As survivors it is important for us to learn about what healthy and unhealthy boundaries are. To be able to recognize a boundary when we see one is fundamental to our functioning as a healthy adult.
What exactly is a boundary? I personally visualize a boundary as a wall. This wall could be far from me, or close to me depending on what the boundary is and whom it is being enforced upon. Something dawned on me over the weekend, as I learned that boundaries don't necessarily have to be "I'm in here and you're out there" and in fact, there is an entire new world of boundaries that I was never even aware of.
That feels nice but remove your hand.
Wait a second, we as humans can do that?
Let me back up a bit here and provide some context. One very big struggle for me my entire life has been to say "NO
". I'm guessing there is one or two guys here whom can relate to me on this.
One area where boundary troubles happen when we as survivors no longer want to have stringent boundaries with those we love. We want to let people in and feel good things again, right? In childhood, we were robbed of our power whether it felt painful or good. Remember the old adage that "Sexual abuse is more about power than sex"?
For those among us whom are sexually anorexic, this manifests in a fierce way in that the only way to truly feel empowered in our lives is to cut ourselves off from good feelings and enter into long bouts of non-sexual or anti-sexual behaviour in order to 'control' or 'have power' over that part of life -- the very part of life that we had little or no control over in childhood.
We are further stifled by a belief that we shouldn't need to say no to things that feel good. To use a simplistic example, if a loved one asks for a hug and we are uncomfortable with hugging this person (for whatever reason, be it a trigger or whatnot) chances are pretty high that we will go ahead and provide that person with the hug they requested despite and we will do our best to silence the protest happening inside. It is human nature that hugs and affection feel good. So why then would anyone want to turn down a hug? As a sexual abuse survivor, one might not necessarily feel that the HUG is uncomfortable, rather, the feeling of 'obligation' that comes from being asked and feeling powerless to say "NO" can bring up some awful thoughts from the past.
Is anyone still with me? Honestly I think I'm a little lost myself.
What I'm trying to say is that -- "sex" can and does feel good. If I had a nickel for every time an abuse survivor struggled with guilt & shame because the sexual aspect of their abuse "felt good". As children, we were robbed of our ability to say no to things that felt good. Often times it turns us into "push overs" or "people pleasers" whom will comply with virtually any request that is presented us because we feel forced to comply. The fact may be that our problem is not so much with the action itself, but feeling like we have to perform that action.
The second part of this is self or external judgment. An example that was used during the WoR is that, if a friend calls you up and asks you to come to a BBQ on Saturday and you really don't feel up to it, does it make you a bad person to just say "No"? Before you answer that -- think of how many times you've said "No" then followed it with your best rendition of an excuse. What's driving that need to create excuses? We judge ourselves for saying "No". Somehow somewhere along the way, saying "No" became a bad thing. Does saying "No" because you need to stay home and recharge your batteries (because being a survivor is fucking difficult)
on Saturday make you a "bad" person? Hell no! We may think we're trying to be polite by creating an excuse but the truth is we might just be taking care of ourselves and that's okay. Sure, Saturday's BBQ might be lots of fun and good times, but if we are going because we feel obligated, that will remove all the fun out of it, for us
Would love to see what else anyone has to say on this. This concept is just one of the things I took back from the Alta WoR this last weekend that are still rather unsettled and I'm still trying to fully grasp.
All the best,