I have blurred boundaries. It takes me no time at all to slip into another’s shoes. I can feel their conflict, their hurt, their misunderstandings,their pain. I can walk a mile in their moccasins, or Crocs or Sandals.
Like an actor walking into a part I can inhabit another, become another, feel another’s conflict, grief, pain and struggles. It’s not as easy for me to let all of that go and be able to feel my own joy.
And yet, given a choice, I would have it no other way. Practice makes perfect, I’m told. And so during this month, the month that my grandson Gregory died of SIDS, I don’t only remember him, I don’t only feel sad that he’s not in my world any longer, but I miss all those other babies that I held and loved for every one of them was “mine.” I walked in the shoes of their mother, their sisters, their dads, and anyone else who loved them. I cried enough tears for all of them. Not separate. I was one of those mom’s, grandmas, aunties, dads, brother, sisters etc. I grieved as though they had been born to me. As I said, I have blurry boundaries.
But it was that very ability, dare I say gift of mine, my inability to make myself separate, that also allowed me to see life from many different views and never to feel alone. I’ve missed people I loved when they moved to another place whether through relocation on earth or into death but I’ve truly not felt lonely that I remember.
The ability to live a storied life, is much like the ability to put yourself into a characters place in a book or a movie. It allows you to get close to feeling the pain they feel, the love they feel, they allow you to practice or be an intern in life. I’ve learned as much from others’ tragedies as from my own. I know there’s nothing special about me and my pain, I’m no more special than anyone else.
The boundary thing is something that is foreign to me. Unless I know for sure that someone is going to hurt me because they have before, or because I recognize what’s a danger to me because of who I am, I have no need to set boundaries that separate me from another. It’s an illusion for me. That kind of separateness is hard for me to digest. Only when someone is going to hurt me for sure, or I’m going to hurt someone else because of my inability to treat them in ways they need to be treated because of my own needs, do I set a boundary…and that is as much for the other as for me. I play fair, and I know that.
Wearing another’s situation, fitting into it perfectly – or not fitting into it at all––has helped me adjust to my own life, and to make better choices. I have no knowledge of “forgiveness.” I mean if I can understand it, there’s no need to forgive. That’s God’s job if He judges, not mine. In the rest of life I’m like a kid, if someone pisses me off, I get mad, I throw a fit or not, and before I know it, I let it go. Unless they’re mean kids. Then I just don’t want to hang out with them.
Blurred boundaries have caused me terrible pain sometimes but they also saved me lots grief cause I never felt alone, never thought life or fate or God was picking on me. It also allowed me to forgive myself for my mistakes and let me live a rich and varied life.
IT took me past the boundaries of time and place because my father read to me from when I was a very small child, great classics and works of the great philosophers and because of that I had a sense of myself in time and in eternity. I could have been those Spartan youths that had to build their strength my enduring physical pain, I could have been those stoics that had do bear the pain and not let it master them. I could have been anyone at any time
So it is with gratitude I embrace the me I am right now, and know that while I was taking care of others I was also caring of myself.
Now, I’ll continue to work on finding and feeling my joy.
For all of us.