Safe Distance


The perpetual feeling of anxiety that comes from living with an unhealthy relationship can be quite pervasive. One does not realize how it permeates every corner of your life until there is distance from the cause. Having lived with an emotionally unstable spouse the cycle ranged from extreme anger directed at me to an attempt to overcompensate for the outrage to extreme distance and isolation. Guilt among other triggers caused a need for him to try and control the situation, typically beginning a cyclic spiral down into the darkness. While I didn’t realize it, I had become hyper-vigilant, able to see many of the clues of the initial stages of a cycle.  I have developed excellent skills at the ability of de-escalation. While I understand the patterns, which is a logical approach, I have never been able to understand the emotional approach to the behavior. How one can treat another person with such hostility and strive to damage their psyche, their dignity, I will never understand.
So today I found myself projected back into the anxiety and fear by a single text. The father of my children, my ex, has had little interaction about their well-being since prior to the divorce so years of little to no interest. His last consistent interaction was when there was a guardian ad litem involved; he quit the asking questions the day the report was filed. When I received a text inquiring about the well-being of the children I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of dread. Any normal situation, which would be perfectly acceptable but knowing history of this behavior all normalcy is out the window.  I inquired, “Why do you ask?”. He responded with his typical attempt to be dismissive when he was attempting to rebound from his guilt and cover his actions, “No reason”.
Being instantly faced with overwhelming anxiety, dread I have not felt for so long,  I realized that the distance has allowed me great perspective.  At that moment I realized my skills has become lax.  Distance from the behavior has afforded me the ability to relax and while I do tend to prefer a bit of planning, I no longer need to weigh the intention of every interaction, no longer fear the intention of every word.  I need to learn that I am safe and secure. I no longer need to fear the fallout from someone else ‘s actions.  I wonder how long a single interaction will project me back into those emotions.
“ It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” -Aesop


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