Several weeks ago Goose and I had a conversation about boundaries. The limits that each person maintains to protect themselves. We all have them. It’s quite romantic to say ‘I’d do anything for you.’ ‘ I’d sacrifice anything for you.’ ‘I’d die for you.’ ‘I’ll love you unconditionally always and forever.’ Being the romantic that I am… I’m certain I’ve spoken these very words at some point in my life.
That’s when life came along and showed me the truth. I learned that even with my ever-loving heart, my depth of compassion, and my deep selflessness.. even I have limits. There are limits to the amount of sadness or disappointment or pain I’ll endure at the actions of another. Another who proclaims to love me. Be it lovers, friends, family, even my children. There are limits that I protect on the level of respect I believe I deserve.
So when I become involved with a new person in my life.. it takes time to show each other our limits. To see the yellow caution tape and the red warning lights flashing. We learn about the other person and they learn about us. That’s when the dance begins. All of us in our human-ness do this dance at times. We twirl ever too close to someone’s limit. We may even inadvertently cross a boundary. Hopefully to be pushed right back where we need to be. On the side of respect. On the side of honor. On the side of loyalty and trust.
That ‘uh-oh’ look on Goose’s face indicated to me that either the anesthesia was kicking in for another round or he had danced right through the yellow caution tape. Into the valley of disrespect and dishonor. That the level of his desire to have me in his life was worth the risk of crossing the limits of my safety. Of my trust. Of my love for him. Just like in the game of dodgeball he had gotten the ball and threw it, knowingly and forcibly right at me. It’s possible I should have seen the ball coming. It’s possible I shouldn’t have trusted him or believed his word. It’s possible.
What happens when someone crosses your yellow caution tape? What happens to the relationship? In years past, I’d personalize whatever happened. I’d believe that I had done something wrong. That I had caused this person to lash out. That I didn’t deserve their love or respect. That I was unworthy. This stems back to roots in my childhood. I had root rot. I had learned from a dysfunctional family system to accept blame that wasn’t mine. I had learned to believe these twisted realities. I learned them very well. They became me. I ran away to hide in shame that wasn’t mine. I ran away from whatever or whomever hurt me. And then, once the sting subsided, I’d try again.. ever harder to be worthy. To be valuable. To be enough to deserve their love and respect. I tried so hard. I didn’t know that it wasn’t about me. I didn’t know that it was about the other person.
It took a very long and arduous journey to undo the damages of those untruths. There are battle scars. But I am a survivor. I made it through to self-respect and self-esteem and I learned to value myself. I’m a pretty awesome person.. full of flaws and silliness. Awesome none the less.
So now sitting here with Goose across the table, the warmth of breakfast in my stomach and the stark yellow caution tape appearing across his face… I took a deep breath. And I began.
“Was that the Minneapolis Girl?”
The look on his face answered even before he opened his mouth. He was disappointed. Disappointed that I’d asked. Disappointed that I stood up for my self-respect. He had hoped that I would look the other way. But I didn’t. Really, he was disappointed in himself. But he wasn’t ready to accept that this was about him. About a choice he’s making, He wasn’t prepared for the effect. That’s when I became disappointed in him too.
“So what’s the status of this relationship with her? You assured me that it was done.”
The certain-ness in his tone told me all I needed to know. “It takes time to let go of someone.” He repsonded.
My response was certain too. “Does it?”
I got up and put on my coat and walked to my car. I put the key in the ignition and turned it. Goose had not followed me. I waited there warming up the car. As the heat began to blow warmth back into my reality, he came toward the car. It was a very silent ride back to Goose’s house. As I turned down the country black top nearing his house, I asked…
“Are you going to be alright to be alone? I have things I should get back to.”
He quietly replied yes. I passed by the dogs who were wagging until they felt the tension, then I walked through the starkly lit kitchen. There was no warmth here today. I opened the closet door and packed the clothes into my suitcase. Goose did not follow me. I carried my computer bag and suitcase to the car, looked at Goose who was feeding the dogs. His tail was between his legs and he had sad eyes. The last thing I said as I got in the car, was
There was no kiss or hug goodbye. There were no plans made for the next weekend. There was nothing more to say. I just drove.