It’s A Belonging Thing - a column by Beth Ritchie

By Barrie Hudson - 19 April 2021

Opinion and Features

Swindon Link columnist Beth Ritchie embarks on a new adventure in friendship

By Beth Ritchie of 

The word belonging is a noun, and it can mean two things. Our property/possessions, or something that belongs. (Please don’t ask me to get any deeper with the grammar of it all, I have an English degree and do this stuff for a living, but still find it uber complicated).

People often think of these two meanings as completely separate, but when you think about it, they kind of mean the same thing. I’ve said many times that I’ve never really felt like I belonged anywhere or with anyone. There have been moments where I got close to it, but it was fleeting and fragile or revealed itself to be different from what I thought.

This floating around life completely untethered thing has always made me feel lonely and searching at a soul level, even as a child. My life has basically been one long existential crisis of firstly trying to work out who on earth I’m meant to be, and secondly just feeling accepted for being myself.

And with no one in my life who truly knows me deep down or at every level, as an adult I’ve literally just chucked everything at the wall of life and seen what sticks. I am so incredibly lucky that some really cool stuff has stuck, my kids, my work, my friends. But that one thing, arguably the most important thing, has always eluded me.

Essentially, I have always lacked a feeling of belonging.

And while I get that most people don’t like being considered a possession, personally I crave the security of feeling like I belong to someone (in a fully consenting, legal and positive way of course).

Freedom is wonderful, essential even, but it does feel pretty empty if you don’t have a safe place to return to.

So having spent 43 years of my life aimlessly searching for someone to provide this sense of belonging, I’ve finally decided to create it for myself by getting a dog.

Legally speaking, a dog is considered a possession. And while I’ll have papers and a microchip (and a few hefty vets bills) that indicate he belongs to me; the feeling goes both ways.

Some people are lucky enough to hit the jackpot in life and find that one person that gives them their feeling of belonging. Others live completely fulfilled and happy lives getting their sense of belonging from inanimate possessions, their work, family, friendships, or something unnameable that comes from deep inside. I’ve been down all these roads, but I still feel like something is missing.

Dog owners tell me that the love and acceptance they get from their furry best pal is the purest thing they have ever experienced. And while I feel a note of apprehension of being a first-time doggy mama to a gigantic furry buddy, I’m also extremely excited to finally have someone say with no agenda, no game playing, no selfishness: “Woof, she’s mine."

Of course, when the one human does come along that is meant to finally give me my sense of belonging at a soul level, my dog will have to budge up a little bit to make room. Meantime, I don’t need to search for it anymore.

But as they say, when you stop looking for it, that’s just when it comes along.

Happy springtime new beginnings to you all!

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