The Safety Zone

One of my all-time greatest heroes (admittedly, I have many) is a chap named Abraham Maslow. Maslow was a psychologist in Brooklyn, NY, who created the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. Now, don’t worry, Friends, you’re not going to get ambushed with some dry, pointless pontificating here; that’s what toads are for (and, oh, they are good at it, aren’t they?). No, the point about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that applies here is a brief one and a simple one: You can’t be yourself if you’re busy worrying about being safe.

Like many things that we talk about, that’s an obvious point on paper, but it gets a whole lot harder when we fit it into our lives. You may not feel like the narcissistic toad in your life is actually threatening your SAFETY, but he is. Safety, and health, includes having a mind that knows it’s safe to rest, to muse, to create, to think about nothing, zen-style. And if you’re with a toad I’ll bet my buttons it’s been a long, long time since you’ve been able to relax like that.

You can’t recover from a trauma to your soul that you’re still experiencing. You can’t recover from an emotional beating you’re still taking. You can’t recover from the abuse of a toad when you’re still with him.

The whole idea behind recovery is to get to where you feel safe so that you can move forward in peace and with energy, and be the person you were “meant” to be. This is so key, so pivotal to our mission, that you can use it to identify toady behavior in any situation and with any person. Sometimes in life we ARE unsafe, in ways that don’t involve malice or predation, like when a hurricane is barreling through town (hi, Irene), or when our company is announcing layoffs, or when a child is very sick. These are times when you set aside your calling in life, and your work at maximizing your potential, until the danger has passed. But sometimes people threaten your safety for their own purposes, or just because that’s who they are (and what they do). If it seems like you might be in such a situation, you can ask yourself — Is your peace of mind being threatened? Is it being threatened purely on the whim of an assclown? If so, things aren’t safe, and you can’t be relaxed until they are. You can’t be yourself until the toad’s effects on your life have been neutralized.

Toads aren’t safe. At all. If they can, they’ll stomp all over your life until there’s nothing left, and smile and tell you everything’s terrific while they’re doing it. You can’t recover from this when he’s still in your life, and your life is begging you to be safe so that your life can relax and be at its very best. Your mind wants any danger, famine (including emotional famine), and threats you encounter to be rare, and brief, not a lifestyle.

If your house, and your time, were true sanctuaries of safety and creativity, would the toad be invited in them? Would he be sitting at the kitchen table, smiling broadly while lying, manipulating, and talking about himself?

I bet my buttons he would not.



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7 responses to “The Safety Zone

  1. Case

    I have been feeling guilty lately about taking time to myself and distancing myself from certain people in my life. I have gotten really good at spotting an N, I realize there are quite a few in my life other than my ex (my dad, my step-dad, my sister). The family dynamic has changed quite a bit because I refuse to participate in the same ways I did before…in the ways in which I was being harmed and I never felt safe. I am trying to deal with the guilt of walking away, and this article helps build my confidence! It’s like you are in my head Aunt Alex! 🙂

  2. If I’m in your head, I’m sweeping out those cobwebs of guilt. They don’t belong there. Toads have no right to poison or clutter your life, even if they share DNA with you. Love them from a distance, and even then you’ll be giving them more than they’ve earned.

  3. Barbara

    Alex, I couldn’t agree with you more! Quite some time ago I remember thinking that I didn’t feel “safe” with my ex N. Now I try try to “understand” him by thinking he must feel the same way about women in general as i do about him. In other words, they can’t be trusted, they cause emotional harm, and they will abandon him. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  4. Ing

    I can really relate to this post. Several months before I finally left my husband I remember having a lot of nightmares and the theme of the dreams were basically the same. The dreams were about safety and fleeing to a safe place. My unconscious mind knew I was in danger but my conscious mind didn’t want to acknowledge it until I forced to look at it by some of his actions. At times I still have nightmares of the damage he’s done to me and my family. So relieved he’s no longer in my life. I now feel sorry for the unsuspecting people he sucks into his life. What kind of person doesn’t ever apologize. What kind of person believes he’s always right. What kind of person delights in harming others.

    He’s a very dangerous man and he will do anything to get his way but at the same time he’s also a very small and petty human being. He has a couple of creepy friends who come across very much like him. Inflated egos, lie about their accomplishments, dislike people, especially women. I believe he and his friends view women as sort of a sport — eg fishing — see how many they can catch and release.

    These type of people have no real empathy for anyone, no soul or heart and basically dislike the human race. I should have known this about him after meeting his mother. She never had anything nice to say about anyone including at times her own son.

    Anyone who is in a relationship with an N need to get out as soon as they wake up from their dream state. N’s are fakers and not worth spending one’s precious time and heart on.

  5. Christine

    If I may, I don’t know if there are any Christians here, but the descriptions of toads sound so evil. Dare we say it, that these people are evil? Interestingly, the Bible has a description for narcs:
    New American Standard Bible

    2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
    Is this spot on or what? It is interesting to note that these people “captivate weak women weighed down by sins” and I think the meaning is that when we feel guilt, when we feel like we are always wrong (as narcs want us to feel), we are easy prey for narcs. We have to accept forgiveness, move forward, and “avoid such men as these”! Misplaced guilt makes us easy marks for narcs who want us to constantly be making up for the faults they weigh us down with. God loves women!

  6. CanyonLands

    This is spot on for my experience too. Near the end, I remember that I was so confused and unnerved because I didn’t feel safe, yet he always insisted he wanted to be the man who protected me from everything I feared. Problem was, he became what I feared. He never hit me but he hit things around me. I had a nightmare once a few weeks before I broke up with him that he finally hit me. Though he had never done that in real life, I was scared because after that dream, I realized that I wouldn’t be surprised if he did hit me. His temper was terrifying. His mood swings into “depression” (or what I came to see as an hours long guilt trip of passive aggressive behavior, acting like a child who hadn’t yet learned how to communicate his feelings) became unbearable. These mood swings came after I didn’t take his advice about how to cook something I already knew how to cook because he, of course, knew everything and I knew nothing and should have bowed down and kissed his feet for giving me his expert opinion (for example). He would hit walls and counters for any tiny reason. It was so scary. For anyone who’s on the fence about breaking up with a person who has these behaviors, I have been so much happier without him. No one deserves to have this as a lifestyle, as aunt Alex described it. It was my lifestyle for the past year and it affected so many other things in my life.

  7. Pingback: The Safety Zone - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information

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