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Thursday
Apr092009

Range of Motion

I wear filters in most of my relationships. I believe we all do. I have the daughter filter, the granddaughter filter, the neighbor filter, the political filter, the religious filter, the professional filter, and too many more to list. Each filter category has settings ranging from low-flow to high-flow. My settings vary based on several variables.

Does this mean I'm phony? Maybe a little. But, I view it as respectfully navigating social waters, while protecting myself from the sting of social rejection.

I was describing a relationship to a friend yesterday [one of the few friends with whom I wear no filters], and I was listing a couple of filters I wear with someone. I clarified that as I've gotten older and more comfortable in my own skin, the filters were looser than they used to be but still necessary.

I've been thinking about friendships and relationships lately. Who I feel accepted by, and who I accept fully. I'm recognizing that I can evaluate the depth of a friendship by the amount of room we give each other to be human beings.

There are people in my life who I afford more life flexibility than I afford myself. There are others for whom I've created boundaries, and I'm not comfortable when they cross or leave those boundaries. My parents, for example - not a friendship, but a significant relationship - have a defined space and list of acceptble behaviors in my mind. The space and behavior list continues to grow and broaden the older I get. Ironically, I expect them to be more generous with their acceptance and support of my choices. It's primal.

The conversation I had with my filter-free-friend yesterday resulted in clarity that's difficult to articulate. My friend commented, "... if your range of motion is that limited with [a person], is the friendship really that important to you?"

The people who allow you a full range of motion are gifts. I can think of three in my life. How many do you have?

Reader Comments (24)

wow... you really made me think. I've always been an open book... can't think of too many filters, except maybe professional or new acquaintance. Maybe I should develop them.. ?! Nah... I'm much too happy not having to worry about what to say to whom! I just am what I am.. And you're right.. the older I get the happier I am with who I am. Thanks for this.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpam
Great post - as usual!

I'm pretty comfortable with who I am so don't really filter that much, although of course, we all do. Especially at work or with touchy people.

As for the full range of unfettered motion, my kids, husband, sister, and maybe three friends.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLady Fi
It was probably a rhetorical question but I have two that allow me 360 degrees of motion (I'm talking 'lie on the witness stand about my secrets' kind of motion) - and the gratitude for those two can bring me to tears just thinking about it. I have another three that allow me 270 degrees of motion and I'm grateful for those as well - they round out my 'fave five' and I'm thinking of switching to T-Mobile just to prove it.

Great post.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCorbie
As you know, I'm deeply into a relationship and stuff triage [<--your word, I love it] process.

Chris, I really appreciate your posts and our emails on these topics so very much.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheri @ Blog This Mom!
I have no filters (as you now know after our free-for-all at Einsteins), but I sure used to. So worried about appearances. I've found that it's so much easier to be authentic and let people choose me for that than manage a catalog of personas. It's wonderful! I rarely have to garage sale any unused or old relationships anymore. :-)
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMs. Maxwell
With The Ladies, the filters disappear as I get to know them better - but how silly I am reflects how silly they are including the type of silly. With The Fellas - I am trying to be less filtered - but they seem less indulgent of the silly, which is tragic because its all i have to offer.

I hope i'm making a resemblance of sense - not complete sense, because that would be uncharacteristic.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeidre
I don't think I have many filters....but sometimes I think I should. What you see is what you get with me and so people don't like it and that's okay.

I can only think of one person that I have full range with and that would be my sister Bobbi. The great thing about her is that I think my kids will have this kind of a relationship with her too.
Great question your friend asked you? And I've have to say that my honest answer would be no. If we have to filter ourselves that much, it really isn't much of a friendship.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie
Sadly, right now, I have none. Sometimes I have three.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiddle-Aged-Woman
Gosh, what a thought-provoking post. I have seriously been thinking about this very topic lately, as I have just been making a concentrated effort to expand my social circle. We moved away from 'home' three years ago; I had a baby last year, and I quit my job shortly thereafter.

I went from being surrounded by my old friends (5 people there with whom I had no filters, and several others I had very thin filters with) to being surrounded by colleagues who respected (and liked, I hope!) me, to being home with a baby. I have one filter-less person here, and god-willing we'll be living together till we die, but I yearn for close girlfriends again. I have one great girlfriend here, and a couple of good ones, but we see each other so infrequently...and we just met - relatively speaking, in the span of our lifetimes - that I can't be completely myself ALL the time with them, like I can with my husband. We've been reduced to emails and phone calls since my daughter was born, so I hereby resolve to make more of an effort to see them in person more often. Great post - thank you!
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchristy
No doubt I should filter more than I do in some relationships, but I really FEEL what I feel, and it shows. Also, I don't believe people should be brutally honest and try to pass if off as being "real" and saying the other person can't take it, but I never pretend I agree with someone just so they get a warm, fuzzy feeling about me. I think that is worse than voicing the truth.

What you are describing I would think is a middle ground & a tad more "social" than my way, but you certainly don't turn into a "phony" doing it your way.

Oddly, the sting of social rejection doesn't bother me ;-0. ~Mary
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMary
At this point I would definitely include my mother. I could really tell her anything. And then a few close girl friends. But other than that, there will always be varying degrees of filters.

