The art of feeling safe when you’re vulnerable

I have countless memories of choking down tears in public, as many of us do. The familiar feeling of a wave of sadness that cuts like glass sweeping up my insides, flash flooding all my systems with the urge to kneel down where I stand and cry. But I don’t.

I lean my head back and blink furiously, take a few fortifying breaths and get on with my day. The emotional dam that I’ve just constructed isn’t going to endure and it isn’t meant to. The moment I get home to my room, my bed, my blankets — that’s when the floodgates open. They’ve opened up here time after time because they can — there are no consequences to being emotional, upset, angry, vulnerable in my home.

Home doesn’t have to be a place either. I remember when I was in sixth grade on a trip with my parents, I tried to steal a little Barbie mirror from a convenience store and was promptly caught.

The experience stands out to me because it was my first brush with “real life” authority and honestly, it scared the crap out of me. I was miles away from my room, bed and blankets, and yet I felt completely safe crying my eyes out in my parents’ arms in the back seat of our car.

We never speak about this aspect of home — having a place where it’s ok to break down, to break things, to be numb, to let all the negativity pour out of you and linger in the air like smoke and have that be ‘alright.’ Find that.

Be it a place or a person, find it — and when the next bad thing the universe throws at you makes you want to peel your mask off, go home and break down, do it. Then be grateful that you can.