Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Boundaries are tough.  Where do I end and you begin?  For what am I responsible? Not responsible?  How do I keep from being swallowed or engulfed but not put up a fortress?  Is it possible to protect the things that are most important to me without stepping all over you? What is acceptable? What not?  What can be done when someone violates my boundaries?  How do I stay safe but still engage?

In the past boundaries for me have been of two extremes, either permeable and unhealthy or totally solid allowing no access in or out.  This hasn't worked out too well as it either has kept me completely isolated or trapped in toxic relationships.  What I need is to learn how to remain autonomous but still engage while keeping my integrity, not hiding or pretending. I am responsible to take action when my boundaries are violated.  Playing the victim and blaming has not been all that effective so far.
Me when my boundaries are crossed
 As a child my mother saw any attempt on my part to individuate as an affront to her.  In her mind, being her child, I belonged to her.  She saw my behavior, my appearance, my actions all as a reflection of her and if I made a mistake,  she felt the embarrassment and shame.  If I succeeded she took the credit and felt accomplishment.  For my mom, any emotion be it anger, sadness, anxiety, shame or fear had to be blamed on someone or something else.  She could never be responsible and so her feelings became my fault.  My job was to anticipate her feelings and to fix whatever was causing them.  I was responsible.

 For her

Eventually this dynamic generalized to everyone and as a result I never grew up, blamed all of my disappointments, failures and sorrows on the world and longingly waited for someone or something to come along and fix me.  When nothing was forthcoming I withdrew and detached myself from the world as much as possible.  Not knowing how to set boundaries made me a  nice, polite doormat who hated everyone and everything.   I became a misanthrope.  Pushing down my own needs and beliefs made me ugly, angry, anxious and depressed.  It is in fact how I became dark and twisty. 

That is until Sunshine and Happiness. (And no she didn't "fix me" but her support sure helped me accept myself as I am.)

Recovery in AA and my relationship with S&H have taught me that I need to be clear about  my boundaries.  A big lesson has been that I am responsible for myself.  I must ensure that my boundaries are respected and take action when they are not.  I may not be able to change the actions of another person but I am responsible for how I respond to those actions.  If  a boundary is violated I have a choice.  I can wimp out, allow it and pretend or I can take an action to let the boundary violator know that the violation is not OK and this is what I'm going to do about it.

Ah....so easy to say, but tomorrow I'm going to get to actually practice this shit.

In the morning I'm taking my mom to the doctor.  I do really love my mom but she can be toxic.   As a child I was powerless to do anything about her batshit craziness and how it affected me because under threat of physical harm I had to be a compliant, obedient, "good girl."  Today I am a grown up and SHE IS NOT THE BOSS OF ME, so if I allow myself to people please and pretend, I have only to look in the mirror to see who is responsible.  Tomorrow I am going to set a boundary with my mom and this is what I want my it to look like:

This though is what I am afraid my boundary is going to look like after my conversation with her.

For this not to happen I need to remember that I'm not responsible for her or her reaction, just my own.  The only person I have control over is me and I can't change her or expect that she is going to be different.  I don't though have to accept unacceptable behavior and I don't have to pretend to agree with her meanness to others, her blaming and her lack of awareness and remorse.    I have worked hard to develop my own opinions, my own values and my own life and she can't hurt me without my permission.  I am going to do my best to set my boundary with gentleness and love while staying true to myself and not backing down.  The amazing thing is that if I succeed....

It will be a first.