Who’s Your Safe Room?

My friend Joelle called me to complain about her boyfriend’s sister the other day. Joelle used to complain about Connie to her boyfriend but that only caused arguments between them. Now she’s learned. What do you accomplish when you diss someone else’s family? Nothing. Not worth it. Only causes a case of torn loyalties. Makes the guy/gal you love feel like they have to choose. Don’t go there.

Find someone to be your safe room. Someone not connected to the situation who will listen to you. Find someone who will hear what you have to say so you can say it and let it go and not keep spinning your wheels in the mud.

You’re not going to always like people you have to love. But you don’t have to share every feeling with your partner. You might want him to second that emotion but he’ll never see his family the way you do. Just like you have a blind spot for your family, too.

Find a safe room. Spill your stuff. Give the person a funny nickname. (Joelle calls Connie C.A., the Con Artist.) Think of three things you can always learn from the person. Tolerance. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Those are big words and it’s only the people who annoy us the most who can teach us these lessons.

Remember: We don’t get to transform anyone else but ourselves. That’s the art. That’s our life-long job. Taking care of ourselves means finding a person to be our safe room.

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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9 Responses to Who’s Your Safe Room?

  1. kenedal says:

    No! It only compounds the negativity. Be an adult and deal with it yourself.

    • dianabletter says:

      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you! It’s important to be an adult and deal with issues ourselves. And it’s because we’re adults that we can find someone safe to talk to, and then let it go. Keep sharing your insights! Diana

  2. Wish I had thought of this way back then.

    • dianabletter says:

      You said it, Marilyn! Me, too. It is too bad when other people and family members get in the way of relationships. I hope that you can pass on your experience and what you learned to others!

  3. This works especially well with mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. These are important and loving women in your husband’s life, but it’s not unusual for you to disagree with or be driven crazy by them. A trusted friend (especially if you work out together and can burn off some of the irritation together) is a perfect sounding board.
    But for anything serious, divisive, intrusive or hurtful, I agree with Kenedal; deal with it yourself. Be as respectful, factual, and specific as possible without making it a do or die situation, but deal with it yourself. Been there, done that, and was so glad when it was over…and we ended up being formally polite for awhile, but eventually we became friends–after all, we all did really love and want the best for the same wonderful man.

    • dianabletter says:

      Thank you, Marylin, for your honest sharing. I think having a friend who can guide you to a solution — and not just staying stuck in the problem — can help. Someone who is objective and doesn’t just add to the “ain’t it awful” pile of complaints. There’s no situation too difficult to be bettered! But it has to start with us. Glad you were able to work things out on your end!

  4. Diana, glad to see you included tolerance and acceptance as the other two keys. 🙂

    • dianabletter says:

      You are right, Tracy. Tolerance and acceptance = forgiveness. Or is it forgiveness + tolerance = acceptance? In any event, all three are necessary tools for inner peace. Thanks!

  5. Diana, “If you lose it, you lose it” is one of my favorite posts. I’ve nominated ti for the BEST MOMENT AWARD. To receive the award, go to my blog for the rules to accept it. The logo to add to your site is available for download is at MomentMatters.com/Award.
    Congratulations, and thank you for the difference you’re making. Marylin

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