What Does Safety Got to do With Gut?

Alright, I don’t know about y’all, but I am tired as sh*t. Anybody else feel like they could just take a nap for about 2 years? No? Just me? Okay then. Honestly though, I know we are all tired. We are all fighting every day like hell to feel okay. With the state of the world, the state of our mental health, the state of bachelor nation… It’s a lot for one person to handle. 

You ready for the good news? The good news is that we CAN handle it. Our brains enjoy telling us that the weight of the world will one day crush us. We say we are weak and incapable and, wait for it, not enough. To quote the great Tom Selleck and his even greater mustache in the 90’s hit Three Men and a Little Lady – “What a crock!” We, as we are today, are more than enough. We are doing exactly what our brains are telling us we can’t. We are living, breathing, fighting every single day despite what we might be hearing. 

Now that I let you in on my little words of wisdom to kick us off, let’s get into the good stuff. I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately, trying to leave the brain out of it. I mentioned in my previous post that I am working on being more in touch with my gut instincts. Y’all, it’s hard. I don’t like to complain, HAHA just kidding. Yes I do. It is sooo hard. I find myself wanting to quit sometimes. Like, maybe I can just go back to not caring about myself. As they say though, ignorance is bliss, and I can’t unsee what I now know. In order to avoid my number one fear in life [settling] I must keep doing the work. Keep moving forward. 

How am I moving forward? I am so glad you asked. From the outside it may not have looked like I was doing much at all, but that is the cool thing about learning to trust your gut. Nobody can see you doing it. In this instance I am the Wizard of Oz, the woman behind the curtain. And trust me when I say you do not want to remove the curtain because it is mostly just blood and guts. Ew. 

I really did practice a lot though. I practiced not only listening to it, but not judging it. I feel the judgement all the time. “Why didn’t you say this? How did they take that? Am I even good at what I do? Am I good? Am I enough? Should I speak?” This week though, I shut it down. I took every opportunity I got to practice listening to myself. No hesitation, no judgment. With this practice I found myself feeling stronger in my choices, more confident in my decisions. Each time one of those old comments entered my brain I didn’t shut it down, I just reality tested it. I would hear ‘why didn’t you say this?’ and I would break it down. Why didn’t I say it? Perhaps it wasn’t the right time to say it? Maybe they weren’t ready to hear it? Maybe I can bring that up next time? It was validating in a way that I had not felt validation before. I felt safe. 

Safety is hard to conceptualize. In a world where people are being harmed and/or murdered for the color of their skin, and/or their gender identity, and/or their sexual orientation how do we define safety? What does it mean to feel safe? I’ve talked to a lot of people lately, both in my work and my personal life, who just don’t feel safe. Heck, most days I don’t feel “safe”. The world, as was previously stated, is scary right now. 

For me, right now, safety is not about feeling like nothing bad will happen, it’s about feeling like I am making the right choices. That I can trust that when my gut is telling me to run, I run like hell; when my gut is telling me to fight, I fight like hell; when my gut is telling me to freeze, I don’t move a damn thing. On the flip side when my gut is telling me to love, I love deeply; when my gut is telling me to heal, I stitch each part that needs it; when my gut is telling me to stand in solidarity, I take each of the hands beside mine and I hold it and squeeze it and let them know I’m here. 

If you’re finding yourself in a place of fear, you are not alone. If you’re gut is telling you things are scary, it’s probably because they are, but if you listen closely to your gut, I bet it is also telling you to reach out to someone, to get help, to know that fear is not something that must hold us back, but rather it can ignite a passion in us that we didn’t know we had.

Our world scares me in the way that hate and fear sometimes guides people, rather than love and understanding. It scares me in the way that power and control is our goal rather than harmony. Hearing the news of Jacob Blake scared me, just as hearing the names of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd,  and a million other names scared. It scares me in the way that life is so fragile, so easily stolen. Those fears though only makes me want to fight harder. It makes me want to know that in my life time I did not let the fear take over, that instead I harnessed that energy; that I stood up against injustices because I knew in my gut it is the right thing to do. 

As for now, my gut is trustworthy and that is the “safety” I always needed. 

A[wo]man

a compass blooms

from the gut.

direction bred 

of misdirections.

-soul searching

If you have the means please consider donating to BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective). A collective “of advocates, yoga teachers, artists, therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, psychologists and activists committed to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities.”

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