I have given my ‘safe place’ a lot of thought lately and the how’s and why’s of how it came to be. The first time I heard this term was when I was in 12-week therapy group. At the end of each group session the facilitators would guide us through a safe place scenario to help ground us before we left the room.
With this first group experience I wasn’t doing the safe thing at all. It was all a bit too weird for me and I really didn’t see the purpose it in. Plus the closing of my eyes in a group freaked me out. I’m not sure why I thought that I had to close my eyes because we were told that we didn’t have to. It was our preference on what to do. As it was I always sat as close as possible to the door, that’s what me feel safe.
In individual therapy I hadn’t done any safe place work. But in the last six months my T decided we needed to work on a safe place for me because the harder the therapy has been, the less safe I have felt. This time I have been more open about it. I think the few therapy groups I’ve gone to have made me more used to the idea.
But as I have given it some serious thought I realized that I practiced a ‘safe’ place all through my life without knowing it. For example I hate being physically sick. I am paranoid about it and will do everything in my power not to be sick. But sometimes everything doesn’t work. So to distract and try to calm myself when I couldn’t avoid being sick, I created a place to go to in my mind. In this place are trees and running water along with all the forest smells and sounds. And I would also do this as a child when things were really chaotic in the family.
When I was creating a safe place with the help of my T, I have ended up making one that was pretty much the same as the one I had as a child. Some days I wonder why it takes me so long to make these connections.
It is also a place that I find comfort and some measure of peace in the real world. I try to take a walk in the forest at least once a week. I am lucky because where I live the forest surrounds me.
As I have thought about this place I also wonder about it. The forest is one of my first remembered places of sexual assault (did I just write that) (I will not delete those two words). I was playing by myself, which was normal for me, in a bushy area when I was caught by a male and detained for a while. I eventually got away and was able to run home. I was only five or six at the time but the experience didn’t make me afraid of the forest. The only reason I can think of why I didn’t become afraid was because I liked to be alone and the forest felt like the safest place even after what happened. Risking the bush was better than risking what was going on at home. This is something I don’t really understand but I could be just strange.
I love being out in nature. It gives me a peace and a calm like nothing else can. It has always been my safe place, mentally and physically