Community//

Being A Shelter From The Storm

How I learned the importance of providing the people we love with a feeling of safety

“I get it now,” my friend said, as we sat down in the old-school red vinyl booth at a place that has now come to remind me of my friend Fred. It’s apropos that “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” wafts through the air, bringing us back to another time, when life felt safer and simpler. When some of our loved ones were still here physically.

My friend had just lost his mom. She was 89, and even though it’s a stone’s throw from 100, having had someone who loves us completely, and without judgment, and seeing them always around physically in our lives, gives us a feeling of safety we take for granted. We can’t fathom what it’s like when they’re gone. I’ve tried over the years to explain to my friend what it feels like when the universe yanks these close loved ones out of our lives suddenly, or not so suddenly. But now, with this loss, he started to understand the spiritual work I do, helping those who have lost loved ones.

The last time I saw him, when we discussed that on a higher level, spiritually, we choose how we will exit this shell of a body, I said, “You’re lucky it’s not cancer.” On a downbeat, he said, “None of it’s good,” as he looked down at his plate, with thoughts etched across his face at the possibility of losing his first parent. 

Life has it’s way of hammering home a life lesson or theme we’re meant to learn or understand at the most precise moment that we’re meant to get it – so that we’re able to help ourselves move forward to our fullest potential, and begin to open up that next better chapter that’s for our greatest good. I often see that when I’m on the radio or in my private spiritual work.

It began when several friends and strangers randomly shared how they knew when they met the person they wanted to spend the rest of their life with – they immediately felt safe with them.

This month, in sessions with clients, the theme of safety has been underscored through messages from their guardian angels, their spirit guides, or “team on the Other Side,” as I like to call them.

I’ve had to deliver the same message over and over again about the importance of offering someone they love a feeling of total safety, to give 100 percent of their heart, not just a percentage of it, while withholding the rest for fear of being hurt, or whatever else might be the reason. To withhold a percentage of love, whether for self-protection or any other reason, is futile anyways, since the action of not fully giving one’s heart selflessly sets up a relationship for failure. That that’s why their partner said or did what they did, since they didn’t have the tools to say they were looking for not just unconditional love, but the feeling of safety that comes hand in hand with it. I’ve also had to repeat the message, “You love your kids unconditionally, so why can’t you love (fill in the blank of whoever this relates to) the same way?”

Last week, I had another reminder of what happens when our feeling of safety, our anchor is pulled out from underneath us, when I quietly celebrated my own loved one’s birthday. This loss was my first dark night of the soul moment, from which I lost my equilibrium for years. Since their last breath, I have not felt safe in this world. That loss has colored my whole being, to this day. It’s the reason I reluctantly pushed myself to use my gift (that they always knew I had) to help others, because the loss has left a perpetual literal shaking feeling deep within. We will never get to do mundane things we did too little of, like go to the diner or have afternoon tea (if we even did that at all), because I took their presence for granted and never thought they would leave this life so soon.

The only time the unsteady feeling within me is gone, when I am at complete peace, is when I’m helping others like me, who’ve had deep loss, connect to their own loved ones who also left that same shaky hole in their hearts because real love was taken away. The validations I see for others help fuel me, a natural skeptic, to believe that loss isn’t in vain, as I try to give back as much as possible, until my own last day here.

I didn’t think this birthday would affect me, since it’d been so many years. But then again, it always feels like yesterday. Often, something simple and unexpected can spark a memory (for me, it was seeing “Broadcast News” recently), and bring us back to when that loved one was here, eliciting random tears.

On this year’s birthday, I thought about how old they would be now, that they didn’t get the chance to see old age, how they aren’t here to have our deep talks about life. That they didn’t get to see this era, to witness people turning into zombies right before our eyes, and hear me drone on, like the curmudgeon I always was, about how the world has gone mad, with people robotically tethered to their precious piece of glass, like babies with a pacifier addiction, with no one who cares enough to wean them off, as they look down at nothing of significance for a large part of their day. That people no longer have many real moments to organically interact with strangers around them, like the human beings we once were.

In the car – the only physical time machine and reminder of my loved one – my body shaking, with renewed grief and despair from this old wound that crept up on me, as it always does, I changed channels, hoping my safe place of 1980’s music – the last time when I felt safe in the world – would bring my body back in balance, and induce serotonin.

