A journal of healing

Trying to understand safety


My head is whirling as I spent some time with my cup of coffee and read a few new blogs. The content was disturbing in one, sad in another, hopeless, anger and pain is pervasive in many. Last night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, this thought kept running through my head and it is still here this morning. Why? Basically, Why? Why is life so difficult? Why do people do what they do to others? Why do so many people grow up with such terrible baggage? Is this what being human means and if it is; what is the point?

In the quiet of the morning, snow falling in tiny diamond chips, my purring black cat beside me, I struggle to answer these questions. But it is not my place to answer this for others. But I do need to answer it for myself. I am not feeling depressed, it is more just my curiosity and lack of understanding of life. I am very naive, to the point of ridiculousness sometimes. I am also an easy mark because of that. People “get me” all the time. My ex-husband made it into an art. He once told me a joke when we first dated that I did not get was a joke. Instead I spent years thinking he was some sort of saint, and there was nothing further from the truth. He has told me the joke about dating a girl who had no legs, and then one night after trying to initiate sex he did not leave her hanging….. it is an old joke and I hung on to every word when he told me it when we were first dating. It still bothers me that that was his idea of a joke. I never got it until another one of his friends told the same joke. But by then, the joke was about me believing it. There were several of those through the years that I know of. How many things I believed that were actually lies disguised as a joke I will never know.

This type of behavior of “poking fun at me” was common in my family. Part of it was my rank as I was the youngest of five. It was also because I had this way of looking at the world as if it was all magickal. I still do, but I keep it more to myself. But the point was their idea of fun was to make a ridicule of my innocence. It was taking away the wonder and bringing me “in-line.” And this is something I see in so many of the blogs I read. The writers were disillusioned to the point of despair and in one blog, to extreme violence. What causes some people to snap? What gives people the right to inflict suffering on others? How do some people go through life totally unscathed, or do we all end up with some tormentor? What is the point of this?

I read one blog where the writer was incarcerated for such extreme senseless violence it was sickening. He has written a book about being incarcerated and posted the first chapter. At such an early age, he drifted off the path into one of drugs and alcohol, which he said “fueled his fire” and aided his rage to the point he took a shotgun and fired at people who just stood there. He chose this and now he says he has remorse. I am having a difficult time not judging him. Extremely hard time. There are no “backsies” for the people he shot. There is no rewind. He is incarcerated, writing books and “suffering”. There is a part of me that says why would someone do that? What pushed him at an age when he should have been playing baseball to go get high? What could possibly have made him so angry?

What makes people do what they do? Why do people inflict the pain and suffering on each other. Someone will shake their head at this and call me a silly girl. I do not believe that people are born into this world angry. It is learned. But I also think we bring a genetic coding that also gets triggered by the frustrations of life. But what makes this unbearable for some to the point of such violence? What makes someone inflict sexual abuse or physical abuse on an innocent child? What makes a child inflict this on another child? How is this possible when their brain is not even fully developed?

I certainly do not have the answer for all this. I can only speak for myself and what I know. Safety is the most important thing in the world we can give a young child. And as we grow, being kept safe is what makes youngsters able to succeed in the world. Time spent trying to survive takes away the time that is needed to thrive. That should be a poster! I am not talking about making every child “a winner” like the school system perpetuates now. There is something gracious learned when you lose. We need to teach that as well as winning.

I am talking about teaching them to know what it means to be safe. You can be poor as a church mouse and still be safe. There are many stories of young people who grew up and out of poverty to become successful adults. I also believe that infants come into this world and with their first breath have a spiritual knowing of safety that is either strengthen or dissolved based on the treatment they receive. I think this is why so many are driven to be seekers of spirituality, because they know it’s part of their soul and they want it back.

Abraham Maslow put the hierarchy of success into a triangle years ago. In 1954, he wrote a book that is still taught to teachers as a basis for understanding children’s growth. After food, water and shelter, safety is paramount to survival. He even put safety before love and belonging. So is this where the path splits for so many children? If a child does not feel safe, can they feel love? Or is the betrayal of trust, that fracture of safety the point where the rest of the life of the being will be forever challenged. Do we really know the complete impact on what trauma at an early point in life can do?

Many, many questions and I certainly do not pretend to have answers. I do know that safety for me is a huge part of my healing. I have to work at feeling safe. It is so easily pulled away like a cheap carpet. The other day I was working on the household budget and for some unknown reason, I felt panic sneaking up my back like a spider. I stopped what I was doing and concentrated on the feeling. My breath shortened, my nerves tinkled and my head gets this fizzy feeling at the top. I really leaned into the feeling and thought, this is a memory. I used to hate to work on the bills because we were so strapped for money, especially when we were in school. We were living in a negative state of finances all the time as our student loans accrued. I had to really feel myself into the present moment because the situation now is completely different. As I sat there, I was totally aware of the physical sensations running through me and the welling sense of loss of safety I felt back then. It was so easy to return to the past. It took a conscious effort to release the fear, calm the nervous system and get it back to the now and not then.

During this short duration of panic, my husband asked me a question. Not intentionally, I sniped back at him. I was flooded with my angst from my past and angry because he had no idea what I went through back then. I was not actually upset with him in the now, he just stepped in at the wrong time to ask his question. I am not saying this as an excuse for bad behavior, but is this a correlation to what maybe brings on anger in others against innocent people? Is this why the world is so angry? Anger begets anger? I do not know. I certainly do not condone it, I am just trying to understand it.

As for the person in jail; I doubt he will ever really feel safe in the outside world. And because of that I do not think he should be allowed to return to the general populace. Recidivism is the process of repeating an undesirable behavior that lands people back in jail. There is safety in jail because there is no need to be accountable for your daily needs. They are provided. See Maslow’s triangle of hierarchy and you will see the first two layers are met in jail. I think in general, the judicial system along with the penal system is total garbage. I cannot image the total horror or trauma he inflicted during his rant where he randomly took a shotgun, trapped people in a basement and blasted holes in people. I am not sure I have the capacity to understand this. But I do not want him to do it again. But deep inside of me is this little piece that says, but…what if we give up on people, what does that say?





Comments on: "Trying to understand safety" (2)

  1. Your last sentence says it all. What does it say about us? We give up on people because we can’t comprehend what pushed them, we can’t fathom what pain may have totally blinded them for a moment in time and, so, we continue to spend billions on a penal system but don’t have the money to find more ways to help – to be compassionate. Some people won’t change but some, especially among the young, can change. Remorse doesn’t bring anyone back, but it is a hopeful sign. Peace . . .


  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on a snowflake morning…


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