Safe Spaces

Content Note: Contains talk of self harm and suicide
To the family member who asked for the essay – whom I have emailed this response to but will probably not read it because she never really reads anything I send her.

Do you know what a safe space is?  A safe space is somewhere where people feel safe to express their feelings, where they can share without being criticized.  It is often explicitly defined in spaces who welcome people who have been discriminated against, been marginalized, bullied and oppressed.  It is saying to people who have had to spend most of their lives hiding something of themselves from the world – that they don’t have to hide here, it is safe here, it is safe to be yourself, here in this space, with us.  Google it.

You asked to read my essay for college.  An essay for a BA in Counseling, my first essay, that I’ve taken more than a week off work to write.  An essay which is explicitly exploring deeper parts of myself, opening up and psychoanalyzing my history, for the benefit of my tutor and one other marker.  The markers whom, by definition, are ‘safe’ people to talk to.. They have to be, they are counselors, professionals in creating spaces which are safe to encourage people to talk and to open themselves up.

You do not have a right to read that essay.  You do not have the right to even ask for that essay.

Things I have said in college, in the safe space which is my classroom…. or in my counselor’s office, or whispered into my partners’ ear, include,-

  • People I’d like dead
  • Politics
  • Sex work
  • Self Harm
  • My desire to be dead

None of these things are things I can safely say in your presence are they?  You only know condemnation.  Do you know introspection, examination, understanding, empathy and awareness?  I’d like trump dead.  Your response was ‘why are you so wicked’  Am I?  From everything you know of me, do you really think that I am a wicked person?  Rather than examine my reasons, you accuse me, you criticize me, you condemn me.  This is your pattern, over and over again, year after year after year.  Your presence makes me unsafe.  Being in your presence makes me want to take my nearest knife out and cut my arms and legs open.  Being in your presence, having all my good invalidated every time I say something you do not accept… that hurt, that stab of pain every time.. is not safe.  Because when that deep hurt makes itself known, I want to cut myself open, I want to prove that the pain is there I want to show the world that I bleed, that I hurt.

And you want to read my essay.

The answer is no.  It isn’t safe for me to let you read my essay.

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