Posted by: Marie | May 21, 2009

(75) Reader Input: Setting boundaries

Post #75

Solicitation for Reader Input

Okay . . . I’m going to take a short (short as in two days, Ivory, only two short days, LOL) break from posting my journal entries. I really want to hear what you have to say about setting boundaries . . .

What type of boundaries have you had to set in your life?

Has anyone had to forthrighly set a boundary with you?

What methods/techniques were used? (Written, verbal, serious conversation, screaming drama, inappropriate giggling, etc.)

What words or phrases did you use?

What worked? What didn’t work?

Have you had to set boundaries with your therapist?

What type of boundaries do you need to set but haven’t yet?

I really want to hear your stories!! Please send me your comments!


  1. Marie,

    Oh, okay. :) I’ll take the bungies…

    Growing up, I was never allowed to have boundaries. My parents wouldn’t allow privacy, opinion, dignity, or progress unless it included them – especially my mother. She has spent her entire life riding the coat tails of her husband, and now her children. Except me, now.

    I have always been made aware of other’s boundaries, tho, in that I never ingratiated myself or took liberties lest I be in the way or offend.

    The most difficult boundary-setting has been with my mother and siblings. Actually, I don’t talk to them, so boundaries have yet to be set. It will be difficult, at best. They see no reason for boundaries and are extremely immeshed. I just can’t do that anymore – I like boundaries.

    I also have a friend who has no boundaries. She has been difficult, too. She let me know that she parked her car outside of my house with her computer using my neighbor’s wireless. Mine is wireless, but is encrypted. She figured out that which one was mine and let me know she was upset that I kept that from her. I have let that friendship slowly die.

    Mr.S most likely understood from the beginning how the lack of boundaries could be the prelude to abusing a child. Not long after my diagnosis of DID, he brought up boundaries. We discuss them occasionally and especially during times of more dissociating. I think he wants to make sure my alters understand them as well.

    Some of the phrases he uses are, “You know that I care a great deal for you, in that I am committed to helping you reach your goals and heal all you can from this.” and, “I am your friend, tho a paid friend, and I will be here for you in every way that allows me to be.” “You can call me anytime if it’s necessary, but we can’t hang out, you understand that, right?”

    As he puts it, he has faith in me and my alters, and he trusts us all. I have his cell phone number and I use it instead of the office phone. He has never had to tell me not to call, because I don’t call often and without cause. There have been times he said I should have called, and didn’t.

    The only thing that doesn’t work with me is when someone acts it out, as in becomes a butt head and treats me badly because I didn’t get the hint. My daughter has sometimes accused me of going too far opposite the “no boundary” line into too many boundaries, but only for others. I still can’t get the hang of having boundaries for me.

    have a great week end!

    • Hey, Ivory!

      Okay . . . I’ll send the bungee chords right over . . . .

      It sounds like you have done some really hard work around boundaries . . . and that your T has been a good teacher. I find that I don’t have any natural sense of where boundaries should be — I have to really study and ask questions of those I trust to figure out what is “normal” and “appropriate”. Do you find the same thing?

      Thanks for responding to my request for reader input! I enjoyed reading what you had to say!
      – Marie

  2. Hi Marie,

    It has only been the last few years that I have been able to consistently maintain my boundaries. Yes, I’ve had to set boundaries with a therapist, in friendships, relationships, with my children, at work, and with my family, etc.

    I was estranged from my entire family of origin for 14 years. Setting boundaries with my family was always my biggest challenge. We reconciled two and a half years ago. After we reconciled, I learned that I had indeed healed enough to consistently set boundaries. It has felt very empowering for me to finally be able to safe-guard my own well-being.

    I love how you set boundaries with your therapist in “Script part 5.’ That is the method I use to set boundaries – as I have explained in my blogpost:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!


    • Hi, Nancy –

      I really appreciate you stopping by my blog and writing such a relevant comment! I read the post you linked to — it definately sounds like we agree on the process. How did you learn that process? Did someone teach it to you, did you read a book, was it through trial and error?

      Thanks again!
      – Marie

      • Hi Marie,

        Mostly through trial and error; however, therapy helped me “re-wire” my childhood construction. Most of my life, I didn’t know that the “wounded child” in me had control of my responses. In other words, the scared “child-me” argued, defended, and tried to convince the “other” person to treat me right, etc. – placing my well-being in someone else’s hands.

        I understand new concepts intellectually, long before they travel the distance from my head to my heart – allowing me to “feel” them emotionally rather than just intellectually.

