The appliances in my kitchen are 24 years old. I’ve decided new appliances now ensures a reasonable price rather than buying in a melting emergency when the refrigerator eventually and inevitably buys the farm.
The sales guy shows me dishwashers that scrub stemware in billowy diamond suds and a refrigerator that lands the space shuttle while keeping food cold. After 20 minutes of my continual, “I don’t think I need it to do that,” I can sense his defeat.
To give you an idea of the level of basic kitchen appliance I was accustomed to, my stove had the equivalent of manual, crank car windows, and my fridge didn’t have an ice maker. Any of these shiny new beauties are space-age in my estimation.
It’s all relative.
Depending on what we’ve become accustomed to, anything can feel like an upgrade.
The same is true in relationship. When the bar is so low in early connections that any scrap of kindness feels like care, we can get caught in the disillusionment of calling crumbs a feast.
We often hear, “yea, but he’s not hitting me anymore” or “sure, but he only yells when he’s drunk”. These may be true statements and may feel like Safety when in reality they only represent being Unafraid.
There are three different states to consider:
It may seem strange to make the distinction between these three states. However, the difficulty is when we come to believe that Unafraid means the same thing as Safe. When what we’ve known is abuse, control, manipulation, and dismissal, the lack of these behaviors feels like Safety, but Safety means being protected, not just the absence of abuse.
Going from Afraid to Unafraid can be significant, and is a fantastic first step in gaining emotional equilibrium. It’s the difference of being isolated or free to do as one pleases. Unafraid is associated more with another’s pacivity than actual Safety. But the difference between Unafraid and Safe is the difference between surviving and thriving.
After being abused as a little girl, being with a man who doesn’t hit can feel like discovering a relational jackpot. Unafraid can feel like nirvana when we’ve been marinating in fear. But learning that we deserve protection, to be nurtured, and to have a voice means Safety.
Emotional relativity can put us in dangerous relational circumstances. I can be Unafraid of the guy beside me standing in the deli at the grocery story, but that doesn’t mean I’m safe with him.
I think my new refrigerator is beautiful. I am Unafraid it’s going to die tomorrow. I’m also aware that having an ice maker is no longer seen as state-of-the-art. Considering what I was using a week ago, it all seems ultramodern. Then, I visit a friend’s new house with a stove that will make the lasagna for her, and I am reminded of relativity. In appliances and relationships.
Is it time for an emotional upgrade?