Love, belonging, and bathtubs.

I had a few thoughts while lying in the bath. It’s my new smoking: I think of things I might want to write about there. It’s less convenient: the inspiration that occurred while puffing was easy to add to my phone for later fleshing out. I don’t keep my phone next to the tub for “can’t afford to replace it” reasons. And the idea of streaking down the hall naked to my office to jot a quick note has little appeal. Experience tells me that would be the day large quantities of people appeared in my foyer for reasons unknown.

I’ve been bathing more because of the joint pain thing. It helps some, though the back of the tub is awful. I’m not sure who thought hideous vertical was a great idea. My en suite tub was, but renovations remain ongoing: my new bathtub there is still just a thought.

The thing about baths is you have to get naked, and the mirror in that bathroom is large. It stops mid-thigh, and I instinctively hate on myself in mirrors. Then I argue, play with some insincere self-love, and hate some more. But morning pain on top of various family stresses acted like a smack to the head today.

You’d better love yourself best.

Dr. Mya Angelou would approve. So would Dr. Brené Brown. I was listening to an audiobook version of her “Braving the Wilderness” during my soak. I lucked out on my local library app, scoring both the above and the first book in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, of which there has been much ado. I may not listen to the latter, but the former echoed off the tiles in the steam.

She talks about the feeling of not belonging and the various reasons why she felt that way. Some of her experiences are so familiar; I hurt for us both.

Feeling wrong and out-of-step all the time is hard. [i] Dr. Brown talks about that and about a quote by Mya Angelou on the same subject, which left her enraged. She struggled to come to terms with it for years: I didn’t have that problem; I got it right away. I’d feel smug about my brilliance, except this isn’t that: Brené Brown did the heavy lifting so I can appreciate the truth of the words without putting in the heavy lifting.

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place: you belong every place: no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” – Dr. Mya Angelou.

Imagine if this was the de facto way of being. We would all fit. Religions wouldn’t fight in the name of love. Nobody would get tribal to try and fill the holes. So many problems come from people trying to fix their pain.

Love and a sense of belonging are what’s needed. [ii] And perhaps a few more bathtubs.

[i] Time is a funny thing. Had I been born now, certain qualities I possess would’ve been noticed and I’d have had some help in learning to deal with them (a subtle and sideways method of referencing mental illness and autism). Additionally, the behaviours I fell into after being sexually abused would be red flags now. Had I been born now, I’d be a different person at fifty-one. An interesting thought.

[ii] Love and belonging together leads to the development of good boundaries. Every bit of philosophy and psychology and personal growth work that has value places serious importance on clear and well-maintained boundaries.

11 thoughts on “Love, belonging, and bathtubs.

  1. (i) we were thinking about this yesterday! We were a handful in school from acting out to deal with the pain of abuse and neglect. Instead of help, we got physical violence from primary school teachers and rejection from most secondary school teachers.

    (ii) we struggle to maintain healthy, safe boundaries, which is how our relationship with T-1 (our former primary therapist) harmed us. We didn’t have the skills to recognize the danger and protect ourself. Only the pandemic was able to help us wriggle free and even then reluctantly. We still hurt and still miss T-1

    We don’t understand the Angelou quote 🙁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Boundaries are one of my biggest issues as well and so many things circle back to having good ones.

      What I think about the quote is this: I’ve always felt a desperation to belong. If I could belong to the people around me, I would be okay. I wouldn’t then be a failure of a human. But seeking to belong “out there” is external. I think she’s saying, I have to belong to me.

      And when I do, I still won’t necessarily fit here or there. But I think I will love myself more. But getting to that point is work, especially when your origin story has challenges.

      I remember hearing another quote from Dr. Angelou – “I like Mya. I like her very much.” It would be nice to say that about oneself and mean it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I must have heard John Lennon’s Imagine one million times, who hasn’t. Every once in a while I will stop and really think about the words. He was gifted to write a song like that… and very brave! Anyway your post was reminding of that song 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have no idea why baths are so uncomfortable. I remember having a pillow you could blow up and then attach to the tub with suction cups. It helped a bit.

    I was going to suggest keeping a notebook on hand, but then I realized that I refuse to even read in the tub because I know it will get wet.

    Yes, you’d be different in fifty-some years if you were born today. Some things might have improved, but some might also lead to destruction. We don’t know what we don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

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