What are we to do when our needs are dismissed, ignored, thrown aside by the people we love? How do we cope, how do we go on loving those who hurt us, who continue to hurt us? How do we grow in that dry, unkind ground?
One of my closest friends introduced me to the idea of boundaries and Loving from a Distance. I like to call it Loving from a Safe Distance.
Sometimes when the people we love are unwilling or unable to be there for us, to respect our grieving processes, our beliefs, our needs of all kinds, it becomes self-defeating and harmful to continue to love them up close, to continue to spend time with them. I think this is one of the greatest struggles in life. John Steinbeck wrote about it in East of Eaden, Emily Brontë wrote about it in Wuthering Heights, Moses wrote about it in his book of Genesis, telling the story of Cain and Able, the story goes on and on and every family has a different way of dealing with the difficulties of disfunction, pain, and loss.
The good news is that we do not have to follow the old paths of the past, we are not doomed to hurt each other, leave each other desolate, hold grudges, we have this blessing of the idea of Loving our loved ones from a Distance, sending picture messages, sending birthday cards or gifts, leaving our hearts and our spirits open to those we love without leaving ourselves open to pain and mistreatment.
Sometimes we are given to think that if we don't get right back to spending time with someone, we might be seen as holding a grudge or not "getting over it" whatever the it may be. The rest of the good news is that it doesn't matter what our actions and feelings look like to the outside world, it matters what we know to be true within our hearts. Just because someone isn't emotionally stable or safe enough to be around at this time doesn't mean we don't love them, it means we love ourselves. I'll say it again, giving ourselves the space and time we need from someone doesn't mean we don't have love for them, it means we have love and respect for ourselves and each other.
That's one of the funniest things about th idea of loving someone from a safe distance. When we say, "I love you and that's why I need time away from you." It sounds counterintuitive. It's kind of like the consept that if you really love someone, you let them go.
So if you are loving someone right now who has asked you for time and space to grieve, to process, to grow, or just to be on their own for a time, I challenge you to do the hardest thing, to let them go. Let the bird of their spirit fly freely and let them grieve, process and grow and know that they are not flying free to hurt you but indeed to help keep your relationship healthy so that when it is time to come back together, you'll both be ready.
Remember that saying, If you can't help someone, at least don't hurt them. And I add today, if you can't understand someone, it doesn't mean that they are wrong, it just means that you are different. Rejoice in our differences. Thank those around you who are asking for what they need, who are practicing healthy boundaries, who are working to grow, to learn, and to become better people.
May we all be in that place today. May we all feel that our spirits are free to soar and to grow and to love both up close and from a safe distance. Love takes many forms. May you feel the courage to ask for the kind of love you need and may you have the courage to stand up and open your hands, letting your loved ones be who and where they must be, safe in the knowledge that you are loved.
Lots of Love,
There's also a really interesting Boundaries Quiz Here. I challenge you to take it, I was surprised by my score and you might be too.
*I do NOT own the rights to this music video, those belong to Sarah McLachlan, her record label and affiliates, and YouTube.