Client Journal: Wishy Washy Boundaries

Wishy Washy Boundaries: Click here for my Video

Most people have tremendous difficulties in setting boundaries. The reason being is that they don’t really know what they feel, want and need, so they collapse or attack rather than express their truth. How does one know what is a healthy boundary? How does one know what they feel? Feelings are inside of our bodies, in our hearts and guts. They are not in our head. So many go to their thinking mind to find a feeling, but one has to breathe and go within. This is where it gets tricky to find a feeling. Feelings have names: fear, hurt, anger, grief, sadness, happiness, joy, excitement, aliveness, to name a few. But when I ask a person what do they feel they usually start off with a story about the other person or, say “I feel that…” When someone starts off that way, then you know they are in their head. Along with a feeling is a need. Most people don’t believe they deserve what they need or they think it is wrong or silly. It is vulnerable to have a feeling and need. It allows the other person to see your rawness, your direct truth.

Boundaries are unique to each individual. They are not a one size fit all. Of course, in extremes if a person is being physically or emotionally abused then it is obvious what boundaries need to be set…leaving is the only option. However, many stay in abusive situations out of fear. These individuals need support, education and therapy to understand why they stay in such a situation. Emotional abuse is more subtle. It happens slow and careful by the perpetrator. First, there are the undercuts to self esteem, mild criticisms, rejection of friends and making the person wrong for disagreements.

Below is an example of a client waking up to emotional abuse:

Client: I am feeling powerful today… I feel like I have this new strength and light on inside me. After having this powerful, really raw and messy connection with L and M last night, I feel like have found this new sense of worth inside of me….almost as if something has clicked…my rage is real. And I trust it. What is happening in my personal life and the relationship I have with my family is EXACTLY the same in my work environment. And my work environment has pushed me to the point of such exhaust that I was becoming shut down and feeling powerless over EVERY aspect of my life… I got to this place of such chaos internally and externally, things people and saying and doing to me, with no boundaries (because as lara pointed out last night I have none of and so I am continually letting that abusive treatment happen). I AM SO ANGRY that these people in my work and life (Sister, my dad and mum, other people in my life) keep SHITTING on me… but what really infuriates me and sickens me and has given me this new courage is the fact that I AM ALLOWING this abues, this shit. I am tired of it, but now I REFUSE REFUSE REFUSE to wallow in it. I am too valuable and want to be happy and I am willing to fight for myself now. I want happiness. I seserve to be happy. And I refuse to let this cycle to absue seep into and flourish in EVERY AREA OF MY LIFE. I am angry and enraged. I am NOT a horribel person and will not die and fall apart… my foundation and the love and support I have around me is too strong and my spirit and will to live is too strong for me to fall apart. I am DONE playing this game. I can love people and love MYSELF and still be ANGRY and fight for myself. It is NOT wrong for me to save myself.

When you are not sure what your boundary is stop, breathe, go within: Ask what do I feel?… what do I need and want? I feel sad and need you to listen without any comments. I feel lonely and I need you to sit with me. It can be as simple as that. It takes courage to ask for a need to be fulfilled. Sometimes we are afraid to ask because we have been rejected or criticized for our needs and feelings. Remember when you set a boundary it is for your growth, not the other persons approval. We might not get what we need from another, but we will build our self esteem when we set the boundary.

However, boundaries can be subtle, such as the situation below:

Client: As far as why I want to keep him around, that’s not tricky at all. I have so much work to do. It’s so overwhelming. I need help and I have very few people who actually show up to help me. I also have very little money to hire help. I know that I can’t get this stuff done alone. I understand about the wishy washy boundary. And I totally agree. As far as spending time with him as a friend, I do enjoy his company. I just don’t want to date him. And now that he has helped me, I don’t want to feel as if I just used him. I guess I’m offering my friendship in return for him helping me out. I know that’s not really fair on his end because he wants more than friendship, but it’s not my job to take care of him, right?

Marta: It is not healthy to keep this man around you. Why would you? If he does not want to take money for his services then it is a wishy washy boundary. Why would you want him to be your friend? You are using him. You can’t offer payment through an unhealthy friendship. That leads him on. You are leaking and getting back into victim and caretaker. By giving him an unclean message, being friends for services rendered, you are caretaking him. If you want to attract a healthier man, then you can’t use or be friends with a man who is blocked and sucking. It will clog up your energy. You learned the lesson, let go. How does that feel what I just said?

Client: So I think I’m starting to get it. The universe gave me a mirror to help me see what you were so desperately trying to make me understand during the last group. I met a man a couple months ago and went out with him one time. He was easy to talk to, and really opened up the first time we went out. Maybe a little too much. I found myself listening to him and finally being able to do what you have always advised. I listened and let him tell me all about himself so I could decide if he was what I wanted or not. And I decided that he was not what I wanted. He had a very sad and heavy energy. He was a very hard worker and had a really difficult life and was explaining how hard he was struggling in life. He is a recovering addict and had a serious problem in the past with a hardcore drug. He expressed that he really needed a relationship because that is what made him happy. He doesn’t take care of himself. He’s out of shape. He smokes. He’s covered in tattoos. He is a musician that gave up on trying to make a career out of his talents. And on and on and on. I left the evening off by saying that I wanted to be friends, but I pretty much blew him off and never saw him again even though he called and tried to see me again for a few weeks.

During my search to try and find help fixing up my new studio I thought of him. I thought he might need some work and I could pay him to help out on the weekends. He happily agreed and came to help me today. His energy is just as dark and dismal as I remembered. When we first started painting, he told me that he agreed to help me out because he thinks I’m really nice and really pretty and he wanted the opportunity to spend time together. He has a steady job now and is in a little better place than the last time I saw him. He then expressed that all he needed now is a girlfriend. And it just hit me. He is such a mirror for me. So much so that I have trouble even looking him in the eyes. I just kept thinking that I don’t want this guy. I want someone who is healthy and stable and takes care of himself and is happy with his life without “needing” a girlfriend. But I’m closer in my life to where this guy is than that “ideal” guy that I want. I can’t ever expect to attract the man I want when I am in this place. You can just feel the need dripping off him. Like he has a ten foot straw waiting to suck you dry, to try and make himself happy because he’s so miserable in his own life. It’s a little terrifying for me to even be in his presence. I realize now that the only time I’m going to attract what I want, is when I am what I want.

When I met B had just returned from the biggest adventure of my life. I was in denial about how hard I would have to work to make my business a success. I wanted to avoid all responsibility and pretend I was on permanent vacation. And that is exactly what he offered me. With love comes pain.

With life comes pain. With growth comes pain. I can’t just give up. I can’t just be a victim and never let go of the pain that this relationship brought me. All I can do is learn the lesson and work towards living in the present moment and enjoying it.

So I get it. This guy was so intense. So emotional. So …. ME, but exaggerated. I had a huge reaction to him and after a little exploration, it just all clicked.