Safe?

What makes you feel safe?”

I was posed this question earlier today during a heart-to-heart conversation.

“Do you ever think about it?”

“Yes,” I replied confidently, “I think about it all the time.”

My mind immediately began to race, attempting to recall all my safety measures such as staying in bed, cuddling my cat, watching my favorite shows…

“This is why I’m always wrapped up,” she said, snuggling contently into her scarf. “It’s my protection.”

Then it hit me. I didn’t have that. I knew what to do if I was feeling low: little instant pick-me-ups; my emergency toolbox of happiness. (Though these days they aren’t very effective.) But to feel safe outside of my own home?

I changed my answer. “Actually, no. I’ve never thought about this.”

“You need to create your own safety bubble,” she told me.

I remember one particular afternoon as a young child. I was buckled into the car seat. We were on our way home. It was quite and pleasant. I looked out the window at nothing in particular, then looked down at myself and suddenly became very self-aware. A current of uneasiness and discomfort flowed through me. I still recall that memory because it felt so strange and awful, this liquid malaise.

I would feel this from time to time throughout my childhood. It stopped when I got older. Sometimes I would wonder where it went and decided that I just outgrew it.

But maybe it never left. Maybe I just got used to it. And maybe this is why I’ve never felt safe.

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