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.