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Not of this world

May 1, 2016

A disquieting realization has settled upon me over the course of the past several weeks as I’ve spent time processing my marriage, divorce, and new life alone. It is the realization that the more I get back to feeling like my old self again, the less connected I feel to most of the people around me.

It’s odd to think that I could feel more connected to society when I was in a relationship that wasn’t right for me—but I had this sense of camaraderie with others as I went through the motions of marriage and motherhood. I had a house with a white picket fence (almost literally—it was a white post-and-beam fence), two kids, two cars, a horse and a dog; the standard American Dream. I had ordinary, everyday concerns to chat about with people.

But I wasn’t me; I was dying inside, losing touch with a part of myself that I’ve never fully understood but that is nonetheless integral to who I am. As I reclaim that part of myself, I feel more whole—but I also feel more disconnected.

It’s hard to put all of this into words. For as long as I can remember, I’ve walked through life feeling like a participant-observer, taking part in many of the day-to-day rituals of American life but feeling ill at ease with a majority of them and, consequently, engaging in a constant silent critique of the culture around me.

I remember attending parties in high school and college, watching friends imbibe and let loose and wanting no part of it. I’ve sat in on countless lighthearted conversations with my own heart feeling heavy, never able to escape my own thoughts of the overwhelming work there is to do in this world to save it from going to hell in a hand basket.

At some point about six years ago, I got lonely enough that I decided maybe I did need to loosen up; maybe I needed to realize that I can’t save the world, never will, and that I might as well enjoy life while I’m living it. So I did that and I met a man who I thought I enjoyed doing that with, a man who I eventually married and who I had two beautiful little girls with, only to realize that I didn’t enjoy letting loose. I didn’t enjoy letting go of my “uptightness,” as some have called it; I didn’t enjoy believing that it was okay to just focus on my own little life because I wasn’t going to be able to save the rest of the world anyway.

The truth is, I enjoy being serious. I enjoy being analytical and critical and quiet. I do enjoy laughter and music and spending time with friends as well, but the problem I’m beginning to reencounter is that to talk about what’s truly on my mind at any given point in time seems to suck the life out of other people’s enjoyment. My thoughts and critiques aren’t always welcome even among like-minded people because even like-minded people, unlike me, want to let loose sometimes and forget those heavy thoughts I seem to thrive on.

The pastor at my church brought up an apropos Bible verse this morning during his sermon: “Dear friends, you are like foreigners and strangers in this world. I beg you to avoid the evil things your bodies want to do that fight against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). I do feel like a foreigner in this world; but truth be told, I don’t mind. It gets lonely sometimes, but if I’ve learned one thing from the past six years, it’s that being a little bit lonely is far better than being someone I’m not.

My struggle moving forward will be to remain true to the person God created me to be and to not again fall into the trap of allowing myself to be someone I’m not just to have a relationship. If my only fulfilling relationship is with God for now and for the years to come, so be it. He blessed/burdened me (it feels like both) with my serious, contemplative nature for some reason; I simply have to trust that it’s a good one and that my life will be more fulfilling if I follow my nature no matter the cultural conflict it seems to entail.



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