I am the first one to stress the importance of safety. People need to feel safe in order to communicate effectively. I’m not disparaging safety, that’s a real thing in the world. Women especially, will often have a great need for emotional safety.
So it is with all good humor that I confess……nothing begins to scare me more than discussions about safety, boundaries, and rules. Actually “rules” is an authoritarian trigger word, so scratch that. We just call these things, “expectations and accommodations.”
While I’m thinking of it, nothing tends to trigger me more than non-authoritarian authority that denies its own existence. The non rule-rules that dare not speak their real name. I am already growing confused. And a bit scared.
I’ve gotten use to the fact that nearly every single meeting, class, or gathering I attend is now going to begin with an extensive discussion of safety, boundaries, and expectations. My personal theory is that we must do this every single time now because we’ve simply thrown out all the old rules that use to govern polite society and decided to go our own way. In the “olden days,” it was simple, everybody just use good manners, practice some emotional maturity, and engage in civil behavior. Instant safety. Presto!
Un-presto. Allegedly the old “rules” were exclusionary and non inclusive, so we must now brainstorm the nature of our “inward boundaries.” But inward boundaries really scare me, because that means anything and everything that might make one feel uncomfortable is now labeled “bad.” It scares me because I know full well I could be hiding in the corner between two chairs with a hoody pulled down over my head and someone is still going to find me and have an issue.
It’s a bit ironic, but I am just fine until you start pointing to the emergency exits and mention that there’s a flotation device under my chair. Does it ever occur to anyone that unless we are on an airplane, this might be a bit disconcerting? It does not, everyone else seems to believe this is completely normal behavior, but I am often left wondering if the auditorium is going to crash or something.
So already feeling a bit off kilter and rather disconcerted, the other day someone decides to introduce the idea of a safe word. “What we really need today is for everyone to come up with a personal safe word.” At this point I am about to bolt out of the room. I have no idea what kind of group activities you people are planning to engage in, but I assure you, if they require a safe word, I am not going to be participating.
Trust me, I was left clinging to my flotation device and wondering if I would set off the alarm by actually using one of those emergency exits.
Life just doesn’t come with a safe word. I wish it did because it can be brutal and unfair. It would be really nice if you could just blow a whistle and cry foul, but it seldom works that way.
Today my inward boundary is having a bloody anxiety attack because if we have go through all this work just to make sure a bunch of perfectly grown adults can sit together in a room for a few hours without doing irreparable harm to one another, who is going to stand with me out in the real world?
Who is going to fight the dragons and the giants?