The two things that everyone wants to hear:
You are safe.
I see you.
It comes up in the context of children, in an article on The Huffington Post by Judith Acosta about verbal healing, but it’s what we all want, even when we have grown beyond those fragile, trusting years, even after we have been disappointed in friends, rejected in love, worn out by work, surprised and confused. It is why we marry, why we create community and organize religion. Why we buy things we think we will possess forever; why we think we can own anything.
And it is why, I suspect, we believe the fear-mongers when they say: “You are just like us” (I see you); “Trust us to keep the bad/different guys away from you” (You are safe).
My most vivid memories of my mother, even now that I am one, are of her assuring me that whatever the latest dishonorable, stupid thing I did was, it would pass. I would not have to carry it forever. Stealing candy from a store when I was in grade school. I remember the panic, the sinking in my stomach that I could never make this right, that I could never be worthy of my parents’ love.
You are safe, she said. I see you.
And though that was close to forty years ago, I can still feel that gift she gave me. I can still feel her climbing into my bed to hold me and wipe my mistakes and inadequacies away. To thank her, I often try to give that same sense of safety and being seen to everyone I meet, even if just in a smile. Thank you, Mom.
Can you still feel your mother?