Hey! Can You Let Me In? It’s Kind Of Cold Out Here!
Last night I was sitting in a court room with about 20 other people for a court-mandated program called Focus on the Children. Everyone in the room was there because they were either filing for divorce or custody of their children, or both. We all needed to be there, because the information being given had some value, but none of us wanted to be there, and if we had our choice, we’d be home. Therein the reason behind making the program mandated. Mandated is forced. Mandated is not always positive.
So there’s the scene: Twenty strangers together in a place and time not of our choosing, under negative circumstances. And I could feel it. The walls of personal space were reinforced like fortresses. I counted 50 chairs and with only 20 people, no one sat next to each other. Hell, even I put the literature they gave me in the seat next to me as a warning: “Move on. This seat is taken.”
I shocked myself with that one. Me…Miss Open…Miss Trusting…Miss What You See Is What You Get. But everyone in the room was doing the same thing. Eyes straight ahead, arms held close to their body, and with the exception of that one guy who kept asking questions about mental stability issues of a spouse, no one spoke. I could almost see the barriers that encased each one of us.
Then my thoughts jumped to my friends, most of who I’ve met by hanging around the martial arts center where my sons take classes. There was a time when all of us would do the same thing as those in the court room. We would sit with the space of an empty chair between us, but at least we’d sort of look at each other, smile, look away, smile again, make some sort of comment and then stop talking until the time came to do it all again. Now, though, it’s a hug-fest whenever any of us walks through the door, pulling up the chairs for each other so close that our knees touch when we sit.
So where’s the tipping point? When do we make it okay to drop the shields and let others into our personal space? What triggers the green light to peel away the layers of our person and reveal it to others?
For me, I have no boundaries – sometimes a liability – and let just about anybody into my space. That’s just the way I roll and sometimes I forget others don’t think like me. When I get in close proximity to someone I don’t know, I can feel the energy pressing outwards. And, yes, I have been known to ignore protocol and enter their space anyway.
For everyone it’s different. Remember the woman at the grocery store? It took but one hug to go from stranger to friends. I have a really good friend who, after something like three years, has shown me a side of her I never would have guessed. It took her that long to shed the last of her last few layers.
So what is it for you? What do you look for in someone? Is there some special quality that makes it okay to touch your knee with theirs when sitting together? Better yet, is it you who makes okay…or is it the other person?
Remember, a stranger is only a stranger until you know their name.
Posted on December 14, 2011, in Friendships, Health, Personal, Relationships and tagged boundaries, Diana Murdock, Diana Murdock's blog, hugging, personal space, touching. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.