The need to belong is second only to our need to be loved. Belonging is the proof that we are loved.It is also the evidence that we are approved.It is in our sense of belonging to others, that we come to belong to ourselves.It is in the embrace of others that we come to embrace ourselves:to find ourselves and accept ourselves.Belonging has to do with acceptance and embrace.Acceptance receives the person.Embrace keeps the person in love.Though acceptance can be benign, embrace cannot.Embrace, therefore, implies approval.It implies a secure dwelling, or niche; a place for the person to be...not only in the family but in the heart. It is in these two framing hands of belonging - acceptance and embrace - that we can come to know who we are. The loss of belonging comes when we are abandoned. Abandonment can be either physical or emotional in nature.Physical abandonment can be intentional or, in some cases, unintentional.It can happen as a result of death, divorce, or abrupt leaving with little or no recurring contact, or a job that keeps the parent away from the home most of the time with no compensating family time.Physical abandonment sets up within the child a longing for the parent who has left.This may be either a conscious or a subconscious desire.Conscious longing often idealizes the absent parent and fantasizes about being with him or her.The grass will always be greener and life would be better if only the child were with him or her.In this scenario, the absent parent is blameless and the one who stayed and is life-sustaining often becomes the villain who receives from the child his anger at the abandoning parent.Subconscious longing will be concealed in layers of anger or seeming indifference toward the absent parent.The anger will be expressed either directly toward the offender, siphoned sideways to others or acted out in socially unacceptable behavior.
Emotional abandonment can happen in combination with physical or separate from physical abandonment.In the latter instance, the parent, though present, is emotionally unavailable or unsupportive of the child.It can be the passive abandonment of emotional detachment or a more aggressive abandonment of criticism, negativism or other emotional or verbal abuse.Whatever the instrument, this abandonment pushes the child out of their secure position within the abandoning parent’s affection (or, at times, removes them from that place within the family itself.)Emotional abandonment orphans the heart, leaving it with a sense of psychological homelessness, and with disapproval and failure as a person.We discard what is unimportant or unusable. The great casualty, then, of the discarded heart is the sense of specialness.When we have been “left” we no longer belong.When we have been left by those who are significant to us, we no longer are significant. When we are insignificant, we cease being special.When that happens, we know we are flawed... deeply, intrinsically flawed.We would not have been left by those who are significant if something were not wrong with us.A deep void comes when belonging is lost.It fills the space where once we lived.Not a dark cloud that hangs over us, it is a dark cloud that has come into us.