Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about safety.
Maybe it’s because I’m in a new relationship with someone I dig on a whole lot of levels, or maybe it’s because I’m trying to make my living solely on my purpose work as an intuitive guide and expressive arts healer.
Both are epic opportunities to expand my capacity for trust in the universe, in myself, and in my people. And they also, at times, feel threatening to my safety.
The threat lies in the potential that, at any moment, either can backfire. My new boo can change his mind, decide he wants to date someone else, or realize that what he really needs is to set out to far off lands without me, and my work can just, well—not manifest.
Right now, it’s a slow and steady stream on the work front. I’m moving forward with the intention of financial comfort, doing the things that light me up the most, though—ahem—I’m not quite there yet.
So while I’m digging quarters out of my couch to buy a cup of coffee and sitting at this cafe to write this reflection on safety, I’m coming to grips with the fact that I’ve got some old, outmoded safety stories that are in desperate need of revision.
I’m also coming to terms with the fact that, for me, relationship and work safety are two sides of the same trust coin. Can I trust in what is, exactly as it is, in this very moment, with the understanding that this moment is perfectly informing all future moments of my abundantly fulfilling life? Can I remain open to the vastness of all the magical potential, dance with the flow of divinity, without getting too attached to specific outcomes?
Because my process of cultivating trust in my sacred work and trust in my relationship feel so related, if I bring more understanding to one, I’m automatically freeing up energy to go deeper with the other. And, since love is my favorite topic and something I’m always down to consciously work on, I’m going to process my relationship safety right here with you.
Firstly, this is what I’m learning safety isn’t:
Safety is not being guaranteed that someone is going to love me forever and never leave me, and vice versa. The reason why this can’t be what safety is about is because it’s simply impossible to control. Plus, when it comes down to it, I don’t actually want to know how the story ends. People change, circumstances change.
Sh*t—people die. All people die.
These are indisputable facts of the universe that can and will affect the way all our relationships play out. So to project my present feelings of safety onto some future potential outcome of being left or not, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, now does it? The times I feel the most unsafe are the times when I’m not trusting in the higher plan.
It’s the times when my focus becomes so narrow on a singular point—that point being my potential abandonment, in which I play the victim in the story, and my partner plays the villain who, at any moment, could strike with the venom of rejection and ambivalence, resulting in straight-up the worst heartbreak ever.
Now, how do I expect to offer this person I adore all the love I feel for him if somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve already cast him as the villain of our play? This fear-based thought trap can only cause us harm. So I’ve got to make some conscious efforts to rewire that neural pathway—which means catching myself when I find myself there, getting out of my head and into my body with the intention to live in trust.
Because the old safety story is a deeply ingrained pattern in my brain that has built up over probably my whole life, it’s not going to disappear overnight. Knowing that it will take time to dissolve means I’ve got to practice a lot of patience and compassion with myself when it shows up. There is no shame in this game.
What I’m learning that safety is:
We all have different ways that safety manifests in our relationships, and I highly recommend taking the reflective time to identify how it shows up in yours.
By feeling appreciation for the people in our lives and the functional dynamics we share with them, we bring attention and value to what’s working which, in effect, creates more opportunities for kindness and fun. When I think about what makes me feel safe in my current partnership, it’s that when I’m with this person, I feel a lot of freedom to express many different aspects of myself. I can be weird, childlike, quiet, nurturing, awkward, joyful, contemplative—all within the span of 20 minutes.
There’s something about our dynamic that allows for a wide variety of expression, which gives me a sense of my wholeness, and his as well. Feeling free enough to expose my quirks and flaws and delights, while relishing in his, is literally the best kind of safety I can ask for.
The irony of this kind of safety is that it develops through vulnerable moments, which in the immediate, can feel the opposite of safe. It can actually feel borderline terrifying to be truly seen, though as we do it, little by little, we become more and more liberated. When we are able to receive each other in these uncomfortable moments, so much more space opens up for us to bloom into more authentic versions of ourselves, and more present people for each other.
But the most important thing I’m learning about safety doesn’t have to do with anyone else at all. When I’m wigging out about my potential abandonment or not getting the work I need to survive, that is my cue—and my cue alone—to bring my own safety back to myself. I’m not fully adept at this, but let me tell you, I’ve got mad tools, and I use them frequently.
Feeling safe has everything to do with being grounded, and only exists on the inner plane. There is no person or situation that can bring us true and lasting security. We can only offer that to ourselves, and fortunately, there are a thousand different ways to be grounded. The other brilliant thing about taking care of our own safety is that when we feel safe within ourselves, we, by default, show others that they can do the same, and then we aren’t all just running around looking to be saved all the time.
I read the following passage this morning, and it basically conveys what I’m trying to get at, though much more poetically. Written by Mark Nepo in his book, “The Endless Practice,” this chapter is titled, “Being Vulnerable.”
“At the deepest level, the reason to be vulnerable has nothing to do with whether we have company or not, and nothing to do with whether we belong or are seen or heard. A flower blooms not because it has an audience, but because that’s how it becomes what it was born to be. A hawk flies not because birders are watching, but because that is what it was put here to do. For human beings, how we grow is inextricably linked with being vulnerable, because being vulnerable makes us malleable enough to transform, find our place in the larger Universe, and feel the Oneness of things.
Being vulnerable is how we begin to unfurl our petals, how we begin to spread our wings. If in doing this we’re not seen or heard, becoming that blossom or that bird in flight will give us the strength to endure our loneliness. If we’re seen and heard, we’ll know true company and intimacy and the beauty of relationship, though we’ll have to resist muffling who we are in order to belong.
Of course, the practice of being human means we know both. We will be seen and heard for who we are and we will not. Feeling both is inescapable. Working with both is necessary. Ultimately, the reason to be vulnerable is to blossom into a full and complete life.”
A mantra my soul sister and I rely on when we’re not feeling our safest is, “I am safe no matter what.”
We say it while we breathe really slowly and really deeply.
We say it while our bare feet are firmly planted on a patch of grassy earth.
We say it 100 times in three minutes if that’s what it takes.
We say it because ultimately, we trust that it’s the truth.
Author: Halley Miglietta
Image: Dionne Hartnett/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson