There is hardly a conversation with my mentor that doesn’t ultimately return to the word “safe.” How I retreat from others’ vulnerability: so I can “stay safe.” How I limit my visibility in the world: so I can “stay safe.” How I attempt to control the attitudes, behavior, and experience of others: so I can “stay safe.”
When I page through my personal history, there are dramatic highlights—or low-lights as it were—where it is crystal clear what there was for me to attempt to be safe from. And while those circumstances of the past cannot be changed, the way that I have reacted and grown from them can be.
It made infinite sense for me to retreat, hide, and control in order feel safe in my world at the time/s. Yet, as I come into greater awareness of these patterns’ domination, I notice a familiar grief that they had to form in the first place and a new grief at discovering how isolated my reactions have made me.
I cannot change what occurred or how people behaved, but that’s not what I feel steeped in today. Today, I feel awed that those circumstances precipitated a chain of understanding that leads me to perpetually feel I am unsafe. And in need of constant defending.
There is a sorrow, and a fatigue, in that defensive stance through life.
So while I may not, rather can not, wash the events of my history white as snow, I can in whatever ways, come to realize that continuing to use this same barometer in the world is inadequate:
What does an undefended self look like?
What would it mean to not constantly scan for the sniper?
How would I feel in the world if I wasn’t perpetually bracing for impact?
Can’t answer these yet, but noticing is a great beginning.