You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself and your work in a real way.
— Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging
Despite my last post, sharing Brené Brown quotes wasn’t my plan this week. I’ve just finished the spiritually sensual Redvelations by Sera Beak, and Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, and I have an enticing stack of Margaret Atwood library books sitting next to me on my desk as I write this. But this week my mind has been on connections, relationships, responsibility, vulnerability and the tangled web of humanity. So, of course, I’ve been craving Brené Brown. Don’t worry, I know this is way too broad and expansive a topic for a blog post, or at least a post that gets to any kind of point. But perhaps I am learning that making a point isn’t the point of bookcrush posts.
Here are a few threads of thought weaving through my life.
My sweetheart’s last podcast heavily featured conversation about how important connection is for people with ADHD and also how difficult it can be for them to find it. Brett has ADHD, and believe it or not, I don’t. So we’ve had a lot of trials and errors in the communication department as our relationship deepened and we spend an inordinate amount of time unraveling snarls we get into.
A fish and a bird may indeed fall in love, but where shall they live?
— Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed.
Darling, we found a place to live!
Bretts asks me who is the bird and who is the fish. Obviously I am the fish since his preferred conversational style consists of repeated visits to the surface of ideas which are, to me, not the same but delightfully adjacent, and though I can swim near the surface I thrive when I can grab an idea and plunge into the depths. Sometimes even simple conversations can entail intentional maneuvering, him diving and me leaping, each of us out of natural elements, more or less willingly.
No, Brett says, I don’t like being a bird, I’m totally a fish. For a moment I badly want to argue that clearly this isn’t how the metaphor works. He accepts that I love this metaphor so much that I write a “bird” “fish” on a piece of paper and draw a x/y axis circling the place where they meet to symbolize where we live, and hang it in our shower. I can accept that he likes to see himself as a fish.
After listening to the podcast, I asked Brett if he experienced belonging and connection in our relationship. He answered that he felt like we were both so weird (true) that we just don’t expect to belong with each other, but he feels connected to me and accepted which is more important to him. Perhaps this lack of expectation to belong accounts for free I feel in our relationship. OK, maybe I am the bird.
You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.
— Maya Angelo
After yet another comedian’s abuse towards a woman comes out, I casually mentioned that I was glad I didn’t have to worry about that kind of thing from a particular trio of comedians I follow, and Brett responded, “well then don’t google ____.” Damn. Of course I immediately googled him.
His response to the rape accusations consisted of a barely veiled threat to sue for defamation of character, a lecture on rape culture, references to things he does to support women now, and asking us to feel bad for him because this accusation would effect him the rest of his life. I suppose he means that people like me who admired him would eventually read this response and lose respect for him. I don’t even feel angry, just tired and sad. On the plus side, I’m totally not jealous of the people who get to work for him anymore.
Netflix’s description won’t prepare you for Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. Watch it anyway because I want to talk to you about it, but you need to watch it first.
Is there a response I would have accepted from the man in the story above? I don’t know. Honesty and vulnerability seems like a good place to start.
How does someone who has made grievous errors get on with their life? I type “I just got accused of rape what do I do now?” into my search engine, hoping I will find something helpful. I don’t. There are ads for lawyers, and angry bloggers talking about women falsely accusing men for their own career advancement. Notably, I can’t find any information for women wanting to use victimhood to get ahead in their careers.
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
I remembered an incident from first grade where I was the hugest of assholes and I very likely emotionally scarred someone. I’m not ready to write much about it yet. I wish I remembered his name. I wish I knew whether it would make it better or worse if I apologized.
I contemplate my ancestral lines going all the way back to the first humans. They branch out and connect with other lines until they aren’t lines anymore at all, but rather a tapestry with threads of violence as well as wisdom, and love as well as malice woven through it. I find myself acutely aware that I must certainly carry the DNA of rapists as well as their victims in my blood.
I spend time with my shaman counselor friend. She reminds me of all the people all over the world doing the work of healing. We’re in this together.
Once upon a time two women met and saved each other’s lives over and over again.
— Me, describing a certain kind of friendship.