        Once my inner-child realized she could trust the adult me to safe-guard her well-being – and place my safety in my own hands, she stopped arguing and defending and let the adult me exercise boundaries. It was a very empowering shift!


        • Hi, Nancy –

          Ah! I like that! That is something I hadn’t thought about before (no need to argue and defend) — thanks for putting that possibility in front of me!

          – Marie

  3. What type of boundaries have you had to set in your life?

    I was really unable to set limits growing up. I tried to express my displeasure with things, but it got me in a lot of trouble and got me lots of negative judgment. When I first entered therapy when I was 21, my therapist worked with me on assertiveness, and I recall asking her, “Well, don’t you have to know what it is you want to assert first?” My boundaries were so violated, I had no idea what my wants and needs were, therefore setting limits and asserting myself was nearly impossible. Since therapy, I set limits with my exboyfriend who was abusive to me from age 16-21 by leaving him, and saying that I’d had enough. I set limits with my father that I would not be around him when he was drinking. I set limits with various people on a regular basis in my work and social life. It comes natural now. And of course I have to set limits with my children.

    Has anyone had to forthrighly set a boundary with you?

    I’m sure that they have. My parents set some boundaries with me growing up and not all were in poor form. Many were needed. My therapist has set boundaries with me. (typical stuff) This is not usually a problem. I am respectful of people’s boundaries. Asserting myself and setting and maintaining MY boundaries has always been the real issue.

    What methods/techniques were used? (Written, verbal, serious conversation, screaming drama, inappropriate giggling, etc.)

    I wrote my father a letter. Then I talked with him on the phone when I talked with him about his drinking. I wanted to assert myself and have the conversation, but I was way to scared to do it in person. Truth be told, I think he preferred it this way, too. Most limits and boundaries are set verbally. I have had people set limits with me through screaming dama, but the only time I set limits this way was in my teens with my parents. Oh, except once……I had a screaming episode with my husband one time when we were struggling financially and I was doing everything I could to get things straight. Even my mother had helped us out, and he said he was going to get a motorcycle and he didn’t care what I thought. That was a long time ago, and no, it was not pleasant. I was pissed! He was going to undo what we were working towards, all for his cheap thrill. UGH! But generally, this is way out of the norm for my husband and I. We tend to handle conflicts well.

    What words or phrases did you use?

    I try to be clear and nonoffending. I consider the fact that often times other people are not aware that they are doing something that is bothersome. I try to use I-messages. But I also try to speak firmly and solidly, in a way that shows self confidence but is nonthreatening.

    What worked? What didn’t work?

    Setting limits and boundaries has become easy. Keeping them and maintaining them, is more difficult. I have found myself in situations where I let mmy father’s drinking slide. My bad….. I have let other things go, too. Mostly because I am dealing with someone who is not respectful of the limit I set, needs reminders, and I am sick of giving them. Sometimes I reweigh how important this boundary and this relationship is to me. Maintaining limits is something I have to work on. Consistency, too. That’s hard.

    Have you had to set boundaries with your therapist?

    I did have to set limits with a therapist (not my current one). With my current therapist, I suppose I set limits occasionally with regards to what I am ready to talk about, etc. I wouldn’t call it setting boundaries, but more asserting myself. She likes that. :) I am open about what I need from her, what I’m ready to explore, what I’m not, what is helpful that she does, what is not. I’ve told her I didn’t like this one lamp she got because it was triggering. She was very kind. She has moved it around a bit in the hopes it not being a bother, but now…she has a new different lamp. I am guessing I was not the only one. It was really an odd lamp.

    What type of boundaries do you need to set but haven’t yet?

    I need to set more limits with my father. I need to set limits and assert myself with my mother. That’s hard to do. It’s scary. I’m almost 40 years old, and it’s still scary.

    Secret Shadows

    • Hi, Secret Shadows –

      What a great response! You provided all kinds of food for thought!

      I can relate with having difficulty determining my needs/wants . . . I was (and still am to some extent) so used to worrying about everyone else’s needs/wants — I learned early that life was much nicer if I kept the adults and older siblings around me happy!

      It sounds like the identifying needs and setting boundaries has gotten easier for you over time — I’m glad you are continuing to work on getting better at the maintaining them — that is tough to do!

      What makes it hard for you to set limits with you parents still? Do they get angry or threaten to end the relationship?

      Anyway, thanks again!
      – Marie

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