Bumbling Adventures in Boundaries Pt. One

One of the things that I was told to be prepared for in healing is alienating people. Not just people you don’t know, but also people you do.

A (healthy) friend of mine told me after Christmas that she needed some time with her husband and to be alone, so maybe in February we could arrange to get together, but no sooner. I realized after, that the way she said it wasn’t super nice or anything, she didn’t apologize for her needs or make concessions when she knew she wasn’t in a position to entertain guests. It was super healthy. Which not everyone is. Not everyone can articulate their needs or even knows what they entail.

Which is why, as you heal, you can become intimidating, confusing, and seem irrational or cold to people who aren’t making the same personal strides you are. Not like you’ve gleaned wisdom from some river of enlightenment, so calm down Siddhartha, You will most certainly make mistakes. Boundary making is a process after all.

I can sometimes be too open or too aloof. It’s a fine balance of transparency and safety. Don’t let anybody poke your wound just because you took off the bandage to show them.

A few weeks ago, I had a rough encounter when someone smacked right into one of my boundaries and I had to hold fast to keep it up. Instead of, quite literally, passing out.

I was trying to reconcile with a person. I had prayed about it and felt as if GOD told me that I should just start over with a simple introduction. The supposed, “conflict” was no more than some hurt feelings after some people got some bad information about my husband and I. We weren’t treated very well as a result and then a simple miscommunication between the couple ended up looking like we were being lied to. I don’t like being lied to. I get…rough. Imagine a really angry clam with a cigarette between it’s shells just puffing away because it can’t actually fume. My husband and I have a pact to not start smoking, even though we consider it almost daily.

I don’t respond well to things anymore. I can’t fake anything. The part about getting better from dissociation is ASSOCIATION, which is also the part that sucks and turns you into a fuming clam because you have no language for your own feelings because you are for the first time, actually feeling them like a normal person.

All of that to say, emotions are very strong. Emotions that are understandable, like nervousness, can almost send me into a blind panic. Almost is a very very fine line here.

I felt especially convicted that particular day to go up to this person and “reintroduce” myself. I had to have two friends talk me down from seeing spots and nearly puking and another pray with me and lead me in some breathing exercises to keep from hyperventilating and ultimately, she also caved to my begging for her to go with me under the classic ruse of, “It won’t be weird”.

After the hand shaking, it got weird.

I walked away and thought, foolishly, that it had gone well. That my attempt to show that I wanted things to be okay was a good one.

Then next thing I knew a big pair of doe eyes were way too close to my face and calling me attacking.

Mind you, what I always fail to realize is that my nervous voice is considerably more gruff than most women and my handshakes are considerably more firm than most handshakes from either gender.

As many jobs as my handshake may have landed me; a conversation with my good friend who also has suffered at the hands of her own misunderstood tone, set a good perspective of how horribly horribly wrong that could have been received.

I don’t actually remember most of what the girl said during the encounter since my frontal lobe was in the process of shutting off and I was trying to run away but found only my feet stuck to the floor and the rest of me magically able to lean a Matrix-level of backward. Neo would have been proud.

I just kept saying that I couldn’t talk about it. I even remember saying, “What I am doing is setting a boundary”. Yet somehow she had more and more to say, all I understood was that she needed whatever it was to be okay and to be okay right then.

I still have a weird body memory of her touching me and it feeling like my arms were on fire. Not kidding, on fire.

But I couldn’t talk about anything, I had used up all my courage and mental togetherness just to shake her hand and how can you explain that to someone who doesn’t have a dissociative disorder? All that came out was, “You don’t know the whole story”. Which further incensed her.

Which is true. You can know in your head everything about my disorder, but you aren’t in MY head, so you can’t really know anything about it. All the facts can line up, but still not make sense.

I struggle with a lot of shame about being unwell or in recovery or whatever it’s supposed to be called. Mostly I just feel like I’m sick and I’ll never get better.

BUT

My bulwark held fast. I didn’t pass out. I didn’t crumble. I had a hell of a cry after, but not there.

I AM getting better. Even just a few months ago I probably would have just passed out.

That isn’t the whole story of that person or that day, even.

But I’m setting a BOUNDARY. See?

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2 thoughts on “Bumbling Adventures in Boundaries Pt. One

    • To not just cave and delve into what she wanted to right then and there. It would have ended terribly, like weeping-on-the-floor-unable-to-speak terrible. It wouldn’t have been helpful to anyone.

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