Updated: Mar 16, 2022
Safe Spaces is said to be an over used phrase. So, how did I come to that for my passion? Well, that’s a story! A story I’m not sure I have ever fully told anyone but I am going to try to do that here today.
I have a tendency to do that. Just keep everything bottled up; every heartache, every pain. Oh, trust I cry alone on my knees. Well, to be fair I used to and I have started again but there was a time there where I forgot how to cry. I was so broken that I forgot how to feel. I just chalked the pain up to another life lesson and threw myself into my next project. Closed off my emotions and moved on, many times hiding it all behind a bottle, forced smiles, and entertaining others. I quickly learned to be what everyone else needed or wanted so I didn’t have to face the dark spots growing in my own Soul, the utter loneliness, the shattered heart. It was easier to just tape it all together with duck tape and “just keep swimming” then face it head on.
How did I get there you ask? Well… that’s a long story of heartbreak, loss, and betrayal that is far too long to tell here but there is a small piece I have been called to start with. So if you have a little time grab a drink, pull up a chair, and dive in with me to see what lessons we can uncover together. Who knows, maybe my story will help heal something in you.
In 2013 my sister was very sick. She had been sick for some time but it was really getting bad at this time and for the net several years it would continuously get worse. That’s not my story to tell so I won’t go into details but it was a hard time for my family. We all handled it in different ways but as the oldest child I had always taken on this responsibility to care of the family. Trying to be every thing I could for everyone while not knowing how to fix it was literally breaking me. Not to mention, I had already lost my chosen sister to the big C as a child so watching my baby sister slowly suffer from another disease that was attacking her brain was unbearable. So instead, I just shut down. I became so very angry at God, at the world, at life.
What was the point of doing this life thing when it always seemed to end in horrible, slow suffering and death for those I loved the most while all I could do was stand by and watch? I could fix anything for those that did not appreciate me but I could do nothing for the people who mattered the most? How was that fair? And through all of this I couldn’t cry. I could scream, I could rage, I could find creative ways to torture and destroy myself… but I could not let the pain in so I could feel it. I could not experience my sadness and let the healing power of tears wash it away. Maybe because I was afraid if I started crying I would never stop or maybe I was afraid if I looked that darkness in the face I would finally be lost to it forever.
It was in this state of despair that I met the biggest lesson of my life. In my loneliness I tried a few dating apps, I had tried some before with some success but nothing really to speak of. I had moved to a new city a few years prior to this for my career completely alone and meeting new people turned out to be more difficult than I would have thought, even for my outgoing personality. I had tried going to bars or making myself go out to eat alone to meet new people but none of these methods really left me with long term results. Usually ghosting, maybe a couple of friends here and there.
So to the dating apps I turned, and there I met The Devil. He had lived next door to a friend I had met and lost contact with a year or so before and remembered me. Every cell in my body screamed for me to ignore him but in my loneliness I decided what could be the harm in one drink?
He knew all the right things to say to this lonely heart, he made me laugh, and he quickly stared involving our mutual friend in our hangouts. I finally felt like I had an escape from the nightmare of sick and helplessness that felt like was consuming me daily. You see when you offer a lonely heart a feeling of belonging, of fun, of being needed it can ignore a lot of red flags in the hopes of better days to come.
To be fair, he was a skilled manipulator and I was a naive and lonely Soul. Also, a narcissist which is kryptonite to an empath like me. So I stayed through the fun stage, through the gaslighting, through the fun again, through the mental games, through the “love”, through the pain, through it all because I just wanted to be loved. I thought my battered heart could save his and vice versa. He knew all the right things to say and do and I ignored all of the warnings and red flags. I ignored those who loved me and my own intuition and gave myself over to the cycles of abuse body, mind, and Soul.
We would be in the happiest of moments and he would change to the Devil in an instant and I would be done. But then he would be loving and sweet and all the words where changed and surely I was the on that was mistaken anyway; that wasn’t how it happened. Always stringing me along with just enough scraps to keep me holding out for more. And to make matters even worse he spoke my language… music! He knew how to make me feel things with the music that weren’t true and then I was left questioning everything, even my own mind.
For the next two years as my sister grew sicker this cycle continued. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows and so many lies that I started doubting my own mind most of the time. We made friends and I felt like I belonged, though, and at this time in my life I thought love was supposed to be sacrifice so surely things would get better. Surely most of our problems where my fault anyway because I was crazy and emotional and asked for too much all the time.
Somewhere around Spring of 2015 my lease was running up on my apartment. I had been staying in the smallest place I could find and saving up every penny for over a year because I wanted to buy myself a little town home instead of wasting money on rent. Somehow “we” decided it would be better to try living together before I bought a small place for myself because if we could work through our issues we would eventually want a bigger place.
He found us a rent house where he would be paying less than he currently was but I would be paying more a month. He didn’t see the need for him to cover the larger amount we should definitely split that 50/50. His car was nicer so it should go in the garage, even if that meant I had to walk in the rain after working all day on the road. Other little things I started to notice but he just needed time to adjust, he had a lot of trust issues and I had to prove I was different than the others.
Then he talked the owner into selling the house. He didn’t have credit because of some issues with his “business” so naturally we would use mine. He would help me with half of the downpayment and half the monthly though. Oh, he didn’t have quite half but he could give me this amount. It was ok to deplete my savings because it was going to be in my name anyway. It would all be OK. I wanted this didn’t I? He would just leave if not. Always that threat of leaving, knowing that my biggest fear was that people always leave.
