My Safe Spaces

This week I read a blog written by Dr. Kathy Murphy entitled, “Your Safe Space.”  http://kathymurphyphd.com/2012/05/where-is-your-safe-space/

She describes a place in her home overlooking the water where she has a large overstuffed chair along with books, candles, other comfort items.  This is her place for reading, quiets meditations, and visualizing her hopes and dreams.   I would love to create a place like that for myself, but  I have a small house with very little extra space, a dog, a cat, and a husband at home full-time.  Noise seems to be a constant companion in my house.

She went on to wrote  that safe spaces don’t have to be  literal places.  We can learn to create that space for ourselves even in the midst of chaos.  We can create a place within ourselves that allows us to find peace in any circumstance.  I plan to learn a lot more about that as I work with Kathy in our  weekly group.    I have attended workshops about meditation and other types of philosophies that are helping me develop my inner safe place as well.

In her blog, she says that finding a safe place in another person or a group of people is a gift.  For some of us that might be family.   For others it may be a friend, a faith group, or a support group of some kind.    These are the people who can look at you and see past the image; the image you hold up for the world to see.  They care about you and want only the best for you.  These are the people who know the real you.  These relationships are the ones that allow for giving and receiving.  There is a mutual trust and concern for each other. One never depletes the other.  When you are with these people (in person or not) you can breathe and let your hair down.

I spent a lot of my life being afraid to let anyone be a safe space for me.   I had good reason.  As a young child,  many people I cared about left my life.   As people would leave, I began to believe that I was the cause.   I believed they left because of me.   I tried to change to please everyone.   I kept the real me hidden from the world.   Things became more confusing when my best friend died after being caught in our rope swing and then my favorite uncle died unexpectedly. He was my the only adult in my life  who created that “safe space” for me.   The pattern seemed to repeat itself throughout my life.   I continued to transform myself into the person I believed allowed others to care about me.

In my late thirties, I found my way into therapy and began to realize that being a fake me didn’t make people love, stay with me, or keep me safe.  I began to figure out who I was really was.  It hasn’t always been easy.   I would often slip back into being a people-pleasing doormat.  Other times I would become an absolute “bitch” and dare you to like me.  The hardest part was finding out who I really was and learning to love myself.

At sixty years old, I am finally comfortable being myself.  I know what makes me happy and what makes me safe.  I am no longer willing to change who I am so you will like me.  I realize the sun will not implode, the stars will not fall from the sky, and I will not become a vagabond if you don’t like me or I don’t particularly like you. I don’t pretend to like the same music you do or enjoy an insufferable activity to fit in.  I seek people who create that safe place for me.  I choose to focus my time on things that help me become the person I am meant to be.

I may not have a window by the water in a quiet place in my house.  I do have the gift of safe spaces in my life.  Writing allows me to expose my inner desires, fears, the things I love or hate, how I feel about events in the world or my life, and anything else I choose.    I have a friend who shares my love of writing.  We haven’t been friends long but she has become one of my safe spaces.   I am blessed to have found a few others who  hold that safety for me as well.

I am part of the weekly coaching group I mentioned.  I recently began martial arts training and I have workshops with people who are like minded.  Yesterday I wrote about becoming part of a church again and finding acceptance in a place from which I had been alienated  for many years.  All of these are becoming safe spaces for me.

In my safe spaces, I see the reflection of the true spirit of my being.  I find the power to achieve my dreams.  I feel the unconditional acceptance and love I longed for as a child.  I learn to reclaim my joy and I am at peace.  I dance to the music even if you can’t quite hear it yet.

Do you have people who are safe spaces in your life?  Have you created other safe spaces?

 

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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38 responses

  1. You nailed it about not needing to change to make people like you. I agree when you lose people in your life when you are young you think you are the problem. Congratulations that you got it worked out by 60 it took me until 72.

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    1. I am amazed when people of “age” as we are make a change. It is never to late. I missed a lot of opportunities in this life but I am here now and doing it now.

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  2. Cathy,
    I am reading a book called “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldridge. It’s a wonderful, insightful portrayal of who Jesus really is. I discovered yesterday that I’ve always considered myself a disappointment to him and I’m working my way through that. It also talks about being true to yourself as Jesus was to himself. I’m glad you are not living to please others anymore. It’s a prison life. Continue on with your wonderful journey.

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    1. Thanks I will check the book out. I understand feeling as if you are a disappointment. A pastor I respect said recently that God is never disappointed in us. He loves us and when we mess up, even big time, He hurts for us. I never thought about it that way.

