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ED Hell
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I read a book on boundaries, some time back, which gave me the idea that maybe I should include a section here on the topic too.  The book I reading was insightful, in that, within my own family situation, I could see the "shortcomings" of my dysfunctional family.

It is said that the space between family members (or any relationship) is crucial to the personal development of that being.  Too little space (enmeshment) can be just as harmful as too much space - if not more so.  It is crucial that the right amount of space (physical, emotional and sexual) rests between individuals.

Looking back on my family situation, for the live of me, I CANNOT remember a time when my mother actually said "I love you".  It may have been implied by actions/tasks carried out, but I simply cannot remember a time when the words actually came from her lips.  On the one hand, my mother is very distant, but on the other, she can become overinvolved in my life.  She likes to know everything that is going on.  She cannot seem to accept, that my life is my life, and NOT hers.  Sometimes, when speaking to her I feel smothered, as if I'm drowning - that is hardly a health relationship now, is it?

Dad, on the other hand, I think has the right balance.  He (for the most part) provides a supportive atmosphere for all of us siblings.  He is there for us, if we want, but does not make us feel as if we are drowning.  There is no power struggle with dad.

Below you will find some examples of overstepping boundaries (these include both types - distance and enmeshment):

  • Reading private correspondence (ie letters)
  • Reading ones diary
  • Listening in on telephone conversations
  • Not telling someone how much you care for them, and what they really mean to you
  • Not letting them make their own mistakes - just because you have made mistakes in the past, does not mean that someone else will too.  We all have to live and learn from our mistakes

Also, how your relationships are within your own family situation do merge out into other relatioships - be that friends, sexual, work relationships.  I know for me, I tend to shy away from intimacy - I have recently realised that I do have a fear of engulfment.  For example, if I like a guy that is fine, but lo-and-behold if he dare show an interest in me, I tend to run away as fast as I can, and I will go to great lengths with that too.  Very much a Tom and Jerry scenario.  At the moment I cannot see how that will ever change, but hopefully in time it will...

I am currently feeling trapped in an unusual boundary scenario.  I am a member of a gym, and have seen a couple of the therapists, who work at the centre I go to there too - which I am not entirely comfortable with.  One deliberation that I have, is due to the fact that I suffer with body image problems, and one of the therapists has seen me stark naked in the changing room there - not my own therapist thank god - but feel a bit awkward about that.  Maybe they won't believe me anymore, that I have ed problems.  I have always turned my back on her.  I think I feel more self-conscious than I would have done otherwise, in that, if she did not know about my ed.  How stupid does that sound!?!

Other infringements on boundaries include have boundaries which are either too loose or too rigid, as both can (and do) impact other people, which may lead to feelings of hurt, resentment etc.  Healthy boundaries need to be flexible, and adaptable, pending on the situation.  Also, not being honest to both yourself and others, is also another potential boundary violation, as it is through lack of honesty that can lead to feelings of confusion etc.  If you are not honest, you are in essence, allowing someone to continually do whatever it is they are doing.  You are indirectly giving the message that "it's ok".  These are just my viewpoints on this, and what I have learnt over the past while.

Also, being aware of your own needs is a very important step here.  If you are not aware of what your own needs are, it is difficult to stand your ground on something.  Remember when speaking to always speak from the 'I' perspective, as then you cannot be bashed down, as no one can argue with how YOU are feeling.  Also, be careful not to use the 'psycho babble' which you may have learnt through your recovery, as that can only lead to feelings of hurt, anger, resentment etc. 

If you are sensitive, watch out for any signs of control coming from another party - as control is never a fun place to be in!  (I put this in, as I come from a family where control was a huge factor for me).  When someone becomes controlling, it is usually a sign of their own lack of assertiveness - this can be seen through arrogance as well.  Do you know your own style when dealing with conflict?  Passive, Assertive, Passive-Aggressive or Aggressive?  There is a fine line between being assertive and aggressive.  An aggressive person tries to get their needs met, whilst blocking another person's needs.  An assertive person is WILLING to look at someone else's point of view.  Aggression is not always coming from a place of anger.  Someone could be using aggression, and yet have a charm about their disposition too.  If you know what your own style is, it is easier to spot another person's style. 

Please check back soon.  I will update this once I have had time to process it more.