the beauty of a restraining order, and other gifts

I spent time yesterday with a woman who is currently under a restraining order, borne out of domestic unrest. The details of how she got there are not nearly as telling as the way in which she is living into her experience. Once-familiar places, people, and possessions are no longer within her reach; her freedom of movement through long-established orbits has been curtailed. “The beauty of a restraining order,” she tells me, “is that I am forced to seek out new experiences.” We speak about how easy it is to become entrenched in our patterns, and I wonder why we so often must be dragged or shoved onto new pathways that have been right before our eyes all along. The words intrigue me: Any sense of order in her life has been tied down, held back. A complete reordering is her only option. “Truly,” she tells me, “it’s kind of a gift.” We visit a church and a restaurant that she has not set foot in for many years, and in her presence, I am the one who feels gifted.

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