Safe Space. Safe Haven. Everyone has one. It could be the home, the bedroom, the work space, maybe a secret treehouse. And if you don’t have one, find one. Please. We all need at least one spot that we can retreat to when we really need to be alone, or need to escape the stresses we face every day. It could be anything, a space that is yours. A space that no one, or anything, could ever intrude. But what happens when your safe space is invaded?
After saying this, it seems almost contradictory. Didn’t I just say they should never be intruded? Yes I did. Because they shouldn’t. Ever. At all. Period. Yet, mine was just invaded. It was invaded so unexpectedly. And so calmly. And it’s like she knew what she was doing. The woman who so coolly advised me to not tell my parents that I was molested. The woman who insisted that I would be fine and I would get over it. Yes, the woman who refused to admit that my cousin needed help, that my whole family did. And the woman who made me feel as if my worth didn’t matter, as if my feelings didn’t matter, as if my life didn’t matter.
Thank you for visiting me at work today, for sneaking into my day. Thank you for crying into my shoulder as you hugged me. Yes, thank you for not letting go of me. Thank you for forcing someone to pull you off of me. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
Needless to say…it was a GREAT DAY. After convincing myself NOT to punch a wall, I retreated into these feelings I had as a child, into these feelings of having absolutely no control over my life. I could no longer control my home, my work space, my safety, my emotions. I was controlled by outside forces that had only their wants and needs in mind. And I was alone. Stuck. Drowning. Yay.
I called my boyfriend and was met with his anger and frustration with the situation, which helped. He calmed me down, told me that everything I was feeling was valid, and that I needed to take care of myself by going home. It was everything I needed to hear. And I was beyond grateful for him in that moment. I didn’t take his advice, though, and remained at work. Sadly, I needed the hours, I was already there, and it would have been to much to create an excuse to leave. I did, however, notify my students that I was experiencing a difficult day, and they led the class themselves, which was nice. It worked out.
But what truly pisses me off if the fact that I couldn’t shake it off. My grandmother left school and I still felt her presence everywhere. I still felt out of control and unsafe. I was appalled that she could make me feel this way 20 YEARS LATER…20. Really? After all I’ve been through, after all I’ve accomplished, after all the pain I’ve overcome. She made it disappear in 30 measly seconds. Pissed. I couldn’t shake the horrid feeling of being invaded. But maybe there are tactics that could’ve assisted me. Let’s think…
Make Them Leave
Plain and simple. Make them leave. You can be polite. AND be forceful. You can get others to help you. As long as you get these invaders to leave you alone. For me, I was at work. Making a scene was not an option. Luckily for me, my grandmother had to leave anyway. 2 minutes was her time limit. I was civil. But I never looked her in the eye. My obligatory hug was full of disdain. And I closed the door without regret. Wherever you are, DO NOT allow the intruders to stay. Take the space back.
Let The Feelings Flow
Don’t hold anything back. If you need to cry, cry. Be angry. Or confused. Be frustrated. Retreat if you need to. Do not, under any circumstance, suppress what your mind and heart need to express. Let yourself feel all the feelings. They are valid beyond belief.
Calm and Collect
Once you’ve let everything out. Collect yourself. It may be difficult to do, and it may take longer than you’d want it to, but collect yourself. Name three things you can touch, three things you can hear, three things you can smell, three things you can see. Bring yourself back into reality. Remind yourself that you are in control. You are here. You are alive. Breathe.
Finish Your Day
Whether you are at work, school, at home, or out and about, finish your day. Finish the task you were in the middle of. Finish what you can. If you absolutely cannot, then that is OK too. Go where you need to go, do what you need to do. If you can finish, then take back that control a little bit. It’s your life, it’s your day, finish what you started. I stayed at work, and although I couldn’t fully focus, I finished my day. I did cancel a rehearsal, but no harm, no foul.
This may be the most difficult and gut wrenching step, but you must analyze what happened. Who invaded your space? Why did that affect you? How does it relate to past events? What did you feel? How can you combat those feelings? What could you do differently if there is a next time? Analyze every moment. Know what triggers you. And know what it triggers. Know how you can help yourself a little better the next time, (hopefully, there won’t be a next time). Just know.
Ultimately, the horrifying fact is that your space was invaded. Your haven was intruded. This doesn’t mean you must give it up. It means you must take it back. Whether that means you approach the person who invaded your space and explain that you don’t want them there. Maybe you have someone help you explain. Maybe notify others that you want to be protected from this person. Whatever the decision, take precautions and secure your space again. If this is impossible, and you feel as if your space has been forever tainted, then find another. Take precaution with that space. Ensure your safety. YOU are the most important. Yes, YOU are the one to be protected. YOU should never feel guilty. And YOU deserve your safe space.
I write this with the knowledge that I’m still in the middle of these steps. That’s right, I am still figuring out how to ensure my safe space. I am still analyzing my thoughts and now to deal with these intrusion. And I am still pissed. But these are steps I am attempting to take. I will try my damndest because SHE does not deserve anything from me. Let me know if you have ideas or specific tactics for dealing with a situation like this. Maybe I’m completely wrong. We can find solutions together.
Woman of Steel