Emotional Safety

I just read this post on Emotional Safety by A Gripping Life. Please, go read it for yourself, otherwise, I would wind up reblogging her entire post.

After reading this, I got to thinking about how isolated I have gotten myself. Yes, I have isolated myself. Primarily because of all the interactions with emotionally unsafe people over the years. Why so many of those kinds of encounters and interactions? Well, because I was an emotionally unsafe person as well.

How emotionally safe a person are you for those you care about? Who are the ones who offer emotional safety in your life? I’m learning and improving in my practice of being an emotionally safe person. As I do this, as much as I may care for and love them, I am learning to limit my interactions with those I don’t feel emotionally safe with. As a result, I am opening up to the reality that emotionally safe people have been in my life all along – I just didn’t understand it, recognize it, or seek it out. I deserve emotional safety in my interactions with others. So do you. So does everyone, how else will we learn?

Believe it or not, blogging and writing about the angst and drama of dealing with the codependency and depression issues, as well as the relationship difficulties I have had with the various family members, friends, and others has been a training ground for me in becoming healthier emotionally and better able to establish and honor boundaries.

Some of the things I have done to become a safer person for myself and others have confused, irritated, and gotten some negative feedback. I’ve been told by some that it is making it difficult to be a friend to me because I’m being less open about every single interaction I have with other people I care about.

I know I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, so for those who may have seen this before, please bear with me. I used to be like the character, Melinda, from Ghost Whisperer. In the opening lines of the show she states, “In order to tell my story, I have to tell theirs.” That was me. Anyone who ever had any kind of relationship or interaction with me learned two things early on:

  1. Any conversation, interaction, or event where you and I impacted each other would wind up being talked about, ad nauseam, to anyone with an ear in my vicinity.
  2. You would frequently receive a non-stop earful of overwhelming and confusing stories and information about anyone and everyone I was dealing with, just because you said, “Hi, how are you doing.”

I wanted to be understood. I wanted the other people in my life to be understood. I wanted to be the one who ensured the correct understanding of what was going on. I needed support. I needed the other people in my life to be supported. I wanted to be the one who arranged and shaped the kind of support needed for the specific understanding and sensitivities of what was going on.  I wanted validation. I wanted others to be validated without invalidating me and did everything in my power to influence who validated them, when and how. I didn’t want to be judged, but knew it was happening anyway, so I wanted to continuously state my case and defend myself and others in my life in order to shape the judgment of others.

Yeah, I was pretty crazy and intolerable in these things.

In trying to ensure my safety and the safety of others I became the most unsafe person and breaker of boundaries. As people had enough of being bombarded and invaded, they distanced themselves and all I was left with was other unsafe people and boundary breakers. We were in a toxic swirl with each other. We loved each other and we cared about each other, but had no clue how to actually BE loving and caring in constructive, healthy, and safe ways.

Now, as I am working to become the safe person that my children need me to be, that I need me to be, it is confounding and confusing to some others who have only ever known the other me. Finding the balance between oversharing and being authentic is difficult. However, it is one of the most rewarding things I am doing in my life. Because of this work, my relationship with LaLa has reached the point where she told me yesterday morning that she considers me her FRIEND, not just her mom. Four months ago she told me she had never felt like she was a priority in my life and that she had not experienced unconditional love and acceptance from me.

As much as it grieves me that some of my other friendships or relationships may have suffered or been diminished by my efforts to change and grow, to have gained this level of relationship with my adult daughter is the better trade-off. So is the fact that communication and the relationship between Keith and I is better than it has been in years and is continuing to improve. Just as important, there’s less intense angst and psychological disturbance occupying my mental energy and I’m moving into doing things I love with my writing and in developing existing opportunities for relationships where I can be engaged and mutually supportive and encouraging.

It’s sad to realize that some of those who have tried to have this kind of relationship with me and I with them are unable to do so because of all the unsafe and toxic emotional baggage that has built up between us. Hopefully, we will be able to work through these things in safe, constructive, and mutually beneficial ways. I am sincerely and truly grateful for who they are and the roles they have played in my life. I just had to choose to stop holding myself hostage to passive aggressiveness, walking on eggshells, and unforgiveness. I pray they will too.

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12 comments

    1. HH,
      Thank you for following the pingback! I really enjoyed your affirmation that I found by using the Suggested Articles function. It’s a great way to find relevant content and meet new bloggers.

