This phrase resonated deeply for me. I’ve written previously about the homogenous, suburban, and privileged world within which I live, and am always cognizant of how writing for the New Existentialists reveals more of myself to those around me than is sometimes comfortable—perhaps not only for me, but for those who know me too—and that my views will naturally set me apart from the majority around me. I am also aware that some people might object to what I write and may be offended at my calling them out on their white privilege, or any other kind of privilege, or naming the microaggressions that I encounter. I am clear that I do not absolve myself of also being privileged and ignorant, but I am aware that this might not be acknowledged. I write not because I feel the urge to proselytize, but as a process through which I can own or reclaim those parts of me that I fear may not be welcome in certain social groups and settings; I write to feel the relief of seeing in black and white the truth of what I feel; and I write in order to provide myself a way to fully exhale.
I was reminded yet again during the conference how I am constantly seeking to recreate a sense of belonging and home. The idea of home has always been elusive to me, and while I know that I recognize it on an embodied level, it is a feeling that often slips through my fingers.
Home is not a physical place. I have dwellings within which I have lived, and cities and countries where I have resided. There are foods and smells that I feel nostalgic for, and landscapes and views that I yearn to see again, but they don’t really capture the essence of home. For me, home is a feeling I get in my body when I am in the company of those with whom I can feel at ease; it’s in the recognition of that deep exhale and of letting go. Home is where I can reveal all of myself as who I am without reservation, knowing that whatever I do or say will be met with love and respect even when there is a difference of opinion, or when I make mistakes. Home is where I feel met by the other.
Ruella Frank (2001), a Gestalt therapist and founder of the Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy approach, talks about the moment of recognition when “I see you, see me.” This captures the essence of home and belonging in a truly phenomenological way of relating, without judgment or expectation other than to be with and in the presence of the other. There is mutuality in the relationship as when I take in all of who you are, it changes who I am, and in knowing that as you accept me in return it also changes you.
I am thankful for my trip to Chicago where I experienced so many moments of this within our extended tribe of Humanistic Psychology. The community we have co-created is vibrant, dynamic, and full of potential for many of us to be able to fully exhale in. For a wandering nomad like me, that feels very much like home. Perhaps this explains why many of us were anticipating post-conference blues. I call it being homesick.
Frank, R. (2001) Body of awareness: A somatic and developmental approach to psychotherapy. Cambridge, MA: Gestalt Press.
— Veronica Lac