BlissDom ’12 – On Being and Relationship

Processing BlissDom. No one post is going to sum up the whole of my experience at BlissDom ’12.

I generally process pain before I process life and – well, BLISS – because pain clamors loudest for attention. I spent the weekend functioning around it, and I needed to acknowledge it yesterday. I wanted to share it because I knew it wasn’t only for me. Your responses to yesterday’s post have blown me away – THANK YOU. I’ve met many of you who commented in real life (some of you at BlissDom!), and I need you to know I wasn’t directing that post at anyone in particular.

Last weekend, I encountered pieces of myself and others that I didn’t understand and couldn’t control. Staying alive meant that I needed to embrace those things, let go of my ability to arrange the situation to suit me, and hold pain and hope together.

For the first time in my life, I accepted that I needed to be alone sometimes in order to keep my heart open. There was nothing stopping me from changing tables except my tears and humiliation. I chose to stay, to feel that, and to let it open my heart. No one forced me to leave the concert on Friday night. I chose to leave because I needed to remember something I couldn’t share with anyone.

I realized that I EXISTED, whether anyone noticed me or not, and I didn’t have to apologize for that. I could BE what I needed to be, and so could everyone else.

After a slow Saturday morning and breakfast in my room, I put my smile on, talked with people, tried to engage their worlds, inviting relationship beyond my Community Leader badge. I attended a session, took time to meet the conference sponsors, gabbed with a photographer about equipment. At the closing keynote, I joined a table with people I’d met, but still I was alone.

As I wandered out into the hallway after the keynote, I ran into someone I’d been smiling at all weekend. As far as people-watching went, she was a favorite. She was alive, excited, and very much in whatever moment she was in. I stopped to talk, and the conversation turned to our weekend experience.

Suddenly, I was hearing myself say how I present well on the outside, but inside, I am falling apart. I was explaining how being a community leader in my first year at BlissDom set me apart from others who were attending for the first time, while I was already set apart from other community leaders who knew one another already. I told her I knew most of my trouble was that I’d just come by myself – if I’d come with someone else, things might have been different.

Then, to my surprise, I was hearing about other women who felt the same way, women who had been able to admit it to one another, to let down their guard and connect with one another. I left the conversation with an invitation to join them, returned to my room – and then went back out.

We women have so much trouble engaging with one another because we delineate an “outside” and an “inside” crowd. Women on the “inside” encourage one another to reach “outside” and bring other women in. Women on the “outside” resent women on the “inside” because they don’t feel included.

But that kind of thinking – however unconscious it may be – only serves to create boundaries. People – and women in particular – desperately need to meet other people where they are. We need to be people, not “inside” or “outside.”

Owning my awkwardness, introversion, and pain finally opened the door to relationship – both at BlissDom and in Monday’s post. It wasn’t my friendliness or my position as a community leader. It wasn’t a natural (HA!) ability to interact easily with others. It was me, being me, meeting others who were being them, right where we were.

My next – and final – post about BlissDom will be about the best moments, the ones that will probably stay with me forever. And the people I DID meet, who changed my life and made the whole weekend worth the experience. A good story keeps you suspended, saves the best for last, right?

11 thoughts on “BlissDom ’12 – On Being and Relationship

  1. Simply Darlene

    Indeed a good story does just that, miss Kelly. But dare I say that you’ve already shared what I consider the best (although that may change with your next post!) because you shared the reality that is not just you, but me, and probably a lot of your readers, your friends.

    And girl, I’ve been on the outside my whole life, until I met God. Now I’m (mostly) okay with my perimeter sitting because of Who’s hanging out with me.


  2. Nancy

    “Owning my awkwardness.” That’s a huge step for so many of us. Now that I’ve hit fifty (and am officially eccentric) I’ve started not only owning my awkwardness, but celebrating it!

  3. Stacey

    I have been defining myself as someone on the edge. I have also been trying to NOT define myself with labels. This reminds me that I do this, and I need to stop. It’s so hard sometimes.

  4. emily freeman

    I came over specifically to read about your time at Blissdom. And yours are the only Blissdom posts I will probably read. I love hearing you, just you. Your voice is so familiar, your struggles are as well. At that conference, because I’ve been so many times, I tend to be an “inside” girl. But still, in that place, always a feeling of “outside” somehow creeping in. But what you say here, just being people. Love it all.

    I do love your voice, friend. And loved watching your alone time on instagram and then reading of it here. Can’t wait to hear the “best of” :)

  5. Deb Colarossi

    I’ve been thinking a lot on this Kelly.
    I wonder if it isn’t an either or thing. That you were able to experience the best of both worlds at this conference and that it speaks to how and where and why it exists?
    I realize there is the inclusive, exclusive, marketing, networking, game face, rising to the occasion etc etc facets to these things. But perhaps you felt secure enough , not just in your ‘you’ , although that is in itself a revelation, at any age, but in this group of women?
    I feel like this with my family and am surprised when it happens in social settings especially if I have preconceived ideas of them. At first I am hurt, insecure, and the like and then I realize that they are actually a good fit . Expectations and obligations sure, but freedom and space and a true kind of love.

  6. Izabela

    Amen…why do we women do that? I’ll never understand. I know going shopping sometimes I’ll look at other women and just feel the “inside” “outside” thing. I have to make a conscious effort to stop myself and realize what I’m doing is not healthy. I cannot wait for tomorrow’s post :)

  7. Ananda Leeke

    Hi Kelly! Deeply grateful for your sharing. Sending you BlissDom hugs. Looking foward to reading more of your posts. Enjoy March. Happy National Women’s History Month! Blessings, Ananda

    PS: You are making herstory by being so open and willing to share your experiences on your blog. What a sacred space you are creating!

  8. Lisa-Jo@thegypsymama

    The strange thing about the blog world is that in real life no one knows if someone is feeling “inside” or “outside” unless they own up to it like you did – and then there’s a bridge to cross over into a real connection. Otherwise, we take people at face value and trust they are who they seem and it’s always strange then to discover the inner monologue that was happening all along and that we weren’t privy too. It always makes me feel sad and wonder if perhaps our “inside” and “outside” voices are more important than any circles. And that we share those out loud and not just in our written words.

    All blog conference posts tend to make me feel this way – yours perhaps most especially for not being able to hear what your inside voice was saying. Next time, lean over and whisper in my ear. I promise to listen.

  9. laurie @ little blue chairs

    Hi Kelly-
    I had wish we had connected sooner at Blissdom, I hope we are able to stay connect no that it is over. I was fumbling around and had gone by myself. It was harder to do than I thought. I had to keep telling myself, I will get from it what I need. And I think I did. I enjoyed hanging with you on Saturday nite and really wish we had done it more.