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The Exchange of Safety...

I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of safety.  If love really is born of this concept and its attendant practice, then I think I have a lot of thinking to do.  I have lived a great expanse of life, and I know that I have rarely considered the concept in connection with my loving relationships.  I know, that is very fucked up.

Now, in this moment, I am somewhat shocked and horrified to see that I have never once thought about this concept in relation to the way I love or am loved.   I think, I am not completely sure, but I believe that I thought that safety was something someone else gave you.  And it was an abundant resource.  I didn’t, until last Friday, see it as something I needed to possess in order to give it away, and that my giving it away was the only way that I could receive it.

I had a childhood that was safe in some regards.  I had loving parents.  I had money.  I had a roof over my head.  I never really wanted for any material things.  But I had an unpredictable alcoholic father whose rage and anger, mostly directed at me, made my home life hard and sometimes terrifying.  I also had some other unfortunate circumstances as a child that made me believe that safety in this world was something that one had to be ever vigilant about, hyper vigilant really. And even then, one could not adequately protect oneself.

I did myself further damage by refusing to accept, acknowledge or even discuss really any of the above with anyone, ever.  I held it in, I smoothed it over, I glossed it over and then set it aside.  Seeing now that it controlled everything I did, said, or felt.  But at the time, fooled myself into thinking, “ok, now let’s get on with this whole living thing!” 

And it is exactly at that point that I started drinking!  Not a shocker.

Anyway, my point in saying all of that is to address the elephant in the middle of my life which is this concept of safety.  I did not feel safe at a very young age and I believed that safety was something someone else gave you, and that you really were not responsible for providing it yourself, to yourself.

I have come to see that very differently.

I see now, of course, that because there were circumstances in my life from a very early age that showed me the world, my world was not safe, I stopped seeking it within myself.  I mean, I was a kid, how the fuck was I supposed to provide that to myself.  And I had several rather glaring examples of my inability to do that in my short life, so I really got that safety was something someone else either gave you or didn’t.  And because it was so painful to be denied it by certain people, I kind of made a decision that I would stop seeking it.

And so I created a situation within myself where I just kind of accepted the world, men and other humans were just unsafe and there wasn’t much that could fucking be done about it.  The world and its beings were unsafe...ok.  Got it.

This is where animals came in for me.  Animals were safe.  I was safe with them and they were safe with me.  And I owe a debt of gratitude for that because had it not been for my animals and my mom, I wouldn’t be here today.  I am sure that I would have offed myself decades ago or put myself into a situation where someone else did.  Without a fucking doubt!

So animals were about the only thing that showed me safety in relationship.  I made them feel safe in my presence, and they made me feel safe.  Is it any wonder that I have surrounded myself with droves of them?  I so get why now.  Seriously didn’t really before.

So I learned safety through my primary relationship with my mom and all the animals I have had the good fortune to love and know and care for in my lifetime.  I knew how to be safe with them and they me, but the rest of you?  No fucking way.

But I am learning this now.  This idea that in order to be safe with others, I have to feel safe within myself.  And this is not something you provide me with so I have it.  It is something I provide me with and share it.  So fucking simple, and I got it so very convoluted and wrong for so very long.

Now the main reason I have not felt safe with others is because I was not safe with myself.  I was best friends with people who really didn’t like me all that much.  Were absolutely content to put me down, talk shit about me behind my back and generally create an environment where the overarching sense was one of love and friendship but it was corroded and tainted by a subversive feeling of dislike, envy and resentment.  And I allowed those people in and called them friends.

I did the same in my intimate relationships and work relationships.  And I similarly called them “good”, “content” and “functional”.  They were anything but.  I swam in a sea of people who said they liked me, but then treated me like absolute fucking shit and like I didn’t matter at all.  And I allowed it because I couldn’t see it for what it was and had no idea that it was my responsibility to ensure my own safety:  emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual in this life.

This is one of those moments that I see so clearly now.  I see my part and it is painful.  How could I be this intelligent and evolved and just be getting this now?? I mean, seriously!  FUCK!  REALLY?




Yes, apparently.

So before I fall down the rabbit hole of my own discontent and discouragement, I shall stop beating on myself that I didn’t see and become able to own it now.  I will just take a moment to be grateful that I saw it at all. (I am sitting over here in my bed...allowing this truth to sink all the way down to the depths of my broken, beating heart).

Safety is something I have to have within myself.  First, last and always.  I cannot bring safety to someone else, or my relationships or my life, if I do not have the ability to provide it for myself, to myself.  I have to be safe with me before I can ever be safe with you.  Safety is not something you give me, safety is something that I demand as a precursor to our involvement.

(I am over here smacking myself in the head - that is how simple it all seems now, and I so missed the not even in the same continent).

But I see now the only way I can provide safety to others is if I have it for myself.  It is like the whole animal thing...I am a safe person to them and so they can be safe with me.  Not the other way around.  They are safe with me, so I am safe with them.  No, the prerequisite in all interactions with cats, dogs, horses and the like is that I must be safe otherwise they are never going to let me get near them.  And that is not a bad policy for relating so it would seem to me in this moment.

So while I have gotten this WRONG so many different ways and on so many different levels, I know now that I must be safe within myself if I am ever going to feel safe with you.  And then, and only then, can I engage with you in some sort of safety exchange...

The last two years have been all about learning how to make myself safe for me.  I didn’t know that was what I was doing at the time.  I didn’t know that was why I left the job.  I didn’t know that was why I left The Tribe.  I didn’t know that was why I did a lot of things.  I just didn’t know.

And while my heart breaks into a million pieces over how much I have been absent and wholly out of touch with myself and my life, it also becomes a wellspring of solace as I move forward. I didn’t know.  But I am learning.



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