The word safe for us is confusing.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online; Safe means:
“Free from hurt or damage; unharmed.”
“Free from danger; secure.”
Intellectually we know this. We understand what these words mean and how they should be used.
But what happens when safe has meant harm, hurt and danger in the past? How is a child meant to understand what that word means when someone encourages them into a place or situation by telling them it is safe, or they are safe; only to then hurt that child? What happens when that word becomes a trigger?
This became a struggle yesterday while on the phone to a friend in America. We both wanted to feel safe… one of his alters responded that there is no safety. We understand this feeling and empathise with it. But for us this gets further confused when the older parts, unaware of what it does to the younger parts use the word as a soothing technique. As soon as they hear that word there is panic… acceptance of the pain to come… defeat… confusion…
We once mistakenly tried to ease that fear by saying “Shhhhhh”. We will never do that again. The pain of seeing and feeling a child part screaming in pure terror or staying perfectly still in pure defeat is more than we can handle.
We’ve yet to find an alternative that has the strength of the concept behind the word safe that makes sense to us all. If anyone has any suggestions, it would be appreciated.