Core Dilemma – wanting to be you and wanting to belong

The inner battle of being authentic and accepted

Do you feel the internal struggle of wanting to connect with others on a deep level but doing it in a way where you can be authentically yourself? Do you struggle with relationships where you feel you must be one or the other?

I like this picture. It is not mine, and I need to find out the creator. Isn’t it the perfect description of one moving from trauma to life again? She curls herself up in a fetal position, longing for a return to the forest and with time and healing, her layers of destruction remove themselves, and she finds herself again belonging to the world of nature.

I find this to be the root of my trauma. It was a severe break in my psyche. I had felt broken into two, a split down the middle of me: the real me before the trauma occurred and the harmed me full of a desperate need to survive. My broken side then had breaks of its own, one being the core dilemma of being accepted versus being authentic. I desperately did not want to be abandoned, but that came at the cost of never being able to be me.

I became an expert people pleaser, never to make anyone else uncomfortable with my needs and desires.

I am healing now. Recently, I have recovered enough to get to this deep place of trauma, and I had to peel off numerous layers of debris to find ground zero of this wound. I practiced restoring fragmented parts of myself into wholeness, but now I can see this gaping hole caused by the bomb of sustained abuse. Occasionally, they go off again, like I’m stepping onto a land mine I missed. It leaves me feeling like an infant desperately crying out to another to hold me while I scream and show that I am ok.

I NEED to be ok. If I am not, I will self-destruct. I imagine young children would feel this if they were not attuned when in pain, and they think they will lose themselves forever because no one is there to hold them and allow them to feel safe.

Children with this wound grow up to seek places and people of safety despite their development and creation of personal identity. But they will learn to rebel on extreme levels to avoid further abuse. They will jump from the desperation of needing to belong to doing whatever pulls them away from it because all they knew were harmful gatherings. It’s a terrorizing and paralyzing pull between needing to be a part of something but never wanting to be hurt again, so avoiding connecting to others.

The core dilemma plays out in many ways: “Don’t leave me” or “Don’t get in my way.”

Belonging comes before identity

We have to belong before we can individuate. It’s our primal source of survival. We spend the first seven years of our life being sponges for care. Our nervous system is set up to rely on our caregivers for our needs, and we can only develop ourselves as individuals once we pass this age. But if we do not receive optimal care during these years, we will spend the rest of our lives seeking it. It can become a harmful coping mechanism as we age and do not find places we belong.

It’s a struggle most of the world deals with as it is said that less than a third of our population has developed secure attachment from healthy caregivers as a child to be in a place where they feel confident in themselves regarding love, safety, peace, and belonging. So they can now focus on developing their identities and passions.

Suppose you find yourself with this core dilemma. Healing the part of belonging needs to occur before finding your authenticity. I have found this with a two different practices:

Radical acceptance

I practice the art of surrendering to myself daily. I give in to the whispers, talks, and screams of my body and fragmented psyche parts. I try to attune to them before they become screams, but I am not perfect.

The more I fight to shut them up, the more I find myself in worse pain. They are communicating to me what I need to heal. So I listen. And I play out their needs because they are my suppressed needs that were never met. Now it is time to do that.

They will tell me how my body wants to move, feel, and breathe and how my emotions want to express themselves. I will watch my thoughts go and go until they’ve run themselves out.

When they feel heard and responded to, my wound of never belonging and feeling like myself while doing it gets healed too. The split mends and the dilemma becomes closer to not being one every time I meet the suppressed needs of what I wanted and needed all those years ago.


I co-regulate with Mother Nature every day. She made my senses, and through them, I become whole. Splitting takes us out of our sensory organs, and connecting with what made us brings them back to coherence. Because Mother Nature is whole, being with her reaffirms that we are too.

Safe people and animals help me a lot. Since I never had that growing up, they taught me how to exist as a complete being. Healthy energy shows our nervous system how to regulate itself.

There are two books that I have found helpful in healing my sense of belonging and my ability to surrender to myself fully:

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