What is the deal with “safety”?
Every part of my safety feels compromised, lately.
Real or not, I keep finding myself in situations that seem “unsafe”.
I keep feeling it. Every day. It’s at the heart of the work I’m doing right now, with my eating disorder. A set of behaviors that gets triggered by fear, by anxiety, by not feeling safe. These are behaviors I’m seeing every day. These are feelings I’m feeling… every day.
And I don’t think it’s an accident that while I’m trying to rewire my default fear response to be something more rational and helpful than binge eating, I have a very real “unsafe” situation playing out in my life.
In two days I’m going to court for the umpteenth time to hopefully finish the process of filing a restraining order. Over the past two and a half months while this has been playing out, I’ve felt incredibly unsafe. And probably I’ve actually been “unsafe” in the most real sense of the word – having someone sneaking around my house in the middle of the night, following me around, slashing my tires. Someone who has a history of sex crimes and a black belt in judo. NOT A SAFE SITUATION.
I see a connection between the physical “unsafety” of having this man in my life… and the emotional/spiritual “unsafety” that I feel being my authentic self in my life right now.
Maybe it’s a real feeling. Maybe it’s not safe for me to be my authentic self, completely, here. Maybe it’s not safe for me, maybe it’s not safe for others. Maybe that feeling is a sign that I should be somewhere else where it IS safe for me.
It reminds me of the knowing I have somewhere deep inside, that who we are in any given situation is not in our control.
Like how the process of healing works… it happens as soon as it can, as soon as it is “safe”.
Is safety just the feeling of “I am where I am meant to be”?
Maybe all this time I’ve been feeling unsafe, feeling afraid and anxious, it’s been a sign from my higher self that “I can’t settle in here”.
Maybe I’ve been coping with that feeling instead of truly acknowledging where that feeling comes from.
I kept wanting to take responsibility for the feelings – like, maybe they are here and I can’t “get over it” because there is something wrong with me.
But I know that there is nothing wrong with me. I know that to be 100% true. We’re all just human. Perfect and whole. And we are unique puzzle pieces, trying to find a way to fit together, all while moving and evolving, all while the landscape beneath and around us shifts…
What if everything you come across in your path is trying to help you get to where you want to go? What if an impediment is trying to help you get to where you want to go? What if part of us forgets sometimes, where we truly want to go… gets sidetracked by other people’s paths and visions… what if where you think you want to go, is not where you actually want to go?
We hear all the time about people ending up in places where they “have it all” but feel empty inside – how does it feel to achieve a dream that you don’t actually care about? I bet it feels pretty dissociative, like you’re in someone else’s dream. How do you tell if your dream is really yours, anyway? What if you’re not sure? Don’t we have to keep the ball moving? Don’t we have to go somewhere, anywhere, lest we get left behind?
But is it a good thing to move so quickly for a long time, afraid to stop and assess whether you’re going the right way for fear of what it would mean, blindly forging ahead while convincing yourself over and over of the rightness of your path – until eventually you get to where you think you’re going and you realize it means nothing to you, realize you took a wrong turn miles back… days back…. weeks back…. years back…????
We shun this part of our experience, the emotional part, because it seems to get in the way of “where we are going”. But what if where we are going is the wrong way???
This is what it is to embrace our feelings. And to love ourselves. Maybe loving ourselves isn’t forcing ourselves to fit into a path that we’ve convinced ourselves will make us right. Maybe loving ourselves is caring enough to notice how we feel, caring enough to lead ourselves back, over and over again, to the path that feels right. To step back when it doesn’t feel good. When it doesn’t feel safe. Maybe if I don’t feel safe here, this isn’t the place for me.
Right now… someone I thought was my friend turned out to be a manipulator of younger women and a sex offender. I walked into that trap because I was too okay with the feelings of “this-doesn’t-feel-safe-enough” that I felt along the way. I was way too willing to override that feeling. I thought that feeling made me a wimp, and I’m no wimp. I saw myself as strong, and I thought being strong meant being okay with some amount of not-feeling-safe. Or… maybe I wasn’t willing to admit I didn’t feel safe.
So I went along with things that weren’t right for me, that hurt me. I justified the bad on behalf of the good.
Have I been doing that emotionally, as well? Trying to keep making myself show up, over and over again, to a place that just isn’t truly right for me? Ignoring the signs inside me that it isn’t right because I don’t want to be “weak”?
There’s a false kind of safety that keeps us glued to situations like this. Somewhere inside, a voice is telling you “this isn’t right”. You don’t feel right. You feel tired, or anxious, or depressed. But you keep convincing yourself that you just have to do better. …. Why???
Because leaving is hard. Because we get attached to the familiar. Because an essential part of our paths is lonely – we each have our own path to find, we can’t just follow someone else’s! – and we’re scared of being alone. Scared of not making it. Scared of going after something that we truly TRULY want, something that would be uniquely ours to manifest… and failing, looking like a fool.
But those fears are the fears we are meant to face. We are meant to face the acute fear of stepping into the unknown – one step at a time.
We aren’t meant to slave away day after day in a life that isn’t meant for us, on a path that doesn’t spark our soul, trying to beat down the voices inside us that are pleading with us, trying to tell us where to go. And that what we need to do… is not this.
One thing I know… is that when life is trying to send you a message… it’s going to KEEP GETTING LOUDER UNTIL YOU HEAR IT.
It’s one thing to feel unsafe (or maybe, “not at home”, is a better way to put it) but hide it with a shameful habit of binge eating… and blame myself, over and over like there’s something wrong with me.
It’s another thing to have a dangerous man obsessed with me!
LIFE GOT LOUDER. I am getting the message. And I’m making a big change. I don’t know what it looks like yet. But it’s leaving the known path and jumping into that unknown path that only I can walk. I’m doing my best to listen, to the voice inside of me. And to trust it.
Wish me luck. If you’re the type for prayer, see me in my light and power, on the path that’s truly mine. I offer the same back to you. Infinite light and gratitude.