He was wonderful. Or at least wonderfully equipped with the gift of words so that he knew how to make me feel like the sun, moon and stars altogether. But he also knew how to hurt with his words so that I felt just a little bit worse than the devil.
It was a rollercoaster ride, physically and emotionally draining. The relationship had been doomed to death right from the start.
I thought it was his words. But when I finally stopped emitting bodily fluids through my eyes and started seeing clearly, I had an epiphany. It wasn’t really his words. It was something more but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it because people don’t talk about it.
So I asked Google, my cheap and all-knowing therapist what it is I had been missing in the relationship. “Emotional safety,” Google said. And as always, (except for the times when I ask why I have a hiccup and the response is that I am dying in a week), Google was spot on.
Emotional safety is one of the most essential, nay, the most essential ingredient for any successful relationship. It is all-encompassing.
It speaks to feeling known, understood and accepted. To know that it’s fine if instead of a bouquet of flowers, you’d rather be given something practical, say a book.
To know that it’s okay if you’d rather stay in because you’re introverted and try as you do, you always end up being a wallflower at social gatherings.
Being emotionally safe means that you are completely uninhibited. So that you don’t have to eat grass during a date for fear of being found out as a normal human being who gobbles chicken like a starved hyena.
To know that it’s okay if you are flawed or scarred. Because every human being is imperfect and every adult is bruised in a chronic way.
And though those flaws and bruises may not completely define who you are, they affect how you express anger, fear, sadness, happiness and love among other emotions.
Having emotional safety in a relationship means that you don’t have to talk yourself up or self-deprecate in order to be likeable.
You don’t have to pretend to have understood a joke for fear of being deemed stupid. You don’t have to hold back on scaling greater heights in education because your male partner will feel intimidated.
Emotional safety in a relationship provides a place to be unguarded, vulnerable. To tell your worst secrets without the fear of being judged.
To love fully and completely without the fear of becoming a doormat. To confess your sins without the fear of being left. To speak of your interests without the fear of being ridiculed.
When you have emotional safety in a relationship, you feel that you have a permanent place to land. A place where you go to rest, to hide, to reenergize, and to be yourself.
And if you have that, I’d like to think that you truly have everything.