For many survivors, the act of being abused in any form whether it be physically, sexually, verbally, or emotionally, destroys our ability to both trust and feel safe. Our brains, in an effort to keep us safe, often make us hypervigilant - paranoid in a sense - to fear everything as a potential perpetrator. For our brains, it is better to wrack the body with fear than to be hurt again. In our minds, it is easier to believe that we can prevent any future harm than to believe that the world is sometimes randomly and unpreventably cruel.
However, our brains will also allow us a few places of safety - for without them, we could not continue existing. For many of us, we found places we could feel in control - usually through a mix of self harm and self destruction - but for many of us, we have also stumbled across places where we just feel *safe*.
For some, it is some random corner in a friend's house, for others, it could be a place only within your own mind, while wrapped in a favorite sweatshirt or blanket, or even just in holding a special object.
So this week's question for you all is: Where have you felt safe? Was it an actual physical place, or somewhere you could only get to in your mind (or by spirit for journeying folks)? What was there? If the safe feeling wasn't a place, what was it? What did you need to do with it to feel safe (ie. was it something you wore? carried? ate? smelled?). If you have more than one, feel free to share a few of them - it's up to you as to how much you want to share, of course.
The bonus question: How can you bring reminders of that safe place into your life? Could you carry a picture of the place? Draw a picture or element of the safe place or object to have as a reminder, etc?
For me, as a child, I was abused on all levels by my father, and on every level *but* sexually by my mother. For me, it always felt impossible to escape from them - I had to sleep every night at home, and felt at their mercy as to whether or not I would be safe. When I was about 9-10 years old, I first visited my Uncle's farm. He had horses, dogs, cats, geese... it was this huge old farm in the middle of Vermont. There were 100 acres of land I could lose myself in while playing or working (yay for farmhands!). From that point on, when my parents would leave me with him for the summer, I felt safe. I didn't care that it meant getting up at 3am to help the neighbors milk their goats, or if it meant mucking stalls out of horse-poop. I was a hundred miles away, and had an entire farm to play in after my chores.
There was an abandoned orchard, and a small brook ran through it. I'd lay in the brook, feeling the water go over my body, looking up through the branches into the warm sun. I felt so safe. Brown bears and huge bucks couldn't even shake me there. Often, in the morning, there would be a lot of fog -and when we'd travel down the mountain to get breakfast, I'd see that a cloud was sitting on the mountain top. I got to walk in a cloud, care for horses that would let me ride them bareback across the farm. I always felt safe there, even when my parents would come to pick me up - no one could find me when I hid except the horses :)
The other place I've always felt safe is a place only I can get to... so even if I let someone visit me there, I have to take them - because it's a place inside me. It's a lush forest... some of it has elements of my uncle's farm, while others feel more like the woods near my home. The sun is always gently warm, the breeze is gentle, the animals are curious and accepting of me, and there is always a brook to play in. My (totem) bear was always there to show me a new plant or herb, to show me how to heal myself naturally - or just to show me the best places in the forest to chase butterflies or a good pool in the brook to watch. In that place I learned more about the world and my place in the world than I can ever explain in words. I learned how to be myself, strong and beautiful despite all the abuse, and found the energy to fight all my demons. I'm by no means "done" healing... it is a process I will continue for the rest of my life... but that place certainly helped me to feel like I could attain stability and find happiness and love like no place else.
How could I bring this into my daily life? Well, the main way I bring my inner place to the daily world? This livejournal icon. A Black bear just sitting and watching the water... it reminds me of my inner worlds and of the farm. I garden in my apartment and on my patio - I can go and pick raspberries whenever I want - and it reminds me of the farm.
In looking around my apartment, I see that not quite enough of the farm is being shown - and this will change. :) I'm going to go grab a few photos of the farm and hang them up - they deserve some wall space :)