This word is one that seems so very positive to most but to me, it is not a word that I have a great deal of personal experience with, therefore it is difficult to write about. I immediately think of the origins of ‘welcome’ and remember that it is Middle English for someone whom one is happy to have met. I prefer the term ‘well met’ over welcome for some odd unknown reason, that I am not going to analyze today.
Welcome~ can be taken both personally or transformed into welcoming which then can be about the environment in which one steps into. I was once a part of a yahoo group of conservative Christian women, and while they were welcoming, their ‘welcome’ was limited to those just like themselves and I did not fit in. So one day I quietly left the group to look for a safer, more positive space and more accepting women to share my time/space with.
When I married the husband, I had hoped to finally get a family that loved me but that did not happen as they were also ‘welcoming’ as long as one holds the same values as they do. So over the last two years I have gradually and quietly withdrawn from them as well. It took me about 16 years of marriage to realize they did not value me and I could not change them and that I needed to protect myself from their hurtfulness.
So here I am, not having positive experiences with that word but yet, I keep on trying to find my space, the one where others love me for who I am and who may disagree with me but will not devastate me with hurtful words because of it. I wonder is it really so difficult to care about others without judging them?
Most people are at welcome within their own families but even that was denied to me, as I am a product of rape and incest and my mother had signed over temporary adoption papers was allowed after a few weeks to take me from my adoptive family. I still hold a great deal of anger and sadness over her selfish decision. I grew up to be the unwanted child, who had no father and a mother who saw her rapist in my face on a daily basis. Not such a welcoming place in which to thrive.
Now, here I am at 51, wondering why it is so hard to be wanted in this society? What makes me so very hard to love and unwelcome? Or is it because I am far to trusting of others and wish to love them regardless of their treatment of me? I hate the fact that my whole life has been about my desire to be loved, accepted and wanting to feel welcome somewhere.
I, at least temporarily am welcome at the university that I attend for my master’s degree. It is a wonderful if weird sensation to me. But again it is only temporary, I will graduate May 2016 and then will be back into the not fitting in stage. I am hoping that I get into a doctoral program and one would hope that I would be welcome there but it will be at a secular university and with my Christian faith, it is hard to fit in there at times.
So how do those who like me deal with never having experienced the feeling of being ‘welcome’? Well, if one does not have faith in God, then perhaps one does what I did as a teen and looks for anyone to feel in the hole, they have. A mistake that can adversely affect ones whole life. Now, I have a strong faith in God, which allows me to go to Him in prayer, or yelling as the case sometimes is with me. Talking it out with God, helps keep me focused and from making serious mistakes out of loneliness and hurt.
I am becoming a much stronger person, who is able to see that being ‘welcome’ is something that while desired means one also needs to be discerning about where they look for welcomeness and with whom. At the end of the day or perhaps in my educational jargon~ the takeaway is that one may desire the feeling of being welcome but is that the only thing we need? and what cost do we pay for it?
Author’s note~ this was an exceptionally difficult post for me and will need serious editing one day, as there is too much emotion here and is too rambling and perhaps a bit too raw! I could not focus my thoughts into a coherent essay and that is frustrating to me! But as a grad student, I am ever comfortable with editing time after time until I get it said the way I want. I also went over the five minute rule because once I started writing I couldn’t stop…….