The Safe Zone

This isn’t at all Brazil or wedding related, but I’ve had some thoughts about relationships (from friendship to romantic) that have been ticking around my head. And I want to share them. Ha

As someone who is extremely guarded and makes an art form out of maintaing a fluid safe zone, I’ve noticed a discrepancy whose allegiance I’m not certain of.

For example, in the case of romantic connections, my safe zone is so fluid that we can be fully into this thing and have admitted feelings and all that… yet if you were to cut it off, I would be okay. It’s not an emotionally aloof or stunted position by any means- it’s actually quite the opposite. I feel it, all of it, and part of that emotional sensitivity is dealing with the possibility of it coming to an end (abruptly or gradually). When you engage in any types of relationship with people, there’s always the chance that one day they just won’t want to fool with you anymore. You could be too clingy, too distant, too dramatic, too affectionate, they could have too much going on- for one reason or another, people decide that their lives function just as well or better without you in it.

As Orphan Y (from the Orphan X thriller spy series) is fond of saying-

“It is what it is and that’s all that it is.”

Part of my safety system includes an “in case of emergency pull this lever” feature. Where, if you drop me for whatever reason, I disconnect for a brief period. Then I fix it. Then I move on. And it’s legit all good.

However, the reason that I’m not sure of the allegiance of this particular discrepancy is because I realize that all emotional decisiveness is rooted in a thought. Emotions need base line thoughts in order to thrive. And, regrettably, the base thought is well I’m always the one that gets dropped anyway. I’m not someone people miss.

I carry that with me, which keeps my emotional failsafe fully charged and ready to operate at any given moment.

Whether it’s true or not is actually irrelevant to me. Holding onto negativity is never the healthy choice. Yet, there it is a part of me. And each time I go to release it, my heart uploads another story from my past, firmly validating the thought. And so, while I purge everything else- shame, regret, self deprecation- I permit that one thought to stay. Just in case I need to make a quick emotional getaway.

Is there a point at which you become so used to being hurt that you prefer to stay in some form of pain so that it can no longer surprise you?

Come to think of it, I’m like this in my friendships too. I live everyday with this, perhaps, over pronounced awareness that any of my closest friendships could dissolve into smoke. I’m ready to be removed from people’s lives at any given second. It’s not a paranoia or a depression, it’s- an awareness. I can’t discount the experiences I’ve had, hard times I’ve gone through, and painful lessons I’ve learned. Nothing is certain.

But then what?
What happens at this point?

Because, eventually, safe people attract other safe people. But when safe people get in close proximity to each other, they’re prone to not talking when ripples and eddies disturb the surface of things. Honesty, in a safe person’s hands, can easily be revealed as little more than a crutch hastily abandoned when push comes to shove. They never intended to actually be honest and vulnerable- it was just convenient in how it enabled them to maintain their extreme safety consciousness with a guilt free conscience.

Obviously, I’m not advocating reckless living or any kind of life sans prudence, but there’s got to be some middle ground here.

A way to be safe, and yet, fully engaged and able to take pain without shutting down.

At least that’s my particular weakness.

excel at taking pain.
But the currency exchange is often wads of cold hard disconnect and shut down.

Pain is such a curious thing. It poses as an autonomous entity, but it’s really just a leech with a penchant for capitalizing on expectation.

Think about it. Somebody you don’t know, whose opinion you don’t care about, tells you that your shoes are ugly. Who cares? There’s no pain there. Now take your significant other, or your stylist, or somebody you’re trying to impress or just show your fashion growth to- Those shoes are ugly! That hurts a little bit. Because we had some expectation, no matter how slight, of affirmation or encouragement.

Relationship failures ache because of expectation violently disrupted.
Parental failures ache because of expectation violently disrupted.
Religious failures ace because of expectation violently disrupted.

On and on and on.

When the expectation is disrupted, pain ensues. But why? Why do expectations have such a stronghold on our lives?

I believe that it’s because the heart of expectation is desire. We want something (even something we’re afraid to want) and no matter how strict we are with ourselves, some teeny tiny part of us carves out a microscopic area of expectation for it happening.

We desire something.
We expect the desire.
We feel pain when the expected desire is violently disrupted.

And, in my case, I just train myself to be familiar with pain so that it can’t surprise me anymore or throw me off course. Looking at it through this lens, though, perhaps the weakness isn’t at the end where the expectation is disrupted, but at the beginning when the desire first begins to take root.

Desire is serious business. And anytime a legitimate desire arises, we should confront it with all seriousness and examine it.

Am I really willing to commit to this desire? Am I open to all the roads this desire may be ready to lead me down? Will I permit myself the gift of wholeness should this desire not evolve into the desired outcome?

There’s no perfect way to handle desire, expectation, and expectation disruptions, but I feel this is a start. I know it is, actually, because I’ve asked myself these questions at times. And in the situations where I did, even if I was hurt, I was still content. And proud of myself. I committed to the desire and lived full out, instead of choosing to keep one foot straddled inside my safe zone. Because the first question to ask is always-

Is this desire MY desire?

My most enduring friendships, even though I know they can end any day, have endured because I still commit to them. I know those desires are mine. I don’t back down or sabotage. I’m all in with it. I’ve a couple of romantic interactions that fizzled right before they became something, but I could never regret one moment, because I was committed to being true to myself from the beginning.

If your desire is true to who you are, then committing to it is committing to being your truest self.

And that’s really the core of it all isn’t it?

Our deepest desire is to freely be ourselves, with all of our growth, gradations, and learning curves.
We expect the freedom, and the space, and the grace to do so.
And every element of life takes a shot at violently disrupting that expectation.

Thus, the safe zone is formed to protect that which can only thrive and reach its full potential outside of it.

Our true self.

Maybe the key to combatting pain isn’t necessarily building an immunity through constant exposure, but rather by developing a commitment to everything that’s true about me.

A commitment so strong it pulls me through any pain life offers.

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