Saturday, 24 October 2015

A 'safe space' probably doesn't mean what you think it means

A 'safe space', as in a place to which one can retreat at any point and where one can feel fully safe and protected, is something which I have concerned myself with a lot the past years. For decades, one could say, starting with when I first got bullied during primary school.

At first I could still go home and it would be fine. On the family farm I was in my domain and everything was all right. Then things got more difficult as I didn't feel like continuing my studies after finishing High School, feeling a distinct disinterest towards further schooling, but having no distinct plans for the future. While my mom supported my desire to take a while off and explore things on my own for a while, it reduced my safe space to just my room.

After my parents divorced and at first my mom and younger brother, then later just me, proceeded to move to a new place almost every year. My safe space got reduced to mostly just the internet. After all that is happened the past decades, I'm not sure there is a safe space left, however.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a permanent physical, neurological change to the brain, whereby the ability to properly recognize and regulate dangerous situations has been compromised. It is characterised by frequent and very realistic flashbacks which to the affected person means that they will often have trouble distinguishing reality from traumatic events in their past which caused the PTSD to form.

If there's still such a thing as a 'safe space' for me, it has to be the intellectual part of my brain. Not the emotional part. That one has betrayed me long since already and cannot be trusted any more. It explains why at this point only intellectual pursuits and subjects are 'safe' for me and why the range of triggers for my PTSD is so broad.

I want to expand my safe space again. I want to feel safe inside my own brain again, as well as inside my own body. I want to have a room in which I can feel safe again. I want to feel safe from events in my past and the horrible memories they have left me with. I want to feel safe from the horrible things other humans may wish to inflict on me in the near to long-term future.

For that is the thing which I regret the most: that the biggest threat to me are humans. That the physical condition I was born with as well as my giftedness were used as excuses to torment, harass, abuse, rape, molest and brainwash me is irrelevant in all of this. Most of all I do not feel safe around or in anything related to people. I have a major trust issue there.

Yet I likely will have to trust some people to overcome this and reach a safe space again. Life is about big spoonfuls of irony, if nothing else...


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