however, I realized I was still trying to fill that hole and now I had several other holes.
I had been spending all of my life trying to continually fill these holes with substitutes I am now learning to honor those holes for what they represent and what they have taught me. I’ve opened myself up to new experiences because I’m no longer spending all my energy trying to find ways to fill my holes. My psyche might look like Swiss cheese, but it’s also filled with wonder, peace, and acceptance. The best part of all is that by opening myself up to what the Universe has in store I’ve found my tribe and am now experiencing a huge sense of belonging. The best lesson learned is to stop trying to fill those holes and focus on the wonderful things that are right in front of you that you had overlooked as you were trying to fill those holes.