A few weeks ago I held a friend while she cried and shook for 5 hours. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
My friend and I were talking about feeling safe as children. How every child is helpless and therefore needs to feel protected in order to fully develop. How true development, exploration and learning can only happen inside a container of safety.
And then my friend realized that she had never felt safe, seen and cared for. Ever. In her entire life.
Her father hadn't been around much when she was little. And when he was around he was detached and unstable. He didn't seem to care about her. He didn't know her. She didn't trust him.
And so from a young age whenever she felt unsafe, she had no-one to run to. She ended up feeling unprotected and unsafe all the time. She built walls around her heart, but deep down felt that they were weak.
I told her how my experience growing up was the opposite. My dad was always there for me. I always knew he would keep me safe. If ever I was hurt, or needed anything, he was there to hold me and provide. I knew he loved me and would do anything to protect me and my brother and sister.
I grew up knowing I was protected.
Then my friend saw for the first time that it's possible to experience a baseline feeling of safety. I got this feeling from my dad and carried it into adulthood. She never did.
As this realization sunk in, a deep current of pain started to move inside her. She began to cry and asked to be held. I held her and took on the role of the loving attentive protective father she never had.
It was as if she was transported back to being a little girl, and was hearing and feeling for the first time what she needed to hear and feel back then to feel safe and cared for.
Wave upon wave of grief rolled through her. She released what seemed like a bottomless pit of pain, sadness, shame, and hurt, built up over decades of feeling unprotected in the world. Pain from early childhood, pain from grade school, pain from adolescence and pain from early adulthood. She alternated between talking, crying, and shaking as the pain released from her body. I watched as pain poured out of her through her tears, shakes and wails.
I held her. I told her things she should have heard from her dad but never did. I bore witness.
It was beautiful and touching. Her cries and whimpers like a symphony of pain and healing serenading her body as it freed itself from trauma.
When it was over, we drank tea. We talked about all the kids in the world who probably feel unsafe because fatherly energy is missing from their lives. So many of them must take this feeling into adulthood. We talked about how the world suffers as a result.
I wrote a poem of things my friend needed to hear from her dad, but never did. It's for dads (or moms) to read to their kids while they hold them. It's for friends to paraphrase to friends. These are things I wish every human heard from a protector in their life:
Daddy's Got You
Would you come here love? I need to tell you something very important
I care about you so much. You’re so so precious to me,
You’re beautiful, so wonderful, and totally good.
I need you to know that you’re the most important thing in the world to me
I love watching you grow and noticing you change and develop
I burst with pride when I think about you, I’m so proud of you.
It’s very important to me that you know I would never, ever let anybody hurt you
I would always do everything in my power to keep even the tip of your pinky toe safe.
I would fight for you. I would die for you my darling. I need you to know this.
The full might of my empire is behind you always.
I’ll always keep you safe my little one, all you need to do is ask.
If you ever feel scared, you can come to me ok?
Daddy’s got you sweetie
Please know that I want to know all about you
I want to know your thoughts and feelings
I want to know your hopes and your dreams
I want to know what’s happening in your life
All of that is so so important to me sweetie.
It’s so important to me to know you, so I can fully appreciate all the big and little ways in which you shine.
I want to see the things that you make,
I want to know what makes you laugh
I want to learn the things you know
I want to understand what you have to teach
I want to celebrate your wins, and know when things aren't working out how you want
I want to know it all my darling, so I can understand just what an amazing gift you are to the world
Daddy’s got you muffin
If you ever have an accident or get in trouble,
If you ever need to be held while you cry
If you ever feel scared or don’t know what to do
If you ever need someone to talk to or to comfort you
If you ever hurt yourself, or someone else
If you ever feel confused or mad, or bad
If you ever need a hug, or someone to listen
If you ever find yourself giving something you don’t want to give
If you ever feel trapped
If ever someone is mean to you, or hurts you, or makes you feel a way you don’t like
Please come to me sweetie, nothing would please me more
I’ll hold you for as long as you need.
I’ll never ask anything in return,
As long as you live, Daddy’s got you.
Having had this experience with my friend, it's my wish that all humans feel safe and cared for. This simple, (yet not easy) change, would transform our world.
And I want to thank my dad, Glenn Sacks. A more loving and protective father it's hard to imagine. I Love you dad.