Space, we call it a thing. Star Trek started its program with the words, Space, the final frontier. Conquerors of times before claimed lands, they planted homes and flags saying this area belonged to them, and they now owned it.
Disclaimer: this article was written pre-COVID-19
Personal space isn’t so easily defined. Do you run and hug a new coworker? Is a handshake necessary? When talking with someone do you leave a two feet distance? What about crowded places, are you in their space? Every culture has their own comfort level. And within each culture there are variations. Children and parents can hug and snuggle without discomfort, but you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and act the same way. Not unless you wanted to be punched. For etiquette read- >Don’t Stand Too Close.
Some days boundaries are natural. Put up a fence. Close the door. Hide in a closet. I can do these things. The one thing I have trouble with is an emotional cut-off. How do you close the door without hurting people? Clearing your emotional space is as important as cleaning your room. Sometimes they go hand in hand.
Emotional and Mental
If you were raised by controlling parents, emotional and personal space is probably an issue for you. I didn’t have the right to my own religion. Barely had the right to my choice of clothing. There was no arguing about politics or doctrine. In my state this is normal. Strict parenting meant good wholesome children. Spare the rod and spoil the child.
But when a child has no right to privacy, or they are threatened for having an opinion that is different, a line is crossed. I call foul. Emotional space is every bit as important as physical. Don’t let anyone take your life – space.
There’s a lot of information about boundaries. Here are a few links.
The other day, my therapist asked me how I was doing in this worrying time. Without familiar touch and close contact, some people become depressed, she said. I smiled and told her I’d enjoyed the freedom this time has brought me. I don’t like human contact except with my closest family.
Every culture has their comfort level. And in each culture, there are differences. The area is not so easily defined. How do you decide how close to stand to someone? Are you in their territory?
Moments such as these are history makers. They are a little uncomfortable, a little too tight, like a pair of new jeans. If we break them in, they’ll be old favorites. But until then, we have to learn to live as they are today. This is a time for rethinking our lives.
It is not a right or wrong challenge, contrary to the talk around the water cooler. We don’t need to pick sides. Let the others dispute over the correct number of people allowed to gather. Or, if any, should congregate.
Know one thing, it matters how well you can adapt.
For me, this is time for space clearing. Healing, learning, and creating are on the list today. I can do things differently. When the rules are changing, pay attention.
I wish you health and joy in the coming days. And remember to take care of those you love.
The masks we wear today are not so hideous as the ones from the early 1900s. FYI, I found some remakes on Amazon. For fun, I include the link.
If you want to have a bit of fun online, you could always use this as your profile picture.
BTW this is just a little light-hearted look at masks.
The mask or not mask argument is hot. People are willing to lose friends and family over this protective device. Could we be taking our stance, our seriousness too far? Imagine if your mask were the beak of 1917?
My mom was having a difficult time wearing masks. Unable to drive due to health issues, she only had access to my dad’s black utilitarian ones. I find this sad since there are so many pretty, trendy face coverings available. I don’t know if she will wear them, but I purchased her a couple if she needs them.
Let’s make this time fun. Make it a game or make it practical. It’s your choice.
Shall we? Let’s do it together. I’m serious. On the count of three—One, Two, Three, Sigh. There are days when I can’t hold it inside any longer. At work, every thing seems frustrating. If one more person calls to ask if I can rush a work order, it’s possible I might freaking yell at them.
If you’re exhausted, be kind to yourself and take a break. Make space for rest. Lighten the load if you can. Even an imaginary vacation can help for a time. Or grab a friend virtually and do a movie night together. In these days when everyone is working from home, I’m still commuting to work. I’m not complaining since it’s good to have a paycheck, I only need others to understand that I am not feeling the boredom from staying home. I would welcome my place, some couch time, and Netflix. But it’s against some companies’ policies.
We’re going to kick this thing.
I’m reading the book, You Are A BadAss. It’s a bit cheesy in its positive spin, but I needed it this week. A short shove in the right direction.
Never apologize for who you are. It lets the whole world down.
Sometimes when I’m in the bathroom, my cat will sit on the floor and stare at me. It’s creepy. You may ask why I don’t lock my cat out. I feel guilty. She is home alone all day, so I think I shouldn’t limit my time with her. But, I resent her stare.
Games we play
This game we play, you may recognize it. My cat stares, and I feel guilty. I pet her and allow her to rub around my legs. There’s only so much I can take with all that attention. We both mean well.
The funny thing about it, when I am with her, as in overextended vacations, she still meows when she doesn’t see me in the room with her. If I step outside to take out the trash or run an errand, it’s no different. She still wants the same amount of attention as she did when I’m home for a few hours. So in my great reasoning, I don’t think it’s because she misses me. I read somewhere that a cat’s memory is only a few minutes. Cats don’t know how long it’s been.
