When those structures are developed as children we bring them with us into our adult relationships. If, however, we are lacking in those internal formations, we have the capacity to develop them. We possess the capacity to literally complete the task of growing ourselves up.
How to find a sense of safety in our most intimate relationships when it seems to be playing hide-and-seek with us? We can call, "come out, come out wherever you are" like this: begin to make friends with the sense of feeling unsafe. As counter-intuitive as that may sound, this can open the doorway to building internal structures of safety. Don't try to get rid of the feeling of unsafe. Don't scold it. In the same way a loving parent would comfort a scared child, you can compassionately invite your sense of unsafe to reveal itself to you. Each time you do this, your compassion is literally building, re-building, structures of safety.
The next time you find yourself wanting your partner to stop doing that oh-so-irritating thing that "makes you feel" unsafe, let that be a signal to you to quietly take even the briefest of moments to take a deep breath and bring compassion to the scared, unsafe child lurking inside you. This is not a magic pill that will instantly remove your feeling of lack of safety, but it is the doorway to finding where safety really resides. This work on the inside will in fundamental ways begin to change your experience of the world.
Paldrom Catharine Collins is a former Tibetan Buddhist nun and co-author of "A Couple’s Guide to Sexual Addiction: A Step-by-Step Plan to Rebuild Trust & Restore Intimacy." Working with her husband and sex addiction expert George Collins at Compulsion Solutions, Paldrom counsels individuals and couples across the country.
For the past seven years, through her depth of awareness, sensitivity, and her kind and compassionate qualities, she has been integral in helping individuals, couples, and groups find more love, deeper peace and meaning in their lives and closest relationships.