A safe house is a place to which women run when their lives are at risk. They literally flee to a strange place, filled with strangers who share only your fear for your safety. I can only imagine how awful it must be to find yourself with no relative or friend with whom to take safe harbor and we welcome any story from any woman who has had that experience.
However what we all share is the idea of a safe place somewhere in our lives. Sadly for the abused woman that safe place is not her marriage. Even more sadly, almost without exception, we do not understand or accept that fact. Over and over again we return to the arms of the abuser. Not only do we return but we seek out those arms believing that they still offer a safe haven.
I have been beaten and slapped. He pulled chunks of hair out of my head and screamed so close to my face that I have watched the spittle from his mouth fly around. I was terrified despite my own screaming. I have called for help from my housekeeper who was too afraid to “hear me” and our property was such that the neighbours were unlikely to hear and less likely to respond given that we did this frequently. Finally I would get myself into the car and drive away, my heart pounding and literally I feared for my life. However within two blocks my mind must have done flick-flacks because no sooner was I away that I needed to go back.
At that stage I was unable to “stalk my thoughts” which is something that John Kehoe recommends one learns to do. I honestly don’t know how I went from being terrified of him to being terrified without him. I was so afraid and yet despite what had happened less than half an hour ago I needed to go back. Despite all, in my mind, he was the safe harbor. This really is the very core to the madness of co-dependency. He had proved without a shadow of doubt that he was not my “safe place” and yet there I was plotting a way to get back to him. How on earth did I expect anything to change when I could not live in reality?
My greatest challenge for a long time was being afraid because I was unmarried. Single = fear was my reality despite the fact that everything in my life had failed to support that myth. I had to discover a new “safe place” for myself and for a long time there just wasn’t one. I had never pursued a career with any enthusiasm because in my mind my destiny was to be “a wife” and so anything I did was one step up from a hobby. As a result I had no safe place in knowing that I had a career that defined me and structured my days and my identity. Without a husband I had no identity. I had no place in society.
My first response had been to flee the country and then when I arrived in the USA I re-married and once again I was safe in my role, my identity and my home. My relief was short-lived and before long I found myself eye-ball to eye-ball with the same demon in a different face, different place and different way but the same demon all the same. I really was not going to be free until I found the courage to slay the dragon through the heart. Metaphor aside – I needed to learn to be safe and single.
I will continue this blog shortly but for now would like to hear from our followers. “Where is your least safe place in your life?”