Sifting Through Safety

I recommended it for at least 3 years. I’d known about it for four or five now. A book by Christian psychologists: Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Safe People, a book on understanding why boundaries are important and how to be aware of traits and people who exhibit behaviors in which we should protect ourselves.

The criticisms state the book merely suggests we avoid all narcissists. Perhaps that’s so, perhaps it doesn’t go deep enough for the individual in severely damaging relationships, but I have found that for many of us, it details why we have difficulty in relationships and what we need to do to be better in relationships.

Because of events that occurred when I was a child, I never seem to be able to get over them. As such, I hold people at a distance, slow to trust. And, when I bring them in closer, and they act as any human (as I do!) does, I rarely give them a second chance, and I further the distance. This puts me at a disadvantage in many ways. I make it harder for myself to get close to people, which makes it harder to have really rewarding relationships. Because I inherently distrust people, and I distrust and often question their intentions, I also question their intentions. Instead of assuming good, for myself, I assume ill. Even though I urge others to be logical, rational, and take things at face value. Even though I counsel others to forgive, to forget, to move on, to ask for forgiveness. When it comes to my heart, I cannot follow my advice. With so much (irrational) fear around being hurt, being betrayed, being bullied into things I might not want, I just keep people at bay. When things work on the surface they work. But, if I start to falter, and then my actions or inactions are called into question, and when they are done in a criticizing way, I retreat.

As a mother, this feels particularly challenging I know why I live this way. I know exactly what set of various experiences have jaded my own views. And, for the most part, I can keep them at bay. For the most part, I can live above the line, when I can control the other things. I can be logical. I can be rational. I can look at things and force myself to take them at face value. Unless, maybe, a confidence is betrayed. Or I feel as if I am put at the brunt of an unfair situation, such as being the scapegoat for a host of issues. And, then, I retreat.

I have been careful to guard against the situations that I was put in as a child, for my son. This is one reason I cannot wholly grasp onto Free Range parenting. I don’t mind the close eye I keep on my son, hoping to protect these young years from an unfair advantage, trying to control and challenge him in ways we can learn lessons through, manageably, lest he venture into the cold, harsh, realities of life too soon.

And, I wonder, what example do I set? Is it simply cowardice? Is it being too busy? Is it unbalanced? Is it too fear laden? How much does he see? How can I take Mommy’s mistakes and make them learning lessons for my dear son? How can I keep evolution spinning to betterment rather than sinking into the depravity of devolution?