“If we can feel love, we surely would feel safe”

Photo by Jenny Godwin used with permission. Jenny says, “The sweet little bird on the be kind barricade is a tanager, one of my favorites. It demarcated the edge of an outdoor dining/street closure area in Salida, CO.”

Is COVID the time of Great Healing? Healing of heart. Healing of mind. Mending our ways of being in the world. For love to be rediscovered – recovered – brought forth to shine. Let us take a few quiet moments together now and explore.

Love requires tenderness. Tenderness requires vulnerability. People who feel they are under attack, whether by past trauma or current challenges like COVID, may find it difficult to face feeling vulnerable.

A community member responded to last month’s topic survey and gave me permission to share their observation, “Being able to feel love this jumped out. If we can feel love we surely would feel safe.” Dear community member, you suggest that by feeling love we will feel safe, and I agree with you. We also need to feel safe to be able to feel love. So what comes first?

I’m wondering… If (1) feeling unsafe and (2) unable to feel love are in deadlock for some of us, how might we create new circuitry within our heart that allows for both safety and love? Such new pathways within and around our heart could allow feelings of safety and love to grow stronger enabling us to live a more stable and abundant life. A kinder life towards ourself and others.

If we go with my metaphor of circuitry… We know that working with electricity must be done with care, or we can be shocked by the current. Similarly, when we are dealing with unresolved trauma, it can suddenly turn explosive, seemingly without warning. The experience can be shocking, and this can lead to feeling “unsafe to go there” — for both a survivor and people around them.

In my view, a good place to begin is with slowing down. It is worth taking our time and understanding how we can work with one wire for safety and one wire for love. Before mixing them, we could turn on safety for a bit, then turn that current off. And then turn on love and feel it for a bit, and then turn it off. We could alternate in the beginning and become more accustomed to the *feeling* of safety and the *feeling* of love. Both may be somewhat unfamiliar for someone recovering from trauma, and it can be wise to begin with small doses and gradually build a greater ability to *feel*. 

When we originally experience trauma, we may shut down much or all of our capacity to feel. This is a common response to trauma – it is a safe guard. A safety fuse, if we continue with the electricity metaphor. It is wise and protects life. It is, however, not fulfilling to live the rest of our life in a shut down state. When we cannot feel, we are missing out on the nourishment of feelings, and most importantly, feeling love.

What might it look like to begin feeling some safety, and then feeling some love, in order to create new Heart Circuitry? I’m going to put myself on the spot and do a little exploration right now of what this can look like for me.

What I have found in my own experience is that taking an hour offline – literally turning my wifi off and putting my phone in airplane mode – can allow me to have some quiet time to myself. I am able to hear my inner world – my inner longings, needs and frivolous thoughts – without the bombardment of outside input. Disengaging in this way helps me develop a loving relationship with myself, and this gives me more grounding and safety. Otherwise I’m living my life coping in overwhelm, and I’m not able to *feel* in that space.

But being alone all the time would be rather hollow. So after my alone time, right now, I am exercising my love muscle. Note: I do not overstate this by using the word, “exercise”. As a survivor of deep trauma, I have to work hard and diligently to develop my love muscle. Breathing into my heart right now, I am experiencing expansiveness that I cannot feel when I am in a narrow defensive place of seeking safety. Actually, it is nourishing to my spirit to take this moment right now and remember how deeply I appreciate my community. You have been very kind to me. I have been kind to you. Remembering how we have grown this connection together helps me feel love (and gratitude!).

I believe in co-creating new understandings, and I believe this is necessary within current-day challenges. I have shared some of my thoughts here. I welcome your responses below. I am also hosting a live community healing Zoom call this month, Rediscovering nurture within community. Just click the link to register. You are welcome to join me so we can speak with each other face-to-face, and grow our understanding of “feeling love and feeling safe” further.

My heart is open to this dialog on being able to feel love, even though it is a bit scary for me. This seems like a worthwhile reason to have a few drops of courage and open the discussion further with you here, and in our Zoom call this month.

These are just a few humble thoughts that I put forward to begin our conversation. I want to thank the community members who voted for this topic on love last month, and for the quote that I was given permission to share about feeling love helping us to feel safe. I bow to my community’s wisdom and our growth together.

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