Finding a Safe Haven with Your Partner : The Sweetness of Not Having to Protect Your Soft Heart

vulnerable hug

This week, I learned my number one need in a relationship. I think many of you will relate.

At the end of the day, after running around trying to get everyone’s physical and emotional needs met, after the work, after the stress, after reconciling the good and the bad news, after establishing and maintaining boundaries,  after holding space for others and absorbing enough raw psychic energy to put my nervous system on high alert; I need a safe haven.

A safe haven is a space where I can just be. Where I step out of the mask and armor that protect me from the expectations, cynicism, judgment, and harshness of the outside world. Where I expose my soft introverted insides without worry.

Within the safe haven…

I need loving arms to hold me. I need warmth to envelope me. I need strong hands to rub my shoulders. I need sweet words to ease my nerves. I need to know it’s OK to let down my guard. I can trust you to see my dire need for rest and not make me feel bad about it.

Don’t tell me,  “Keep going, stay busy, push through it, you’ll get used to it.” I won’t. I’ve tried. I feel bad about not being able to “get used to it”.

Don’t tell me, “That’s life” silently sending the message “Get over it. There is no reason to feel as you do”.

Don’t belittle me for expressing emotions or for being too optimistic. I am fervently attached to emotions and hope gets me out of bed each day.

Tell me you see how tired I am. Tell me a funny story or just sit and talk with me while holding my hand. Tell me we’ll tackle things together.

Listen to me, attempt to understand and then let me rest. Rest doesn’t necessarily mean sleep or lounging. It means to simply let me be. Let me slowly renew in solitude or in your patient, kind presence.

Chances are, I’ve already done everything I have energy for that day. Please don’t want more. There is only so much I can stuff into one day and only so much emotion and energy I can wring out of one me. If we already went out socializing, don’t ask for more. If we’ve already been active and busy, don’t ask for more. If we’ve already had sex, don’t ask for more. Please.

What I always have more of…

There are two things I can offer more of. One is generative, intuitive and cross-pollinating conversation where we riff off of each other in relatedness and idea explosions. I always have energy for that because it generates energy as it occurs. Each association and new idea literally give me a shot of pleasure inducing dopamine. The other is emotional understanding in your direction. I will strive to support and understand your emotional needs. Your soft interior is important to me. Please let me in. I live to aid you in healing and growth.

Death by 1000 cuts

I need to be able to make mistakes without being chastised. Please know I will exhibit ambivalence. Help me make decisions instead of making me feel small for considering all perspectives. I don’t want to fret over whether you will be OK with how I do something. I don’t want to constantly worry about frustrating or irritating you. Your pointing out of foibles hurts more than you think.

I need conversational support. Rapport is life-giving. If you often say things that seem unkind to me or others, I feel pain. If you often offend people or make them feel small, pain. If you often disagree with me or I with you, pain. Stress. Conflict. I eventually feel beaten up inside. Hurt.

Death by 1000 cuts.

I protect myself by holding back. My guard goes up to protect my vulnerability.strong hands kitten vulnerability

True connection is about emotions, vulnerability and trust.

I know I am especially sensitive. I know I am complex and difficult at times. But if you make me feel emotionally safe and loved, I will be your ever strong golden hearted sweet companion and impassioned lover. If you are gentle on my spirit, I will be pure love on yours.

Describe your safe haven. What can you do there that gives you the greatest most affirming freedom and love? Have you experienced death by 1000 cuts? Have you experienced pure love? 

If you’d like help establishing your safe haven, please contact me for personal or relationship coaching 

Leave a Reply

20 Comments

  1. Kevin
    April 25, 2016

    I have been reading your work for awhile and have always enjoyed it. This one really hit home. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 25, 2016

      This post was very personal. I think sometimes the more personal the more it resonates. I’m glad it hit home with you. I hope you found some solace or hope in it.

