Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Feeling safe: Is it an inside job?

Yesterday, at Monday Muses, a monthly creativity group, we got into a conversation about money. About having enough money to pay for art supplies, having enough money to have some leisure, having enough money to travel now or when we retire. The conversation moved rather inevitably to how much is enough and our acknowledgement that in a culture focused on scarcity, it's really hard to know when enough is enough. Double what we have now? Three times? Two million dollars?

Then last night a friend called. She's wanting to lose some weight. She has a tremendous knowledge of nutrition and fitness, works with a trainer, watches what she eats. And the last 20 pounds of loss continue to elude her. We talked about many things but over the course of our conversation, what struck me was her underlying hesitancy to lose the weight for fear of being unsafe somehow in her body. And I got to thinking about how I always wanted a man to find me attractive but not all men. I didn't want the attentions of men on the street; I just wanted to be desired by the man I wanted.

An hour later, I had a conversation with my sister about the poem I posted here on Sunday. And after we hung up, I realized that I had let go of the long-standing relationships with two women friends because I no longer felt safe with them; whether that fear came from inside me or from them, I don't know, but I didn't feel safe to say what I thought or feel my feelings in their company.

Three conversations in the space of 5 hours that hinged around safety. Of course, the conversation with the friend about weight loss made me think of my own many extra pounds and whether they make me feel safer. I don't think my relationship with food is that simple, or rather that singular in focus. I overeat because when I eat enough, I get numb, I get sated, and I don't care that I don't feel safe. The food doesn't make me feel safer, it makes me not care.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I had a great body--I was tall, thin enough, well-proportioned. It drew a lot of men to me. I wasn't happy with any of them for very long, and they didn't make me feel safe. In some ways, I have felt safer (emotionally) on my own these last 20 years. But the underlying safety issue remains.

If one doesn't feel safe as a child in one's home, can one ever feel safe again? If one doesn't feel safe in one's country, in one's culture, in one's body, how do we find peace?

No comments: