“True connection with people is messy, complicated, and vulnerable. You can take away these elements to feel safe, but you are missing out on the true magic of giving and receiving love.” Janice Holland
In my opinion, one of the most tragic realities of trauma is how it forces us to disconnect our minds from our feelings. When we have experiences that are too overwhelming to manage, we are forced to disconnect our bodies and emotions from our minds. When we repeatedly experience these overwhelming traumas, this disconnection becomes a permanent state of being. Staying in safety and survival mode is the only way we can feel safe enough to navigate the world we are living in. As children, we don’t have a choice. We can’t leave, there is nowhere to go, and oftentimes no one who will listen. We mistake this survival mode for who we are. “She’s really quiet all the time,” or “she is such a good girl.” Statements like these become descriptors of our identity. We believe them because we don’t have a reason not to. But survival mode is meant only for survival. We don’t have access to the nuances that truly make us unique, and we certainly don’t have the capacity to allow ourselves to be in an emotional space with others where we can’t see an outcome. That feels completely unsafe.
When someone is living a genuine, free, organic life, they don’t need to see outcomes because they have an organic sense of safety within themselves. Their minds and hearts are connected and they are safe to love and be loved. Feeling safe with yourself means you don’t need to control your environment or others. This concept is mind-blowing to those who have experienced complex trauma. I used to stare at my therapist like she was crazy when I first began my healing journey. Even as I began to see and understand this concept to be true, I often felt resentful and angry that I just couldn’t get there. It has taken years and a lot of hard work, but I can finally say that not only is this true, but I also feel it more days than not. I still get triggered or tripped up from time to time, but my ability to reconnect to my heart and feel safe with myself comes easier and in less time than in the past.
My heart truly grieves for how many people are living their lives doing the best they can to keep themselves safe. Women often resort to over-working and over-pleasing to curate some sense of love and belonging in their lives. We often don’t even realize that our desire to ensure we know and understand everyone’s behavior around us is actually an attempt to control all variables, so we don’t get hurt. Love is messy. It allows the people we have relationships with to have a life that doesn’t involve us. They can connect with others, have friends, interests, and hobbies that don’t include us or have anything to do with their relationship with us. This feels threatening to someone who has been traumatized. It feels risky to love someone who doesn’t center their world around us.
Abundant living means we love ourselves so deeply, and we are so confident in who we are and what we have to offer the world, that we don’t need the validation, attention, and approval of the ones we love. We sincerely appreciate and enjoy it when they offer this to us because it is something they are freely giving. It is binding and connecting and passionate and life-giving because it comes from abundance. It isn’t given to us for fear of our reactions or fear we will leave if they don’t. Do you see the difference? Abundant and free love is full of joy and life that is deeply satisfying and connecting.
I have decided to only connect with people who freely choose to connect with me. I will not demand anyone’s attention, love, or affection. I will not work for it, overgive for it, or over-please for it. I will not manipulate any situation or person to ensure someone satisfies my anxiety about being loved or accepted. I can’t say I do this 100% of the time, but the more I heal, grow, change, and develop into fully embodying who I am, the more I am able to receive and express myself, feeling fully confident that I am enough.
I want to spend the rest of my life helping others feel safe with themselves so they know the true feeling of freedom and love. You are enough. You always have been and always will be. Doing the work of grief around all the reasons why you don’t feel that way right now will change everything. There are so many of us here to help and cheer you on in this journey! Keep going.