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The Pain of Separation & The Joy of Belonging

From the time we are born to the moment we die, a sense of separation exists in our perceptions of self to others, the world, and something nameless beyond. Separation is the covert antagonist when one experiences a loss or death of another. Grief, sadness, resistance, confusion, and deep #emptiness mark the expressions of perceived #separation and reveal to us the #desire and pleasure we value in the gifts of #connection. Through connection with others and the world outside oneself, the joy of #belonging becomes known. Feeling embraced and welcome for what one wants and has the capacity to share cultivates the experience of connection, while the success and #endurance of connection validates an individual’s #trust that they belong beyond the pain of separation when it occurs. The pain of separation and the joy of belonging dictate the ebb and flow of one’s emotional experience and how an individual constructs and deconstructs the mazelike projections of their #psyche.

The hall of #mirrors is a strong metaphor for the maze of thoughts and emotions an individual navigates within oneself. #Everywhere you go, there you are, or at least some part of you that is either conditioned or choosing to show up in response to information you are processing in the experience of yourself, as a part of life. The #connection or #disconnection an individual feels within ripples out to their relationships with others just as one’s perceived connection or disconnection in each of these #relationships ripples back into perceptions of oneself. Separation defines self from others and enables individual experience. This establishes the opportunity to refine how an individual connects or disconnects with others. It challenges an individual to be in service to their relationship with themselves and become a studious witness to how they navigate interactions with others and the world. Becoming the authentic self and establishing self-worth is a constant journey of mindful weighing, sorting, claiming, and releasing. #Acknowledging the evidence of your integrity in your beliefs and actions, honoring one’s #EmotionalExperience, and deepening into the methodical assessment of multifaceted perspectives for all involved, is essential to a healthy separation of self from others.

The desire #ToBelong presents the impetus to seek out connection that nourishes and acknowledges your own value. What an individual perceives in their #worthiness will affect the connections they choose to endure, as well as the conformity to that relationships’ demands over time. It is essential to safeguard one’s sense of worthiness and self by asking the questions “Does this person or community care about who I truly am? How much do I have to give up of my authentic self to feel like I belong? Am I relinquishing who I want to be or have always been, in order to avoid separation and maintain a sense of connection?

When an individual asks these questions, the weighing of trade-offs in what is gained and lost outside of self is juxtaposed with the gains and losses within oneself. This is a time when honoring the #sacrifices and self-deferral one has chosen for the benefit of perceived belonging is the most responsible approach, regardless of the choice to continue or discontinue relationship. Self-love requires trust in self which requires honesty and accountability in the choices an individual makes as they navigate life and relationships. Understanding is the fruit of these experiences that casts light on more fulfilling paths in the maze of our minds and fortifies opened or closed doorways in one’s heart.

The exploration of belonging and separation are a part of the journey to knowing oneself. The perception of one’s value can be diminished or empowered in both, depending on the #balance of #honesty and #authenticity with self. No matter how much we strive for connection and belonging, a sense of separation will always feel inevitable because of the #diversity cultivated in each individual’s sense of self. Yet, the feeling of connection is also persistent because of the reflections we bear witness to in others about the experiences of #separation and #belonging, connection and disconnection, hardship and success. The fabric of emotion, mutual existence on the earth, and interactions to meet basic needs for survival are the threads that will always connect us as humans.

The experience of separation or the experience of belonging may be tended and expanded in an individual’s awareness, depending on the perceptions one holds most valuable for a sense of #protection and #security. Some believe that foregoing the joy of belonging prevents them from the pain of separation. Others believe belonging protects them from the experience of separation. Neither are absolute or true because they both exist inside each of us all the time. From the moment we are born we feel separation from our mother. We need her love and protection to feel safe and to teach us the joy of belonging. We build the experience of connection and belonging with our #family unit and playmates by mimicking and sharing our thoughts and feelings and discover our differences more and more over time. These differences challenge us to work harder to belong or to lean into feeling separate and alone. Our mother and our life cannot give back the sense of oneness we felt in the womb. It is not until death that we can return to the “unknown”, the mysterious abyss of #wholeness we were birthed from. An individual says yes to life and all its possibilities when they embrace the journey of separation and belonging.

Separation and belonging are neutral #gatekeepers to one’s emotional experience. It is up to us to explore the realms they keep. It is up to us to define and expand the potency of our individual and shared understandings in service to self-love, worthiness, and integrity with the core of our authentic self. #Relationships will grow through connection and relationships will falter in times of disconnection, no matter what role they take on in an individual’s life. The path to reconnection and belonging from the conflict driving #disconnection and the pain of separation invite all of us to refine our capacity to build bridges where we feel #divided. Where no #bridge can be built, a #boundary of separation will stand. The ability to honor our differences and perspectives is what defines healthy boundary from a #detrimental wall. Walls do not serve the expansive awareness of self when they are made to reject understandings that are in service to the self and to all involved. Walls may serve self-protection but often obscure an individual’s view of reality, beyond the #biases of one’s own mind. The psyche and the world are a perpetually changing landscape. The more walls someone raises, the easier it is to be trapped in the gaze of one’s own mirrors. #HealthyBoundaries are flexible yet firm in their function, to receive what is in service to our deeper understandings without blocking others or the world completely out. Their elasticity allows us to explore their relevance to new connections or new phases of long-term relationships with a firmness that is founded in the protection of the authentic self we seek to share.

Embrace the choice to explore the pain of separation and the joy of belonging. Expand your vision beyond the maze of your mind and listen deep to the heart’s intuition. Rise above the walls within to sense the most direct path to honoring your authentic self. Learn how to build a bridge between your self-value and your value of others in order to refine the function of healthy boundaries in times of change.

Excerpts from the Writings of Julie Hightman


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