I don't really think it's a bad thing though. Total disclosure isn't always necessary!
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate Coveny Hood
It's true. Those friendships (where we can be completely ourselves with no filters) are so precious.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthe mama bird diaries
Whoa, you're deep tonight. I guess there are very few non-filtered relationships in my life, b/c I can't think of any that are totally no-holds-barred. And that's okay, I don't think anyone needs to see EVERY side of me.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. D
I have been thinking about this all day. I really couldn't give you an answer of the top of my head. I will say that I have a lot of filters. I know what I can expose and to whom. While I appreciate the people I don't have to have filters with, and I can only think of one, I don't think they are necessarily a bad thing. In some cases my filters are in place out of respect. I appreciate those who respect my value system even if theirs differs from mine and I try to do the same. I would not trade these friends for anything. It is worth it. In some cases the filters I have in place, again often out of respect, force me to be a better person. There are times when it is an unwelcome reminder of my shortcomings, but in the grand scheme of things, I know it is for the best. That all being said, I think it is also important to realize when a dead plant is no longer worth watering. I think we'd all like to have one of those all-in-one best friends, but I haven't found one yet. I have many friends who enrich many different parts of my life and at the end of the day I am grateful for each of them.
April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTristan
Am I allowed 2 comments?! The responses are so thoughtful that I had to re-respond! There is a difference between my oldest childhood girlfriend and a close friend made as an adult... I'm not sure why, maybe history, but I have a childhood friend who lived 2 doors down, and we really know each other inside and out. We have never lived in the same place as adults, but our kids are friends and we try to see each other at least yearly. I don't think I hold any more back from my friends made as an adult, but as my mom used to say, "you can't make an old friend." I am so lucky to have her, and we are very different adults. It doesn't matter.
April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpam
Of course you can leave two comments, Pam! Leave as many as you'd like - anytime! I like your mom's saying - it's so true.

Everyone: These comments are so very thoughtful and reflect how uniquely we each approach relationships/friendships. We all have a bag of experiences (or lack thereof) that color our opinions.

I personally don't think filters are a bad thing, generally speaking. But I've realized (about myself), sometimes I expect more from others than I'm willing to give them - as far as movement. I've also realized the filter-free (or close to it) friendships/relationships are gifts. Doesn't mean the friendships with filters (like Tristan pointed out) aren't genuine and important.

There's value in some (not all) "lifelong" friendships that have withstood the test of time - the changes we go through, personal experiments, disagreements, etc... When one of those friends remains standing after 20, 30, 40 plus years, and is standing firmly in their love for me, there's a level of trust and loyalty - SAFETY - that is difficult to achieve with a "new" friend (not that it can't be done).

These are all great comments. I wish we could get together for a beverage and talk about it more. Thank you.
April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Number three!! (You've given me permission, now watch out!) It would make a great live discussion, because, as you can see, every time I come back and read more comments, I want to respond! What an achievement, Chris! You've caused us all to think, rethink, and appreciate our friendships! Thanks!
April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpam
Yes, super-great post, Chris. I always love your honesty, it certainly shows us all as being basically the same, with our frailties and wonderings about ourselves.

With my sister I have zero filters. She knows all.

Hubby - no filters, much to his chagrin, I'm sure!

And probably one friend here, tho we've known each other less than 2 years. And defintely no filters with a couple friends I've had since childhood in Canada.

All else I guess is just human nature, filters are the little social masks we all wear. But not all uf us even realize we do wear them. You obviously do, which is cool.
April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJannie Funster
Wow, great post. I don't think I allow anyone I know full range of motion and vice versa. All of my relationships come with expectations. I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, etc... Unfortunately I don't have any actual friends with no other strings attached.

Anyways, multiple "filters" sounds so much better than multiple personalities, I think I'll use that from now on.



April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaycee
I know I probably should have applied a filter or two to my recent email conversation with you. I was pretty stuck on my point of view, and while my intentions were good, I was every bit the Taurus and for that, I'm sorry.

Filters are good. I mean, they're like fences. And fences make good neighbors. I have only one filter-limited friendship and I keep that one little teeny tiny filter in place because, well, no one really needs to see just how cluttered it is inside my head, do they?

Again, I'm sorry I went a bit overboard in my last email. I let my worry get the best of me.
April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDa Goddess
I've had very few relationships that are completely open. Surprisingly I have no filters for people I know I won't see again. I once had friends ask me (way back when) why I never talked about of the things I had with a guy on the bus (I just met). My reply was simply they had never invited such a conversation to take place.With your post in mind I'll be interested to see what new relationships I make and what if any filters will be in place.
April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
wow chrisy this is a great entry. i have just begun to discover this with very close friends myself - this discovery of true self. i'm also working on self acceptance and not having any filters when i'm dealing with ME! in the relationship with myself. that's a hard one for me...

love you and happy happy easter! hope it's a fun day with your boys!!

xo
April 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentershana
Lovely stuff lately. Enjoyed the snow pictures.

I too have many filters. Funny how few I have here in Blogland. I am what I am here, and I like the freedom.



April 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertysdaddy

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