It didn’t do anything to change my shaky mood, so in my darkest hour, thinking about what I could do proactively to help someone else, I reached out to a friend who I knew was on an important trip, and I delivered a message from her guardian angel, her spirit guide, about something she could do to help unfold the next chapter – her spiritual homework – before she got on the plane home.

I didn’t know what her itinerary was or how the trip was going, but it turned out it was the exact time she needed that message, she later said. It led to what I thought was a grand gesture I only get to see in movies, bringing tears to my eyes when I heard the story of how someone raced in their large pickup truck, speeding past cop cruisers, to get to the airport just in time for one last hug. How that whole scenario played out, including the message that had to be delivered, was a small validation for me, restoring my own faith in things, and I told her to remind me about this when I’m feeling blue again. That call and mitzvah I did for her made all the difference, she said. And may have even changed the direction of her life with the new chapter she hopes to embark on. What she did was simply assure someone that she was always there, and a place of safety.

All this makes me hear the Bob Dylan song I used to play over and over, in a phase after someone introduced it to me by serenading me with a guitar. For some of us, life can feel like one storm after another.

Like icing on the cake, at the end of last week, I was shown one last example from the universe that closed out a week of lessons about feeling safe in the world, with people who love us unconditionally.

I randomly recalled a memory that I’d completely forgotten about. This recollection turned out to be such a gift. It happened years ago, a baker’s dozen to be exact. I had a new, pleasantly surprising person pop into my life whose presence gave me that serotonin feeling in life, which is so rare that when it happens, we take notice. And it was the first time I had this person over for dinner. An uncharacteristic move for me, but something made me offer it. I had only just now remembered this friend left their cell phone in the car, and when they walked in, I immediately noticed that (even in that pre-SpyPhone era) and mentioned it, to which the reply was very matter-of-factly, and a given almost, “Because I’m visiting with you.”

When I remembered that moment, I had to immediately reach out and thank this friend for what was a generous gift that allowed me to feel safe and comfortable. We had that entire night to enjoy one another’s company of focused conversation, with no worries of outside interferences or energies. That seemingly small gesture was just as grand as if I saw a truck zoom up to the airport in time for one last hug. Leaving the phone off and out of sight was an act of love, since love comes in many forms, including being purely selfless.

Interestingly, last year when I reconnected with this same friend after the loss of Fred (which continues to remind me of what I want to do with what time is left), right up front, my friend somehow knew on a higher level to say something, one simple sentence, that would offer up a space of safety for our connection once again.

My friend noted they were still on just the one social network (without knowing how I feel now about anti-social networks in Robot Land and how important being analog is to me now) that was the network they were on back when we reconnected half a dozen years ago, when that topic came up. When my friend shared that small piece of information last year, it was as if to signify they were in the same private place where we last left off, adding that they were very careful now about what they share out there on the one network they’re on, that they still aren’t on it much, if at all. It seemed strictly for work, so I knew that meant they were sharing links that weren’t related to anything personal, nor were they giving out their location, or even a hint of where they were, on any given day, to a large group of pseudo-friends that would allow access points for outside positive or negative energies.

I will always be grateful for my friend’s simple sentence last year, which was the gift and catalyst that allowed me once again to feel safe in the space between us, because I immediately began opening up wholeheartedly, perhaps even more than I did years ago. Despite this era around us, I could trust in this new friendship we never got to have back when we didn’t get the chance to be in the same city for more than a few scant hours at a time.

If my friend hadn’t shared that intel that they were still energetically on the same analog page as I am, that they had the same feelings and principal about this digital era, taking a stand and being anti-social networks as I am now, I probably wouldn’t have felt safe enough to open up fully, if at all, and be myself. And we could’ve been robbed of getting to know one another.

As I said in my email when I ecstatically recalled that memory of a cell phone deliberately left in the car, “Big things come in small packages.” That seemingly small assurance offered a sacred space. It was also symbolic of my friend’s priority of time, that the person right in front of them was more valuable and important than what could virtually be on the other end of a cell phone.

That magnanimous gesture gave the loving gift of safety that I didn’t even know I needed at the time. And I was able to just relax and “be.” That’s when we’re able to fully enjoy another person, and their whole soulful being, the way we are meant to. And hopefully offer them a shelter from the storm in return.

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