Safe space, open space

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.

The 100-Acre Wood

The 100-Acre Wood, illustrated by E. H. Shepard

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.


4 Responses to Safe space, open space

  1. lucywatchthesky says:

    Your “100 Acre Wood”- I LOVE IT.

    I love the idea of one’s personal sacred space being like their Enchanted Fairytale Forest. I mean, that’s the whole purpose of the forest in folklore and myth- there are tons of lurking dangers, but ultimately it’s protective and redemptive, and the dangers are only as harmful as you let them be.

    And I completely agree with you one hundred percent about boundaries. It says a lot more about someone who refuses to let their guard down than it does about you being emotionally and spiritually open and available. Now if only the rest of the world would catch up to that idea…

  2. hitchhiker72 says:

    We may have to find another planet…

  3. Sabina says:

    Hi HH72,
    Just reread your previous bits re attempts at Right Communication, and, whew, just feel like MV might be doppelganger of MT. I start every sentence with ‘I’ and attempt to take responsibility for me and my own stuff but lately just want to hold a mirror facing outwards over my face.

    The arrows continue to hail down from the keep so I have lifted the siege and am departing even now. If this is defeat, it seems a noble one to me.

  4. hitchhiker72 says:

    Hi Sabina, sometimes I feel like the world is divided into two camps: those who try (even if they fail occasionally) to take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and actions; and those who would rather not know.

    I don’t care if people choose to be in denial and go away, but I wish they wouldn’t hover around and make it my problem. Grr.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Share more (or not) if you like. Good luck. There must be more good sense out there than I’m privy to.

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