This guilt I feel is hollow. I am projecting how I would feel in her shoes (paws). So why am I feeling so miserable? What do I want? I like it when we snuggle up on the couch together. I love it when she greets me in the morning. Even when I come home. The time when I’m in the bathroom and staring at me is my fault. I let it happen. If I want to be alone at that time, I need to close the door. A simple thing.
How often do we do this? We yell at people unnecessarily instead of metaphorically and physically closing the door. Have you ever said, “Yes, I’ll do that for you,” when you feel like vomiting at the thought of doing it? We go along with things when we have other plans. We say yes to their idea even when we disagree. It’s not necessary. We think our actions are kind. All we’re doing is building up a reason to hate someone we usually love. That’s what resentment does. It builds a wall of hate. If enough resentment builds, what happens? We yell. We scream. We blame. We walk away in anger. Is this what we want? Is it inevitable?
A study was conducted. There was one playground with a fence and one without any borders. The children without a fence clustered towards the center. If you place a fence around a playground, the children used the entire area to play. I found this to be interesting. Boundaries in life are giving freedom. Ironic.
Right here and now
I have the right to close my bathroom door. I have the right to ignore my phone. I feel freer knowing I can fence off my time, declaring ownership. I can put up a barricade and stick my flag in the ground. It’s my time! Right here and now. Kings do it, presidents do it, astronauts do it in their country’s name, and so can you. If it helps, you can make yourself a flag and put it in the middle of your room or outside your closed door. Name your kingdom. Just remember, you’re the enforcer. Tell everyone you will call them later.
If this hasn’t been part of your life before, people may not honor your boundary. But if you continually tell them, they will learn to respect your fence. With cats, children, spouses, or parents, it’s no different. They learn what we teach them. If we teach them that it’s okay to call us names and hurt our feelings (by allowing it), that is what we will get. Some people in your life will need retraining. I like thinking of it as an experiment. Who is the easiest to teach? How long did it take? How did they react in comparison to a different person? Be firm, but not rude. repeat the same line 30 or 40 times if necessary. “I can’t talk now. I’ll call you at 5:00.” Don’t explain. Don’t vary. I’ve used this technique several times, and it’s like magic, but you have to state it firmly and without emotion.
We know emotions. They’re healthy, normal. A pet is sick or dies, and we are sad. If it is sunny outside, this could be a good day. We become excited. We plan for an adventure. There’s a hike, a few hours at the zoo with our family, or maybe the pool. A little sunburn isn’t bad. Even a tantrum from the three-year-old doesn’t spoil a day. Emotions are flavors added to the stewpot.
I’ve had weeks of crying jags for no apparent reason, and I’m bewildered as to what started them. I can’t recall an emotion. Am I sad? Angry? Sometimes I’ll stare at the wall or want to hide under the covers because life seems too much. It’s the tsunami crashing over my plans to move forward into a good life. I write lists and can’t seem to accomplish the tasks.
The difference in simple terms between an emotion and a flashback is the logic. I can be disappointed in an immediate event or happy about it. If I’m having a flashback, it’s illogical. I may be disappointed about the experience but also accuse others that they did this on purpose. I’ll feel like going into a dark hole for a longer time or rage about someone letting me down. And perhaps they did. The flashback has magnified the pain.
Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions (‘amygdala hijackings’) to the frightening circumstances of childhood. They are typically experienced as intense and confusing episodes of fear and/or despair – or as sorrowful and/or enraged reactions to this fear and despair. Flashback Management
How can you tell if someone has a flashback?
“Flashbacks sometimes feel as though they come out of nowhere, but there are often early physical or emotional warning signs. These signs could include a change in mood, feeling pressure in your chest, or suddenly sweating. Becoming aware of the early signs of flashbacks may help you manage or prevent them.”
There is a time in our childhood before we could name an emotion when we create patterns of feeling. It’s possible our parents were busy and tired. My dad worked two and sometimes three jobs. Mom helped when we had a business—three kids and not a lot of money. As the third child, it was a challenge to be noticed. I needed more than they could give. I cried with ear infections, and mom was exhausted. She needed a break. And there wasn’t one in sight anywhere for her. Now, it’s still difficult for me to ask for help.
One tool Richard Grannon teaches in his YouTube videos is for emotions. Many of us are not aware of our feelings. I wrote about this in a previous post, The Jungle of My Emotions. We befriend our emotions, even the ugly ones, and they soon become familiar. Name them as to recognize them. Are you afraid? Or are you feeling betrayed? This method has been helpful for me.
A decent way to do this is to set a timer for three times a day. Mine is 9:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. When the timer chimes, check-in with yourself. Are you bored, lost, sad, or feeling angry? Being aware of yourself is a start. There is plenty of help if you need it.
