In the picture is my neurotic cat who had suffered all her life. Although she had lived safely with me shortly after her birth and was even bottle fed, something—whether events in her first few days of life or the trauma of previous generations—was stuck in her terrified little body. She was a sweetie and is at rest now, but it broke my heart that she never felt safe.
Some people are that way too.
We don’t get to tell others they’re not wounded. Someone may believe we are the cause of their wound. Whether we caused it intentionally or not, though, the fact that they feel wounded is not a question—it’s a fact.
This may sound completely oversimplified, but if I step on my cat’s tail, she’s hurting. It doesn’t help her pain to explain that I didn’t see her or that she needs to stop getting underfoot. It’s that way with people too. We apologize when we hurt others and comfort them, we don’t explain why it happened or offer excuses.
What It Feels Like
Have you ever seen a feral animal? They are often extremely wounded by their past, or perhaps were raised by an animal carrying generations of wounds that they simply passed along. The animal believes people and the world around them are unsafe. It lives with fear constantly despite our best efforts to provide a safe and comforting home.
Sometimes the external manifestation of this fear is anger if you get too close. Other times, they run away, but they remain locked in their fear.
People and Healing
People, too, can be so deeply wounded, or raised by someone so deeply wounded, that their fear is constantly activated. They recoil or lash out in anger, or maybe a little of both depending on how unsafe they feel or the depth of their wound.
Some feral animals learn humans are safe, especially humans who feed them and give them what they need. Some humans are like that too. They can suppress their wounding if it means they will receive something they need or desire.
Sometimes a feral animal will trust enough to be considered tamed or, in human terms, recovered. Humans can also recover with much effort, and it helps if we have others who have recovered to guide us.
Sometimes animals only recover enough to get what they need and run away again. Sometimes they accept the food, but lash out if you try to touch them to show love and affection. The result is some scratches and a lesson learned!
Sometimes it takes a few of these experiences before we give up and realize this is one of those wounded feral cats that will remain outdoors. One that will come get their food and run away, and if we try to get too close, we’re wounded by their wounds.
Sometimes they’ll come onto your porch, and may even be rehomed. We’ve had several rescue cats in our home and helped many others. In my experience, there’s usually some underlying, residual fear. They may find comfort and feel a measure of safety, but only in their environment and after having enough good experiences with humans do they understand not all humans are unsafe.
Wounded humans are the same way. Sometimes it’s best for everyone to love from a distance.
Healing is Possible
The feeling of safety is determined by our nervous system, which includes our brain. This system is wonderfully designed to constantly provide feedback as to the level of safety around us, or lack thereof. Our amazing nervous system functions as designed, but sometimes sends old or faulty messages. Learn the five states of our nervous system and how to attain that feeling of safety with ease.
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