My concept of boundaries was non-existent until I began to understand the need to have my own life. For many years of my life, my concept of boundaries was limited to what separated one state from another state. When it came to having, respecting or even understanding how boundaries factored into relationships, I was clue-less. The notion of my needing to have, set or maintain healthy boundaries seemed ludicrous and pretentious.
Enmeshment was the manner in which people related to one another. Consequently, where I ended and other people began was blurred. Because I did not respect my own need to have boundaries, I developed a series of limiting behaviors. These limiting behaviors reinforced my distorted perceptions and led me to believe that boundaries were merely obstacles to be overcome. Control and manipulation preceded the need to have and respect boundaries.
I have heard said that healthy boundaries are not meant to keep people out of our lives, but healthy boundaries are meant to keep me in my life.
My distorted perceptions also kept me guessing at what was normal. Consequently, for much of my life, I felt like a blind man, who kept bumping into different walls. As a result, any adjustment came with pain, because I did not recognize the need to have boundaries. As my emotional and spiritual pain increased, so did my willingness to look for solutions. My recovery process, brought me to a place of awareness — that something needed to change.
Setting and having healthy boundaries are about being responsible and accountable to ourselves and to other people, while allowing other people to be responsible and accountable for themselves. Setting and having healthy boundaries is about being responsible to other people, but not responsible for other people and their choices.
My awareness revealed that I needed to both value and respect boundaries. Both my boundaries and other people’s boundaries. To respect where I begin and other people end and where other people end and I begin, as we each live our lives. Boundaries help me to understand what is my responsibility and what is not my responsibility. Boundaries help me to realize that I am not responsible for another persons’ recovery or lack of recovery.
Through my recovery process I discovered, that by attempting to keep another persons’ side of the street clean; I stunted both their and my ability to grow as an individual.
Through understanding the need to have healthy boundaries, at least at first acknowledging the need to have healthy boundaries; I began to realize that I could indeed create a life for myself. Through then having and respecting boundaries (both mine and other people’s’) I found that the (my) energy, once used to vicariously please and resolve other people’s responsibilities; was now freed to give me the ability to create hope, in and through my life.
“Much of the time, the things we feel guilty about are not our issues. Another person behaves inappropriately or in some way violates our boundaries. We challenge the behavior, and the person gets angry and defensive. Then we feel guilty.” Melody Beattie
“To have and respect healthy boundaries is to know yourself.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
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