I Don’t Ever Feel Safe & I Know This Is Mainly What Holds Me Back


I am down to only one person in my life because my inability to feel any sort of safety leads me to destroy everything.
For me personally, I've separated these 2 things to work on them separately. Because it's really miserable being isolated - I absolutely hear that and relate to it a lot.

So, for me, it's now 2 separate issues:
1) I always fee unsafe (that's gonna take a long time to shift - feelings tend to do their own thing);
2) I destroy relationships.

That number 2 is a behaviour. I'm doing it because of (1), but behaviours, unlike feelings, I can definitely change. Yeah, practice. But if I work on it, I can change the way I behave, even though I'm still feeling unsafe.

So, I'm starting to create healthy relationships, even though I feel unsafe. And that's helping a lot with the isolation.


Hey, @EveHarrington - just leaving a note for if/when you come back.

I appreciate your concerns about not wanting to start drama, and not come across as combative. Honestly - you're not. And even if you were - f*ck, everyone gets combative around here at one point or another. You've learnt a lot of self-regulation since you've come back, and as you can see from this thread - there are a lot of members here who are wanting to engage with you on this topic. So, I'm not going to lock it for now.

I identify with a lot of what you are saying. I'm doing a pretty good PHP right now, and we're covering a lot on change, and willingness, and small steps.
I don’t know where to start. I’m pretty naive when it comes to relationships because when everyone else was learning social skills as a kid, I was too busy being hypervigilant. I know I cannot go back and learn everything I missed, but I have hope I can make some changes.
I just want to point at this ^^^^. from your OP, because it's an important thing for you to stay in touch with.

When you're getting at the root causes of things, taking them apart - it's equally important to find the small, manageable things that you can do in your present-day reality, to start to create this changes that you are looking for.

My question for you, when/if you feel up to engaging on it, is: I'm curious to know what some of the small things are that you could add into or take out of your life, in order to begin feeling more connected to the world around you. Another way to say it would be - if you're looking at how to go about building healthy relationships, lets brainstorm about the smallest step you think you could take, to create a connection with something that matters to you.
Hi @EveHarrington , nice to 'see' you again.

I do relate to what you're saying, perhaps differently as more from neglect than all being abusive (as a child), as all (for me) were not.

I wrote this in another post today, by chance: ".. our (severly abused) dog came named from the shelter as Shadow. But she became secure or safe or confident enough to come out in to her own light." And I think this may be more where the issue can be approached; I think after years (for me), trust or lack of trust is simply the symptom (but not congruent entirely). I think the issue (again, just speaking from my experience) is attachment. So, like food for example, most people see it as a good thing, not a painful thing, or a frightening thing. So they look forward to dinners; they fear doing without. But food is also necessary in some form, and there are good and better and bad choices. But if food was withheld or you associate it with abuse, food has other loaded fears and messages.

Attachment can be learned, and it does take exposure. But I think what is critical is in the process choosing very carefully. You have also made good decisions to acknowledge red flags and extricate. But it might help also to make sure you are not subconciously or unconsciously giving time or trust to people who will hurt you, to avoid actually having to experience the fearful process of attaching. [ ETA, there could have been neglect, abuse, enmeshment. What is also necessary is good boundaries, respect, genuineness. These are some of the things (hopefully) modeled in therapy that should be expected elsewhere. Teaching you too how to care for/ about yourself, and build your self-worth so that you can give and receive and live in safety and with a sense of safety your heart believes (subjective), as well as your mind (objective) ].

I know too that @recoveringfromptsd made a similar thread about not feeling safe anywhere, and I believe she is doing better. Remember still that it is a 'feeling', often ramped up by hypervigilance and/or anxiety, and there is a difference between feeling unsafe with justifiable cause, and simply feeling unsafe.

I hope you can pause and know that as you explore (and overcome, because I believe you can and will, with time) this issue, you will be kind and patient with yourself. Hugs to you.
@Rosebud Thanks for mentioning my experience, and yes i am doing better a bit at a time, and yes I agree one has to take some comfort zone risk to get better. For me it is one barrier at a time. Still I get hospitalized a lot, but each one brings growth. Having been at Sheppard Pratt for the second time last march made a huge difference as I learned coping skills better than I did the first time, I also learned one of my biggest barriers was alexithymia. Today being xmas I usually find myself in severe crisis and unsafe or in hospital, but this is the second year that has not happened, I still suffer during this time, I just do what i have to in order to get past it. The worse of my trauma took place on my birthday and xmas (both in December) so not ending up in the hospital or a crisis respite house is significant. Yet I can say trying to cope with trauma is sometimes as bad as the trauma itself. But I always remind myself I can't let my abusers win by letting the trauma destroy me mentally. I wish all on this board a new year full of all that is good.


