Darling Protectors

Over the past several months I’ve taken you through a series of blogs with a deep hope to bring you back to your loving presence. Has it worked darling? As the sun opens her sleepy eyes alongside you, do you wake each morning with a hand to your heart? Gently rubbing and reminding yourself, “I am love.” Have you been able to do this regardless of if your days are easy or filled with struggle? I know you may not have done this perfectly, but I do, darling, hope you have tried. Love pulses through the core of your being just as sure as the sun breaks the sky open with light. Your loving presence is true.

What also feels true is that our world can feel scary from our homes, schools, and social interactions, all the way to our toxic political climate. Not one of us is blessed with a life without struggle or encountering situations and people that do not serve our highest good. We do not exist in a vacuum and even in the most loving homes, everyone has human moments where they act in unkind ways towards others. Our world is filled with little to massive landmines of experiences that cause fear. We’ve spoken before and there is absolutely nothing wrong with fear itself. Fear is a valuable emotion that tells us to pay attention. The problem with fear is when we allow ourselves to be driven by fear instead of making decisions from grounded love.

Returning to Your Presence

I recently had an experience I thought I was “handling well,” but that was causing my fear to stand on high alert. Day after day I found myself slipping just a little farther from my presence and a little closer to, “I need to protect myself.” My nervous system began lighting up with past experiences of trauma and my actions wanted to say, “You can piss right off,” to anything I felt was a threat. Most of my actions were in alignment with my integrity, I could see a trigger and walk away but damn, I was tired of my new perceived field of landmines. On several occasions as my little men screamed at me for, I don’t know, not applying sunscreen quickly enough, I would find myself repeating, “Mama can’t trust herself to be kind right now,” as a slid into a room and took box breaths before re-emerging to apply the sunscreen. I was caught in my fear loops and having a challenging time returning to my presence as well as my love.

Right on time I had a session with my therapist and explained to her that while I knew I was safe, and mostly handling my responses well, I was also really disappointed in myself that my triggers were, well, still triggers. I’ve been in trauma-informed care for almost three years now. “Isn’t it time that the predictable yet unkind behaviors of others would not cause my mood to shift?” My therapist looked directly at me, “How many times do I have to tell you this? You will never stop being triggered, you might find the distance from them, but the work is how to provide care for yourself when you are triggered.” I do this nice little dance of not making eye contact when she’s right, so I stared up at the ceiling and sighed. She was not wrong; loving ourselves is what we have control over, not how we feel in the presence of triggers.

What she also reminded me of is that in the framework of internal family systems, we all have different internal roles inside our psyche that serve us at different times. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this briefly; about how to recognize all our internal parts and when they are active. One of the internal roles we all have are our protectors, those bold and loud parts that want to keep us safe but all help us form the aforementioned sentence of, “You can piss right off,” or lock the door to the bathroom as our toddlers become enemy number one. Our protectors formed through, well, our formative years to keep us safe from what they felt was a threat. Protectors are incredibly valuable, because they want us to be safe, and protectors are all action and control. The protectors in our psyche want what is best for us, but do not possess foresight or emotional intelligence. There are moments in our life when we need our protectors to spring into action. For example, if you are in a physically unsafe situation, protectors will swiftly create an exit route. But protectors see each and every threat as equal and can also create scenarios, like eating disorders, to also keep us safe if they see being large as a threat. Protectors are hard at work building walls and rules for us.

Reminding Your Love, Rinse, Repeat

Let’s pause for a second, take a collective deep breath, and repeat to ourselves, “The love in me, is the love in you.” Shit just got hard and deep thinking about protectors; they’re an intense part of our psyche that oftentimes create more trouble than good for us. When our protectors are in place we’re not making decisions from alignment, we’re making decisions from fight, flight, freeze. As we make decisions with this protective mindset, alignment can feel farther and farther away. So how do we return to alignment? How do we work with our protectors so that we might hear their messages but be the decision-maker of our actions and reactions?” I’ll tell you; we name and thank our protectors. That’s it, protectors just want to be seen and will scream (just like my toddler for sunscreen) until they are heard. Protectors know they are valuable and need your acknowledgment.

As you acknowledge your protectors, and dare I say thank them, the response of fight, flight, and freeze begins to melt away. Loving breath, through loving breath, you are able to see a part of yourself that deeply wants what is best for you and perhaps served you once but is no longer needed. We’ll dive into this more because there is a lot to unpack with protectors. For now, the healing work is to know that we all have warriors within us who are valuable, but as adults, these warriors must be selected and trained. When we allow our protectors free reign of our decisions the life in front of us is led by fear, not love. I don’t know about you, but a life driven by fear is nowhere to be found in my integrity.

So today my darling loves, if you have struggled even a bit with feeling on the outside of your life, think for a moment, “Who is here?” And begin the healing work of listening to your protectors to know where they have come from, why they are here, and what must be done to return yourself to love.

Jessie Cooper

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