The first time I ever lived “by myself” was when I got a single room my junior year of college. (I put that in quotes because when you live in a dorm with more than a 100 other young women, you are far from being by yourself).
I made a vow then that I would never be lonely or be sad about living alone. It would always be my choice, and my time in my room would be a safe haven of rest and peace. If I was feeling depressed, I would literally leave my room and go somewhere else. That room was almost sacred.
This sentiment continued when I truly did move out on my own after college. I’ve always been determined that my home would be my “safe place.” For years, I’ve taken the long way home if I was upset after work or I’ve taken trips out of the house if I started to feel too depressed or frustrated over life.
Most who read my blog or know me in person know the last year or two has been incredibly rough. I was laid off from one job, one I’d had for nearly eight years. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I laid my identity in that job and since then have struggled to understand who I am as a professional, as a person. I was later fired for the first time in my life from an entry level job that, well, I’m glad I don’t work at any more. In between all that, I got a sudden, life-threatening illness.
All of these incidents have thrown us into a financial turmoil. We’re doing OK, we still pay our bills. We’ve just had to take somewhat deep cuts to make sure those bills getting paid is even feasible. Fortunately we demonstrated financial wisdom before all this happened so we are more able to take the hit now.
Anyways. Back to my point (didn’t think I’d get there, did ya?) With us trying to save money on gas and not eating out, etc. and with me trying to get a freelance business going, I’ve spent a lot of time at home. I would try to get out and either network for the business or use wi-fi somewhere, but often felt that we couldn’t afford for me to do even that.
Our home… with messes, the cats, the thick curtains blocking all the light, just everything…was no longer a “safe” place for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I felt threatened. I felt imprisoned. Instead of my home feeling like a safe haven to escape life’s difficulties and to recharge, it became a place where I had to face all the difficulties and where my proverbial batteries were drained.
Neither my husband or I realized all this at the time, we just knew I was going through a deep depression and driving both of us a little nutty. I got real bad about taking the stress of life outside the home and stretching it into the home. What used to be minor but real annoyances turned into dramatic gripe fest. Certain rooms just made me actually almost panic. Yes, it got that bad and I’m admitting it in public.
My poor husband tried everything he could to help me. He suggested local adventure trips. He bought me a beautiful plant to brighten up the room I grew to hate. He cleaned house. He really is an amazing, caring man who would do just about anything to help his wife out of that dark place.
I slowly came out of it and as that was happening, I had this realization that I had let my home be an “unsafe” place. I had broken that vow to myself made so many years ago.
Things are much better now. Not perfect, but better. We still have the plant, but I don’t hate that room. The plant was intended to cheer me up and to brighten a dreary room, but it does so much more than that. It now represents to me just how much my husband loves me. That, ladies and gentlemen, is so much better than a simple room brightening.
I also keep in mind when I’m feeling frustrated or dismal. I’ve gone back to the idea of sometimes taking the long way home from somewhere if I have something negative on my mind. I also “treat” myself at home. For example, I splurged and bought the 12-ounce bottles (bottles!) of caffeine free, diet Coke or Pepsi. I never take those out of the house. I only let myself drink them pretty much when I’m at the computer working. It’s my special treat.
Is your home your safe place? Where is your safe place and how do you protect and acknowledge it?