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Sharing A Safe Space With Your Ex

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No one has the right to deny anyone a safe space to worship, or unwind – but imagine this, you finally find a safe space to call your own – a church, book club, maybe even a spin class. A space filled with folks who spread love and affirm your emotional sanity. Somewhere that you can be yourself, a place where your deepest prayers and fears float from your mind up into the rafters, empowering you in your most vulnerable times. Feels so magical, right? If you have found a place like this, you are most fortunate. You get into a relationship (or something close to it) and you share your safe space with your partner.

Then you break up.

A break up is hard to deal with on its own. You are then left collecting and returning clothing, throwing out that extra toothbrush, blocking phone numbers, (if it gets to that). It is a stressful time, we have all been through it. You try not to get emotional when you hear a certain song and you try to move on without throwing yourself into an emotional breakdown, sometimes dodging restaurants and coffee shops, anything to avoid thinking about or possibly running into your ex. But what if one of those places is your yoga class, or your writer’s group? Whatever the case is, how does one decide how to proceed? Should a split from your partner also mean a split from your safe space?

After a breakup, there is nothing you need more then support, and a place to emotionally and mentally unpack. Let’s say you are like me, and you have been lucky enough to find a church that you can call your safe space. Would it be fair for your partner to tell you not to come to service?

Is it fair for you to do the same?

Do you take a break from service until you are strong enough to face them? My answer to these questions are:

No.

No.

And Maybe.

Although it seems unfair to allow someone to put a hitch in your spiritual routine, depending on how many nights you are checked into Heartbreak Hotel, it may be a good move to take a little time to worship elsewhere to allow yourself some time to process your thoughts and feelings. The last thing you need is to put yourself through a possible emotional break seeing your ex walk through the door. It may alter your ability to be truly present to hear the message or get the most out of your workout because you are using so much energy just trying not to focus on their presence. Now, this by no means is advice for everyone, there are many who feel that being in the presence of their safe space is exactly the backup needed to face such a situation. But as someone who has been through it, it is such an uneasy feeling to sit in service looking at the door every time someone walks in, trying to prepare yourself for a moment that has yet to happen. Instead of sitting there, suffering from anxiety, maybe spend a few weeks talking to a friend or confidant on the days that you would normally visit your safe space.

If you believe your absence will have an impact on your show of commitment to your church, group of friends, or class , etc., have a conversation with someone you trust within that group and explain the situation to them. Let them know that you will be back, and just need some time to yourself. You do not have to wait until you are completely over your ex, or until you find a new boo to join you (which I certainly do not recommend), but take a little time to check in with yourself, to keep track of how far along you are int the healing process.

Here’s your emotional checklist:

Can you hear that person’s name without completely breaking down?

Are you able to focus, or complete simple tasks, without being disrupted by thoughts of them?

Have you formed a mental separation between your ex and your safe space? or are they still connected?

Use these milestones as an indicator of your readiness. Have you done enough “self-work”?

When it is all said and done, do what works for you. Do not let anyone bully you away from your safe space, but be real with yourself and decide if a break is needed. Do not force yourself to grin and bear it just to save face. Most importantly, when you have gotten over the hurdles of heartbreak, be more selective about the people you decide to share your spiritual safe space with.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams is a native of the Bronx, NY who holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of D.C. and an M.P.S in Sports Management from Georgetown University. In 2017, Robin made her debut as a filmmaker with the creation of the short film Garden of Eden, which she wrote and co-directed. Garden of Eden was selected into the Cannes Film Festival Creative Minds Short Film Corner in Cannes, France. Robin is Managing Editor at Soule.lgbt, and also facilitates therapeutic writing and mindfulness workshops teaching participants how to use writing to heal trauma. IG/Twitter: @model_robbie

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