During a time that is filled with family traditions—as per usual—and questions sparked by reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben—for the first time—I am left thinking about the bonds I have made. I’m not only thinking about my friends and family, for which I am very grateful for, but also about the bonds I feel towards certain places and things.
What close bonds do I really have in my life?
Most of the places I have bonded to I no longer have access to, but one that comes to mind anyway was at my first college. It was just a tree by a pond. At first, the tree was where I had my first kiss with a boy that I was flirting around with (and definitely shouldn’t have been), but it turned into something else. The tree turned into the place I went to when I was sad and then to when I just wanted to be.
My first year of college was really rough. I was in the right major and I had no reservations about that, but I didn’t fit in with the people or the structure of the classes. The two friends that had become sisters to me over the course of my childhood were at their own colleges, Erin, the one we viewed as the most social, was having about as good as I was and Heather, the one that kept more to herself, was fitting right in. That year was so bad that I had to go home to community college the next year so that my parents could keep an eye on me. However, I did take a trip back to my first school during my year at home. I went with Erin, who had also moved on from her first college to become a cosmetologist, and I made sure to visit the tree during the tour around the campus.
She didn’t think much of it, but it brought back some deep memories for me. There were no benches by that tree, so I would sit in the dirt, even if it was freezing outside, and let the feeling of the earth and the bark seep into me. I would finally allow myself to think, allow myself to feel, to exist. I remember hiding my tears under the hood of my sweatshirt as people walked by, but I also remember leaning my head against the trunk and let the sunshine absorb into my skin all the way to my soul. The tree wasn’t just a sad place or a happy place, it was just a familiar place. And when the entire world felt foreign to me constantly, familiar was needed.
It was liberating in a way. I was surrounded by all of these people that I had to keep up appearances for (a good chunk of which I failed miserably at that goal), so just taking that time to myself was what really got me through.
I think being close to a place is more understood these days than being close to things. This world is often quick to dismiss things as being bad. Sometimes it is as though sentimentalism is dead. I, on the other hand, refuse to give up on it.
These small sources of clutter also provide small sources of happiness for me.
I have a few things, possibly many things, that I feel attached to, but my prized possession beats them all: my stuffed rabbit Cuddles that I stole out of my big brother’s Easter basket when I was two years old. Yes, my prized possession is a stuffed animal. Is there some root psychological reason for that? Probably. Do I care? Not in the slightest.
I have had Cuddles longer than my oldest memory and I still sleep with her almost every night, even when I’m sleeping next to Tim. I am not ashamed! Growing up cuddling her while I slept formed how I sleep now, so even when I don’t sleep with her, my arms still curl up as though I am. There is a specific sense of comfort when I hold her that I don’t feel any other way. I have bonded with her. And I am so thankful for that.
On the nights when my depression and/or anxiety eats away at me, I have her to hold even when I don’t have anyone else.
I don’t care if she’s not a living thing that in no way can provide verbal or physical responses because that’s not what I need. Even when I have a live human with me while I’m upset, all I really need them for is just something to hold onto while the world around me feels like it’s slipping away. She is my most reliable friend.
I had always thought that in order to get through my depression, the only bonds that I needed were with people, but these things proved that to be wrong in my case. I need bonds with people, sure, but I also need these places and things that I can bond with that make dealing with all of my emotions more emotions.
In a small revelation I had with Tim the other day, I realized that “psychonormal” people, e.g. Tim, don’t physically feel all of their emotions, whereas I do. These non-living things that I bond to help ground me and give me a somewhere to place those exhausting physical reactions.
So, sure, it might seem silly to say out loud that what I need to be happy is my stuffed bunny, but that’s what I need to take care of myself and I am so thankful that I have made that bond and that I have access to it.
What do you bond to? Just people? Or do you bond to things and places too? Let me know int he comments below.