Safety Dance

"For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.  ~Eleanor Everet

Several years ago I maintained a livejournal titled Hester Prynne. I had quite a few friends on my list and a few friend filters. I wrote about everything from my silly daily activities to my adoption trauma. It was friends only. I liked LJ in that regard that I could a) make it friends only and they could easily see me by logging into their journal and viewing friends list and b) I could segregate my content/topics into viewing audiences with filters. Some of my friends were interested in my adoption stories, others were not. 

At a certain point in that journal two things happened. First, my home computer was hacked and passwords were stolen, key logging was happening and individuals that were not supposed to be reading personal information were. I felt terribly violated and unsafe. I also felt I had exposed my friends who trusted me with their personal information.  Due to the nature of my search and support work with ehbabes, people often share really personal details of their life with me. I believe it to be paramount that I keep that very personal information confidential. I had a security leak and I felt I failed my friends.

Second thing that happened is that I began to feel unsafe with certain people that were on my friends list. Their own words, life, situation, other friends or choices made me feel very uneasy. We seemed to have different values on proper Internet behavior and as such I felt I could not keep them on my friends list. They were involved with people or groups that I had strong objections to and did not want to be associated with – if even by extension.

I eventually shut down that journal and came back under another journal (Feenix_Rising) with an incredibly pared down list. The people that I had removed were incredibly upset with me. These were people that I cared about but felt I could not trust. I tried to explain to them that it was about ME not them but they did not understand. They did not see the correlation between the first incident (being hacked by a person very close to me) and my need to pull in the journal anchors and move to another location. Reactionary? Perhaps but I had to do it. I tried to explain that I needed to feel safe and that I didn’t. I was protecting myself. They did not care. I had upset and offended them and they took their friendship toys and left my Internet sandbox.

I reflected on this situation today when another friend told me she felt she made a mistake thinking that adoption blog land was safe. She had recently been viciously attacked by someone she thought she knew and trusted and was questioning her own judgment and ability to be "safe".

My heart ached for her. I did not say much except I understood and had been there. Part of me thought about commenting on how the Internet should never be considered safe, don’t ever assume you know someone, but that is not what she needed. I just listened to her.

We discussed a few things and finally both landed on the fact that WE make ourselves safe and that is, perfectly okay, to withdraw from relationships you don’t feel safe in. We also agreed it was okay to shut down blogs, to password protect posts, to limit your sharing with people you feel safe with at a particular moment in time.

I knew the question was going to come before she asked it.

"What about our children? What about when we don’t feel safe with our own reunited children? How do we handle that?"

Ugh.

To those questions, I had no answers. Its understandable, to me, that our children would not feel safe with us. We abandoned them, we caused their trauma (no matter how unintentional) but for us not to feel safe with them?

Perhaps I could not answer her because the issues hasn’t occurred for me. I don’t feel unsafe with my daughter. I feel lots of things but unsafe is not one of them.

Does anyone have any advice for my first mom friend who feels unsafe with her own child?

9 Thoughts.

  1. I am still pondering my answer to the incredibly complex “Are you healed?”question when you pose another one. (Short answer – much more healed, virtually healed after I found my son than before even though the relationship is a little rocky at the moment.)
    If I felt physically unsafe, I would deal with that. I would still be there but perhaps not alone.
    If I felt emotionally unsafe I would deal with that too. I would set some boundaries.
    Would I do it publicly? I’m not sure I would. I blog anonymously to protect the privacy of some people – my son, his adoptive parents.
    I sometimes thing my caution is misplaced and
    more consideration than I have received but still I draw that line.
    UM

  2. I am responsible for my own safety. I become more safe by developing trust in myself. If my child was threatening me physically I would take precautions to keep my body safe. If my child threatened me emotionally I would take precautions to strengthen myself emotionally. If my child was threatening me financially, I would take precautions to protect myself financially.
    Like when the flight attendant explains that you place the oxygen mask on yourself before securing the mask on your child, I have to take care of myself so that I can help take care of my child.

  3. Hummm . . . safe? Looking back the times in life that are really worth living are the ones without regard for “safety” once you take the normal procautions helmet, goggles, then GO FOR IT. No Guts No Glory! That’s what we say before skiing a black diamond. Do we want to LIVE or be SAFE? My reunited daughter’s wedding sure as hell wasn’t a “safe place” but I was LIVING when I danced with all three of my kids together at the reception.

  4. My mother used that “line” about feeling unsafe to my husband back when she communicated. After her “line” she also told my four kids to call her gramma. I did not and would not ever do anything to hurt my mother. My mother knows.

  5. Maria – Based on your quotes of her “lines” I am going to guess you did not believe her or trust her words. I am curious (and I will post on this as I want others comments too) what you define as “safe”. Maybe you and your mother had very different views on what it is to feel emotionally safe with someone?

  6. ty ((Suz)) for writing this. In my own times of growth, healing, and not so good times, I have password protected, or not posted comments, or not answered comments, and I think that I offended some people… but it was because I needed to protect myself. That is all. Thanks for writing this.
    Also, to answer your question:
    I have a mom friend who contacted her daughter that she lost to adoption. Her daughter and afamily did a whole bunch of not so nice things to her in response. She had to take steps back, and set an adequate boundary for her and her family.
    I do the same with my own family, who are pretty abusive. And, they aren’t adoptive, they are my natural family. I have to set boundaries with each of them.

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