“I don’t know how to love us through this,” I told her as we scaled the first hill of our hike. The spring wind was rough, rustling up all that was dead and making way for the new. Green buds made themselves known on every tree we passed. My friend and I had made a last-minute plan to get some fresh air and exercise and, of course, a venting of the latest life problems were being served up fresh by each of us.
She was barely out of breath as she replied, “I don’t think you can worry about her, honey. Love yourself and keep those boundaries.”
I myself was breathing hard and heavy and had to remind myself to be gentle about it. “I felt bad when she complained about it. I didn’t understand her view of things- I still don’t. It’s like we were at two separate events. I would not ignore someone who reached out to me- not ever. And I want the little ones to feel comfortable always. So much of this is out of my hands, and really, I thought she preferred it that way.”
My friend looked over her shoulder at me as she rounded the bend of tall oaks first. “You’re not meant to understand. You’re meant to accept.”
I shook my head, half-listening and half-still wanting to complain. “I cannot wrap my head around someone who will not ever speak to or communicate with me directly and yet will use second-hand news as if it’s the same as knowledge.”
I could hear the gentle smile in her voice. “And that’s how you see it, eh?”
“I don’t even know, not really.”
She stopped to lean against a tree and take a swig of water. “Well, first of all it’s a pretty human thing to take gossip as gospel. People do it all the time. It’s not helpful, of course. As for the not wanting to to talk to you, consider: Why do you avoid people, Danielle?”
I narrowed my eyes at her, my hands on my hips, and tried to take in her meaning. “You mean like social anxiety?”
“Sure,” she replied. “Why do you not talk to certain people?”
“Well, because I’m afraid.”
Her shoulders relaxed as she held my gaze. “Right,” she said.
I took this in and said nothing for a moment.
My friend continued, “You’re trying to understand something you’re not meant to understand. You’ll go round and round and keep missing the point. I don’t know this person, but a fool could see she’s afraid. And, in the end, that’s not what matters. The only boundaries you can keep are your own and you can abide by hers, which clearly include triangulation. You can either keep resisting it by ‘trying to understand’,” she said this by, annoyingly, making air quotes. “Or you can accept it and move forward- helping the ones you love with acceptance too.”
I sighed. “Yes,” I said. “I do know this. I’m just not used to ‘enemies’. The whole thing makes me so uncomfortable. I keep wanting to make it right.”
She smiled and laughed at me, offering me her bottle of water. “I hear you, but this isn’t difficult. It’s a slow-burn forgiveness lesson, that’s all.”
I took a swig. “So acceptance and honouring boundaries, that’s how I love us all through this.”
My friend nodded. “We’re all just learning to love ourselves. There’s nothing that separates us, not really. But we have to honour the journey and the journey will involve boundaries for sure.”
I handed back her water bottle and we started off toward the next hill. In the end, there was nothing fresh about our problems. We vented and complained about the same old things in different forms, but we were always willing to learn.
Or willing to be willing.
Or resisting entirely.
Copious amounts of cheese?
There’s willingness in me. Somewhere.
There is in us all.