I feel a sense of belonging and strength by being in a group. It helps me connect with and to others. This started by taking a risk to try something new. I chose a support group. The shit really works!

It’s really important for me to feel like I belong somewhere. My abuser was a priest and so not only did the abuse wreck my life, it ended my connection with my community. I can’t go in churches anymore without it messing me up. I don’t even know if I believe in a god. I was adrift and felt really alone in the universe. A good friend suggested I try yoga. It wasn’t something I would have thought of on my own and I was resistant at first, but I was feeling a bit desperate. Sometimes desperation can drive me in a good way. Not only has the yoga helped me physically to reconnect with myself, but I have met other people who have become friends and I find myself feeling again like I have a place in a community. It’s not the same kind of community I had with my church, but I am learning that the point of life is not to try to stay the same but to move as a way to continue the journey.

My counsellor suggested I think hard about what I really love. It was easy. I love music. I started going out to places where other people who love music gather and slowly but surely I have started to create my own community of people I groove with. I have also picked up a guitar again and am learning to make music. It’s amazing how powerful it is to create something out of myself.

I joined a writer’s group because I wanted to write about my story but wasn’t sure about how to get started and didn’t know if I have any talent. The people were very welcoming and had all different skill levels so it was okay that I am just starting to write. The group has really helped me think about my writing from a critical perspective – which is really helpful – and about what it is I want to say. I am writing about lots of different things now, not just my story and I think I am developing as a writer. This makes me feel almost excited about my life. I do have things to say and a unique perspective. I can write in a way that connects with other people.

I felt disappointed by a clergy member when he learned my assault was by a priest. I thought he was a friend but all he wanted to do was protect his church. What it forced me to do is realize that my relationship with God and Jesus is completely personal and independent of any church. (Pat Milroy)

When I feel like I don’t belong anywhere I head out to the woods or drive to the beach. I just sit and let the beauty of nature fill me up. I don’t have to do anything but be there. In the quieting of my brain, I have had moments where I feel like I belong everywhere. It doesn’t happen often, but it has happened. No matter, just being in nature helps me feel connected. I just have to take myself to it and nature does the rest.