Monday, February 26, 2007

Where is your "Safe Place"?

I finally started using a guided imagery CD last week - I am a little behind on getting to do this since Hubby was going to order the cd's I wanted as MP3's and put them on the iPod (uh, never ever leave this to the men!) ...But, of course, I am still waiting for that...

Anyways, on this particular CD is aimed at relieving anxiety and has three different exercises: one for general relaxation, one for calming the mind about specific life events that you still get upset about and the last for attaining qualities in yourself that you would like to either gain or enhance (still have to listen to this one). I have used the first exercise several times now - and the key goal is relaxing using the image (or images, if you have more than one) of a place you found the most peace in your life, the "safest place" you feel you can go to in your mind.

I suppose this is hard for some people to do - but my image came very quick. The pics below are not of the specific place, but they are very close to what I have in my mind and can remember from my time spent there:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The place I picture the safest and calmest is from the family vacation home of a pal in college. It was located in a beautiful (and PRICEY) area of the NJ Shore and the reason we went there was not the most usual of circumstances...

When I was in my Junior and Senior years of college, the girls I had dormed with for two years and I rented a house about 2 blocks away from campus - it was a georgeous house (would have been even better if someone could have restored it to its glory days), in among the other college student houses and the "townies" (or, better put, the real residents of the town). We knew quite a few of the student houses on the block and the neighboring blocks (you get to know lots of people on the college party circuit!). Speficially, two houses down the hill from us, on the first of three floors of the house, were friends of ours - guys we partied with, were buddies with since Freshman year in our psych major (although not all of us were left as psych majors at that point).

In November 1994, seven months before graduation, I could see out the window of my evening class, which was held on Tuesday nights at 7:00 pm on the fifth floor of the main class building, the biggest blaze up in the hills of the campus - A bright red, orange and yellow blaze that lit up the entire view of the upper campus. The fire was located right where our house was! I raced from class, as did a classmate who lived on the same block as me, running into people telling me it was our house, telling her it was her house. I was in a panic - all of my things were on the third floor and I would have nothing left! When I approached where the blockades were, I had one hell of a time getting up to my house - finally, one of my housemates saw me and told the firemen I lived there, and they let me in. I was very relieved to find it was not, in fact, my house. But it was the house of our friends.

The bulk of the night was spent watching the firemen dowse our house and the house in between with water, as the wind carried the flames closer to them. We were told at one point to go into our houses and collect the things most dear to us, just in case the two houses went up with the one on fire. Up in the hills of campus, there was almost always a breeze unless it was in the middle of the summer, and this night was certainly not a calm one. We rushed in and were allowed about 20 minutes - I can't really remember now what I grabbed...maybe some pictures, my address book, some stuffies that Hubby had given to me, a change of clothes. All I know it was all in my back-pack. We were ordered out via the PA system and spent the rest of the evening standing, waiting, and watching our friends crying.

The placed burned to the ground. By midnight, the fire trucks started to pull away, the fire finally out and no longer risking igniting our house. We breathed a huge sigh of relief, but then realized our friends had no where to go. Some ended up staying with us, some left with other friends, some left the campus completely - but all were to come back the next day to start trying to sift through the ashes of what was left.

Our friend were able to salvage some things, but not much. Mostly larger items - things that were not water-logged or charred or stunk of fire. The girls on the two floors above them had nothing left. The entire third floor was gutted and only the charred framing remained. What our friends were able to salvage, we allowed them to keep in our house in the basement until they could find a place to go for the rest of the year. Some decided to go back into University housing - some re-grouped and found a new place to live. What a way to end your college career.

...Getting back to the pictures now, one of the guys had a family vacation home at the Jersey Shore. To thank my housemates and I for doing so much to help them - not just storage or housing wise, but emotionally too since we where there for them the entire time - we were invited to spend the weekend at the vacation home. They tried to make a public thank you via the media since the media descended upon the fire like, well, wildfire. Campus news made huge town news, after all. But the media didn't find the "thank you" newsworthy. So, they asked us to spend the weekend with them at the house, to thank us the best they could.

We went in April 1995 - it was one of those transitional weekends, where the days were warmer and clear, but the nights were colder and overcast. But, it was perfect - quiet, serene, desolate. The house was amazing - huge, comfortable, well kept, open and inviting. We spent the weekend talking, remincsing, horsing around, studying, partying (how could a weekend in college go without partying, right?).

I spent so many hours out on the beach that weekend - thinking about graduation, what I was going to do afterwards, what was going on with Hubby (at the time, we were not communicating well - what do you want for a long-distance relationship?), what was going to happen in my life.
I was out on the rocks, like you can see in the first picture, as the waves started to crash in. The sky was an amazing shade of pale baby blue, a few wind-swept clouds here and there. It was peaceful and amazing- and a place I long to go back to.

Unfortunately, we lost touch with the guys - which is a shame, since some of them live somewhat close by to myself and my bestest girlfriend from college. But, time and distance changes those college friendships and the ones you thought were close ones don't always end up being the ones that last in the end. I have never been to that house again - and, although I go to the Jersey shore every year for vacation with the family, 1) I have never since found a place as peaceful and beautiful at the beach as that weekend and 2) I have not been left alone long enough to have that feeling of serenity and calm return like that weekend. I know I could find that house if I tried, although I am sure the owners would not be happy with me knocking on their door!

But, at least I can still go there in my mind....and I have found a little peice of it again, to enjoy over and over and escape to when I need it...

1 comment:

Val said...

I love your safe place picture. Mine are on the right hand side of my blog. I call mine "warm" since the sensation I associate with them is the warm sun beating down on my body as I bask in the sunlight lying on a raft in the middle of the lake water. Sounds like your safe place is similar. I'm praying for good weather if you get down this way in April/May. We tend to warm up before NJ so you might get to bask in the sun a bit earlier here.