Matters of belonging and learning to trust

I’m not good at trusting people. It’s not especially irrational; I’ve had my trust betrayed in some serious ways, in the past. I also suffer from anxiety (although nothing like as much as I used to). One of the things I’ve learned this week, from a fellow sufferer, is the way anxiety distorts perceptions. It’s easier to see when looking at someone else, and of course usually anxiety is only seen from the inside.

We learn patterns of behaviour. We learn what’s normal from how other people treat us, and we start learning this from our first breath. Things that are well-meant can have unhelpful consequences. One of the refrains of my childhood was being told not to show off, not to draw attention to myself. I worry every time I try to promote my work, that I’m acting out, showing off, behaving inappropriately. I have to fight my way past it on a regular basis. I know it’s there, and it’s one of the easier ones, not least because I’ve been blessed with so much positive feedback about my work that I know there’s plenty of you, dear generous blog readers, who are interested.

Still, dealing with people, I find it hard to imagine that I’m acceptable. It’s very easy for people to say in all innocence things that will cause me to take a step back. I infer that I’m too much, too difficult, too enthusiastic, imposing – I’ve heard these things so many times through my life that it’s easy to hear them when they aren’t quite what was meant.

What it means in practice is that to feel easy and secure in a situation, I need a fair amount of positive feedback. I need to know where I fit, and that I fit, and that I am welcome. Recent years have brought me a number of critically important spaces where I feel I  belong. There’s my marriage, for a start. The Contemplative Druid group has been a welcoming, patient, affirming space where I’ve felt able to speak honestly, and have had chance to tackle some of my body contact issues. I feel a sense of belonging with OBOD, although that’s all through the ether and somewhat more ephemeral. I feel a deep sense of belonging at Moon Books, where the affirmation that my work is valued has been ongoing, and I take considerable joy in helping and supporting other authors. I’m starting to feel a sense of belonging with Druid Camp too (it’s taken me nearly three years). This week I’ve realised that Stroud Short Stories is also going to be one of those spaces for me.

One of the hardest things for me, is to trust people to find me acceptable. It makes me hesitant around relationships of all shapes and sizes. I stay still when perhaps I could step forward. When in doubt, what I hear in my head are the voices of the people who explicitly rejected me in the past, for being too much trouble. But there are people who have been patient with me, and just kept giving me reasons to keep trusting them, to keep talking, to stay. People who are generous with their affirmations make worlds of difference. Thank you.

To know where I belong is to be able to put down the utter shit of the past, and let it go, and do something better, with people who want to be doing things with me.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

11 responses to “Matters of belonging and learning to trust

  • juliebond

    I can certainly relate to a lot of this!

  • landisvance

    Oh dearest heart! Coming to know you, albeit on-line, is one of the great joys of my journey. I also identify with your struggles as they remind me of mine. Please don´t forget that some people, as you have rightly pointed out in the past, demand that others make life easy for them and that when one can finally see that and let those relationships go it is an important step forward. I have had to do that with family members and, recently, a woman who was a ¨friend¨ for 40 years (until I realized that she had never been there for me and that it had always been about her.) You have the right to create the kind of space that you want to live in and to protect that space as sacred. So when you hear nasty comments, consider the source and what the source hopes to get out of making those remarks, and then proceed to live your life bravely.

  • Niall O'Draighnean

    Thank you Nimue, this resonates deeply with Me..over two Years ago i was diagnosed with complex P.T.S.D. and was given Medication for extreme anxiety, during this time if i had not seen or Heard from My best friend for a few days i would assume I was too much or had offended her in some way, increasing my Anxiety, only to find She was delighted to see me When me met again..i also have serious trust issues stemming from a lifetime of Narcissistic abuse [something that Stopped Happening when I gave it up by refusing to be anybody’s victim]..in the long Run, i Have Learned the true value of honesty; true friends do not mind it..false friends fall away making life less complicated

    • Nimue Brown

      thank you for sharing this Niall, in sharing we overcome something of the isolation these issues cause, and I think often by comparing experience it becomes easier to see ways forward.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Sometimes the most important person to approve of you, is you yourself. Other people function on their own agendas, which may or may not be of use to you, or helpful to your peace of mind.

    I don’t expect a lot from people. In grey areas I expect them to lean a bit to what is useful to them. If they are not greedy about and they cause me not harm, then they are doing fine. If they are greedy, or doing harm than I close them off because as a bipolar person I see no need to put up with their creating stress.

