Safe Spaces

Last night, I stayed over at my sister’s place.

At dawn this morning, as I lay awake in bed (my body clock is awfully messed up, so I had actually been awake since midnight), I saw my 7-year-old niece standing just at the door of the room where I slept. She was peeking in, obviously trying to see whether or not I was already awake.

She saw me look up. I smiled. She smiled back, with her signature closed-lip smile, her eyes aglow with warmth illuminated by the hallway light streaming into the room. I saw her small frame hesitate; she was trying to decide whether to climb back into bed with her mother or come over to me.

I reached out my arm. She hurriedly climbed onto bed with me, curled up chest down as if a four-legged animal (she liked pretending she was a cat).

I put my arm around her. I felt her small hand envelop my elbow. She had a thing for caressing elbows, much like I had a thing for hugging my hotdog pillow as a comfort object when I was small. Her thin, dainty fingers started ever so lightly caressing and pinching my elbow. It tickled, but I didn’t want to brush her off. I knew it comforted her.

In the dim and stillness of the room, I could feel the rise and fall of her chest as we lay side by side. Some strands of her hair were tickling my nose, but again, I didn’t care to brush them off or pull my head away. She had pressed her head against the nook of my neck, as if therein she found rest from the weariness of the world, and it mattered to me that she felt I didn’t pull back, that I was fully with her.

I’ve lived my life with so much cynicism, and even to this day, I think it right to be cynical. The world is not a nice place. Heartbreak and pain lurk at every corner. And as much as I would like to protect this child from feeling all that as she grows up, I know that would be neither possible nor helpful. She will probably get hurt, and she will probably need to. Going through pain is what builds people. Going through pain with courage (which is something I’m still learning how to do).

And though we can’t always save each other from pain, I guess we could still try to be with each other through the painful times.

We could be each other’s safe spaces.

Safe spaces, where we could each curl up and have arms envelop us, comfort us.

Safe spaces, where we could let our heavy guard down, even for a moment.

Safe spaces, where we can be at our most vulnerable and yet still feel like nothing can hurt us.

Safe spaces, where we could feel the rise and fall of each other’s chests and be reminded of the reasons we stay alive.

Safe spaces, which may be our only saving grace. ◊

This entry is part of my undertaking a 30-day challenge Matt Cutts talked about at TED2011. The premise is to “think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for the next 30 days.” I am challenging myself to post one blog entry a day for 30 consecutive days.

Today is Day 12.

About the Author •

10 thoughts on “Safe Spaces

  1. An important part of our lives those safe places, those havens when things get a bit much Carla 😀
    And you are very right in saying that we must have them or we will not find that self love. The one that is waiting for our fears to be faced, understood, and in doing so drop the walls that block that self love ❤
    It is an incredible journey, and very tough at times…but beneath it all is a magic like nothing else. When that finish line is finally crossed, it all changes, and a beauty like nothing else is waiting with open arms. Just as you have for that little girl who is only just starting out that journey, needing a touch from another to support and reassure her that she is on that right path ❤
    Beautifully written young lady, from an empathy derived from that very same love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow…the way you wrote this connected with me at a deeper emotional level. It’s a tough world and sometimes no matter how much we want to protect the people we love…we can’t do it all the time. In many ways, this life has changed me – broken me – and at the same time healed me. It’s still a process. Anyway, thanks for sharing something so achingly real.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s