Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Safe spaces
I had an enormous revelation last week. Needless to say, it was preceded by some fairly maladaptive behavior, but if I'm paying attention, I learn from my idiotic mistakes.

For a long time, I thought that the reason I didn't do certain things was because I was being lazy. It's not that I didn't want to go to the market after work to get a nice, healthy dinner - I just didn't go - I didn't feel like it. Then I'd go home and binge. I'd put off or avoid other situations too.

What I've learned this week is - often it's because I don't feel safe.

Usually not unsafe like, "I might be attacked in the parking lot." although sometimes that may be the reason. Usually it's a feeling of not having the energy to put up the big wall around me that says
"Motherfucker - stay the fuck away from me."

without ever uttering a sound. It's a skill but sometimes I'm too depleted and I can't make myself face the bad guys.

I've had a few bad guys in my life.

Strangers, acquaintances and family members have been bad guys and it gets kind of hard to trust people, which is why I leave my bed every morning with an enormous shield around me.

The big bright spot in my world is my husband. Sometimes he's clueless. Sometimes I'm just not giving him any clues to go on - but he's done a pretty good job of making my world a safer place to live in.

At Passover this year I was telling my family about the house and all of the work I've been doing around the garden. Someone asked, "Well, what does Michael do?" I told them, "He pays for everything!" It shut everyone the hell up (and is a lot easier to understand than he makes me feel safe). Whether he pays for everything or not, he makes me feel like home is a good place to come to.

  • I don't feel like my mistakes are going to be thrown back at me.
  • I don't feel like I'm going to have to justify my existence.
  • I'm not afraid that he's going to be unpredictable when he gets home.

Safety is such a huge thing for me. I'm not sure if the whole concept makes much sense to others - it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me before I started therapy. I know now that I have never felt safer in my life.

It's damn near blissful.

It wasn't always like this. Jeff died 7 months before we got married. I wasn't sure of anything except that I was there to support Michael. About two years later, after moving my grandmother into assisted living, starting a business, and leaving my job, Michael and I started to realize something was not right on Planet Faith.

I went through some very scary stuff, most of which involved me feeling like the world was slipping out from under me. I think one of the things that got me through was the night Michael showed up in my room and said, "I'm not going anywhere." Basically, he informed me that I would have to leave if we were going to split up. It was the beginning of finally feeling like I had terra firma.

At the time, I didn't know that I needed him to say that, but I believed him there and then, and I have never doubted it a moment since.

My husband may go play in Chicago and Palm Springs and Calgary (shout out to the Canadians!) and then he comes home. I may have friends in New York and Palm Springs and from one end of Los Angeles County to the other, but there is something that Michael provides that I don't get from them.

He's far from perfect (and I'm no June Cleaver) but we've got this relationship thing down pat.

Sometimes we'll tell people about our relationship and they'll say, "Oh, but you're not really married."

I just have to look at Michael - it doesn't matter what other people think about how "really married" we are or are not - we know.

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Blogger hungry for hunger said...

Dear feminist, recovering ED sufferer who now enjoys tattoos as a means of appreciating her body, meet Kim:


I feel like I just set up a play date.

Blogger Faith said...

Cool! Thanks for the hookup!

Blogger Fluffycat said...

I am pretty new to your blog and don't know all the details of your relationship, but I can totally relate to wanting that feeling of safety. I have been working out what exactly I want in a relationship, and it's inspiring to read about someone who has worked that out in their own way. Kudos.

Blogger goodmamajama said...


You and Michael have one of the best marriages around...you beat out a lot of the 'regular/normal/traditional/straight/gay/maintream' marriages I come into contact with on a daily basis.

Of course, I, too, have a fab marriage, so I know one when I see one!

So glad you have found safety...you are entitled to it and have worked hard to find it...

Love you


Blogger Jeanne said...

Lurker emerging from the woodwork...

What... you're not "really" married because your sexual preferences are not for each other? BS!!! There are plenty of straight people who are married and not "together" that way. Are they less married? If a couple has been together for 60 years, are in their 90s, and haven't *ahemed* for 20 years, then do the last 20 years not count? People are ridiculous. You're legally wed, you are partners in every other way, and your marriage/partnership/love is an inspiration to me.

I'm happy for you, and glad to hear that you feel safe. Be blessed.


Blogger Orangeblossoms said...

The ability to shield ourselves from the press of stupid/invasive/difficult humanity is a task of monumental proportion... especially for women with boundary issues. I struggle with that so much. Especially in my work. People all want/need/seek something from me all the time. Sometimes, I want to bury myself in a mound of blankets and come out next year--after they're gone. If only it didn't feel like they were going to steal my soul...

Blogger Faith said...

Fluffy - thanks for the kudos.

Jeanne - I love it! "Ahemed!" Hee hee! Thank you!

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Dude. You are *really* married. Accept that. After you've been married for more than a year, the sex is not what will keep a marriage together (although it can break a marriage apart. Interesting.)

I envy you that you have a perfect mate. But what you say about feeling safe makes perfect sense to me. That's my M.O. as well. It's the reason that, although I have good intentions, once I get home, I can't go out again (SnB).

I didn't use to do that... but then again, I was going out, exercising and drinking myself into oblivion. :)

Blogger WineGrrl said...

You two are soulmates...sex is overrated, anyway!

Blogger Cass said...

I've lurked for a little while on your blog, but what you said today hit a real nerve with me. Without going into any of my myriad issues, suffice it to say that you've put your finger on something I've had trouble articulating for years. Thank you, and congratulations on the progress you've made. It seems a far goal from where I stand, but I admire your bravery, and hope to get somewhere similar someday.

Blogger fleecyknits said...

"I'm not afraid that he's going to be unpredictable when he gets home."

Wow, did you grow up in my house? All of my grandparents were alcoholics and my father was what my mother called a rage-a-holic. I *hate* unpredictable. I'd even rather have predictably bad than maybe good. I will never underestimate the goodness of feeling safe.

But I'll tell you, the one thing I got from all those alcoholics was a deep respect for the Serenity Prayer. I spend a lot of time working on that accepting the things you cannot change thing. Or learning to walk away from them entirely.

Love your blog. Thanks for being willing to share.

Blogger Unknown said...

cheers to finding someone who kicks enough ass to be able to compliment rockin' you!

now, i know we celebrated your blogoversary recently...but, when is your wedding anniversary? i gotta put these things on my survivors club calendar of vip dates.

p.s. the name of your post reminded me of the ngo in nyc called safe space that dealt with the issue of homelessness.

Blogger KnittyOtter said...

That was beautiful. Who can say to anyone else what their definition of a relationship should be.

If you are happy and getting what you need then you are a far bit better off than most people.


Blogger Viva Scrapper! said...

That feeling of being safe is probably the best feeling in the whole darn world.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Blogger Bridget said...

How wonderful for you, that you have found that safety!

Blogger Frank said...

You're my hero. I read your blog about 5 minutes before walking into my therapy appointment. My whole freaking bubble was burst when the light bulb came on over my head: I don't feel safe! Major, major headway during that 50 minutes, let me tell ya.

So THANK YOU! You have touched, changed, and bettered at least one person (and I'm guessing many, many more).


Blogger æ said...

late to the party from being out of town faith, but I gotta say,

i can absolutely appreciate the desire to feel safe

and also getting that from my husband and having it floor me because it. is. so. new.

What a beautiful tribute to your man.


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