Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On boundaries

I have written about this before. So far, writing hasn't helped me untangle it fully, and I'm looking for input, looking for discussion, hoping said discussion and input will lead to a stronger sense of where boundaries should lie. Because...

Because we use boundaries to protect ourselves. And that makes sense. But when we protect ourselves too much we keep other things out - good things. And I know people who lose out on a lot because of their Very Strong Boundaries, so it seems to me that having Very Strong Boundaries is not always a good thing. A big titanium wall would be a very strong boundary, but it would block out the view and prevent friends from coming over for coffee.

And maybe you, like me, are afraid of friends coming over for coffee whenever they wish, because some friends track mud all over the floors of your Inner Sanctum and use all your dishes and leave you exhausted with a lot of work to do and only go away after eating all the cake and drinking all the wine (which is extra-douchey since you offered coffee.) And so, in these cases, those perhaps are not Friends, no matter how much they tell you they are. And I have gently edged people out of my life before, people I loved and cared for, because although I had fun with them I also found them exhausting in the truest sense of the word - time with them depleted my resources to a near-null level. And it took me ages to see that that isn't friendship, no matter what supports are offered or what commonalities there are, no matter the occasional bouts of uncontrollable laughter.

Not everyone with whom I share common interests has to be my friend. Not everyone I care about has to have access to me. I get to choose.

But where is the line between self-protection and self-coddling? At what point and to what degree should I let people in who exhaust me? There are some people who ultimately only take from me, and there are some people who probably experience me the same way. Does it even out? If I only give of myself to one person and only take from another, does that balance it? Or are the balances supposed to be found within each relationship?

And how do the answers to these questions affect community and responsibility to one another? Given how social human beings are, the whole "Nobody can make you feel ____ unless you let them." is in many ways a blatant lie that is used primarily as a way to distance oneself from certain responsibilities we have toward one another. I reject the idea that we don't have a degree of responsibility toward one another's feelings and wellbeing, but also reject that that responsibility is limitless and should not be based on our individual capacities.

I am feeling my boundaries out carefully, slowly, and responsively. This whole topic came about because I felt today, reading articles about the victims of the Orlando shooting, that I had the responsibility to look at each one of their faces and feel something for each one.

We have to protect ourselves from having perpetually broken hearts, but we have to let ourselves use those hearts in the first place. And, knowing myself, out of fifty people I probably would have been able to be friends with one of them - real, come-over-for-coffee-but-you-can-have-wine-too friends. And I would have maybe not particularly liked a couple for silly reasons. Out of a random sampling of any fifty humans, that's usually how it works. And I didn't know any of the dead, and you have to know someone to like them.

But you don't have to know someone to love them. And so I spent my morning looking at their faces, loving them, wondering what their favourite colours were or who they most respected and why, what their favourite songs were. I don't get to do this for everyone who dies due to a hate crime. I don't get to see each face. Instead I am overwhelmed by numbers and statistics, and they mean something and mean nothing at the same time. But each one is a human being. Each one's death diminishes me, especially due to the nature of the death - because it was brought about by hatred, which is a sick inner disease of the boundaries - wherein the protection of the self, based on fears, is bastardized into control, into hatred, into terrible action.

And realizing that we all have the capacity to be monsters makes me want to love the hell out of everyone, because I don't have to like everyone, but everyone definitely deserves love.

So where do I stop? How do I stop my heart from being eternally shattered?
I force meaning from the meaningless. I resolve to fight. I resolve to be gentle with myself and others. I try harder. And I cry a lot, because no matter what I do my heart is bound to be broken again and again, and that's maybe part of what it's for.

So - how to balance? How to know where the boundary should truly lie?

So this is my boundary: that I choose to love everyone, even though it hurts, because it is necessary.

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