DISTANCE: From Safety to Weapon

Quotes are a secret weapon. 

I love posting quotes that affirm me and are my secret arrows that build a case against things, people, notions, ideas, politics, or situations that offend and hurt me. I will come across a quote from Oprah, Brene Brown, Martin Luther King Jr., or Maya Angelou, that will eloquently say what I am thinking. Who is going to argue with Martin Luther King, Jr.? 

Quotes are selective and make us feel right about our beliefs and support our thoughts or actions. 

I came across a quote by author, Cheryl Strayed, (if you like transformation/journey stories read WILD --- it's incredible). The quote read, "If someone is being unkind or petty or jealous or distant or weird, you don't have to take it in. You don't have to turn it into a big psychodrama about your worth. That behavior so often is not even about you. It's about the person who's being unkind or petty or jealous or distant or weird. If this were summed up on a bumper sticker, it would say: Don't own other people's crap. The world would be a better place if we all did that."

Initially, I loved the quote as I placed myself in a position to receive its rich words. I felt the champion in me rising, and Strayed's words were an attack on all of the unkind, petty, jealous, or DISTANT….

Wait. I got stuck on that word distant. I read the rest of the quote, but suddenly the air in my puffed up sail began to dwindle. If my pride were a boat, that word distant left me lost at sea with a drooping sail and windless. I could point fingers to the people and seasons in my life when people had been unkind, petty, or jealous. But the DISTANT thing --- that was me. This quote had called me out. Here I was sailing along to these sublime words, which proudly rowed me in the direction of affirmation. Until DISTANT showed up lurching me into a storm of self-awareness stating: Kristy, you have some work to do! (said in my best Desi Arnaz voice).

I am distant when I feel threatened, wronged, attacked, judged, or hurt. Distance is my vehicle of retreat. 

Distance keeps us from having to use our words to fight back or work through the words to come to a place of peace (which sometimes means an ending). Distance is a way of NOT saying --- You hurt me and I do not accept this in my life. 

When we are wounded distance is our first step to an infirmary, that slowly leads to retreat. 

As kids, maybe we played a game with the neighbors where teasing ensued. There was always the kid who would suddenly, without explanation stand up and go home. Strayed's quote got me thinking; perhaps I was that kid. 

Are we willing to surrender prolonged distance for truth?

Sometimes distance is necessary for safety, or to avoid saying something hurtful at the moment. However, prolonged distance without explanation from people we currently or once cared about is a defense mechanism. Once the other person recognizes the distance, he or she may interpret the distance as a weapon used against him or her. 

I asked myself the question, "what would it look like to say goodbye?"

Sometimes we do not want to speak up because we fear confrontation, argument, or being overrun in a conversation. Fear leads to wounds that are stitched, but not healed. Fear leaves us without closure. What if there is an opportunity for reconciliation? Fear burns the bridges between you and me. 

Short termed distance can bring safety, clarity, and level-headed thinking. Long-term distance can lead to an infectious open-ended relationship that is in need of healing through acceptance by way of closure or reconciliation. 

We have the power to choose. 

It is okay to close the distance and head towards the shore. If certain relationships cause pain because people have been unkind, petty, or jealous, it is okay to close the distance to say, ‘goodbye.' It is okay to let go. And in some cases closing the distance will lead us to work through hurt to find reconciliation. Whatever the case for our specific circumstances it is time to reopen the sail and find the wind. Give yourself permission to close the distance and choose a path that will bring you peace and wholeness in relationships -- whether to have the courage to say goodbye or if there is enough good and safety left, both sides to commit to doing the work to reconcile.