Belonging: The Stuggle Between Identity and Values After Divorce
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April 19, 2016

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What do when you feel like you don’t belong? What does a sense of belonging offer to a person? To an adult? To a child? Is it different?

Watching my daughter, cross the street to wait for the school bus this morning made me think. Affluence abound in my town, my daughter lives with the financially struggling parent- me. Her father has a very successful life and he covers the big stuff in her life. One of the good things I did when I got divorced, was to make sure that the big things like summer camp and extra-curricular activities are covered by dad. He can afford it.

I rarely complain about what he does for the kids because I know that they are OK, maybe even better than OK. This is a happy home, with its share of stress.

We chose for me to be a stay at home mom. I worked remotely, for far less than I could have earned, had I chosen to work outside the home. I took care of my mother for almost 20 years and cared for her health until she passed at 90.

The decisions I made, we made, have made a difficult financial run for me as I pour all my support into maintaining the lifestyle that I cannot afford. The house is for sale, but nothing is fast, sadly.

Back to belonging… I have worked hard to help them develop their identities to be free of external clutter. We can survive without $20 shampoo and designer clothing. It is not who we are. But what happens when the mind knows, but the heart still wants?

As I go through my various closets and rooms in this silly large home, I find things to sell, donate or toss. After my 3 pregnancies, my feet went from a 7 to an 8, where they have remained. I have hung onto items with the hopes of getting smaller, either in the hips, or the feet, but like the stack of bills, that rarely happens.

Sorting through drawers, I have found both treasures and junk. Carefully wrapped in Robin’s Egg Blue fabric, the Tiffany bracelet with the large dangle heart was so important to me when I bought it for myself. It was iconic. Everyone had one. It identified me as someone who could afford the luxury of status.

My baby girl left the house today proudly wearing my cast off, barely worn UGG boots, and the Tiffany silver heart bracelet.                                                     

I could tell that she felt like she belonged.  A generally happy girl, she asks for little, but I know that she sees what others have. She rarely asks. She knows I do what I can to make her feel happy and proud of how she looks every day when she leaves the house.

Stalking the sales, I do the best I can do to make sure that she never feels “poor”. I have been there; it’s not a good feeling. Torn between the values I want her to have and the inevitable desires of living among the wealthy, it’s a day to day battle of logic versus experience.

I want her to be happy, with good values, but I also want her to know the pleasure of enjoying nice things. There is nothing wrong with having desires.

Knowing the joy of watching my baby wear something that was once mine, I smile as she gets on the bus. I now understand the pleasure my mom used to feel when she would generously share something of hers with me.

Knowing that my baby feels good about herself, and that she feels like she belongs, is important. The extra little luxuries today made her feel special.

I hope one day that I will find that place where I feel that I belong. I no longer want to live in the shadow of what I was. I want to be the single person and not the divorced person. I am still searching for what it means to be me.

Values aside, we cannot help how we feel. Today, I feel good, because she felt good when she left the house. As that image fades through the day, I will again struggle to find what it means to be me.

I still do not feel like I belong where I am, but that’s really OK, because I know that this is not where I will remain.

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