Then the final straw happened… he wanted me to do an act of donation to give him half of the house. You see, he needed to feel secure because he never had. In order to fully commit to me he needed this feeling of safety. But every fiber of my being screamed this was a bad idea because he would have half of the rights and none of the responsibility. After many arguments and signs from the universe I finally put my foot down and that is when I met the Devil, the real him. The first time I was so scared I locked myself in the bathroom and called his best friend because I didn’t want to get him in trouble.
The second time I called my Poppa who said “call the cops this is done, I’m coming to get you.” God blessed me with the best Poppa and that man sat on my couch for three days while the Devil moved his things out. I was a mess wondering how I; a strong, successful, smart, and beautiful woman; had gotten myself into such a mess. I obsessed over every detail trying to figure out where I had gone wrong and the worst of it was I still “loved” him. I was addicted to the toxic love he had shown me. I tried the best I could to move on. Most of our friends saw me as the bad guy so here I was starting all over in life again; alone, broken, scared of love, and worst of all disconnected from my own intuition because that was the biggest way he hurt me. Gaslighting makes you not trust the voice inside your head, your inner guidance system, anymore.
I thought I was healing myself. I made it through the night terrors, the panic attacks, the loneliness. I figured out how to pay all of the bills on my own that I was supposed to be splitting. I learned how to do yard work, fix things, hang things, and make my own home by myself. I threw myself into my work and became a rockstar. I met new friends and the few friends that stuck by me turned out to be those super special lifetime kind of friends that become family. My parents always taught us to make the best out of every situation so that is what I did; I got better not bitter.
I finally started dating again after quite some time off, to make sure I didn’t make the same mistakes. I healed, I thought. But, it was six years later when fate knocked on my door that I realized that while I had healed some things, I had just pushed the rest down so I did not have to feel the pain. I had dated sure, some great guys actually, but the truth is they never had a chance. Because I had learned how to be a chameleon being whatever anyone needed, but not being me. This way if they hurt me or rejected me it wasn’t really me that got hurt or rejected again. I spent the next six years wandering down life’s path enjoying some amazing people and great adventures along the way; wearing whatever mask would get me by to keep everyone happy without letting anyone in and ignoring the little voice in my head that was trying to get my attention.
But this left me with a big problem… I didn’t know who I truly was. When I needed “love” I would go out and get a quick fix. I would be who they needed me to be then retreat back to my hermit mode overanalyzing every moment of every interaction and ultimately getting lost in my own head. This was so unfair to all my relationships in that time and I am truly sorry to all those who I never gave the whole me, but you see I just couldn’t. I was just trying to survive and when we are in survival mode we can’t give the best parts of ourself, not even to ourselves. We can’t pour from an empty cup.
Then God said “alright, time to shake things up, girl.” In 2020 I had started making healthy changes and started my journey to connect my mind, body, and Soul again but it was really all a bunch of theories. “Cooking spaghetti” I call it: throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. I kind of started dating again the summer of 2021 but honestly I think I had decided I liked being alone. I was finally finding my stride in life and I was not about to let someone come turn it upside down again, but I was lonely and putting my toe in the shallow end.
And that’s when it happened…God sent me my perfect match and my life changed that day. I knew it instantly even though I wouldn’t admit it at first. To be fair he was every red flag that had ever burned me but also different somehow. Maybe it was because his battered Soul was just as weary as mine and when we met a collective sigh of relief, a returning home, happened. Our demons played well together, too well. Our angels saw a soft place to land, a breath of fresh air on a long journey of heartache.
You always hear about these fated meetings, your third love, how you just know. I had become a cynic to stories like these though, and to be honest I believe he had too. Too battered and bruised to really believe so we couldn’t, or wouldn’t, let down our walls and instead we just broke each other’s heart while breaking our own.
I had lost contact with my own intuition so long ago I thought the voice in my head was pure insanity, surely I was loosing my mind. So I stayed quiet, doubting what my mind was screaming and ultimately we drifted apart because true love cannot blossom amid fear and doubt.
However, this fated meeting taught me one very important lesson… how to truly love myself. You see, I quickly realized my old way of loving were not working because I wasn’t loving myself first. I was putting everyone else before myself and shrinking the real me to be what I thought they wanted. But in doing this I was doing everyone a disservice because it is completely impossible to truly love another person until you learn to love yourself first.
When we can understand who we truly are and love all of ourselves (the light and the dark, the good and the bad) then, and only then, can we learn to truly love another in the mirror of ourselves that we see in them.
So, how does this relate to safe spaces? Well, one of the first things Mr. Red Flag Walking said to me was “my arms are the safest place you will ever be;” hard eye roll I know….what a line. But somehow in that moment my Soul knew that this was the God’s honest truth and not just another line. And in that moment I knew what my weary Soul had been searching for: a safe space to just BE, wholly and completely me, without having to worry if my laugh was too loud or my jokes made sense, or my ideas were too crazy. A place to explode all of me so then I could take all of those beautiful colors and use my tools to put them together cohesively.
But first I had to learn how to do that for myself. Which meant taking time by myself to sit with my thoughts, feel the dreaded feelings, open up the floodgates of six years of tears and pain, and write it all down to get it out of this weary body. And once I started writing I realized my story needed to be heard because we have all faced some deep trauma or other over the years that have caused us to lock away our hearts and throw away the key. We all just keep pushing on without healing the wounds. And as such we have disconnected from our intuition, our inner guidance system, our Higher Self. How can we possibly manage healthy connections with others if we can’t manage a healthy connection with ourselves first?
My motto for 2022 is I’m done surviving, it’s time to thrive! I want to inspire as many of you as possible to join me in that motto. Let’s do the work, let’s heal the pain, let’s learn to love ourselves in our complete authenticity so we can give others the space to love us there in return.
Be your own safe space for honest connection so you can extend the same Grace to those you love and let’s heal this broken world, one traumatized heart at a time.