Safe Spaces: More Than a Car

By Grace HarleyAugust 9, 2022

Two days ago, I lost a part of me. Yesterday I said goodbye to one of my safest places, my literal escape when I didn’t feel safe in my apartment or needed a private place away from my family. Kiwi was a 2007 Ford Focus and she was named by my best friend who thought it was amazing that my car’s color was “kiwi green.”

Two days ago, I was driving back to my apartment on my college campus after visiting home for my sister’s birthday when I hit black ice due to a winter storm. I began to slide, into a guardrail that sent me spinning across the highway to the opposite shoulder. I, fortunately, wasn’t hurt physically but in a split second, I felt one of my safest places protect me for the last time.

I have had Kiwi since I started college, but she really became mine in the fall of 2020 when I moved into my own apartment. During the start of the pandemic, when I felt trapped in my house or when I felt like I couldn’t express my anxiety or depression on the outside and had no place where I was “safe” to break down, Kiwi provided an escape, an opportunity to drive to a park for a walk or sit in a lot and feel in solitude. Even when I had my own room, my own space, Kiwi remained one of the few places I felt safe to cry in.

Kiwi was my escape when I was feeling suicidal and didn’t feel safe in my apartment. I would go for a drive, listen to loud music, and find a park to sit in until I either felt that I could go back to my apartment and not act on my urges, or I felt too exhausted to act on my urges and could go home and go to bed. Kiwi was the place I felt safest. Kiwi was how I could get off campus when I desperately wanted to self-harm and didn’t think I could resist the pull.

On April 12, 2021, Kiwi helped save my life. That morning I woke up feeling suicidal. I knew that I would end the day by attempting to take my own life or going to the hospital. Either way, I wasn’t safe in my apartment and I was too scared to tell anyone how I was feeling, even my best friend, so I did what I knew: I got in my car and I drove. Kiwi and I ended up in the parking lot of a nearby emergency room.

When I got out of the hospital a few days later, Kiwi was there right where I had left her, waiting faithfully and ready to go home. It seems like Kiwi has always been there, ready to offer a lifeline or a safe space. That was, until two days ago when I crashed.

And while I am experiencing the impact of the emotions that come from getting into a car accident, what I am feeling more is a sense of loss. Kiwi was a part of me. I lost a safe space when I crashed. Kiwi has saved or protected me so many times when I found myself in a crisis.

Kiwi was more than just a car to me. She was a refuge that I will mourn and miss. So while finding a new safe place will take time, I am realizing it is OK to grieve the loss of a safe place. It is OK to need a safe space. It is OK to have a safe space.

Thank you for being one, Kiwi.

You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected]

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Comments (4)

  1. Taylor

    Thank you for sharing this I too have experienced suicidal ideation and self injurious behavior in my past and sometimes here and there I used to have a safe place/ safe people years ago now not so much but I have a loving fur baby nora who’s 7 she had to go to a emergency vet I was a nervous wreck she got injured jumping off our kitchen table she’s OK she had a soft tissue damage she’d my buddy loves me no matter what she’s provided unconditional love, helps w my anxiety depression ptsd panic attacks etc etc she’s kept me here on earth for thr past yrs I hope she lives a long life I’ll be a mess probly shes kinda like my emotional support animal……sorry for what you’ve been through takes a lot to share thank you ❤

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  2. Cindy

    Thank you for this story. My husband was 25 when he took his own life. He’d have been 68 today. It’s okay to remember, even after all this time. The woods is my safe place.

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    1. TWLOHA

      We’re so sorry for your loss, Cindy. It is definitely OK, and even good, to remember. We’re so glad the woods can provide you with a safe space, too.

      With Hope,

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  3. Revecca

    This was an unexpectedly beautiful and tragic story. I’m so sorry to hear about your kiwi (and by the way, that’s such a cool name!)
    I can relate to feeling safe and secure within a car because I do the same. I feel like when I’m in my car, I can decompress and it’s just me and nothing else. The world outside is irrelevant and I am in a safe bubble.

    Im glad you’re okay though, and I hope you can find a kiwi replacement soon. Maybe another fruit?

    Reply  |  
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