“This Isn’t Your Safe Space!”
Dealing with virtual connections
Recently, in a Facebook group that I am a part of, a brave soul bared her heart and spoke out about the struggles she was having concerning her emotional relationship with food.
The group is geared toward people who are new in the city. People who are looking for community, looking for a safe space with women who are like minded and going through the same thing... feeling the same feelings that they are. To not feel so alone.
She was a beautiful young lady whose small circle profile picture accompanying her naked emotion bared a wide and bright smile. [upcoming: people who need help often look like people who don’t need help]
I picture her typing these words. The anxiety of being judged, sweaty palms hovering over the keyboard (or phone screen), backspacing and retyping over and over... but her desperation to find someone else who may feel the same way weighed heavier than her withholdings.
Quickly, ever so quickly, another woman came rushing in with her keyboard and her opinions and her vast knowledge of “internet rules” and preached on how this was not the space to speak of this. This was dangerous seeking help from the internet. She needed to speak to a professional, not random people. "That’s not what this group is for and all those people who ‘like’ my comment agree."
She chants post after post:
‘This is not your safe space!’
It is true, not everyone deserves to hear your story. Some are not ready or able to hold space for you. But how many of us have held onto something that weighs our heart down so heavy that we allow our palms to sweat and our heart to race as we shout via a keyboard (but maybe, more commonly, into Google).
‘AM I ALONE?!’
I feel her. I feel that feeling too. And I commend her for her bravery. I’m envious of her bravery.
Yes, I love therapy. I love my therapist. It’s an investment that has changed/ is changing my life. There’s no quick cure or internet search that can replace the intimate work that is done a therapy couch.
But [maybe] even more valuable than a therapist is a community.
Is it not a ‘safe space’ only because some ass decided that it wasn’t? (Side note, this woman also claimed to be an councilor herself. I wasn’t buying it after doing some quick, perhaps shameful, internet-creeping-recon of my own).
Because buried in her virtual shouts were a handful of young ladies saying,
‘Oh my god. I thought I was alone.’
Until the post was swiftly removed, that is…
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”
“If you don’t have anything helpful to say, don’t say anything at all.”
You could rebuttal with, “She was trying to be helpful; trying to stop her from receiving shoddy advice from young people who don’t know what to say in this certain scenario.”
Then why not respond with, “I’m so happy you are brave enough to share your story here. I have experience with this and would love to chat with you more. Feel free to message me directly!”
But moreover, I don’t think she was looking for advice or a cure. I think she was taking the very important and very brave first step of saying the words, “I think I need help.” I think she was looking for community.
And our jobs as humans (as non-clinical professionals) is to do nothing but reflect love back to that action.
So STFU, Wendy.
I hope she found her safe space.