Thankful and Grateful: Something or Someone Who…

Today’s prompt is “What’s something or someone that makes you feel safe?”

I had to really ponder that one for awhile….

I am a white woman in the USA, I am lot safer than most folks in general. Which is sad because how free are you if you don’t feel safe, I mean really. How can you be free and pursue any sort of happiness if you aren’t safe. A lot of our amendments came about just for that purpose.

But, I’m being thankful and grateful right now, and technically I am not supposed to tell you how the USA is failing a large portion of its population because they do not feel safe. I also can’t talk about how we need to start at home and in our workplaces but not allowing casual racism and judgement and prejudice statements to again be causally spoken, especially around children. Of course things would need to change on a larger scale but like most things in my life, I’m not actually in charge.

But I continue to digress.

I am about to get super heavy so if you don’t want to read about trauma, just stop reading now.

I feel safest when things are clean. My mother was sexually abused by a drug addict who was not only a disgusting human being and should have been jailed, not only did he break one of the most basic and deep human connections because of his depravity, he continued to get away with it because of who he was (male) and who he was in his community. The monster I speak of was her biological father.

To say this screwed her up is an understatement. Especially when they tried to “help,” her get better as an adult. I am told things were different then, and I can’t understand. I admit, I just can’t.

When this happens to you and your predator is around often, it is important that you don’t make waves. If they notice you, it makes things worse. My mother lived a spotless existence until she moved out. She married an abusive man who beat her. She got divorced.

She met my father and married again, and it started. She kept collecting things. Piles and piles of things. Mountains of crap and old papers and dishes and there were paths to every room and the only place to hang out was on your bed separately.

There wasn’t a lot of interacting in my house besides the yelling for us to clean, except no one had ever taught us how.

We were neglected in more way than this, and it was sad.

Conflicting feelings aside, the hoarding behavior my mother succumbed to was my life. It governed how we lived, what we could do, and how we interacted with the outside world (clue, we didn’t interact often).

So for me, when I am able to live in a clean home, which I struggle with because my husband is a bit of a slob and I can be one as well. When we keep things clean though I feel so safe.

I can escape into books like I did as a kid, no problem. I can avoid the house. I can pretend everything is okay. Having a room that is 80% cleaned up makes me feel less anxiety. I feel like I can breathe. I do not argue or make snide or hurtful comments and lash out if I receive criticism if the environment I am in is tidy. I do not fear when the doorbell rings (unless I’m dressed in my pjs!) or feel anything like depression if everything around me is clean.

I think it’s because my life wasn’t clean. Anything opposite of that cluttered, painful (physical abuse), limited experience makes me feel safe.

So for me, clean equals safety.

Now I do have trouble keep things in order. Life is overwhelming. A lot is happening all the time. I try to keep up but it can be hard. As I mentioned I wasn’t really taught to be near or tidy and I had to learn many cleaning skills as a young adult. I’m not good at it.

But there is an immense satisfaction when I am able to clean and maintain a space. I try and I keep trying because we all want to feel safe.

I am thankful that I have the means to clean and keep my home in an organized state. Sometimes I fail. I am always thankful I can try. I am always thankful when I teach my son how to clean up his own mess. I am thankful my safety is in general a simple attainable state of being. I know that’s not the case for everyone.

This month I am following a list of Gratitude Prompts. You are welcome to join me:


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