Posted by: Marie | August 23, 2009

(131) Safety in surprising places

Post #131
[Private journal entry written on Tuesday, May 5, 2009]

I ran into Mark (therapist #1) today and we had a brief (but warmly affectionate) conversation. We caught up on what’s happening for both of us (in a general sense, nothing heavy, LOL). I was reminded of how much I miss him.

On the Hike by Martin Chen

On the Hike by Martin Chen

I was also reminded of how safe, physically safe, I feel around him. While talking to him, I had a very strong urge to lay my head on his chest – just for a few minutes, just to have a little taste of feeling safe. Of course, I didn’t do it, but I sure wanted to.

I have been noticing the same type of feelings with another man . . . with a co-worker with whom I spend quite a bit of time. He is old enough to be my dad, and he has been somewhat of a mentor at work, so I look up to him as a bit of a father figure.

He is one of those quiet, dependable guys – doesn’t say much, just shows up early, does his job exceptionally well, then goes home – no fuss. He never raises his voice. The only show of displeasure I have seen involved the tightening of his lips, the drop of his chin and the raising of his eyebrows – but it was clear he meant business. And the situation quickly got remedied without him saying a word.

He always sticks around to make sure my work is done before he leaves (we are more or less partners). He holds the door for me, speaks kindly to me, never says anything that would cause me to feel uncomfortable. He is a real quality guy. I feel safe with him. And, I keep wanting to lay my head on his chest and feel safe for a few minutes. (I’m getting a lump in throat as I’m writing this, just thinking about it.)

I would never act on those feelings . . . he has no idea what I am working through on the therapy front and the poor man would be freaked, I’m sure, if I initiated any kind of physical contact with him – nor would it be at all appropriate. So, I just quietly notice my desire to lay my head on his chest . . and let it go at that.

I do find it interesting that I’m starting to associate safety with male physical contact – I mean contact with real-life men, not the fantasy men I create in my head for when I’m trying to fall asleep – being held by my men of fantasy has always been “safe” because I can control them.

Now, I’m starting to associate safety with real-life men – a few trustworthy, real-life men. That is a huge step for me.

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  1. Tread gently. I remember a phase I went through of having crushes on ‘safe’ men, men I knew were in committed relationships. It helped me at the time because I needed to start feeling like I could relate to men again. I think its important.

    BUT you are still very vulnerable and these crushes are little fantasies. They aren’t the reality of a real relationship.

    As long as you keep that in mind and don’t act on these crushes, then I think they can be very helpful to healing the way you relate to men in general.

    • Hi, Svasti –

      I can see your point . . . it would be good to pay close attention to what I’m thinking/feeling and how I’m acting with regards to those feelings.

      Thanks for your wise guidance!

      – Marie

  2. I was surprised to read your post. I thot I’m the only person with this dilemma. I’ve been divorced for 4 1/2 years and with everything my ex did to me just before and during our divorce, I dream of having his arms around me because it made me feel safe. I need to lay my head on his chest and feel his heart beat. It’s crazy, really, but there it is. I don’t trust any man, I can’t trust him, and there it is. I know how you feel.

    • You know, Ivory, I think it has to do with the fact I don’t feel able to create my own safe space around myself, so I have to stay on guard all the time. I think what I’m really yearning for is to have someone else create that safe parameter for me so that I could let my guard down and relax.

      That “someone else” has always been a fantasy man because I didn’t think real-life men could be trusted to care for me in that way. These two men seem to be men who can be trusted with protecting my physical well-being for a short block of time.

      Now (3+ months later), I still have regular contact with them both and my belief is unchanged.

      – Marie

  3. Hi Marie,

    I hope to get to this point. Guess I don’t know any men that feel safe like that right now. Good for you. Good and healing thoughts to you.


    • Hi, Kate –

      I want that for you, too.

      – Marie

  4. Wow. This sounds huge. I hope you have some good male friends who can give you this safe affection that you need.

    • Hi, Evan –

      Yes, this is a huge shift in the fear/trust department . . .

      However, no, I currently don’t have much affectionate touch in my life right now. I enjoy quick hugs with family members and that is it. Affectionate touch (beyond the quick hugs) has never been part of my experience. Even with sex, it has consistently been about the sex, not affection.

      I really want to have affectionate touch — touch that has nothing to do with sex — in my life. I especially crave that kind of touch from/with men.

      I think sharing affectionate touch with a man would be a healthy way to learn how to keep my energy inside my body (as opposed to “leaving” my body) while touching and being touched. If I can do that, maybe I can learn to keep my energy inside my body in a sexual context. That is my hope.

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie

  5. I enjoy your honesty so much Marie.
    I really like how safe I feel with my male therapist he has been a tremendous teacher of good and healthy boundaries for me.
    Thank you for all of your sharing.
    And Hope you are Having a Great Day!!

    • Hi, Vicki –

      How awesome that you have found a therapist with whom you can learn about healthy boundaries! That seems to be a huge component of healing from abuse.

      Thanks for the kind words!

      – Marie

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