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  3. I hope yeah write can become a safe place for your writing! What a wonderful discovery – to find yourself. I hope everyday you learn something new about YOU. I really enjoyed this post. It made me think about the days I used to people please and how much it compromised my personhood.

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    1. Thanks Carrie. Writing has become my best safe space and I have loved being part of Yeah Write.

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  4. Everyone needs a safe place! Always. And finding yourself and being happy with who you are is an amazing victory. I’m still looking. I think you’re awesome!

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    1. Thanks so much!!

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  5. Hmm..interesting. I have safe spaces, but they’re all inmy head mostly. I don’t have a safe person, I dont think…and i’m hoping my whole new tiny apartment becomes a safe space

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    1. I think safe spaces in your head work. 🙂 I have those as well but sometimes being in my head isn’t the safest space for me.

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  6. I have always maintained that this is what home should be to everyone. My home is what I crave most at the end of a work day. Not because it’s going to be clean, not because there won’t be work there waiting for me, but because it’s mine. Home is where I get to be all the me I need to be and anybody who doesn’t care for all of me, doesn’t need to remain.

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  7. I have safe spaces in my mind too, Cathy. It’s the safest 😉

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  8. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms | Reply

    This is such a heartwarming piece, yet it does not diminish its strength. You are blessed to have this knowledge and these safe places. Ellen

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    1. Thank you Ellen. I haven’t always had that in my life and I am truly blessed to have them now.

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  9. tara pohlkotte | Reply

    this self-discovery…what an amazing journey for us all as we are on it. being still 28, i know i have a ton to learn, and i too have been weary in the past of trying to please, or at the very least, trying not to offend – yet all the while i kept feeling of my core self pulling at me. that i was created to be more than just a mirror for someone else. so, so glad for these safe places.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that Tara. We were not created to be a mirror for someone else. Maybe we should be a mirror that shows the reflection of God’s love.

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  10. Way to go Cathy for finding your true self. I’m finally finding the real me and actually loving myself for the very first time. Crazy thing is though, I have had to let go of a lot of junk in my life, including lots of people who just weren’t good for me. It’s just like spring cleaning- ya gotta rid yourself of the clutter!!

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    1. You do have to let go of things at times. In the movie Avatar one of the characters says, “You can’t fill a glass that is already full.” Thanks for reading and commenting

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  11. Beautiful post. Safe spaces are essential.

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    1. Thanks so much

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  12. Writing is my safe place. I can spew out whatever and it may or may not make it to my blog, but it just feels good to pound it all out on the keyboard. I can let go and leave it on the screen. Feels good.

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  13. I’m happy that you are finding your safe places. I have struggled with people pleasing too, and it can be exhausting trying to be everything to everyone.

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  14. Great post. You are absolutely right. Having a safe space is so important….I’m glad you are finding some for yourself.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  15. This post itself was a safe space. Your sense of self acceptance wore off on me a bit, and I honestly feel better after reading what you have written. Thank you for the lovely gift.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing that. It is easier to write it than to live it at times. But I work on it every day.

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  16. i love the idea of writing as a safe space – such a good and thoughtful point!

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  17. This is such a lovely thought. I’ve never really considered my “safe place,” but as I read your words, I realized exactly where mine is and exactly how important it is to me. Glad you were able to find your safe space as well.

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    1. So glad you have your safe space. Thanks Katie.

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  18. Mine is snuggled up with my child in the mornings, when I’ve awoken but am just lying there snuggling and he (whichever one I’m snuggling) is still fast asleep.

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    1. That is so special. I didn’t have that growing up. I do cherish those times with my own children and now my grandchildren.

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  19. Like Virginia Woolf said, Women need a Room of One’s Own. And so we do, whatever that means to us. Well said.

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    1. A physical room is great but if that isn’t possible, we do need to create whatever we can!! Thank you for commenting.

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  20. Beautiful post – I envy your contentment.

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  21. I really enjoyed this post. Your talk of change is exactly what I’m trying to do! 🙂 people pleasing is what I’m trying to change as well and I hope to be as strong as you and find that safe place! Congrats for feeling at peace.

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    1. A couple of people have said that they envy “where I am”. I might have been too bold in my writing. I am totally there. I am striving to be and so much closer than I have ever been. It is a process. 🙂

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  22. […] the news with my friend Jan last night  and while we “talked”, I cried.  She is one of my “safe spaces.”   I thought a lot about Paul last night and today.  I also touched that grief and memories […]

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  23. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my weblog so i came to “return the favor”.I’m attempting to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

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