boundaries

Welcome to this year’s Big Brave Blog Hullabaloo!!  This year, we’re exploring interconnectedness…. what it takes to build a tribe, to open ourselves to love, to dare to be vulnerable with one another, to give and receive, to forgive, to trust, to let go…  and let us not forget, to stand in our own sovereignty while being part of a greater community.  If this calls to you in some way and you’d like to join us, check out this year’s invitation, please do so HERE. The more, the merrier! 

In honor of the invisible thread that weaves us all together, I now pass the red thread onto my dear sweet sister friend, Brandie Sellers!

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Recently I went through Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map book and workbook.  One of the things I uncovered about myself in the process of defining my core desired feelings is that spaciousness is the number one most important thing to me.  I did not exactly know that before, but I can see the outline of it in past frustrations if I look for it.

I am an only child. Well, technically I do have two half-brothers but they showed up when I was grown.  In the third grade I became a latch-key kid and quit going to after school care while my parents worked.  This translated to even more alone time to read or write or draw.   And it meant that I had my own room, so there was plenty of space that was just for me.

While there was plenty of time for my hobbies and space for my stuff, I did not have spaciousness of speech.  I wrote voraciously, but I was not able to speak my mind verbally.  I had so much to say.  Each morning I would practice what I wanted to say to my mother in front of my mirror while I was getting ready for school.  It was always some variation of, “I know you love my step-dad, but I really don’t like him or want him around me.”  I would hold the hairdryer in my left hand, brush in the right hand and say the words quietly, under my breath, with the noise of the hair dryer to drown out the sound in case she or my step-dad came in to my room.  But I could never say my speech to her.

In fact, I can’t say anything to her because she takes all the space in the room.  Now that I look back with the wisdom of a few more years under my belt, I see how I felt like a kettle with the lid sealed on and my words boiling inside.  And I see how that one scenario, played out day-after-day, planted the need for spaciousness.

I held my tongue in my marriage, too.  My ex-husband was depressed for almost our entire marriage, and suicidal at one point, and I took more than my share of responsibility for that.  I thought if I just did what he needed, said what he needed, then it would all be fine.  But it wasn’t fine because of course I am not responsible for anyone else’s mental state.

Now that I can look back and see how important spaciousness has been to me, and how not having it affects me, I’m trying to do a better job staying connected to others without feeling smothered.   And that looks a lot like boundaries.  Establishing boundaries is something I have already been working on over the years as a way of self-preservation.  I just hadn’t named the part of myself that I was preserving.

Boundaries get a bad rap, especially when women set them.  My ex-husband said to me one time, “You and your boundaries!” like they were a plague that I had.  I do not know why we take it personally when other people set boundaries for themselves.  We translate other people’s boundaries into something about us.  Or we feel threatened by them.  That is literally crazy!

But if we are going to remain interconnected, if we are going to have healthy relationships with other people at all, we must have boundaries.  And instead of feeling like barbed-wire, they can actually feel like a safety net.  Because when we establish boundaries and our family and friends know what they are, then nobody has to play the guessing game around us.  And if someone crosses a boundary we can assume they had positive intent, lovingly declare the boundary again and start over.  Likewise, when we encourage our loved ones to set their own boundaries then we aren’t left walking on eggshells and wondering.

Merriam-Webster defines interconnected as “mutually joined or related.”  If we are mutually joined then we both want the best for each other.  I do not want to be interconnected on an intimate level with someone who can’t honor my boundaries.  When people can’t honor my boundaries I put them in the “I Love Them From Afar” folder.  I still want to connect with them, but from a distance that is safe for me.  My teacher, Tashi, says that we should approach everyone as if we are extending a flower to them.  But that some of the flowers might have reeeeeeaaaaaallllllly long stems.  That makes me giggle.  It is a relief to know that I can still acknowledge common humanity with someone, and not put myself in a position where I feel I have no space for myself.

About Brandie:  Brandie Sellers began writing at the age of six when she composed her first poem.  She stopped writing for a while when she became an “adult,” so she could focus on “adult things,” but that didn’t last long because she has a lot of words burning holes in her trying to get out.  And “adulthood” is totally overrated.
She applied for and was selected to be a Voices Columnist for The Dallas Morning News in 2010.  The following year she had an essay published in What I Wish For You, by Patti Digh.  She started a blog to write about yoga, which she has been teaching since 2004 despite her aspirations to be a lawyer when she grew up.  The blog evolved into how to use yoga to persevere when life sends you a shit-storm like a suicidal husband and divorce, and then it became a forum for her to talk about living with breast cancer.

5 comments

  1. Lisa says:

    Boundaries! Such a hard thing to learn! But OOOO, so necessary. Thank you for being in this world, Brandie… and sharing with us your take on honoring your little slice of the red thread. I resonate with so much of what you say…. love you!!! xoxo

  2. Joy says:

    Thank you for your beautiful essay, Brandie!

    Blessings on your evolving journey, boundaries, flowers, and all.

  3. shannon says:

    gearing up for a trip home and I so appreciate this reminder about boundaries and their importance to connection.

  4. Sajit says:

    Brandie, I love how you connect the dots between setting boundaries and having spaciousness…seems sort of paradoxical, at first, but they are totally INTERCONNECTED!
    Thanks….I may share this with some of my clients.

  5. Claudia says:

    So frank. I can relate to having a voice burning to speak/write, in my case because of having a father who was a “preacher.” I appreciated the discussion on boundaries and the realness of Brandie Sellers’ voice.

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