Thursday, June 6, 2013

Learning to Hear NO's! I Have Boundary Issues...

As a former athlete and avid sports lover, I am all too familiar with the term Boundaries. I played various sports on a variety of playing fields, all having established boundaries and rules for play. To play outside of those boundaries was to commit a foul, resulting in a penalty in some form or fashion that could lead to a Loss! I understand and respect these boundaries in athletics, why can’t I understand and respect them when it comes to my interpersonal relationships?

I know that Boundary Issues are just one of the many issues we as Adult Survivors of any form of abuse suffer from. How I relate and operate is a by-product of my childhood abuse. It should never be an EXCUSE though, to keep violating and operating in unhealthy unbalanced ways with others! I recently had a situation brought to my attention by a dear friend. This person is someone, whom I continually overstep my boundaries with because of my own selfishness, wants, and needs. Do I respect this person? If they truly matter to me, then why do I disregard their requests and the affects my actions will have on them? They are respecting me and not trying to hurt me! Why can’t I abide within my friends comfort zone? Why do they have to keep reminding me over and over again, that I have crossed that imaginary line, which they have so clearly drawn in the sand for me?

To love and care about another whether it be in a relationship or friendship is to respect one another’s boundaries, thoughts and feelings. To play and operated within their comfort zone, their parameters. Playing outside those lines and not abiding by the rules will eventually lead to a loss! Continually acting in ways another has specifically expressed will lead to the loss of trust; respect not only from the person, but for you as well, equality and eventually, the friendship. In others words, you will lose the game by not following the rules.

My deprivation and abandonment in my youth has impacted me with inappropriate relational issues with others stemming from childhood physical and sexual abuse. I was never respected in my abuse, therefore I don’t ever expect to be respected by another, and in turn I don’t respect them either, when I fail to hear their “NO”, when it comes to their interpersonal boundary and what is comfortable with them.

One of the major effects of childhood physical and sexual abuse is having difficulty setting and maintaining personal boundaries. When a child is violated, there sense of self and others is violated as well. In my childhood I was physically, mentally and sexually abused by the age of five. My Boundaries and were violated so profoundly then, that I never learned them. They were repeatedly violated for the span of 14 years. My feelings were discounted and regarded with disdain. My father never respected my NO, so in turn; I never learned to set any boundaries for myself or learn to respect another person’s NO either.

The survivor of childhood sexual abuse is unable to recognize someone else’s boundaries. We learned early on that being abused is just the way the world IS. Having been denied the right to say NO and set appropriate boundaries for ourselves! I have failed miserably in recognizing another’s. Also, there may be an element of vindictiveness within me, since I had no choice in the matter, why should anyone else have one. Why are they so important? Why do they get to say No? Why?.. Because they matter! Just as you should have mattered at the time of your abuse!

I have never set personal boundaries for myself and I continually fail to respect the personal boundaries of others. I have tremendous difficulty in following the rules! So as an adult Survivor of childhood abuse I have gone through much of my life in a daze, never feeling strongly about anything, except my Faith, Family and Friends. In my personal healing I found that I had a difficult time feeling what I was feeling and recognizing how my selfish actions affected others. This too, is a trait my father displayed and I unconsciously incorporated into my Adult Relational Skills.

I have no clue how to operate within them. Personal boundaries are important in promoting a healthy balance and equality in relationships. They are beneficial in preserving the self apart from others. The other night I acted impulsively, giving no thought as to how my actions would seem to others. I was only looking at myself once again, not looking ahead as to how it would affect my friend and their emotions. Do I respect them? Do I hold what they say and how they feel dear? Does what makes them comfortable matter to me? YES IT DOES!

How long can I expect my friend or anyone else for that matter, to keep being patient, keep ignoring their own boundaries for the sake of me? I have no right to ask and to keep violating that person’s wishes and request. I have been selfish and I have seen the light. I don’t want to lose this game with my friend! I not only don’t want lose this one but any other due to not respecting their boundaries.

Recognizing that you have an issue is always the first step in conquering it. I have recognized this before years ago, but I have fallen into a rut again because of my own selfishness. I am determined to pull myself out though and to gain a deeper understanding as to why I discount another’s personal space. The more tools I have in my tool belt, the more effectively I will conquer yet another demon from the past. I pray my friend will continue to be patient as I prove to them my dedication to getting well from my past, not only for them and preserving the friendship; but for Future, Myself and My life.

I will WIN this Game!


  1. Boundaries can be a very big issue. I hope that your friend continues to be patient while you learn to respect your own boundaries and hers/his. You can do it. You have made a good start.

  2. CW,

    Recognising, and being able to admit that one has such an issue, IS the first step to overcoming that issue, but too few many people actually seem to ever achieve that. You have a very good understanding of yourself, and I believe that you will triumph, over this issue.

    I believe that there is a huge difference between "selfishness" and "healthy selfishness". One just has to be able to tell the difference.

    "Healthy selfishness" allows one to set and preserve their own boundaries, and make choices that are good and positive for the self. Though at times, other people may get hurt or left behind, I believe that it is sometimes necessary, particularly for survivors, if they are to "grow" or "heal".

    Who really needs an "opposition party", in their life?

    Best wishes!


  3. Not being an abuse survivor, I never realized how hard this could be. At least you recognize your selfishness and that's better than 90-some percent of the selfish people I know. I pray that our friends will keep that in mind as they give you the room to learn. Good luck and God bless you!