“I just never feel safe, ever” a client said to me after spending some time working with the moving meditation guide she’d been given. The more she had dived into being in and feeling her body - the more real this statement felt.
“I'm terrified everyone I love is going to die” a friend reflected to me after we’d been discussing our mutual experiences with losing a loved one.
“I’m just always scared” - my own words, dozens of times to my husband, therapist and mentor.
After my sister passed away, and I sought help to deal with the grief and pain - I came to realize that this loss had triggered some deep deep fear. No matter how much I tried to “come to terms with it” or “move on” - as soon as I started getting honest with myself and put aside my coping mechanisms I realized I was living in constant dread.
I was scared everyone else I loved would die, I was scared I would die, or get ill. The more I felt into it and remembered, the more I realized it wasn't a new sensation. When I was a child I was scared of getting into trouble, scared I didn’t fit in, scared of the dark. As a young adult I feared flying, being alone and walking through a dark car park all by myself. I still worry people will not like me in social situations and still avoid walking empty streets alone at night.
We only have to have conversations with our friends to realize all women are experiencing fear to some degree a lot of the time. Anxiety, worry, doubt, unease - all stem from that same base emotion - fear.
You don’t have to go far to see the impact of fear on the lives of women - taking a minute to Google “women and fear” or “why are women afraid” brings back millions of articles, the top results describing the types of constant low level fear and anxiety women live with every day. Harassment, violence, being alone - all make the top lists. And this is with the huge caveat that I’m talking from a cis white woman’s privileged perspective, and the results I see are probably shaded by my demographic. A more specific search provides insight into those in marginalized groups, experiencing the constant impact of societies structured to disadvantage them.
Thanks to our basal ganglia, the most primal part of our brain, our nervous systems cannot tell the difference between social anxiety and getting chased by a tiger.
When a loved one dies, or we lose a part of our identity - the pain and heartbreak of that experience can magnify all of those passing fears we tend to put aside most days to just keep going. It can draw them out, throw them into our consciousness at random times, and make them seem even worse than normal. Add to that the potential that this is the first time confronting our own mortality, it’s no wonder that these experiences make us feel like we’ll never be safe again.
When I discovered Feminine Embodiment and dedicated myself to this training and practice, I honestly felt like the pain would never end. As I dived into my body and began to allow the feelings and sensations to grow and take up space, it felt like more fear was always there. I was terrified I'd just keep feeling pain forever.
But then I had a mind-blowing experience - the moment I felt safe for the first time in a long time. Truly, completely safe. In my own body, through my own experience with the guidance of my mentor. This was a game changer. I found with practice, I could allow and explore the depths of my grief without disappearing or trying to avoid the heavy sensations. As I learnt to feel a sense of safety within, I could always return to it and trust my body to lead.
This experience led me to my first offering and what I focus on with my clients. Discovering that it is possible to feel safe within our own bodies, allows the space for us to truly explore the challenging scary sensations that to our minds register exactly the same as physical danger. It is in this container of safety that we can begin to welcome and give voice to the pain and anguish. From here we can learn to trust our bodies to lead us into the dark and back to safety again.