Safe Haven

written in March of 2022

Curled up under a blanket, my lifeless body soaks in the afternoon sun, as its beams spill into our living room. The sun’s rays caress my pale face. Closing my eyes, I can almost feel the grainy sand and can almost hear the whoosh of the Pacific Ocean from a California beach floating into my ears. However, imagining this faraway shore cannot distance me from the clamoring ache of pain; this hurt carried since childhood finally surges over the top, drowning my body in billowing waves. Unable to cork the pain anymore, anguish surfaces in body-heaving sobs and chest-tightening anxiety.

I sit up, weary from pretending I am somewhere else, ready to retreat upstairs to the safety of my bedroom. I plan to sit, letting my weary body float on my white comforter and maybe doggie-paddle through writing, trying to comprehend the crashing waves of emotions within. I place one foot on the carpeted stair, strenuously followed by the next. “Keep moving,” I exhaustedly remind myself or I might remain stranded in the middle of Mount Stairway indefinitely. Summiting the arduous incline; I glance to my left, the direction of my bedroom-my safe haven. On the beige carpet, at my room’s threshold, are some of my daughter’s toys grouped in pairs: scrapbooks brimming with pictures of her growing too quickly, pink Minnie Mouse cups thirsty for a trickle of water, smooth milky-colored plates ready for loading, and one serving dish piled with pretend supreme pizza and a French baguette.

My daughter, her big brown eyes dancing and cheeks rosy from playing, says in her bubbly four-year-old voice, “Mommy, are you ready to color?” My brain, foggy from depression, begins to piece together my daughter’s carefully planned picnic and her invitation to color.

Over the last month, I’ve barely been able to care for her because anxiety and depression course through me as deep blue water pulses in the expanse of the voluminous ocean. Her melodious voice queries, “Mommy, I made a surprise picnic for you that we can share while we color. I even have my scrapbooks we can look at when we want a break.” My mind is unsure I have the capacity or energy for this kind of interaction; however out of my mouth, and in a voice that feels foreign, come the words, “Of course I will, sweetie. Let’s go color.” She takes my hand, pulling me into my bedroom, which I now realize is not just my safe haven, but ours. Our safe space where we can create with colored pencils and paint pens our own swirls of beauty on pages that would be void of wonder without intervention. My mind wanders as I fill a bloom with a plum purple that reminds me of my daughter, coloring next to me, bent over her masterpiece.

I wonder how this season will affect her? Will she remember me unable to get out of bed, eating meals upstairs, and seldom tucking her in? I am unsure what she will remember, but I hope she remembers this picnic filled with art, giggles, sipping water from our pretend cups, and her mommy smiling just for her. No matter what hurricane rampaged me, I have faith she will remember how God prepared a place of refuge. Here she could snuggle Mommy even when I couldn’t get out of bed. In this safe space, she would get good night kisses from Mommy’s bedside. This shelter is where she would bring her toys to imagine and tinker with because Mom was there. Huddled together, protected from the storm, God graciously provided our own safe haven.

Huddled together, protected from the storm, God graciously provided our own safe haven.

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