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Looking for Security: We Can Be Our Own Safe Places

Sitting on the Edge

“All the wonders you seek are within yourself.” ~Sir Thomas Browne

I have always been the independent type. I started buying my own clothes when I was 12 with money I made from babysitting gigs. I got my first “real” job the summer I was 16. I went to live with my mother’s cousins (whom I’d only met a few times) in Boston and worked in a bakery. That was a great summer. I got to explore Boston and learned how to ride the subway.

In college I spent my summers having grand adventures and saving up my money for school. I went to the Jersey Shore, Alaska, and Buzzard’s Bay, worked waitressing jobs and met lots of interesting people.

My parents were very supportive and loving when I was young. It wasn’t that I had to live away from home. I just had the adventure bug and a deep seated feeling that I needed to be independent and make my own money and way in the world.

Underneath all that exploring was a rock solid knowledge that my mother was always there for me. I knew if I needed her she would be there.

She told me repeatedly I was always welcome to come home. I may not have taken her up on her offer, but in my heart I knew that my mom was my safe place; the place I called home.

When I got married, my husband was in the Navy and we moved a lot. I lived for three years in Japan. I had children, and we’d visit my mom and she’d visit us. Still, I knew if I needed her she was there.

She was still my rock solid home because I hadn’t established a true home base with my own little family. We lived far away from each other but I knew she was always within reach.

I knew if my husband went to sea I could go to my mom’s. If our relationship didn’t work out my mom would take me and the kids in. I was able to be independent and explore the world because I knew where my home base would always be.

My mom died in 2011 and suddenly the place I called home didn’t exist anymore. I had no base, no safe place, and no rock solid security. I was flying over an ocean with no land in sight.

I have struggled to find balance. My adventurous spirit was founded on an inner security which stemmed from my close bond with my mother. Without her there as a backup, how could I feel secure? What if my husband left me? Where would I go? What if I lost my job and my home? Where would I go?

She was always where I would go and the first person I would call or turn to for help.

Many adventurers enjoy not being tied down. They do not want a home base so they can just pick up and go wherever and whenever they want.

I had the best of both worlds because my home was with a person so I could wander and explore and come back to her whenever I wanted. I could even touch base via phone and feel grounded and secure.

We all long for security in some form or another. Maybe we save up money in our savings accounts, or maybe we marry someone who makes us feel safe. As humans we long for connections, for a feeling of belonging, or that complete knowing that we are accepted and surrounded by love.

I, like many others, thought that my security came from someone else. What I couldn’t understand was that I already had everything I needed to be safe and secure inside. We all do.

I haven’t figured it all out yet. I still grieve for my mother and feel lost at sea at times. While learning to live with the instability, I have come to see that my mother was my safety net but I have been my own home base all along.

Having her encouragement gave me the courage to go out on my own, but I was the one actually going and I can ground myself and be my own place of comfort.

It is like when my sister and I were young. I was ten and she was fourteen. She was trying to learn how to do an aerial (no handed) cartwheel in her gymnastics class.

She would have me come out to the front yard and “spot” her. I would stand sideways with my arms out, ready to catch her if she fell. I was only ten with scrawny little arms and no clue how to catch her.

She never fell. She did not really need me. The fact that I was there made her feel safe and gave her the courage to fling herself into the air. She could do it all on her own. She did not need my support. She just liked knowing I was there.

I have been on my own for a long time. I can take care of myself. I am my own home base. I did not need my mom. I just liked having her there.

There is a saying, “no man is an island,” meaning that we all need others. We cannot stand all alone.

While it is true that we are social beings and we need others to survive, we all are own safe places. We do not need to depend on others. We can stand on our own two feet and establish our own home bases. We can make it alone; we just like having loved ones with us.

