I wrote a post recently talking about the men of my life, and with the recent passing of a holiday that represents all things gratitude and the return to our physical homes, this piece seems fitting.

There's so many things to say about each of the men of my life. So much so, I feel strongly that some day, I could dedicate an entire book to these men (I am going to need a lot of consent waivers).

In all seriousness, I resent so many of them yet am so grateful to all of them, the men of my life. It's the most conflicting set of emotions. I reflect on this daily now, especially as I see story after story on the television and in the newspapers of women and men ousting power players in Hollywood for their acts of sexual violence.

I am filled with a deep nostalgia thinking about all of the men I've encountered in my life. And still sometimes, when I see an old face from my past that was warm or comforting then, that same warm and comfort (and safety) finds me in that moment now. It's a bittersweet feeling, really. I love that so many men have shown me real safety and comfort, but I hate that two men in particular destroyed that feeling of safety for me, even if for a little while.

Because when someone takes advantage of you or violates you, rarely do they have to deal with the mess afterwards.

It's you who has to pick up the pieces and put your boundaries and safety and life back together. And I know that so many other women know exactly what I'm talking about.

And sometimes, the men who had no idea what they were signing up for get roped into your recovery. And sometimes, men hear one word about you being a sexual assault survivor and they run. There are two extremes, and rarely with the men in my life have there been in-betweens, unless they had literally no idea who I was. Then I digress.

Safety is a funny thing. We don't think about how incredible it is to feel safe until we are put into an unsafe situation, right? It's, in essence, how we as humans came to develop our panic and fear response. Just like how we seldom think, "wow, good thing I haven't been sexually assaulted," until... you know... you're sexually assaulted. In which case, you obviously do not think that way anymore and, if you're me, you respond in a way that makes you hypersensitive to your surroundings at all times. I used to think that the best adjective a person could use to describe their feeling in any given moment was "happy," or perhaps "joyful," or maybe even "calm." I know better now. I don't need to feel happy and blissful and joy and smiles and damn butterflies all the time. What I need - so unbelievably desperately that it hurts - is to feel safe.

I once read a quote that said, "don't think, it complicates things. Just feel. And if it feels like home, then follow its path." For me, safety and home tend to be synonymous. I guess you could say I have always lived by this quote when it came to the men in my life. If they felt like home, I trusted in them deeply. And if they didn't, I didn't. Home is safe. Safety is key. Follow what is home. These are the steps my brain follows, simply because I cannot process safety any other way. It is cut and dry - if you're safe, you're safe. And if you're not, you're not. If you feel like home, great. If you don't, I have to go.

I shared this quote with my boyfriend over a year ago during Thanksgiving at his parents' home. He said to me, so confidently, "yeah, that sounds like you." Like he knew that he felt like home, and he knew that was what I needed. I knew in that moment that he was more than a security blanket, and I also knew he was even more than home.

It took me awhile to figure out what home looked like or felt like. At the end of the day, you will know when you have found it. Home has taken many forms for me. I have found, and still find, comfort and safety in many different people. But the best places I have found home are in the people who have shown me what I'm capable of - that I can overcome an assault, that I can be a voice for others, and especially, when the times get hard, that I can stay firm and committed. Or, that I don't always need to be a voice for others.

Other people can be the greatest source of sanctuary. And sometimes those people have been the men of my life. In fact, I'd say most often those people have been the men of my life. But without a doubt, 100%, the best place I have ever found home, has been in myself.

If you felt like home, you knew. And if you felt like home, know that I am eternally grateful.


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