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?