Sunday, January 28, 2024

Where’s the Line?

 Hello Invisible Audience,


Have you noticed that I think a lot? It’s hard for me to gauge how much I think compared to anyone else—I don’t live in anyone else’s head, after all—but man, sometimes I wish I were better at shutting down the thoughts. Sometimes I wish things felt clearer to me, when, in reality, I think a lot of life just exists in murky gray spaces that are hard to define. And even as the world tends to lean more toward black and white, I’m finding myself standing in more of a gray area and trying to figure out how to be comfortable here.


I always want to know where the line is. It doesn’t even matter which subject we’re talking about, but that question constantly haunts me.


·      Where is the line of trying to stay friends with someone who frustrates me or doesn’t show up how I need them to?

·      Where is the line of how many lies is too many in a conversation with a potential new friend?

·      What is the number of times a promise is broken before it’s not worth keeping the promise-breaker around?

·      Where’s the line of how much I can exercise before I will tip myself into multi-day fatigue?

·      Where’s the line of number of voice memos it’s ok to send a friend in a day?

·      Where’s the line of trying to hold onto a job versus trying to find a new one?

·      Where’s the line of medical appointments that help, versus the number that simply exhausts me more?

·      Where’s the line where I start to feel better?


There are so many lines, Invisible Audience. And I don’t know what to do with most of them.

To be honest, I want someone else to define these lines. I want a concrete number of lies I can catch someone in before I give them the boot. I want the number of minutes I can exercise to be the same every time I try, regardless of whether I’ve had a busy week or a bad night’s sleep. I want to just clearly be making so much money that I don’t have to ponder whether it’s time to throw in the towel on the business I’ve built because I’m too tired to grow it but I don’t want to let it go. 

I want black and white lines, Invisible Audience, lined up in neat little rows, spaced exactly equidistant from each other.


But here’s the thing: when I have tried to live in that kind of black and white world, things have been worse, not better. People are shittier to each other. People judge each other more, because they say things like, “If I can do it, so can you. It’s easy,” because to them, it was easy. And that’s the kind of black and white thinking that has made things worse.


So I have to slog through each of these questions for myself, Invisible Audience. I have to decide for myself what works best. And dammit, that’s a lot more work than just deciding it’s one way or another, always and forever amen. 


I listened to a podcast last week with a woman who kept her father in her life, even though he was verbally abusive. The podcast itself was about how boundaries are not black and white, either: the question is not whether to cut someone out of your life completely or not; it can be much more nuanced than that. In this case, the woman would allow her dad to be part of her life as long as he didn’t drink in front of her or her son, and wasn’t mean. As soon as those things fell apart, she’d stop talking to him again until she was ready to reengage. 


She said something that I’d heard before, but it stuck with me this time: There’s no right way. There’s just the way that I pick.


Certainly, there are things that really are black and white. If you don’t eat, you will die. Children should be loved, not abused. Peas are disgusting.


But most things aren’t, Invisible Audience. And the more I try to make them that way, the less it serves me.


Love and gray kisses,