Beware: Falling Boundaries Ahead

Beware falling stick men

Beware falling stick men (Photo credit: Fimb)

Here is a little fact you might find interesting…..for the great majority of my life I have been boundary-less  It has only been in the last few years that I came to that realization and truly understood the impact living without healthy boundaries has had on my life. Perhaps my lack of boundaries contributed to my lack of self concept or self-image.  I was never taught boundaries, in fact I was taught quite the opposite. My worldview for most of my life meant doing anything and everything I could possibly think of to keep the people who were around me happy. That was it. I actually took on ownership of everyone else’s happiness, at the expense of my own. It sounds so truly absurd now, but in fact I never gave my own sense of well being or purpose a second thought. It never occurred to me that I was responsible only for myself and my own thoughts,feelings, and beliefs.  My distorted view of my own reality was an enormously heavy self-imposed weight to bear. And a very damaging weight at that.

After many years of introspection and therapy, I finally got the message. This major AHA moment created a huge shift in all areas of my life. Finally relieved of the burden of caring for everyone else’s emotional state, I was able to peel apart the layers that made up my own true self. Like a well varnished piece of antique furniture, I had many layers to go through before getting down to the true core. Once there, I started in on the process of refinishing myself in a way that felt authentic and made ME feel good. This is still very much a work in progress.

With the holidays now upon us, I find my newly learned skills being put to the test with enormous frequency and pressure. Holidays are supposed to represent family, love, sharing, and community spirit of giving. But when you have taught all of the people in your life that you have no boundaries and will do whatever is necessary to keep the peace, well the holidays look downright terrifying and are filled with confusion, tension, and many many tears.

One of the hallmarks of setting healthy personal boundaries is the ability to communicate with others assertively. I have been accused of passive-aggressive communication efforts more than once in my life. Learning to assert yourself is not easy. As a matter of fact it is downright hard some days. But the great thing is, there is always another opportunity to practice this skill right around the corner. Learning to set healthy boundaries is scary and uncomfortable and goes against the very grain of survival skills that allowed me to endure an abusive, traumatic past. But my past does not equal my future, and in order to thrive and become the healthy happy person I was born to be…..I need to set healthy boundaries.

Well, turkey day is now a thing of the past and I am happy to report that I made it through without compromising my values or self worth. I know that more challenges are on the horizon, and old habits can be hard to break, but I am committed to the journey. For those of you reading that identify with my journey, I offer a few well written articles on the importance of healthy boundaries. For those of you who have set and managed well defined boundaries, I ask you to share your wisdom with the rest of us. Allowing our true self to emerge, grow, and flourish is the life’s work all of us have been given. Let’s help each other through this.





12 thoughts on “Beware: Falling Boundaries Ahead

  1. Your story here is something I could have written myself. Every word rings true. It is sad that we were raised without understanding boundaries, and those who shared my upbringing still have many issues with boundaries, both their own and now my established ones. They have a hard time understanding why they can’t manipulate me, they take it personally that I won’t be twisted into what ever they want, in order to make THEM happy! I doubt they understand my anxiety at the thought of their visits, which is higher than at any other time. I would love to be able to enjoy time with my family, but they simply have taken no time to develop their self-awareness and so boundaries are too foreign a concept for them to respect.
    I have all but withdrawn completely from them for this reason, trying to be pleasant and interactive from a place of guarded self-protection is extremely difficult, and I fear I may over react sometimes, as a form of over-compensation for all the times I have let them walk all over me. I wonder if I will ever be truly comfortable with them, and that is sad. Thank you for this post. It is comforting to know someone else understands. Blessings to you!

  2. I am also on the journey to finding my authentic self and forming boundaries. Not an easy path at all

  3. I’m guilty of having to overcome too rigid boundaries because I didn’t want to be vulnerable and taken advantage of. When my boundaries were not rigid they were too open and I got treated like a doormat. Now I try to remind myself I have the right to be me and not please others. It’s sometimes harder than at others if I’m low in mood. But mainly I manage to keep healthy boundaries. I do struggle though and it’s not easy. Overcoming old, unhealthy messages in my head is hard work. It’s worth it though because you find out who your true friends are and who you are as a person. After putting healthy boundaries into effect I became aware of who I really was for the first time. No longer tangled up in others’ expectations and demands, I could see myself clearly. It feels really great knowing who I am now and that I am the same everyday-rather than trying to be what other people wanted.

  4. I very much relate to this. I grew up in a dysfunctional boundary-less home, too. There’s a wonderful book called, “Facing Shame- Families in recovery” by Fossum and Mason. Even though I’m a therapist I, like you, am on a journey to excavate my authentic self. It’s always the task at hand – having grown up to believe that self-care meant “selfish.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m sure you’ve figured out that only when we love ourselves do we have anything left over that’s real, to give. I am right there with you and I applaud your post for intelligently and passionately and kindly revealing a very difficult battle that so many of us struggle with.
    Thanks for this!

  5. rohan7things says:

    Really great post! I suffered for a long time with boundary issues, running around trying to keep everyone happy but myself. Not a nice way to live. I ended a long term relationship about a year ago and this past year has been all about working on my health and my boundaries in particular!

    I still worry a little too much about how others will react when I assert myself, but I have come so far and I’m looking forward to continuing this way 🙂

    Here’s to acquiring strong personal boundaries and letting people know what we will and won’t stand for 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!


  6. I look forward to reading your other posts. I have written a post or two on healthy boundaries. As a therapist, I try to help people define their boundaries. It really is important. I hope you have a great day. Thank you for following my blog.

  7. I am totally glad you made it through turkey day too 🙂 Good on you!!! 🙂

    Hmm, lack of boundaries. Yes, that IS familiar. It just kills you.

Thoughts and Musings Welcomed!

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