Dangerous Compassions


When I was a kid, sighing was a scary sound.  It was a sound my dad made when he was upset, and it meant someone else needed to fix his feelings real quick, or we would all be in trouble.  His sigh was a sign that we had a few seconds until things got violent.

I came out of this family well-trained to hear a sigh as danger, and other normal human quirks as danger.  So to hear a sigh even now, with my dad almost eight years dead, can make me scramble to figure out who’s upset about what, and how can I help?

Can you blame me?  It was self-defense for so long–I can’t turn that off.  Was your family of origin dangerous?  Are there sounds, smells, words, and facial expressions that mean danger to you, even after the actual danger is gone?


I work on my healing, and I try to teach my body that it’s safe now.  We’re safe now, Laura-Marie.  You’re ok, sweetheart.  We can smile, breathe, and not obsess about the needs of others in order to stay alive!  It frees up energy, to learn how to trust.

Lots of things I can do to ground myself or just calm myself down.  My family self-soothed with alcohol, drugs, denial, sugar.  Jesus, buying shit, pets.  I have different ways that work better for me and don’t perpetuate the problems, cause new ones, or make me feel like crap.

You know them–I center my life around them.  Ecstatic dance, adult trike, writing, self-touch, kind self-talk, radical mental health, making art, poetry, friendship, the Ming-me-Bunny mini-fam.  Being close to Mother Earth.  Singing, prayer, ritual, talking to the sky.

sighing for comfort

But guess what?  I have a new thing to help me ground or calm down.  It’s sighing.  Ah hah!  Yeah, feels great!  I get a hit of life-nurturing oxygen, and it comforts me.

Also it can be a sign to myself that I feel frustrated.  It can be a non-dangerous expression of frustration.  The frustration doesn’t need to transition into rage, which prompts violence.  Frustration is ok.


“Are you ok?” Ming asked, when I sighed.

“Yeah!” I said.  “I’m trying out sighing!”

“Cool,” he said, supportive of me and my projects as ever.

My friend visited me and we talked in the driveway happily.  Then we stood by the oleander and took this selfie.  Love to the chosen family, the departed family, the people who used to hurt us, the people who hurt us now, the people who heal us, and everyone else.

chosen fam

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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