Stuart's Blog

Overstepping Boundaries

I grew up in an environment with a mother who didn't recognise boundaries. She didn't set boundaries for herself, or for us as kids. And when I instinctively tried to set my own boundaries she would overstep them leading me to learn that boundaries aren't important, or don't even exist.

When I read my list of reasons I cut off my mum, overstepping boundaries is a big one. Even after I learnt that they exist and tried to set them again in adulthood, they just don't feature in her lexicon of life and it was a major struggle.

But what has occurred to me recently is that I now have an unhealthy hypervigilance around boundaries (and have actually done so for many, many years).

In order not to be the person who tramples all over other people's boundaries I set them myself on their behalf. And I so cautious about them that I set them waaay back from where they really are.

This has two huge benefits... Firstly, I'm not that guy who tramples over boundaries, I'm considerate and polite. Secondly, I don't get into conflict very much because I don't tend to rub people up the wrong way. I put my own needs, desires and boundaries on the back burner in order to keep them happy.

Of course, this hypervigilant boundary setting has a massive downside... I deny myself the experiences that can be had when you stop playing safe. This edge is where the magic happens. Sure, it's where the conflict happens too. But if you're not bumping up against boundaries you're not really doing anything.

And so I find myself making a pact with myself... to allow other people to let me know where their boundaries are. In fact, I can invite them to share their boundaries if I'm worried about being 'that guy'. But it really is up to them to set and honour their own boundaries... and when presented with a someone else's boundary I get to choose whether to honour it and compromise, or whether to walk away because that's not a playground I want to play in.

Awareness without hypervigilance. Consideration without repression.

Life is a beautiful balance and every day I relish learning more about it.

#life #CPTSD #hypervigilance

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