I think we all have those moments. Those moments when we almost, almost, let our boundaries slip, because we feel nostalgic for what was. Even if what was wasn’t healthy.
We spend so much time and energy, blood, sweat, and tears, getting ourselves out of unacceptable situations, and in the process we learn to create healthier boundaries. Hurts so good, right?
And after all is said and done, we are left with this hole, this void. The place where the unhealthy relationship or situation used to be. And no matter how much we know with our logical brains that it was unhealthy, our hearts still feel shattered.
And so it is with mixed emotions that we keep those new boundaries in place. It is with the lightness of newfound freedom, and the heaviness of loss that we hold the space open, not filling it just to be comforted, but holding it open because we finally value ourselves enough to wait for what could be.
For what we are, in fact, worthy of.
And we are worthy of so much. We are worthy of all the love on the planet, all the shining radiance of the stars in the skies, all the fiery passions of the most spectacular lightning, and all the freedom of the vast liquid oceans.
And so we hold that space. We hold it because we believe in ourselves.
It would be a beautiful thing if it ended there, or if we waited awhile and then the perfect person or situation or job or creative idea fit our jagged edges and soft curves perfectly, and we knew it was the one.
But life is messy. And sometimes it doesn’t go down like that. Sometimes that void starts to feel lonely, or that space feels large and empty…and long. Sometimes there isn’t much forethought to it at all. Sometimes we just feel nostalgic for the good parts of the situation that didn’t work, and in our heads, we conveniently skip over the rest.
And in those moments, it’s hard not to fill that void. It’s excruciatingly difficult to keep the space open for the promise of something better to come at some unnamed time in the future. It’s hard not to eat, or shop, or numb out with drinks or TV, or whatever poison softens the jagged edges.
Sometimes there is an ungodly magnetic pull back to the thing you walked away from in the first place.
It’s familiar. It had its good points, which is why it created this giant hole you’re feeling now anyway. It fit for a long time. Or, it sort of fit. Or, the round peg was small enough that you could sort of jam it into the square hole…for a while. Or it made you feel great, until it didn’t.
The sex used to be great, it was the problem with commitment that presented the insurmountable hurdle. The job was really satisfying, except for the horrific hours and unrealistic demands. Controlling food used to feel like a modicum of control in a life that otherwise had no straight edges. Sex with strangers felt like approval. Overdoing it with booze or drugs used to allow an escape from real life.
It could have been any of these, or a million others.
And they are the easiest things to slip back into when that nostalgia rises up, and holding space for better possibilities in the future – ones that have not yet come to fruition – Feels. So. Fucking. Hard.
But we’ve gotten this far. And the goal hasn’t changed. Whether we’ve succeeded in holding that space and maintaining those healthier boundaries for an hour or a day, a week or a month, a year or ten years, these moments will arise. They don’t even get easier. We just learn better tools to help us stay the course. Bigger tool belt.
We learn how to make the choices that payoff in the long term, rather than gleaning for us that immediate gratification which too often quickly turns into remorse. Sometimes it isn’t remorse, but rather starting the learning journey over again.
And sometimes it’s just disappointment that we have to go through the possibility of once again not getting what we deserve, once again setting up those boundaries that we drove a slow zamboni over…and to what end?
If you are willing to look at things from a slightly deeper, slightly more woo-woo perspective, it is worth considering whether we change the trajectories of our lives when we make one decision over the other. If we choose to jettison all the hard work we’ve done and say fuck it, I want to feel that familiar feeling wrap around my bones and take me away, if only for a little while, does that alter the chances of something or someone showing up in our lives to authentically fill that space we’ve been holding?
On the flip side, are we tested at various intervals along the way to assess our commitment to ourselves and our belief in our own worth, and only when we have unlocked the expert level will the right person or situation show up in our lives to partner with us in a healthy way? There is a part of me that seriously wonders if we have to prove our ability to stick to the new patterns, or at least not fall back into the old ones, before the gold shows up at the end of the rainbow. Whether we are proving it to ourselves, to God, to the Universe, or to our dog, I couldn’t say.
Some may say that’s looking too far into it, and assigning responsibility where it doesn’t belong. Others may be willing to entertain the idea that we, for lack of a better term, have to attain certain levels of learning along the way in order for the next element to show up in our lives. I don’t know the answer, but I tend more towards the “I need to learn this lesson before I can move on to the next” line of thinking. It resounds with me.
And so, I do my damndest to hold space, even when all I want to do is fill it with the ghosts of Christmas past. With shopping. With mint Oreo Blizzards. With sex. With wine. With naps. With behaviours that don’t fit the person I am working so hard to be, the healthier person, inside and out, than I ever have been at any time before.
…The person who is worth more than what used to fill that space that I am fighting like hell to hold open-and-waiting for the better that’s coming my way.
Tell me in the comments below: what has your experience been with holding your boundaries, slipping into old behaviours, and holding space for new things to develop or show up in your life?