We all talk blithely about healthy boundaries. Most of us are pretty lousy at them.
We’re a very informal society these days. In many ways that’s a good thing. But in other ways it makes the notion of formality a bad thing. As with so many reactions, perhaps the push back has been too hard and there’s sacred middle ground to be negotiated. Here’s one friend who’s got me thinking about this:
I had a long catch-up conversation with a friend who’s going through a divorce. Her not-so-young-but-still-tender-aged children are reeling in the midst of a family break-up. She’s a lawyer and a case she’s been working on for years is at a crucial point. She needs to be sane for this case and she can’t merely chuck the case because working gives her life some semblance of order and her need to earn a living is now more important than ever.
She lives in a small city, but she and her ex are well-known. However “amicable” her divorce, she’s profoundly sad and off her center. She’s struggling.
What she needs from her friends right now is sometimes to be able to say how sad she is and other times to be completely distracted. She needs to lead the conversations. If she wants to know about your divorce, she’ll ask you, but her divorce is special to her… some day she may be able to hear that this break-up is just like everyone else’s break-up, but this one, in all its raw ugliness is hers. She’s never felt so alone in her life. At this moment that is true for her.
So friends need to traipse carefully. And strangers or acquaintances need to talk about the weather or a great book they just read that has nothing to do with divorce. Outside the tight circle that’s holding her heart together, it’s helpful for her if life isn’t focused on her and her problems. It’s important to her that people are discrete, unless she asks for support.
That’s the deal — to let her lead. It’s a delicate dance, but it’s life. And I realize I’ve got a delicate dance to understand this, and then to find words… Perhaps always the questions are what what is yours, what is mine and what is ours in this life dance. Having our own isn’t a wrong thing, it’s a true thing. Negotiating this stuff is the Dance of Peace… I’ll keep thinking… you think too, ok?