Can this thread please be locked already?

I’ve been contemplating about writing in it but it’s already off topic and other people are talking about their issues.

What’s the point in starting a thread if people just make it about them? Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

I should have just stayed away.

It doesn’t even matter that I spelled out how hard it is for me to ask for help. And I pretty much spelled out that if I don’t find a way to change, I’ll end up dead.

But hey, Ho, I don’t actually matter. Carry on with your issues by all means.


other people are talking about their issues.
It looks to me that people are sharing their experiences of dealing with the issues you've described wanting help with.

If you feel like I've got that wrong, please hit us up at Contact Us, so that we can address thread issues without highjacking the thread.

Can this thread please be locked already?
We don't lock threads on request, but you can put the thread on Ignore if you don't want to see it for a while.

Alternatively, there's still some thoughts and questions from @joeylittle if you feel like you're up to exploring some of those ideas?


I don’t ever feel safe. I try to trust people in this world but it leads down bad roads, ie guys who end up hitting me, etc.

I don’t know how to build up a sense of safety in this world, in the REAL world. (Please don’t suggest building up safety with a therapist. I am an Uber realist and know it’s not a true interpersonal relationship. And I have been able to trust therapists in the past. This trust doesn’t translate to the real world because one environment is is a safe one, while the real world most definitely is not.)

I don’t know where to start. I’m pretty naive when it comes to relationships because when everyone else was learning social skills as a kid, I was too busy being hypervigilant. I know I cannot go back and learn everything I missed, but I have hope I can make some changes.

I just don’t know what to do at this point.
Hi, I just wanted to say that I also missed out on social skills and playing with people as a child because I also was too busy being scared shitless and hyper-vigilant. It's very damaging to us.

I haven't been in a relationship for nearly 2 decades and only have a couple of friends. I found them by going to a mental health support group. Maybe that's something you could try? Building trust in relationships takes time and practice. Small steps over time. Also, for me personally it's more important to have several "friends " than 1 person that I also have sex with.

I hope things improve for you and you can expand your social circle. Loneliness is a killer.
What’s the point in starting a thread if people just make it about them? Damned if I do and damned if I don’t...
It doesn’t even matter that I spelled out how hard it is for me to ask for help. And I pretty much spelled out that if I don’t find a way to change, I’ll end up dead.
I'm sorry @EveHarrington , don't know if you'll read this, but it does feel invalidating if it's perceived as your issues are ignored or people (I include myself here) are talking about themself instead.

Is it possible that others' exoeriences may hold some keys as to what you could try that you have not tried yet? Or maybe a different way of looking at it? Sometimes we don't know what to suggest (for ourselves, either) but brainstorming together may reveal something we did not know before?

Idk if a sense of safety will ever be possible for me, but the moments I have it perhaps are one key. I know it can also be anxiety- can that be treated? It can be mistrust- who are you choosing to trust, and why? It can be catastrophisizing without trying, and fearing the worst- are there cognitive distortions at play? It can be overthinking- is something like meditation possible?

I think I have realized one thing, whatever I choose and whatever I interpret will still (also) impact others. And, it helps (me) to have positive motivations, especially for others.

Putting this problem aside for a minute (not to ignore but to shift the focus), what are your strengths? What are aspects true to you, that take less effort to 'be'?

Also, something was pointed out to me that I think is very very important: when/ if someone says for example, 'stay calm', how can you if 'calm' is a word but not a feeling you relate to? Similar could be said with trust, etc. But to trust, one has to give the benefit of the doubt, sometimes. And always, to put things in context. to see things from others' perspective as well as our own. Down-regulate, or rather recognize dysregulation for what it is and deal with that first. Not to invalidate our perspective, but to understand +/or learn new ways.

As always, if you do not find this at all helpful, I am sorry and please ignore.


As a child I seldom felt safe, my only safe place was in the middle of an old oak tree in a field behind the house where I grew up. From there I could see if anyone was around that might want to harm me and it was a great getaway to sit and think and not be in danger of further abuse. (I was abused at home, on the way home from school, at school, and in the neighborhood, that I grew up in).

As an adult, I now understand that I am relatively safe but never entirely safe as that is just the nature of life I suppose. I tend to see safety and trust as illusory at best. I don't think that we can ever know 100% of the time if we are safe or not and trust must be earned and worked on. Learning to trust my own intuition has taken me a great deal of time and effort and it was my starting place.

I feel for your discomfort with this thread, but all I have to give or share with you are my thoughts, experiences, beliefs, and actions, etc. I hope you are able to find some helpful answers to your situation. Maybe something I have shared will help, maybe not, however....

...with that, I will shut up and let you process what you will with the hope that things will improve for you.

In all sincerity, I wish you the best as you move forward.