Photo by Jaine

Avatar of Roo Mulligan

About Roo Mulligan

Roo Mulligan is a certified fitness specialist and a Wellness Life Coach with a Master's in Counseling. She specializes in incorporating fun into our health to increase our energy and bring joy into our lives. Learn more about Roo on her website, www.healthylivingisfun.com.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://brajadulal.blogspot.in/ Braja Patnaik

    Very true. Unless we are grounded within our ownself, we remain vulnerable and insecure. Getting this insight and realizing it is a long process. It happens in due course of time. Is there any way to hasten the realization?

  • http://www.kizi10.info/ Kizi 10

    Interestingly, your post title to make people curious and curious to know what’s deep inside the content. And it really did not disappoint me.

  • Todd Lohenry

    Well said, Roo… Thanks!

  • Glame’ Grame’

    I don’t really agree with all you said. I was an only child of an only child. My mom died when I was 14 and our home life was not a safe haven. If you don’t have that secure grounded place growing up, it is a real struggle to feel secure & thrive. You can feel grounded, get along in life but really feeling secure, not so much. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. We do not really have a ‘safe place’ that is an illusion. Life can change in a heartbeat.

  • Stephen Fraser

    Beautiful message..thank you.

  • Jon

    We don’t necessarily need other people to survive. There are people right now living in remote parts of Alaska all by themselves for decades and are doing just fine.

  • Roo

    Hi Braja, I suppose the knowledge really can only come with time. Maybe some people learn it faster than others. I would have preferred to learn it before my mom died but some of us take longer than others especially if we have someone that we rely on to be that support for us.

  • Roo

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry that you did not have a safe haven. You are right that a safe place is an illusion and we cannot rely on others to be that security for us.

  • Roo

    Thanks Todd :)

  • Zalfa

    I’d love to hear more on how you coped with this. Any tools you used or books you read. I am going through the same thing, as my mom is battling advanced breast cancer. She has always been my best friend, the only person I can tell everything, and the only person I knew would love me no matter what. I am struggling to cope with her disease and I can’t seem to enjoy the present because I am anxious about the future.

  • Steffka

    I am very sorry for you having lost your mum. Yet it is interesting that every difficult experience seems to bring something positive with it. In your case the profound realization you had. I am very happy for you.

  • Roo

    Dear Zalfa, I am so sorry for what you are going through. I know how hard it is. My mother was ill and suffered for several years before she passed and it is heart breaking. My only advice is to be really, really kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for support from people. You will be surprised by who is there for you. I opened up to my sisters and told them my fears of losing my home base and we vowed to be there for each other. I talked to friends and I let myself grieve. I still do. I will be overcome at random moments with how much I miss her and I just let myself feel it. Spend as much time with her as you can, tell her how much you love her. Feeling anxious about the future is normal. You just have to trust that you will be able to cope, because you will. Wishing all the best for you.

  • Roo

    Thank you Steffka, I appreciate your kind words.

  • David Goettsch

    Thanks for sharing this piece. A few years back I lost one of my closest friends that I always looked up to to suicide. My world just crumbled. I thought “if he can’t make it in this world, how do I even stand a chance, he was so strong. After a few years of soul searching I found my purpose again, and I thank him for the things he taught me before he lost his way. But some days I still find myself staring in the mirror and saying, “what in the world are you doing?” Being lost is part of the journey I’ve learned, you just have to keep moving and you will stumble your way into purpose!

  • RandyH

    What a great comment to an excellent article! Glad you found your way David.

  • David Goettsch

    Thanks Randy! It’s been a wild ride for sure. I found my purpose in helping others. I created a self improvement blog and I really pour my all into it. I’m hoping to make an article for tinybuddha soon, so keep your eyes peeled :). I have a perfect idea in mind.

  • RandyH

    I look forward to it!

  • http://www.yepi10.net/ yepi 10

    Looking for Security: We Can Be Our Own Safe Places. great, i so want

  • Roo

    Thank you both. David, I am glad you found your way as well. What a difficult experience to live through. I am sorry for your loss and glad you have reached a place where you can appreciate all your friend taught you and thank him for all the things you learned through being friends. Life is definitely a journey.

  • http://www.yepi2.co/ yepi

    wow! real great