IN our house, we have a few rules. Who doesn't, right?
God knows, even with them it's all too easy for things to turn to anarchy and mayhem.
But, jokes aside, there is one golden rule, one expectation more resonant than all others.
And that is: Be who it is you need to be.
In our house, that's an absolute non-negotiable. You need to cry? You cry.
You are angry? Tell us why. You're happy? Then share that good thing around.
But with such a rule, there comes a promise: the promise that, with each other, we are safe.
Safe to tell it as it is; safe from judgement; safe about what goes on at home, stays at home; safe that what's needed will happen. Safe.
It's a notion mostly taken for granted. In the physical, obvious sense, we invest in measures to maintain and protect our safety.
We secure our homes, we adapt our lifestyles and we regulate our behaviour to ensure we are safe and sound.
We are all as snug as little bugs in rugs. Sure-footed. Comfortable. Confident.
But take a different view for a moment. Put the notion of being safe into an emotional context.
In some ways, the same rules apply. But it's in vulnerability that the game changes.
Everyone, in whatever form it takes, needs a "place" where they can be exactly who they need to be.
They need to know who they can count on, with whom their secrets and confidences are guarded and who they just know will be there when the chips are down and the world seems to turn to custard.
Sadly, all too often it ends up being a bit of a case of trial and error.
And the emotional investment you make can yield a return of little more than a slap in the face and the knowledge that what you share in confidence has been the stuff of third party chit-chat.
It's the emotional equivalent to having your knickers stolen off the clothes line.
But gladly, with each lesson comes a little more wisdom and (more importantly) the comfort that there will always be those who can shoulder your tears and help you weather your storms.
They are the people most cherished, most trusted … most fabulous.
And at the top of the list is that person most important: You.
This column is featured in APN's new Weekend Magazine. Don't miss your weekend lift-out each Saturday