I've had the privilege of being part of several communities, including a mama writers group, a tiny church for modern mystics, and a collective of volunteers who became chosen family for a time. All of these saved me in the beginning and broke my heart in the end. I experienced belonging. I was seen and loved for all of myself. But eventually I experienced betrayal, rejection, and abandonment.
My spiritual teacher ended our relationship by email without warning because I wasn't progressing how she expected and the rest of the church went along with her. My mama writers group judged and ostracized me for staying in my first marriage too long (it was miserable, not abusive). The event production collective broke my heart repeatedly. The hunger for social power destroyed friendships and eventually the collective. Bullies were given free reign, but speaking the truth about the hurt they caused was not allowed. And much of my belonging actually hinged on my ability to be well and produce events as most of my so-called friends abandoned me when I got sick.
Based on conversations I've had it seems that many communities eventually fracture in deeply painful ways because we don’t know how to navigate change, pain, and harm together. Lots of us have been hurt, harmed, traumatized, and/or exiled, so we’re grieving and terrified of trying to build true community again. We witness the hurt and harm rampant in collective spaces and likely wonder if anyone anywhere is capable of holding us safely. I think we seek out pseudo-community through social media and paid groups because it feels like enough and it’s safer than putting our hearts on the line again.
As social creatures who thrive on interdependence, loss of community or exile can be the most painful experience. This makes trying again terrifying. The only way I’ll try now is with mutual intention for safety and shared agreements for handling the hard stuff.
Have you been heart broken by community? Are you scared to try again? What would help you feel safer in trying?