"Kiss your girls tonight and love them." That was what I'd overhear my home healthcare patient's wife tell their son. This married father of three little girls would call his mother every night and at the end of each call, his mother would say those seven words. I thought it was strange. Maybe it was just a unique "sign-off" but it stuck with me. I didn't know why at first but then I realized what she was trying to convey and what my life and always lacked. Safety. In essence, this lady was telling her son to make those little girls know and feel that they are forever loved--and safe.
After basic physical needs like food, water and sleep etc., Abraham Maslow listed "Safety" as a basic need essential for every human being. Being physically safe is paramount but we also must have the psychological safety. We must know that we are full and wanted members of the human race and have the freedom to move through this world without fear of the world falling apart and having to face it all alone.
I was that 60's "Love Child" Diana Ross was referring to in her song of the same name. "We'll only end up hating, the child we may be creating...." she told her potential lover. She wanted to prevent the same shame and "less than" life she'd had being inflicted on another child. As a 'love child,' and a girl, I was supposed to be forever beholding to my maternal grandmother for the proverbial "roof over my head" and nothing else. I was a mistake, a source of shame and "deserving of nothing." A child without the basic need of financial and psychological security grows up with the subconscious fear of abandonment, ruin and the feeling of never belonging anywhere or to anyone. We are the "mistake kids." At times, I felt there was an asterisk attached to my name preventing me from having, getting or even deserving things that others consider 'normal.' For example, just recently I went to our local library. A friend of mine is one of the librarians and I went to her desk and said, "Hey, I'm here to bum some books." She looked at me funny and said, "You DO know you're allowed to check out books, right?" I was stunned. The failure to secure my basic need of safety plagued my entire life. I catch myself at times saying, "I'm in the way" or "I don't mean to bother you" etc., for no reason except it's my personal demon...even at the library!
My granddaughter will be 2 in March and I try to emphasize how vital it is that my son makes her feel not only loved but safe. She must never have to move from place to place, attend various different schools, feel OR be told she is "in the way." His particular situation includes three children from two different fathers (yep) my son is daddy number three to baby number four and the verbally/physically abusive mother of them all in some sort of drama on a daily basis. He doesn't quite get the significance of psychological safety because I raised him the OPPOSITE of how my grandma raised me. I may have overcompensated but he had the same home his entire life. He went to the same school/high school and he was a "full member" of his neighborhood and the world. He grew up with a "safety net" ME. He must always be that for his daughter!
It's probably too late for me to fill in the "hole in my heart" and finally feel safe, loved and wanted but maybe I can help anyone reading this. After physical needs, you must learn to feel/be safe. You deserve to be here. You are safe to "f**k up" now and again. You are worthy and you have a place. A safe place. The Human Race. Welcome!