Dana Martin Writing

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A [mostly amusing] blog about travel, life, and TSA pat-downs
Dana Martin Writing

“B” is for Belonging

Grateful April in the A-Z Blogging Challenge
Unlike yesterday, the letter “B” presents many
options for which I am grateful, most of them pretty obvious for a Book-loving
Baseball fan who enjoys the Beach. And, once again, I’m plagued by my Pacific
Time zone creating a delay in posting. By the time I am on my second cup of
coffee and ready to write, I’m already behind (especially behind those who posted
their “B” before going to bed last night, you adorable little cheaters).
Dana Martin Writing Bakersfield Belonging

The sense of belonging is sort of abstract, and I’m not sure
many of us raise words of praise for this particular type of blessing. I know I
took belonging for granted and never considered how powerful close
relationships were until faced with the opposite.
When I married at 19, I was so enamored with my new husband,
his family, and future life in Neverland that I poured everything into the
endeavor, leaving a lifetime of other family and friends in my wake. I took for granted that the people who’d originally loved me–my girlfriends–would be there regardless of my selfish behavior.
I was right, but only partially. After my total disregard for their college experiences, trials, and triumphs, they sort of moved on. Even my best friend chose someone else as her maid of honor.
Talk about a wake-up call.
But the true discovery of my neglect took years. I didn’t realize
overnight (or even at my best friend’s wedding) that I had ditched the
Originals to search for new belonging. I’m not really a perfectionist, but I am
competitive, and I like to be the best at whatever I do. Therefore, a new
husband, a new family, new home, and a baby were a shot of steroids to my
competitive muscle; I double-timed my efforts to ensure everyone in my new life
would feel a sense of belonging.
Just when you think you have it all figured out, though, God zeros in on your failings. I believe He uses every situation for
His work, sometimes connecting the dots in a peculiar but beautiful way.
In 2006, I opened up the paper and read an obituary. The young woman
had married one of my high school boyfriends, and they were in love. Among the poignant words and news about her tragic end were assurances that her best girlfriends
(about 20 of them) would miss her desperately. I began to visualize her funeral
and the lives she had touched. She had kids, a husband–and friends? She belonged to many people. My
internal camera zoomed in on my own funeral. Who would be there?
Only the people who had to be there.
The thing about friends is that they want to love you; they
don’t have to. When I step into a room of friends, I feel like I belong. At
home with my little family, I belong. In my writers groups, at my haunted houses… I belong. And because my only blood relatives are the ones to whom I gave
birth, I am grateful for any relationship that makes me feel a sense of belonging.
After reading that obituary, I realized that I’d put all my
eggs in one proverbial basket. I had ignored the people whose natural instinct
was to make me feel like I belonged because they loved me for who I am,
regardless of my lack of their DNA.
Belonging isn’t earned, it’s freely given. And today I
celebrate the friends and family who give me a sense of belonging every time I
see their smiling faces or receive a precious note of love. I love you and want you to feel protected in my friendship. Thank you. Although 20 years have passed since I was that silly obsessive little perfectionist, I
promise never to take you for granted again.  


  • Kimberly Gabriel

    What a beautiful post and a great reminder not to take people for granted. Thank you for that!

  • Jonathan

    That was a lovely, lovely post. The world needs more thoughtfulness like this.

  • Kathy

    It is so easy to become wrapped up in your own little world and thrive on that happiness. Everyone does that, and eventually when it gets down to brass tacks family comes first. Your family, or your friends found family comes first for them. I think it is just how things are. It is a natural progression.


  • Jay Noel

    Thanks for sharing this profound story of your life. I've been trying to reconnect with old friends too. It's been a wonderful experience.

  • Michelle

    This very thought encouraged me to join the PTA and teach Sunday school and meet new people and make a difference in lives outside my own home. I've made good friends and have some great memories, and even if my funeral is smallish, I love the life I'm living!

  • Kym Showers

    Wow. This is my favorite post yet. Insightful. Honest. True. Important. At the end….all that matters are our relationships. The ones that are deep & real & full of LOVE. I think you are a very very lovely girl:)
    Thanks for writing.

  • Nicky

    What an eye-opener, to be so forcibly reminded of that which we should never forget! Great post, I will keep coming back! Thanks for stopping by, see you tomorrow!

  • unsweetenedtea

    Friends are kind of amazing, aren't they?

  • Joan Raymond

    Thanks for the reminder to not take any friend or friendship for granted. We mean a lot more to others than we really know.

  • Dennis

    It's like coming full circle, Dana. You can't belong to anyone until you belong to yourself.


  • Jer

    You belong because you give so freely and so joyfully of yourself.

    Don't worry, Ed Grimley never felt forsaken.

  • Dana Martin

    Hahaaaa, Jerry! Nope, I gave everything I had to Ed. 🙂

    Thank you, everyone! I love having new visitors. And thank you to my regulars, too. Kym, I'm so glad this was your favorite. Next year I'm going to encourage you to participate in this challenge, too, so that more people can be touched by your words. xo

  • Annis Cassells

    Heartfelt and true, Dana. A lovely post. William Glasser lumps love & belonging together and teaches that it is one of humans' five basic needs. We all strive to have this in our lives.

    Keep writing. I'm loving this opportunity to get to know you better.


  • Beverly

    Dana, I enjoyed your musings, and your site is gorgeous. I stopped by after your very enthusiastic response to my A to Z post today. Do visit me again at Beverly in Movieland.

  • Frances Stiles

    This is very insightful, Dana and so very true. It's hard when life's path takes us in different directions. We need to be conscious to be sure there is a short cut between the paths that allows us to travel back to each other. Thanks!

  • Sandy

    I disagree belonging is indeed earned not given. It's like a one sided friendship. But, I understand your story. It's hard to remain friends when you're separated by distance, harder still when your lives no longer touch the same interests. It's sad, but normal and pretty inevitable. Some of it is in fact, just growing up. In today's world of 24 x 7 techy communication it's certainly easier to maintain freindships; but even then it's normal and easier to just move on. In my day, we didn't have any of the ease of cell phones and no long distance fees, or email, or facebook. Not many people my age kept those friendships…they married, had children and had a new world. My DD and I were just talking about this the other day. She went away to school and has friends from school all over the globe. As hard as she's tried through the ease of tech communication, there are only a few that she's still close to.


  • Michelle

    This is a wonderful post. It sounds like you might have gotten back in touch with your first group of friends, but if not, it's never too late! Thank you for sharing your heart with us and for stopping by my Fit, Fun and Fashionable after Forty blog. 🙂 Have fun during the challenge!

  • fruitfulwords

    I have moved sooooo many times (30ish) that belonging to a group of people is something I value. Thanks for reminding me to appreciate and thank those that are in my life.

  • Dana Martin

    I love all your comments.. Michelle, "fruitfulwords" and everyone else. I really appreciate you stopping by to leave me a note. I will be over shortly to visit your blogs.


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