What does it mean to feel rooted?

The Origins


Last week, I introduced my partner to my father. A very moving moment even though it could not be a traditional introduction since my father passed away 21 years ago. It was then a visit to my father’s grave and my family vault. A very important step to me since I hadn’t visited my childhood region – Vendée – in a very long time.

My family house is in Vouvant, a lovely Medieval village in the historical Vendée region. A few years after my father’s death, my mother and I were left with no other choice but to sell it. I felt I was betraying my family and ancestors but my mother and I could not maintain such a large property.

Therefore, going there has been since then extremely painful and I do not visit Vouvant regularly, way too hard emotionally for me. However, the recent new owners were very kind and understood my feelings – they accepted to let me in with my partner. It was tough but helpful at the same time.

Tough since my family’s pieces of furniture are still there, nearly at the same places they used to be, I could still smell my grandparents’ perfume. My family’s presence can still be sensed in the house, absolutely everywhere, 18 years later. Helpful because that reminded me of my roots. I lost my father way too soon, then the house, and many other loved ones. Too many losses in my life I must live with, absences I have had to deal with, memories I have been keeping with great attentiveness.

At some point, it felt like those memories were like tales, half real half imaginary. Fortunately, looking around my house with my partner, sharing my past and my childhood memories with him, telling the history of the house to the new owners, my family’s role, took me back to those happy and lovely years. Yes, it was not a myth, this is real, my past is real, my family’s history and stories are still very much ingrained in the house, I am rooted.

How could we define ‘roots’?

I came back empowered and wondering whether ‘feeling rooted’ meant ‘being aware of one’s origins’. Is this feeling related to a place, to a family, to a country?

Paradoxically, my answer is no it is not undoubtedly. Why? Based on my own experiences, you could think it is. Actually, my family house, Vouvant, are part of my roots and I am now aware that I need them to feel fulfilled. This feeling is also linked to my father’s death. I lost him to cancer, after a 5-year fight, he was in his 50s – very young -, my mother was only 44 years old and I was still studying at La Sorbonne. We were not prepared at all for such a drastic change in our lives and we had to overcome the now well-known post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore, the place and the region still mean a lot to me and help me go back to a state I feel I lost too soon –innocence.

London and England have become my adoptive roots. They are deeply ingrained in me and I need them in my life. There are many similarities between Western France and England, historically of course, and the landscapes are very much alike. I have been wondering whether this deep connection I feel with England may be connected with my childhood in Vouvant...

The sense of togetherness

There must be more than ‘individual’ roots I thought. I tried to think of a deeper meaning. I felt rooted again when I visited my childhood village, I have felt rooted in England, the feeling must be something we are all able to find within us wherever we are and however rough our experiences have been. Some people do not know their origins that are at times untraceable. There must be another way to ‘feel rooted’!

In my opinion, the reason why we do not feel rooted sometimes, or often for some, is that we lose the sense of togetherness. Togetherness has several meanings to me.

Togetherness within yourself Accepting the various aspects of yourself, from past to present. Feeling aligned with your own values that have developed over time.

Togetherness with your loved ones and friends – feeling united, understood, connected with them. There are always ups and downs but the foundations seem solid to you.

Togetherness with our surroundings and entourage – we live in a society and on a planet that we need to look after and take care of. Each one of us has a role to play, however small it may seem.

Therefore, to feel rooted also means to feel connected to the whole world, to the community we may be in, to the people we engage with, to the nature and wildlife that surround us. A simple stroll in a park and we all feel healthier and better, that already tells a lot! Nature knows best – the roots of the trees intertwine with those around. If a tree is sick and the roots are affected, they may endanger another tree. If you talk kindly to a plant, it will grow gorgeously, it will die if you ignore it. Something to think about…

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