Safe space, open space
16 July 2009 4 Comments
Neeti Ray‘s comment about my use of the analogy of the front porch below got me thinking about how we create psychic spaces safely for others to enter, and how we behave when we are invited into another’s.
Children’s literature is full of these spaces: Winnie-the-Pooh’s 100 Acre Wood is one, Narnia is another. These are not hermetically-sealed spaces; dangers sometimes lurk, but are, in the realm of the psyche, ultimately contained. Like a playground where children learn to rough and tumble, to fight as well as get along.
As I work through the process of claiming my mental and emotional spaces these past weeks, the concept of the front porch returns to mind. It is a space close to the home, but outside the home; a space where we can be alone while we watch others go by, or we can invite others in. We don’t ordinarily thrash someone’s property when we are invited into it, why do so many people unthinkingly thrash the sanctity of a psychic space they’ve been invited into?
In one of my (failed) attempts at communicating with MV previously, I remember saying that it was really improper of him to crap in my space when I had opened it so freely to him. His reply was: ‘Well, it is you who allowed it?’ I should have known then and seen the cruelty and selfishness for what they were, but as I am often told, I have ‘boundary issues’. That was a laugh, wasn’t it? The bully sneering at the bullied for allowing herself to be bullied? And here I thought by communicating clearly how I felt, I’d get the message across (ironically my Sun-Merc-Saturn in Gemini is always delivering the same lesson — that communications can fail).
But you know, for once I’m going to stand up and say, ‘I like having permeable, rather than rigid, boundaries’. I like being open to people and welcoming them into my life, instead of having to ask them for a secret password every time they come within two feet of me. If people don’t know how to be polite and treat the invitation with respect, then they’re the ones with boundary issues.
But you see, we live in a world of capital accumulation, and we form our hard-edged selves through striving to protect our own. How often have victims of bullying been told they should have stood up to the brute? Why must the responsibility lie with the battered to not be battered? My mind can’t compute.
I recall Lucy’s angry Neptune retrograde tirade and remember agreeing wholeheartedly when she wrote:
Does anyone want what I have to give? Because honestly, I’m giving out what I want from someone else, and I’m pretty resigned to not ever getting it in return. But I still want to give it.
But I still want to give it. Lucy’s defiant little declaration made me suddenly realise that, hey, it’s actually okay to give. It’s not a weakness to be excised like all the dozen-a-dime self-help books tell you you have to. When I share my story about being taken advantage of, I’m often asked why I give my power away. I don’t give it away. It gets taken. The two are quite different (is this the lesson of Pluto in Capricorn?). Should I hold on to my power until my knuckles are white? And never give a soul a chance to share my front porch in case they may mug me? It’s counter-intuitive. I can’t do it. Kindness and generosity should not have to be synonyms for doormat-hood. Likewise there are two kinds of safe spaces: one is an underground bunker which never sees the light; the other is an open space where one is free to experience it as an open space. I know which one I would rather have.
This blog is my 100 Acre Wood, and when I wrote the ‘About’ page requesting that people respect the space, I am happy to say that in 3 years that has entirely been the case. Which is why I keep going.
Maybe my psychic space needs such a signpost, an ‘About’ page, telling people how they must behave and bring something good into it, and not to scuff their shoes on the polished floors or trample on the grass like drunken elephants.
Image: Map of the 100 Acre Wood in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh series.