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“I don’t belong here!” is a statement of how it feels to be wherever it is I have checked in with myself. Psychologists may call this state of mind “alienation” or “dissociative.” They use words to describe sensations that are not themselves captured in the words.

Feelings are not words. If someone labels me with a diagnosis word, what happens? I may be tempted to accept that label as a true description of me: “I am a (fill in the blank)!” because I feel that person is reaching out to me with kind attention.

My desire is to complete that reaching out; to connect. I hope that label fits me, because I want to say, “Yes!” to kind attention. Lonely people are thus vulnerable to accepting labels because attention fills a gap; the of ‘out-of-touch’ we feel.

Claudia B.’s “Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel” points to the confusion experienced by a child whose feelings are invalidated—punished, mislabeled: “You shouldn’t feel that way.” But feelings are a child’s first language; I sense my environment and experience it, not as words, but as direct experiences of touch, scent, taste, sound, sight.

If I don’t get acknowledgement and responses that validate these feelings in myself, I blame myself. “I’m not doing this correctly” is a thought describing how it feels to not be welcomed, embraced, invited into the flow of shared experience in a group I am dependent on for my well-being and survival.

Human beings take responsibility for fitting into a caregivers’ group; my desire to live prompts me to get attentions that I cannot manage to survive without. My instincts set my goals through my desires and drives.

In functional families, caregivers provide, and not just food and shelter. Functional parents show and tell us how we fit, how we are needed and rewarded in relationships that build a fabric of invisible connections we can trust, with words that do paint images and patterns of sound that soothe, excite. It is safe here.

Step Two’s “Came to believe . . .” is experimental for me if I have suffered invalidation in adverse experiences I have had. If my feelings were the targets of attack, of snubs, of rejection, I have turned against myself because my honest senses made me vulnerable to abuses. I have shut them down.

Step Two invites me to restore my feeds to find out how I really do belong and fit here in this world where I am needed and desired.


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