      Reply
  2. Lisa M. Pérez
    April 25, 2016

    Extroverts can stand to read, understand and learn how introverts handle over-stimulation. After really thinking about the nature of being an extrovert, I am not convinced that I am necessarily “charged” by other people. I believe that I have been conditioned to believe that I am and allow the ego to take over to not have to consider the inner child within me that knows better. In truth, I used brashness as a former of protection to handle competitive people and bullies.
    Introverts do something really well: they observe. If I would have known that I was “allowed” to withhold my thoughts and feelings and response to assess a situation first, I would’ve chosen that option. Extroverts experience assaults and often “raise the (behavioral) bar” to avoid being attacked. For me, especially when in an uncomfortable situation, I always chose fight over flight which only made me ill and dissatisfied.
    When I read about what you need to recharge, it makes so much sense for ANYone. Lack of empathy, meaningful conversation, compassion, kindness, time alone can benefit BOTH personality types. Introverts actually teach extroverts HOW to be accommodating, gentle, hospitable, and peaceful. It is no longer acceptable in this global age of enlightenment to be cruel, a bully, angry, hate-filled, bitter, and just plain mean to any human being. Passive aggression is STILL aggression.
    Finally, thank you for dumbing the details down so much that you actually helped me handle a high-stress situation recently…with flying colors. Blessings and continued success!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 25, 2016

      I’m so thrilled I was helpful in getting you through a high stress situation. You offer fresh insight Lisa. Interesting that you said extroverts often raise the behavior bar to avoid being attacked. Is that like, I’ll attack you before you attack me? I think I’ve experienced that with others. Being attacked in any form puts me in fight or flight mode (mostly flight). I am highly sensitive to any threats in a relationship.
      It would be wonderful if introverts were seen as teachers of gentleness and peace versus seen as too quiet. Thank you very much for your perspective Lisa. I’m learning from you.

      Reply
  3. Pearl
    April 24, 2016

    You writing melts my heart Brenda. Its so heartfelt, still and captivating.
    May God bless you a million times for the way effortlessly touch our hearts ( sensitive intuitives). I’m yet to find such love in my life, I pray that I find it one day.

    Reply
    • Morena
      April 24, 2016

      @Pearl….Brenda’s words always touch my soul. I pray that we all find a love, that heals our hearts and lifts our spirits and complements our lives to make us want to be the best version of ourselves. When something doesn’t work out, I just see it as any rejection is Gods protection and that God is writing me a beautiful love story, because he knows how special I am 🙂 and not just anyone will do with my heart and what I have to give. Love will come when we least expect it and the right person will know how to nurture that love.

      Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 25, 2016

      Stay open to love Pearl. It will find you. Also, be authentically you. The right people will find you attractive. You may have to venture out and find kindred spirits in places you love but they are looking for you as well. 🙂

      Reply
  4. lorraine.
    April 23, 2016

    So glad I found your site. I’m 40, discovering my sensitive side. Your entry is exactly me. I have a question, I’m raising a sensitive introvert…any suggestions? Because this is new for me personally IA haven’t reconciled or figured it out for myself. I don’t want to damage his heart, my son.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 25, 2016

      Dear Lorraine, I suggest you find out what his love languages are (the top two at least). Here is a link to a profile survey http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/children/ if he is 9-12 years old. I believe there is a teenage one too. I did this with my kids years ago. I found it helpful. Also, The Highly Sensitive Child by Dr. Elaine Aron is very good. Mostly treat him with compassion and remember it will not take much to discipline him. Sensitive children read between the lines very well. If you raise your voice they will know instantly something is wrong. Try to connect before you correct with him. Yelling or punishing will be felt deeply. He most likely will want peace and harmony in the house. If you can remain calm it will help him relax. I know that’s a tall order but it’s also a recommendation for self-care. If you take care of you, your calmness will transfer to your child. Finally, just show him love as much as possible. Thanks for your thoughtful question.

      Reply
  5. Catherine North
    April 23, 2016

    I love your writing, Brenda, it’s so heartfelt and honest. I feel exactly the same way in relationships. I am so easily hurt when someone close to me is demanding or critical or unkind or rude, either to me or to other people.

