by: Jamie Rautenberg
We’re all on a lifelong search for community whether we consciously realize it or not. I certainly wasn’t always conscious of it, but looking back over the series of choices I call my 20’s, it’s now obvious that I ended up in quite a few throughout this time.
First, there were my fellow writers at the dramatic writing program at NYU. After graduation, I attempted to network my way through the entertainment industry only to learn that my love affair with story had more to do with creating & intervening in reality versus fiction. Without hesitation, I pivoted my path with an application to social work school to learn how to be of service to anyone affected by the stories of trauma they carry.
Though I’ve met some like-minded social workers & mental health care professionals that I’m grateful to call friends, I still missed that tribal sense of belonging I yearned for.
Now I see that I was never able to fully connect with any particular group because there was a huge part of myself I withheld out of my own fear of judgement. I thought, “How could my relatively healthy colleagues understand this life of living with mysterious painful symptoms leading to multiple doctor visits each week for decades?”
Eventually, my body made it very clear that this was not a time to focus on my external reality of fitting in. Though it felt like social withdrawal at the time, it was absolutely crucial I take stock to uncover the dysfunction I felt within.
The irony is that the second I decided to go within is when I found the community I longed for without.
Choosing to accept nothing less than radical self-care seemed to magically bring others into my life who were doing the same.
My turn into the conscious waters of community came with Dara Dubinet’s YouTube channel which she lovingly refers to as her family channel. Dara generously shares her own story of healing from chronic health struggles through a raw vegan diet & empowers us with beautiful tools to take action to live clean. She combines her brilliant insight into emotional healing with each recipe she creates and will light you up in the process.
The more I watched her, the more connected I felt. There was an inner knowing that this incredible woman was a beacon to follow that resonated with the core of my being. So, I decided to join her online community, More with Dara.
Initially, I chose to dive into this raw food community because my body needed to heal and there is no better way to detoxify & cleanse your cells than with a raw food diet. But, it quickly became something else. Something more.
I connected with kindred spirits from all over the world who shared in the same mission of achieving wellness. It’s a safe space for us to process the experience of healing and detoxing our lives-mentally, emotionally, physically & spiritually.
I posted videos sharing the insights that were coming up for me during this intense period of recovery and the love & support I received inspired me to continue on. It didn’t matter whether I was 100% raw vegan or not. This was not a space for judgement, only healing.
Finding this loving community was not only instrumental in my physical survival while bedridden, but also for clarifying the path & mission I’m now publicly on.
Dara gave me an outlet for my voice and I’m grateful for those video journals that still live on More with Dara. I’m my most vulnerable self there because I felt at home.
It’s a place of sharing & relating- the very definition of community. This is truly what heals. It wasn’t a pill, herb, or wonder drug, it was the relationships that strengthened my will.
This is how I believe counseling is most effective-simply by providing a holding space for support without judgement. I never believed I knew more than anyone else, I simply tried to empower my clients to see that they could trust themselves that they knew their own answers. All I did was ask the questions to help get the wheels turning. The real work begins with everyone’s own awareness. You can find that awareness in the sharing & mirroring that community provides.
What communities or groups do you belong to? Do they make you feel healthier, lighter, happier? Are you escaping in them? Do they frustrate you at all? If so, reflect on the reasons why & share your thoughts with us in the comments.