Sunday, May 15, 2005

Relating to friends (lower case 'f')

Note: The below is slighty tweaked from what I wrote in a post on my normal, not specifically spiritual online journal/blog, but I felt it appropriate to articulate here as it still pertains to my experiences with Quakerism.

Does it make sense to feel generally lonely shortly after going out and hugging a bunch of different friends and hanging out?

There are so many people I hug on a regular basis and love so much, who love me so much back; I offer all of my support and love to my friends, but I feel like there's something very important missing. We all hug all the time and hang out and talk about surface things, but we rarely go deeper, into more personal issues. I want to connect on a deeper level. I want to really get to know my friends, not just hug them every day.

I feel like some of the things in my life that are most important to me and who I am are either not important at all to anyone else, or I'm afraid talking about them will make someone else uncomfortable - and it never really comes up anyway.

A big part of who I am has to do with my spirituality and Quakerism. Eventhough everyone knows I'm Quaker and some ask general questions about Quakerism (or even attend Meeting with me on occassion), I never actually talk about my own experiences. This year has been a year of incredible change for me on my spiritual journey as a Quaker; I've developed and grown so much. But who around here would know? Aside from my occassional comment about going somewhere or doing something or about how I know Quakers all over the country, I've rarely spoken about my own inward experiences. These inward experiences are central to my way of being and central to what thoughts go through my head on a daily basis. Almost a constant basis. I never talk about it because I don't want to intrude on anyone else's religious (or non-religious) comfort zone.

In my struggle to unite my spirituality with everything in my daily life, to unite my spirit with the mundane, I still keep it to myself. I even created a seperate journal to relate spiritual contemplations so that if my friends didn't want to hear about it, they don't have to. Though this seperate journal has caused me to find a small online community of Friends (which is wonderful), it still does not help me relate to my friends here. I almost feel like I'm hiding this huge part of myself from everyone, but I wouldn't quite know how to express it even if I weren't afraid of making people uncomfortable.

It's not that my spirituality is particularly discomforting or off-putting, it's that I'm afraid that any talk at all of spirituality would be off-putting for some, and I don't want to put anyone off. I tend to save my in-person rambles about spirituality for when some philosophical conversation occurs of its own accord and tends toward the direction of spirituality, but that just hasn't happened that often around here. As I continue on and develop, more and more, I need someone to talk to.

I still behave in ways that fit with my spiritual and Quaker beliefs and experiences, and haven't been deliberately going against anything central to my Spirit in order to "fit in" or anything, it's just that I never talk about why, or no one actually notices in the first place.

I don't have any solution to this problem. I just felt the need to articulate it. Perhaps I'll feel better about all of it now, perhaps I will not. I'm still working on finding a balance in many aspects of my life.


Blogger Liz Opp said...

Wow, your experience reminds me of my own. I always felt like I was an odd duck, "different," when I was growing up, even through college. I felt like I had this depth, this sensitivity to what was meaningful in life, what God was (or wasn't), what helped me stay in integrity and what pulled me off of it.

It sounds like you have a strong yearning and deep desire for a different sort of connection with your friends, like you like them well enough but you don't quite feel "known" by them because of your inner experience. Is that part of what you are saying? If it's anything like what I went through, it can feel like a pretty lonely place to be...

...It makes me wonder, too, how the heck did good ol' George Fox get through his depression as an older teen and younger fellow, when he couldn't find anyone to share his deep yearnings with. After all, he had no Quaker meeting to even turn to back then.

I often tell my parents that I wish they knew about Quakers when I was growing up, so maybe they could have helped me get connected with them. Turns out, my Dad's mother's side of the family was filled with all sorts of people who attended Friends School of Baltimore. It was right there, all along, under my nose, but no one in my family "knew" me well enough, knew me deep enough, to point me in the right direction.

On the other hand, look at where I am now. It seems like the world just circled around and I've caught up with it. Or something.

Thanks for writing.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

17/5/05 2:42 PM  

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