    For me the most important thing is I have no need to impress anyone,no need for anyone’s approval. Watching how people react to me, even my customers, I come to the conclusion that I a likeable, at least on the short term, if not very social. I usually have a good word for people, my jokes focus on me and my oddities, and never on anyone else, simply because people getting hurt or being embarrassed is not humor in my sense of the word.

    So you are imperfect, since when have we ever had perfect people, regardless of those that think that they are. We are designed to be exactly what we are with built in strengths and built in weaknesses. That is the boundary of our lives and we work withing it, perhaps trying to stretch the envelop a bit when we can.

    All of us are also imperfect, many of your fears and uncertainties we also have had or still have. That is why so many relate to what you say, you are talking problems many of us have a hard time talking about, but in doing so you make the rest of us feel more normal, whatever that word means. But at least self accepting of ourselves. As a result you have nothing to prove to us, you are fine just the way you are.

    If anyone tells you otherwise, just say sweetly, “Fuck Off!” [Grin]

  • David

    I find you way more than acceptable, I love the way you write and the subjects you choose to write about. I’ve just ordered Druidry and Meditation, two subjects that fascinate me and can’t wait to read it. I’m really interested in ancient history, particularly pre-roman Briton and I feel that the world of Druidry back then was possibly more incredible than we can imagine. I believe that the knowledge of the people who built Stonehenge would have been passed on by oral tradition. I’ve been on some shamanic dreaming courses with Manda Scott, who wrote the Boudicca series of books and I would guess that the Druids were Shamen and that communication with the spirit world was an accepted practice back then. Keep up the great work. x

    • Nimue Brown

      thank you! I’ve read and liked Manda Scott. there are a few people working with the idea of the Druid as Shaman – Philip Shallcrass and Danu Forest especially, and then there’s Elen Sentier and Taz thornton, whose British shamanic work taps into the same pre-history, but doesn’t tangle with modern druids as much – so many people doing wonderful things out there…

  • Ellas.Infinite.Realm

    Dear Shining One, These words, “When in doubt, what I hear in my head are the voices of the people who explicitly rejected me in the past…” they are the spellcast of the dark magic. It begins in childhood, as you so beautifully state, “We learn what’s normal from how other people treat us, and we start learning this from our first breath.” The thing is that ‘normal’ is Not close to any real type of normal, not here anyway. Normal in this world is all kinds of limiting, misrepresenting and anxiety-provoking. It is intended to take your creative energy and use it to basically enslave yourself, with doubt, with limited-ness and distrust for yourself and others. I dare say that most, if not all of the most creative, gifted and en-Spirited people are hit the hardest as it takes so very much dark to suppress the wildness and wonderfulness of your Light. You are Divine Feminine, you are filled with Divine Wisdom and Light and your expressions of that are tremendous in their creative expression and potentials. You see, for all the trying, all the weaving of tapestry around you, you still unwind the threads from inside, bursting forth as your own sun. And as I write this to you, I am reminded that I am those things too, we all are, and when we accept who we are in our fullness as Creators ourselves, there is no magic except that which we create ourselves. And I for one, think your words are majik.

    • Niall O'Draighnean

      On the subject of ‘Normal’ I was talking with a Psychologist recently who defined normal as whatever we were imprinted as Acceptable as children; if we grow up in a warzone or a Narcissistic environment, then that is what we accept as normal and will find comfort in the same relationships we were Imprinted with even if they are unhealthy; for Example, my parents were the typical Narcissist- co dependant Relationship, my father being the Narcissist, this Programmed me to find Narcissists to please and be abused by..i am a slow Learner so it took me a long time to understand the true dynamics of the relationship..the turning point came when I was looking after a semi domesticated wolf who bit me on the full moon; this enabled me to understand the werewolf myth; it represents the Empath or co dependant wheras the vampire represents the Narcissist..i have now become the hunter as I am working with a Hyperempathic Druidess who attracts Narcissists like wasps to Jam..they find she is guarded by a wolfman and She is quickly Learning to deal with Them..[When you understand the dynamic, they become horribly Predictable as they are Prisoners of their Syndrome..if You confront them and Get them angry enough, they reveal themselves in all they accuse you of; Vampires cannot see their own reflections, despite being self Obsessed..

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