I can only have a sense of security if…
Last weekend my husband and I met another couple for dinner. The guy is always willing to help, and the girl has “empowering people” as her life purpose. Now and then, we eat together and we play a board game. During this time, we talk about plenty of things: the weather, feminism, movies, capitalism, bitcoin, work…
And lately, we also talk about our mental state. On a previous occasion, I told them about the difficulties of living with CPTSD symptoms. I was struggling to be around people, which made going to work a nightmare and I ended up quitting. I was constantly ashamed for letting myself be bullied not only by my parents but by my siblings too until I was 29 years old. It has been more than a year since the last time I saw them, and I still find it very difficult to set boundaries and fight for myself. I am mostly feeling weak.
My friends supported me. I didn’t even have to explain my trauma for them to understand that I needed compassion. So when I saw that this girl was struggling, I wanted to help her too.
I won’t get into details in order to protect her privacy, but here is something that she said to justify the fact that she got a full-time job on top of her full-time university degree: “ I can only have a sense of security if I have a job.” Now, this is totally understandable if you think of women trying to win the battle against the patriarchy. However, when I look closer into it, I see people who lost the class war.
To be honest, I did the same many times. I tried to juggle everything that I thought a modern woman should be doing until exhaustion. Exhaustion that I recognised when I looked at her eyes. Yes, it is often easier to see what’s going on when it’s not you who is going through it, and I was merely an observer here. At the time of our conversation, I didn’t know what to say, so I simply asked if she liked that part of herself. There was something I wanted to hear, but I couldn’t quite point out what it was. She said she liked it at the same time she agreed she had too much on her plate right now. Then the conversation when in another direction and we didn’t go any further on the subject.
Only my mind got stuck on the subject. There was no subject really, but I could not stop thinking about that sense of security she was talking about. I wanted to make her understand that she didn’t have to be afraid. Her husband is a great person who I know will support her no matter what. And us, her friends, will be there if necessary. I couldn’t understand it! I even got frustrated with my inability to help. She has to be able to feel safe as long as her basic needs are met, I said to myself. Then, still frustrated but calmer, I went back to search for a way to help her. I wonder what actually made her feel unsafe in the first place…
If you don’t have a sense of security, you have an answer to when it started, whether or not you know it yet. I know my answer, I thought, my family was not a safe place to grow up and that’s it. Some people give me the creeps because of my past and that’s why I always have to push myself to stay calm when I am around some individuals. I analysed her life trying to find her answer but couldn’t put the finger on a particular one. My mind kept searching for arguments or advice to give her. I could not believe I didn’t have a good one.
Going around these thoughts I suddenly shouted: Everybody has a right to feel safe no matter what! Every child, every adult, and every animal should be able to feel safe the majority of their day. If she doesn’t need the money and she is already doing something with her life, then, why should she have a job to have a sense of security? It’s not like she could actually buy one. Anyway, we all deserve a sense of security for free. We deserve that much.
And that’s when something clicked in my brain. I, too, deserve a sense of security. My inner child deserves a sense of security! At that moment both my body and my mind froze. For half a minute my eyes watched the air as though some kind of ghost was about to cross through me, or get into me. It must have been a lost piece of self-esteem because at that very moment, a huge weight fell off my back and all the shame for not being able to defend myself seemed to vanish. I realised I was asking too much of myself.
Everybody has a right to feel safe no matter what!
I hope I will be able to support my friend as good as she has supported me because I am certain I would not be here without the compassion of people like them who didn’t even have to hear my story to see my pain. They say friends are like therapy. They are, even when you least expect it.
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