I don’t know your life or your family, only you know them. You swim in those emotions deep. It takes a near miracle, as the fish pulled from the water, to realize life can be different. I do have hope for me, and I have hope for you. If you can relate to any of this, follow some of the links. There is help. It can get better.
The holidays can leave me feeling like an abused spouse. I never think I meet the hidden expectations and wonder if I’m a failure.
How was your family time? Or aloneness?
Traditional holiday seasons are triggering. I cling to unfulfilled desires even though they will never be mine. I need the light of grace to see past the fog.
Joy in connecting
Today was a day for recovery. My guy and I walked around downtown. There’s a bookstore, Magic City Books, and we’ve wanted to go. I purchased a couple of books (below) after allowing myself a lengthy browse. We had coffee at the shop next door, and afterward, we went home. It was refreshing. No rush. Like the slow stretch you do when you exit the car after a long drive.
Maybe you do well through the holidays. If so, I’m glad. Let me know either way. I’d love to know.
There are three cats in my house, and they love it when I receive deliveries. We have boxes to jump into and hide. Dot, the rascally kitten probably has the most fun making himself small at the bottom, then pouncing on his sister.
In and out, and the noise continues. Paper rattles from the packing supply. I often forget they aren’t children. All of this play and fun is what they do. This is their life. And I wonder if humans forgot how to play?
After a few days of chaos and I’ve had enough of the hidden cat game, as well as the thudding sounds in the night. I stack the containers, one inside the other like Matryoshka Russian Nesting Dolls. This is my game. It pleases me.
If you have pictures of your crazy pets, I’d love to see them. You can share on this site or on Facebook/ShowUp
A friend of mine recently had a baby. It’s one of those smell the roses occasions when family and friends gather. And there together we hold a precious new life. That baby, who moments ago just forced it’s way out of its mother’s body with such ferocity to cause most women to scream was sound asleep. Some women curse and have such a personality change during childbirth their partners don’t even recognize them. Bringing the now docile tiny creature into its new environment was a fierce activity. Both mother and child become war partners together.
From the moment we are born, we have jumped into the mix that we call life. If you believe in reincarnation, then your birth was part of the big circle, and possibly a choice you made. If not, this is your one shot life! Either way, we all have a birth.
Life is full of trouble, step in that shit! -not the Buddha
With birth comes the family. If yours is like mine, it’s quite imperfect. And sometimes actually violent. They might show up drunk to your wedding or set you up with potential dates so you won’t be lonely. My mom pretends not to understand what I’m saying. I honestly thought she didn’t remember stuff or was deaf for the longest time, and now I’m guessing she was playing her form of gaslighting. Why It’s So Hard to See This Form of Childhood Abuse
As adults, we have a few bruises to our psyche. Life is the ultimate obstacle course that taught us how to drive, and we know of nothing different. We develop quirks to help us cope. Keep your mouth shut and don’t tell the family secrets. Always clean your plate. Be polite. Don’t talk back. Hypersensitivities usually develop when children are traumatized at a young age. You might say some are trained to be fully aware of their surroundings.
Listen to your life. Listen to what happens to you, because it is through what happens to you that God speaks. It’s in language that’s not always easy to decipher, but it’s there, powerfully, memorably, unforgettably
– Frederick Buechner
The strategies that made us are not the best thing to keep us healthy. We need to put away our childhood coping methods. The new software is required. We must learn new ways of caring for ourselves.
Your best protection isn’t cowering indoors. That’s a recipe for insanity. I know you’re familiar with stories of people who have tried such things — the crazed few. Knowing your truth is your salvation. What makes you smile and brings you joy? Find a way to grow your will power. Do something for yourself every day. Yes, it’s right for you to be selfish sometimes. Keeping boundaries and healing starts with your core. Begin by building your values, and your limits will follow.
People make crazy statements. Well, you have to take care of your job. I understand what they mean. It’s scarcity. They believe there aren’t enough office cubicles to go around for everyone. But this body, this person is far more precious. I can find another desk to roll my chair under, but who cares if I can’t mentally function anymore.
The same rules apply to relationships. You must take care of yourself. Don’t tell me how much that person needs you until you’re taking care of your needs.
You cannot hold me.
I am not concrete. I move. I change. You cannot use me as a prop to make your life easier. I am not property.
The breeze blows. Whispers in your ear. The air flows and you breathe, then it is gone. Did you expect more? It returned to the wind.
We are this moment. Play, work, struggle, holding our forms. But soon the body will be dust and ash stirred by the winds while in elation what remains flies on to further adventure.
How’s your sleep? Did someone hug you recently and let you know you are worth loving? We must, must remember. Our worth, our innate value is not a luxury. Tell yourself. It sounds stupid, I know, but it works. Show the world you have value by standing tall, brushing your teeth, and getting a good night’s sleep.
There are too many who will nudge you off the sidewalk of life if you let them. Don’t. And by all that’s holy, stop apologizing for being in their way. You belong.
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