Safety - Funny how much I think about this word and how little I write about it. I think it is something I have been searching for my whole life, an ability to feel safe and be close to others. Seems as though, being alone still feels like the only way to be ok.
I was walking on the beach the other day, talking to a friend. Both of us struggling with what to do with our lives post-divorce and both of us a bit despondent about why love seems so elusive to us.
As we walked and talked, I realized that I have never felt safe in a relationship. Mostly because I have never really selected people to have them with who are in fact safe. Now back in the day, my choices were super horrible. I only seemed to like men who would be sure to bring about the most unsafe environment and was bored to tears with men that provided stability and safety.
However, I realized there in my church, that I was still doing it. Even the most significant relationship of my life was not safe. Although I loved him and he me, I never felt safe in that relationship. I always knew that he would leave and I was correct. So why did I keep going back for more?
I think, for me, it had something to do with an idea that if I could just make it work with him that I would somehow be redeemed. Completely missing that the relationship lacked a foundational level for emotional safety to grow. He was not ever going to be there for me because he had so many issues of his own that would always and forever color the emotional landscape of our relationship. He couldn’t show up for me because he had a hard enough time showing up for himself. There was just nothing left over for him to share with me.
What has come up for me recently is that safety is what I need and want more than anything. A feeling of being able to share who I am and feel more than marginally safe at the same time. But my relationship track record is replete with me jumping in with both feet and throwing safety to the wind. How can one feel safe with a person that I barely know? And historically, if I have taken my time getting to know someone so that I could feel safer about them, I lost interest in them romantically. Coincidence?
The world will always be an inherently unsafe place. Peril lies around every corner...we all are just living each day never knowing whether it might be our last. The Pandemic has brought us to a new awareness of this fact. Forcing us to deal with a daily reckoning of how temporary and fleeting life is...
But in regard to love and loving relationships, I have been a love chicken. Always hiding and running and never really staying long enough to allow myself some feeling of safety emotionally. Forcing myself to stay but also disappear at the same time. Incongruent emotional realities but I can see how I have done this all my life. Pull you close fast so that I can get out of my own way, then use this same manner to push you away in a little while.
I am not sure how to do it differently, I believe it has something to do with letting go and asking for help. Maintaining a sort of openness, rather than grasping at something or someone to feel safe. Perhaps a feeling of safety comes from not grasping and just allowing. Perhaps the things that I think will make me feel safe are the very things that make me feel the most unsafe...
I am not sure if I am making sense. I feel like clarity eludes me right now. It is hard to write about that which you haven’t figured out yet. All I can say is that I am here, doing the work, knowing that something is going on and that is has something to do with safety...and the idea that perhaps it means and manifests in ways that I have heretofore been unclear or misguided about...
As someone reminded me the other day, there is no negotiation in surrender. I don’t get to make the terms, the conditions or choose the course. My only job is to just give up. And then sit with the very uncomfortable feeling of realizing how unsafe it feels to relinquish control...control that I only delusionally had anyway, but, oh, what a powerful delusion!
Perhaps safety comes when I remember and recognize that I am really only giving to God what was God’s all along...perhaps that is the thing I can do that will bring me a real feeling of safety. Allowing myself to fully occupy each moment while recognizing that each moment is precious as it is, and nothing more be added or demanded.
Safety is always going to relative because no matter how much one tries, no one can ever eliminate risk. Life, every minute of every day, is risky. So safety is always going to be unattainable in any kind of absolute form, so what perhaps needs to be sought is a feeling within oneself that can trust that you, indeed, have your own best interest at heart and can speak up for yourself regardless of who or what you are presented with...
I think, perhaps, the best and most probable way to feel safe is to open yourself up, first to yourself, then give that person to whatever divinity you can believe in. Then do all that you can to maintain the openness of that connection instead of exiting into old yet familiar escapes to people, places and things that you think will bring about safety...instead seeing that what you thought was safe on Monday, can and might be very unsafe on Tuesday.
Perhaps safety is so relative that it should be a more important daily question. Do I feel safe, then take the time to really answer that question before engaging with others...because if I do not feel safe within myself, there is nothing you are ever going to be able to do to bring about that feeling for me. It has to start with me, be given to God, then transmuted back to me, before I can ever pray to share it with you.
So it would appear that safety, like everything else, is an inside job. An ever shifting, complicated inside job that manifests itself habitually in the idea that the answer lies somewhere out there.