The need for boundaries some reflections

I struggle with boundaries, I now know its part of the reason  I struggle with my spine, with not being engulfed and overwhelmed and with claiming the life and relationships I need.  I can be too open to the sadness around me (or should I rephrase that to be more self accepting), I can be so open  to the emotions of others that they become contagious, especially in my family and it becomes detrimental to me when I over care from that place.

And yet reading this back, to not care as deeply would mean I am no longer me, in my deepest soul, that I have dis aligned myself with what others have told me, too sensitive, not your problem, look after number one the last bit making very good sense, the question being can I care deeply and yet detatch too from the compulsion to overextend, realising there is a time and place to let go when that would be best for me? But letting go doesnt mean I don’tfeel the reality.

My deep perceptions and sense of things often gets dismissed or knocked back and yesterday it was explained to me how this has to do with other’s struggle to know and open to their own emotions and with a rejection of vulnerability.  This pattern can end up with me feeling like the bad one and getting scapegoated and thinking I need to change or what I percieved is wrong. It occurs to me  that psychologist R D Laing wrote about this trauma of tangled perception in damaged families in much of his work and in the book Knots.

This pattern of being dismissed out of hand or rubbished has led to deep self doubt in the past, I have needed therapy to understand the dynamic, and I still get confused at times.   And at other times I think I extend my own boundaries beyond personal concerns in a codependent way or negate myself. In my last relationship I was told I had to put sadness behind me or it was over, and I tried but in the end I could not, even writing this is painful, I feel I failed.

Yesterday in a book on boundaries I read how there are two types.  Defining boundaries are like our skin, they speak of who we are and what we must be and cannot change to be authentic in this life.  Then there are protective boundaries which are like clothing we can put on and take off in response to how others treat us, either with respect and acceptance or abuse.

In order to be healthy we need to know when to put a protective boundary in place.  Others may argue and may feel that our setting a boundary has hurt them deeply but still to be honest we have to stay true in the face of that.  This I realise I have struggled with.  According to the auther we can also struggle with difficult feelings in response to setting boundaries or having them placed on us. Fear of rejection is a huge one, fear of others anger or dissapproval, fear of social exclusion just some that come to mind.

There are some of us who in wishing to be accepted and loved over ride our need for boundaries and in doing so we suffer, if we extend beyond what we truly need for health.

I am beginning to see I come from a family who all struggle with boundaries, too and force their boundaries on each other sometimes, while respecting at others.

If we have deep unhealed wounds too, we can attract and try to attach to others in a situation where we unconsciously project our own wounds onto them (and the wound we share can be very similar) and try to help them, when reallly our work is to heal ourselves.  Or unconsciously seek others to do so.  This is a familiar dynamic in the narcissist/empath relationship.

If our boundaries were not respected in childhood or we learned by teaching or example to consistently over ride them we have real work to learn how and when to implement boundaries both with others and in the way we treat ourselves and our bodies. Its a process and we make mistakes and learn along the way.

In the end it is an energy process, we need to build our reserves through  consistent self love and self care in order to have a fund of love to give from. How much can we give others when we are depleted ourselves?  And what if those others are actually acting in self destructive ways? Does giving from ourselves end up in disease and disaster?

Right now I need to set a boundary with my blog, its morning and I am thirsty and hungry so I need to put down the tab and make brekkie, in time i will return to my blog, old me would just keep typing and end up feeling depleted……

There is more to learn about boundaries.  I am looking forward to reading the book Beyond Boundaries through.  In the end a deep desire for connection is what also draws us to collapse boundaries, in some situations and with some people it may be  worth the risk, and maturity may mean we can deal with the consequences when and if pain teaches us we over reached or made a poor choice in opening our hearts.

3 thoughts on “The need for boundaries some reflections

  1. This is a timely post. Yesterday I set a boundary with a woman who simply believes that she is the center of the world. I was having a discussion with someone in the laundry room and she came in and began to speak as if I was not there and already speaking. I asked her very sharply to let me finish, but I also said, I’m not in therapy to enable your horrible narcissism. This is someone in my family. I have never been able to do this before. And she did the only thing she could do. She left. I didn’t feel entirely good about this because I was taught by a female narcissist that women have the right to walk all over me. As I review the incident I realize that I was simply enforcing a social code that most healthy people understand by the time they’re five: you don’t interrupt people when they are speaking.

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