Back when I had the luxury of sitting on my shrink’s second-hand couch in her excessively white office, a box of tissues in arm’s reach next to a clock tracking each of the fifty minutes, she would ask me to close my eyes and think of my safe place. She’d say it could also be a person, if I wanted, explaining that some of her clients visualize Wonder Woman as their safe person, or the beach at sunset as their safe place. As much as jetting around in an invisible plane lassoing the truth out of people sounds immensely entertaining, I’m not sure Wonder Woman and I would have much in common. She’s the type of person that wears a “Be Kind” t-shirt who wants to save humanity. I most often have the overwhelming urge to punch humanity in the throat, while wearing a t-shirt that says, “Oh Please.” I’m also not sure how one becomes designated a beach person, or a snow person or a morning person for that matter, but I do know I wouldn’t qualify for any of them, either.
As I would sit awkwardly in front of my shrink with my eyes closed, she would involuntarily yawn while I would allow my mind to drift. For me, every time I closed my eyes as instructed, I would ease tranquilly into a dense mountain forest of neighborly pines selectively letting beams of sunlight skip along a hiking path. I suppose that makes me a mountain person, or a forest person, or a sun person, or a hiking person. I’ll take any of those over being an angry person. While my mind conjured communities of busy birds pecking holes in tree trunks, shifty bunnies darting through bushes, and annoying gnats playing games of chicken with my face that were all allowing me access to their home, it was my own home that would materialize and put the protections of Wonder Woman to shame.
While being securely in this safe place, I’d also immediately visualize my safe people—my smiling daughter focusing the empathetic truth in her eyes on loving me to my core—and my husband doing the same thing, unless I was pissed at him for something. In that case, he’d be speed-hiking up the trail, disappearing behind a switchback. The distance would be ok, though, because he’d always be at the top of the mountain waiting for me, hurling his huge infectious dimples at me, which never fail to force my face into smile, even if I still want to be mad.
The three of us together anywhere is my safe place. The depth of love we have for each other through thick and thin is my home. We are our own steadfast community—us against the world. It’s an all eggs in one basket situation. The thing about getting older with some time on the couch, though, is that you realize the only thing that matters—you don’t need another basket.