Posted by: Judy | November 17, 2011

What is safe, really…

One of those huge things I always felt was important, and I didn’t have, was a feeling of being safe.

In learning about Andrew (Wounded Warrior) and what he was enduring, I discovered that my perception of safe wasn’t so much safe as sheltered. Sheltered and safe are not the same thing. And yet, I have been treating them as if they are interchangeable.

I made bread, really, really yummy bread. Having bread in the cupboard is something that helps me feel safe. Milk is something else that helps me feel safe. I try to buy milk when it’s on sale, so I’ll have a fridge full (5-6 gallons) for the few weeks it’s on sale, every three or four months, but then it starts to dwindle. I’ll only keep 1-2 gallons at the higher price, waiting for it to go on sale again. But I notice when my supply drops below two gallons, I start to stress/worry. What I was taught growing up: If you have bread and milk, you won’t starve.

When I had my dog I felt safe. My counselor chuckled that I wasn’t really because all he had to do was toss her a piece of meat, and I was essentially defenseless. I remember the surprise on his face when I told him that it was not my dog’s responsibility to protect me. It was my job to do the protecting for both of us. Her job was to be my early warning system. She let me know when people were near, so I could be on guard. More specifically, she allowed me to let down my guard sometimes. I’m so weary of being on guard all the time.

So what is safe really?

I’m coming to realize that I have absolutely no idea, and no idea where to start beyond what little I have here. What more is there? Is there more? I have a feeling that is something I must define for myself. And yet, I’m frustrated with the feeling that I am not safe where I live. It’s been made clear that this is not my home; it’s where I live. I make it as safe as I am able.

I’m still tickled that I’m able to lock my bedroom door. This past year, I hunted down a doorknob that would lock, and traded it for the non-locking knob that had been on the door all my life. But that’s about physical safety.

I’m realizing that my sense of safety is also emotional and mental, and those are foreign concepts. I never know when something is going to be said or done with the intent to hurt me. I imagine it’s like being in a war zone wondering when you’re going to hit an IED or encounter a sniper. Instead of physical harm, the intent is emotional and mental harm. My counselor once likened me to chum. For those that don’t know, like me the first time I heard it, chum is the cut up fish bit they toss in the water to attract sharks. Some of it’s eaten; some of it isn’t, but there’s no way to know what will be eaten and what won’t.

Maybe there is no safety for me, not in the traditional sense of safety. Note of interest, at least to me: When I’m writing all my worries and insecurities melt away. Something to think about.


  1. Interesting thought. I used to think my safe place was work and then with the down turn in the economy that all fell apart. I feel safe taking pictures. It is also my happy place. I equate my safe place as my happy place.

    • Happy place equated with the safe place… That seems to be true. Does that mean I can’t be safe if I’m not happy? No, I think I’m confusing that. Not you, me. Something to think about.

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