Last year, when I was in a bad place, my therapist and I created, what we call a “boundary fence” around me. The reason was because I had no boundaries. My boundaries and limits had been broken down over several years and I didn’t have any. If someone wanted to know something about me, even if it made me feel uncomfortable, I would tell them. If they wanted me to do something, no matter what it was, I would do it. Just so I wouldn’t have to let someone down or didn’t have to say “no” to them. It was easier to give in than it was to stand my ground since I hate confrontation and will avoid it at all costs. That doesn’t mean that I will back down from it if it comes my way, but I won’t actively go out and seek it like some people do. By the time my therapist got a hold of me, I was so beaten down and feeling worthless. Everyone around me was afraid I would hurt myself. I had no confidence in myself. I felt guilty all the time. I didn’t know what to do to please people but it seemed that no matter what I did, no one was happy with me. So by the time he got a hold of me, I was in a very bad place. To help pull me out of that darkness, we created the “boundary fence” around me.
To help other people, I decided to write in my “journal” about boundary fences and what they are. How to create a boundary fence and how to stick to it. It isn’t easy for me to say “no” to people and to not take on the feelings of others by feeling guilty over things that I have no control over or that aren’t my problem. For years, I was doing that. It isn’t something you bust out of overnight. Some days I slip back, other days I’m moving forward at a steady pace. The last several months, I slipped back to my old ways. I didn’t want confrontation or didn’t know how to talk about something so I avoided it. It is almost second nature to me. People confuse this with submissiveness, but rather it is me trying to protect myself in the only way that I know how.
A boundary is a limit that you set for people. Similar to the rules you see in D/s families, but these rules are your own. This is where you have a boundary of how far you will go or not go depending on your comfort level. A limit on how much ammunition you are willing to give to someone else over you, if you will. Taking your boundaries and imagining them in a fence with windows surrounding you, each time a window is opened, you give a little piece of yourself to that person you opened the window for. A little bit of you each time and then sit back, wait to see what they do with it and then when you’re comfortable, open another window for them. This goes for everyone, from family to close friends, but especially to acquaintances. You choose what you give away. No one can take that power from you, no matter how “alpha” or dominant they prove to be. YOU choose. It is your life, your past, future, present. It is YOUR choice.
It’s not infallible. Some people do slip past the boundary fence and gather as much information as they can to use against you. It does have its flaws, but it does help. It helps me to know that I have a choice in what I tell people. And if they violate the boundaries, I can push them out of the fence, not tell them any more until they prove they are worthy to come in again. You can do this too. It may drive people nuts who are invasive, but it helps. It protects you and your heart so there’s less chance of being hurt again. Right now, my boundary fence is high and those windows are closed tight. I am not comfortable opening them to strangers or even acquaintances. I’ll talk to them, but anything deeply personal is locked up since my trust has been violated and I am unsure about people. I hope this helps someone else create their own boundary fence. My next exploration post will be out soon, it should be a fun one, so look for it any day now.