The last three weeks in a row I’ve hosted a small dinner party for a few chosen friends. (if you haven’t been invited, don’t worry, it’ll happen when the time is right!) The first week, as I looked around I saw folks that showed up for me when I was broken, people that brought me food or medicine or took me to the ER or the follow up appointments. People that held my hand while I was in pain and brought me love and laughter and relief. I saw love in their eyes. I felt confused. Here I am, in the center of this love-fest in my living room. How did this happen?
I enjoy making food for the people I love and seeing their smiles, watching the way their bodies ease back and relax. That feeling is among the best I’ve experienced in my lifetime. Feeding someone is a gift, to me.
I’m a decent cook, there are far better and far worse, but my friends never complain and always seem excited to eat whatever it is that I’m concocting. Nourishing hearts and bodies is where it’s at, for me. I can’t think of a way to convey that with any more clarity.
So, I invite a few friends over, a specially curated small group, a little different each week.
What’s really heavy on my mind and heart right now is the love that has come out of this. It’s honestly a monumental struggle for me. Last week these beautiful people showed me so much love that it was, at times, too much for me to handle. I hide behind my hands or move away from the group. It feels like I’m in a spotlight, confronted with my vulnerability.
I believe I am worthy of this. I believe that I curated this. Still, it’s hard to swallow.
This is what I keep coming back to, over and over:
All of my life, I’ve worked so hard to keep people at bay (ask any friend that I’ve known for more than three years, I bet they’d all shake their heads in agreement and probably don a look of frustration). I tried to stay behind a fortress of fire and brick and cement and mud and more layers and layers to keep my heart safe. You know, if I don’t let you in, you can’t hurt me. If I don’t let you come close, it won’t hurt when you leave. If I don’t admit to myself that I love you, it’ll be easier for me to walk away. The raw truth is fucking hard to confront, but here it is.
I’m slicing my own chest open, pulling my heart out, handing it to people and asking them to be gentle. And they are tender and oh so delicate. And they are pouring love in and handling it with such care and sweetness. And I gaze at them with absolute trust and with amazement and so much gratitude I ask myself “How did I get this lucky?”. I know the answer, it’s just still so hard to accept. I am worthy, as much as my last relationship tried to break me down into believing that I am not – I know it now. I am worthy of love and belonging. I am leaning into it with gratitude and fervor and lust and zest. This life I have created is sticky sweet.
As the weeks go by and these friendships are nurtured I am astounded by the layers of deep and rich love and gratitude. I look around my tiny kitchen, where at least four people are beside me, laughing, drinking, hugging me from behind, touching my butt and licking the spoons and I think to myself “why would I choose to leave this? I finally feel at *home* some place, I finally feel like I belong, I finally feel loved in the way I always wanted, but pushed so hard against accepting. Why am I leaving?”.
I’m not sure I can express it within the confines of the English language. There is a sense of freedom that comes with the feeling of belonging. I get to fly free knowing that I have family and home and connection and belonging somewhere.
“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.”
― Brené Brown,