Today I said I’d write about community, something that both feeds and terrifies me.
It’s All About Me
I have huge issues around acceptance. I was the quiet kid who was labeled “stuck up,” I was the smart kid “who thought she was too good,” I am “that woman” who refuses to acquiesce when things are not okay. In the Reclaiming community, I bear this baggage by feeling like the one who doesn’t do enough, who is too boring, who is too “normal.” Let me be clear — this is MY baggage and MY responsibility. No one makes me feel this way — it’s the ghost of my past shrieking in my ear. I am a social phobe, deathly afraid of going to places alone, and yet still I seek community. Need and crave it. And thank the gods the Reclaiming community is what it is, because I can work through all this shit when I’m there and still be embraced. It sure is scary, though. Every time.
I always think, “Will they see me? Will I be invisible?” Then I think, “Oh gods, they will see me, and what if they don’t like me?” Then I go about making myself as useful as possible. Got a job to do? I’ll do it. Because maybe then I’ll have worth. Ugh, it’s really about pathos, isn’t it?
I have had a “crisis point” at each camp where the feelings of isolation or scariness crashed in on me. At the first camp, it was simply disastrous. Second camp, I had some staff people at the Grove to lean on. This time, I worked through it on my own, journaling and talking to a friend. I felt really good about that. It was big for me.
I felt a strong connection with individuals in the community, which was a first for me. At the risk of sounding like a wacked-and-confused Sally Fields, I really liked you all. I felt welcomed, valued and accepted. I felt comfortable and safe enough to do the work I needed to do. Everyone was interesting, had wisdom to share. I said several times during the week that I was unsure what the combinations of factors were, but that this was the best camp for me. At least one strong factor was the community.
Okay, Really, It’s All About Everyone
Watching a lifelong friend of mine who is incredibly newborn to this community have the room to question and grow and be accepted was one of the warmest parts of the week for me. We had a long conversation about her coming, but ultimately, I had faith in both her and the Reclaiming community. Watching her at camp was like watching a flower unfurl its petals to the sun. I don’t know where it will all lead for her, but I feel so good that her first camp experience was this one.
Anyway, building this kind of community is important to me. I rode to camp with someone from Tucson, Willow, who was part of the Reclaiming community in Portland, OR. We are both very excited about starting a community in Arizona, so we had a lot to talk about. In fact, all week different things came up, and I was so glad she was there to talk about them with. Some of them were related to community and some were just things I was working though, but I felt like it was good that we shared what we did. I think our foundation for a local community is strong — we have good experience and we really want it to work.
While at camp, I had the opportunity to see a community really in action. I think this was the first camp I’ve attended that was so heavily populated with local people who work together. People with history. A community with history. The organizer/anthropologist in me noticed a lot. One meeting I attended was full of very strong emotions, past hurts and present hurts. It could have totally been my perception, but it seemed that at the meeting, the healing began, and then through the rest of the week, the healing continued, with direction in ritual and choices people made.
Two microcommunities I really appreciated were my roommates and my affinity group. My roommates were all friends, ranging from very new friends to very old friends. It was fabulous to have them to talk to at night, or really, at any time. I felt anchored by them. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to the dorm experience, I think. My affinity group was comprised of six very different individuals, but they were funny, honest and very supportive. I wish I had them to check in with every day, not just during camp.
Finally, I really liked having the opportunity to be part of so many groups — my task group, my affinity group, my path and my elemental group. It really helped me get to know more people and I am appreciative of that. Sometimes I have to be pushed to do that, and this was just the way.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about activism. That fire was really lit for me at this camp, and followed by the election, I am so ready to do something more than write a letter.