When I feel very safe, it’s when my back and hips are loose. My shoulder are in balance. I’m comfortable.
When I meditate, and feel very calm and centered, my thoughts, my conscious mind, is at the front of my face, and I can taste it under the roof of my mouth with my tongue.
My calves and feet melt into the bed if I’m lying down. My face relaxes and my throat opens up.
I feel safe when I know I can love and be loved, and I have no fear of judgment, where I can share my thoughts and feelings without reprisal.
Of course, there’s another side to this. In the movie Toy Story 4, there’s a character named “Forky.” He’s a spork who was turned into a toy by a kindergartner, but he doesn’t believe it. He thinks he’s trash. His catchphrase is “I’m trash and I belong in the trash.” At every opportunity, he runs to the trashcan to throw himself in. Woody and the toys need to convince him that he’s a toy, that he’s not trash.
My kids were watching this movie on repeat for a few weeks. I found a strange pathos in this character. “I’m trash and I belong in the trash.” When I think about safety, this phrase comes to mind. It’s like, OK, I’ve made this life for myself, I have a career and a family my wife and I have made. We have a beautiful house and our parents think we walk on water.
And yet I still find myself running off to throw myself in the trash can. I’ve been doing better since Easter, when I quit drinking, again. I have this pattern where I have all this angst, and I take a drink, and it tastes great, and I take another, and then another, and then I’m asleep, and then I’m blacked out, and then my wife’s angry with me …. it’s like, I feel safer when I’m in the trash.
When I’m away from my family, that’s what I do too. I drink, I go looking for women to talk with; I don’t hook up with anyone, due to a weird quirk in my drives: if I’m sober or only a little buzzed, I’m not going to try anything. If I hit on someone, I’m already really really drunk, and completely incapable of hooking up.
I looked up Freud’s quotes on safety. He had two I liked: “men trade a measure of happiness for security,” and “the dreams are the safety valve.”
It’s better for me not to drink. I don’t really have a desire to right now. Why? I think a key replacement behavior for me has been writing. Writing is like the “safety valve” for me. I let off my steam, I turn my demons into characters and let them fight it out.
After I wrote this post, I was listening to Philip K. Dick’s VALIS on YouTube audiobook. This quote struck me: “the true God mimics the universe, the very region he has invaded: he takes on the likeness of sticks and trees and beer cans in gutters—he presumes to be trash discarded, debris no longer noticed. Lurking, the true God literally ambushes reality and us as well. God, in very truth, attacks and injures us, in his role as antidote.”
I’m a deeply religious and spiritual person in a life where my spiritual aspirations are meant to be fulfilled by a blithe, superficial Christian church. My day is held in lockstep, and even my meditation is relegated to ten minute blocks on an app. I get most of my social contact through short exchanges with strangers on Twitter. Maybe a desire to go to the trash is a desire to become a part of something more, to dissolve myself, seeking a relief from my isolation and self consciousness.