[…] “I was raised Catholic. Not very strict, but I was baptised with 6 months, did my communion when I was 7 and choose to do a confirmation when I was 12. I did not really like the church. I never understood the strict rules and all the official mayhem around them. I remember sitting in church, thinking,
If God and Jesus were really these caring and loving chaps the pastor talked about, then why in the world were we to sit on those painfully hard wooden church benches? Why were there not just some pillow on these things?”
I could sense something was off. But I was 12 and in no state of realising what I was sensing. All I could see were parents and children being seemingly certain about the word of God. And me feeling not so certain about it. Since I seemed to be the odd one out, I started to believe I was doing something wrong. I just did not know what. I did not understand why I doubted the word of God, why I could not believe what the pastor was telling us. Did I commit a sin? Did I not try hard enough? Was not trying hard enough a sin?
I remember feeling very confused and lonely at the time. Wondering what I could do to proof to God that I was trying hard. That I was not a sinner and really really really wanted to be part of his Kingdom. So when they asked me if I wanted to be confirmed, I said yes. When asked why I replied: “To be a part of God’s community”.
Needless to say, that did not work. As much as I wanted it to, my confusion did not stop by partaking in a ceremony. The words of the pastor still did not ring true to me, so I gave up. I concluded that I did not belong here and they were all better off if I would just leave. So as soon as my parents would allow me, I got out. I left God and the Catholic church behind, wondering where I did belong. It was not until my early thirties that it started to dawn on me what had happened in my early teens.
In those 20 years, my resistance against the church had skyrocketed. I had not fuelled that resistance in any way but had not faced it either. There was, to say the least, quite a lot of unacknowledged and suppressed anger inside of me, for in my eyes the church was doing a lousy job translating the Bible to our modern world. I did not understand how an institution run by only men, had the nerve to teach us how to treat each other as equals?
How could an authority responsible for millions and millions of killings in the name of the Lord, tell us how to remain peaceful and love one another? I had lost complete faith in the church, its leaders and all the people, places, situations, ceremonies and procedures even remotely related or connected to it. In fact, I had lost faith in any form of (worshipped) authority whatsoever.
And with that, I lost faith in God, my parents, my teachers, my employers, the government, anyone telling me what to do or giving me some well-meant advice and ultimately myself.
So looking back, it was no surprise I had felt trapped in my family and school system. That I had trouble working for a boss and rebelled against our money-driven economy. With no faith in any authority whatsoever, how could I ever not feel trapped? How could I ever not feel like I did not belong?
When I was 15 I wanted out of my family, school, the city. Four years later I finally could. So I flew to the other side of the world to work and travel in Australia. At 25 I was so severely overweight, that I repulsed myself looking in the mirror each morning. All I could see was an ugly and fat woman and I just wanted to escape that daily reality. So I spaced out in a fantasy world of movies, series and books. I was 29 when the burden of feeling trapped inside of my job(s) made me fall ill. I decided to change things around and started my own company. I was 31 when I no longer enjoyed my own apartment and felt trapped by the mortgage system I was in.
So I (unconsciously) created a life in which I had no money to fund this and ultimately “forced” myself to becoming a digital nomad, working and travelling around the world without a set place to live.
I had wanted to escape and be free my whole life. Whilst my strongest desire was to belong. Every time I tried to fit it, I got disappointed. I found people to say one thing and me sensing another. I did not believe them. I had no faith in them. And I did not understand how others did. Over and over again, I felt like the odd one out. Like the strange one. Over and over again, I thought I was failing. I thought I was not good enough, smart enough, trying hard enough to fit in. But boy did I try. I tried so hard to fit in, I gave up all the fun, joy and excitement in my life, for this was a serious matter. I had to keep the job, keep the money, keep the house, right? That was what normal people did. So if I wanted to belong, I had to do that, too. But every time I committed to doing so, the commitment turned into a prison. And I wanted to escape and be free again.
It was halfway through this 20 years of a repeating pattern when my weight reached its highest point, that I realised I needed help. Watching movies all weekend was an escape, but it was not setting me free from feeling disgusted about myself. I was 25 at the time and just started my first ‘official’ job as a Management Assistant. A part-time colleague of mine ran a practice in natural and spiritual therapy and I started to visit her on a regular basis. It was the start of a 7-year long search for answers to break a pattern I did not even realise was there…”[…]
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This is a snippet from the first chapter of my book “I Do Not Belong Here: The Humble Lessons Of A Highly Conscious Woman In An Extremely Unconscious World”.
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Guest Author: Nicole Olsthoorn