    I especially loved this: “I will be your ever strong golden hearted sweet companion and impassioned lover. If you are gentle on my spirit, I will be pure love on yours.” That is very beautiful writing.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 23, 2016

      Thank you Catherine. It’s not easy always questioning whether I am too sensitive. I really need the safe space. My writing and my closest friends/family allow me to have that. I am grateful we have connected Catherine. I hope you have people and places that give you gentle space. I was especially pleased with that last line too. 😉 There’s real truth in it. I deeply desire that emotional support so that I can be free to pour love on someone. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      Reply
      • Morena
        April 24, 2016

        @Brenda ” I hope you have people and places that give you gentle space. I was especially pleased with that last line too. There’s real truth in it. I deeply desire that emotional support so that I can be free to pour love on someone. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.” ……I need people in my life who give me that. They always want to intrude on my space. I shouldn’t have to fight for peace or be called weird, or someone trying to change me or anyone who is harsh on my soul. I just wanna move far away to California right now and be on the beach and listen to the waves of the ocean, while it holds me in it’s space. I think clearly around water….I have a lot of love to give and pour into the right soul, but it just hasn’t arrived yet. I wonder will it ever arrive. I feel like I’m a wanted woman, but for all the wrong reasons and for personal gain. One day it will happen but for now it’s just music and me.

        Reply
  6. Brett de Villiers
    April 23, 2016

    I’ll take a safe haven any day over a thousand band-aids.
    You’re the only person I’ve ever heard that writes my exact thoughts and desires on this subject. It’s uncanny. Were we separated at birth?

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 23, 2016

      We have ideals and a soft center in common Brett. It is definitely comforting to know I’m not alone in my feelings. I hope you have or can create a safe haven for your heart kindred spirit.

      Reply
    • Morena
      April 24, 2016

      I know what you mean @Brett :)… I feel like she’s my sister I just don’t know it yet, LOL.

      Reply
  7. Morena
    April 22, 2016

    This is beautiful and my sentiments as well. I need space to love. I need to not be needed as much, so that I can be open to express the best version of myself. https://indepthwoman.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/an-open-letter-to-the-next-man-who-chooses-to-love-me/

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      April 23, 2016

      Your post is beautiful. I echo many of your sentiments.

      Reply
      • Morena
        April 23, 2016

        Thank you Brenda :). Your post has been a God sent blessing to me, during this transition in my life. I feel free to be myself and express myself, ever since I found your website. I feel connected with the other souls who come here as well to share. Because I don’t have people physically in my life that understand me nor do they care to. Like my online family…on social media, people just want “likes”, and to talk about meaningless things, instead of spreading positivity and helping people. My soul was aching to be understood and seen…not be judge and made fun of. People I know have no idea, what an HSP or empath is or this journey I’m on for always evolving and self discovery.

        It’s not that they are bad people but they followed the safe blue print in life. In life we all want love and to be loved but I’m not going to chase it out of fear, age and I’m not lonely. I’m trying to figure out how to add love to my life, because I crave solitude. It will happen when it happens but I’m not looking for it but I am open to love. I’ll know it shows up and what it will sound like. Until then I’m enjoying being single before I merge my life with someone else. I’m sure a relationship will compliment my life in the loving way that I need.

        Reply
        • Brenda Knowles
          April 25, 2016

          I know it’s hard sometimes to stay connected with others when we are such sensitive souls but connection and intimacy are important too. May you find gentle souls who sooth you.

          Reply
          • Morena
            April 25, 2016

            It’s hard Brenda, but I’m slowly letting my guard down. It just has to be really worth it. I keep men at bay…I can be in a long distance relationship with some one but they can’t with me. My last relationship lasted long because we were in two different states about 60-90 minutes away, but as soon as he moved in on me, things fell apart. He was always distracting me and being very needy and clingy. I realized he was bothering me on purpose. if I was quiet and not doing anything, he didn’t bother me when he was around, but as soon as I would do something that like or wanted to be alone, whether to listen to music or to gather my thoughts and write, he was always interrupting me. If I needed to take care of something earlier in the day, and it didn’t get done, he would choose my alone and me time to ask me or take me to go get something done. He would make it seem like that was the only time it can get done. He had my schedule down pack, with how I did things. We argued about a lot and I just couldn’t take it anymore, its like he had no life of his own. Spending that much time together doing nothing and not making any connection, just running errands together was exhausting. It just seems like men I meet, its all about personal gain for them. I’ve met some nice guys but I’m not ready to settle down and live with anyone and start a family but thats what they all want. If I do those things, my life will not be my own anymore. it would be great to find someone who didn’t pressure me.

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