Thursday, December 20, 2007

Locking My Door vs. Locking My Heart

When we lived together as a family, we never locked the house or the car. It started out as a social justice statement. We trust our neighbors, and we trust the community. We were willing to risk being hurt rather than deny the neighbors something they might need from the house. Besides, there are no more ditz-brained people when it comes to keys than Dave and I are. So, leaving the house and the car unlocked was just plain easier.

But lately I've been locking the door. In fact, I changed the locks, and I lock the door. I've even been locking the car, and I assure you no one wants to steal my car. I still trust my neighbors. I'm still, on some level, willing to make the social justice statement of leaving my house open.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that my project these days is to learn to protect myself. I don't want to lock my heart as well as my house; that way lies bitterness and a different kind of pain. Yet, part of being the grown-up in my own story is to ensure my own safety. Locking the door is really only a symbol. Every time I leave the house, I have to think to flip the lock and grab my keys -reminding myself that it's my job to keep me safe. Every time I arrive back home and have to fish my keys out of my pocket, it's the same reminder in reverse.

This could absolutely go too far. Some vulnerability is probably a good idea, although that's really a little hard to imagine these days. But, a mistake I without question made was to trust that the people who (used to) love me wouldn't hurt me, at least not on purpose. I settled back and let Dave take care of me way more than was appropriate. When he decided to stop doing that, I lost everything. I haven't lost sight of the fact that I took care of him in some ways, too. (He has lost sight of that, but that's another story.) But I'm trying not to care how he's doing. My job right now is to take care of myself.

Why is there so little joy in discovering that the joking statement I've so often made, "It's all about ME!", is for right now true? Oh well. Be careful what you wish for, I suppose


Anonymous said...

I hear you about the locks. When I still had my dog, I felt secure about being at home alone and
leaving the house unlocked even though Labs, who love most everyone very enthusiastically, are not very good watchdogs. There were exceptions, she did not like any obviously drunk people we sometimes encountered on walks and would bark at them nonstop. Now I have a heightened sense of vulnerability that comes from being alone and it is not a good feeling. In fact maybe you should get a dog! Total unconditional love, a source of security, and warm feet at night. "The more I know of men, the more I love my dogs" or something like that.

Barbara said...

I think this is a terrific symbol of your new self-love routines. I understand having done it the other way, too, but change is necessary right now, and change is good.

On the other hand, dogs are splendid self-love routines in their own ways.

Lisa :-] said...

I think the fact that you can recogize your need to take care of yourself, and your ability and willingness to do so, is quite amazing. A lot of women falling out of long-term committed relationships would not be able to do what you are doing. I applaud you.

Lexy said...

Making a statement is fine unless your safety is at risk. Locking your doors is the smart thing to do. Getting a dog.....not so smart unless you want a constant companion who needs your care several times a day for years.

You know I'm a major dog person; haven't been without one or two for my entire adult life. They are a joy but also work.

Elisa said...

I don't believe it was a mistake for you to trust your husband not to hurt you. It's a shame he wasn't worthy of that trust, though. But please, lock your doors!

cmiyachi said...

I have a lot of friends who put themselves in a vulnerable position mostly financially with their husbands earning and controlling everything. I don't think that was the case with you from what I know.

I am *very* independent from my husband, by design, because I grew up in a divorced family. However, if my husband and I were to split, we are used to helping each other live our daily lives and it would be hard no matter how you cut it.

You seem to be doing very well BTW.