Are we Seeking Safety Via Disconnection?
Losses are not an abstract concept. Just have a look at your belly button.
We all know, beyond any workings of reason, that we had lost something very important.
However, our current entanglement in the chaotic web of disconnection, makes us numb into those losses.
At least, we may find here a common ground: we are all wearing the suit of survival. A suit called “numbness" or “freeze". Or even a suit named "to please or fawn".
Why would we give away our ability to feel or to stand our ground?
Maybe this disconnection makes us feel safe - because we are no threat to everyone else, when we avoid showing our intense feelings or our visceral disagreement. Our environment is already so charged that our expression could put us into more trouble. Or maybe we just believe to not have any other option.
Naturally, I talk here about freedom. And consequently about it’s opposite - trauma.
Trauma translates into a broken connection with oneself and the world around us. It’s a form of enslavement, as long our bodies are captive in a survival mode. And trauma is reinforced, when we are informed by habit and society, to separate from our body, the bodies of others and the larger body of the Earth.
While in survival, we often believe to not have choices; our natural instincts are sensed as a threat; and our human bodies, deprived from feeling, can easily become mere instruments to be handled and controlled.
Well, is this really what we want? For us, for our children? Or... what else?
We need to understand how our bodies function when facing threat. About the workings of our autonomic nervous system, in our actual lives.
When we feel threatened our bodies, however civilised, will instinctually respond.
In the insecurity of invasion, rejection or chaos, our bodies will want first to fight or flight. But if we reason against this instinct or the actions are not physically available for us, we are left with stop feeling and shut down. Another variation is "to please" and fit in - no matter the outer circumstances we are merging with.
In the societal context of today - the pandemics, climate change, financial insecurity, toxic institutions, natural disasters, violence, etc - this may be the best we can do, as it seems to not make it worse for everyone. And maybe even, we believe that makes it okay.
But still we are missing something. Something important. Our losses..what do they have to tell us?
Our losses are vast. And grief asks, at many levels, for community.
As individuals, there are great costs to our health, when we constantly shut down and dissociate. Symptoms of survival energy stuck in the body are anxiety, chronic tension, depression, fatigue, autoimmune disorders, lack of purpose, fear of speaking one's truth, always putting other's needs first and repression of authenticity and vitality in general. Also when we decrease feeling, we diminish the capacity to truly love and care. Maybe we worry, we stress, but this is still the language of our survival suits. Not the truth of our bare skin and the compassion of our open hearts.
"Grief is a way of loving but loving is a way of grieving too" says Stephen Jenkinson.
Losses are not an abstract concept. Just have a look at your belly button. It’s a scar. A trace of a wound of separation in your living body. A great freminder about the value of losses as a catalyst for reconnection, compassion and growth.
In this ways, grieving our losses and disconnections - personal and collective, is how we can pave pathways of connection. It entails the simple recognition of our numbness or overwhelm as survival strategies. And the willingness to restore our ability to feel - even if for that, we would need to slow down and ask another to witness and bear with us.
Now, what speaks more to our humanity? To stay numb and disconnected or to become vulnerable enough to feel the wounds of disconnection with ourselves, each other and with nature?
I would like to conclude with this brave statement from Sharon Blackie: "My favourite thing to say: we’re not here to be safe. We’re here to risk everything. And every breaking open strips away a protective shell, reveals another tender layer beneath – until, one day, there’s nothing left to strip away and we reach the core of who we are.”