I just had an “a-ha” moment. It finally sunk into my head that I am not the problem. Hear me out, now I am happy to own up to any of my wrongdoings. I am usually the first one to point them out and confess them with utter apologies. However, I am not at fault for every single mishap in relationships. I knew nothing of boundaries, being that my violations started at the age of five. You cannot have healthy relationships without healthy boundaries.
I read this today that gave me much clarity into the reasons why I have had such difficulties with boundaries.
“Some persons, however, have great difficulty setting boundaries—they may even believe that setting boundaries is rude—and this difficulty usually derives from child abuse. But let’s be clear that abuse can range from subtle emotional manipulation to severe sexual and physical abuse. To the unconscious, though, any abuse, no matter how mild or severe, is an insult to personal dignity. It’s precisely this insult to personal dignity that explains why adults who were abused as children lack the ability to set appropriate boundaries. Why? Well, their not having boundaries served them as a defense mechanism in childhood. Most abused children know intuitively that if you try to do anything to resist the abuse, you just get hurt all the more. So setting aside any resistance means less hurt.” ~ A Guide to Psychology and its Practice (A very informative site.)
I have been made to feel that setting boundaries is NOT loving to others.
In order to survive throughout my life in relationships and even some work places, I have had to eliminate boundaries. If I set them, I was rejected in some form or fashion. Being that I felt rejected from childhood on my desires was to feel accepted and wanted. Thankfully, at some point, I believe my lack of understanding about emotional manipulation and my absolute need for solitude and personal space, I would become fed up and end the relationship. Some were easier than others were, but I got to a point where the cost of my sanity outweighed the cost of my desire of being accepted and loved.
Another positive thing about how my mind works is that I do not need people to feel complete.
I desire genuine relationships and to have long-lasting friendships, but I do not feel wrong or bad about myself for not having them in “real” life. I do believe I have some great friends virtually, but it does have its limits. There are times when I wish I had a person right here with me to see what is going on in my life. I would like to have someone I could go to in the physical realm. I have support from my family; however, it is still not the same. I think many people can understand what I mean by that statement.
I have been working on boundaries for a long time, but I have had such difficulty with it.
I was not sure why. I understood several things from an intellectual mindset – I could not connect the emotional aspect until I read that paragraph above about abuse and boundaries. I get it! (Inserting another link Setting Personal Boundaries – protecting self.) It explains why I have shut down so many times and disassociated from myself, environment, relationships, and felt the only way I could survive was to cut off feeling my emotions. This has been going on for decades and it explains why when I have been single and lived by myself that I did not do this in such extremes.
There is a lot to all of that though.
Now that I can see with clarity how my boundaries were violated, and how I took the path of least resistance I can start setting them without confusion. My recent lack of maintaining boundaries was due to my confusion about boundaries. I have been manipulated to believe that setting boundaries is the uncaring thing to do. It disrespects the other person. It shows lack of trust on my part. It is hurtful to the other person. I should be giving everything including my thoughts, emotions, belongings, etc…
I have been led to believe that I do not deserve boundaries.
I felt that boundaries only belonged to the person(s) who were in authority, or perceived authority. I had several specific things from life as examples, but I decided to remove them because I felt too vulnerable. I will share a list below and will link to Recognizing Boundary Issues if other would like more specifics about boundaries. (This is not only in personal life, this happens at work, in religious settings, sports, and it is in every type of relationship. Here is one link I will share The Lowdown On Abusive Bosses And The Unhealthy Workplace – Part 1)
I have felt as though I brought all of this on myself.
I was led to believe that I was the problem directly or indirectly. I was manipulated because of my belief that people are genuinely good. I still believe that most people are good, but I also understand human nature much better now. I was also very naive about abuse and manipulation. I am still ignorant about much of that. My mind has a hard time comprehending people being like that. In my gut, I have known when my boundaries were violated, but I could not express it.
I had no words for it.
I was unsure and full of doubt because I had so many people violate my boundaries and then, convince me that I was the one who was being inconsiderate, overreacting, or plain wrong. Though I knew, it became much easier to take the path of least residence. Why? Because I got tired and confused. Plain and simple I got tired of the fight and tired of looping about all of the possible things that I had done wrong. Or looping in hopes of discovering some answers to clear up the emotions I could not explain. I got tired of trying to stand up for myself. I got so beaten down emotionally that I would lose what little sense of self I had. Opting to believe that I was the problem because when I tried to discuss or bring up anything I would cause more anger and frustration – leading me to believe that in fact it was me. Why, did I cause so many people to become angry, hurt, or frustrated?
I am sure my lack of “appropriate” communication skills brought out angers in others.
I can understand how my directness could hurt people’s feelings, but I do not speak maliciously. I say whatever is rushing through my mind without a thought. I really wish my mom and me either would have been exposed to some healthy relationships or led to some resources long ago. I believe it would have helped her painful path as well as I mine. I could have used the list below for relationships of ALL kinds. Taken from How to tell if you’re being manipulated.
If you are in a relationship and notice a few of the following signs, there’s a high probability you’re being manipulated:
- Your joy at finding love has turned into the fear of losing it. This is known as the “manipulative shift.” You will start feeling stressed at this point.
