I Couldn’t See What I Couldn’t See


The journey goes to such unexpected places.

Everything old is new again. Just like legwarmers – ugh.

I have organically come around, again, to the idea of safety in the present moment. With new insight, and at a new depth. I cringe thinking how many times I’ve suggested this to people. It’s probably better to suggest looking for “safe enough”. Reminder to self how mindfulness can be weaponized when it isn’t trauma-informed.

Some of us were never safe, and never felt safe, for decades. That’s a lot of training to not be present to experience that much suck.

I can’t remember how the shift that’s happening came about. Probably in the middle of a therapy session or three, that I realized I was still experiencing a lack of safety in the present. It’s likely been unfolding, undetected, for decades now.

I realized very recently that I have a mind/body/brain so used to the fact of unsafety of the present moment, of my every word, action, choice, even the way look and the way I move, that I just kept looking to the future for hope of relief without questioning the assumption that my body was making: safety is not here now. I just believed the feeling and kept searching elsewhere.

And now something has just started to crack open in the last couple of days that has me wondering if there might actually be safety here. Replete with glimpses at the felt sense (in the body, ie: somatic) level, that only last so long before being interrupted by guilt or some other detritus. That’s to be expected.

Searching is so innocent. Looking for the right job, the right partner, the right house, the right food, the right therapist, the right state of emotions or weight or nervous system regulation. For several decades now, probably since kindergarten when someone asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, I thought it was about finding the right solution. It’s so common that personal development expenditures were expected to reach USD 43.77 billion in 2022.

And this shift is not a choice, or a single happening. Can’t be forced. It’s been a revisiting, over and over, the feeling (me visiting it, or it visiting me?), with more and more awareness and non reactivity, of a set of things that happen internally. A body pattern of constriction, collapse, flight, fight, freeze, that my body experiences in its particular places, a particular set of thoughts, or an icky feeling, or all three, that show up fairly reliably, It’s only been a couple of years now that I can actually notice and name what’s happening every time I assert, decide, push, speak up, turn down an offer, relax, be me, eat, choose. Hundereds, maybe thousands, or noticings.

There’s still more work to do. Labor. Tedious noticing each time, instead of ignoring the guilts and small judgements of every move I make. Only noticing, not forcing, that this vigilance is the way I used to create as much safety as possible. It was a nervous system choice, and also, my power co-opted to answer to a vengeful god, and scary adults. It never felt right, but that early imprint makes it feel like truth, THE truth. If there’s anythign else to do, it might be just to notice the possibility of safety here and now.

Now I realize I could never undo the feeling of all that fear with logic, because it wasn’t something I could subtract or just debunk or eradicate. It was my own power, my own sense of the consequences of not being in alignment with ME, that got twisted. Twisted to make me focus my energy outside of myself, look for an authority outside of my inner voice.

A new year starting to unfold into the possibility of being myself, being more fully here, with even more ease. Not getting rid of the risk of possible future pain. Witnessing all the aliveness and beauty and pain that is here now. Not living for a future utopia. But baby steps, for sure. Not bad for the first five days of 2023! I’m starting to have some idea of what all the spirituality words point at. THE MEANING OF LIFE IS TO LIVE.

Following every shift like this I’m reminded how futile all the “doing” seems. Another search for a “right way”? There’s continuing to move forward, for sure. But a right way to do it? I always have to laugh at the idea. I didn’t know where I was getting to, so how would I know what effort is valuable? The staying true and truthful to what is real to me. Naming it. Walking with it. Gathering courage when I finally reach the place where there’s actual access to a different choice in that moment, and choosing it, whithout a guarantee.

Stay the course of your own truth. Always, always listen. Be prepared to screw up, to be humbled. Be kind. And be kind to yourself when you can’t do any of these. Know that you cannot see what your blinders stop you seeing. Support is crucial for feeling your way around in this kind of darkness, so don’t be fooled into thinking you have to do it alone.

Happy YOU Year!

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
This entry was posted in Coaching, Habit, Inspiration, Mindfulness, safety, Somatic Experiencing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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