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

  1. You and I have a lot in common. I can relate to much of what you wrote here. Like you, I’ve been surrounded by very dysfunctional people my whole life, and by, “Surrounded by” – I mean my family. I think our families set the stage for the kind of people we’ll be drawn to as we enter into adulthood. (I’m sure I chose my husband because he was familiar in all the wrong ways.) The paragraph you wrote about always needing to be understood is basically a page out of my own book. I think when our families cause us to feel stuck playing a role, when they never hear us or validate who we are, we grow up with a huge need. Unfortunately our families don’t provide a constructive way to get those needs met so we do the best we can. (Being too open with other people or too shut down is an indication that we grew up with poor boundaries) In my house, being authentic Lisa meant that I was vulnerable to ridicule, criticism, judgement, etc. – no wonder I didn’t want to be around my family! They were, and still are today, so emotionally unsafe. I recently made the bold decision to cut them out of my life. I know, very drastic. Maybe when I feel safer and they’re in a different healthier place in their lives we can try again. Until then I’m going to be very choosey with who I surround myself with. I want to be with people who will love me for who I am, the real Lisa. I want to be understood. I want to feel emotionally safe and secure. I want to feel at peace and find balance. I know you want the same things as I do. I think we’ll get there because we have pure intentions and great awareness. If someone doesn’t like the healthier you, then that should speak volumes about who they are.
    Thank you for giving my post a shout out. 🙂 That was very kind of you. I’m glad there are people like you on wordpress. It’s important that we support and root for each other during our trials.
    Lisa

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    1. Lisa,
      I am honored to have you here and sharing your story, thank you.

      My family was very disconnected and sporadic. My mom was dead and gone by the time I was 12. She’d been married three times by the time I was 6. She struggled with unfulfilled dreams and untreated depression. My grandma was a large and continual presence of embittered codependent rescuing. My uncle, who became my guardian when I was 12, was only 15 years older than me and embroiled in his own dysfunction and substance abuse. I was caring for my little cousin when I was 14 so much that people thought she was mine at times. I was a runaway and swept into the sphere of a professional, low-level, con artist who was 14 years older than me. Lived out of cars and hitchhiked across the country for three and a half years and was single parenting my two year old son before I turned 20.

      So, boundaries and non-manipulative interactions were never in my repertoire. It’s been a long, hard road to get to where I am now. I feel as though I’ve just barely begun.

      Thanks again for being here and commenting. It really does make it better to know there are others on the same journey as I am.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  2. I’m so happy that your safe harbor here in the virtual world has helped you improve your real world. I know that’s what blogs are, because it is easier to tell your problems to total strangers than it is to discuss them with people you love. ((Hugs))

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    1. Mary,
      You and so many others here have been very instrumental in the growth and improvement I’ve experienced along the way. I don’t think I can ever truly convey the significance and importance of seeing your name pop up in my comments. (((Hugs)))

      Be well,
      Kina

      Like

    1. Amanda,
      That is a good point. However, I have seen people who have one or two lifetime, lifelong friendships that have grown and been stable, not stagnant. It would be nice to have at least one friendship like that.

      I agree that some who may be unwilling or unable to accept the progression are stagnant. However, I see it more often as a function of having been overwhelmed with too much unresolved grief and attachment to other lost relationship that created a well of fear if abandonment. There is a healing and growth process which needs to happen.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  3. I know I seldom feel emotionally safe. It’s not that others don’t want me to be- just internal messages and fears of rejection/judgement. I want to change, for myself and my son. Hard to speak up and clarify feelings with others so that I can feel safe.

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    1. Hawkruh,
      It is a difficult and challenging thing despite the simplicity of the message. I’ll be 44 in a few months and am just starting to realize that I have to learn to be safe inside of myself so I can discern who the safe ones in my life are. It’s a huge and scary process at times. Thanks for reading and commenting. You will get there.

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

  4. Thank you Kina for this post. I think a lot about the fine line between being emotional “open” and being “exposed” – as in not having clear boundaries and limits. Like how children feel safer when adults impose boundaries I think adults feel safer with other adults with will be clear on what behaviour they will and will not tolerate. If we won’t accept it from others means we also won’t do it ourselves?

    And then we create enough safety to be able to express our truth with integrity knowing that we won’t be attacked for it. Very ideal I know and not always easy to achieve but I worthy goal.

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    1. Susan,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. You definitely have some good points. I am realizing that what I often interpreted as rejection, indifference, and uncaring attitudes in others was my own inability to realize and understand healthy boundaries in others. Instead of feeling safe around people with boundaries I felt judged and condemned because of experiences of having been treated in those ways.

      Those who were safe felt unsafe and vice verse. Basically my sky was green and the grass blue. Slowly, my vision is clearing and I’m learning and doing different.

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

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