- Sometimes s/he gives you a lot of attention and love, and sometimes he gives you the cold shoulder for no reason. You’re left wondering what you’ve done wrong.
- Your feelings have gone from happiness and euphoria to anxiety, sadness and even desperation.
- Your relationship feels very complex, although you may not be sure why.
- You obsess about the relationship almost constantly.
- You never feel sure of where you stand with your partner; you feel you’re in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety.
- You feel confused about the relationship and frequently ask your partner what’s wrong. He becomes angry or frustrated and he consistently denies responsibility for any problems.
- You feel that you just don’t know how to make him happy.
- You may frequently feel angry and resentful toward your partner, yet be unable to express it. Communication feels restricted or even forbidden, causing feelings of extreme frustration and even hostility.
- You feel inadequate. You don’t feel as good about yourself as you did before the relationship.
- Your emotions and moods are controlled by your partner’s words and actions
My goodness if I would have had this information!
“If you feel less strong, less confident, less secure, less intelligent, less sane, or in any other way “less than” anything you were before you met him (or her), you are being covertly emotionally manipulated.” ~ About Covert Emotional Manipulation
And these! Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics, Stages of the Psychopathic Bond. However, not all of the relationships I have been in have been this manipulative. Quite honestly, they were just not smart enough. They were bullies and abusers, but they did not psychologically get into my head and almost destroy my very existence. Nope. They were violent, aggressive, said vile things to me, cheated, lied, and whatnot, but I have experienced manipulation and control far more psychological than their tactics. Not all of them.
It really does not matter at this point whether I had the information or not.
There is no guarantee that anything would have changed because the fact of the matter is that I still have and always did have social confusion that causes me self-doubt. I still have and always did have anxiety, which can distort my perceptions. I still have and always have had sensory issues that can also distort my ability to understand the world around me. I still am and have always been unable to read body language, read faces, understand tones, or have the ability to understand/express my emotions. I felt in my gut right and wrong, but I could only understand when another was violating another person’s boundaries. I did not understand when mine were violated.
I have not understood when other people set boundaries with me.
I have come to understand that. I have not really covered all of my thoughts on this topic, but I think I got quite a bit out to help me process my a-ha moment. I started to feel down about all of this. I started to feel shame and guilt. Then, I remembered what my therapist said the other day. She gave me suggestions to help with my cognitive accuracy and she mentioned music. I told her I had to be careful with what music I listen to because it can trigger a lot of emotion especially, if I am feeling vulnerable.
She then said, “Ok, you need happy feel good music. Well then, listen to 80′s music. 80′s music is all about having fun and partying.”
Lol! (Not all, of course.) I am not beating myself up for these things. I am taking this moment and accepting that what happened in the past happened, and the past can include an hour ago or even two seconds ago. I cannot change it, but I sure as heck can change what I do today. I already started setting personal boundaries a while ago and I have noticed my self-esteem getting better.
Today, I realized how important it is to set emotional and mental boundaries.
It is my head and no one else is allowed in there to mess with me! I have been slowly doing this, but today I truly understood the importance. My eyes were opened to how much I have allowed others to stay in my head filling it with negativity. I admit I have felt hopeless in this area for quite a while, but after my therapist telling me to be kind to myself and to understand that this has been going on for a long time, it helped me to see that I cannot change all of this over night. The reality is that we will encounter people like this in any area of our life. The best way to protect ourselves and help smite out confusion and self-doubt is to understand how they operate. It helps to gain control over what we can our own minds, actions, and responses – set boundaries.
I have a list to look at to help me each day taken from here SETTING AND ENFORCING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES!
Assess the current state of your boundaries, using the list below:
HEALTHY BOUNDARIES allow you to:
• Have high self-esteem and self-respect.
• Share personal information gradually, in a mutually sharing and trusting relationship.
• Protect physical and emotional space from intrusion.
• Have an equal partnership where responsibility and power are shared.
• Be assertive. Confidently and truthfully say “yes” or “no” and be okay when others say “no” to you.
• Separate your needs, thoughts, feelings and desires from others. Recognize that your boundaries and needs are different from others.
• Empower yourself to make healthy choices and take responsibility for yourself.
UNHEALTHY BOUNDARIES are characterized by:
• Sharing too much too soon or, at the other end of the spectrum, closing yourself off and not expressing your need and wants.
• Feeling responsible for others’ happiness.
• Inability to say “no” for fear of rejection or abandonment.
• Weak sense of your own identity. You base how you feel about yourself on how others treat you.
• Disempowerment. You allow others to make decisions for you; consequently, you feel powerless and do not take responsibility for your own life.
Ok, I am ending this now it is much longer than I wanted it to be – 80′s music! (Yes, I was an MTV kid.)
Erasure – a little respect (I’m so in love with you I’ll be forever blue … )
Mötley Crüe – Live Wire (Woooot! ’cause I’m alive, live wire!! Hee hee)
New Order – Blue Monday (must-listen-addicted-to-song-happy-making-me)
Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf (You know it!)
Poison – I Want Action (Bwaaa haaaa)
I suppose I should link to a-ha – Take On Me (Official Video) :-)
Too many to choose! These had happy vibes.