“Belonging is a deep spiritual need.”
— “Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions, and Concepts,” by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 270
I was reading about participation in groups, specifically as a volunteer giving service in a 12 Step program. It wasn’t until I became a member of a 12 Step group for eating disorders that I felt like I belonged.
Of course, a 12 Step group is focused on spirituality, but I had no clue that a sense of belonging was actually a need, a spiritual need at that! Just like I didn’t know my eating disorder was about me trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, trying to fill a spiritual need (connection to Spirit) with a physical thing (food). I immediately felt at home in 12 Step meetings; I didn’t feel so alone. That was a tremendous milestone for me. But I think belonging goes beyond feeling not alone and may take some time to develop.
Belonging, to me, feels warmer, is a stronger sense of closeness and bonding.
I didn’t experience that sense of belonging in my family of origin, and, in fact, felt fairly isolated since I felt no one understood me nor my eating disorder for that matter. Not did they accept me for who I am.
At work places, I usually didn’t feel like I belonged. Granted, I was not your usual woman, often blazing my own trail, hearing a different drummer. For instance, I was a college-educated young woman, whose one of many jobs at AMTRAK in the late 1970s was operating an electric flat-bed ‘truck’ at NY Pennsylvania Station and loading baggage and mail onto trains. Also, about the same time, I bought my first house as a single woman in my 20s, unheard of in those times, unlike now.
Yes, I’ve had many adventures. Many, alone. And, not feeling like I belonged. It took courage, strength, perseverance, working on myself, and growing closer to Spirit so that I could feel “a part of”, that I have a place.
Here’s Brené Brown’s taking on belonging, from “Braving the Wilderness”:
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.”